For Lori Drummond, leadership and culture come down to communication. The president and chief executive officer of Olympia Federal Savings has been known to check on employees if she hasn’t heard from them in a while. About five or six years ago, she launched a program where employees gather daily for morning huddles, which are sometimes strategic and sometimes fun and informative.
Every week, a member of the leadership team gives a recorded “radio address” to the entire company that covers important topics and recognizes employee excellence. The staff holds quarterly celebrations to mark individual and company milestones and achievements. The company places a high priority on volunteerism and training.
“I kind of like to get to know people and understand how they like to be mentored, how they respond to different scenarios,” says Drummond, who started as a receptionist in 1984 and is now in her 11th year as CEO. “I don’t know if I have a particular style. I’m somewhat adaptive. Maybe overly empathetic.”
Whatever it is, it clearly works. The mutual institution, founded in 1906, now has 120 employees spread across eight branches in Thurston and Mason counties and combined assets of more than $608 million. Like Drummond, several employees have stayed for more than 30 years. About a dozen have logged more than 20.
“I intend to work here until I retire, which is a minimum of 30 years away,” writes one employee anonymously on a form nominating the institution for a Best Companies award. Says another: “I am an OlyFedder for life.”
Drummond, who credits her predecessors for creating a positive culture in the first place, is sensitive to the work that goes into maintaining it. She’s the first to admit there’s always room for improvement. “You have to work on it. You can’t let up on those things,” she says. “You have to stay up on employees, and if we have a misstep, there’s always an opportunity to correct.”