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ceo wd40 employee experience leadership future of work

Garry Ridge is President and CEO of the WD-40 Company headquartered in San Diego, California. WD-40 Company is the maker of the ever-popular WD-40 (found in 8 out of 10 US households), as well as 3-IN-ONE Oil, Solvol and Lava heavy duty hand cleaners and X-14, Carpet Fresh, Spot Shot, 1001 and 2000 Flushes household cleaning products. With just under 500 employees, they boast a 93% employee engagement rate – with an average tenure of 10 years – which helps keep the number of employees low.

Garry has been with WD-40 since 1987 in various management positions, including executive vice president and chief operating officer and vice president of international. He has worked directly with WD-40 in 50 countries.

A native of Australia, he received his Masters of Science Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego, CA, in June 2001.

Way back Aristotle said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” However, people are slow learners. A lot of companies struggle with this because leaders are afraid of letting go and giving people the opportunity. Garry’s learned to say ‘I don’t know…’ and to make sure that WD-40 “leaders involve their people.”

What can we do to change the mentality of leaders not letting go?

1. For public companies – take the emphasis off ‘short-term-isms’. Looking at 90 days, etc. so they will make short term decisions that are not as productive. “Coffee that is brewed over time, tastes better than instant.”

2. Education should be a core value– be a learning and teaching company. Instead of ‘mistakes’, look at them as opportunities to get better

4. Have a clear plan, a clear purpose and clear values

5. Be open to learning across the company

There are 7 characteristics at WD 40 that shape their workplace culture. They are:

1. Learning & Teaching – a dedication to it, a number of programs and a commitment to learning and learning moments.

2. Values – part of their talent development program, everyone sits down with their coach/manager and talks about the values. Employees share how they lived and their values as part of their conversation. The number one value is ‘doing the right thing’. Creating positive lasting memories is another.

3. Belonging – based on Maslow’s hierarchy of self actualization. The level of belonging in the company is around treating people with respect and dignity. We want to show everyone in everything that is done it is with those in mind.

4. Future focus – they understand where they are today is good but they need to move to a new place in the future. One value is to make it better than today

5. Specialized skills – they have identified certain specialized skills and people that have those skills

6. Warriors – for a purpose, not of destruction. They fight for people, brands and for what is right. The spirit of winning

7. Celebration – reminder that we need to take time to celebrate together.

Garry’s advice to employees is to start an idea within a small team to introduce the concepts to them. You will probably see a change in the team.

His advice to leaders is that change needs to start with them

What You Will Learn In This Episode:

● What it is like to work at WD 40
● The ABCs of Trust
● What The Tribal Culture looks like at WD-40
● Why WD-40 Invests in People
● How WD-40 is Excelling in Employee Engagement

Links from the episode:

The Learning Moment
Garry Ridge on LinkedIn

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