Logging has a long history of small family businesses in the Southeast. It is a celebrated history, and rightfully so. But the tough thing about most family businesses is that if you don’t share the owner’s last name, you’re probably not going to have the same opportunities.
A big piece of what makes us different is that we are not a family business. And because of that, opportunities can be had by anyone. You just have to step up and take them. Real opportunities make hard work more thrilling, results more rewarding and the vision of a career in our company seem more realistic. I also believe strongly that there is no better way to build a strong company culture.
By promoting from within we end up with a culture that reflects the work we do – forestry, logging and hauling. Not someone else’s culture or cookie-cutter culture that an outsider might copy. By promoting our best people we end up with more respected leaders and a tighter more connected team.
With all the benefits, why don’t more people promote from within?
Simple. Who wants to take their best people out of the job that they are doing great at?
Promoting someone who is making a positive contribution is a risk. It is hard enough for a person to learn a new job and become good at it. What if they also have to make up for the let down in their old job? In real life, the reason many people don’t promote from within is fear. Fear that the job they’re doing will suffer more than the benefit they get from the person in the new job. Fear of change. Fear of growth.
How do we solve for this?
Actually I should say: How do you YOU, the person who wants to be promoted, solve for this?
Train your replacement. In order for you to move up, someone has to be able to take over for you. Take someone under your wing. Teach them everything you know.
Ask anyone who has been promoted here – the first, second and third priority when they start their new job is to make sure their OLD job doesn’t go to hell. The good news is while you train your replacement, you’ll be learning the most important parts about becoming a leader in a new role – how to teach, lead and inspire people to do great work.
Of course that’s not the only thing you need to do to get promoted, but it is a great start.
Promotion isn’t a fantasy, we actually do it.
In the past year we’ve promoted Crew Leaders/Foreman, our Operations Manager and our Fleet Manager – all from within. They all have great attitudes. They all help support our jobs, share best practices, fill-in and solve problems. They all understand our vision to grow the company, attract, train and keep great people, be safe, and produce results. And they are all servant leaders.
There are opportunities out there – more when the company grows and does well. It doesn’t matter what your last name is. Bellwether is a company where the best players get to play.