Culture Chat

And other musings on humanizing the workplace
The Culture Chat Podcast: How Carfax Builds a Winning Team Culture

The Culture Chat Podcast: How Carfax Builds a Winning Team Culture

April 12, 2017
Maddie Grant

This episode is all about creating a Winning Team Culture, as CARFAX's VP of Human Resources, Adrienne Webster, shared with us.  And their formula's super interesting - combining being goal oriented, encouraging independent thinkers, wisdom of the crowds, and the 3 C's (collaborative, creative, and competitive) - listen to the conversation for the details!

Here's an excerpt:

Adrienne: ...a great culture is really created and it's sustained by a team. It's not one person, it's not a department, it's created and sustained by a group of people. So, you know, one of the core concepts, I think, when we talk about winning team culture is everybody needs to be accountable for that culture. ... So decentralized ownership is one of the key core concepts when it comes to what's important to creating that winning team culture. 
The second that I would say is, you know, we're a big believer in current wisdom of crowds. We believe that, you know, winning teams get a lot of feedback because we know that we're smarter together. We also play to strength, right, we focus on strength because not everybody can do everything. And so, it's important that people trust each other enough not to say, "Hey, I'm not good at this. I may need your help." 
Transparency is the other really key building block there. Making sure that people have access to information so that that they're informed and so that they can make the best decision. And then when they do make decisions, we want everybody to really focus on doing what's best for CARFAX.
Jamie: On the transparency piece, this is something we talk about a lot with organizations. I think of all the markers that we've been measuring in our culture assessment so far, transparency has been one of the more traditionalist scoring. In other words, this is a tough one. People gets scared about sharing information, it makes them nervous. Like what do you guys do to sort of make sure that transparency happens?
Adrienne: Well, I think the first thing is - and I'll go back to one of other core concepts - that wisdom of crowd. One of the key things about transparency is, you know, it shouldn't make you nervous because people should have an opportunity to provide input to the decision. One of the key things that we do here at CARFAX is we have a very clear game plan that changes every year. 
Dick Raines, who's the President of CARFAX, he will meet with every single team in the organization to go over, "Here's what we're thinking of for the next year." And then every single employee in the organization gets to vote on what they think the priorities should be. I's not based on their team and what's best for their team... You know if you were running the company, how would you rank these priorities? So when you get buy-in upfront from people, and you listen, and you make decisions then transparency becomes a much easier philosophy and way of life.
Charlie: Yeah. I mean, one of the things that we're starting to find in the data that we've collected or we continue to collect. Is that, there are this really interesting downstream implications and correlations between one culture marker and another. So, you know, we talk about inclusion as being also this sense of ownership and responsibility for the success of the organization. That also leads to transparency. And finding out which are foundational enough to drive in the kinds of behaviors you're looking for is the real challenge. 

Love this? Listen to the whole conversation here, subscribe over on Podbean or subscribe in iTunes by clicking that link or searching for The Culture Chat! And don't forget to give us a review if you like these podcasts! Do you have an interesting take on organizational culture or the future of work? If so we want to chat with YOU! Contact us to let us know and we'll set it up.


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