We’re excited to continue our conversation with Mark Waller from A-1 Freeman Moving! If you missed our last post, Mark was our guest on the HR Insider podcast and he has some incredible insights on stepping into a company to create and maintain a healthy company culture.

Mark shares, “When you come in and you’re going to make grand changes, people are either going to be on board, or they’re not. The ones that aren’t on board become evident really quickly. With those team members, you need to start addressing issues in a one-on-one setting as soon as possible.” 

“Having a coach mentality is important. I try to keep our organization as flat as I possibly can. I know all of our employees and our contractors by name. I know our day laborers by name. I go into our facility, I shake everybody’s hand. I want everyone to know that we’re all on the same team; that we’re trying to accomplish the same thing. We’re trying to produce a product that people want, that people will pay for, and give them good service.”

“In my facility, my door is open. I invite any of our employees – the janitor, our platform workers, our forklift drivers, everyone to come into my office anytime they want and sit down to share their concerns or ideas. Somebody handed me a note the other day. It was from one of my warehousemen and it read, ‘I have an idea to get more revenue into our warehouse.’ That thrilled me because they get it. They understand. I have a warehouse supervisor that really embodies the team mentality. When a truck backs against our dock, he wants to know: What are we getting paid for this? What’s it going to take? He measures his productivity against the revenue to make sure that there’s a good margin for our company. These kinds of things wouldn’t be part of our culture if I wasn’t walking through the facility patting team members on the back, coaching them up.”

“Culture is vital, and it must be constantly cared for. You have to constantly pay attention to it because eventually, you’re going to hire somebody that will sow division. If they’re gossiping, creating unhealthy competition within departments, or acting as a negative influence, they pose a threat to your team. If you let the behavior continue unaddressed it could destroy the culture that you’ve built. It takes a lot of courage to sit people down and have the kinds of conversations necessary to correct those things.”

“From an HR standpoint, one of the things that I coach my supervisors on is having difficult conversations. If you’re unwilling to enter into difficult conversations, problems will perpetuate and grow. Those issues can cause your culture to diminish because the team and their performance will decline. It’s imperative to deal with personnel issues as soon as you recognize them. I’ve had issues come up in my company, and they can be difficult to address if the issue is rooted in behavior as opposed to a performance issue.”

“In those instances, you just have to be straightforward. You have to bring the person in, sit them down, and say, ‘Hey, look. This is what I’m seeing. You are, in my view, sowing discord in our company. You’re guilty of gossip and it’s undermining authority. I need your help in eliminating this.’ If you don’t address it and you let it continue, you’re going to lose. You’re going to begin to lose the culture that you’ve built.”

“Coaching and keeping team members that push your company culture forward is vital. Investing in your team is always a constructive use of your time. They’re worth the effort.”

If you’d like to get in touch Mark, you can find him on LinkedIn or send him an email at MWaller@a-1freeman.com. Catch the full conversation with Mark on HR Insiders available on Soundcloud and Apple Podcasts.