Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
The Little Red Book that Could
Training and documenting 'The Pardee Way' creates a culture that builds continuity and empowers employees.
Cohesive workplace culture and social responsibility
Pardee Homes has implemented Six Sigma, a painstaking methodology that uses data and statistical analysis to measure and improve a company's operational performance. Former General Electric head Jack Welch popularized the process. To date, 280 Pardee employees have completed training, 28 employees are Green Belt certified, and 13 current employees have completed Black Belt training.
"We recognized from a series of employee surveys that there was a request for more training that would enable them to do their jobs better," says Mike McGee, president and CEO. "They were looking for analytical tools — how to problem solve, how to qualify their judgments to be sure that they are making the right kinds of decisions.
"Six Sigma seemed to satisfy part of that need," McGee adds. "Culturally, we have kind of a two-part mantra around decision making. First, we want to continually improve in everything we do. And second, all decisions should be fact-based."
The goal was to encourage a disciplined approach to decision making throughout the company and help employees feel more secure and supported in making decisions because they were based on objective standards and empirical evidence.
Pardee has also had great success institutionalizing its workplace culture through production and distribution of a simple, little red book. "The Pardee Way: Seven Cultural Principles that Guide and Inspire Us," enumerates principles that center on customers; employees; teamwork and cooperation; performance management and accountability; business ethics and decision-making; innovation; and the bottom line. The Pardee Way encapsulates a distinct company culture that existed before the actual book did.
"We would hear things just anecdotally in the hall," says McGee. "People tell stories: 'I remember 10 years ago such and such happened.' Or 'When Mr. Pardee was here, we used to do it like this.' People who were well-tenured in the organization had a real connection to a feeling associated with that story. And that feeling translated into a behavior and an approach to the business and the customer. That led us to one day say, 'We need to capture those feelings somewhere so that it survives all the successions in management that will take place over time. Because it is still the Pardee name on the door, and although Weyerhauser Company owns us, we need to honor the legacy of the Pardee name every day."
View the Professional Builder Great Workplaces 2006 Profiles:
- WCI Communities
- Pulte Homes
- Pardee Homes