HindlePower Inc. has grown by 10% to 12% a year for the past 10 years. President Bill Hindle says the secret to his success is a simple one: "When you take care of the people, the people will take care of the work." He recently outlined the primary building blocks of his company's culture.
1. Trust. "Nothing happens without trust," Hindle says. "It must be solid. Trust has to go both ways -- our way and the employee's way. It has to be genuine, it has to be real, and it has to be realized. When it is realized, people are willing to put themselves in a position of vulnerability because trust and vulnerability run side by side. And when they are able to do that, you can then push them out of their comfort zone and new frontiers can be realized."
2. Communication. "Communication is a human infrastructure. Just like roads or bridges or tunnels for a city are necessary in order for things to thrive, in order for an organization to thrive you must have this human infrastructure."
For example, much of the company's financial information is communicated to the workforce. While HindlePower is not an "open book" organization -- it does not share the bottom-line financials -- everything else is on the table for discussion: cost of goods sold, material percentages, sales going out the door and bookings coming in the door.
"These are all numbers that we share every day," he says. Moreover, every department has a morning meeting each day, and the company holds a staff meeting every other week that includes the entire workforce.
3. Empowerment. In truth, Hindle doesn't like to use the words "empowered people." "I'm not God. He didn't die and leave me in charge. So you can't really walk up to a person and just put some angel dust over their head and say, 'You're now empowered; go and do some new things.' My mechanism for empowerment is: Get rid of the barriers that stop empowerment. Get rid of the 'not invented here' syndrome, the gate-keeping, the automatic nos."
4. Treat people like people. "People are not robots. If I came to work late, there's probably a good reason for it. Don't just come yell at me," Hindle says. "That's what led us to taking out our attendance policy. People have good reasons for screwing up, and we all do it. Nobody's perfect here."
5. Proper priorities. At HindlePower, the priority is "family first." "The second set of priorities is the employee comes before the customer," Hindle says. "If I take care of my employees, they will do a great job in taking care of the customer."
6. Focus on people's good. "Every person has greatness in them," the company president asserts. "As leaders, find out what that is in that person, and exploit it. Find out what they are really, really good at, and that is where you want to put them."
7. Genuine leadership. Says Hindle: "If it is not genuine, go home. It has to be real. Everybody is very intelligent, and you are not going to fake out anyone. If they don't believe that you believe, they're not going to either."