Dina's Blog

  • What I Told 1,800 HR Managers

    If you want to build a great company, you have to hire great people. It will make or break an organization if you fail in this area. And while you’re at it, try attracting people with strong values.

    Dina Dwyer speaks to audience

    Photo by David J. Stana

    I was recently a keynote speaker at The HRSouthwest Conference in Fort Worth. It’s the largest regional conference of HR professionals in the country. And with some 1800 attendees there to celebrate the 75th anniversary for the gathering, the goal of superior talent acquisition to recruit and hire the best people for growing organizations has never been greater.

    HR managers have tough jobs to find, recruit and retain great people. And if that wasn’t enough, they are working in a climate where issues of overtime, healthcare coverage, parental leave, and more are topics at the national forefront. It’s not just important to fill a job. It’s important to build a team, foster a good culture, deliver careers with meaning, support work-life balance and do it in ways that are beneficial to everyone. That’s no small task.

    Congress is watching. Hiring managers are the eyes and ears of national workforce issues that legislators look to for real information.

    There are now more than 285,000 members of the Society for Human Resources Management, the nation’s largest organization of HR leaders. And 96,000 of them hold professional certifications. Last year, Congress and federal agencies reached out to SHRM more than 100 times to advise them about workforce issues.

    And when advocating and lobbying for workers, I am reminded how important a Code of Values is to both the employee and the employer. Employers want to build successful companies and employees want to find satisfying careers. Somewhere in between, those goals must meet. And a strong Code of Values can get them there.

    Do employers and employees follow the same rules? I went undercover to find out.

    When I looked at how fast The Dwyer Group was growing several years ago, I became increasingly focused on making sure that the Code of Values we were promoting at our company was reaching the grassroots level across our organization. That’s one of the main reasons I went undercover on “Undercover Boss.”

    As David Ahearn, the MC of The HRSouthwest Conference said on stage: “Climate is what you have when the boss is around. But culture is what you have when they’re not.” He had a point. After all, if I had decided to visit franchise locations across the country without going undercover, I’m sure I would have been treated to a front row seat on anything I wanted to know. But I wanted to see the business in a way that a total stranger might see the business. I couldn’t be the boss to get that point of view. But what I got along the way was an invaluable treat as well.

    I found the culture across the service brands at the Dwyer Group to be in good and capable hands on the front lines of our business and on national television for millions of viewers. I had service technicians whom I had never met explain the Dwyer Group Code of Values to me. I sat in company meetings as an outsider and watched service technicians recite the values before getting into trucks and heading out on service calls. I saw them walk the walk and talk the talk, reinforcing the themes of Respect, Integrity, Customer focus and Having fun in the process. They were living examples of our goal to Live R.I.C.H. at Dwyer.

    Were there also some problems in front of the cameras that needed to be addressed and resolved? Absolutely. And we looked to the Code of Values for correction. It was the kind of happy ending that proved we have nothing but a strong future ahead for our business with a Code of Values as our map to follow. And while we are not a perfect company, we work hard to do our best every day.

    Growing great teams means that everyone believes in the values of the organization.

    I told everyone at HRSouthwest what I’ve learned firsthand. A lot of organizations work hard to define a Code of Values for their business. But the key is putting those values into action on a daily basis for the benefit of everyone.

    Too often, these goals and aspirations sit idle and remain framed on a wall somewhere. But living the values at Dwyer Group means saying them at the beginning of meetings, reciting them by heart with heart, and looking to the system (those values) for direction. It happened on “Undercover Boss,” and it happens everyday when the cameras are not running too.

    And that’s what I told 1,800 HR managers in that crowded convention:

    We tend to look at people as the problem, but more often than not, it’s the system that has the answer.

    A strong code of values, the kind that you read…recite….live…and follow can be the solution for your organization too.