Paul Hatcher realizes there is a perception although not an appropriate one that the business he works in does not have the highest ethics and morals. So, the president of Oliver/Hatcher Construction combats that by making sure his company and its culture are different from others in the business.
“One of the keys to that is having the highest ethics and treating customers the way you want to be treated,” he says. “When people come in, it’s one thing to talk about it and to sell your customers on it. It’s another thing when they come from a different company and start living that part of that culture.”
While Hatcher prefers to keep the company’s revenue private, Oliver/Hatcher does 12 to 15 projects a year, each worth $5 million to $8 million.
Smart Business spoke with Hatcher about how he established his culture and how he conveys a clear message that it is not to be breached.
Q: How did you establish your culture?
It’s pretty easy and difficult at the same time. You need to educate them on the company culture. We aren’t a huge company, but there is a culture here, a way of doing things and a way of looking at things.
You have to lead by example. When you are faced with difficult decisions or decisions that you can go one direction or another, you’d better choose the direction that establishes that your ethics are strong and your morals are in the right place. Your people need to see that. It also goes back to finding the right people. They have to have those personality traits. But, if they come to our company with those traits and see their bosses make decisions in the proper manner, it’s much easier for them to make decisions.
Q: What are the keys to being a good leader?
You have to find the right people. By the right people, I mean those that share the same approach that you do, the dedication to business you have from a customer satisfaction standpoint, business ethics and the willingness to work hard.
It’s important for our groups to work as teams, and as a team overall from a company standpoint. In order to do that, it is important for them to understand the culture of our company.
Also, giving them clear direction. Not necessarily how they should do it but, ‘Here is the goal we want to accomplish.’ Let them develop their own approach to solving an issue, certainly, being part of that approach and, if they need assistance, making yourself available to be part of that approach as they are moving down the path to solving whatever issue it is.
We are always checking in with them to see how they are doing and if they are on track to accomplish their goal, or whether they are making the right progress.
Q: How do you find the right people?
We are always looking and talking to people. It comes from knowing people that know that particular person.
When you know someone in the marketplace well enough that they have a pretty good understanding of what our culture is, and they are recommending someone to come into our company, that says a lot. It’s not just they are a good person or know technical aspects of the job.
We don’t just hire them based on that. The interview process is, they could come through four interviews. It’s going to be me or my partner, it’s going to be their superiors and it’s going to be the people that they are going to work with on a day-to-day basis. Then it would be another interview back with me and their superior before there is a job offer made.
I wouldn’t say there are always four interviews, but there are always multiple interviews for every single position.
Q: How do you make sure you are conveying a clear message to your employees?
Repetition is part of it. It goes back to a bit of the culture, lack of turnover and familiarity with the people I am working with and their familiarity with me. I question myself a lot of times.
Did I give them a clear direction? I’ll come back and ask them questions to see whether they understand whether I gave them a clear direction. I may repeat myself again. But, just repeating yourself time and time again doesn’t mean they are going to get clear direction. It’s trying to find a way to say it differently or understand what they do and don’t understand in terms of the direction you are giving them.
If we do have someone who’s only been here a year or two, they feel comfortable going to someone who has been here 10 years and asking, ‘Is this what he means by this when he gives me this direction?’
HOW TO REACH: Oliver/Hatcher Construction, (248) 374-1100 or www.oliverhatcher.com