Nashville Core Tenet Spotlight: Assume Positive Intent

All Vaconians [Vaco employees] live by a set of core tenets that drive our culture and shape the way we work. Kyle Allen, Vaco’s Nashville Managing Partner, sat down with some of the outstanding people at the office who exemplify each of the core tenets. In this feature, we see how Jordan Wood embodies the tenet, “assume positive intent.”

What does this core tenet mean to you?

I think in today’s workforce, it is so easy to become defensive when something occurs that you don’t agree with, which is why it’s so important to assume positive intent on your team. Becoming defensive prevents us from learning and growing, and we stop listening. What this core tenet means to me is that if you feel yourself start to become defensive, take a step back, look at the situation with a greater understanding and perspective, and assume that the other person has good intentions.

If you could summarize this core tenet in one sentence, what would it be?

Give people the benefit of the doubt, and see the bigger picture.

How would you describe this core tenet to someone who doesn’t work at Vaco?

The meaning of Vaco in Latin is “free yourself,” and I think that correlates very closely to our core tenet of assume positive intent. When we free ourselves from looking negatively at situations or friction that may occur in the workforce, (and instead look at it with positive intent) we free ourselves from the friction that may come by replacing it with productive energy. This helps us to grow together and embrace healthy conflict.

How do you think this core tenet has led to Vaco’s success over the years?

This core tenet has led to Vaco’s success over the years by encouraging people to speak their minds, listen to one another, and then assess the situation to find a beneficial solution or outcome. The most important factor of this is learning and growing together. At Vaco, if we want a different outcome, we choose to think and feel differently in order to practice better communication and build strong relationships. At the end of the day, we hold a high level of respect for one another.

How do you apply this core tenet to your day-to-day life at Vaco?

If I feel myself becoming frustrated or I potentially disagree with another person’s opinion, I pause. Instead of zoning out, I take a deep breath, take a step back, and hear the other person and their ideas. I know that ultimately it leads to a stronger team dynamic, more opportunities for us to grow together, and most importantly, it emphasizes the level of trust and respect we have with one another.

How do you think this core tenet differentiates Vaco from other recruiting and staffing agencies?

I think this core tenet differentiates Vaco from other recruiting and staffing agencies because we practice what we preach. Assuming positive intent is something we do every single day and a core tenet each employee takes very seriously. We all have the opportunity to learn and grow every day; we take every opportunity that we can to do so and help encourage each other, because at the end of the day, we all want each other to be successful. We also pride ourselves on our company culture and our ability to have tough conversations, but addressing them in a respectful manner and with an open mind so that we can help each other learn and grow.

Name one famous person (dead or alive) who you think exemplifies this mentality?

Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, stated a quote that stuck closely with me in regard to positive intent and perfectly describes what that core tenet means to Vaco. She said, “Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed.” In a successful working environment, if we assume positive intent the sky is the limit for how successful we can be and how much we can learn and grow from one another.

About Jordan


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