This article is written as a point of view from our Marketing Coordinator, Jesse Hummel.

Your first question might be: what is a workplace chaplain?

A chaplain is like a priest, pastor, or minister. However, they are not linked to any specific religious organization. They can provide support to whomever, regardless of religious affiliation. 

When life presents its unexpected challenges, having someone to talk to can go a long way. Cambridge provides chaplains that come in throughout the week to speak with employees. These chaplains operate on a purely anonymous basis, meaning whatever is said during conversation will not make its way around the company to others. They are there to listen to struggles and successes or engage in regular conversation. Chaplains do not operate as religious entities. They are not there to promote any specific religion but rather be  a positive resource. 

Experience with Chaplains

From personal experience, I can attest to the benefits of having a workplace chaplain. One morning I came into work with a negative attitude - my weekend was unpleasant, and I carried those feelings into the workplace. I could tell that these feelings had a negative impact on my mental health and my production at work. A few hours into my workday, one of our chaplains asked how I was doing. I shared with him the struggle I was enduring, and in return, he shared some words of encouragement. This interaction was quick but had undeniable benefits. I was able to feel relief from getting the negative experiences off my chest and ultimately was able to be more productive and concentrate on my work. 

Benefits of Chaplains in the Workplace

  • Resolve disputes: Any workplace with many people and personalities can experience quarrels and feelings of frustration. These issues are often minor disputes that can be resolved through conversation and likely aren’t taken to management due to fear of escalating the situation. Having a chaplain to talk through issues with can resolve these conflicts quickly. 

  • Culture: Having a chaplain promotes a positive culture. It shows employees that production numbers are not the only matter of importance. Employee mental health is a priority when chaplain services are provided. 
  • Safety: Carrying burdens can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety that act as a fog over someone; however, while in a manufacturing environment, you are frequently near a forklift or heavy machinery. If you are not present in the moment or aware of what is occurring around you, there is significant potential for an accident to occur. Chaplains can proactively relieve “the fog” leading to a safer environment. 

Studies show that approximately 90,000 hours of one’s life are spent in the workplace. For those in management, it is estimated that 30,000 of those hours are spent responding to a crisis. Having a chaplain in the workplace can help lighten the burden on those in management. They will have more time to focus on revenue, improving processes, and production. 

Come visit and ask us anything.

Having chaplains in the workplace is only but one of the ways in which we try to promote a culture of mental and physical health. Caring about the well-being of every employee is how we try to enrich our employees’ lives daily. As we’ve learned from other companies, we believe in a pay-it-forward and open our doors to visitors to experience our culture in our morning meetings – one of our favorite daily rhythms. 

This blog is written by Thomas Little, Sales Development Representative, speaking on his experience at the Build My Future trade show. 

Finding quality employees is a pain point that most companies currently struggle with. Therefore, new ways of finding talent are essential to remaining competitive in the current job market. The Build My Future trade show is one great way to engage with potential future employees. 

The Build My Future trade show started in Springfield, Missouri but now pans many states, including Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. For the first time the trade show occurred in St. Charles, Missouri as well. This trade show consists of local organizations inviting high schoolers to spend a day learning about potential career paths. In addition, employers set up booths where they will have a hands-on activity that shows what individuals may be doing if they go into that field of work. 

The first Build My Future trade show was in Springfield, Missouri at the fairgrounds on 4/13. Approximately 2,700 high schoolers attended this event. I was blown away by the level of interest that was shown. Students were highly engaged and excited for an opportunity to learn more about potential career paths. Unfortunately, we do not have a location near Springfield, so I took the opportunity to speak with students about what is of interest to them. Many students said they are grateful to be exposed to options outside of a traditional 4-year university. 

We had our scale models of units for the Cambridge booth, some steel parts with a cordless pop rivet gun to piece the parts together, and material on what Cambridge does. 

On April 20th, I attended the second Build My Future trade show with Michael Harmon, M-line Team Lead, held at the St. Charles Family Arena. This was the first year that St. Louis has hosted, so the turnout was less than the Springfield event. There were around 900 students in attendance. Michael and I shared how Cambridge aims to enrich the lives of every life we touch, both internally and externally. I was surprised at the level of engagement that this messaging was met with. Students were highly intrigued by a company that cared for more than just profit margins. We also shared the different career opportunities that Cambridge offers and that we are all about growing our people. 

Those that showed high interest in our culture and what we do took our flyers, my card, and a flyer directing them to our website to apply. 

I also made some connections with a handful of opportunity and career centers in the St. Louis area that I will get in touch with our HR department. It was a terrific opportunity to meet interested prospective talent and share the Cambridge way with other people in our area.    

 

If you would like to learn about the potential career opportunities at Cambridge check out our careers page

There is likely a “Safety First” reference in every employee handbook in the United States. Every company wants to mitigate the chance that one of their own could get hurt or worse. While the work has been done to establish safe practices, the ability to translate a protocol into real-time, real-life risk reduction is often disconnected.

