Culture as a Verb – How Organizational Development prepares us for Growth

Culture as a Verb – How Organizational Development prepares us for Growth

In the dictionary, the word culture is defined as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, culture is a corporate buzzword defined as, “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” As a verb, culture is a scientific notion defined as, “maintain (tissue cells, bacteria, etc.) in conditions suitable for growth.”

At IMG Enterprises, we approach culture as verb – a living, actionable set of values, attitudes and rituals that grows and develops organically from within, guided by the intentional focus of our Organizational Development and leadership teams. It prepares us for continued growth and progress of the enterprise.

In 2012, we established culture interviews as part of our hiring process. This was in recognition that it is not just technical skill sets and experience that make a person valuable to the organization; but rather, an alignment in values and purpose will allow a person to contribute wholly all of his skill sets and energy. These common values set the foundation for the employee and enterprise to grow together.

Today, a common culture is present in every employee of the enterprise – whether newly hired or tenured for over 20 years. Yet, each company, department, team and individual is experiencing our corporate culture at different levels and with different needs. At Cherrylake this past year, much intentional work has been done to keep our culture in motion.

Cherrylake is experiencing a strong and stable market environment, and has Organizational Development programs that are mature. Over the past 10 years, much work has been done to develop and promote the culture and values within Cherrylake. One area of focus recently has been on developing training and growth opportunities, reaching our field labor and amplifying a culture of wellness.

In order to build a strong and stable workforce, we need to ensure our culture is being felt and adopted in our operational labor force. This group of employees is often difficult to reach — due to their physical location in the 1,800 acres of fields and on jobsites, their lack of a corporate email addresses and a language barrier with a predominance of Spanish speakers. In 2017, we launched a TV portal system with screens placed in multiple locations around the farm such as the field staff break room and the loading dock. These digital screens broadcast visual messages in both English and Spanish, and provide an outlet for the OD and management teams to communicate horticultural training, safety reminders, corporate strategy, employee appreciation and company accomplishments.

Intentional work is being to provide our Crew Leaders and Foremen better access to leadership and growth training. By building their leadership skills and alignment with our company culture, we can ensure that our culture and values permeate to all of our field and labor staff – which is the largest percentage of our employees. We are developing and deploying internal training courses, such as Introduction to Plant Biology and Active Listening. We have also contracted with a bilingual leadership coach to provide one-on-one and group training sessions to Crew Leaders and Team Leaders.

Our construction and maintenance foremen are being provided many training opportunities this year, notably on LEAN/Operational Efficiency. For their line of work, having more training on the steps and processes of LEAN empowers them to lead their teams with innovative ideas, and transmit our value of continuous learning and improvement.

It has been rewarding work to focus on this level of leadership. The employees are receptive, motivated and encouraged to feel a closer belonging to the core values of the company. They feel more equipped to maximize their leadership role, and feel more fulfilled in their purpose and value within the organization.

Coupled with the rebranding initiatives, office ergonomics that promote wellness and teamwork were amplified. We have converted 17 offices to stand-up desks, increased the indoor plant program, redesigned the Administrative Break Room to promote healthy eating and relaxation, created flex spaces for work and lounging, and redesigned our main meeting space to be more interactive with floor to ceiling whiteboards and flexible office furniture design. We contracted with a wellness coach to provide monthly Chi-Tao workouts for both large and small groups of our administrative and field staff, in addition to workshops on healthy eating and juicing. A community garden was created in the field staff parking lot funded by the company, but self-managed by employees to garden, harvest and distribute. We have over 40 employees participating in our 2018 Run the Year challenge, where teams commit to running 2,018 miles in the calendar year. These wellness initiatives have been embraced and magnified by employees openly sharing their personal wellness initiatives and successes, from walking or biking around the farm during lunch, to a body transformation of 40-60 lbs weight loss.

At IMG Citrus, the challenging industry environment framed a different focus for organizational development and focused the team around the FY2017 strategic priority of:

Engage the whole organization around our shared vision:
To successfully navigate the current turbulences, every single employee must be fully engaged, ready and able to contribute to moving forward our vision and our strategic priorities.

More than ever, communication needs to be increased and flow freely up and down throughout the organization. Critical strategic priorities should be communicated widely and understood by all so that all can contribute to achieving them. Leaders have to step up to support their teams, ignite passion and provide clarity of goals.

A first initiative was launched with the development of the five words that describe the purpose of the IMG Citrus organization. Inspired by Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, this was done engaging the entire organization to contribute and reflect on the current and future objectives of the organizations. These ‘why’ words provide clarity to what the team is motivated to achieve: Family, Growing, Health, Innovation, Commitment. Around these words, employees find common sense of purpose and comfort that the objectives of the company align with their personal goals.

The OD team made itself more present at the Vero Beach offices through quarterly meetings and video conferencing. The team also created opportunities to disperse the existing culture in softer ways. The interior office plant wellness program was brought to IMG Citrus. Social media was identified as an effective means to communicate with all employees – from administrative staff to seasonal packinghouse employees to off-site grove employees. Our presence on Facebook more than doubled in the past year and has allowed both IMG Citrus and Cherrylake employees to build camaraderie around the culture and success of the company.

It is exciting to see the many actions being taken enterprise wide to enhance our culture and reach every single employee. Whether its coffee machine chat, walking meetings or Active Listening training sessions, our culture here is always in action — with the goal of improving and enhancing the quality of life of our employees, customers and vendors.