Paul Spiegelman, the founder and CEO of Beryl Co., a call-center company in Bedford, Texas, has built a unique, people-centric culture that has remarkably high employee and customer retention rates. Here, Spiegelman explains the 8 C’s of building a great corporate culture.
“Camaraderie is just simply having fun in the business. And we do this in lots of different ways. We have our own version of March Madness, where my COO and I take on all comers in basketball. We produce a video for the holiday party that gives folks a chance to laugh at me. And it’s even important for the leader to act like an idiot and to dress up in a matador outfit. Whatever you got to do to get people to lighten up a little bit and have fun.”
“You want to celebrate any opportunity you get and while it’s important for me to recognize the good work that people to do, what’s much more important for them and more compelling for them is for people to hear from their peers. We have a program called PRIDE, Peers Recognizing Individual Deeds of Excellence. We use an intranet site that people can go to, and they can recognize one of their coworkers for living one of our five core values. That person gets a certificate, their names get thrown into a basket, and we give out five $250 dollar prizes. They love the feeling that they’ve helped each other out.”
“Whatever community you are in, I think it’s important to connect to the local community. Beryl is a national company. We just happened to be based in Bedford, Texas, but we really want to get involved in our local community. Every year on 9/11 we participate in a program that goes to repurpose local fire stations. So this year we had 70 people that did that. So what happens when those 70 people leave Beryl for the day? We lose revenue. Right? But imagine how those people feel after getting their hands dirty. It makes people feel really good about the work that they’re doing. It’s not about writing a check; it’s about getting involved."
“You know how important it is, but how is communication done in your organization? It’s got to be done multiple ways and in multiple venues. The five core values of Beryl are painted on the walls in multiple places. Not everybody is comfortable in an open forum asking questions. So they can go to into “Ask Hall” on the intranet site and type a question and I guarantee within 24 hours I will answer that question and it will be published to the whole company. Give your employees a way to engage and ask questions.”
“We want to care about people in the totality of their lives. How am I going to know what’s going on with 350 people? How does a leader do that? Our people can go to an intranet site, called Beryl Cares, and they can indicate what’s going in the life of one of their coworkers. It can be a death, a birth, a wedding, someone won a marathon, you name it. They go on the intranet site and fill out a form to tell me what’s going on. I get an email that gives me their name, their picture, their home address. It tells me what’s going on with them. That’s my cue. Make a phone call. Send a personal note card. Go visit them in the hospital, go to a funeral. Whatever it takes. We’ve got all the technology, we’ve got social media, but don’t forget the personal touch.”
“In small businesses it’s really hard to commit to training people and having the resources to do that. So you’ve got to find your own way to do it. We have our own Beryl learning center that we established years ago, that does every thing from training call advisors through five weeks of training to recurrent training programs. We are constantly finding ways, in our small way, to be a learning organization in the eyes of our employees.”
“A combination of many little things is what makes a culture. And yet, you can’t do them once. If you say, ‘OK were going to starting have fun, Friday night we’re going to have a keg and drink beer.’ But if you never do it again, it’s going to look disingenuous. It’s got to come from the heart .You have to create traditions. We have an annual Gong Show. People look forward to it in a big way. We do these things over and over again.”
“I also think it’s really important to connect personally with the staff on an ongoing basis. So one thing I do is I write a letter to the staff. It starts off with something going on personally, like in my family, and then things going on with the business. I include a picture of my kids and they have seen them grow every month and been a part of my life and it builds a connection with them. You don’t realize as leaders the impact you make on peoples lives that can literally be life changing with a simple note card. Sometimes I’ve got to participate in a dress up day or do something, go down on the floor, act like an idiot, whatever it takes.”