September 24, 2018

The Summer Rules

At the start of 2018, I became the lead of Kenway’s Human Resources organization. To say I was excited is an understatement. As one of the first people to join Kenway, I have seen, firsthand, the creation of our culture. To now be leading the organization whose objective is to uphold, maintain and enhance that culture was an honor, and a bit intimidating.

Those of you who have read Kenway’s blogs or newsletters know that at the heart of our culture are our Guiding Principles. We often refer to them as the beacon of our culture, used to guide us when having all the tough conversations and making all the tough decisions that come with running any business. I knew that to be successful in this new organization, I needed to become even more familiar than I already was with this set of principles and their use throughout Kenway.

The first step for me was to speak in as many forums and to as many people as I could, about our Guiding Principles and employees’ feelings towards them. As I started this journey, one of the first things I noticed was that some of our newer employees found our principles to be “scary” or “intimidating.” In digging further, the fear was most often rooted in the feeling that if they “violated” one of the principles, there was going to be a perception that they were a bad person. Some conversations needed to take place to soften the misconceptions around the Guiding Principles while maintaining their standards.

As I thought about how to address this misconception, something my husband did within our own household came to mind. This past summer, my husband created a list of “Summer Rules” for our children and taped it to our refrigerator. These can be thought of as our household Guiding Principles. With two young children, I can say that not a single day goes by without some violation of these rules. Sometimes the violations are small and sometimes they are large, but never does that mean my children are bad people — they are amazing.

My kids knew that if they broke a summer rule, we would talk about it, and do better the next day. Even eight weeks into the summer, they still ran downstairs each day to read them and talk about them. They were not scared of the “Summer Rules” and they did not worry if they broke them. The breaking of the rules was simply a way for them to better learn what could be called our household culture. This further illustrates the effectiveness of written rules/principles, no matter the age of the audience.

I want Kenway’s newer employees, and all of Kenway’s employees, to have the same confidence in navigating Kenway’s Guiding Principles that my kids had about the “Summer Rules.”  Each new employee spends their first day at Kenway in new hire training with our CEO and members of our Human Resources team. The first hour of training is about getting immersed in our culture, and discussing the Guiding Principles is, of course, a large part of that.

We now make it a point to let our new hires know that there is not a person at Kenway who will not, at some point, violate one of these principles. I have done it and even our Founder, who wrote them, has done it. We also have a deep dive session with new hires several weeks after their on-boarding and, while we have only had two sessions, there was great excitement and positivity, and not one ounce of nervousness.

My vow to Kenway’s employees present and future is that our culture will not be one that punishes for the occasional violation but rather one that takes the opportunity to grow, learn and be better. If you are interested in being a part of this culture and starting a career at Kenway, visit our Careers page for open positions.

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