Episode 32: Employee Appreciation

Posted by Krisi Schell on Mar 23, 2021 10:55:00 AM

Krisi Schell, Executive VP of HR at SRC, joins to talk about different reward initiatives that can show appreciation to employees and shares why some don't achieve the desired outcome.

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Episode with guest: Krisi Schell

Executive VP of HR of SRC Holdings Corp

(This episode was recorded in February of 2021.)


Key Episode Take-Aways:

1. Right now is a good time to recognize your HR team for all their work during the past year. (click to jump to this topic below)  I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to go and thank your HR professionals for all they have been through in the last 11 months now. And in addition to their day to day, they've been responsible for safety, developing new work environments, keeping people engaged when they're working remotely or working six feet apart.

2. Sharing the "why" with employees will help them understand why different guidelines or incentives are set in place. (click to jump to this topic below)  I it was actually really successful. But part of that was because I think we shared the why behind it. I think you got to make sure that you know, your people trust that you're doing things for the right reason. If that's not solid, then that's probably what you need to work on first, before you start to add some new hot program.

3. It is important to know what goals and rewards motivate the people in your company. (click to jump to this topic below)  Think about what's important as far as what people want to play for, right? Is it bragging rights? Is it an actual trophy? Is it a pizza party? I mean, what is it what actually makes a difference in your company, that you can help people to keep it a priority and keep going with it.  


Continue scrolling to read the full episode transcription.

Announcer 0:04

Each year for the last 29 years, a community of game-changers have gathered together from around the world to learn, share, and celebrate the principles and practices of the great game of Business at the world's largest conference on open-book management. This year, we are back in Dallas, baby. Stronger than ever because, let's face it, we are better together. Join us virtually or in-person in Dallas September 8 through 10th with a Great Game of Business Conference. Visit openbookedconference.com for more information.

Announcer 0:51

Welcome to the "Change the Game" Podcast, where we share stories of management and highlight capitalism at its best. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the "Change the Game" Podcast with special guests, Krisi Schell. In this episode Krisi discusses how rewards and recognition initiatives can show appreciation to employees and why some rewards do not have the desired outcome. Here's your hosts Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker.

Steve Baker 01:20

Welcome to the "Change the Game" Podcast where we are changing The Game by doing business differently. We're highlighting stories of capitalism at its best. I'm Steve Baker and with me as always is Rich Armstrong, president of The Great Game of Business and co-author of our new book Get in the Game, How to Create Rapid Financial Results and Lasting Cultural Change. Rich, how are you?

Rich Armstrong 01:44

Good Steve, how are you?

Steve Baker 01:46

I'm good. We are creating all kinds of rapid financial results and lasting cultural change. But we're really excited today because we get to do both at once with Krisi Schell. She's the executive vice president of HR at SRC holdings Corporation so our parent company SRC, Krisi was originally brought in in 2013 as our organizational development manager and head of talent. And in the past, she's been in technology and in the energy sector, and around HR marketing risk facilities management, she's like this Renaissance woman and I've known Krisi for a long time as well, what we're gonna get into that, I think. Out in our community, here in the Ozarks, she serves as a board member for the greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Professional Studies. It's kind of a joint venture with the Springfield School systems to get high school students into the idea of, "Wow, we could do something different than just going to college randomly, we could actually have a focus and also the Springfield Area of Chamber of Commerce and our Ozarks region workforce development." Whoo, Krisi, how are you today?

Krisi Schell 02:58

I'm doing great. How about you?

Steve Baker 03:00

Doing well. I'm excited to have you here, not only as a professional, but as a friend, because through the years, you've been really helpful to me and my family and my colleagues. Let's talk about your background a little bit, because this is really diverse, most people that would be considered, you know, HR, talent, organizational developments kind of focused in but you've been all over operations, and a lot of different experience in a wide variety of industries before even coming to us, can you talk about that a little bit, introduce yourself to our listeners.

