As the founder and CEO of BerylHealth, I built a company from three employees to almost 400, and scaled a unique corporate culture along the way.

But earlier this year Stericycle, a public company, acquired BerylHealth and I was named Stericycle's chief culture officer. Now I have a much different challenge. Stericycle has 13,000 employees in 13 countries, a great financial track record, and strong customer satisfaction. But its executives have determined its future success is contingent on a renewed focus on employees.

Gauging Company Culture Today

One of my first steps is to "baseline" where Stericycle's culture stands at this point. To do this, Stericycle conducted its first employee satisfaction survey in four years.

As I reviewed the survey results and read thousands of open-ended comments, a couple of things hit me. First, Stericycle has a lot to be proud of. Its employees are loyal and hard-working, and committed to the company's success. Second, the problems and issues Stericycle employees raise are much the same as what I've always heard from the Beryl team. Whether you have a company of 13 people or 13,000, employees want what I'd call the basics.

Here's what they've said so far:

  • Give me the tools and resources to do my job.
  • Make sure I understand the company's vision so that I am here for a purpose bigger than my job.
  • Show me that I am valued for the work that I do.
  • Give me opportunities to grow.

Where a Culture Problem May Lie

As I read the survey responses, I also noticed a great range in their tenor, from those who were highly satisfied to those who were very unhappy. That told me that the culture problem for Stericycle isn't knowing what to do, but instead knowing how to do it consistently. To me, that says that a breakdown is occurring with how middle managers and supervisors are tasked with and execute on management's vision.

What's the lesson for you? As your company grows, realize that even if you do a great job of setting the vision and communicating it from the top, a different obstacle awaits when it comes down to the most important relationship in your business: the one between an employee and his or her direct supervisor.