Culture Club

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How Chartwell Agency puts culture into the spotlight

Chartwell Agency was recently nominated in the Rockford Register Star’s “What Rocks in the Rock River Valley” competition in the category of “Best Organizational Culture (Small).” We’re proud of this nomination because we believe that establishing and maintaining a positive organizational culture is the most important thing we can do to impact organizational success.

While the concept is simple – better work environments attract better people and produce better results – it is NOT easy. Culture is a constant work in progress, and we’re committed to continuously monitoring, managing and dedicating resources to our organizational health. Here are some of the beliefs we carry that positively contribute to our culture.

1.       Team members are adults who can effectively manage their time and results.

We’re a ROWE™ (Results Only Work Environment), which means that we manage results, not people. Our team members can determine how, when and where they work best, as long as they are meeting the agreed-upon results. In a fast-paced, demanding profession like ours, having autonomy over your schedule means that you can catch your daughter’s ballet lesson and still “wow” a client with a presentation. ROWE™ also means that we respect one another’s time and calendars, which is central to our culture.

2.        Experience is important, but cultural fit is critical.

We’re a team, and we rely on one another to produce the quality of work our clients have come to expect. This is a central theme in our hiring process. We look for candidates who have a culture and personality fit first, then look at experience. Candidates are interviewed by the entire team for both the hard and soft skills to ensure s/he would be a positive addition.

3.       “Team time” is critical.

One of the challenges in a ROWE™ is creating that organic bonding time that gels a group together. For this reason, we prioritize team outings and “team time.” Every other week, we schedule some type of team gathering – whether we are kayaking down the Rock River or just sharing lunch together in our breakroom. This informal time helps us work better together, so we are deliberate in dedicating effort and resources to it.

4.       Every team member is “in the know.”

Nothing kills culture faster than secrecy, gossip, and back-channel communication. Chartwell’s office is an open space, and doors are rarely closed. Financial goals and performance are shared regularly, as are strategic goals for the company’s growth. Team members are invited to participate in almost all decisions, if they would like, from assigning new projects to determining what new services we should pursue. No question is off limits, and we work to maintain a clarity around who we are today and who we hope to be in the future.

5.       We constantly strategize, measure and adjust to maintain culture and morale.

The first agenda item for every management team meeting is culture and morale. How is the team doing? How are people feeling? Who should be celebrated? Who needs more support? What, if any, resources do team members need? It’s easy to let culture be something that just is, instead of something you thoughtfully cultivate. But think about it – would we just hope that we achieve a goal, or would we thoughtfully design strategies, measure progress and adjust tactics along the way. We’ve seen the impact a positive (or negative) culture can have, and we don’t just hope for it, we work to create the culture we want.

Every member impacts our culture, so each of us has a responsibility to create and maintain the culture we want. We make culture a priority, actively work at it and learn from mistakes along the way. If you would like to work on your organizational culture, we offer numerous training topics and have customized sessions based on individual client needs. I also highly recommend The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni as a great resource to guide your thoughts on organizational health.

* Chartwell Agency would very much appreciate your vote for Rockford Register Star’s “What Rocks in the Rock River Valley” competition in the category of “Best Organizational Culture (Small).” 

-Emily Hartzog, Vice President

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