By all accounts, the Harris family of Clarksville, Tennessee, represents everything I love about the south.
They’re hard-working, loyal, gracious, and the whole family seems to possess a thoughtful humility that says “we got to where we got today with hard work and God’s grace, and we still have a whole lot to learn.”
And they’ve gotten pretty far. Their heating & air conditioning company has grown so fast that Mike Harris was recently honored in front of a few hundred of his peers and asked up on stage to talk about what he’s learned.
He gave several reasons for his success, and he talked openly about his challenges as well, but what I liked the most (and what’s stuck with me now for a week) is what he called “a culture of ownership” within his company.
“My job is to make my employees successful,” Mike said up there on stage.
I’ve talked about that before. Beth Chapman made it clear to me that an owner’s most important customers were her employees.
But it has to be more than a slogan, doesn’t it? Making Friday Hawaiian shirt day doesn’t make it a culture of ownership.
It’s about sharing financials. And goals. And the good and the bad and the vision and the plan to get there.
It’s about asking for input then following through on suggestions.
It’s about listening more than talking.
And it’s about rewarding employees … but by the same token, it’s about holding them accountable. In a true culture of ownership, one can’t come without the other.
When the company wins, we all win.
When the company hurts, we all hurt, but we will all get through it together.
And it also means the boss has to get out there and get his hands dirty – to do the things his team does so he gets the respect of the team, and he knows what’s going on.
“You have to check all four corners of the farm,” Mike said.
My dad’s done that for years. My dad would like Mike Harris.
You want to take your company to the next level?
Dig in. Get your hands dirty.
Make your employees successful.
Be like Mike.
How about you? What other suggestions do you have for creating a culture of ownership in your company? (Remember, you can’t use Hawaiian shirt day. I already took that one.)