The Importance of Building a Strong Company Culture 10/02/20
Numerous studies have linked company culture to attracting and retaining high-quality employees. And now given today’s need for remote work, it is even more crucial to have a set of standards your company can lean on. While the importance of culture is widely recognized, defining, maintaining, and growing a positive one is not the easiest task. At Feldman Surveyors, a family-owned business operating in Boston for the past 75 years, they have worked hard to establish a vision, mission, and core values that have been a key part of the company’s success as the firm has grown from $2M to $13M in business.
The journey to the strong culture found today at Feldman started when Michael Feldman joined the family business in 1998. While the company had incredible professionals performing high-quality work, everyone was operating as an island and there was no cohesive culture. After working in each position from entry-level up, a transition in management from the old guard to the new, and a thorough reading of the book The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch 'em Kick Butt, Michael and his management team got to work on building Feldman’s culture. In 2013, the team began attending yearly retreats in Miami Beach (not a bad locale for a business trip). During one of these outings, the team delivered the first version of the firm's vision, mission, and values. Then they formed a committee comprised of a cross-section of Feldman team members for input and to see if they had everyone’s buy-in to these new concepts. Over time the group worked to refine and simplify these to make them accessible and now Feldman’s vision, mission, and values are prominently displayed within the firm’s HQ. Their vision and mission have earned repeat business as clients appreciate Feldman’s commitment to simplify the complex technical workings of surveying, laser scanning, BIM, and other new technologies within the design and construction industry.
Feldman's Vision, Mission, and Values prominently displayed at their HQ.
Internally, to foster the company culture, prior to COVID, Feldman would host monthly town hall meetings (in front of the wall above) sharing business stats, updates, and providing examples of employees modeling the values. The management team also sends out company surveys related to values & culture and produces team member spotlights that are shared across the firm. As listed, Health has also been an important value so without in-person access to their company gym, they have a nutritionist (the same one as the Boston Bruins) available to talk with employees, plus a fitness trainer who conducts group workouts on zoom to anyone who can attend. Feldman also recently hosted an outdoor Flu clinic at their HQ in Roxbury. Previous group outings also included a holiday luncheon and summer night out, with employees clamoring for more of the outside of work interaction. Obviously now that is not possible but Feldman has arranged for some foursomes in an upcoming golf classic for some in-person interaction. Their most creative adaptation to keep people engaged remotely is now a bi-weekly company video. These videos include pictures of employees at home, on weekends, with families, and actually provide a larger view of the teams' lives than before. The videos have also featured interviews with clients and a recent installment included an appearance by local radio pro Tony Massarotti. The response from staff for these clips has been positive and helps keep a remote team connected and in the loop.
Feldman's recent flu clinic gave employees a socially distanced opportunity to reconnect.
Maintaining the culture they have worked so hard to build is important to the Feldman management team to ensure their now 74 employees (up from 25 originally) are invested and valued. Feldman has found that happy employees treat clients well and in turn, the business has grown. In fact, clients often comment to Feldman’s top brass on how satisfied Feldman employees are on the job. The common and well-defined vision, mission, and values keep all employees, those having been with the firm for 30 years or 3 months, on the same page. But as Michael Feldman told us “ The mission, vision, and values are not only to for the company to be the best version of itself; we must model them and live them to be real. They do not end when we leave the office but need to permeate both inside and outside the firm to benefit our colleagues, clients & community. As business leaders, we all have a responsibility to all 3.”
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