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'I believe that culture starts at the top, and therefore I need to communicate as much as possible about what I am doing, thinking and implementing – and why. Culture change moves slowly, but I think we can make notable improvements by early in 2011,' writes Trimark CEO Will Andrew in his first blog post. (Rosa Park/Rosa Park for The Globe and Mail)
'I believe that culture starts at the top, and therefore I need to communicate as much as possible about what I am doing, thinking and implementing – and why. Culture change moves slowly, but I think we can make notable improvements by early in 2011,' writes Trimark CEO Will Andrew in his first blog post. (Rosa Park/Rosa Park for The Globe and Mail)

Leadership diary

#1: Preparing for a cultural sea change? Take a deep breath Add to ...

***This diary entry is part of a series on employee engagement called Capitalizing on Culture. The series follows Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Trimark Sportswear Group and its quest to improve company culture.

Leadership diary #1

When Will Andrew was appointed president of Trimark Sportswear Group on June 1 this year, tinkering with the culture of the Richmond Hill, Ont., company wasn’t exactly his top priority. But he has since envisioned the possible benefits. Here he chronicles the start of the process.

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Will Andrew

Communication will be key

As we embark on this journey it is clear that we need to keep many things in mind and watch the balance between execution and the development of our culture. The goal is to improve performance, both at a corporate level as well as a personal level. Culture and core values play a critical role in guiding us through our decisions, but we must be mindful of the law of diminishing returns. If we focus on culture too much, we may sacrifice our daily performance, so there has to be a point where we recognize that our effort is not worth the return. I am keeping this thought in the forefront of my mind.

I believe that culture starts at the top, and therefore I need to communicate as much as possible about what I am doing, thinking and implementing – and why. Culture change moves slowly, but I think we can make notable improvements by early in 2011.

I want to share an analogy that I see as relevant to this story and how it supports the idea that everyone needs to be involved. If you look through a kaleidoscope and it’s a solid piercing blue, I think of that as one vision, one colour. As soon as you inject yellow and green and orange and then you spin it, what you see is a very different vivid picture, and it’s also changing. While one colour could be beautiful, it is much more dynamic and visual as a mosaic; I think of everyone playing a part to create something greater. This evolution of our culture is as much about each person’s journey as it is about ours as a company.



See more from the Capitalizing on Culture series:





The spotlight needs to be focused on everyone, not just senior management. It’s not, ‘Can the president make the culture a beautiful shade of blue?’ but rather a mosaic, where everyone is engaged. There is a lot of pride inside our company, and it is deeply rooted. But how do you show that? I think it takes events like the Olympics to say we’re on centre stage.

I very much want this Globe series to be about Trimark and the people there, instead of being solely about my learnings and leadership.

Our management team came to the realization that culture may in fact be the missing link in our strategic execution. I believe the following results from a 10-year study on companies that have focused on their culture compared with those that have not, conducted by John Kotter, co-founder of the leadership organization Kotter International, highlights the reason we have made it a priority:

  1. Revenues increased 682 per cent vs. 166 per cent.
  2. Stock prices increased 901 per cent vs. 74 per cent.
  3. Net income increased 756 per cent vs. 1 per cent.
  4. Job growth increased 282 per cent vs. 36 per cent.

Are there going to be elements over the next few weeks where I’m going to be apprehensive about what’s going on? Absolutely. And to the best of my ability, I’ll try to be as transparent as I can, share my insights and reading material. But I hope we don’t hit those walls. I’d almost like the story to unravel first and then write about it, because then we would know what happens.



See more from the Capitalizing on Culture series:

Through stories and video, The Globe and Mail will be checking in with Trimark’s new president Will Andrew and his team as they go through the process of identifying and implementing the steps toward achieving a winning culture. Experts will offer their insights about the importance of such a process and the things a company should – and should not – do along the way. Mr. Andrew will contribute a regular diary about his experiences, good and bad.



Will Andrew
Video introduction to the Capitalizing on Culture series Meet Trimark president Will Andrew as he explains how and why he wants to improve his sportswear company's culture

A Trimark Sportswear employee at work in Richmond Hill, Ont.
Related contentIntroduction: Company culture in the crosshairs Week one: Trimark president Will Andrew embarks on a quest to improve his firm, starting with a winning corporate atmosphere



A Trimark Sportswear employee at work in Richmond Hill, Ont.
Related contentLeadership diary - week one: Preparing for a cultural sea change? Take a deep breath It’s not all about management, or just employees; it will be a group effort, Will Andrew writes in his first leadership diary

To some people, “culture,” in the corporate sense, is a bit of a fuzzy concept. Still, even if they can’t exactly define it, anyone who has worked for a company with an unhealthy culture knows it. And anyone who has pushed for culture change in a workplace understands just how difficult that exercise can be.
View the full series: Stories, video, advice, tips and Trimark president Will Andrew's diary

 

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