Krisi Schell 03:35

Absolutely. So, I think first to start off, I went to college to become a psychologist, right, I was really interested in psychology and just truly have a love of people. And I also really enjoyed business. And so as I was going through college and realizing that, in order to actually make money with a psychology degree, I needed to either go through and get a masters or a doctorate, or I needed to find a way to use this in the business world or somewhere else where I was actually employable. And given that I have the funds to just keep going to school forever. Going really kind of you know, leaning on that love of business made a lot of sense. And I do remember having the conversation with my academic advisor and I said, you know, I think I'd really like to look at human resources because it is this perfect blend of people and business. And she said, you know, I really don't think you're gonna like it. She's like, it's all transparent, transactional and a lot of paperwork, and it's not what you're thinking it is. And I was like, okay, well, I think I'm gonna try it because I don't really have a lot of other options here. And I see that I think I'm gonna like it. And I think I've been incredibly fortunate that the HR field has changed so much over the years, you know, from the early 90s when I was having that conversation to today, when with professionals are true business partners, and so it's been a cool experience and all the business Is that I've been in that I really get to focus on you know, people spend most of their time at work. And so, this is a chance to really make sure that you know, I have a chance to impact their workplace and make it a great place to spend their day. So when people choose to spend their day at SRC, I want to do everything I can to make sure that they're spending their day in a place that is great to work, and that they can actually feel like they've made a difference and what they're doing each day.

Steve Baker 05:26

That's fantastic.

Krisi Schell 05:28

Following that, my first job out of college was with the electric co-ops. So, I worked for Associated Electric Cooperative here in town was a power generation and power generator for all the rural electric cooperatives in Missouri, southeast Iowa, and northeastern Oklahoma. So, I spent a lot of time and as I was there for seven years and had a lot of opportunity to work at the power plants as well in and out of the power plants as well as in the corporate office. And it was a very, I did a lot of technical recruiting. Also had the chance to do a lot of management and leadership development very early in my career. Even had a chance to work with succession planning, and connecting our high performers, to some of the most prestigious management development programs throughout the United States. And so, I feel really fortunate to have gotten those responsibilities early in my career, and it's been able to, it's just been able to build on that since that time. Also learned a lot you know, about, you know, very technical fields, you know, when you're working with electrical engineers, and mechanical engineers, and you're learning how power is generated and distributed, that really exercises a side of my brain that maybe I wasn't always focused on in the psychology and the more creative side. So just unbelievably fantastic people very professional organization. And that was a great foundation for me, I did have a chance to stay home with my children, while they were little, so kind of continued that people development on a very different scale. And so, I tried to start a couple of businesses while I was doing that, actually, Steve, you helped me create some logos for one of those. And I wanted to do training, I had a child that had food allergies. And this was when I was kind of at the beginning of those days when people didn't talk a lot about food allergies and going out to eat was quite a challenge. And so I put together a bunch of materials and kind of went door to door basically, for different restaurants starting to sell my services to help, you know, their staff understand the importance of food allergies, and turned out to be a great educational experience for those restaurants. But they were not interested in paying me for those services. So, when my youngest...

Steve Baker 07:45

You were just ahead of your time.

Krisi Schell 07:47

Yeah, there you go. When my youngest went to kindergarten, I went back to work and had a chance to work for a software company that was still in a startup phase. And they're here in Springfield, and they're doing why they're wildly successful today. And it's intuitive web solutions. And they have a product called bright core, which is an enterprise wide insurance software system that they were just building when I started, I was the 18th person and the first time they'd ever had HR. So that was an incredible experience for me, after being out of the workforce for a little while to have a chance to come in, really helped them build the HR processes that they needed to scale that business. And also learn a lot in that process. Right? In a in a startup, there is a lot of piloting, right? There's some trial and error, you figure out what really, you get to know the culture and you get to know the people and you get to try different things to see what's really going to work and coming from a utility industry. I had a lot of processes in my mind, right, I thought it was a very structured HR organization. And then you go to a software startup, and you implement some of those same practices that you thought were just the way to do everything. And you find out that that was a little more structure than a small software company needed. And a lot of learning occurred in the time that I was there. And I very much enjoyed it. So, after that company, we kind of went through some growing pains. And it was kind of just at the right time. Kristi Stringer, with Great Game sent me a message from LinkedIn that said that SRC holdings had an HR position and she thought I ought to look at it. So, they had great benefits very similar to the co-ops. And Kristi had spent some time in the co-ops too and she thought it might be worth my while to just check it out. When I worked for a software company we had actually in those growing pains, we had self-implemented pieces of The Game. We opened up our books and wanted everybody to understand kind of where we were. At that time, only a few of us knew our financial position where you go through some growing pains and rough patches, it's not always where you want it to be. So, we opened the books and wanted everybody to be on the same page with that. So, having a chance to look at, to get into SRC was really attractive to me, because I wanted to better understand those processes. Also, I'll tell you, from an HR perspective, prior to working at the software company, when people started talking about financials, I really just had my brain power down, that was not the part of the business that I paid attention to, whenever we were growing rapidly, and had a bit of a sales pitch. And that's when I started listening to the financials and realized how that impacts people, and how it impacts the fact that, you know, we, whether we were going to have to lay off people, or whether we could add or where we were going to be. So that was the other thing that may come into SRC really attractive to me was I knew it would be a chance for me to strengthen my financial acumen. And I can say that has been a definite benefit of being a part of this organization. So that's kind of where I am today, I have the chance to work in my current position, I have the opportunity to work with all the SRC companies. And I love that it's a great variety. It's a dynamic organization, there's always something going on. And I have a chance to work with truly fantastic people all across this organization.

