Transwall is growing. It’s great that our customers appreciate the work we do and the products we produce. It also has me thinking about the implications for our people and the culture we need to preserve.
We’re a small company. Or maybe we’re a big family. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when everyone knows everyone and many of the team have been together for years.
As we grow I keep thinking about this balance between company and family and what it means for how we manage. As a company we have to ensure our people do what they need to do so Team Transwall meets its client commitments and financial objectives.
At the same time, we value our people and think of them as family so want to treat them as knowledgeable adults who perform because they want to, not because we force them to. We give them freedom to act and make decisions without someone looking over their shoulder all the time and expect them to meet their goals in return.
Sometimes this balance puts managers in a tough spot. How much control is stifling and implies we don’t trust them? How much freedom leaves them meandering as they try and figure out what they should do? To make the decision even more difficult, each person falls at a different place on the control/freedom continuum and different jobs require a different balance for optimum performance.
Over the years we’ve tried different ways of finding the right balance. I’ve come to realize that trusting your people and not micromanaging doesn’t mean having a blank rulebook. Having systems and requirements doesn’t mean rigidity that closes down thinking about new ways to do things.
Which brings me back to how we’re a family. I realized running a company can be much like raising a family at times. You don’t let the kids scribble on the walls. You give them boundaries they can’t cross and lots of paper to draw on. At the same time, you don’t control them so tightly that you stifle their creativity and stop them from experimenting and on occasion, failing.
We try and manage the same way. Lay out the boundaries and the rules that absolutely must be followed. Safety is the first priority in every function in the company.
Then let each and every person know what they are accountable for. Lots of things have standard ways they need to be done but we encourage everyone to use some level of creativity and imagination to think of better ways to accomplish their tasks.
And most importantly we have an open door policy and expect everyone to take advantage of it when they have something to share, either a great idea for improving something or a report on something not working well that needs to be fixed. We include the people issues in this since unresolved people issues fester and become the biggest deterrent to exceptional performance.
As always, its all about people; people on our payroll and people on the payrolls of our clients and vendors. As our family grows we’re working hard to ensure each person has the oversight and direction they need combined with the freedom to be themselves and perform well.
When each person thrives it uplifts all of us. When anyone suffers it impacts all of us. As our people go, so goes Transwall. Our commitment – ensure each and every one of our people is given the environment and support to be the best they can be.
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