At DEFENDERS, we have a vision. Our vision involves a winning company. However, we realize that we are only as good as our team members. In order to have a winning company, we need a company culture that exceeds others.
To help foster this vision, we ensure our team members know how important they are, from day one.
DEFENDERS has a program that welcomes employees on their first day. We call the first day “Culture Day.” Rather than cramming new employees into a room and throwing a ton of information at them during orientation, DEFENDERS takes a vastly different approach.
“Culture Day” is a day entirely devoted to personal growth. No overload of information or discussions about how to improve the business. No talk about the bottom line. Instead, we dedicate this day to helping people define individual goals. Employees leave their first day on the job with a personal goal, instead of a professional one.
All new employees receive a tool called the DEFENDERS Leadership Advantage Board. Our founder, Dave Lindsey describes the board as a tool for success: “This tool provides a four-year roadmap that guides employees on a path of self-improvement focusing on three categories: reading for self-improvement, volunteering to serve others and involvement in company culture-building events.”
As part of this growth process and four-year plan, employees are encouraged to take courses in leadership and self-improvement and even build homes for the poor. All of this is fully funded by DEFENDERS. Some programs even include funding for a spouse to join in the fun.
Dave believes that you really can’t grow a business without focusing on helping your employees become better people. “I’ve learned that success isn’t about having a better plan or a widget,” Dave said. “It’s about helping your employees, because every time they grow, you and your business will grow. That’s what keeps us going, that’s our true purpose — to build and develop leaders. Everything else just falls into place.”
One reason DEFENDERS excels is the incredible support system among teams and team members. Teams participate in weekly, and sometimes, daily huddles. Individual goals are posted for all to see. Making goals visible and achievable is an important part of success.
Rather than creating a competitive environment, displaying goals lets other team members see what employees are striving toward. Team members offer help and support to see that all members meet their goals. Employees are also given the freedom to focus on those goals instead of constantly managing distractions. Team members are set up for success every day.
Empowering others to become leaders is at the foundation of our culture. As part of this vision, DEFENDERS gives employees the time they need to participate in service activities and focus on personal goals. All employees are allotted personal days to use however they choose. Because personal goals and self-improvement are so important, employees are encouraged to use personal days as they see fit.
In addition, employees are given service days where they can actively participate in giving back to a charity of their choice. Employees often take part in charities such as Homes for Hope, Habitat for Humanity, and the Make-a-Wish foundation.
A stroll through the office on any given day will reinforce these principles and illustrate how important community service is to DEFENDERS. The walls are covered with real goals for each employee. Pictures adorn almost every hallway highlighting the charities and organizations that benefit from the donated service of DEFENDERS employees. We also strongly encourage our employees to find a cause that matters to them and bring it to our attention so that others can participate and help if possible.
Knowing the importance of leadership, founder Dave Lindsey created a program called trueU. trueU helps businesses support employees and grow leaders. This program brings together other organizations with similar goals for helping “their people grow through self-awareness, personal development, servant leadership and connection.” Helping others is what we do.
To spread the word about connection through service, Dave also founded the Super Service Challenge in 2011. The Super Service Challenge is a contest that encourages service through the sharing of stories. Organizations work to help charities and the Super Service Challenge awards money to the winning nonprofits. It catches on. Since 2011, more than 2,000 organizations have participated in the challenge.
Charitable involvement is not just something we do once a year. It’s the foundation upon which our business is built.
And believe us, it’s contagious. By fostering this type of working environment, most employees enjoy jumping on our bandwagon.