Fireside chat: 3 characteristics of a culture that lasts for generations
We kicked off a new series of fireside chats presented by GPEC board members. Members of the GPEC team sat down with Adam Goodman, the CEO of the furniture and design company Goodmans Interior Structures, to hear about how he restructured the company’s culture to make an impact on the community. In 1993, he became the third generation to take over the family business. Below are the lessons Adam shared with us that helped shape Goodmans’ culture.
Effective Culture Takes Passion-Driven Principles
Sustainable and effective culture takes intentionality to align real meaning and goals with your passion. A few years after taking over the company, Adam realized that his passion wasn’t in the actual furniture. He shared with us that he was passionate about pursuing a career as a newspaper publisher, a career path he followed before joining the family business. He quickly learned that he had to take the time to understand the core reasons that he was drawn to the newspaper industry and how that translated to furniture – if it did at all. For Adam, his passion for the news was based on affecting and driving the community. He knew that he had to change the culture of Goodmans in order to align his passion with the company’s core principles.
In order to do this, Adam realized the core principles and goals of the organization must be simple, clear and have a priority system. Adam enacted a simple mission for the entire team that continues to drive the decision making to this day: Goodmans will be a top place to work, their customers will have a 98% satisfaction rate and they will make a profit. In that order.
Cultural Change Takes Time and Effort
Regardless of the size or age of an organization, one situation is the same: the leadership has to prove the core principles to truly drive the company. Yes, Adam’s situation is unique. Not everyone is given an opportunity to take over the family business. However, anyone who steps into leadership at an established company will realize very quickly that good (and bad) culture doesn’t happen overnight. Everything from budget planning to team meetings needs to reflect a company’s values. Every decision should be founded and aligned with these principles in order to have long-lasting staying power.
For Goodmans, Adam made intentional decisions to implement ideas that will stand up to the test of time – and it took a change of mindset. Adam shared how he challenged himself to not to follow the typical employee-employer transactional relationship, instead treat all of his employees as though he is borrowing them from their families. He acts as if he needs to give them back to their families better than how he got them. If his employees leave work beaten and downtrodden, he has failed them. He makes sure to invest in his employees by aligning with their growth goals and fulfilling what they need to achieve those goals.
Authenticity Becomes Part of the Culture when Leadership is Transparent
Today, it almost seems like the words ‘authenticity’ and ‘transparency’ are buzzwords rather than characteristics – but it shouldn’t be the case with leadership. Similarly, just because a company has its core principles printed on the wall doesn’t mean it is naturally injected into the culture.
Having a culture that stands on authenticity comes out of living the core principles, for everyone to see. Adam used the example of purchasing a nap pod for the office. He realized that sleep deprivation is an epidemic in America and wanted to make sure his staff was getting enough sleep. The reality is that having a nap pod in the office and the staff feeling safe enough to take a nap are two very different things. Being transparent means having nothing to hide, and culturally that required Adam to live out what he wants his staff to do. In this case, that means taking a brief nap when everyone can see him. To be clear, he’s not complaining!
Each story matters
Greater Phoenix is a hub for culture leaders like Adam, where the business climate allows for cultural experimentation and progress. GPEC is focused on bringing the best companies and entrepreneurs to our unique and innovative economic ecosystem to better benefit and impact the community and the people that we serve. If you have a culture or community impact story we should hear about, share it now.