Bill Wilson, Alchemy President
I recently had an amazing conversation with someone who has observed hundreds of organizations up close by meeting their employees. This is the story of that conversation.
Alchemy’s main office is in Reno, Nevada, on the second floor in an office complex. Jeff, our UPS driver, lugs countless packages up the stairs and personally hands them to us. He is cheerful, friendly, and is always “on.” Jeff strikes me as a wonderful person.
I always offer him water or a snack, which he politely declines. It has become a game for us that generates a laugh. I offer something, and he says, “No thanks. I just had one in my truck, darn it. Next time.”
I ran into Jeff two weeks ago at a local restaurant. I sat down with him (he declined my offer of a cookie), and we enjoyed lunch together. We had an interesting conversation about how he became a career UPS employee.
After graduating from University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), Jeff taught school in nearby Incline Village. To make ends meet, he continued his college side job at UPS. UPS won out because of pay, good managers, and a strong culture. Twenty-eight years later he is still at UPS in Reno.
I asked Jeff if he can walk into a business and determine if they are a good company. The answer is…absolutely! He says it takes about three deliveries to get a feel for an organization.
His single determining factor of the quality of an organization is the attitude and disposition of the people who take his packages. Specifically…
1. Are they friendly and appreciative of the delivery?
2. Will they readily answer the door?
3. Are they willing to sign for packages?
4. And do they say thank you?
From Jeff’s perspective, these polite and friendly behaviors correlate to people who like their jobs and who work for a company that is well run. Signing for packages is an indicator that an employee is empowered to show initiative and deliver the package to another person in their organization.
I know that we have great people and a strong culture at Alchemy, which Jeff validated. Still, it was nice to hear it confirmed by an expert with three decades of observing hundreds of companies and their people.
The lesson in this experience? Culture matters. Great people are attracted to great cultures. Building and preserving culture is just as important as revenue, sales, market share, and other measures of performance. A strong culture is built by engaged employees working effectively together and supported by a company that values this synergy. In the end, this culture trickles down to your customers, your bottom line, and your package delivery person.