What happens when an employee is asked to leave behind the realities of their home life when they walk into their workplace? The outcome is a conflicted person who is forced to figure out where their loyalties lie. As leaders, if you can recognize, celebrate and try to help with different facets of their lives, you can tap into their "whole person" - somebody who is much, much more than somebody you just pay to complete a list of tasks. 

If people are allowed to speak and act freely about their non-work life, they are likely to have a better sense of belonging, stronger loyalties, and often bring innovative ways to problem-solve to the table.

What exactly can leaders do to encourage a "whole self" at work?

  1. Acknowledging that mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, and wives all have unique concerns and burdens that might be weighing on them. 
  2. A friendly listening ear can provide immeasurable support, but even if that is not possible, leaders can provide support through understanding and accommodation if PTO is needed.
  3. Making a genuine effort to learn more about your coworkers' families, including their accomplishments and current life obstacles 
  4. Celebrating accomplishments such as graduations, milestone birthdays, family additions and other changes 
  5. Creating perks and/or benefits that help people personally as well as professionally. One example at Cambridge is the subscription to SmartDollar, Dave Ramsey's online plan to financial freedom.

Watch the video below to hear the benefits first-hand from people who are more than just Cambridge employees, but also mothers, fathers, an Army National Guardsman, baseball enthusiasts and home cooks!

This video is part of our Enriching Lives series. For other ideas of what it means to enrich lives, click here. We'd love to hear your stories of how your company encourages whole selves. Tag us on social media with your story and the hashtag #enrichinglives!

 

This blog was guest written by Darla Gibson, Executive Admin at Cambridge Engineering.

We all know what employee engagement means, getting our employees to be present at work. Getting them to make things better, paying attention to quality and making sure our customers are taken care of. But how do we get it?

Over the 20+ years that I have been at Cambridge, I have seen so many iterations of getting the employees heard. From the suggestion box, to a database of issues that they encounter and want solutions for (we called it Employee Action Request or EAR), to rearranging where the departments are physically located to make sure the resources are near to where the problems occur. But it never seemed to work. But, why? 

It wasn’t that we didn’t hear them. It wasn’t that we didn’t believe them. It was a matter of having enough time and figuring out what the priorities were. Once the employee handed the problem to leadership, we had to put it in a bigger engine. Now, we had to prioritize it with the other projects from other areas. It became a bunch of “red tape.” So, what changed that for Cambridge?

I believe that the change came when we told the employees to fix it. That may sound harsh but basically, we said, if it bugs you, fix it. Don’t bring it to us, use the resources within your circle of influence and figure out how you can make it better. Most of the little issues, suddenly get fixed. If the employee was not changing the way our product looks or feels to the customer, we allowed them to find solutions. 

These solutions took a lot of their headaches away. Many times, they had the relationships within their departments and amongst other departments to fix the problems that plagued them day in and day out. They became more engaged because they felt they had a voice in finding the solutions to their own issues. No longer did they have to wait for the item to become top priority, no longer did they wait for a magical solution, they just took care of the issue.

The truly inspiring part of this is that we asked them to record it. We asked for a video that gave the problem and showed us their solution. This gave them a voice.  Now, they had the permission to fix what bugged them, and to show the entire organization their creative process. 

Did this make everything better? Of course not. There were larger problems that needed to be addressed within the bigger engine. However, what I believe this did was give employees a place to be creative and ask them for their ideas to fix problems. 

We have many people come through Cambridge to visit to see what we do. They have heard so many things about our Morning Meeting and our employee engagement.  When they are here, they see and feel this engagement.  This sense that the employee’s voice matters and therefore, the employees are willing to step up and tell us when they have an idea, rather than stay in the background. Everyone’s question is “how did you make it happen?”

It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t overnight. We have been on this journey for several years and the iterations keep happening. We have added so many places where the employee can come with ideas and be creative. What all the systems do is recognize that the employee voice needs to be heard, and the employee needs to have a space to be creative.

So, how can you make this happen in your organization?

