Positive, constructive and timely feedback

By - Last modified: August 26, 2014 at 2:16 PM

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President Lisa Keeney at Atlas Machining & Welding Inc. in Northampton says the company looks for team members who are passionate about what they do and are willing to embrace change.
President Lisa Keeney at Atlas Machining & Welding Inc. in Northampton says the company looks for team members who are passionate about what they do and are willing to embrace change. - (Photo By BETTY CAULER)

Communication, feedback, development and active listening.

Those are keys to being a great coach, according to senior managers at three of the largest privately held companies in Northampton County.

“Ask open-ended questions vs. yes/no questions,” said Lisa Keeney, president and chief operating officer at Atlas Machining & Welding Inc., Northampton. “Once you have a feel for the employee’s perspective, you can ask questions to stimulate their thought process and lead them into finding their own solutions.”

Tom Kolepp, vice president of operations for Berkheimer OneSource in Bethlehem, said integrity, ingenuity and teamwork are among his company values that are infused in the daily practice of all employees.

“They remind us to live values as everyday habits,” he said.

Collaboration, shared goals and commitment go a long way toward meeting customer needs and fostering teamwork at Victaulic Co. in Easton.

“Positive and constructive feedback, provided in a timely manner, gives team members the ability to grow and improve,” said Eric Luftig, vice president of marketing, training and construction services.

ATLAS MACHINING & WELDING INC.

LISA KEENEY, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

NORTHAMPTON

• What is your team philosophy?

The Atlas Vision: Atlas Machining & Welding Inc. is innovative and resourceful, recognized internationally for manufacturing expertise – a customer-driven full-service shop delivering first quality services dependably across a broad spectrum of industries.

Our people – our culture – are our vital assets. We take pride in what we do – and in who we are. Atlas treats customers and employees respectfully and ethically.

The Atlas Team is easy to deal with, personable and professional – no excuses – no drama. We cultivate, invest in and continuously train our workforce.

Atlas machining, welding, laser cutting and fabrication services are delivered timely and accurately the first time – every time. Atlas is committed to doing whatever it takes to address its customers’ needs, whether routine or urgent.

Atlas delivers manufacturing excellence and uncommon value and takes pride in being the kind of people its customers want to deal with.

• What are the keys to being a great coach?

Be an active listener. Try to get a feel for where employees are coming from. How do they think? What are their values? What is their attitude?

Once you understand their personality and who they are, you can try to view situations through their eyes.

Ask open-ended questions vs. yes/no questions. Once you have a feel for the employee’s perspective, you can ask questions to stimulate their thought process and lead them into finding their own solutions.

It is more likely to engage them rather than feeling like they are being told what to do.

• How do you encourage team members through tough times?

Keep team members feeling appreciated and remind them how their work is important.

Keep them in the loop with continual feedback about the impact their efforts are having on company goals.

• What do you look for in hiring team members?

We look for people who are passionate about what they do, people who share our values and who have a willingness to embrace change. Without these qualities, we cannot grow.

• How do you define success for your team?

Success (to me) has to do with how you feel about your accomplishments, not how others see you; setting goals for yourself and doing your best to meet those goals.

It’s making the best of what you have and always moving forward with a goal in mind in those areas you would like to be successful in.

VICTAULIC CO.

ERIC LUFTIG, VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING, TRAINING AND CONSTRUCTION SERVICES

EASTON

• What is your team philosophy?

As a growing global manufacturer, Victaulic has nearly 4,000 employees who collaborate with colleagues in other departments and often in different parts of the globe on a daily basis to meet our customers’ needs.

Teamwork at Victaulic means being a source of help and guidance to our customers – partnering with our customers to solve their problems through various product and service solutions. Incorporating the voice of the customer into company processes requires having shared actionable and achievable objectives to make sure everyone is working together, whether inside or outside Victaulic.

• What are the keys to being a great coach?

