Built to Achieve; Core Values Realized

There are mounds of research discussing how high performance companies have a unique commitment to core values. (http://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/building-companies.html) Such companies not only define and articulate these guiding principles, they operationalize them so they become experiences for employees, clients and partners. Exceptional companies recognize that the real differentiator is more consistently offering stakeholders the experience of the identified core values, rather than simply a poster, wallet card or page on the website. Benchmark Construction is committed to being one of these companies and to its core values of Balance, Integrity, Leadership and Loyalty. This is a hard thing to do in the construction industry where there often exist Alpha or Theory X leadership and hierarchical power structures with protective and authoritarian attitudes towards problem solving and teamwork. Benchmark has both elevated some traditions that the company was built on as well as established new practices to stay on the leading edge, where the participative leadership of coaching and extreme ownership are what the market and the new labor force demand. In recognition of this, here are some of the ways we are operationalizing our core value of Loyalty.

Loyalty = Appreciation. Creating differentiation is the key to an employer creating an experence of loyalty to employees and it has to be more than a regular paycheck, competitive benefits and an EAP program. Research shows experiences create “more enduring happiness.” (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/buy-experiences/381132/) Here are two examples of Benchmark’s experiential approach.

One of the long-practiced traditions at our company is the annual Turkey Trot. Now, before you assume this is an aspect of our successful wellness program, remember, we are a construction company. This tradition, started by our founder and Chairman over 30 years ago, consists of closing the office on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and loading the office staff of 75+ employees on two charter busses and driving to each of our active job sites. Upon arrival, we present each of our field employees with a frozen turkey, thank them for their hard work and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. We then have the Project Manager and/or Project Superintendent give us an overview and tour of the project. At the end of the day, we spend some social time at the office, pick up our own frozen turkey and head to our respective friends and families with more to be thankful for.

A new tradition began last year as we began tracking our success towards a 10-year annual revenue goal. Our President wanted to find a way to celebrate our success with the whole company. He decided to invite the company to our main office at 3 pm on the last day of our fiscal year. We then share some specific outcomes related to projects completed, challenges overcome, staff hired, new clients acquired and, of course, revenue achieved. This past year we surpassed our annual revenue target of $121,000,000. To acknowledge each employee’s contribution to that achievement, the Leadership Team presented $121.00 to each employee with a personal, handwritten note of appreciation from the President. After the presentation we spent social time together with sandwiches and refreshments. One of our newly hired field foreman who had been on the team only 90 days said that he was driving home asking himself, “Did that really just happen?” It did, and that is the question of an engaged employee.

-Christian Recknagel, VP of Leadership and Culture