B-Corp Series: Mike Wehr
When I talk about ways to make decision-making more inclusive, I’ve noticed that people either perk-up…or look overwhelmed. But the leaders who always want to talk about decision-making are B-Corp executives. B-Corp executives are a special breed.
Why? B-Corp certification for your for-profit company requires you to go through an assessment that measures how you operate with respect to your people, your partnerships, and
your impact on the planet.
B-Corp executives are a special breed.
B-Corp executives are attuned to the people in their companies. And they’re attuned to the decisions they make, because they’ve had to look carefully at the ways their choices create a net social impact. Attunement is “baked into” being awarded a B-Corp certification.
They’re attuned to the decisions they make, because they’ve had to look carefully at the ways their choices create a net social impact.
B-Corp executives are the cohort of people who are leading the way by being conscious about their decision-making cultures.
And I thought you should meet a few of them:
COO at Raining Rose Inc.
Cedar Rapids, IA
Raining Rose manufactures a variety of personal care products (lip balm, lotion, salves and sunscreen) for custom development and private label brands. The company started simply in a kitchen in 1996, and now manufactures over 1,000 products in its 127,000 square foot state-of-the art manufacturing facility. It has 270 employees, and uses 33,000 pounds of beeswax a month.
COO Mike Wehr started as an intern and was the original sales manager for the company. “I liked it and stayed. I saw the opportunity to do good work and be a part of a growing organization.”
Says Mike, “I think the secret to our culture is that we hire A-players and put trust in them.” He tries to create a culture where people feel trusted. “If people feel they’re cared for, they’ll respond. People naturally want to work hard, so if you show respect and trust, you can build a powerful culture.”
Decision-making is something Mike focuses on. When staff ask his opinion on a new course of action, he often reverses the question first, “What do you think we should do?”
He also prods people to make decisions, because he says, “Over time, you come to understand who has the capacity to make decisions, and who needs more support.”
More importantly for Mike, pushing people to make decisions creates opportunity for them, and is a direct way to demonstrate trust and encourage them to contribute their best. Especially when you can see decision-making mistakes as opportunities to learn.
In Mike’s opinion, one of the biggest mistakes Raining Rose made in scaling was not investing enough in their middle managers. The company didn’t actively develop their middle tier enough and found themselves expecting more than they had prepared them for.
This has been remedied by offering more training and asking for more feedback. Which has turned out to be a good strategy. Raining Rose now keeps its senior management for 8-10 years, and their middle managers for 4 to 5. Overall attrition is hovering at 15%, which is very good for a manufacturing environment.
Says Mike, the secret of their success is trying to create a “cadre of problem-solvers who are quick and nimble. People who think about business problems from the customers’ point of view, and can make decisions with imperfect information.”