Beyond support and commitment to a team or a mentee, a great coach focuses on development – mentoring, empowering and retaining talent by giving opportunities and experiences that further develop skills.

To do this effectively, a coach must lead and manage talent without blocking or slowing down the flow of information or progress out of a need for control. Positive and constructive feedback, provided in a timely manner, gives team members the ability to grow and improve.

Coaches also serve as goal-oriented problem solvers who can motivate team members toward success, recognizing and sharing in their achievements along the way.

• How do you encourage team members through tough times?

Encouraging team members through tough times requires clear thinking and, above all, honesty – the ability to simplify messages into specific actions, make decisions and communicate priorities.

Every company faces challenges that require strong leadership to either stay the course or change direction – a key differentiator is the communication that takes place along the way.

• What do you look for in hiring team members?

While each job at Victaulic may require a unique set of skills, team members should possess qualities in line with Victaulic’s leadership values and behaviors, including integrity, global mindset, teamwork, communication, respect and devotion. These traits are important in achieving company and customer goals.

• How do you define success for your team?

Success at Victaulic is defined by the results achieved through aligning our business strategies and actions to exceed the expectations of our customers, allowing for long-term employee careers.

 

BERKHEIMER ONESOURCE

TOM KOLEPP, VICE PRESIDENT, OPERATIONS

BETHLEHEM

• What is your team philosophy?

Our team philosophy at Berkheimer OneSource (BerkOne) is to follow our corporate values in all our decisions: integrity; employees; ingenuity; teamwork; customer and partner satisfaction.

We ask everyone to act in accordance with these values – individually, in meetings, as work groups – all the time. These values guide us in our decision making – from hiring – to contracting with our clients – to acquiring another company.

The BerkOne values are displayed in every office and conference room and every employee has their own copy. They remind us to live values as everyday habits.

• What are the keys to being a great coach?

 

The BerkOne values are the foundation for great coaching, especially our expectations for open and honest communication, accountability for personal performance and our commitment to provide an environment for all employees to succeed.

We talk to our employees about their expected performance and how their performance will be measured or assessed. We provide them with the tools to do their jobs well, including training, procedures, equipment and supervision.

As our employees perform their assignments, their results become [the] basis for feedback provided by our management staff. Managers reinforce areas of expected or exceptional employee performance and provide tips and advice for improvement in other areas.

We also try to recognize the unique capabilities and strengths that our employees bring to their work and to encourage them to continue to develop their strengths upon which they can build successful careers.

• How do you encourage team members through tough times?

BerkOne management encourages all employees and departments to work together as a unified team. Our senior management team is up front about both the opportunities the company has and the challenges we face.

BerkOne holds quarterly “state of the union” talks where all employees hear the senior management team present our results and hear about company strategy. We find that honest communication bonds employees together in both good and tough times.

There have also been times where the senior management team has had to work right on the front line with our associates to meet our client commitments. When everyone is pulling together in the same direction to accomplish a goal, it is a bonding and unifying experience that builds positive relationships throughout the organization and makes the accomplishment very satisfying. It shows that we are all in business together.

• What do you look for in hiring team members?

The most important attributes of our team members are a positive, customer-service oriented attitude and an apparent fit with our company values.

Of course, we evaluate the skills that potential employees bring with them and how we think they will perform in the technical aspects of their job. But, we will train employees for most of their job responsibilities.

It’s tough to train attitude. That’s why it is so critical to identify positive attitudes up front.

• How do you define success for your team?

BerkOne’s success formula is performing the services that our clients requested while making a fair profit – one client at a time – again and again.

On the front line, success is performing thousands of daily transactions correctly on behalf of our clients. Tactically, success is installing a new system for a client and getting everything “just right” so the client gets the benefit they expected. Strategically, success is a client calling BerkOne back with another opportunity to help their business.

We pride ourselves on doing the right jobs in the right way for our clients, because we know that builds the foundation for long-term success.

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