How Values Plus Ownership Thinking Can Drive Success

By Marty Parker

We all know that a strong culture can drive both team and organizational performance. When that culture is based on a strong and accepted group of values, and when your team takes pride and ownership in their role and in the purpose of the organization, great things can happen.
I recently sat down with Wayne Chiu, founder and CEO at Trico Homes, to talk about how ownership thinking and putting culture at the centre of strategy have helped the organization achieve great results.

The interview has been edited for length, but you can listen to the full conversation here.

Marty Parker:
Wayne what role does culture play in developing the strategy at Trico Homes?

Wayne Chiu:
In 1999, we started to look at communities as our competitive advantage. So, what we did in 1999, we started to donate money to different charities in Calgary markets. First of all to create a brand for the organization. Second of all is, hopefully with these brands, we are able to get our team to buy in to what the company is doing – not just making money, we like the community to benefit from it as well. So, we start to create… a corporate social responsibility.

From then on, we dive down into what does that mean on corporate culture? At the end of the day, we created a corporate philosophy. That corporate philosophy today is what we call doing well by doing good… [W]e want to make money from the communities, at the same time we want to make sure that we care about community. We contribute back to the community as well. With that in mind, that creates a culture of engaging the committees. The team knows about what we are doing and they will make sure that they all support this engagement with community culture in our day-to-day operation.

Marty Parker:
Trico Homes has five core values and trust, respect, integrity, community, and opportunity. And I’m very interested in hearing more about the community and opportunity values. Not words we see listed as values very often. How do those two in particular show up in your day-to-day operations in the organization?

Wayne Chiu:
I mentioned earlier the community, basically is our community engagement as an organization. Opportunity means when we are doing business, we want to make sure that we are able to create housing which is valuable to our customer… they are making the biggest purchase of their life and we want to make sure that they won’t be disappointed on the purchase. So, these become opportunities for them to look at their homes as opportunities. At the same time, it’s creating opportunities for ourselves and for our team, which we try to make sure that our team is able to look at maybe the movement for this organization, if they perform well, they have opportunity for them to look at different roles in the organization as well.

Marty Parker:
Now in your 2019 Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Culture Award submission, you said that culture is based on the principle of ownership thinking. I’m curious to know what that really means for your teams and for your organization?

Wayne Chiu:
The ownership thinking is basically that we encourage teamwork, we encourage that we support each other, we discouraged that “this is not my problem this is your problem”. We want to make sure that we own the problem. We try to create a solution for the problem, and then at the same time, the company is not going to point fingers at anybody. We try to make sure that we work together as an owner to solve the problem as a team.

Marty Parker:
Tell us about your goal and result approach to performance management. What does that mean, Wayne? And what sets it apart from how many organizations approach performance evaluation?

Wayne Chiu:
Well, we do performance reviews every quarter. So, we call it not a performance review, we call it a win-win agreement. This win-win agreement basically provides the opportunities for the team members to tell the management what they need or what they require on the job. At the same time, provide the opportunity for the management to understand the team member, what do we need to support both personally and professionally. To make sure that this win-win agreement becomes an opportunity for us to know the team better and at the same time for the team members to know company goal, the company direction better.

Marty Parker:
It’s really interesting. What role does this Trico Homes culture play in your recruitment and your retention efforts, Wayne?

Wayne Chiu:
Well, to me corporate culture is really plays a big role in recruitment especially… nowadays it’s a competitive market to hire good talent. We basically [think] that corporate culture is able to encourage people interested to work for us to look for a good fit, to look for… a company to have a caring culture. I think this combined all together is creating a recruitment tool for us as an organization. Sometimes I always think that a lot of people come to apply for our postings, they always say that they’re interested on our company because of our corporate culture. So, this to me plays a big role in a recruiting for a company.