Why We Have a Strong Corporate Culture
Jim King 06.10.2022
The importance of Corporate Culture is well established in today’s business environment and known to be critical to a company’s long-term success. I believe that culture is becoming even more important today, as people seek to work for, and with, companies they feel a strong connection to in terms of values and purpose. Here at Okuma America, I see examples of this on a daily basis.
Company Values on Display
Recently we made a hire to replace an employee who’s retiring, and this individual did something that occurs regularly. By the time she reached her final interviews and met with me, she had gotten to know Okuma to a certain extent, both from interactions with staffers and research on the Okuma website. I typically ask candidates whether they’ve seen our employees live out our company values. She responded that our company values were on display with every person she met, and she felt this was impressive and something that set us apart from other companies.
Further, she expressed to me that this helped her conclude that “Okuma is the company I want to work for.” (And yes, we did hire her, I’m happy to say.) Values play an important role in helping employees derive a sense of purpose and contribution to an overall good, and this is a powerful driver for many on our team.
The Heart of Our Culture
There are many facets to Okuma’s company culture, and our employees and customers get to know them well over time. At the heart of our culture is literally “our heart”: the fact that our employees are passionate about their work and intrinsically motivated to serve the customer each and every day. Our utmost concern is for each customer’s success, and also for serving the manufacturing industry throughout the Americas. It’s important to note that our distributors share many of our values with us as well and truly look out for our customers’ best interests on a day-to-day basis.
Partnering for Customer Success
We had a scenario play out that’s just one example of the great lengths we go to in serving our customers. We received an order, and while this customer awaited delivery of their new machine tool, they began planning for the new production processes they intended to put in place. They sent a team to our facilities here in Charlotte to work on a test cut, and as they worked alongside people from Okuma and our partners, they made some unexpected discoveries.
Notably, they started to see improvements in cycle time for this particular part. With each passing day, they called in to their company headquarters, telling them they were onto something important and needed to stay in Charlotte a while longer. When all was said and done, they spent three weeks with us instead of the three days they’d originally planned. But in that time frame, they were able to uncover a substantial reduction in cycle time that made a huge difference in their ability to successfully launch their new product. As we worked together as a team, our values were once again on display, showing our commitment to quality, meaningful partnerships, and passion for manufacturing.
As we worked together as a team our values were once again on display, showing our commitment to quality, meaningful partnerships, and passion for manufacturing.
The Power of Controlling What We Can Control
Over the past couple of years, we’ve been subjected to a constant barrage of twists and turns in the business environment that present big challenges. To combat this, I remind our team that the best way to defeat overwhelm is to center our focus on “controlling what we can control.” I know that in our organization, what keeps everyone going is our foundation of shared values. No matter what’s going on around us, we know that each individual is empowered to put the utmost priority on focusing on our customers and the ultimate success of manufacturing. If we simply do these things, we’ll head in the right direction.
Culture and Values are an “Energy Outlet for Positivity”
If you don’t have a strong culture, and the organization isn’t bought into that culture, this can become a challenging environment for leadership. When pressures arise, you may see finger-pointing and excuses rather than rallying around to make positive things happen. For this reason, I refer to our values as an “energy outlet for positivity” that we can all plug into and draw resources to strengthen us individually and collectively.
“You Guys Are Different”
I make it a habit to meet with our newer employees after they’ve been with us for a few months, primarily to collect feedback about their experience at Okuma so far. Very often what I hear is that this is the most welcoming, family-oriented organization they’ve ever worked for. They see and feel our values being played out every day, and this truly makes an impression.
Our customers come in and feel and see this as well, and they appreciate the benefits of our strong value system. The benefits come from tangible outcomes like working tirelessly to achieve a significant reduction in their cycle time or some other means of impacting productivity. Our customers also feel the positive energy of working with a team that puts their interests front and center. We hear it all the time from customers, “You guys are different.” This is by design, and the reason we have such a strong company culture in place is to benefit our employees, our customers, and the industry as a whole.