Culture of Contentment

April 16th, 2020

By: Darrell Schulz, COO/Principal

The average person in the United Statesregardless of age or genderspends four years at a job, creating a revolving door effect for many companies. However, at The Klabin Company, the average tenure of our team members is currently 14 years and growing. People are often surprised to find out that I have remained at the same company for my entire working, adult life. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit to considering the idea of leaving The Klabin Company over the last 14 years in search of a greener pasture, but there is always something that draws me to stay. You see, these days, I have found that people tend to chase their contentment. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of chasing dreams and doing something that makes you happy. That’s just it though, I don’t think people really know what makes them happy and they end up in a rut of monotony. I don’t think it is a big secret, but no amount of money or dream job will ever make a person happy. In my opinion, people chase contentment in all the wrong places.

I think it would be easy to argue the point that when people stay at a single company for 14 years, there is some level of contentment. So, what is it about The Klabin Company that gives me and the other employees contentment?
I believe it can be summarized in two points: Finding the right people and caring about those people.

Find the Right People
One of my first assignments at The Klabin Company was to read the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Little did I know at the time, but this book would be a sort of business “Bible” that we would refer to constantly through the years. One of the concepts that Collins presented was, “getting the right people on the bus…then figure out where the bus is going.” In my experience that is exactly what The Klabin Company did with me. I was hired as a clerk, training to be a real estate salesperson and then, through a series of professional “pivots”, I eventually became the Chief Operating Officer. The Klabin Company looks to hire people of character, and when you have quality people it is much easier to figure out where the bus is going. We are a team and we all have different roles on the team. When a person is fulfilling a role on a team that comes natural to them, they will be content, and the reverse is true too. I think many people are unhappy with their careers, because the company is unwilling to let a person use their individual gifts. They force people into professional roles that they simply are not good at. Hire quality people and find a spot for them to use their gifts. An employee that feels useful will always encourage a company culture of happiness and contentment.

Care About the Right People
So how do you find and foster your employee’s gifts? You care more about your employees than your business. In other words, you put others before yourself. I was unhappy for some of my early years at The Klabin Company because I thought earning more money as a salesperson would bring me joy. Truthfully, the thought of “sales” and commissions only scared me to death. I like predictability, and the unknown of a sales position made me very uncomfortable. As I began to vocalize my concerns about my career path to upper-level management, they were quick to listen. I felt like when I spoke, they listened with genuine care. It seems simple, but the idea of actually listening to someone’s concerns is far too uncommon. I quickly transitioned from the salesperson path to a more back-office, accounting role which ultimately led to my position today. The point is that in order to understand what gifts your employees can bring to the table, you must establish a rapport of trust and communication. If you deeply care about your employees, you can usually find a place where their gifts can shine and make the organization stronger.

I do believe the sheer knowledge and experience of the employees at The Klabin Company sets us apart, but ultimately I think our clients work with us because they like us. I also believe our clients like us because we are content in our careers. People want to surround themselves with positive people; negativity is a poison to any organization. In order to lead to the financial success of your organization, it is imperative that your organization is comprised of positive and content people.

Since we are in the real estate business, it seemed more appropriate to use the word addendum than postscript. In full transparency, this article was written months before the COVID-19 hit here in the United States. I raise the point, because I believe this article was true before the crisis and maybe even more true during the crisis.