It’s been a while since I’ve posted on Rio’s culture and I wanted to address some of the questions I’ve received. After reading some of my posts on the background, the tools, and the nearly 30-year evolution of our corporate culture, a number of readers have asked what participative management is really like at Rio. Well, it’s like going to heaven for eight hours a day.
OK, it’s not really like that, but it’s closer than any other place I’ve worked. Because our corporate structure is about as flat as we can make it—we don’t have team-leads, managers, department heads, or supervisors—it means that everyone is empowered to show off their ownership mentality.
It’s never somebody else’s issue. If you spot it, you got it: anything from picking up that stray piece of paper in the hallway to calling together an ad hoc committee to tackle an issue in manufacturing. Expectations are high at Rio. This is not an environment where you punch in, in the morning, move stuff from A to B, and punch out in the evening. Not if you want to be successful. Without any managers, we’re ALL managers. It means we hold ourselves and each other accountable for serving the customer to the absolute best of our abilities. The point is we’re all in this together—my success depends on your success; your success depends on my success.
Our open door policy means that you can approach anyone in the building—other associates, coaches, directors—with an issue and expect to be listened to. They might not agree with you, but you’ll always be able to share your concerns in an open and principled environment. Unless my timing has been really bad, I’ve always been welcomed when I needed to talk.
Our open book policy means that we share our monthly financial performance across the company in team meetings. Since each and every associate is responsible for our performance—and shares in our profits—it’s only right that they understand how their work impacts our results. These discussions also help us determine how and where we can increase throughput, improve service and cut costs.
In general, we’re doing the same sorts of tasks each day, doing the job for which we were hired, but every day brings new challenges, new opportunities and new questions. How can we overcome? How can we improve? Who do I need to talk to about this? This is the most challenging environment I’ve ever worked in. It’s also the most supportive.
Sometimes folks hear about Rio’s culture and assume that it’s some kind of commune where we all wear necklaces of dandelions and clover. The fact is the Bell Family made the decision to move Rio Grande into participative management because they felt that informed, empowered, and caring associates would create the best solutions, provide the best service, and have the most fun.
Interested in participative management? Ever thought about joining us? Check out the opportunities currently available at www.riograndecareers.com.