Best of Success

Best of Success Seminar: Develop a Healthy Company Culture

Anthony Schena

December 8, 2014
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Anthony Schena’s commercial roofing company was put to the test by the Great Recession. The economic downturn forced Schena, the second–generation CEO of Schena Roofing & Sheet Metal in Chesterfield, Mich., to rethink and restructure every part of his operation. He credits a spirit of teamwork and cooperation for helping the company’s ongoing success, and he shared the lessons he learned during the restructuring process in a session titled “Why a Healthy Company Culture Is Critical to Success.”

“What I learned on the economic roller coaster was that people want to come to work every day and be passionate about what they do,” Schena said. But passion alone isn’t enough, he noted. Business owners need to make a profit and generate more business. “Your customers hire you because you do an amazing job with quality workmanship,” Schena said. “How do you get that? By developing a great company culture.”

Culture is hard to define, noted Schena, but it is a tremendously powerful force. A company’s culture is comprised of a lot of elements, including people’s values, actions, behaviors, history, rhythms and routines. “It’s all of these things that come together to become your heartbeat,” he said. “It defines you.”

A healthy company culture can have tremendous results, including improved teamwork, increased productivity, reduced turnover and a healthier bottom line. But it all starts with a vision of how everything should work. For Schena, that vision came to life when he put up two pictures on the wall at a company meeting. One showed a beautiful tree-lined country road, while the other showed a freeway snarled with traffic. Schena then asked his employees, “Which road do you want to be on? I feel like we are on the wrong road. We have to change.”

He encouraged all employees to share their input, holding up a beach ball to demonstrate how things look different from various perspectives. Depending on which side of the ball you were on, you might see stripes of different colors — and not see others. “You all work at this company, and you all have different perspectives,” Schena told his employees. “I need all of those perspectives to get the company on the right road.”

Schena believes that communication is an essential part of establishing and maintaining a healthy corporate culture. He recommends holding weekly huddle sessions as well as more formal quarterly meetings in which everyone shares their input. “For us, it created a community feeling and took down the walls that were preventing communication,” he said. “Brainstorm — things aren’t going to be the same.”

Micromanaging employees just limits their potential, according to Schena. “We empowered the employees, and the employees took ownership,” he said. “That’s what gets people to communicate — showing that you care. They’re people — not just employees and co-workers. Get to know them. Form a community. If these people are going to be ambassadors of the company, they have to know what’s going on.”

Other ways to build camaraderie include outings like baseball games and picnics. Schena has found that nothing helps forge a bond between people like participating in community service projects, such as helping out with Habitat for Humanity, local soup kitchens or adopting a family during the holidays. “Find a community project,” he advised. “Being able to share it is even better. There are a lot of things you can do to give back to the community.”

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