Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ecolink Inc.’s Quality Policy and Cultural Norms

Ecolink Inc. is small company, but you couldn’t find a Fortune 100 company that takes its organizational culture more seriously. Located in Tucker, Georgia, Ecolink ( develops and formulates industrial degreasers and solvents. Maybe not a glamorous business, but Ecolink long ago saw an opportunity to leverage its environmental stewardship and help customers make smart choices. “Sustainability is simply the right thing to do,” the company President, John Roudebush, explained. “Secondly, it gives us a huge opportunity to tap into new business. We get a lot of new customers by saying, ‘We’re here to sell you less and safer chemicals.’ It’s a message the really resonates with the environmental, health, and safety community.” The focus on reduction of environmental impacts became one of the driving themes of Ecolink’s business. When the company implemented ISO 9001, they wanted a quality policy that really set the tone for their business practices and strategy. Environmentalism was one of the key principles that was stressed. Never mind that it was a “quality” policy, the point was that this was a major part of their business strategy and it needed to be highlighted in their policy. As John Roudebush led the company through the development of the quality policy, other important themes emerged. These included work-life balance, positive karma, and high integrity and ethics. The final result was a wide-ranging and unique quality policy that truly fit the organization it was written for. John Roudebush decided that he wanted to go one step further than the quality policy. What sort of employee behaviors would reinforce the principles this company was founded on? This led to the development of the Ecolink Behavioral/Cultural Norms. They represented a natural extension of the quality policy, but defined actions and behaviors that could be put into practice every minute of the day. Over the years the Behavioral/Cultural Norms grew to 25 specific actions that reinforced the organizational culture that John Roudebush was trying to establish. These included such things as “Check your ego at the door,” “Do what’s best for the client,” and “Create a feeling of warmth in every interaction.” In order to make sure every employee understands the Behavioral/Cultural Norms, Ecolink maintains a weekly schedule whereby each employee gets a turn to discuss what a norm means to them. The employees bring the concepts to life through practical examples of how the norms guide their actions. So, when an auditor asks, “How do you communicate and support your quality policy?” John Roudebush tells them to sit back and relax. It might take a while.

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