Culture into the SEI Way by (1)

Culture of Inspiration, Development and Innovation
SEI leadership team intentionally creates and maintains an inspiring organizational culture conducive
for employee development and innovation by sharing company stories and narratives. The senior
team continually provides inspiration to maintain and sustain the culture by listening to their employees
and staying engaged. As Jessi Sprotte, SEI Marketing and Lead Generation Specialist, puts it: ‘and
so when I think about our leadership team it’s continuous, ongoing motivation, momentum, energy,
encouragement, high five’s in the hallway’.
SEI leadership strives to retain and maintain the company culture by methodically socializing new
hires into the ‘SEI Way’ of behaving and conducting business. Following the rigorous hiring process,
new employees are strategically inculcated into the SEI Way by (1) new employee on-boarding strategies,
(2) formal SEI Way Training and (3) sharing stories and narratives. When new hires join the company,
during their first week they are ‘on-boarded’ where majority of their time is spent on the big
picture. They visit and meet with every department to see what they do, and how it all fits in, and everyone
works together. This also sets the stage for future team work. From day one, the new recruits are
firmly engaged and senior leadership sows the seed for lifelong development at SEI.
SEI also conducts official training sessions known as the SEI Way training for new employees, which
is always led by the Executive Leadership Team (Ron Alvesteffer, Dwight Strayer, Kraig Harper and
Mark Thomas). After 6 months with the company, new hires from across the country attend the SEI Way
training session at corporate head office. The emphasis is on the history of SEI followed by the narratives
about SEI culture and employee engagement. The company inspires the employees through narratives,
stories, blogs and even an eBook called ‘The SEI Way’ (
php) which captures the organization’s philosophy of how it operates. The eBook has impacted
not only employees but also potential employees, customers and even competitors. SEI also deploys
social network called Yammer to bridge the geographic divide between employees, who may otherwise
never communicate with each other, to share kudos, give kudos, organize volunteer initiatives and share
photos of their teams and even their families.
Culture of Caring and Serving
Senior leaders come with the mindset of serving; they care deeply about employee development and
to serve and solve customer’s problems. SEI employees actively seek out what customers need, solve
their problems and aggressively close deals in the best interest of the customers. Great customer service
is a passion of all the employees, Bill Smitley, SEI Corporate Recruiter, puts this approach as follows:
‘our employees are engaged to where they want to help our customers and not just doing a job.
We actually believe we’re changing lives. We’re helping people.’
Culture of Employee Engagement
SEI believes that an engaged workforce is a productive workforce and accordingly have implemented
various strategies to deepen employee engagement. For example, they encourage professional collaboration
by leveraging on each other’s core strengths (use of Gallop’s Strength Finders), and have
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purposeful and deliberate communication strategies. The employee turnover rate has fallen from the
high of 20 per cent to an average of about 10 per cent (refer to Appendix A). SEI supports and
encourages employee professional development and takes the position that by making oneself better
one will become more productive and efficient and the company will stand to benefit. This is very
concisely articulated by Bill Smitley, SEI Corporate Recruiter, as:
They’re asking can you make yourself better, because if you can make yourself better your job will get better.
Your production will get better. But to make yourself individually better, personally better, professionally better,
to me everything else is behind that and once you’ve achieved that the company…will reap the benefits.
All leaders in SEI have an employee engagement budget that allows them to take individuals out to lunch
and host department, office or regional social events. SEI also provides paid time off for employees who
want to volunteer for community activity. It not only meets many of the needs of the employees to serve
the community but also tells the communities that SEI cares and appreciates their support.


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