  1. Create a pathway that works in your organization.  One that is simple and easy for the employee to access. 
  2. Allow the employee to tell their story.  Video is as easy way to share.  Find a venue – email, company meeting, some way for the stories to get published.  Allowing the employee to show off their creativity. 
  3. Celebrate.  Make sure the employee knows that you appreciate their efforts!

Find that space in your organization and let your employees become engaged and thrive!

This post was guest-authored by Doug Eisenhart, VP of Sales, Service and Marketing at Cambridge Engineering.

How do you answer "What do you do?" 

Changing perspective might be your game changer. It certainly was ours.

“Helping Leaders Create Better Working Environments for Hard Working People” is the message on the home page of our website. It signals for the reader, the answer to the question, “What is it that you do?” For years, we answered that question by saying that we are an HVAC manufacturer. Technically, that is true - however, “What we do” is help business leaders support their people by delivering a system along with our equipment that creates comfort and well-being for an organization’s most valuable asset – their people.

Leaders support their people through comfortable indoor temperatures? How?

Facility and operational leaders can make an impact on an employee's health and employment satisfaction by focusing on the quality of the environmental conditions in which they are working. In our HVAC world, it’s about providing fresh outside air ventilation for improved indoor air quality (IAQ) to evenly heat manufacturing and warehousing spaces during the winter months and to provide cooling during the summer months. To provide an example, in our own manufacturing facility, we know the toll that the hot and humid St. Louis summers have on our people and are taking the steps to install and operate a two-stage (Indirect/Direct) evaporative cooling system to lower temperatures in our factory. These evaporative cooling and ventilation units will boast a dramatic operational cost difference compared to traditional mechanical or DX cooling systems, but that is merely a perk to making the plant temperature more comfortable for our employees. More comfort translates into more joy at work. More joy means more people engagement, more employee genius and more fun.

The difference between “What you do?” versus “Who you do it for?”

In Patrick Lencioni’s book "The Advantage,” he challenges business leaders to invest significant time in the development of organizational health. Patrick states, “an organization’s health trumps all strategy.” We agree wholeheartedly. While we work on sales and technological strategy, we recognize that our work on organizational health is first and foundational.

We talk about organizational health frequently. We invest in organizational health continuously through our lean methodology that includes daily meetings with the whole organization and a time commitment made to improving things every day. The organization blocks time out for everyone to work on improving their job daily. This time commitment to improvements as a daily rhythm puts people in contact with one another to solve problems and collaborate on solutions.  Whether a process improvement, safety improvement or product improvement, we are working to improve the quality of our customer’s experience with our brand. Ultimately, a better working environment translates into superior quality and performance of our products for our customers. One’s working environment can have a big impact on the organization.

We welcome business leaders to come visit us in Chesterfield and share your great ideas on how you are investing in better working conditions for people. Come and see us and let’s continue the conversation.

"My passion is to restore Glory and Dignity back to US Manufacturing."

This ambitious statement was first articulated by our CEO, John Kramer, during a lean exposure trip to McElroy Manufacturing and Tulsa Tube Bending in 2017. Since then, it's become our mantra at Cambridge, demonstrating what we we all know is true: that the people working within the manufacturing industry are elevating perceptions and creating a huge impact on the overall national GDP. And we need to celebrate them.

Restoring glory and dignity may feel to some like it's too aspirational, too much to take on, but it is in fact very achievable. It's the little things that add up: sharing grateful appreciation to co-worker on the line, providing the opportunity for financial wellness by offering Dave Ramsey's program to employees, cooking birthday breakfasts and so much more. 

Follow #GloryandDignity on Facebook. LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter to see the movement in action. 

You can probably already think of a million examples of how you've seen glory and dignity being restored at your work or how you've become more of a "whole being" because of an opportunity given to you. Tell us your story. Help us create this movement. Tag these instances on social with the hashtag #gloryanddignity, so we can celebrate with you and others can be inspired.

Tips For a Successful Internship Experience From an Intern's Perspective

Internship.  The word that is always in the back of most college students’ heads.  Where do I start?  How do I get one?  Is my resume good enough?  Am I good enough?

