Building Culture: The Foundation of 8020 Builders

We have been talking about culture a lot lately at 8020 Builders. 

It means different things to different people, but it’s equally important to all in my opinion. We’re all feeling the pinch of the shortage of skilled employees in our industry and I believe culture is what is going to make 8020 successful in overcoming that challenge. 

So, what does culture mean to me? 

The ideas are many and they’re interrelated but here’s a quick summary:

First, culture is part of every company, whether it gets talked about or not. This means it can be great, terrible, or somewhere in the middle. If you think culture is not important at your company I would suggest your culture is less than ideal and it’s affecting your success. Employees, through their words and actions, define your culture. If they’re not satisfied and fulfilled, challenged and allowed to breath, given a voice and heard, not only is productivity affected but loyalty, attracting new talent, customer service, problem solving and innovation is weakened.

myth: money and rewards motivate people to work

Second, culture, more than processes, defines the success of a company. We are a construction company so we have processes; it’s absolutely a necessity.  However, processes are only as good as the employee’s willingness to implement them. Making it simply a condition of employment works at first but that energy fades in time if culture is lacking. Your culture effectively defines the “why” to your employees about your company’s success. Having a power-with model with our team, our subcontractors and our clients is an intentional focus of our culture strategy.

Motivation comes from building confidence, providing encouragement, challenging people to put forth their best efforts, and attaining unfeigned commitment to do the work.
— Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins

Third, culture and leadership are inextricably linked. Strong leadership is required to maintain a healthy culture or change a poor one. Leadership styles vary across and even within companies but the consistent trait that strong leaders have is that their employees would say they have their best interests at hand when they make decisions. This relates to the “why” mentioned above. This type of leadership creates a strong culture because the employees believe in the purpose of the company as articulated by leadership as they grow. What that creates is consistency of message and buy-in to values and cause. It means employees share a common sense of purpose in their daily work life and they naturally tend to look out for each other. That’s a strong culture.

Finally, at least for now, I believe a huge part of culture is trust. At 8020 we trust our employees and we hold each other accountable not to abuse that trust.  This trust allows us to give our employees more freedom to be creative.  Creative in how they work and even where they work. We focus simultaneously on supporting employees with proper training and feedback so, when things go wrong as they always do in this business, we ‘fail fast’, learn, and move on. Our processes are robust enough to give us the professionalism we need while maintaining this creativity. The 8020 Method, after all, is about focusing on the early part of the process where means and methods are most fluid and creativity has the greatest impact. Without this trust we don’t find the unique solutions. We don’t build a culture of creativity and execution.  

Leaders need to see themselves as mentors not task managers. Their focus needs to be on transparency and simplicity and improving systems and processes.

We are still growing this company and its culture continues to evolve along with it.  These are my high-level thoughts on what it means to me.  As we build we are developing specific components that support these ideas while being fluid to evolve with us. 

We provide all our employees with unlimited paid-time-off. Everyone gets an annual stipend to use toward any sort of learning experience they wish, work-related or not. We have an employee culture document rather than a stodgy manual. We allow everyone the ability to work remotely as much as practical. Our team contributes to the growing culture. What the future holds for this team and this company is the truly exciting part for me.

Lexi Steele