Discussion between attendees at Culture Academy 2019, pre-COVID-19. (Photo: Procore Technologies)
Procore is hosting its 5th Culture Academy, a two and a half day immersive culture and leadership experience that unites like-minded construction executives committed to cultivating a healthy workplace culture. Culture Academy emphasizes the fact that a positive and engaging company culture will build more profitable businesses. In other words, a healthy company culture helps the bottom line.
Although Culture Academy is going virtual this year due to COVID-19, the event’s pillars remain the same; collaborate, innovate, and apply. At Culture Academy, attendees have the opportunity to connect and create with Procore executives and other industry leaders as well as apply the tools needed to maximize culture development once they graduate from the program.
Jobsite recently got the chance to talk to four alumni of Culture Academy; Julien Fersing, Co-Founder & CEO of SWISSROC Building Intelligence, Carl McFarland, Market Sector Executive at Kitchell Contractors, Angie Simon, CEO of Western Allied Mechanical, and Peter Tateishi, CEO of the AGC of California, to learn more about their experiences participating in the program. Here’s what they told us about how they have been able to leverage their company culture as a unique competitive advantage.
Impact of Culture Academy Q&A
Jobsite: If you had to pick, what is the one most important lesson you learned while attending Culture Academy?
Fersing: Culture drives business, especially in our industry. We tend to forget the importance of culture in construction, probably because we focus our eyes on the output: a material asset, building concrete, heavy structure, etc. But behind those wonderful achievements are people who work together. It’s clear that in order to be successful, every company in the construction industry should build a quality working environment, using culture as the clay.
McFarland: Culture Academy highlighted what I felt was the key element to enhancing our culture. They provided a clear rationale as to why we believe we are seeing an evolution of values. Culture Academy emphasized that “language drives culture, leaders model culture, and teams multiply culture.” We knew that to enhance that foundation we had to move from more inherent values like “trust and integrity” to words or phrases that we could use in everyday language.
Culture Academy helped me understand the importance and need for values in our organization.”– Peter Tateishi, CEO of the AGC of California
Simon: Language creates culture, leaders model culture and teams multiply culture!
Tateishi: Culture Academy helped me understand the importance and need for values in our organization. And not just the words, but really creating common language and definitions around them so they can lead the cultural shift in the organization.
Jobsite: What does investing in company culture mean specifically for your business and business needs?
Fersing: The DNA of our company creates a fragmentation: part of our team is locally present where the construction sites are, the other part – the design team – is located in another country. Yet, I need both teams to work smoothly, like a Swiss watch, and with the same attention to details. Both teams share the same link which is the internal culture. Therefore, an important investment needs to be made in order to secure those values across teams and to ensure that our clients are getting consistent quality deliveries. We leverage technology to answer the challenges of construction, both human and on site; conducting such a digital transition requires a strong culture of change.
McFarland: We have faced unprecedented times during the year 2020 and now more than any other time in the history of our generation, we believe enhancing an organization’s’ culture is no longer optional for long-term success and viability. This year’s adversity has been met with an extraordinary human spirit of innovation that is now on a trajectory that we believe will bring more change in the next 10 years than we have seen in the last 100. Culture Academy has provided our organization with a fundamental understanding of the ingredients and recipe required to prepare the culture of the modern business era.
Simon: It means we have happy, engaged and fulfilled employees. It means great employee retention and more profits with happier clients.
Tateishi: As an organization that brings the construction industry together, leading our internal culture also sets the stage for how we can influence the culture of our industry. Construction is evolving and pivoting in real time. It is critical that our organization not just lead, but helps equip our members on how to drive cultural change. Our workforce needs depend on the culture we build today.
Jobsite: How has your company seen success in the time since you participated in Culture Academy?
Fersing: Following the Culture Academy, we decided to take action by addressing some of our pain points such as internal communication. Having everybody onboard for those workshops helped us to identify multiple solutions and challenge them internally. Teams started to notice that they had the ability to impact the company structure, which was something I had difficulty conveying previously. Those changes were not all successful and we had some failures, but since we were all in it together, it created a new momentum in which we were able to try, fail, learn, and repeat. Ultimately, it allowed us to create a culture of change, of taking risks and learning important lessons much quicker than we used to. We are now looking for a system to promote those failures and to encourage teams to continue looking for the hidden gems among us.
Ultimately, it allowed us to create a culture of change, of taking risks and learning important lessons much quicker than we used to.– Julien Fersing, Co-Founder & CEO of SWISSROC Building Intelligence
McFarland: Key members of our leadership team attended the first Culture Academy prior to the unprecedented events of 2020. Looking back, we now realize how fortunate we were that our culture enhancement journey was already underway. By applying the principles of Culture Academy we are already seeing our newly developed and more tangible values being utilized in everyday communications and actions within the organization. In the face of significant adversity, we can now point to our “true north” with conviction!
Simon: Since I attended the Culture Academy, we have worked really hard to live and lead with our culture. We have had many opportunities to emphasize and repeat our core values. We have put out our newsletter and had two all hands meetings where the focus was on our core values. We have had very positive feedback from our employees.
Tateishi: Since Culture Academy, we have seen a new opportunity to introduce and drive impact around culture for the construction industry. We consistently hear about the need to recruit the future workforce, and we are seeing that with changing and evolving culture across the industry, we can have a real and meaningful impact on changing perceptions around careers in construction.