‘Poole’s Rules’ help es­tab­lish pow­er­ful legacy

National Post (Latest Edition) - - MOST ADMIRED CORPORATE CULTURES -

In 1903, when Ernest E. Poole, the founder of what would be­come PCL Con­struc­tion, left his home in Prince Ed­ward Is­land for Canada’s un­tamed west, it was out of a spirit of ad­ven­ture but also borne of a de­sire to build a bet­ter life for him­self and his fam­ily.

His in­ge­nu­ity, sense of pur­pose and prin­ci­ples are still re­flected over a cen­tury later in PCL’s cul­ture, and fore­most among th­ese en­dur­ing virtues is Poole’s ini­tia­tive. How else could one ex­plain the out­stand­ing growth of the or­ga­ni­za­tion into the in­ter­na­tional con­struc­tion pow­er­house it has be­come? Poole’s legacy has earned PCL Con­struc­tion en­try into Canada’s 10 Most Ad­mired Cor­po­rate Cul­tures ( En­ter­prise cat­e­gory) for 2015 in Water­stone Hu­man Cap­i­tal’s an­nual com­pe­ti­tion.

Es­tab­lished in 1906, the PCL fam­ily of com­pa­nies is the largest gen­eral con­tract­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion in Canada, a po­si­tion it has held for more than 30 years, and the sixth largest gen­eral con­trac­tor in the United States. PCL’s di­verse range of op­er­a­tions in the civil in­fra­struc­ture, heavy in­dus­trial, and build­ings mar­kets are sup­ported by a strate­gic pres­ence in 31 ma­jor cen­ters across Canada, the United States, the Caribbean and in Aus­tralia; truly an or­ga­ni­za­tion with im­pres­sive cre­den­tials.

“As we’ve grown f rom those hum­ble be­gin­nings, we’ve de­vel­oped a proven rep­u­ta­tion as a con­struc­tion leader: a strong, re­li­able, and suc­cess­ful con­tract­ing en­tity that prides it­self on pro­duc­ing a qual­ity prod­uct that meets or ex­ceeds client ex­pec­ta­tions,” says PCL pres­i­dent/chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Dou­glas. “It is a credit to the work of our em­ploy­ees, past and present, that we have achieved such suc­cess.”

“A key con­trib­u­tor to PCL’s suc­cess is the cul­tural foun­da­tion first es­tab­lished by Ernest Poole many decades ago,” says Dave Filipchuk, deputy CEO of PCL Con­struc­tion. “His ex­am­ple is well recorded in t he his­toric Poole’s Rules. Those prin­ci­ples con­tinue to guide us to this day.”

A good busi­ness­man with long-term vi­sion, Poole knew that the key to se­cur­ing client con­fi­dence was to not only de­liver a pro­ject on time and on bud­get, but to de­liver it us­ing the time-hon­oured prin­ci­ples of hon­esty, fair play and pro­vid­ing good value for one’s con­struc­tion dol­lar. In the 1940s, Poole wrote down the prin­ci­ples that had guided the early suc­cess.

For­mally called “Poole’s Rules,” th­ese prin­ci­ples have helped shape what PCL is to­day and are still very much a part of the cul­ture. They are: ❚ Em­ploy high­est- grade peo­ple ob­tain­able. ❚ En­cour­age in­tegrity, loy­alty and ef­fi­cien­cies. ❚ Avoid side­lines. ❚ Do not per­mit side­lines by em­ploy­ees. ❚ Be fair in all deal­ings with own­ers, ar­chi­tects, en­gin- eers and sub-con­trac­tors. ❚ Keep your word as good as your bond. ❚ Give en­cour­age­ment and show ap­pre­ci­a­tion. ❚ Be firm, fair and friendly. ❚ Avoid jobs where de­sign is not good or fi­nanc­ing doubt­ful. Let your com­peti­tors have th­ese. ❚ Good ac­count­ing and cash keep­ing are es­sen­tial. ❚ Do not let fin­ish­ing up of jobs or col­lect­ing pay­ments lag.

EM­PLOYEE OWN­ER­SHIP

PCL’s val­ues are strength­ened by an em­ployee own­er­ship struc­ture, which was im­ple­mented in 1977. To­day, the PCL or­ga­ni­za­tion is 100 per cent em­ployee- owned, with more than 90 per cent of salaried em­ploy­ees as share­hold­ers.

