Silos tend to form as companies grow. You’ve got your office and field silos. Then, there are operations and sales silos. There are silos of executive leadership, department managers and field supervisors. Field labor has a silo of its own, too. “We have been really fortunate in our 30 years of business that we have gained so many talented people, but we were seeing situations where maybe people weren’t necessarily confronting each other to solve issues,” says Rebecca Herro, the chief development officer of DLC Resources in Phoenix, Arizona.
Rather than having direct conversations, creating “work arounds” can be more comfortable. For example, if Joe doesn’t complete his part of a project, his teammate Tom goes straight to the boss rather than talking to Joe about it. Or, maybe emails are sent back and forth rather than teammates having face-to-face conversations.
At DLC Resources, which ranked 86 on the Top 100 list with $24.9 million in 2018 revenue, a desire to foster employee engagement resulted in forming a leadership development initiative that combines two programs: Everything DiSC, a personal development experience; and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, based on New York Times bestseller Patrick Lencioni’s work.
So far, the entire leadership team, including operations, department and field managers, have completed the six-month program, which involves meeting every three weeks and “homework” between sessions. Now the company is rolling out an adapted version for its crew foremen.
“We are seeing better conversations and an improved ability to provide helpful feedback,” Herro says. In fact, they have no choice but to chime in because a key component of the program is commitment to sharing. “Along with that is the idea that everyone has to weigh in at meetings, even if they don’t get their way,” Herro says. “If you are in the room, you have to participate. You are not allowed to say, ‘I don’t have anything to say.’ You have to engage.”
Designing a leadership program.
Buy-in from the top is critical when developing a leadership development program, Herro says.
“We are an employee-owned company, so employees naturally are more engaged in the business,” Herro says. “Our profitability is what drives the (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) value, and everyone’s ability to build wealth. So, with this substantial change in our company structure in the last 10 years, our employees are now working toward their own retirement plans, and that brings a different perspective.”
Specifically, employees are motivated to make decisions that save cost, improve efficiency and drive profitability. They may bring up an idea to save time and labor, Herro says. The ESOP is a conversation starter.
“Employees might say, ‘I’ve been thinking about the ESOP,’ and it gives them an ‘in’ to have a conversation with their supervisor that they might not have had before,” Herro says.
“We are an employee-owned company, so employees naturally are more engaged in the business … our employees are now working toward their own retirement plans, and that brings a different perspective.” Rebecca Herro, chief development officer, DLC Resources