Welcome to "Winning with Workers," a new monthly series from KnowHow that explores the eight transformative principles that leaders are using to attract and retain top talent in the restoration industry. Drawing inspiration from our book of the same name, each month features a new restoration leader sharing their experience growing their workforce and highlights actionable advice to help you do the same.

This month, we’re sitting down with Caleb, Head Coach and Owner of Paul Davis Restoration of Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis, to discuss the first principle: creating a distinct culture.

The numbers speak for themselves: KnowHow’s 2022 Restoration Workforce Survey revealed that 76% of office admin staff place a higher value on a strong team culture than on good pay and benefits, and 41% of field staff see getting to know their team as the best part of their onboarding process. A solid culture is more than just a nice-to-have; it's a critical business asset.

Caleb Brunz understands the power of a positive work environment. He puts it simply, "Happy people produce more. Those who like their jobs, the organization, and their colleagues get more done because they care more. They want to stay and see everyone succeed. If you're not focusing on this, you're missing out on a huge ROI."

Over 13 years, Caleb has grown his team from three to over 120, attributing much of this success to the culture he has cultivated. He firmly believes, "100% of culture starts with the leader and the leadership team. It's their responsibility to carry that forward and to protect that culture." This mindset has been pivotal in creating a workplace where people feel valued and motivated.

So, how did they build their culture? As he said, it starts with leadership.

Practical Steps for a Stronger Team Culture

  1. Define Your Values Clearly: Ask yourself, what are the goals, priorities, and guiding values that your company aspires to achieve? For Caleb and team, it’s grit, growth, integrity, compassion, and respect. Not sure what yours are? Consider these questions:
    1. What type of behavior do we want to see our team live out with each other and with our customers when no one is supervising them?
    2. What values need to be established, instilled, held by all, and praised to culminate in this behavior?
  2. Recognize Good Work: Do this both publicly and in private. It motivates and sets a standard. Caleb says, “We have a saying that’s: find people doing things right. It's so easy to find where everybody needs to improve and change, but a human nature sometimes is just focused on the negative and we make it a point to focus on the positive.”
  3. Communicate Effectively and Often: Keep everyone aligned with regular updates on goals and expectations. Caleb says small interactions matter too. “I make it a point to walk around the office and smile and say thank you to people for doing what they're doing.”
  4. Address Negative Influences: Be willing to make tough calls on staff who don't fit the culture, for the team's overall health. Caleb puts it simply, “I'll say it this way, I'll steal it from Gary Vaynerchuk. If you're not willing to fire your highest performer because they are killing your culture, then you're not a good leader.”
  5. Foster Team Growth and Development: Invest in your team’s skills and career progression long-term. Offer training, mentorship, and opportunities for advancement. This shows your commitment to their growth and the company’s future. Remember, a team that grows together stays together.

Building a team that not only supports but elevates your business is all about cultivating the right culture. As Caleb Brunz's story demonstrates, a strong culture is more than just a set of values; it's about consistent action, effective communication, and a willingness to make tough decisions for the greater good of the team.

Eager for more insights? Listen to the full interview with Caleb on YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts. Next month we’ll be back with more actionable advice, outlining another principle to help you attract and retain talent.

Building a winning culture is an ongoing journey, which requires consistency and intentionality among all leaders and managers in your organization. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel, just take small, consistent steps and you'll be on your way to creating a team that not only works for your business but also grows with it. If you need a hand along the way, the team at KnowHow works with industry leaders to build more competent and confident workforces.

Find more ways to equip your workforce with confidence at tryknowhow.com.