The saying goes “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and I completely agree with that philosophy. Without the proper winning culture in any organization, regardless of how wonderful the strategy, success is difficult.
At ABC, like many companies in our industry, we prioritize our culture of being a family business. We aspire for everyone to immediately feel they are part of the ABC family, and are loved and valued.
It’s very important for everyone to feel connected to the company and to one another. I firmly believe that the better we know one another, the better we will work together, and the more likely people are to stay with the company. Here are just six of the ways we foster this environment:
1. Help for new hires — Through our Anteater Buddy System, longtime employees sign up to be “buddies” to our new hires. They are not their managers, supervisors or trainers, they are just someone who makes the new person feel welcomed and part of the family. The buddies check in with each other on a regular basis and build a relationship. ABC is a pretty big organization, but we really want new people to feel connected and cared about.
2. Breakfast with the bosses — Another program we have is Breakfast with Bobby and Matt. This is probably the best valued half-hour we do. A couple of times a week, we invite six to eight employees from different departments in for breakfast tacos, fruit and juice with me and company VP Matt Burns. We sit around the conference table and share where we are from; information about our families, hobbies and interests; and just about anything else we want to share with the group. No business is discussed, just personal sharing so we can hopefully get to know one another better.
3. Weekly meetings — Every week, our leadership hosts a meeting that is filmed and then viewed by small groups and teams. We share weekly updates on revenue, review safety information, show a brief educational segment and share any important announcements. In addition, we have a “Meet the Anteaters” segment where we film two or three employees who simply tell a little about themselves. I love this program, and I believe it helps us to get to know one another a bit better. Some of our people are just hilarious, and very creative in telling everyone about themselves.
4. Special-interest clubs — Over the past five or six years, we’ve formed a variety of Anteater Clubs. These clubs have proven to be very popular for people to take on fun activities with their co-workers. We have a book club, adventure club, travel club, softball club, music club, brewery club, finance club, and hunting and fishing clubs. Of course, in Texas, the mother of all clubs is the BBQ club! All of the groups do a great job of fostering relationships and are lots of fun. The BBQ club is absolutely amazing, and the entire company often benefits from their endeavors.
5. Community service — One of the most important and valuable ways we foster and build culture and relationships is when we work together doing philanthropic work. This is a big part of our culture and what ABC is all about. When our folks are out in the community doing volunteer work together, it’s just magic. The bonding that takes place when we work together helping others is a statement about the kind of people we are. Some of our volunteer activities include the Heart Walk, bicycle rides for various charities, United Way, working to support organizations that prevent homelessness, working in food kitchens and pantries, and helping at the annual ABC Kite Festival.
6. Caring for the homeless — One charity activity we are all involved in is the assembly and distribution of ABC Care Bags. Each month, our office staff sets up an assembly line to fill resealable storage bags with toiletries, snacks, water and socks. These are distributed by our field staff to less fortunate folks on the street corners. This is a very simple and meaningful way for all of us to help others.
Culture doesn’t just happen. We all must be very intentional and thoughtful on how we want to foster our desired culture. Family, friends, fun and giving are the cornerstones of the ABC culture.