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Creating a Great Company Culture – Indie Bollman on What the Truck?!?

Creating a Great Company Culture – Indie Bollman on What the Truck?!?
5 Nov 2020

How can your brand maintain and even cultivate a great culture during the pandemic? What are the best ways for your leaders to pay attention to your employees and help them win and grow?

Dooner and The Dude, hosts of FreightWaves’ mega-popular ‘What the Truck?!?’ podcast, welcomed Trailer Bridge’s own Indie Bollman, VP of Organizational Development, on the show this week to talk all things leadership, company culture, and employee growth.

Check out this 9-minute video chat in which Indie, Dooner and The Dude discuss:

  • Failure, perseverance, and learning
  • Maintaining a great culture during COVID-19
  • Helping employees win and grow
  • Connecting with employees and having fun
  • The dangers of selfishness
  • Employees as sources of innovation

Grab a beverage and get comfortable. If you have any questions about this show or Trailer Bridge’s team and services, shoot us an email or reach out to the team on Twitter. Ready? Let’s do this!

Trailer Bridge’s Indie Bollman Interviews with Dooner & The Dude on ‘What The Truck?!?’ – Full transcript

Dooner: Let’s bring Indie Bollman up. She’s Vice President of Organizational Development at Trailer Bridge. Trailer Bridge always travels with the TB Nation.

The Dude: Trailer Bridge Nation in the house, right?

Dooner: Trailer Bridge Nation—they’re usually here. Hey, Indie. What’s going on?

Indie Bollman: Hey, guys, yeah, TB nation, we definitely got a lot of pow-pow over here. Thank you for having me on this morning.

Failure, perseverance, and learning

Dooner: I was reading through some of your articles today about culture on LinkedIn. I found it fascinating, and I liked your judicious use of Southern language. The other thing I liked a lot was, you mentioned quite a few times, when it came to culture, you learn these lessons from your kids, right? And myself as a father of a three- and six-year-old, those challenges have definitely taught me a lot about leadership and patience.

Indie:  Yeah. They definitely will. I have one, I have a daughter. And she’s a little bit older than that but she definitely taught me the value of, you know, allowing someone, when you’re leading a team, let them stumble a little bit and learn their own way. It tells them that, for sure, you trust in what they can do and that you believe in them. And there’s something really magical about people when they know you believe in them. So, we definitely want to do that a lot here at Trailer Bridge. And I’m so happy to say that we do.

Dooner: That’s great advice. I mean, sometimes you’ve got to let them fail. But, you know, other times it teaches you that sometimes you don’t need to win every single battle, right?

Indie: Yeah, that’s hard for me sometimes. But it’s absolutely true, especially those of us that like to get things done, but sometimes you have to let them learn that too and then be there to guide them. And, of course, sometimes you have to pick what’s the thing to let them stumble at. And that all starts with having great people that join your team and the right people that join your team. And so, we do spend quite a bit of time on getting that right.

Maintaining a great culture during COVID-19

The Dude: Yeah, absolutely, and I want to talk about that. So, Indie, can we talk a little bit about culture and the challenges of keeping a good culture, especially during disruption, like we’re seeing this year?

Indie: Right. This has presented quite a bit of a challenge lately this year, and, you know, keeping culture alive. And we’re a company that’s very much focused on being together and collaborating, and the energy we get from all being together. What we’ve done is just simply ask our question to ourselves, “what do we do to keep that going?” And it’s really nothing different. We definitely still connect we use Zoom calls, we have meetings, we have a lot of activities and events, we for sure have kept training going. 

I think a lot of companies during this time kind of hit the brakes a little bit on training, and we went just the opposite. We said, no, let’s keep building the energy. We’re coming out of this the other side bigger and better. Let’s prepare our people to do that. So instead of slowing anything down, we definitely just put our foot a little bit more on the gas and said let’s go through it and see where we come out. And we’re so excited. So far, results are great.

Dooner: Well, Charlie Sanchez says, “Great coach and mentor.” Katherine Markhart says, “Indie: our woman of influence.” Becky says, “Indie is our cultural queen.” And Jacksonville Business Journal: “2020 women of influence.” You people at Trailer Bridge are rock stars apparently.

Indie: That’s great! I am certainly humbled by all of that, and I have to tell you, TB nation is very, very strong. And we absolutely love our people. I know I’ve heard Mitch say that before and it’s so true. Every leader here just loves our people and we are supremely focused on having them win. And we know here at Trailer Bridge, if we’re focused on them—we’re getting that right—we will win too as a company. And I gotta tell you, I’ve been here five and a half, almost six years. Working in that way has proven to be absolutely the right thing to do. So, love your people, everybody!