Rich Armstrong 11:25

Yeah, that's true it with SRC, there's certainly a lot of opportunities to see business in a lot of different angles. Now, thank you, Krisi for that. And thanks for joining us today. It's really, really good to have you on here. And I was curious when you're talking about all that work experience. And you talked about that with the one company, the tech company, you had some experience with open-book management. But when you came on to SRC, and you got exposed to what SRC was doing and how we practice open-book management, were there any "aha" moments...

Krisi Schell 12:01


Rich Armstrong 12:02

that come to mind?

Krisi Schell 12:03

Absolutely. I think the biggest "aha" moment was that we kind of cracked our books rather than actually opening of our books. And I say that only from the perspective of we were sending financial statements out through email, we wanted people to be able to see those. And they were historical, though, right? We weren't going through the process, like we do here a Great Game, where we're looking to see where we are today and then comparing that to our future goals and what can we do to actually hit those goals? What do we need to change and adjust in order to hit the plan that we've committed to for the end of the month? The other big "aha" moment was the fact that we didn't take the time to teach people, right. I mean, I we were hugely fortunate to have the people in that organization are insanely smart, right? You've got software developers, that they're brilliant. So, I think they understood it, and were able to understand it better, you know, then maybe some others might be, but we've didn't take the time to teach it. So, did we really get the full and the full benefit by being able to help them to see how they impacted the numbers and how they impacted the different lines. That is something that we missed, we also didn't do it, although we sent them out through email, we weren't getting together and going through the numbers. And we weren't doing that in a in a rhythm where you had the chance for questions and really that feedback, it was always an open, you know, the end was always, you know, please come and see me if you have questions, you know, it came from our CFO. And I know, he would have been more, and he was more than happy to ask, you know, answer any questions that came up. But as people are busy in their day to day, that's different than getting together as a group and really focusing on those financials and having a chance to learn from others who are asking questions, and then hear the stories behind the numbers like we do here. We also, that was really the only part of the system that we implemented. And we didn't put together many, MiniGames, we didn't do bonus program. You know, our bonuses typically came out of when we were like it, you know, how you get rewards on your chase card, you know, and you kind of have this week, we would let our chase card rewards accrue through the whole year. And then we would divvy them up at the end of the year and that's how our bonuses came about. So, you know, credit card use was highly encouraged. But that's a very different method of bonus structure than what we have here where people can really see how they can impact it in we share in the wealth that we create.

Steve Baker 14:34

Well, I hope Jack Stack is listening because I just want to say, "Jack, see, spend more you get more bonus." That's what I'm hearing. Thank you, Krisi, for bringing that in.

