Another wonderful guest post by a friend & client, Lisa Lehman at Thogus. It's not that I'm abandoning my posts here, it's just that so many wonderful things are happening that I want to share. Thogus's president, Matt Hlavin, is blessed with 2 brains - one in his head and the other in Lisa's. Her initiative to create a family tree at Thogus has had an impact beyond expectation. Read it and see if you can create your own company's family tree! And I'm sure Lisa would be willing to give advise.
Getting to Know your Company “family” by Lisa Lehman
Studies suggest that most of us spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our families. Not shocking if you have a commute that requires you to leave before the kids are up or maybe you work afternoons to accommodate your spouses work schedule so that a babysitter is not required. Whatever your situation, working 40 hours a week is more than the waking hours you spend with your own family in a weeks time.
Thogus decided to take a look at every employee and sent out a brief survey (8 questions actually) to really get to know him or her. The questions included asking about their families (spouses, children, pets), what hobbies or interests they have outside of work, where is their ultimate vacation spot, even something as simple as their favorite food. The most important question to me as a resource to our Employee Management team was asking our employee to provide an unknown fact about themselves that they were proud of. Reading those, at times, took our breath away. How about our shipping clerk who tried out for three (3) major league baseball teams when he was 17 or our in-house fabricator who worked on the International Space Station. We learned more about our employees in eight (8) questions then we had in years. It was simply awesome!
Once the survey was returned, the employee’s name was placed on a leaf and put on our “Thogus Family Tree”. Once the leaves started going up, the excitement was contagious. We would receive surveys several times a day as each employee was ready to turn in their survey, laugh at what they wrote, and proud to see their leaf on our tree. We kept each survey in a binder for quick reference when rewarding our team or when we see an article that may be of interest to them. It’s amazing to see the faces light up when you ask them about something they love. It is and will remain a defining moment in our culture. We chose to dig deep and the payoff was BIG.
Our employees were able to share the things with us that are closest and dearest to their hearts. We have many that are proud parents and grandparents (one employee has 11 grandchildren). One was named after a Ninja Turtle and one who spends his weekends volunteering with his dog at nursing homes. All in all, we have a group of employees that are as unique as their fingerprints. In an effort to bring us together, we wanted to uncover the common and uncommon traits we all have and use it to gain a stronger and more loyal bond between the employee and the company.
We made a decision to get to know our employees so that they are treated as an individual; one who just happens to also be an employee of our company. Now we know that when we host luncheons, we have a vegetarian or when we raffle sports tickets, we have more Pittsburgh Steelers fans than Cleveland Browns. The idea was simple. Who are we as individuals and how can we help foster the morale in the eight (8) hours we are together every day. One thing is for sure, we have a lot more to learn about one another and that makes us more than just co-workers, we are a family.
We use the information to better understand how our employees tick – giving us a chance to compliment their individuality. If they are inclined to art and music, we know that they may be visual learners and great listeners. If they have jumped out of an airplane to parachute, we know they are adventurous and may be up for any challenge we give out. We noticed that 50% of our employees had a pet so we decided that our next community outreach would benefit a local pet shelter. The bottom line is that we want them to know that we are listening. That we understand who they truly are and respect that they have big, beautiful lives outside of work.