For the summer of 2019 I applied to five internships.  One out of the five was sent to me by my uncle.  Not expecting a response or interview, I said “why not” and applied to Cambridge Engineering.  Cambridge was out of the norm compared to the other companies I applied to, which were mostly advertising or public relations agencies.  I never thought I would be interning for a manufacturer, until now.  

I went through a two-step interview process involving the initial interview where I was able to record my own responses, and then the final video chat interview with the marketing team.  A few days later, I received a call from the Director of Marketing, Randy Niederer, saying I got the position.  

Initially, I was full of excitement, but as it got closer to my start date I began to realize that I know nothing about manufacturing.  Going into this position, I had no clue what to expect.  I am a marketing intern for an HVAC manufacturing company.  Now that is not what I expected to be this summer.

I assumed I would help out the marketing team with whatever they would be working on at the time and do some social media work.  What I didn’t expect was to basically shadow someone in the department.  As soon as I walked into Cambridge on my first day, Annie Krieger was waiting for me with a huge smile on her face.

I immediately felt comfortable and forgot about how nervous I was.  On my first day, Annie introduced to me every person that walked by.  We sat down, and went over a printed list of goals for me to accomplish with my time at Cambridge.  Annie told me, “It’s not what you can do for us, it’s what we can do for you”.  This has really stuck with me throughout my internship and made me realize three things: they know I don’t know what I’m doing, they know it can be intimidating, and they want to teach me, not take advantage of me.

I am now in my last week at Cambridge, and I can truly say I have learned A LOT.  Of course, I’ve learned about marketing: how to track social media analytics, create video and social media content, update the website, and develop a campaign.  I write blogs, press releases, and I even get to sit in on meetings with other agencies.  What I didn’t expect to learn about is culture and people.

My knowledge of Cambridge prior to my internship was little to none.  Now I can confidently say that Cambridge is known for their organizational culture and caring for their people.  People from all over the nation visit us just to see how #cambridgeculture works.  Much of it comes from Cambridge’s adoption of Lean manufacturing.  In a quick definition, Lean is the elimination of waste to make one’s life easier.  It also empowers employees to make their own improvements to their work routine, not instructed by their superiors.

This lean thinking will be a major takeaway from my time at Cambridge.  I learned that even in business, people deserve to be treated with respect, applauded for their successes (big or small), and that organizational health is vital for a company to thrive.  I learned how to make my own lean improvements and that this concept can be carried over into my personal life. 

When I reflect on what I’ve done so far at Cambridge, I realize I have learned more about marketing, public relations, people, and myself.  When I think about what I still want to accomplish, my personal goals are to become more comfortable and confident when I speak or write about content I may not have background knowledge on.  

So if you are an employer hiring interns, I have some recommendations on how to provide the best experience for your interns.

  1. Remember they are nervous.  Most of them have not worked in the “real world” before so clearly express your expectations of your intern.  These expectations should be accessible to your intern, so I recommend providing them with a copy.  This way, they have set goals to work towards along with their personal goals.
  2. Consider having someone for your intern to shadow.  I can imagine it would be quite confusing trying to execute an intern position without a mentor.  That’s why I am very thankful Annie took me under her wing.  She not only is there to answer any of my questions, but takes every opportunity to teach me something new every day.  By having someone to shadow, your intern establishes an initial bond and trust with one person.  This comfort they experience will most likely give them greater confidence to approach others throughout the company.
  3. Be a leader, not a boss.  The people at Cambridge guide me on what I should be doing, but I also have the freedom to make my own choices and mistakes.  This is how I learn, because in the “real world” I won’t always have someone instructing me every step of the way.  
  4. Make it a learning experience.  Use what your company has to offer and help shape the future of these young adults who are thirsty to learn from you.  I promise whether your intern ends up working full time for you or somewhere else, they will never forget what they learned from the people that took a chance on them and offered them an internship.


Remember, it’s not always about what your intern can do for you, it’s what you can do for them.

P.S. My advice for internship seekers: Step outside of your comfort zone!  Keep your options open.  It’s not where you work, it’s the people you work with and the mission you work for.

