Cole's Salon and Spa

Statement: "I believe this company is going in the right direction."

Q: How do you identify and evaluate future goals?

A: We believe a company is most successful when the team comes first. Education is our secret ingredient. We are all getting better every day. We are feeding our minds with new information and planning and preparing for the next best thing. All of us believe in improvement and encouraging each team member to reach their potential. Three years ago we changed our mission statement. This was a huge paradigm shift for our company. Now each decision we make, we look at our mission statement and see whether it aligns. We initially launched it at our annual company celebration with all 360-plus team members. We communicated it within the salons with poster boards and individual notebooks. Currently, at the beginning of every meeting we stand and recite the mission statement out loud to remind us who we are and what we do.



Statements: "My manager helps me learn and grow; my manager cares about my concerns."

Q: How do you approach management and leadership?

A: "Team management" is a philosophy that has its foundation in the belief that each employee has the ability and responsibility to contribute ideas and solutions to the organization as a whole. The organization has a responsibility to create and maintain a work environment that ensures employee contributions do not go untapped. Team management helps the organization because it fosters a creative working environment that empowers all team members. Managers are encouraged to develop their personal leadership styles in accordance with DRCC's philosophy and guiding values. DRCC oftentimes promotes managers from within, which allows for a strengthening of team management because the new managers have been part of the team, but now are encouraged to lead and continue to develop their team. This creates higher levels of engagement and longevity of the managers within DRCC.


Jacobs Marketing

Statement: "New ideas are encouraged at this company."

Q: How do you cultivate a culture of creativity and encourage employees to contribute their ideas?

A: One of our core company values at Jacobs is to be a "curious and courageous explorer." That means always challenging the status quo. We constantly tell our team that if the rate of change outside of Jacobs is faster than inside, we will go out of business. Being curious means we are continuously asking "why" and thinking of creative solutions to better do business. Being courageous is putting thought into action and not being afraid to push ideas that will drive Jacobs and our partners forward. This core value led to the creation of a new initiative called Innovation Studio. Innovation Studio links a team of cross-departmental Jacobs employees who work together to identify "what's next," utilizing sales and trend analytics, extensive marketplace research and creativity. Another example includes the strategy planning sessions we facilitate with our vendors, which include an "idea" portion where everyone brainstorms together, resulting in the birth of pretty amazing new ideas in an open forum where everyone feels comfortable sharing.


Right at Home

Statement: "At this company, we do things efficiently and well."

Q: How do you approach the management challenges of home care?

A: We approach every challenge with openness, trust, collaboration and creativity. We work very well together as a team, making sure our caregivers and clients alike are handled with respect. Our clients each have a case manager assigned to them upon intake, so they are able to work with just one person who is familiar with their unique situation and is able to guide them. One of our owners has complete responsibility for the hiring and training of new caregivers, so the training is universal for each new employee. Everyone reviews the care plan together, and any out-of-the-ordinary home care conditions can be discussed then. Staff meets every Wednesday morning to discuss open cases. It is helpful to get multiple viewpoints on how to handle clients, caregiver updates and the general day-to-day operation. It is the teamwork of everyone working together for the same goal that makes us successful.


Gentle Transitions

Statement: "My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful."

Q: What values drive your business and how do you build a culture around them?

A: We stress teamwork, which is essential for the amazing outcomes we expect for our clients. Respect for not only our clients but for each other is stressed from day one. Attention to detail and high customer satisfaction is the goal that is stressed for each and every client and is reinforced at each level. Working together as a team toward a positive goal, the reward of the work, the part-time, flexible business model, the acknowledgment by company executives through, for example, employee parties and bonuses, all lend themselves to maintaining longevity of our employee group. Our company is 28 years old and in this past year, we had one employee retire after 21-plus years and another after 15 years.


ACR Homes

Statement: "This company operates by strong values."

Q: How do you promote the idea of ethics and the other values that shape ACR's culture to the whole staff, and how do they live them out?

A: Through several key decisions over the years, ACR management has intentionally shaped the culture of ethics and high performance standards at ACR. For example, ACR uses the motto "resident agenda" as shorthand for: "Does a given action or decision serve the best interests of the people we support?" This motto keeps employees in every department focused on enhancing the lives of the individuals we support. Everyone gains from this focus on resident agenda. First and foremost, our clients benefit from having staff who think creatively about the clients' needs and preferences in everything from health care, meals and activities, to the clothes they wear, the media they listen to and even in their home décor. ACR's overall guiding principle has always been "do the right thing." In other words, we aim to provide the best possible physical and emotional support for people with disabilities, even if it means not taking the easiest or the most expedient path. We celebrate examples that take good ethics into consideration as often as possible.



