Effective personnel management is key to employee satisfaction and productivity. Some Flagstaff businesses use unique management philosophies to transform a good workplace into a great place. Three Flagstaff businesses that embrace such management styles are PuroClean, True North Dentistry and W. L. Gore & Associates.
W. L. Gore & Associates appears on every list of Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” since the rankings debuted 30 years ago. But what makes Gore and others on the list great places to work? According to the Great Place to Work Institute, which produces FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, trust is the defining principle of great workplaces.
Their research shows that trust is a result of three main variables: employee belief that managers are credible, employee expectation of fair treatment and employees feeling that they are treated with respect. Additional components of making a workplace great are the level of pride employees have about what they do and the level of authentic camaraderie that they feel with one another.
Gore’s team-based culture, known for encouraging employee autonomy, must score high in all categories to maintain standing on Fortune’s list. In fact, to foster its non-hierarchical philosophy, employees are called “associates” and the word “boss” is not used.
“Not only does our company culture contribute to associate satisfaction, it also drives innovation,” said CEO Terri Kelly, who joined Gore as an engineer more than 25 years ago. “We resist narrowly-defined titles, bureaucracy and formal chains of command. Instead, our culture is built on teamwork and direct communication, creating an environment ideal for creative collaboration.”
“Gore takes great care in selecting new people and teaching them ‘the Gore way,’” said Gary Hamel, visiting professor at the London Business School, in an article published at Management Innovation eXchange.
Hiring practices and training are also part of True North Dentistry’s unique management style. “After screening candidates, we put them through a half-day [paid] working interview. That gives us an opportunity to see how they treat the patients – and their colleagues. Input from the team after the working interview is important because we’re looking for team players,” explained Dr. Richard J. Shannon DDS, founder and senior managing partner. Shannon, who has a Masters degree in Counseling, values empowering people and getting them emotionally invested.
“I love collaboration – I have a more horizontal management style rather than vertical, top- down [organizational structure],” said Shannon, who has worked with a management-coaching firm since the mid-1990s. Business Communications Management provides Shannon and business partner, Dr. David K. Yang, with weekly coaching calls, training for new hires, monitoring and tracking nitty-gritty business monitors like referral sources, advertising dollars and bonuses.
True North Dentistry gives employees bonuses based on profit sharing, offers health insurance, top pay, vacation packages and extensive free dental care.
“To me, it’s all about connecting with people, whether they are my patients, my [employees] or my partner,” said Shannon, who felt validated by the management research found in Jim Collins’ book Good to Great.
Every Monday morning finds the PuroClean team circling the roundtable for two-hour coaching meetings. For Craig Moody, owner of Flagstaff PuroClean Franchise, growing himself and growing his people is key to effective personnel management. “I read and go to a lot of seminars to make myself better. I pass that onto my people in Monday morning meetings,” explained Moody.
The team may watch DVDs like The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John Maxwell, follow along in workbooks and then discuss what they have learned. The class-style learning helps each participant “…be a better person, better problem solver and thinker,” said Moody.
The study group has examined It’s Your Ship by US Navy Captain Michael Abrashoff, The Secret Code to Success by Noah St John and books by Brian Tracy. The result? “People come to me and say it is opening their minds. I see it in their work…they get much better feedback from our customers. Sure, we get one or two that can’t wait for it to be over, but all in all, the team is engaged.”
“Several of my employees were approached by a new competitor in town who offered them more money. They let me know that every one decided not to leave because of what I have done for them on a personal level. As John Maxwell says, ‘Touch their heart before you can touch their mind,’ meaning that you have to display that you are human, too. Growing personally, professionally and financially are my goals for them.” FBN
Great Place to Work Institute, www.greatplacetowork.com
Management Innovation eXchange (MIX), www.managementexchange.com
PuroClean of Flagstaff, 928-714-0050, www.puroclean.com
True North Dentistry, 928-214-0772, www.truenorthdentistry.com
W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., 928-526-3030, www.gore.com