Krisi Schell 14:43

Jack would say that obviously came from Krisi. So

Steve Baker 14:48

Well, you actually you're tying this in beautifully because the way that we look at it is that the Great Game is far more than open book, right? So, cracking the books are fully open. That's one component of know and teach the rules. And then of course, you gotta have accountability and forecasting and everything. But I wanted to kind of focus on what you were just hitting on there is the stake in the outcome. So that can be benefits package, you mentioned that it can be MiniGames, it can be employee ownership. I think we'll touch on that later. But, let's talk about some of those benefits and bonuses and things like that, that that oftentimes, people struggle with at the leadership level and ownership level. Because, you know, research has shown us over and over again that that usually bonuses to employees are never enough. And bonuses to owners and leaders are usually they feel like too much. And so, it's just a wrong thing, instead of an SRC is the first place where I ever was, it was revealed to me that - oh, we generate the bonus, we actually earn this thing. So, you kind of know where you are at any given time because of the financial acumen you've referred to. So, let's talk about this. You've seen in all of your experience across all these different organizations and sectors, that there are different rewards, and there's different recognition programs and that sort of thing. I know you've been involved in implementing a lot of those things. So, can you tell us what stands out as a best practice, outside of SRC, because we'll, we'll come back and talk about that.

Krisi Schell 16:22

So, you know, I think first before I kind of get into those. I was talking with Rich earlier. And if for those listening, if you haven't thought about recognizing your HR team after what they've been through since last March, 

1. Right now is a good time to recognize your HR team for all their work during the past year.

I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to go and thank your HR professionals for all they have been through in the last 11 months now. And in addition to their day to day, they've been responsible for safety, developing new work environments, keeping people engaged when they're working remotely or working six feet apart from people and all the times in a mask, with safety glasses, maybe that potentially are fogging up and driving them crazy. And so, they're working hard to keep morale up. To keep people safe. And then all the while they are doing everything, they can to stay up to date with CDC guidelines as they continually evolve and change and get their people information on vaccines, and really, truly just keep people safe. So, when we're living in a world where a cold not cold, right, and where, you know, somebody just lost their sense of taste. And that was the only something that they you know, potentially had. And we're really just, you know, heightened on that. I think a little PTO would go a long way for those folks, whenever we get back in their recovery, a little bit of a break would be highly appreciated. So aside from that, I think best practices in general, what I see across our companies, as well as in other companies is that peer to peer recognition is a fantastic way for people to truly feel valued. And I'm going to share probably a little bit more about what we do here, even though I have seen it in other companies too. And to me that they one of the best examples from another company that I wouldn't and the software company that I was in, we would keep those crush sodas in the refrigerator. And then every once while we would run kind of a program where people would come by and they give you a soda and they'd say you're crushing it, you know, or you'd have like a sticker on it. I mean, this a simple thing like that. But when it comes from someone who you work with every day that is recognizing that you're excelling at what you're doing, it means a lot. Here across the companies that we have so many different programs. So, we do have organization wide recognition, that's called a spotlight award, and that is a formal process where people put you know, you actually write in your submission, and you highlight how someone went above and beyond. Many of our companies have taken that to a little simpler process within their own organizations. And they call it the flashlight awards. It's just a spinoff of the spotlight award. And again, though it's taking the time to write out what they've witnessed where they've seen somebody go above and beyond in their company, and then submit that and then individuals get usually a prize. One NewStream has little flashlights that they give out with that. Then you know, you get a certificate for getting that award and recognition in the organization. Some of our others have kind of a thumbs up thank you that they do. We have a company that does a You Are Awesome and they have an iconic person that actually announces that in each of their huddles that in a really fun way and reads that what was submitted and then lets that person know that they're awesome. Through COVID we have been having at least weekly calls for the across the entire organization and early and we and it was just kind of crushing everything that we were trying to figure out, it was apparent to us that we needed to end those calls with something good. So, while we initially did kind of a call out for people that organically shout out, you know, to others what they'd seen that was good across the organizations, and then we formalize it a bit. Now people submit those, and we read our formal Tell Me Something Good, more kind of like a little radio broadcast at the end of each of those. So, peer to peer is really, I think, important, whether that's formal, or whether it's just an organic shout out. Also, another thing that I've seen that really helped us a lot was we've been focusing on retention for the last several years, and we were struggling with people that would leave in that first year of employment. So we decided to step up our service award program, and we now give a Service Award after the first year, it's an acrylic, number one, and it's given to the metal huddle, but it's just to thank them for all their contributions to that first year, we also added a three year award, and just looking at those milestones to help people realize that matters to us. And that that one year, you know, for you to stay, you know, a year, three years, you know, don't wait till the five year to actually say thank you for being here. The other thing we did, and that is the three year again, you get an acrylic number. But we partnered with OC Tanner for our service awards program. And they actually, if we get a nice booklet that we give that has a message from our CEO, and then they associate gets to order from that. And there's a list of gifts per service year, and then those go to the home. So, it's a nice tie in so that their families can see that they're valued at their place of work. And so, you know, dad or mom gets a package in the mail. And it's their service award from SRC, that has everything with it in a logo in there, too. So, I think that was an important thing that we did from a recognition standpoint, I'm trying to think. So those are just a couple of things.