Help your employees win and grow

Dooner: You’re probably one of the best people to talk to about this. We’ve tried to get the answer from the other Trailer Bridge people. But culturally, how do you get your team, because this is such a good recruiting aspect? I think having your entire team show up here during this live thing—I mean, you put most other businesses to shame; they don’t travel this well, right? They don’t travel at all. Tell me, how do you get everyone so involved in what Trailer Bridge is doing? How do you get them so passionate about it?

Indie: I think it’s very simple: we involve them. And we make our leadership focused on what helps them win, what helps them grow. What is it they want? What is it they believe in? And how do we coach them and train them and give them the opportunities to grow into what they want to have in their life and what they want to achieve in their career? 

When people feel like you believe in them and you’re for them, they absolutely plug into the purpose of what you’re doing. And we’re very clear on what our purpose here at Trailer Bridge is and that’s to help people to serve other people.

Connect with your employees and have fun

The Dude: So, Indie, as advice to other leadership to try and foster the same thing and have the TB Nation, or whatever nation (add your name here), show up and really be involved and feel that love and be connected in the company, what are some of the pitfalls that are there?

Indie: The pitfalls? Well, I think if you don’t connect with your people, just getting to know them, I think that’s crucial. If you’re not spending time talking with them, in whatever format you can get that today or after COVID, you really have to connect with people and find out where they’re at. Shutting yourself away in your office won’t work. 

If you have a culture that’s dynamic and buoyant, or that’s the one that you want, you’re going to have to get out there and talk to your people. You’re going to have to keep an eye on where it is they want to grow and provide those opportunities. Here at Trailer Bridge, we do understand that we bring on these very high-end talented people, and they’re type A and they’re dynamic and they want to grow. We have to provide a place for them to do that. If we’re growing, they’ll grow. 

And I think outside, which is the most important, but outside of just loving your people, I mean, really letting them know, I think you just have to have a little fun. I like to have some fun throughout my day and if I can’t laugh at myself a little bit, I think I’m in the wrong place. But here, we definitely have a lot of fun in what we do. And we get a lot of work done as a result.

The dangers of selfishness

Dooner: Now, Indie, what does “Honey Badger Don’t Care” mean to you?

Indie: Oh, my goodness, you did read up! Okay, “Honey Badger.” I don’t know if you guys remember that crazy little video that came out years ago. “Honey Badger Don’t Care” is someone who, all they care about is achieving the thing that they want to achieve, and they don’t care who they hurt or tear up in the process. I think that’s a dangerous way to go about leading people. You gotta make sure that the people who are in your wake are fulfilled and happy and clear on what their purpose is.

Dooner: How do you smoke out those honey badgers? How do you find them in the organization and get rid of them?

Indie: We don’t have any honey badgers here, thank goodness. But I think the key piece of leadership advice, that when people ask me, I just tell, “Pay attention.” Just pay attention, get in contact with your people, and pay attention.

Your people are sources of innovation

The Dude: Excellent. And those were the things that I was driving at when I asked what are the pitfalls, right? What are the leadership boo-boos under that childhood theme when Dooner was talking about his kids? So, leadership boo-boo number one: always right, never wrong. Talk to me about that.

Indie: Yeah, I think it’s easy in some cases for leaders to think that because of the level they’ve attained, or their skills or their background or all their creds that they have, that they know all the answers and they’re never wrong. And I think one of the biggest sources of innovation and new ideas and creativity is your people, is what you’ve hired them for. So, don’t assume that as a leader you have the answers. In fact, I would encourage anybody on any team at any level: don’t assume you have the answers. Always be open to hear what’s out there. And to hear a new idea or new way of looking at things. After all, that’s how new things come up.

Dooner: Wow. So, if you want people to join your culture and join that TB nation, start using that hashtag and start watching the What the Truck live whenever Trailer Bridge people come on. Where should we send them to? Because participation is a big thing and it’s hard to get people to follow along with what leadership is doing unless they really buy into it. I think that’s the biggest selling factor for TB and that’s one of the best things we can talk about in regards to your company. So where do we send them to so they can consider a career with your team or just learn more?

Indie: Well, first of all, we’d love to hear from anybody who wants to join a place that has the culture that we have and is very focused on it. And so, you go to trailerbridge.com. There’s a site there listing all of our open positions. We are growing, and so if something’s not there right now that you’d be interested in, coming back shortly and just keep an eye on what’s available.

Dooner: Thank you very much for joining us today. We really appreciate your time.

The Dude: Thank you.

Indie: It’s fun. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.