A Culture of Care: Alpha's CEO on The Recipe For a Successful Business, Part 1

Owner and CEO Greg Wood was happy to share some insights with Finishing & Coating Magazine about the ways in which strong leadership and teamwork makes a successful business! The magazine’s editor, Tim Pennington, reached out to various finishing and coating shops looking for their thoughts on the “secret sauce” for success in the industry and the request inspired Greg to think about Alpha and how we operate. We’re grateful to Tim for the inspiration and glad we could share these thoughts with people in our trade; we’d like to share them with other manufacturers as well! 

Please read below for the first of three posts about the importance of creating a “culture of care.” And read the latest issue of Finishing and Coating Magazine featuring the article “The Secret Sauce” from Tim Pennington here

Part I: Care For Your Employees
At Alpha, we believe in cultivating a “culture of care.” Start by caring for your employees: finding out what they need to be successful, getting to know them, being present for them and also never standing in the way of their great ideas. You’ll find that if you start with engaged employees who feel fulfilled in their work the other steps to maintaining a successful business, caring for your customers, and caring for your legacy will easily fall into place! 

First and foremost, how are you caring for each team member? If you want your team to care for customers and quality you have to begin by leading the way and leading by example. As leaders it is our responsibility to serve our team and show them that we work for them, they do not work for us. We should prioritize people before profits. 

Some questions to consider: Do you take time to listen to your team members? Do you take the initiative to find out what motivates them? Do they like more money, or more time off, or lots of praise and appreciation? Find out! 

In order to build trust with our teams we have to be humble, keep our ego out of the way, and be transparent. You don’t have to have all the answers. Involve your team in problem solving. And, be careful to give them the credit! Also, it is a good idea to always catch them doing something right. Don’t be “that boss” who is always correcting or micromanaging your team. It will suck the life right out of them and your business.
  • Fuel the team with positive energy! We don’t have to motivate employees per se. Hopefully we have hired self-motivated people, but we do need to bring them energy and vision. Are you a leader or a boss? A leader fuels the team with energy, focus, and an atmosphere that spawns creativity and innovation.
  • Provide resources and remove barriers to success! Whatever resource your team needs find a way to provide it. Whether it’s newer, better technology, or a better process, find ways to make their life and work easier. Be their advocate! Also, if there are barriers to a team in doing their work successfully, remove them! Do whatever you can to simplify the job or work but still deliver quality. You want your team members to want to come to work, not hate it.
  • Develop each team member! Not everyone can be a leader, but everyone can grow professionally and personally. Our job as leaders is to focus on helping each team member develop to their full potential and own the process and the results. It is our responsibility to coach our teams to grow and embrace trust and accountability. Our constant focus should be coaching our team members up. But, in some cases, we may have to coach someone out. If you have a person just collecting a paycheck, or worse, they are a bad apple spoiling morale, coach them out quickly! This is the only way to build high performance teams.
  • Study and learn! You don’t have to know how to be a great leader or how to coach all at once. But, it is important you read, study other leaders, go to seminars, connect with other leaders on LinkedIn, and find all available resources on how to lead and build a team. There are so many to choose from, but if you want to start somewhere I would recommend the book The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. This book covers both teamwork and leadership.
Next time we’ll dive into the people who give us a reason to be here: you, our customers!