Steve Baker 22:16

And that's great, because I see a combination of, I mean, a spectrum, if you will. So, you've got the peer to peer, which really costs nothing. It's just simply a pat on the back an at a boy or at a girl as they say, all the way up to a reward system based on sticking around and being a creative part of the business.

Krisi Schell 22:38

I think you know, something else that Great Game offers that all of our organizations use is you've got a recognition tool that allows you to capture information from each of your associates that lets us know how they like to be recognized with some of their favorite things. And then also, that some of our organizations have incorporated that form into their annual paperwork, you know, as they're updating their contacts and benefits firms and so forth. So that way, they're keeping that information fresh. There's nothing that you can do worse than publicly recognizing someone who finds that to be the worst thing. Right? I mean, then you've totally taken away, you, it felt so good to get that person up in front of 200 people and test how fantastic they are. And inside, they're just dying, right. And so, it's really important to know your people know your culture, and really know how they like to be recognized. All you're trying to do is make them feel special and make them feel valued. So, it's important to get to know them and find out the best way to do that.

Steve Baker 23:43

Yeah, for sure.

Rich Armstrong 23:44

Good advice.

Steve Baker 23:46

I think that anybody that knows me, or has heard me speak before knows I'm pretty passionate about that Stake in the Outcome section because I work for companies my whole life that you didn't know what was going to happen, you know, where are you going to get a bonus? Was there even a bonus program? Who knew? But I heard this one recently and it's pretty close to home. So, I just want to share it with you and see what you've seen out there as a professional in the people business. So, there's a national ad agency that I heard just introduced, very excitedly introduced unlimited vacation, kind of inspired by Netflix and very cool tech companies in Silicon Valley. And so, the ownership of the business is like whoa, whoa, this is amazing. I live in it, you know, they can really get some press out of this. But here's what I heard. So, I know people that work there and what they heard was, "Oh, I get what they're doing. They're trying to take something away from me" because what they immediately started texting one another is links to like Inc. magazine about how, you know articles that you know we're kind of outlining that "Oh, unlimited vacations a scam" or this or that and in one particular instance is going one guy goes I only got three days of my 21 days last year. What's unlimited gonna do you know, so in other words, I had the complete opposite effect they intended. And I was just wondering, have you seen other examples like that where this brilliant new hot idea actually backfires?

Krisi Schell 25:11

Yeah, I think so for sure. And when you talk about unlimited vacation, especially, I think so I mean, I will say, I've implemented that before in another company, and

2. Sharing the "why" with employees will help them understand why different guidelines or incentives are set in place.

it was actually really successful. But part of that was because I think we shared the why behind it. You know? So, part of that "why" was that if the fact that we knew this, people were working all the time anyway, and so if they were working at night, and they didn't want to come in the next day, great. You know, I mean, it's like, we wanted to treat them more like owners and help them to see that we really understood that they were responsible adults, and they could have the flexibility to take the time. The other thing is, it was a business reason. And so, I just, I'm gonna give us insight. And then we can talk about kind of other things, too. When you have vacation, on your books, that's a liability. And whenever you run into a cash crisis in your organization, especially if you have to right size a company, paying out that vacation does not help your cash position. So unlimited vacation, also allows for a company to be able to give vacation freely, based on responsibilities, everybody knows, they still got to have to get their work done. But it removes that vacation liability from the books. And so that was an openly shared purpose whenever we did that, and people liked their jobs more than they liked their vacation banks. So, I think a lot of that goes to, you know, how to how do you clearly communicate and help people that understand the why and the how? So that would be something that I would encourage in that. But I think with any of those kind of hot sizzle programs that are out there. Not every company needs a ping pong table. Not every company should have a cafeteria, right? Or have lunches all the time, which you really got to know is what did your people value? And what's going to help you make your business goals? Right? How are you going to be successful as an organization? And then if something seems like it's the right thing for your people, maybe have a committee that helps you decide to you know, grab some people within your organization. Don't just have it be some decision that's made on high. Let's find out, is this something that's really going to get the result that we're seeking? And then think about that before implementing. It sounds to me like it was a great idea. That seemed like would be a huge perk, that fell flat. And so, I think you got to make sure that you know, your people trust that you're doing things for the right reason. If that's not solid, then that's probably what you need to work on first, before you start to add some new hot program to make your people feel valued. Such good advice.