“Be­ing a com­pany brim­ming with em­ployee own­ers is a true dif­fer­en­tia­tor,” says Mike Ols­son, vice- pres­i­dent of hu­man re­sources and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment for PCL. “Our model is unique in our in­dus­try and gives us a strate­gic ad­van­tage in the mar­kets in which we op­er­ate — it al­lows em­ploy­ees to ben­e­fit di­rectly from the suc­cess of the busi­ness, and pro­vides a fur­ther in­cen­tive for us to do our best work and cre­ate value for cus­tomers, part­ners and other stake­hold­ers.”

Over the years, this em­ployee- owned struc­ture has be­come a pil­lar of PCL’s strength and cen­tral to its iden­tity as an or­ga­ni­za­tion. PCL’s em­ployee- own­er­ship model is more than an op- por­tu­nity for re­ward — it is a cul­tural mind­set that pro­motes pride, com­mit­ment, and ex­cel­lence.

PRO­FES­SIONAL DE­VEL­OP­MENT

This sense of own­er­ship and em­pow­er­ment ex­tends to the de­vel­op­ment of in­di­vid­ual em­ploy­ees’ ca­reers. PCL’s Col­lege of Con­struc­tion, with cam­puses in ev­ery district, pro­vides pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for ev­ery em­ployee. Through an i nno­va­tive blended learn­ing model that in­cludes e-learn­ing, in­struc­tor- led train­ing, coach­ing and men­tor­ing, the col­lege pro­vides em­ploy­ees with t he t ools t hey need to achieve ex­cep­tion­ally high per­for­mance.

“PCL e mploy­ees are highly mo­ti­vated to en­gage in learn­ing, which makes the col­lege so ef­fec­tive,” adds Ols­son. “Through the col­lege, they foster their su­per­vi­sory and l ead­er­ship abil­i­ties and de­velop and en­hance their con­struc­tion tech­nol­ogy and busi­ness skills. PCLers re­ally see the ben­e­fit of tak­ing hold of their own ca­reer de­vel­op­ment.”

The new­est pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive at PCL is the PCL Lead­er­ship Academy, launched to sup­port em­ploy­ees as they de­velop their lead­er­ship skills. It will build on ex­ist­ing PCL lead­er­ship ini­tia­tives and strate­gi­cally ex­pand the lead­er­ship pro­grams, prod­ucts and ser­vices avail­able to PCL em­ploy­ees.

“We’re r eall y e xci t ed about the de­vel­op­ment of the PCL Lead­er­ship Academy,” says Ols­son.

“There are l ead­ers in ev­ery role and job func­tion at PCL, and the academy will pro­vide them with a full lead­er­ship tool­box to help cre­ate suc­cess.”

“Ours is a cul­ture of con­tin­u­ous learn­ing, em­pow­er­ment and own­er­ship at ev­ery level of our com­pany,” says Ols­son. “When em­ploy­ees have that sense of ini­tia­tive, it’s a truly pow­er­ful force. Em­pow­ered em­ploy­ees en­able PCL to ig­nite in­no­va­tion and bring lead­er­ship to ev­ery pro­ject we de­liver.”

IT IS A CREDIT TO OUR EM­PLOY­EES, PAST AND PRESENT, THAT WE HAVE ACHIEVED SUCH SUC­CESS OURS IS A CUL­TURE OF CON­TIN­U­OUS LEARN­ING, EM­POW­ER­MENT AND OWN­ER­SHIP AT EV­ERY LEVEL OF OUR COM­PANY. WHEN EM­PLOY­EES HAVE THAT SENSE OF INI­TIA­TIVE, IT’S A TRULY POW­ER­FUL FORCE. EM­POW­ERED EM­PLOY­EES EN­ABLE PCL TO IG­NITE IN­NO­VA­TION AND BRING LEAD­ER­SHIP TO EV­ERY PRO­JECT WE DE­LIVER — MIKE OLS­SON, VICE-PRES­I­DENT OF HU­MAN RE­SOURCES AND PRO­FES­SIONAL DE­VEL­OP­MENT, PCL CON­STRUC­TION

PHO­TO­GRAPH COUR­TESY OF PCL CON­STRUC­TION

Ernest Poole´s legacy lives on in the thou­sands of PCL em­ployee own­ers

across North Amer­ica and Aus­tralia.

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