Companies approach the development of Mission, Vision and Values statements in a number of ways. How they come up with them is one thing. How they reflect reality and become one and the same with how the company operates, even exists, is a whole different thing.
For Austin, our Values were established by our founder, Samuel Austin in 1878. I am sure that if Mr. Austin were to be asked to define his values, he would likely scoff at the idea because his values were so inherent to who he was; he probably would think simply “I am who I am.” But, 136 years later, more definition is recommended for an organization that has evolved over time.
So three questions: First, how do our Values reflect who we are? Second, and more importantly, do our Values accurately reflect our culture and how we treat each other and our clients? Finally, how do we recognize, celebrate and reinforce those Values companywide?
Last year, we endeavored to tackle these questions. A committee of employees from non-management levels across the company was assembled to create a program to recognize and celebrate their colleagues demonstrating Austin Values in the daily execution of their work. The plan was to hold two nominating sessions per year. They called it “Austin’s All Stars” and nominations would be anonymously reviewed by a committee and finalists would be selected based on the testimony submitted. Three or four finalists would be the All Stars, and a winning nomination would reflect the MVP.
This is a great program! Employees developed it. They run it. They recognize the performance and Values.
We just finished the third session of Austin’s All Stars. We believe that our Values of Honesty and Integrity, Safety and Quality, Professional and Technical Excellence, Cooperation and Collaboration, Respect, and Cultivation of Long-term Relationships are shared by all employees. Nonetheless, nearly 30% of eligible employees have been singled out by their peers from all across the company for exemplary demonstration of these Values in their work. Different Values are cited in each of these nominations and, in my opinion, they are spot on in what they recognize. It’s a great experience to call someone and tell them they have been selected as an MVP or All Star.
Our teammates really reinforce the Values we attest to and we look forward to continuing the program. Austin is honored to have this kind of response to a program like this. I congratulate everyone involved in this program and thank them for raising the bar higher each day. I think Mr. Austin would stand there, cross his arms and smile at the recognition that some things stand the test of time.
Then he would get back to work building great things.
“Success is due less to ability than to zeal.”
“How wonderful it would be if people did all they could for one other without seeking anything in return! One should never remember a kindness done, and never forget a kindness received.”