This diary entry is part of a series on employee engagement called Capitalizing on Culture. The series follows Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Trimark Sportswear Group and its quest to improve company culture.
Leadership diary #6
When Will Andrew was appointed president of Trimark Sportswear Group on June 1 this year, tinkering with the culture of the Richmond Hill, Ont., company wasn't exactly his top priority. But he has since envisioned the possible benefits. Here he chronicles the start of the process.
Who has the say over furniture, and other corporate ponderings
Priority No. 1: Moving file cabinets???
Last week we held our first employee council meeting (the name was subsequently changed to the Culture Club), and it yielded some interesting results. Having never had a meeting of this sort, I had no idea what might happen. I led off with a blank sheet of paper and suggested a few topics we might want to discuss - our core values or perhaps the mission statement - but I made it clear they could take it in any direction they wanted.
The first question was, "What is the process to moving filing cabinets?" (Background information: We moved to a new building in March and the building was a built-to-suit. So it is literally brand new.)
This led to an interesting discussion on whether we actually needed a procedure to move a filing cabinet. Having never really thought about it, I guess we don't want just anybody running around with a dolly and moving furniture. What if they got hurt? Which means they have to ask someone else… which means they have to get permission … hmmm.
In the end, we decided that we should probably get the people together who are most affected by the placement of the cabinets, get a new floor plan mocked up, and move all cabinets at the same time.
The shocking thing to me was that we actually needed to address the issue of how you make small changes like this without having to involve senior managers.
Staff know not to ask the president to move the cabinets, and they know the receptionist won't be able to help them with this type of issue, therefore it must be someone in the middle. But who?
Clearly, we're going to have to work on making these types of changes easier in order for staff to lead.
This all led to a fruitful discussion about the workspace itself. "It feels like the day we moved in, and we need to dress the place up" was the general sentiment. I can't say I disagree with them so we need to get that going.
I told the committee that we've hired an interior designer to help us with the planning and to give us ideas to make the space more colourful and fun.
When the staff learned that I had already organized a designer, it became clear that many of them feel there is a small group that knows what's happening - and then the rest who are wondering what on earth is going on.
Seeing as we had only met with the designer once, I felt there was nothing yet to report. But apparently, simply letting staff know we are doing something-anything - is important, even if it's too early to provide many details.
Again, I have learned I can never communicate too much!