I’ve spent an immense amount of time creating a company culture I’m proud of here at Topel’s Towing & Truck Center. Let me tell you… It hasn’t been an easy feat. Considering that for the first 20 years of business, leadership wasn’t what it should have been. And, I wasn’t strong enough to stop the negativity building around me.

Building a positive work culture is so important to creating a space where people feel comfortable, safe, and valued. It’s taken my team and I a lot of work to get here, but I’ve learned that once you remove one person who’s a source of negativity, it gets much easier. Today, I’m sharing how my team and I transformed our work culture into the happy and productive environment it is now.

A Challenging Past 

I don’t like to dwell on the past in general, because I’m someone who focuses on the positive and moving forward. But, it’s important that you understand just how difficult things used to be at my business, and how far we’ve come since then.

Tough at Work, Tough at Home

For a very long time, I let someone make this place pretty terrible, for me and for my employees. I had to pick and choose my battles with my former business partner. Partially because we were in business together, and partially because we shared our life at home together. This was the person who took my confidence and made me feel like I wasn’t worthy or my opinion mattered. No matter what, it was always his way. It took me a long time to stand up to him and say how I felt.

It’s a family-owned business, and oftentimes, our problems at work or at home would bleed into each other. I felt so little control over what was going on in all areas of my life, and it was a struggle to break those negative cycles. It took everything in me to finally make the change that needed to happen.

A Negative Workplace

My guys – you all know, I call my male and female team “my guys!” – have been through so many terrible experiences in our old work environment. It wasn’t a good work culture for them, and it breaks my heart every day to know what they used to deal with when they came to work.

It’s funny how just one person can make a difference. One person in our business brought everyone down. Thankfully, one bad apple doesn’t ruin the bag. And just as easily as one person can spoil a work environment, removing that person can help make things so much better.

Building a Stronger Team 

My team has helped me create a truly positive and good work culture at our shop.

I watched the struggles my team had for a long time. It got to the point where I really couldn’t take it anymore, and neither could my team. My employees came to me and said, “Look, if he stays, I go.” I had to choose, and I chose my employees. Putting them before my business partner was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

Since I took over sole ownership in July, we’ve worked hard in areas that make everyone feel happier, more confident, and more appreciated at work. We’ve…

  • focused on teamwork
  • prioritized respect
  • improved our communication
  • cultivated positivity

I’m proud of everyone who stuck it out through the tough times with me and gave me the chance to prove I’m more than capable of running this business on my own and providing a great place to work. I’m grateful to be part of this time. And while I may be the leader of this group, we’re all part of making good things happen.

How We’ve Grown

On my team, now, nobody is better than anyone else. Everyone’s opinion matters. We all have a say in what happens, and I love that. We bounce ideas off each other and even when we don’t agree, there’s respect in our conversations.

When things don’t go right, and they don’t always go right, we come together with a positive mindset to fix them. We focus on making this business somewhere we can all go to work hard, earn an income, and do jobs we love every single day.

We are rockin’ it, we’re killing it. We have this amazing company, and it’s all because we built an incredible work culture, and we won’t accept anything less than great.

One Person Can Make a Difference

The potential for one person to ruin a business’s atmosphere and work culture is huge. Everyone on your team could be on top of their game with a positive attitude, and just like that, one person can come in and destroy the good vibes for everyone. People don’t want to work with individuals like that. They want to be around a team that is helpful and contributes to a great environment.

No matter how great someone is at their job, if they’re destroying the company culture, you remove them. They have to go. Whether they’re a great tech, an awesome operator, or a fantastic dispatcher, it doesn’t matter. If they’re bringing down your team, they don’t belong at your business. 

I would love to say you can invest in taking that one negative person and help them get to a healthier and happier place, but it just doesn’t work that way.

Making Tough Choices for The Health of Your Team

Together with my team, we've created a great environment for us all to work in.

I know it’s not always easy to make this kind of decision for your team. I’ve struggled with weighing the value of someone’s contributions with how they influence our work environment. But you know what? You just have to do it.

I once had an employee that I just couldn’t keep. His performance was dragging our business down, and truthfully, costing me too much money. The need for my choice came at a terrible time of year for me to lose that role, but I knew that hanging on wouldn’t solve any of the problems he was creating. 

I made the decision and let him go. Within two weeks, a former employee rejoined us and he’s doing an amazing job. He’s positive, works hard, enjoys what he does, and his work makes a valuable impact here. He wouldn’t have rejoined our team if we hadn’t improved our company culture, and I’m so glad he did.

Create The Culture Your Team Deserves

My experiences with taking a negative company culture and working to make it positive can inspire you to make challenging changes in your life. Remember that when someone or something is toxic, you have the power to take a chance and create the atmosphere you, or you and your team, deserve.

Building our team up to be happy and successful has been really amazing. We’re all so excited to see where our hard work takes us.

Live your best life,