Pride of Craft Is Unequaled Pride
Founded in 1928 by Trafton Cole and Eddie Haan, the shoes made by Cole Haan remain a stable of success in the footwear business.
But the company didn’t survive for nearly a century without innovating. When its sales dipped dangerously low in the 1990s, the company reinvented its business by embracing contemporary styles and digital sales. E-commerce transformed their business into a powerhouse.
What they didn’t change was how the shoes are made.
Each pair of Cole Haan shoes takes five craftsmen up to 30 hours to produce by hand. Everything from cutting and shaping materials to rubbing dyes directly into the grain of the leather is still done by hand.
Equally surprising is that one artisan sees the shoe all the way through the process, from beginning to end. Only when that craftsman is satisfied that the shoes have been superbly executed will they then place them by hand into a box. Everyone on the team hopes a customer will soon open that box and find the surprise of a meticulously crafted shoe they can’t find anywhere else.
Cole Haan artisans don’t leave for other shoe companies, although there are several nearby in southern Maine where the shoes are made. In an age where company loyalty is increasingly difficult to find, those who craft shoes for Cole Haan are likely to stay their entire careers at the company.
The reason is not how special the company is or the benefits offered to the team. The driver of loyalty comes from the pride of owning the shoemaking process.
Those who own the work take the utmost pride in the outcome. That pride spills over into every other area of a company or enterprise. Team members work harder, maintain higher engagement, care more about quality, and consistently collaborate with teammates to get the work done when they fully own the creative process.
Great leaders know that loyalty springs from the pride of controlling the quality of the products or services being created. When team members are given autonomy and responsibility for the product or service delivered to customers or clients, they increasingly stand for excellence. The pride in producing or creating superior outcomes soon translates into loyalty to the enterprise.
Team members stick with an organization that gives them control over what they create. A team member who finds great gratification in what they do will work even harder so others will be even more proud of them. And they remain loyal to the team that gave them the opportunity to showcase their skills.
An organization or team filled with people proud of the work they do will stand firm against adversity and challenge. Great workplaces are prideful places.