It is critical for Leaders to create focus and one way to do that is to set a Goal or Mission for the team to focus on and take ownership of. The goal we established first at NYS and then for all of Nucor was simple but comprehensive. But just establishing it is nothing, getting everyone to live it and work it every day, that’s where the leadership must be walked and reinforced every day. Leaders must conduct themselves in all ways consistent with the goal. One significant way I did this was by sitting down with each new teammate early on and have these discussions with them. The reinforcement of these messages had to occur every day by me as plant manager or as CEO by getting out in the plant and ‘walking the talk’. That daily reinforcement built the trust necessary to get complete buy-in to our Goal. We will talk more about this and the connection to the interaction between teammates in a later part of this series.
Our Goal was ” To Take Care of Our Customers and we would do this by being the: Safest, Highest Quality, Lowest Cost, Most Productive, and Most Profitable steel and steel products Company in the world. We would do this while being both Cultural and Environmental stewards in the communities that we lived and worked in. Most of all we would accomplish this by working Together.”
Each part of the Goal had more significance to focus on. The definition of “Customer” was important and encompassed 3 groups: 1) the people/ companies that buy and use our products, 2) each and every teammate is my customer and each other’s customers, and 3) our Shareholders, who give us their valuable capital to spend wisely, efficiently, and profitably.
Next, the focus was on “Taking Care of” not satisfying. Why? Because it is an impossible task to always “satisfy” with so many different customers, both internal and external, but it is not impossible to “Take Care of” them by meeting and exceeding their needs without preference for one over the other. I could have 10 teammates, each wanting something different or with a different solution to a problem or issue. The likelihood of making them all happy or using all their different solutions equally was not possible but we could choose a direction that focused on our Goal which would be in all their interests, and ‘Take Care of’.
Safety is the first issue in the sequence for achieving our goal, and profitability last, simply because if you can build an environment, through teamwork, that creates a Safe workplace, then you have established the formula to become the highest quality, lowest cost, most productive, and as a direct consequence, the most profitable. Safety is first because without teams believing they are safe at work, they will not be able to focus on everything else successfully, it is impossible to be efficient if you are always looking over your shoulder for the next accident to happen. It is impossible to be a team if there is no trust that everyone is focused on working safely.
You will not be successful in today’s world if you also are not the best in quality, costs, and productivity! You have to be all of the above. The competition amongst Companies and Countries is just too intense not to.
It is also the right thing to minimize your environmental footprint in your community and to be leaders and active in your community’s success. These are the same communities that we all live and work in and our children, friends, and families spend their daily lives in. There is no other way to be and still “Take Care of Your Customers”!
The element that makes all the above possible is Teamwork. Everyone taking ownership of the “Goal” and supporting each other’s efforts and success. Everyone coming together as one to “Take Care of Our Customer”.
Staying focused and executing on the Goal is hard work, with failures along the way. Failing occasionally is ok, but only if we learn from them. With respect to our goal, that means always staying humble and really listening to our Customers, all of them.