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How Cegal builds an unstoppable culture

Editorial staff Cegal want to build a stellar nextgen tech company that enables a more sustainable future, and shape the digital future by turning complex IT into digital success stories.
03/29/2022 |

CEO of SYSCO, Dagfinn Ringås, takes inspiration from agriculture metaphors when discussing how to build an unstoppable work culture at SYSCO.  

“Like most IT and knowledge-based businesses, SYSCO only consists of our people and culture. We are exclusively hearts and brains. We have no production halls or machines. Our culture is what makes SYSCO what it is. It’s what makes us an attractive place to work, and what differentiates us from our competitors. That is also why we have spent significant amounts of time and resources to develop our culture”, says SYSCO CEO, Dagfinn Ringås.  

 

Corporate management usually looks to sports, and preferably team sports, when discussing work culture. Achievements, interactions, roles and positions are all recurring concepts. Ringås does the same, although the framework for developing the SYSCO culture is taken from agriculture: What does a field require to grow and bloom?  

Building an unstoppable culture requires similar factors as the field does to grow. You need nutritious soil, seeds, watering, sun and weeding.   

Dagfinn Ringås 

 Below he explains what he makes of the different terms:  

Nutritious soil 

Nutritious soil includes everything that cannot be placed in a spreadsheet, such as company profile, welcoming and warm offices, as well as the company’s vision and mission.  

“You need a clear answer to explain why the company exists. This is the mission – the one thing that makes people want to get up and go to work. Similarly, one needs a clear vision. Our vision is to build a legendary company with technological superheroes for Nordic energy companies. This entails a company that is spoken about by potential employees and satisfied customers”, Ringås says, and highlights three factors which defines SYSCO:  

  1. Technological superheroes 
  1. Fuzz fighters turning complex IT challenges to digital success stories  
  1. Energy – SYSCO is packed with energetic employees  

 

Seed 

“The seed is about focus and direction. It is the strategy and business plan. Furthermore, it is about having the right people in the right roles”, says Ringås and presents the business plan:  

SYSCO turns IT challenges into digital success stories through three steps:  

  1. We deliver easy-to-use software to energy companies  
  1. We have extremely skilled consultants  
  1. We provide secure IT operation and monitoring  

 

“And with our golden triangle of differentiators, we differ from our competitors”, Ringås continues.  

 

 The three vertices in the triangle are: 

  1. Energy experts  
  1. Cloud services and data technology (such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Kafka etc.)  
  1. Being the leading Oracle company in the Nordics  

 

Ringås adds that the “seed” also includes diversity and meaningful work. In recent years, SYSCO has stopped sponsoring big sports clubs. Instead, the money goes to voluntary organizations and projects where employees can also contribute. For instance, by helping The National Criminal Investigation Service creating a system to disclose online child abuse and Hackaton against human trafficking. “And even more important than hiring good people is to place them in the right roles. That is when people really bloom”, says Ringås.   

Watering  

“Watering is about developing the employees and the organization. Key words are training, education, diversity, goal management, measurements, discipline, results. The water includes both hard and soft values”, Ringås says.    

Formalized competence development is part of SYSCO’s watering system. An in-house developed Tech Radar is another tool that makes it easier for SYSCO to develop internal competence according to external needs. 

Watering also consists of different social activities, such as company sports and other social arenas arranged by SYSCO, which all have now been cancelled due to Covid-19.  

How has SYSCO worked around the difficulties of meeting in person? 

 

“We have used various digital platforms such as Kahoot! And FuelBox. We have arranged digital ‘lunch ‘n learn’ on Teams and have had ‘walk’ n talk’ outdoor meetings”, Ringås says.  

Sun 

The sun is about recognizing and celebrating people and achievements.  

Ringås explains that SYSCO has moved on from regular awards such as “seller of the month”. Instead, SYSCO has rewards related to the three values: energetic, fuzz fighter and super-skilled.  

SYSCO is not afraid to show off its employees, either. Both on social media under the hashtag #MeetOurTeam, at conferences, various forums or through media.  

“The risk of actively showing them off is that you may lose talented colleagues because more people notice them and may try to recruit them. However, this visibility makes us attractive to new people. As a leader it is important to be aware that you only have talents on loan. We do not own them. Therefore, those who desire visibility must be allowed to be so”, Ringås believes.  

Weeds 

“The problem with weeds is that it blocks the sun and steals nutrients”, says Ringås, and refers to organizational weeds such as gossip, problem orientation, opposition and so on. The SYSCO CEO adds that weeding does not necessarily mean that you get rid of the problematic employee, but that you must deal with difficult situations by solving them through conversations and coaching.  

“However, sometimes there is no other way than to just say: ‘Dear energy vampire. It was nice to meet you, but please apply for a job with one of our competitors’. I pay people to find solutions, not to point out problems.”  

Dagfinn Ringås 

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