Rich Armstrong 28:09

No, that's great. That's great, really good advice. Kind of shifting gears just a bit. Krisi as we talked a lot about creative communication, specially communication techniques and engagement techniques. And this past year we've probably tapped in as many as we possibly could do. But one of the success stories that I think SRC as and this has gone on for a while is what SRC calls their Owner's Cup, which is an annual program that's been running SRC for a number of years. Can you talk a little bit about that, and what that really has done the impact the organization? Maybe specifically how it supported us through this, you know, this pandemic change that we had to go through?

Krisi Schell 28:57

Sure. So, the Owner's Cup came about in 2014, it was our first year to launch it, our ownership culture committees, we have those in each of our SRC companies and that was actually those committees. That structure was put in place in 2010, 2011, just prior to us actually going 100% ESOP. So, as Steve mentioned earlier, I joined the organization in 2013. And one of my roles was to be the chair of the ownership culture steering committee and really champion the game across the companies by working directly with those OCC. So, I mean, that was honestly, couldn't have been a better gift for me coming into SRC to get to work directly with those organizations. In some of our early meetings, they were all very dedicated to The Game and to making sure that their companies were playing at a high level, but they felt like we needed something that would keep that as a priority for our top leadership. As priorities within the organizations shifted, as you're kind of looking through with each of our companies, we every company plays The Game. But every company is decentralized. And it looks a little different in each of our organizations just the same as it looks a little different, in each of the Great Game companies that are listening to this today in the community. So, we do tend to focus on outcomes, rather than being prescriptive in the way that we play The Game. And so, we tried to do the same with this Owner's Cup. So this group, as we were meeting, they came together and they said, We need a competition, we are so fiercely competitive across this company, we need to lean on that leverage it to make sure that we're playing The Game at a high level and continuing to shine a spotlight on this so it doesn't lose its place in the importance of our organization. And so, we created a game. And that first year, we worked really intensely with Great Game, Rich actually went to all the companies with me, we went through and we kind of did an audit of everyone's Great Game practices. And we had Donna Coppock, and many others from the from Great Game, help us to figure out where everybody was at, and then put some goals together to really get back to basics and best practices of the game. That game has evolved, the game of the competition has evolved greatly since 2014. In just real quick story that I wanted to share, is that one of the cool things about SRC is that we are so bottom up, right. And so, you know, our associates have a voice, and they really do have a hand and how this company is run. And I, you know, I said I came in 2013 we ran the competition for the first year in 2014. At the end of that competition, I had a group come to me with a PowerPoint of how this competition could be better. Because we don't do things with holdings, putting things from, you know, on high down, they wanted to make sure that this was done in a way that each of the companies can set their own goals, prioritize what made sense for them, so that they could really put efforts in place that were going to improve the practices of The Game that they needed to strengthen. And then that we would evaluate towards those goals. And so that's what we've done. And I just love that because it's so true to SRC. And as I said, that's continued to evolve over the years. We have, the competition itself is focused on the goals that the is that the company set for themselves. And they do progress towards those goals throughout the year. They use the practice scorecard survey to assess where they're at each year, and to help set those goals. So that way they can see based on their associate feedback, what areas of The Game they're strong in, and where they really need to dedicate some efforts and some training and coaching, you know, to kind of step that up. We also focus on our financial accuracy or our forecast accuracy. And we base that on monthly basis as far as actual true projections. And we use our kind of consolidated