Statement: "Senior managers understand what is really happening at this company."

Q: How do managers stay apprised of the concerns of employees and who deserves accolades? Is there a process, or a communications method, that is used?

A: SDG's management and leadership do many things to connect but the unique thing we have is our resource manager (RM) role. The RM ensures every consultant remains strongly connected to SDG despite the majority of consultants performing their work on-site with customers. Cultures can vary greatly from customer to customer. A primary goal of the RMs is to make sure that SDG's culture isn't lost when a consultant is working in the field. It might mean grabbing coffee, lunch or making time for them in the office, but we strive to stay connected to them and create a safe and open environment for employees to share. In addition, we strive to give employees an avenue to connect back, so we have programs in place to do this. One example is quarterly "EMT lunches" where any employee in the organization can attend a lunch with members of the executive team. We form decisions based on our core values (superior customer service, exceptional employee experience and responsible corporate citizenship) and search for a purpose in everything we do. We also believe that open communication and transparency are the center of a strong company.


Kipsu Inc.

Statement: "I feel well-informed about important decisions at this company."

Q: How does communication fit into your strategic leadership and management philosophy?

A: We wish this sounded more sophisticated than it is, but it's actually pretty simple: We believe in treating every person on our team like they are a businessperson. We trust them to make decisions for our company, and we expect that they will be the company leaders of tomorrow. To make good decisions, we all need to know where we are headed. Going in the same direction, toward the same goal, makes it easier for our team members to execute on a daily basis. We also have significant expectations about the projection of each team member's career, and being open about the financials and challenges of the company and how things work demonstrates the confidence we have in each person. On Monday mornings, our entire team gets together to talk about what we accomplished in the last week, share how each individual team is progressing against its quarterly goals and discuss the financial position of the company. Everyone in our company knows every week how much cash is in the bank. We celebrate the wins, and we share the losses and talk about what we learned from the mistakes.


Serenity Couture Salon & Spa

Statement: "I feel genuinely appreciated at this company."

Q: How do you build your culture around employee appreciation?

A: Our ownership live in Iowa but visit our location weekly. During their visits, they spend their time with each and every employee. The mission of the company is to fulfill dreams through the art of beauty and well-being. Our employees feel that from the ownership. They consistently are listening to the employees and making changes to the business. Our employees know they are the heartbeat of our business. We do monthly "celebration meetings" where we recognize all the great things that have happened during the month and award great employees. We have an end-of-the-year holiday party where we recognize and award employees.


Bridge Realty

Statement: "I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life."

Q: How does your company turn the value of work/life flexibility into practice?

A: Bridge Realty emphasizes a culture built around collaboration and a family-first approach. We understand that our business relies on ensuring our team succeeds as a whole while still being able to adapt to the individual challenges we face as a company, and our staff/agents face as individuals. Bridge Realty is extremely proud of its adaptive broker platform, which affords agents the flexibility and support they need to leverage their business. Bridge Realty has more than 650 agents who specialize in most every area of real estate. This is only possible because of our unique broker model. We understand some of our agents do real estate part-time and some are full-time, and every agent faces their own individual challenges. Where other brokers may enforce minimum commission rates, volume requirements, mandatory office fees and additional charges for services, we give agents access to an array of free a la carte services, training, desk space and the power to negotiate their rates to remain competitive in any market in which they wish to focus.


Keller Williams Realty

Statement: "I get the formal training I want for my career."

Q: How does training fit into the values of your company?

A: Training and coaching is absolutely critical to our mission at Keller Williams. One of our Premier offerings is BOLD, an intense boot camp — one day a week for seven weeks — where attendees learn powerful lead generation strategies and mind-set exercises. BOLD attendees write an average of 14 contracts during the program. We also offer courses in each office virtually every business day. In addition to local, regional and national courses and events, we have award-winning online training that offers hundreds of custom courses for every aspect of our business.


Object Partners Inc.

Statement: "My benefits package is good compared to others in this industry."

Q: How did you build your benefits package and how does it fit into your overall company values?

A: At OPI, we've always believed that providing comprehensive, worry-free benefits (along with some fun perks) leads to happier, more productive employees. The work that our software engineers do is mentally challenging, and we want them to be able to do their best work every day. By allowing them to focus on their work, and not have to worry about things like health care coverage, disability insurance, etc., they will be more productive in their daily work, which also leads to more successful long-term careers. We still pay for 100 percent of our employees' and their families' health care and dental coverage. We also have profit-sharing, so that everyone shares in the company's success, along with three vacation/lake properties for all employees to use free of charge. And this past February, we took the entire company on a trip to Mexico for a long weekend.