Great, irresistible stories have a way of telling themselves:
SonicAire, a Christian-led company in Winston-Salem has found a way to eliminate “fugitive dust”— dust particles in the ambient air not captured by the filtration systems, dust that, if not captured and disposed of can ignite, explode and destroy entire factories. What’s not to like?
- First, the good news: Impressive annual growth of 15% for 10 consecutive years began to inflict serious growing pains inside the culture.
- And the bad news: In our vivid conversation, SonicAire Founder and President, Brad Carr, told me, “While our people knew things weren’t going well, no one wanted to bring bad news to the king. The only way to really get at the accurate, measurable, truth of our culture was through a trusted third-party survey—like the one from the Best Christian Workplaces Institute.
Brad continued, “The BCWI Staff Engagement Survey revealed SonicAire’s culture was toxic—and I hadn’t recognized the situation:
- Poor internal communication
- Lack of trust from the leadership level on down
- Leaders in the wrong seats on the bus
“Facing these toxic realities and moving forward was not easy.”
The Actions Steps
Evaluate and relocate
“Painfully, we removed some people who weren’t able to move through our culture makeover. Also, we carefully added new people who matched our six core values: Hungry, humble, people smart, innovative, eternal focused and people focused.
Care to communicate
“Hosting a new, monthly company-wide meeting has brought all of our people together. Today our leadership shares important news and responds to questions. Recognizing our people on a regular basis has helped them feel affirmed in new, important ways.
Formulate new investments
“We’ve learned to care about our people and their productivity by putting a few dollars into some fun, all-day, off-site gatherings that have effectively continued to help us build new levels of teamwork and trust.”
“Our increased momentum in sales and profitability has happened, in part, because our leaders have continued to do the hard work needed to build a healthier culture.”
While every organization is either growing or dying, we’re committed to growing and building a flourishing culture.”
- In the course of just 12 months, SonicAire’s culture health soared from unnervingly toxic to solidly healthy. Through breakthrough insights and prompt follow-through execution of smart, practical action steps, thanks to completing back-to-back surveys:
- Employee engagement has increased from 29% to 64% (while 52% is typical in Christian-led organizations).
- “Greater, meaningful trust has been our greatest improvement,” says Brad. “Trust removes judgmentalism, blaming, shaming. When people are free to quickly admit their mistakes, others will jump in with them and work together to get the ox out of the ditch.”
- The purposeful effort behind SonicAire’s cultural makeover has, according to Brad, made perfect sense. “Our vision, as a company, is to create remarkable equipment that’s indispensable to our customers as we show God’s goodness to stakeholders and community. How can we show God’s goodness if our culture is in ruins? Creating a healthy, flourishing culture is the only kind of culture consistent with our company vision.
“We still have room to improve. While every organization is either growing or dying, we’re committed to keep growing and building a flourishing staff culture.”
It’s Your Turn!
Admits Brad, “As a leader, you’re responsible for your culture. If you want to know the true measure of your culture’s health, you need to survey. If you don’t like what you see you must take full responsibility and embrace the exciting, hard work ahead. It’s totally worth it.”
What’s your response when it comes to the current state of your staff culture?
“What Will You Impart to the Next Generation?”
Leighton Ford, Leighton Ford Ministries
The Employee Engagement Survey
Click here to learn more!