The middle of summer is always a time to be inspired. I for one have always found that there are great lessons to be learned by paying attention to nature at its height. After over two decades of leading Kaplow, somehow this summer I have become more reflective about our culture and what we stand for.
When it comes to culture, I have often been asked how Kaplow has succeeded in cultivating a company culture that is both productive for our clients and fulfilling for our employees.
My initial reaction has been to say culture is something that evolves organically, not something designed with intent. But, recently, as I thought more, I realized culture really IS intentional, because our practices reflect our most deeply held values.
For me, there are four essential ingredients of a strong and effective culture: Trust, Respect, Energy and Enthusiasm. Or T.R.E.E.
- Trust: We all want to feel trusted by our bosses and our co-workers because it frees us to do our best, most creative work. When you know you are trusted to do the right thing and it is safe to make mistakes in pursuit of good work, you will try new things and find new ways to move the business forward. An example can be something as simple as speaking up in a brainstorm because you know it is a safe and trusted environment.
- Respect: Feeling respected is a universal need. We all want to know that our point of view counts, that our ideas and suggestions have value. When an agency’s leadership demonstrates respect for each individual, people can be their best and brightest selves. And being respected cultivates respects for others, which makes everyone more open to supporting others’ ideas and suggestions. When we collaborate, when we ask someone’s point of view, when we listen actively, all of those actions signal respect.
- Energy: What I mean by energy is the intensity of engagement that people bring to a project. This is more than just hard work or effort; it is a genuine interest and curiosity in the work. Positive energy creates a working environment that sparks others to respond. We recently left a meeting and the elated client called that afternoon to let us know that our team’s energy was contagious.
- Enthusiasm: Not to be confused with energy: by enthusiasm, I mean excitement – childlike excitement – for the client’s business and for each other’s ideas. When people show passion for a product or a program, they inspire passion in others.
Trust, Respect, Energy and Enthusiasm. TREE is a metaphor for a culture of growth. These values are the sun, air and water that propels Kaplow forward and will lead to everyone’s growth.