For us at Cambridge, while establishing safe practices by identifying and reducing risks have always been components of our training and day-to-day work, it is fair to say that we have not always effectively communicated the expectations to the entire organization – especially for those outside of operations. We are just now taking the steps to ensure that our protocols are communicatedunderstood and being practiced to truly make for a safe environment for the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives that create our work community.

Identifying safety goals & our 2022 strategy

Our first step for improvement was to evaluate what we had in place and find opportunities for improvement in terms of the protocols themselves. 

In 2022, we are focusing on increased proactivity though job hazard analysis, identifying hazards as a metric and are working towards getting SHARP (Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program) certified. 

In terms of moving these strategies from paper to execution – it comes down to expectations. “Setting clear expectations from management about our priorities will help our employees understand what’s important and what our goals are. Employees who know that our organization values their health and safety are more productive. They can participate in the process to ensure we have a safe and efficient work environment” says Connor Lalonde, our Safety Coordinator at Cambridge. 

Educating through a six week internal communication campaign

As mentioned earlier, creating the safe procedures was generally the easy part for us. However, we had low recall and implementation among our employees. We needed to break it down to expected specific behaviors and translate the training to actionable items across departments.

Rather than a single intensive seminar, we decided to drip communication over half of a quarter could help with implementing and practicing learnings, and still leave room for mid-campaign questions and improvements.

Week One: Why safety is our highest priority at Cambridge

Week Two: Identifying the safe behaviors in our work areas

Week Three: Responding to safety incidents

Week Four: Our 2022 strategies for safety incident prevention

Week Five: Review of all the key concepts

Week Six: Close with a review and celebration of our safety culture

The design of the companywide communication was simple: each member of the organization tackled a weekly exercise with their team. To ensure proper guidance, people leaders were first introduced to the exercises with their own leaders and then would use that learning to help the team they manage through the same exercise.

To share learnings across teams, insight was shared via signage and in our daily morning meetings. The meeting emcees were also encouraged to share stories of incidents or “near misses” that help remind them why we are putting this work into being proactively safe.

What’s next?

Following the safety campaign Cambridge will celebrate with another key component of our culture: celebration. We will review the successes of the organization and ackowledge the advances we have made in workplace safety. 

This first companywide campaign kicks off the first of many internal campaigns Cambridge will work toward in this year, with later topics covering continuous improvement, quality, and leadership development. 

Join us for a morning meeting if you’d like more ideas on the daily habits of a safety and continuous improvement culture!

 

Continuous improvement plays a key role in the Cambridge culture - we are always striving to better ourselves and our processes. After learning about 2-Second Lean from Paul Akers and adopting it in our shop, we then explored the methodology of continuous improvement and found Kata. Most recently employees were introduced to it through the AME 750 and 24-week continuous improvement training. 


The structured practice of continuous improvement, Kata has proven to enhance our lean methodologies and give us the process to see a project through with enhanced outcomes.

In this video, Becca Jenkins does a great job of explaining how our Operations Engineering team uses Kata to improve different production lines and processes. Used first on our S-series HTHV heating line, employees formed teams and came together to create experiments. Through many experiments guided by Kata, we have been able to drastically cut down on the space required to perform tasks while also reducing the number of errors made during our processes. These improvements have been most recently implemented on our new paint line. Using Kata, we have identified ways to improve our line density with quality in mind.  That means we can load more parts in the same amount of space which means better line efficiency. Through Kata experimentation, we have learned how to deliver parts to the new paint line so that the loaders can hang the parts as efficiently as possible in the sequence that makes the most sense for processing the parts after they are painted and unloaded from the line.  These improvements are consistently being made to enrich the lives of our Cambridge colleagues.

During our morning meetings each day we share the latest improvements to give a space for employee genius to be celebrated and inspire other areas of the shop. If you would like to get a glimpse into our Kata process and culture of continuous improvement, please join us for a morning meeting. 
 

No matter the business, quality issues remain a factor. After all, quality impacts all aspects of a business and improving it is a big undertaking. At Cambridge, our method involves a focus on employee genius and continuous improvement.

The problem is in the process, not the individual

Throughout the day, employees track quality issues using a communal iPad. These issues are compiled into a report that is then shared in an open conversation each day with the entire production team. Most issues are presented with a picture and a clarifying description of the problem. Throughout the conversation, there is never a moment of blame or causing shame to an individual for a mistake. Cambridge believes that the process failed the individual. If the proper procedure was in place, then the quality issue would not have occurred. The best part is: the process can be improved.

Quality issues are then archived in order to identify reoccurring issues. Whenever quality issues become repetitive, the process must be evaluated. When this happens, a team of employees steps up to address the issue. Employees volunteer during the quality meeting and come together to find a solution. Rather than a supervisor telling them what they should do in order to fix it, Cambridge believes that those performing the job are the ones who will come up with the best corrective actions. This employee genius will allow for the process to be improved in the most effective way. 

