Any time we see a smile at work, someone enjoying what they do and enjoying the camaraderie with their team, it makes us smile too. People matter more than products or profits. We exist to provide products for a need in the marketplace. Yes. And we also want to grow profitably. But it is of no meaning or value if we don't invest in people above those things.
We were recenty inspired by this video from Forest Proud. Forest Proud is an initiative of the North American Forest Partnership dedicated to telling the story of the diverse community responsible for stewardship of our forests. But more than celebrating trees, this community also celebrates the people who work with wood and forests. This is about those who work in businesses all over the industry to meet the needs of customers and to build up each other.
What does it mean to put people first? It means:
- Listening to their needs and the struggles they bring to work with them every day.
- Celebrating their wins - both personal and at work. Cheering on a new truck, a new apartment, a new baby.
- Taking the time to invest in them to grow their leadership skills and their maturity.
- Making time for fun and good-spirited interactions between team members.
- Including people in decisions and observing their input.
- Watching for skills and abilities that could be developed into something more, including to other positions in the company.
- Striving to improve their quality of life so that work isn't just a J O B.
- Leading by example with humility and caring.
- Being generous with encouragement.
- Living up to our mission and values.
Along with the #ForestProud video, these words were posted:
"Innovation and new technology allow us to operate faster, safer, and more efficiently - creating new products and solutions for a society that is constantly on the move. Forest products manufacturing looks very different than it did 100 years ago. But behind the fancy machines and the new technology - at the heart of these organizations – is a group of skilled, dedicated, and hardworking individuals who make it all possible. A group who takes pride in their work creating natural, renewable, and sustainable solutions. A group that knows they're making a difference.
In that sense, nothing has changed at all."
Isn't that true? Technology changes. How we do our work changes. But we still need each other. We need dedicated people who care about each other and take pride in their work.
Yes, we're a Wisconsin manufacturer of wood pallets, landscape mulch, wood pellets, and wood bedding for compost back barns, but we invest in people. We'd like it to always be that way.