financials for that. We also do know and teach through the year. So, our organizations focus on education bites, and they share those. And so that allows us to share some best practices across all of our SRC companies through The Game, and then we, you know, borrow and steal from those so that we can all kind of share in that learning. We also at the end, I'm kind of skipping around to hear a little bit, but at the end of that competition, we invite in some outside Great Game practitioners to sit on a panel and listen to the presentations from each of these OCC's that they capture everything that they've done through the year. And there's a rubric that our panel of judges use to evaluate how each of these companies have played The Game. And how they've really increased either from the their MiniGames, or from their education, or the recognition programs, you know, what have they done towards their goals. So they said at the beginning of the year, in this past year, we were fortunate enough to have Cindy Stein, from Greene County, we had Heather from Vital Farms, and we had Kelly Jane Von from Paul Mueller all come and sit on our panel, we really appreciated their time. So, whenever I look at what happened differently in 2020, the first thing I would say is that we started off the year going to be just like any other where the companies actually came in and they were ready to go through their goals. And ironically, that day, that meeting where they were coming to go through their goals, was the exact same day that really the pandemic hit. And so, we had the OCC's in our large conference room, and all of our executives in the boardroom trying to figure out what we were going to do. So, it's a moment in time that I felt very divided on where to be in that moment. And also, I think it just was really kind of an indicator of the how things were going to get a change through the year. What we ended up doing was kind of taking a step back and talking to our OCC's and our leadership teams to find out what was going to make the best sense for this year. And what we landed on was, this is a year, we needed to invest in training. So, we wanted to be sure that are OCC’s, that their chairs and their advocates really understood the different steps of The Game. And so, we use the Great Game Community to actually take them through all of the Get in the Game steps. And then they also did peer, the peer groups with coaches after each of those steps so that they can talk about... ask questions, talk about what was happening in their companies, and how they could best implement the different steps of The Game to really strengthen their gameplay within the SRC companies. There was really some hesitation, to be honest, among the leadership team in the beginning on whether or not we should play this competition in 2020, we were all, you know, we were on shared work. So, we had, you know, people out, their people were working, you know, three days a week, through a large part of the year, given the pandemic, and people were working at home. It was tough to get our teams together and go through this. But I think that what was awesome is that our leadership teams, all of our general managers, overwhelmingly said we're gonna do it, this is who we are, we're going to play this game, we'd ask you to make it as least administratively burdensome as possible. And we want to invest in training. And the results of that training were very apparent in the presentations, the understanding of The Game and the steps, that 10 steps of implementation were at a level we've never seen before, from our OCC chairs, and those presentations. So, I'm very proud of what they've accomplished in a tough year. And really proud that this competition allowed us to keep our culture and keep this as a focus throughout the year. So, one of the big impacts and takeaways, so many, many games played, right. So, when you talk about a Stake in the Outcome, and you think about the rewards, bonus programs, some of our companies were able to attain some levels of bonus in 2020. But the by and large, the majority were not given the market conditions. MiniGames are what you lean on, right? Whenever you're not making bonus, because that is where you can get some wins, you can actually have some financial savings. And you can reward people for what they've done. So, we had a lot of MiniGames going on all across the organization, and to the tune of saving $2.7 million across the company through those results. So that alone is worth playing, playing the game and worth reading the Owner's Cup. But that was just one of many outcomes that we saw from that event.