Process improvement in real life 

One example of this was with the orientation of gas train components. There are shutoff valves (SVs) and safety shutoff valves (SSVs) that must be orientated to the correct direction to ensure proper functionality. The SVs and SSVs were configured incorrectly on a few occasions, and there was a significant risk if these components were not correct when shipped out into the field. A team of employees came together to correct this mistake and ensured the process would drive the solution. It was decided that after the gas train was installed, the gas train builder would place orientation indicators on the SV and SSV. Proper orientation now goes through multiple checks ensuring the process will not allow for failure and for an incorrect gas train to make it into the field. 

Making improvement a central idea to culture

Standardized workflows that clarify what must be done help our employees achieve high expectations of a quality product. The perfect people to develop these processes or improve them are those who do it every day by using their employee genius. Open conversations without the fear of punishment allow for all quality issues to be addressed. Cambridge employees understand that there is no shame in making a mistake. Embracing failure and prescribing solutions enriches the lives of our employees and of our valuable customers.

Come and join us

Each morning Cambridge goes over quality issues that had happened the previous day. We discuss what went wrong within the entire organization and share what improvements will be made to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Come and join us for a morning meeting to see this in action!

The Manufacturing Leader Podcast: Restoring Glory and Dignity to Manufacturing with John Kramer and Marc Braun

Podcast by Joe Sullivan of Gorilla76 Marketing
Listen on Gorilla76's website

Would you rather focus on people or profitability in your business?
You can’t have it all.

But maybe you can…

Maybe people and profitability go hand in hand, and each makes the other stronger.

In this episode of The Manufacturing Executive, I talk with John Kramer, Chairman & CEO at Cambridge Air Solutions, 
and Marc Braun, President at Cambridge Air Solutions, about what it means to restore glory and dignity to manufacturing through both culture and business practices.

We also talked about:

How to build a culture that celebrates people.

How profitability fits in with a people-first culture

How to adapt to crises in a way that cares for people and drives business forward.

Part of the personal growth effort of Cambridge includes encouraging each employee to feel more confident speaking in front of a large group and other public speaking opportunities. The "practice" of this improvement comes in the form of taking turns to Emcee the morning meeting that we hold out in the shop every day. Each Emcee can speak to whatever they'd like as the group stretches - some take the chance to talk about their families or hometowns, others give trivia and yet, others - like Steve, our Controller - take the opportunity to be creative. Watch the video below to see how Steve used his introduction time! 

Truly understanding your customer’s needs and the value they place on your products and services is paramount to success in business. Defining and refining your value to the customer takes total organizational alignment. Alignment around the importance of the information and collaboration around collecting it, communicating it, and acting on it are vital. [caption id="attachment_199" align="alignnone" width="300"]value concept handwritten on blackboard value concept handwritten on blackboard[/caption] Customer Advisory Boards are a great way to engage the leadership in your own organization. They allow you to capture candid feedback on measuring existing corporate value statements against your messaging across the company. Are your value statements landing? Do they resonate with the people receiving them? What would your customers say is most important to them? Customer Advisory Boards provide three major benefits to an organization. 1. Deepening Relationships with Customers 2. Understanding Your Customer’s Value Language 3. Identifying Your Product/Service Gaps Deepening Relationships: People do business with people they like. Putting people together with one purpose, “How can we help one another achieve more together?” or better yet, “How can I help you over achieve for your organization? My win is wrapped up in yours.” Putting your customers together with your business leaders across the enterprise can create awesome bonding and momentum. Understanding Your Customer’s Value Language: We all want to be spoken to in our own value language. I can be just as guilty as the next of projecting what I think is important to customers rather than speaking in their terms. “Energy efficiency is important to building owners and facilities managers,” I state. The customer stated, “Energy efficiency is really important to owners, but I also want to cut 2% out of the total costs of the project. That is more important right now. Can you help me do that?” How valuable is your proposed solution in the language of the customer? Go well beyond economic value to draw out all things valuable and then have your Customer Advisory Board rank them. Then, and this is key, change your language based on their responses and challenge the list continuously through an ongoing Advisory Board engagement process. Identifying Your Product/Service Gaps: Through intentional questioning, you can uncover items requiring your organizations attention. What is the number one problem you are facing with the use of our product? Share with us any challenges you’ve had with our products? What else have you experienced? How many times has that occurred? How would you suggest we improve what we’re doing? What are others doing in this space that you feel is innovative? A great way to clear the session of any fear of sharing “bad news” is to coordinate a pre-Advisory Board survey that probes into improvement areas. Also, don’t defend or justify any mistakes or gaps. Just reply, “Thank you for sharing that.” Your customers will share openly if their input is appreciated and not explained away. Build an Advisory Board and you’ll build a deeper relationship with your customers, knowing how to speak their language and fine tune your products/services for success. Have you created or participated on an Advisory Board? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below.