How RedWolf Airsoft Improved Their Culture From the Top Down
An organization’s culture is fragile … unless fiercely protected and maintained by every single person in the company. But in order to establish a thriving organizational culture, it must come from the top down.
Paul Chu is an avid airsoft hobbyist, and he realized there weren’t any e-commerce sites selling these guns in the U.S. So he teamed up with Chris Pun, an airsoft expert, to found RedWolf Airsoft.
Paul Chu, founder & CEO of RedWolf Airsoft
What’s special about this company is that RedWolf Airsoft’s leadership team is representative of today’s global workforce. Despite being partners for over 15 years, they had to learn how to marry Paul’s Western management style with Chris’s Chinese management philosphy. And along the way, they learned any lessons around leadership, culture, and overall employee engagement.
Company Culture Starts From the Top
Paul admitted that he’s different from his cofounder, Chris. While Paul is more sales-based, he describes his partner as being more operations-oriented. This difference came alive when Paul tried to reset the organizational culture.
Business partnerships are similar to marriages: you seek out a partner who has similar ideas on how to raise a family.
Paul realized that if he and Chris couldn’t agree on culture, then there was no way they could get their employees aligned on the company’s mission and values.
Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight
It has taken Paul about a year to take the company culture from an F to a C. Organizational change takes patience and deliberate moves in order to come out successful.
But Paul’s recent initiatives have shown positive results. He instilled monthly all-hands meetings where employees can speak freely while bonding over beers or wine. In addition, he started holding weekly leadership meetings and one-on-ones with his employees to keep the communication channels open.
Why Money Doesn’t Motivate
Money is always a fallback for organizations looking to motivate their employees. But sometimes dangling cash in front of your employees leaves a bad taste in their mouth.
Paul implemented an incentive plan to motivate his warehouse staff with bonuses. Instead, his employees were insulted. They believed loyalty was earned by care, not money. And that stands true for a majority of employees. People would respect their leaders more if they rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty by helping employees on the front line.
Be Fearless With Firing
Employers are afraid of letting people go when they think those employees can’t easily be replaced. Of course, no one is irreplacable. So imagine the damage that one toxic employee is inflicting daily on the company’s culture.
Today, Paul identifies bad hires and lets them go immediately.
Gamification can lead to social shaming, if done incorrectly. To avoid this, Paul used his employees’ last four digits of their phone number on a matrix for performance and attendance (employees are expected to start at 9:30).
This public display allowed employees to see how they stacked up against their colleagues. And although it shocked many of his staff, some were surprised at how poorly they were performing.
Paul had some big hurdles to jump over when he started his change initiative. But by starting the change from the top and opening up communication, he was able to improve his organizational culture over time.