Column: Cherish your culture, especially if your organization is growing
You can read later in this story why as a transport and logistics entrepreneur I am going to talk to you about beer brewing in this Pils – erm, pulse story. Firstly I would like to reflect for a moment on the concept of growth: those of you who know something about our family business also know that in the last few months we have taken some significant steps. We have moved into new premises, with larger offices and much larger warehouse. Our company is growing in all aspects, both as regards quantity and quality. Parallel to this growth we have also implemented various technological innovations and – last but not least – we have welcomed a large number of new colleagues to Team Van Duuren.
In times of rapid growth, one of the best and most important challenges is keeping your finger on the pulse of your company’s cultural values. All the employees are ambassadors of your organization, both the colleague who has been with the company for 15 years and the young beginner who joined the firm just a couple of months ago. Because our employees are our most important assets, we would like to show both the outside world and those within the company that together we make our family business what it is.
Because we value our culture so much, we strive on a daily basis to maintain that culture. For example, in our own academy we have developed special programmes in which our employees can, among other things develop their ‘soft skills’, such as communicative skills and customer focus.
One thing that I believe is really important with this sort of initiative is that as management you must embrace this. In too many companies the management dump the learning programmes for personnel in the lap of the HR organization, and they must deal with it further. We don’t do that. At Van Duuren, we as management are ourselves the initiators of the programmes for our employees. Not because we want to make ourselves seem unnecessarily important, but because propagating cultural values is impossible if the management does not fully support it. We see HR as being enormously important, but we strongly believe that together we as management and HR must keep our finger on the pulse of our culture. Only in this way can we make each other stronger.
As a family business we know as no other that the cultural values you strive for are not so much different from those you want to achieve in your family: respect, transparency, honesty, trust … If you are able to achieve a secure culture, you will also see that wonderful things happen almost as if by magic. An example: I recently took a look at our own brewery. Providing logistic services is of course our core business and the Van Duuren Brewery will never compete with Heineken or Bavaria. But how great it is that, on the initiative of our colleague Eric Dijkstra, Van Duuren man from the very beginning, together with a group of colleagues, has come up with the idea of brewing some delicious beers together after work. A real mini-brewery has been set up, people from different departments have joined in, and there is now great enthusiasm for the project. Together the colleagues brew beers with names such as Box Truck Blonde, Trailer Triple and Interport IPA.
’What so good is that you get to know people that you don’t often speak to, or who you only see in work situations, in an entirely different way’, initiator Eric told me recently. I am sure that he is right, and that this sort of initiative contributes enormously to our Van Duuren culture.
So, this column is done. Time for a beer. A Van Duuren, of course!
Every month I write a column about my experiences as founder and director of Van Duuren. This column can also be found on our website and social media. Would you like to receive my column every month? Let me know by sending an e-mail to email@example.com and I’ll send it to you from now on!