Workplace & Human Resources

Nichol Beckstrand

Fostering Culture Through Growth and Changes

Q&A with Nichol Beckstrand, President of Sunrise Banks

Thu, 2017-01-19 10:33

Nichol Beckstrand of Sunrise Banks shares how she fosters culture within the company.
How do you go about attracting the right people in the right place to foster your culture? Is it just attracting the right people? Is it all about the hiring process?
BECKSTRAND: Attracting the right people involves all of the above. It starts with where we put ourselves, finding places where the non-traditionalist exist. Having a great culture will also attract people who care about the feel and the attitude of a workplace. We need to show up differently, representing the best of the atmosphere at Sunrise. If that turns someone off then they likely aren’t the right fit. If who we are and what we do intrigues someone then that is a good start. 
How important is it to make sure that you not only attract the right people for your culture, but that those people are also high performers? Which is more important in the hiring process?  
BECKSTRAND: Attracting the right people and making sure they are high performers are both of importance. Sunrise Banks is an innovative, fast paced organization. The right person is going to have to be a high performer. High performers can execute, but they can also understand the bigger impact of what they are doing.
We talk a lot about contributions to culture. Some employee’s contribution to culture are not as overt as others. We need all types of contributions.  Where we draw the line, is when someone is detracting from the values that impacts the culture. We follow our “10X Values;” Bigger Than Us Focus, Big Boy/Girl Pants, Blind Spot Awareness, Do the Right Thing, Woo Hoo, and We Can. It’s rare that one person is a rock star in all of the values, but most people have multiple values that they embody. The combination of everyone’s strengths is what makes our workplace special.


Do you think it is possible to “make” a culture? Or do you think you need to let it happen naturally and nudge it to fit your company?
BECKSTRAND: In the beginning you do have to “make” the culture. But if you believe in what you are doing and how you want it to work then it is not work to “make the culture”. Eventually others within the organization see that it is okay to not always act like a bank and then they start adding to the culture of the organization. Being in a leadership role makes that the most exciting part of the process, when you see others having the freedom to create a great culture.
How do you take care of balancing work and fun in a healthy culture? Do you need to enforce rules?
BECKSTRAND: Culture doesn’t just equal fun. Our culture is about so much more than that. At the end of the day it is about achievement - achievement of the organization’s mission, business objectives, departmental cohesion and individual accomplishments. You add a little sensibility to all that achievement and you have progress. We don’t like to talk in the tone of rules, but we have values. I think any rule you would want to enforce you could tie back to a value. If you’re honoring the values, everything and everyone stays healthy.
For companies setting out to change or update their culture, what do you think is the most important first step?
BECKSTRAND: It has to be driven from the top. Someone in leadership needs to naturally influence the organization and the other leaders need to trust and support this effort. Some believe having great culture means you do everything the employees want. This is not true. Great culture is a balancing act. We have great fun at Sunrise but we also drive hard to excel. Many may not survive in our intense environment and that is okay.