Behavior: (Websters Dictionary) manner of behaving, whether good or bad; mode of conducting one’s self; conduct; deportment; carriage; — used also of inanimate objects; as, the behavior of a ship in a storm; the behavior of the magnetic needle

Fierce Behaviors: (Sonderen Packaging) a detailed explanation of cultural behaviors and expectations. They are directly related to the core values, mission and vision that Sonderen employees strive to uphold.

A few years ago, Matt Sonderen attended a Paperboard Packaging Council meeting. One of the speakers was very passionate about the idea and necessity of identifying the behaviors that one would want to see exhibited and embodied in their company. Many companies have a mission statement, a vision statement and perhaps also a set of core values. These all act as a guide for a way of behaving but they are rather vague without specifically identifying actual behaviors- a code of conduct if you will. The actions and expectations to create a culture that we desire. Matt was very excited about applying this concept to Sonderen Packaging and immediately brought Keva up to speed upon his return from the meeting. Since that time, they have both been working on defining and refining a set of behaviors that resonated with them and the culture they passionately want to promote and embody at Sonderen.

“Is 25 too many?”. They asked each other this question as they reviewed the list they had narrowed down. “They are all individually important”, Keva stated, “I don’t see any that can be combined. Let’s get a few more opinions.” At the manager retreat this year “The Behaviors” were a major topic of discussion. The management team broke out into groups and reviewed each behavior. The team made suggestions on verbiage and attempted to determine what could stay and what could go. “Act Like and Adult, is the tone too negative? How about ‘Model Respectful Behavior’ instead,” our finance director offered. A similar conversation was had regarding ‘Check the Ego at the Door’. This was changed to ‘Humility over Arrogance’. After the retreat, even further refining was done with a few select employees whose opinions and proof reading skills were invaluable. It was extremely important to roll these out to the company in a manner that was positive and that was not necessarily interpreted as something we were changing, but something we were using to define and enhance the culture we already have. Glenda proof read for content. She made suggestions that were helpful to alleviate any negativity that may come across. Honey did an excellent job at correcting grammar and spelling errors; always an important step in such a critical project.

Finally, about a month ago, the behaviors were complete. Not to say that they won’t ever need to be fine-tuned—but they are something we are very proud of. We are excited about the ways in which we can use them as a guide and road map. You may be asking yourself, why are they called the “Fierce” behaviors? Our vision statement is to remain Fiercely Independent. In keeping in alignment with that theme we decided on Fierce Behaviors. Ways in which we are going to begin weaving the Fierce Behaviors into our culture are by using them when we conduct performance reviews. We can specifically discuss Fierce Behaviors that folks excel at and behaviors they can improve. We do have a set of core values and it was important that the behaviors tied to the core values as well. Banners are now hung in the plant as a reference and motivator. Perhaps the best way we have integrated them is to update our employee-to-employee recognition program, which was previously called “Fight for the Brand”. It is now called “Earn Your Stripes” and includes the behaviors as part of the recognition.

Regardless of these efforts, the Fierce Behaviors will not become the cultural language and norm if management and ownership does not “walk the walk” and “talk the talk.” Cultural change is implemented from the top through being ‘Relentless About Improvement’, displaying ‘Contagious Enthusiasm’ and ‘Listening Generously’.

If you would like the complete list of the Sonderen Behaviors please use the contact form on our website and we will be happy to share them with you.