Valérie Coutu, president of JOVACO Solutions, shares how to develop and maintain company culture in an online environment. Through running her family’s 37 year-old business alongside her brother, Valérie has learned that leaders perform their best when everyone is on the same page regarding values, vision, and responsibilities.
Be Proactive In Maintaining Community
Valérie says much of her job as president includes developing a long term vision for the company, building relationships with partners, and developing company culture. But during the pandemic, developing and maintaining culture required a new approach.
Valérie reports that many of the changes she implemented at the beginning of the pandemic have now become mainstays. Online pandemic-related Q&A sessions have continued to be a monthly occurrence, but now employees talk about what they’re watching or ask for clarification on a new business decision. She still schedules monthly coffee breaks with each of her employees where they are free to just chat.
It’s difficult to build company culture, even in the most ideal situation. Going online only means leaders need to work harder — and proactively — to understand how their employees are feeling.
Be Intentional With Personal Growth
Valérie has always looked up to her mother as a strong example of leadership. She strives to emulate her mother’s qualities of:
- Being present to those around her
Valérie adds that two physics teachers from high school taught her you don’t need to apologize for every mistake you make. Own it, learn from it, and move on. Mistakes are opportunities for growth.
Get On The Same Page
Defined roles and responsibilities gave Valérie, her brother — the general manager — and the company the wings they all needed to fly. Valérie shares that she and her brother were not on the same page for years regarding company decisions and direction. They both wanted the same things, but were going about achieving them in two different ways.
Once they embraced a system which demarcated specific roles and responsibilities for everyone, she and her brother knew they were on the right track. Their whole team celebrated the newfound clarity.
[17:19] “For the first time [our company] really knew where we were going. Before that we had so many ideas, and so many opportunities, but now we have one clear vision [of] where we’re going.”
It takes less time to get on the same page than it does to clean up the mess of being on two different tracks. It’s worth it to sit down with your co-leaders and speak openly.
Valérie says doing so has helped her lead a more balanced life. She urges young leaders and entrepreneurs to begin developing their coaching skills. Being a good coach helps you motivate and elevate your team. Don’t assume you are the solution to every problem, and empower others to develop their capacities.