What does it take to build a firm foundation for business success?

Photo: @Rawpixels via Twenty20
Jul 07, 2022

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article from the blog of Dave Wendland, VP, strategic relations at Hamacher Resource Group (HRG) and Forbes Council Member. The article first appeared on Forbes.com.

Paraphrasing from John Maxwell’s leadership mantras, valuing people is foundational to changing your company, your community and the world. From early in my career, I have believed that the people in any company will ultimately determine the success or failure of the business. People are indeed the most important asset.

Below are four areas our organization, HRG (Hamacher Resource Group), has emphasized in an effort to continually nurture our team members and cultivate our culture throughout its 42-year history. These can easily be applied to any organization.

  • Respectful: Regardless of the reason, it goes without saying that the Golden Rule should apply across any company: Treat others as you would want to be treated. Respecting barriers, calendars and communication preferences while focusing on shared goals can help form the foundation of an organizational philosophy.
  • Open-minded: To work in an environment among a group of individuals dedicated to the “what if?” and “why not?” rather than “we can’t” has been a rewarding part of my more than three decades with the company. Challenging one another to look around corners or take one more step — even into the unknown — can open countless doors and enable a company to continue its growth trajectory and contribution to the industries it serves.
  • Consistent: It is consistency that allows companies to earn and retain a stellar reputation across the industries they serve. To be consistent means that there are shared expectations and outcomes. There is a notable difference between consistency and complacency. It is part of our company’s belief system to continually look for new, innovative ways to deliver solutions while never sacrificing reliability. We are always looking to balance the value we bring to our clients with continual reinvention to become nimbler and remain relevant.
  • Knowledgeable: Freely sharing information and varied viewpoints allows associates to not only feel empowered to express their views but to seek information that either validates an existing opinion or sheds new light on a decision or direction.

These four essential traits can also be helpful in fueling business growth as companies expand into new markets, introduce products and foster relationships.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What traits are common to successful companies with missions to help their employees thrive? Which foundational principle cited in the article is most often overlooked or faces the most challenges within an organization?

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"Management needs to be committed to nurturing the careers of every employee. "

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13 Comments on "What does it take to build a firm foundation for business success?"

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Ken Morris

Throw away the hierarchy and embrace a more collaborative matrix style, that’s my mantra. Innovative companies understand that some of the best ideas bubble up from the field, so creating an environment that allows those ideas to breath is a KPI of successful organizations. 

As retailers introduce automation at every point in the supply chain and in MFCs and stores, retail management will need to communicate with people more than ever.

I’d add one more trait that is essential to retail organizations in particular: Commitment. Management needs to be committed to nurturing the careers of every employee. If you treat people as short-timers, that’s exactly what they’ll be.

Gary Sankary

I would add one more attribute – transparency. Employees want to know how their company makes decisions, especially decisions that affect them.

Dave Wendland

Great add, Gary. This is far too often overlooked. I’m hosting an Executive Roundtable later this month entitled “Inspiring Trust,” and transparency is one of the elements near the top of my list!!

Dave Wendland

The acronym R-O-C-K was selected on purpose. I don’t believe any organization can stand without a firm foundation … in other words, build on a rock!

Brandon Rael

As we know, culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The core pillars of any corporate culture focus on the employee experience and set a foundation for success, growth, and retaining the most valuable associates. Corporate culture is a fascinating topic, as while it’s driven from a top-down perspective, it’s up to the directors, managers, and all associates to live and execute the core beliefs and mission of the firm.

With workplace dynamics changing for the better, there are a few more additions to this list including empathy, empowerment, understanding, inclusivity, equal opportunity, and the democratization of the workforce. A matrix-style organization is an ideal structure for success that enables and empowers a collaboration-first culture.

The ideal path forward for customer and digital-first companies is to entirely focus on a collaborative and agile way of working, where the associates are empowered and supported.

Patricia Vekich Waldron

Mutual respect is key to success especially given that it references “shared goals.” As organizations grow individuals and groups often forego, hijack or misinterpret the larger mission resulting in misalignment, factions, unproductive operations and unprofessional behavior. Keeping true to the brand promise and not tolerating a siloed mentality are central to a firm foundation.

Mel Kleiman
Mel Kleiman
President, Humetrics
6 months 19 days ago

One word says it all: reciprocity. When an organization/management truly understands helping their employees get what they want out of their jobs, those employees will help the organization reach its goals.

David Spear

Great article by Dave Wendland, and it always amazes me how many times we see these four principles stretched, stressed and sometimes completely violated in companies. Complicated hierarchies breed business unit turf wars, which leads to insecurity and unnecessary politics, which begins to erode the four principles Dave lays out. There are many sub elements you could tuck up underneath these four such as transparency, entrepreneurial/owner mindset, integrity, etc., but there is power in their simplicity.

Dave Wendland

Thank you, David. As you know (and we have all witnessed), it is too often these “basic” guiding principles that are overlooked which leads to complacency and eventual calamity.

Shep Hyken

Great companies have great leaders. The concept of respect is at the top, where it belongs. They have a vision that is focused on people, both customers and employees. I’ve always preached a different version of the Golden Rule: Do unto employees as you want done unto the customer.

Jeff Hall

The singular common trait among the most successful organizations we’ve worked with — and one we’ve embedded within our own company — is operating from a servant leadership mindset.

The philosophy, when done well, is powerful in building a culture of trust, as leadership shares power and control across the organization, resulting in lasting engagement.

Servant leadership is based in empathy, listening and autonomy — and very often the most positive outcomes are greater levels of teamwork and collaboration, reduced turnover, a strengthening of company agility and a lasting positive workplace environment.

These are all the very qualities today’s employees are seeking.

Craig Sundstrom

In reference to the Instant Poll Question — and at the risk of seeming glib — what part of “pillar” is unclear? They’re all essential (one might as well ask which is more important for living, the brain or the lungs?).

That having been said, I could see “open minded” as being on the “maybe” list … at least in the vague way the term is often defined; and how do we reconcile it with (seemingly) opposing traits like “passionate” and “dedicated”?

Phil Rubin

At my previous firm, we had clear values and likewise, a clear mission. But ultimately one of the key unlocks for us was shifting from making the company not just the place I’d always wanted to work at, but in addition challenging our team to do the same for themselves: to make the company the place THEY always wanted to work at.

Ultimately, that means different things for different people but the keys are leadership commitment, transparency, flexibility and being direct. The ROCK framework is absolutely foundational and with the pillars above, the results are exceptional.

"Management needs to be committed to nurturing the careers of every employee. "

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