Implementing the Fred Factor

The first Ken Baxter Award is presented
The first Ken Baxter Award is presented

In a previous blog entry, I provided a book report on The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. I discussed how people can make a positive difference in how they go about their lives, turning something ordinary into the extraordinary. I also shared Sanborn’s acronym FRED to explain how to develop “Freds”.

• F is for Find – discover, recruit and hire “Freds”.
• R is for Reward – create a rewards program to recognize “Freds”.
• E is for Educate – educate others in examples of “Fred”-like behaviors
• D is for Demonstrate – set an example to others such that they will want to be “Freds”.

This blog entry focuses on how DISTek has implemented a program for the R within the acronym FRED for Reward.

After reading The Fred Factor, I was determined to put the principles discussed in the book into practice. DISTek already had a recognition program in place to recognize those who go above and beyond expectations in what they do for their co-workers or our customers, but I thought there could be another level, a higher level. I thought there could be a recognition that distinguishes when someone goes above and beyond the above and beyond expectations. I also wanted to encourage team members to recognize their peers’ efforts that were above and beyond expectations. And last I wanted to call this recognition something unique, something that could be added to the DISTek culture and possibly include some of DISTek’s heritage.

Without too much thinking, it became clear that an integral part of DISTek’s history was a “Fred”. He was an example of someone who made positive differences in the lives of others. After discussing this idea with DISTek’s senior management and this person’s family, I created what I call the Ken Baxter Award. I felt this best provided an example of a DISTekian who exhibited the qualities discussed of a “Fred” in Sanborn’s book.

To provide a bit of history, Ken Baxter hired Matt Dickinson, DISTek’s founder and President, to join Deere and Company after Matt graduated college. Eventually, Matt decided to change companies, but ultimately re-connected with Ken a few years before DISTek was born. Ken and Deere later became a customer of DISTek. Shortly after his retirement from Deere, Ken was convinced to work part time at DISTek. It was during this time, that I became aware of how much Ken demonstrated genuine care for others and exceeded expectations such that he raised the expectation bar. I cannot accurately summarize what all Ken did for others, but for me, the following things stick out. Ken was always quick to offer candy to my daughter and other young ones that would be visiting a parent at the DISTek offices. When I was not able to drive competently due to a broken nose (I have glasses that could not be placed on my nose), Ken was my ride to and from work. He also mentored me and others by offering helpful advice and feedback. Sadly, DISTek lost Ken when he passed away on a December day almost four years ago, but Ken’s influence still exists today. He made a huge difference in my life and also in the lives of those who knew him. Not only did Ken provide the model for this award, this award honors Ken’s legacy.

Last month, the first Ken Baxter Award was given to a DISTek team member who upholds Ken’s values and reminds us of his dedication to others every day.