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The RMG Culture Project

Rockford Manufacturing Group (RMG) has had a series of owner and non-owner presidents since the company was formed in 1976. As a result, we had a mix of family and corporate cultures in the same building. There is a saying that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, and we realized that is was important for all employees to be on the same page regarding culture. In 2018, we implemented the High-Performance Culture (HPC) program developed by David Friedman and outlined in his book called Culture by Design. As part of the process, key RMG staff helped create 28 fundamentals (behaviors) that we thought were needed for RMG to be successful. It took us many months to come up with the wording for the fundamentals that fits us well.

Each week we focus on one fundamental. The fundamental is introduced by an employee weekly and we are all encourage to use the behavior during the week. We often give out fun awards to employees who nominate their colleagues who use a fundamental well during the week. The fundamentals dovetail with our values in the employee handbook. However, employee handbooks rarely get viewed verse the desired behaviors that get focus twice a year.

Besides internal benefits, the process is great to show potential employees as part of the recruiting process. Customers who visit us are impressed and inquisitive when they see our desktop flip charts with the weekly fundamental displayed. Changing culture does not happen overnight. Often it takes years. However, we feel The RMG Way has us on the right track.

1. ACT WITH INTEGRITY. Demonstrate an unwavering commitment to doing the right thing in every action you take and in every decision you make, especially when no one’s looking. It’s always best to tell the truth. If you make a mistake, own up to it, apologize, and make it right.

2. HONOR COMMITMENTS. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. This includes being on time for all phone calls, appointments, meetings, and promises. If a commitment can’t be fulfilled, notify others early and agree on a new deliverable to be honored.

3. GET CLEAR ON EXPECTATIONS. Create clarity and avoid misunderstandings by discussing expectations upfront. Set expectations for others and ask when you’re not clear on what they expect of you. End all meetings with clarity about action items, responsibilities, and due dates.

4. BE PROUD OF YOUR WORK. Demonstrate a passion for excellence and take pride in the quality of everything you touch and everything you do. Have a healthy dislike for second-rate results. Always ask yourself, “Is this my best work?”

5. ADD VALUE. Find ways to help customers become faster, better, and more effective. Understand their goals and be sure everything you do is adding value for them. This includes both internal and external customers.

6.WORK SAFE. Know and practice the safety procedures for your job. Watch out for the safety of your teammates as well, for we’re all part of the RMG family. Never take shortcuts that compromise your safety or that of your teammates.

7. FIND A WAY. Take personal responsibility for making things happen. Respond to every situation by looking for how we can do it, rather than explaining why it can’t be done. Be resourceful and work together. Don’t make excuses or wait for others to solve the problem.

8. PRACTICE BLAMELESS PROBLEM SOLVING. Demonstrate a relentless solution focus, rather than pointing fingers or dwelling on problems. Identify lessons learned and use those lessons to improve ourselves and our processes so we don’t make the same mistake twice. Get smarter with every mistake. Learn from every experience.

9. BE KIND. You have the power to choose your attitude, so choose to be friendly, helpful, and considerate. Pay attention to the tone of your voicemails, emails, and conversations. Be respectful and approachable, and avoid negativity and sarcasm. Your attitude is contagious. Spread kindness, optimism and positive energy.

10.PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS. Missing just one detail can have an enormous impact on a job. Be a fanatic about accuracy and precision. The goal is to get things right, not simply to get them done. Double-check your work. Get the details right the first time.

11. BE A LIFELONG LEARNER. Seek out and take advantage of every opportunity to gain more knowledge, to increase your skills, and to become a greater expert. Be resourceful about learning and sharing best practices. Learn a new skill to increase your value to RMG.

12. CREATE WIN/WIN SOLUTIONS. It’s a 2-way street. Learn to think from others’ perspective. Discover what they need and find a way to help them meet those needs while also fulfilling your own. Win/win solutions are always more effective and longer lasting than win/lose solutions.

13. WORK WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY. Be here every day and be ready to work. Make the most of each day by approaching every task with energy, focus, purpose, and enthusiasm. Get things done.

14. DELIVER RESULTS. While effort is important, our customers expect results. Follow-up on and take responsibility to ensure that tasks get completed. Set high goals, use measurements to track your progress, and hold yourself accountable for achieving those results.

15. LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND. Listening is more than simply “not speaking.” Give others your undivided attention. Minimize the distractions and let go of the need to agree or disagree. Suspend your judgment and be curious to know more, rather than jumping to conclusions. Above all, listen to understand.

16. SPEAK STRAIGHT. Speak honestly in a way that helps to make progress. Say what you mean, and be willing to ask questions, share ideas, or raise issues that may cause conflict when it’s necessary for team success. Be courageous enough to say what needs to be said. Address issues directly with those who are involved or affected.

17. MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS. Make good decisions by relying primarily on facts and data, rather than solely on opinions or emotions. Be objective. Analyze the data and use this information to make better decisions.

18. THINK AND ACT LIKE AN OWNER. Look at the big picture. Make decisions by asking yourself, “What would I do if this were my company? What would I do if this were my own money? Will this help the company to succeed?” Find cost savings.

19. CHECK THE EGO AT THE DOOR. Don’t let your ego or personal agenda get in the way of doing what’s best for the team. Everyone has something he/she can teach us. Be curious about others’ perspectives and open to others’ solutions. Make sure every decision is based solely on what will best advance our team goals.

20. BE RELENTLESS ABOUT IMPROVEMENT. Regularly reevaluate every aspect of your work to find ways to improve. Don’t be satisfied with the status quo. “Because we’ve always done it that way” is not a reason. Guard against complacency. Find ways to get things done better, faster, and more efficiently.

21. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. The best way to influence others is through your own example. Walk the talk. Take responsibility, both formally and informally, to coach, guide, teach, and mentor others. Be the change you want to see at RMG.

22. EMBRACE CHANGE. What got us here is not the same as what will get us to the next level. Get outside your comfort zone, rather than stubbornly hanging on to old ways of doing things. Be excited by the possibilities that change brings. Be flexible.

23. MAKE A DECISION. Work with a sense of urgency to get things done so we can move on to the next area of focus. Avoid analysis paralysis. Gather the relevant facts and evaluate your options thoroughly, then get moving. Act decisively. If new information becomes available, don’t be afraid to make a new decision and change course when it’s appropriate.

24. SHOW MEANINGFUL APPRECIATION. Recognizing people doing things right is more effective than pointing out when they do things wrong. Regularly extend meaningful acknowledgment and appreciation — in all directions throughout our organization.