#LifeatStewart / Stewart’s THREAD Institute: A Year of Cultural Growth

November 26th / 2019


Stewart's THREAD Institute: A Year of Cultural Growth

As we approach the holidays, many of us use this time to reflect on the year, our loved ones, and everything else around us. In honor of Gratitude Month, we give thanks for our lives inside and outside of the workplace.

At Stewart, we strive to enrich and continuously develop a culture representative of our core values symbolized by THREAD: Trust, Humility, Respect, Excellence, Accountability, and Discipline. In order to appropriately cultivate this, THREAD is taught to each employee through the THREAD Institute in two-day classes established at the beginning of this year. Our Executive Leadership Team (ELT) has developed a thorough curriculum, while leading an interactive class for each individual letter.

As we consider the year of THREAD, our ELT has seen an evolution in the classes and the #lifeatStewart as they’ve spent time with each class. Willy Stewart, Chief Executive Officer, who leads Trust sees the classes as one of the most important parts of developing a great culture. “Healthy organizations are those that are able to integrate culture with business intelligence. That is exactly what THREAD is all about. Vulnerability-based trust is the foundation for creating high performing organizations where people are humble and empathetic. They treat each other with the utmost respect which creates a safe haven, where people can bring their authentic self to work every day. I learned through the training that being THREAD-like happens, when these behaviors are woven into the cultural fabric of the company, and are paired with excellent work, accountability to each other and to our clients, and we do the work with discipline each and every day. THREAD is Stewart’s North Star and gives us direction for all decision-making today and in the future.”

John Jenkins, Sports & Events Practice Leader, explains what he has learned while teaching Humility, “In general, humility is one of the good values we strive for in our everyday life and its meaning is well-understood. Researching and then leading the class on humility gave me an opportunity to continue learning, be open to new ideas, demonstrating humility, and recognizing behaviors of others. I’ve seen progress in our culture; we’re using THREAD terms more often, and we’re holding each other accountable.”

Lee Anne Nance, Chief Strategic Officer, who teaches Respect, recognizes the impact that the classes have had on the company and how the classes have impacted her in turn. “We know that culture exists in a company regardless of whether or not a company realizes it. Culture determines how we treat each other, how we interact with clients, the quality of work we produce, our ability to collaborate, and the business partnerships we establish. Culture is an important differentiator, setting Stewart apart when recruiting and retaining talent and serving clients. In leading the Respect classes, I have learned alongside our employees what respect and disrespect in the workplace looks like and the difference it makes. The THREAD Institute has been the beginning – the first step in defining our culture and equipping ourselves to live it.”

George Stanziale, President, who leads Accountability sees the success rate of the classes and how each letter ties together to create a more positive work environment, “We hear people talk about being THREAD-like and we are challenged when we are not. Now, the THREAD words are not new to any of us, and I believe we all grew up and were taught the value of all of them. What THREAD classes have done is provide an understanding of how interwoven these words are and how one cannot be achieved without the other. In my teaching Accountability, I talk about how being accountable builds trust and that to be accountable, one needs to have discipline, all of which leads to a higher level of excellence. Being accountable comes out of the respect we have for others to be able to do their jobs.”

Chris Herron, Structural Engineering Practice Leader, who leads Excellence reflects on what he has learned by presenting his letter, “I have learned a lot about myself and my coworkers through this process. We had many open discussions which allowed me to see how they work and think. To teach a subject like this and to connect with the audience, I needed to make myself vulnerable and really express what excellence means to me, and what I have seen it mean to others within the company during my tenure at Stewart. This class gave me the opportunity to see what it meant to every single person in the company.”

Mike Krannitz, Chief Administrative Officer, who has taught Discipline explains, “As a ‘senior leader’ at Stewart, the classes have served as a great opportunity to observe and interact with staff.” He goes on to say, “over two hundred employees have experienced the THREAD curriculum.  All participants, teachers and students, have approached THREAD as a serious undertaking, and many are on the path taking it to another level and experiencing THREAD as an impact on daily behavior.”

Overall, the THREAD Institute has been successful in building a constructive and fruitful work environment. As we progress into the holidays, we will continue to deepen our gratitude for everyone and everything around us and promote a THREAD-like culture.

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