Scott Construction leaders at a ground breaking ceremony in in Richmond, BC. (Photo: Scott Construction)
For Scott Construction, company values aren’t just platitudes that hang on the wall in the break room. They represent an authentic reflection of the company culture as a whole, and they are part of what’s pulled the company through tough times.
Scott is a Vancouver-based general contracting and project management company that works on institutional, commercial, and residential projects. Darin Hughes, president at Scott, recently sat down with Procore President Steve Zahm to discuss Scott’s company culture and what it means to live its values.
How Great Values Drive Great Work
Finding a set of true guiding values starts by looking inward. Hughes believes that values need to be authentic in order to work. “A lot of people set the values, and then they direct the culture to wrap around those values,” he said. Sometimes, however, this results in a list that doesn’t hold any meaning to the company because it just doesn’t jive with the way the company operates.
Digging deep, Scott turned the process of establishing company values on its head, by focusing on what was already present in its daily operations: an entrenched company culture. “We’ve always had a culture. We asked, ‘what are we?’ and we built the values around that,” Hughes said.
When the crisis hit early in 2020, Scott leaned hard on its culture and values to get through the worst of the storm.
“The very first one of our values is ‘people first.’ Our approach to COVID in the very beginning was that it’s a people thing. It’s not about business right now.” Hughes explained. “Our initial response was to figure out how to make people feel safe, knowing that we don’t have the answers, and we don’t know what’s going to happen, and we’re going to keep communicating as we get more and more information.”
Safety Not Slowing Down
As the year progressed, and construction continued under strict protocols, those values provided a clear path ahead. Currently, COVID, more than anything, presents a safety concern, and so existing protocols were tweaked and bolstered to help everyone feel safe.
“It was about the cohesive group and all of us jumping in to do what needed to be done,” Hughes said.
Putting People First
Hiring and retaining talent as part of the “people first” credo has advantages here, too. Well-defined values, and the trust in the team to carry out what is necessary, speeds up the process and takes away uncertainty. Hughes believes building a company on trust means you can trust people to “make the right decisions for the right reasons.”
Retaining existing talent is a crucial part of the equation that helps the company thrive, especially considering the current industry-wide labour shortage. “When you’re talking about a labour shortage, you’re really doing yourself a disservice if you don’t look at your house first,” Hughes said. We look at everybody individually and ask what is it that keeps them here. What is it about that individual that drives them?”
Recently, Scott had a couple of employees who had to step away from work for some time for personal reasons, testing the metal of the company’s ‘people first’ values. Offering flexibility in times of need, the company supported those employees as people, reinforcing mutual trust felt company-wide.
“We know that the effort we put in now will remind all of our employees that we’re there for them during hard times, and we know that they’ll be there for us when we need them as well,” Hughes said.
Scott’s feeling of responsibility doesn’t stop at the company’s doorstep, though. Since the construction industry had been fortunate to keep operating throughout 2020, Hughes said, it needed to help drive economic recovery. “We have the responsibility, because our companies are in a pretty strong place, to grow and hire and invest in what’s next.”