Rich Armstrong 38:06

Amazing. Well, congratulations on it. It was it's interesting when you have that kind of rhythm to the organization and the competition. And I know that's maybe a little unique for SRC, the way we like to compete against each other and the sister companies. But to put that out there, it was really interesting how people rallied around it and said, Look, if there's anything we can do this year is to protect our culture and, and enhance our culture in in the pandemic. And it was really done well. With that said Krisi, though is that if you had you know, what, advice maybe would you have for listeners that are saying, Okay, that sounds interesting, I'd like to, you know, build something like that with my own organization, any kind of advice you would give to these organizations and how to put these programs together?

Krisi Schell 38:53

Yeah, and I yeah, absolutely. I think first of all, what you just said, is usually one of the first questions that I get, as far as you should, I don't want to run a competition in my company. I don't want departments to be against each other. And so, I do think, don't be afraid of a little friendly competition. It just makes us all better. And it is friendly competition. So, I would encourage that. I would first ask you to find your Great Game champions and influencers in your company. If you already have an OCC in place, then I would go to them. But I'd ask them to help create this in a fun way that they are actually developing, you know, what are going to be the goals? What are the things you're going to highlight? What are the metrics you're going to use, and you're going to track through the year? So we know that the things we measure are the things that we end up, you know, improving, and so make sure one, that you've got a way to measure success in each of the different areas of whatever game you decide to put together. It should not just be all fluff and sizzle, right. You got to have some hard numbers so that way you're able to go back and yes, I did make an improvement in these areas, and I you can compete against different companies. The other thing I would just suggest is, if you're able to if you do the practice scorecard, and then that's a great thing to go back to and be able to see what areas of the game do you need to sharpen a little bit? And what can you put in place to actually make that happen? And then, you know, how can you just strengthen overall, I think the other thing I would encourage them would encourage any company to do that's wanting to play a game like this is

3. It is important to know what goals and rewards motivate the people in your company.

think about what's important as far as what people want to play for, right? Is it bragging rights? Is it an actual trophy? Is it a pizza party? I mean, what is it what actually makes a difference in your company, that you can help people to keep it a priority and keep going with it. Something else that we've learned over time, too, is, you know, be reasonable in the goals. Because if one department if the goals are so high, that you start to see people, not, they seem as unattainable, then people lose interest and don't end up going through the whole game. And I would maybe start with just, you know, no more than three areas to start off with. I think over the years, ours has gotten kind of complicated, which is it's works, it works for us. But I'd start simple. And be sure you're focusing on some things that you really want to improve, and then look at ways to kind of maybe add to that over time.

Steve Baker 41:44


Rich Armstrong 41:44

Awesome. Great advice.

Steve Baker 41:46

Yeah, we appreciate it, Krisi. This is all I mean, there's so many notes that I've made. But I've taken away things like, we're like you just said, set aggressive, but reasonable goals, encourage healthy competition within an organization where you're not tearing one another down, but really raising the bar for one another, that the Stake in the Outcome is far more than bonus plans, and that don't go for the schmazell or the sizzle. It's make sure that you back it up with training and understanding and the why, just so much that we've talked about, we always like to wrap up by asking this question, what's the question we haven't asked you yet? What should we be asking Krisi Schell?

Krisi Schell 42:28

I say? So, as we're talking about employee appreciation and recognition, you may want to ask me, should you make a big deal of Employee Appreciation Day itself?

Steve Baker 42:40


Krisi Schell 42:40

I would say, only do that if you're showing appreciation all year long. Recognition is really only appreciated if you're taking care of all the basic blocking and tackling of being a great employer, you got to have the wages in place, you got to have benefits, you got to have, you know, hours schedules that actually allow people to have quality of life. And if things are in place, then you know, thank yous and pizza parties, and having t-shirts and all those things are icing. But those other things have to be in place first. And you know, just a simple thank you goes a long way. So, seeing people all throughout your organization, saying hi, saying thanks for being here, especially on days like today when there's a ridiculous amount of snow outside and it's freezing cold. And people have braved the weather to come in. Saying thank you for showing up is a huge thing. And so, it doesn't have to be something big and over the top. Be sure you see your people.

Steve Baker 43:46

Employee Recognition day is every day.

Krisi Schell 43:49

That's right.

Steve Baker 43:51

I love it. Well, Krisi thank you for being here. We really appreciate what you do for the organization and for you sharing the wisdom that you've accumulated. Thank you very much.

Krisi Schell 44:02

Thanks for having me. It was really fun. Appreciate it.

Steve Baker 44:05

Rich, thank you for joining us and the great questions that you always bring. Guys. Let's keep the conversation going. Let's make sure that you're sending us your questions, your stories, send us your best practices and your ideas, your challenges, and your victories. Remember, you are not alone. You're part of the great game community. We're looking forward to hearing the next story. Let's hear about capitalism at its best. Thank you for joining us and we'll see you next time.

Announcer 44:32

The "Change the Game" Podcast is produced by the Great Game of Business. To learn more, visit greatgame.com.

Topics: Company Culture, Leadership, Transparency, Rewards and Recognition, engagement, business planning

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Hosted by Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker the Change the Game podcast highlights true life stories of organizations influencing positive change by doing business differently. They’re teaching people how business works and closing the gap between the haves and have-nots. It’s capitalism at its best. Inside each episode, you’ll discover stories of entrepreneurs who are Changing the Game.

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