People and Culture are Everything: One Dealer’s Team-Building Formula

Culture is our strategy at Fisher’s Technology. Our people are the reason we’re growing, delivering awesome client experiences and having a blast. They’re everything.

Our journey of cultural transformation started with part intuition, part luck—and part failure. But it definitely didn’t start as a calculated strategy or intentional process. Now, reflecting back over the last 15 years, we’ve developed a methodology to ensure we continue to evolve, improve, and keep the magic we’ve created.

We believe a process for building and nurturing a strong team can be captured in four ongoing efforts:

  1. Employ
  2. Empower
  3. Engage
  4. Enculturate

Employ. It all starts with an intentional hiring process that ensures we add people who embody our values, who are driven by our mission and who fit well within our team. It’s not only about skills and values, but also being fun, friendly and curious. Fun and friendly are obvious traits for enhancing culture, but curious is another must for us. We want to work with people who have a “beginner’s mind” and who crave new ways of thinking and new approaches to doing things. Curiosity is tantamount to healthy conflict, collaboration and innovation. We only employ curious, friendly, driven, client-centric people.

Empower. If we employ the right people, they’re already aligned on and driven by our cause. So it’s our job as leaders to empower and enable them to execute. The challenge I see with many leaders in empowering their teams is that they don’t trust their people. Generally, I see two types of leaders: those whose biggest fear is insubordination and those whose biggest fear is losing great people. The former leads to command and control leadership, the latter leads to servant leadership. It’s my opinion that we can’t empower our teams unless we’re servant leaders, trusting our people’s intent and allowing them to succeed and fail forward.
It’s our job as leaders to give our teams the tools they need to succeed, to trust their intent, to relish in their failures as much as their successes and to coach rather than control.

Engage. When we employ people with the right fit and empower them to execute, we are executing as leaders. The question then becomes, how do we retain these amazing people, get them to perform at their best and maximize engagement? Some fundamentals we believe in for getting our teams highly engaged include:

  • Connecting everyone’s job with our cause.
  • Truly caring about our employees.
  • Providing opportunities for professional development.
  • Building personal relationships.
  • Listening to the opinions and ideas of everyone.
  • Recognizing great efforts

Common across these. fundamentals is communication. Frequent, transparent, vulnerable and consistent communication is—and will always be—the most challenging component of leading, and we need to be working on improving communication every day. Through that constant communication, connecting, caring, sharing, listening and recognizing, we’ll get high levels of engagement.

Enculturate. It was cheesy, but for two weeks I changed my title to Chief Culture Officer. While I ultimately tired of the teasing and changed my title back, I still believe that culture is my primary job. Culture ultimately gets the amazing people we employ, empower and engage to not only execute at their best, but to love doing it.

Some of the tactics we use to enculturate and leverage our engagement concepts in our culture include:

  • Monthly company-wide meetings. It’s expensive for us to tie up 160 employees for an hour once a month, but the ROI on communication and enculturation is massive. This is my chance to reinforce our cause and values through real stories of great things happening around our company.
  • Monthly cross-functional meetings. Our best meeting of all, it pulls together 20 employees at a time to answer four questions: 1. What do we do today to create extremely happy clients? 2. What could we do differently to create even happier clients? 3. What do we do that makes us love working at Fisher’s? 4. What could we change to make us love working at Fisher’s even more? There is no better reinforcement of the great company we are, combined with the best ideas to get even better for our clients and our employees.
  • Quarterly competitions. Across our 11 offices, we plan quarterly fun events to compete and have fun together (bowling, horseshoes, axe throwing, skeet shooting, etc.). Through building personal connections outside of the office, we leverage those relationships to do the tough work at the office. And it contributes to our core value of having fun together.

Through employing the best people in our markets; empowering them to execute on a shared cause; engaging them in frequent, transparent, vulnerable communications; and making decisions and motivating behaviors consistent with our culture day in and day out, we cannot help but have a thriving, growing, differentiated organization that consistently executes on our cause and has a blast along the way.

Turn TGIF into TGIM.

Chris Taylor
About the Author
Chris Taylor is president, CEO and co-owner of Fisher’s Technology, an office technology company offering IT network management, copier and printer services, business telephone solutions, and electronic document management software and services. During his 15 years at the helm, the 85-year-old company more than sextupled in size and received numerous awards including: Idaho’s Best Places to Work the last 13 years straight; Inc. 5000 fastest-growing U.S. companies five years; Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce 2013 Small Business of the Year; U.S. Chamber’s Top 100 U.S. Small Businesses of the Year in 2014; and Idaho Business Review’s 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 Reader Rankings as both the Best Office Equipment Company and the Best IT & Tech Support Services in Idaho. Taylor was also selected as one of the 2014 CEOs of Influence by the Idaho Business Review.