Eight culture best practices from the middle of nowhere (i.e. Montana)


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On the outskirts of Livingston, Montana sits a modern building with lots of windows, lots of open space inside and out, and one of the best corporate cultures I’ve seen.

Livingston is home to PFL, a marketing technology company whose heritage is in print solutions but that has transformed itself amidst impressive growth into not only a serious player in the martech space but also one of the most coveted employers in Monana.

Their employees are as loyal as their management team is fanatical about creating a culture that prioritizes employees and customers alike.

I had the pleasure of speaking at a PFL event this summer, and beforehand getting a tour of the building and facility.  Over the ensuing 20 minutes I saw several signs of a great culture, few of which were bragged about but that made an impression nonetheless.

Here are a few I thought most interesting, all of which have implications for any company seeking to improve culture, employee retention and customer focus.

1. Comment Boards
They were scattered throughout the building, with plenty of contributions from employees.  What made these boards stand out from others I’ve seen was the follow-up – including responses from management, commitments & due dates as well as completed actions and results.  The follow-up and accountability made these so impressive and different.

2. Sales Teams of Three
The PFL sales team sits in pods of three, and the groups work together with a common goal.  Given the work hours PFL offers (more on that below), collaboration is critical to success but also helps improve creativity around solving customer problems & opportunities.

3. Personality profiles on each nameplate
Outside of everyone’s cube (PFL operates in an open-floor environment) is their name next to a grid that represents their personality profile.  Everyone in the company has one, everyone understands how it’s developed, and everyone understands what it means to see peaks and valleys in the profile matrix.  This makes communication easier as you work with people that have different strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, etc.

4. “Through These Doors…”
The PFL headquarters houses the primary manufacturing facilities for the company’s ongoing print production work.  It’s an impressive room with some state-of-the-art machinery, but most impressive was a sign above the two-way entrance door that read “Through These Doors Walk The Finest Manufacturing Professionals in the World.”  What a simple but amazing thing to say for so many reasons.

5. Transparency of Metrics
Every employee knows the company financials, goals, what’s working and what’s not.  This transparency engenders trust but also encourages employees to raise & ask questions, brainstorm on how to make things better, etc.  The creativity on problem-solving and quantifiable focus from employees well outside of “those who own the problem” ensues on a regular basis.

6. Customer Logos (and those they’ve lost)
Throughout the sales floor are logo plates of PFL customers.  What most impressed me about this wasn’t just the breadth of logos, but that past customers were still up there with a “lost” sign positioned across the logo.  It was hard to ignore these lost customers, and puts increased focus by all staff on figuring out how to get these customers back into the fold.  Great reminder that getting customers is important, but keeping customers long-term is key to success.

7. Three days on, four days off
Just 90 minutes from Yellowstone National Park and in the heart of some of our nation’s most beautiful country, PFL knows that many of its employees work to live, and live outdoors.  So they have an option for employees to work three long days on, then get four days off.  This allows employees to disappear into the wilderness – hunting, fishing, enjoying – then come back refreshed and ready again to engage with work.  It’s an option that many companies would consider risky but PFL sees as a key to employee satisfaction & retention.

8. Pride, trust and humility
This was more a passive observation than something specific.  Like many companies, PFL has employees at various levels – executive, management, front lines, etc.  But you’d never tell the difference by watching them interact.  The leadership team sets a tone of humility, trust and respect.  And it was clear that the feeling and interaction was quite mutual.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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