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Creating This Type of Culture Helped Our Company Triple in Size

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When I joined my company in a leadership role nine years ago, I had an outsider’s lens in more ways than one.

Not only was I new to the organization and the people who ran it, but the industry of in-home healthcare was a big pivot from retail, where I had spent most of my corporate career.

What struck me the most as I embarked on new terrain, was the genuine kindness I witnessed from our people who were servicing our clients with great compassion. Our business isn’t built on transactions — it’s built on trust. Our clients have to feel confident in our ability to support and care for their loved ones.

As genuine as our approach was, it was also clear there were areas where our corporate culture needed reshaping. For example, I recall walking into our shared kitchen daily, only to find the sink overflowing with dirty dishes. In meetings, I would hear people blame other team members for performance issues — signs that discipline and self-responsibility weren’t being prioritized.

At the time, we had roughly 40 franchise locations, primarily in Canada. It was a healthy achievement, but I knew if we wanted to grow and expand internationally, we had to transform our culture and people practices.

Today, we have more than 300 franchise locations in four countries and have grown our revenue by more than 200%. We’ve also developed a culture where 60% of our people have grown into different roles, allowing them to build new skills and challenge themselves. Here’s how we’ve accelerated the growth of our company and developed our people by creating a culture of bold kindness.

Related: Why Patience And Kindness Need To Be At The Center Of How You Run Your Business

Defining a culture of bold kindness

Bold kindness is more than exercising empathy on a client phone call — it’s about shifting from a culture of “nice” to one of accountability while creating an environment where people feel their personal wellbeing matters.

Creating a culture of self-discipline and accountability doesn’t require instilling fear or pulling corporate rank — in fact, it’s quite the opposite. We’ve found when you empower your team at every level to play a significant role in decision-making, you can exercise kindness and care for their wellbeing. This inadvertently helps build intrinsic motivation where teammates are driven to take ownership over their own work.

According to data from McKinsey employees who are intrinsically motivated are 32% more committed to their job, have nearly 50% higher job satisfaction and perform 16% better than other employees.

Today, everyone in our company works towards the same vision — we call it our “painted picture.” We set bold goals, and each one of us is accountable for helping achieve them, but we also respect that every team member has their own process for getting there.

This intentional shift towards balancing a culture of self-responsibility with care for our people shows up in every aspect of our teams’ performance. From putting their own dishes away in our now well-maintained shared kitchen to the increase in our Net Promoter Score from the low 50s to the high 70s — bold kindness has motivated our team to achieve exceptional results and to be proud of the work the team has done.

Related: Compassion Will Boost Your Business: Making The Case For Showing More Kindness At Work

Knowing the people behind your performance

We recently had two people within our company become first-time dog owners. We celebrated these milestones similarly to how we would if a team member had a baby. We were flexible in allowing our new dog owners to work from home and allowed them to transition back to in-office hours on a schedule that worked for their unique situation.

In both circumstances, we wanted the underlying message to be clear: We value you, and what you’re going through matters. Operating from a lens of bold kindness means taking the time to understand your talent as people first. By celebrating and supporting each team member’s journey, both personal and professional, you foster a sense of belonging and care within your workplace.

New research shows that when employees feel a sense of belonging at work, they are five times more likely to want to stay at their company. On the other hand, employees who feel insecure about their place within an organization are less likely to collaborate, share their creativity or perform to their highest potential.

In contrast to traditional corporate environments, when our people come to work, they aren’t expected to leave personal matters at the door. If we ask someone how their day is going and they sound off — we stop to check in. We want to know what is really going on with our teammates, whether it’s personal or professional.

Encouraging people to show up as their whole selves to work isn’t a license to forgo professional duties when a personal matter arises; it’s acknowledging the circumstances they are facing and supporting them through it so that they can do their best despite the distraction.

Related: How Your Company Culture Can Be a Force Multiplier (For the Good and the Bad)

Showing up as a human-first leader

As CEO, I’m not immune to personal challenges. Just as I encourage my people to show up as their authentic selves at work, I’m transparent about my life with my team. As a leader, I’m aware that how I show up at work sets a tone, and it’s my responsibility to shape an environment where everyone can thrive.

When I walk in on a Monday, I take time to greet everyone and listen with genuine interest as I hear about their weekends. These personal connections have been essential to our team’s success.

A global study by the International Social Survey Program, published by the Harvard Business Review, showed workplace relationships have a significant impact on job satisfaction. Not only that, but researchers at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Minnesota have confirmed close relationships at work increase productivity and result in higher levels of commitment, better communication and morale.

I’ve worked in traditional business environments where orders are expected to be followed without question and where parts of my identity weren’t welcomed. I’ve experienced firsthand how that kind of culture kills morale and innovation, and it always comes from the top.

Bold kindness isn’t taught in traditional business schools yet, but for us, it’s been a game changer. Not only has the shift in our culture helped us triple our company’s size and expand internationally, but it’s also created a work environment where I and everyone around me feels supported and inspired.

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