Many Locations, One Culture: How This Outdoorsy Startup Keeps Its Distributed Workforce Engaged [Exe
JOSH LEVINE, NOV 17, 2020: LOGE Camps is a hospitality company with five locations–or camps as they call them–situated across the Pacific Northwest and Colorado. I spoke to their Chief Culture Officer Lindsay Wolff Logsdon to learn how the company engages such a widely distributed workforce. In our conversation, we discuss the program she and the leadership team created to activate and operationalize their culture. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Josh Levine: Lindsay, you recently told me about the way your organization has started to activate its culture through a really unique recognition program. I found the idea compelling because it not only recognizes values-driven behaviors, but it brings forward the idea that rewards can also be a cultural cues. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve been doing?
Lindsay Wolff-Logsdon: One of the things that you and I have bonded over in the past was this concept that culture and brand should be copacetic, that they should work really well together. One of the reasons that I joined LOGE [pronounced “lodge”] early was that as a lifestyle brand and a service-oriented business, they understood that culture was going to be very important to building a sustainable brand. What keeps people coming back to a hospitality experience, like the ones we offer at all of our LOGE Camps, is going to be the fantastic interactions they have with the staff on property.
A page from LOGE culture book. LOGE CAMPS
As far as hospitality companies go, LOGE is very young. We’ve been around for about three years now. One of my first assignments was to build out a culture platform and help clarify the company’s purpose and values. Once we had the groundwork in place, the challenge became deciding how to roll that out. How do we get our employees — we call them crew members — legitimately engaged? And how do you quickly, as a company with five remote locations, make sure that the frontline staff really understand what it means to live those values every day?
JL: So, what happens once you establish your values?
LWL: Behaviors change, and everyone aligns perfectly with what’s on brand, and all is well in this magical land. [laughs]
Nope. Not at all.
We spent a lot of time and energy going through what you might consider a traditional rollout of purpose and values. We created a fantastic book outlining the purpose and values and how they were defined. We also included checklists on how to actually practice those values. We created a lot of cues, including visuals like posters for each of our five locations. We took time during our all-company meetings to talk through our values and offer real examples of how crew members had already begun living these values.
As the big launch tapered off, we realized that in order to make sure that the impact was sustainable, these values couldn’t just be pushed top-down. We needed a program that was more focused on peer-to-peer support. That’s where this recognition program comes in.
I brought together a group of stakeholders, folks from each level of the company that naturally embody our values. From there, we had a good old-fashioned brainstorm about what would be relevant and impactful as a recognition program.
1) We welcome everyone. 2) We make connections. 3) We scout a line and commit. 4) We decide with data. 5) We have good times to share good times. 6) We treat our mother well. 7) We stoke what’s next.
LOGE CAMPS’ CORE VALUES
JL: You were asking for effective ways to recognize LOGE employees.
LWL: Exactly. Values can be esoteric. We wanted to make sure, knowing the busy days of our frontline employees, that we weren’t talking in difficult-to-understand ways, expecting every third sentence out of one of our employees’ mouths should be espousing perfectly articulated values.
We talked in the session among our cultural stakeholders about how we are a casual hospitality company, and how folks need to be identifiable as LOGE employees for our guests. We’ve already got a bunch of t-shirts, nobody needs another LOGE t-shirt. When we did the launch of the original value, we designed a bandana that had all our values spelled out on it. But we kept asking ourselves, “what’s fun, a little quirky, very LOGE, but would still be relevant?”
Somebody in the group came up with the concept of socks. Everybody loves socks! So we do a little investigating, and they’re actually not too expensive, and they’re pretty. We could customize designs. We found the idea hilarious. It was very us. It’s not just another water bottle, or coffee cup, or notebook that had the values on them. A custom-designed pair of socks. Perfect.
LOGE Camps Values Socks
We ended up creating a program where we custom-designed a pair of “crew’ socks for each one of our seven values. Then we created an online nomination form where anyone can go and enter a couple of sentences about how they saw one of their coworkers embodying one of the LOGE values. We ended up calling the program Crew2Crew.
It’s all tabulated at the end of each month, the general manager at each site gets to pick one nominee from each of the seven values, and that person is awarded recognition at the site meeting that month. They are given a certificate and the pair of “crew” socks that signify the value they represented. Now they can wear those socks with pride for the rest of their time with LOGE.
JL: So nominations occur peer-to-peer? Can managers nominate their direct reports?
LWL: They can, but it’s in the spirit of peer-to-peer recognition. So it shouldn’t be “this person had an amazing performance, and they knocked it out of the park.” It should be more of a real-time observation: “I spotted them doing this thing, and I thought it was rad.” We try to remind the managers that it really is a peer-to-peer based plan and to think of their nominations in that way.
Crew 2 Crew certificate
JL: In addition to the employees working at camp locations, do you have an HQ?
LWL: We do. We call our HQ our Community Support Center, and we operate as our own little site when it comes to this program. We have 14 people based at our Community Support Center here in North Bend, Washington, and then we currently have five active sites that are LOGE Camps. So each of the five locations and the CSC run their own nomination pools.
The managers at those sites can choose one winner for each of the values each month. If nobody is nominated for that month, no harm, no foul, you don’t award it that month. There is one winner for each of the seven values at each site, each month. With custom socks on the line, we know our crew members are going to try to shoot the moon and collect them all. What happens if you end up earning every pair of socks?
JL: Royal Flush!
LWL: It’s the Royal Flush. And we decided they’ll get a custom-designed pair of LOGE shoes.
JL: Wait — that just blew my mind, what are you talking about?
LWL: Once you have all those socks, you got to have a pair of shoes to wear them with. So, that will be waiting for anybody who is so dialed into living the LOGE values that they are awarded all seven socks.
JL: That’s amazing. So you’ll design it when the first person achieves it?
LWL: Oh, it’s designed. We’re going for it.
JL: I like that there are two aspects to your program. It’s driven by peer-to-peer recognition but then acknowledged by the managers. Will you combine the nominations for the whole year, across all the sites, and host a company-wide award?
LWL: Potentially. Our sites are remote. We have LOGE Camps in places like Breckenridge, Colorado, Mount Shasta. Those teams don’t necessarily get a chance to interact daily. Our first goal was to make sure that teams at each site have an opportunity to recognize the folks they work with each day. As we continue to grow and scale, we hope to put a leadership program in place, so that we can recognize leaders within each of the values. So, if somebody has a fantastic track record for a particular value, it would be an opportunity to acknowledge that person for leading by example throughout the company.
JL: That’s great. I really appreciate you walking us through the LOGE Camps Crew2Crew values recognition program. It’s exciting to hear that you are defining your culture and values in such a fun and unique way.
LWL: Yeah, it was an enjoyable program to design.
JL: Thank you, Lindsay.
LWL: Thanks, Josh.