Though the practice of scrum is fairly new to Cambridge (has only been actively applied in three of our 56 year existence) it has already helped us formulate a new approach to goal setting and how we will ultimately achieve those goals. More importantly, we are using it to address safety practices and protocols within Cambridge, so that every one of our fellow employees makes it home at the end of the day.

After being introduced to the scrum concept (grouping agile thinkers together that stress constant communication to achieve complicated tasks and goals) in J.J. Sutherland’s book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, a group of Cambridge engineers volunteered to be trained in the practice by Toyota scrum expert Nigel Thurlow and apply it within the Cambridge walls, thus becoming our first four certified Scrum Masters. See their story and how their daily work has changed over the past few years.

To catch a glimpse of Nigel Thurlow’s on-site scrum training at Cambridge - make sure to check out our blog on his visit!

Bringing #GloryandDignity back to manufacturing.

It’s an aspirational concept, one that you might not associate with manufacturing. We see it every day, though, through the companies that share their stories with us when they visit our facility or our colleagues at trade events. The goal of lifting our industry to a higher standard by giving back to the community and to employees might not be intrinsic to all leaders - yet, more and more, we see shining examples of our friends in this business doing just that.

The Seating Matters team is generating tools and resources to save lives before and after pressure injuries through an Injury Prevention Program aimed at correct seating, training, maintenance and education of staff.

BCI is providing high-quality packaging solutions to their customers through a system of creating meaningful employment and skills training for 250 adults with disabilities.

A structure of independent and interdependent teams at Vibco allows individuals valued for their strengths to complement and grow with each other while working toward the same mission.

FastCap continues to share their own manufacturing improvement ideas through 2 Second Lean to inspire other organizations or to even just provide a simple solution to a problem they might be facing.

Remembering to fête the lines’ extraordinary output when we hit a 13 unit/day output (up from 8-9 units/day) while maintaining quality standards was essential. The service team is constantly praised by our contractor partners for their diligence and assistance through any issue in the field. The engineering department’s behind-the-scenes work designing custom, yet simple, solutions for our end users deserves its own standing ovation. Each Cambridge employee embodies the dignity factor, and as a whole, they bring glory to their work, our company, and the manufacturing industry.

Watch John’s speech from 2017 that helped us realize the #gloryanddignity mission!

 

This blog was guest written by Meg Brown, Director of Human Resources at Cambridge Engineering.

At Cambridge we behave with unconditional love and high expectations while demonstrating care, courage, integrity and respect.  It isn’t always easy and sometimes can seem downright confusing!  As our CEO, John Kramer Jr., often reminds us – it is a journey and not a destination.  In my role as Human Resources Director I was curious what my department could do to help clarify what unconditional love and high expectations really means. 

Enter the Dale Carnegie course. 

I was invited to take the public Dale Carnegie Course last winter.  It wasn’t long before I began to see deep personal transformation - there’s magic in the simplicity of the Carnegie principles! We picked a principle or two to work on each week, giving it a try and reporting back on our progress.  That level of accountability and experimentation lead to bursts of growth for me and my classmates.   The simple and clear Carnegie principles and system of practice and accountability were exactly what we had been seeking to help us explain unconditional love and high expectations.   It didn’t take me long to find a way to bring it to my Cambridge teammates. 

We engaged Elizabeth Haberberger from Dale Carnegie St. Louis to help us create a custom course for 28 of our managers and team members.  The course took place over 2 months ending with a phenomenal graduation experience that I will remember for the rest of my career. 

In this course I witnessed my fellow Cambridge family members take risks, push past their fears and try something new.  And you know what – they knocked it out of the park every time!  It was amazing to hear them articulate their visions for their life – their WHOLE life – not just their work life.  The level of courage and openness in the class was unlike any training course I’ve ever experienced.

I’d encourage you to learn the Carnegie principles so that you can unlock your relationships and experience explosive personal growth.

We'd also like to extend our deepest thanks to the Dean Team of Ballwin for allowing us to use their amazing conference room for our off-site training!