By Phil Key, President
Over the years, we’ve spent a lot of time and energy focused on how to tweak what we do to improve our service and systems, but this year’s Management Development Days (MDD) theme, “Pride in our Progress,” reminded us that we have many accomplishments to be proud of and that we continue to make great strides as a team. At this year’s annual two-day training event, we were able to bring over 500 employees from all 20 branches together to celebrate accomplishments, learn from one another and grow together as a company.
Kim Gasper, Business Developer for our King of Prussia maintenance branch, elaborates on her branch’s progress and plans for 2017.
As always, we packed a lot of information into just two days and capitalized on the collective investment in bringing everyone together and taking a break from our long to-do lists. A few of the things we talked about at MDD included:
- Learning how to “Influence Anyone”—Keynote speaker and renowned mentalist Max Major showed us how to read body language to build rapport with our coworkers and customers. The goal is not to get a person to do it for your reasons, but for his/her reasons, and the only way to figure out what those reasons are is by asking questions. We should be using body language as signals to gauge how a conversation is going and take the chance to stop and ask a question. (i.e. What do you think about what I’ve said so far?) We can also use body language techniques like mirroring posture and tone to engineer rapport and build trust so that what we say has a greater impact and our conversations are more effective.
- Getting Back to Basics—We have many long-standing policies and procedures in place that help streamline our jobs, but several are either not being executed well or are simply out-of-date. Instead of creating new policies to patch up inefficiencies, we are determined to fix the ones we have. At MDD, we formed study groups that were position-specific (i.e. branch administrators and enhancement managers) to enable us to learn from one another, identify pinch points, propose changes and streamline processes. By all accounts, these groups felt that the sessions were productive and will help lay the groundwork for more forward progress.
- Retaining our Crewmen—We find our highest turnover rates within the ranks of our field personnel, so we are putting extra focus this year on developing successful new hires into productive long-term employees. By applying empathetic leadership, acknowledging concerns and offering constructive solutions, we hope to become more understanding and effective managers and help crew members succeed and thrive in their roles.
- Planning for the Future—As an open book company, we take the time to share with our employees not only our current financial and operational standing, but also the details of our future plans. As we wrap up our next five-year plan, our main goal remains: grow the company in order to create opportunity for our people. Continued focus on disseminating our culture and values will help us be successful in those endeavors. We plan to add new branches in our primary markets and increase the size and scope of our current branch operations; add HR resources; invest in succession training as we move people up in the company; and maintain the “franchise” mentality that lets us treat each branch as an autonomous business with lots of support from our corporate staff.
Pictured left: A neat and clean uniform has always been a key part of the company’s professional image. Craig Ruppert models one of the original Ruppert uniforms circa 1980.
For those of you who attended MDD, we hope you left with a greater understanding of where we are, what our plans are for the future and how you can influence the vision for the company. We are extremely proud of the company’s progress and accomplishments over the last 40 years, but what makes us most proud is seeing our people grow and succeed in their personal and professional lives. Together, we look forward to creating future opportunities for growth and thank you for your continued perseverance.