By: Shelley Fasano- Operations Manager
Maintaining the culture of a company can sometimes be difficult in times of growth. Dymotek reached the milestone of 100 employees in 2013 and as you can imagine with such a large influx of new associates, we were concerned that our culture would be watered down amid all the new activity. When you double your workforce, the opportunities to educate, apply and reflect on the existing culture become more difficult.
We are aware that it requires relentless follow-up; without constant vigilance the culture that we have created and worked hard to realize can very easily get lost in the mix. So, we asked ourselves, what can be done so we don’t lose the values, principles and beliefs Dymotek was founded on (our CULTURE)?
Fortunately, Dymotek is a member of the Manufacturer’s Association for Plastics Processors, Inc (MAPP) and we were able to lean on their expertise. The MAPP organization serves over 300 plastics companies in the United States. Being a member of MAPP gives Dymotek the ability to network with some of the most powerful and successful companies in the plastics industry, whether it be Injection Molding companies or other.
Last October I attended the 2013 Bench-marking & Best Practices Conference presented by MAPP. The two-day event was filled with opportunities to network with peers and hear exceptional speakers discuss anything from Lean Manufacturing to Waste Reduction and everything in-between. I have been lucky enough to attend the conference several years in a row and always leave feeling invigorated and motivated to make changes at Dymotek. 2013 was no different. My biggest take away came from a presentation by Jon Wolske, Zappos Culture Evangelist (isn’t that a great title?). Jon presented on the importance of culture in an organization. This was exactly what we were looking for!
In order to maintain the culture of an organization, Jon had several suggestions, including hire for culture not just skills. Also, he suggested to make rules when necessary, make guidelines for everything else. And lastly, always remember, toxic is toxic and it spreads rapidly. Taking that information home with me, we began to implement a plan to preserve and maintain Dymotek culture, no matter how big we got.
So…What has Dymotek done? A few examples below:
1. We require a member of our Senior Management Team to meet with all 5 of our shifts, every month, for a State of the Union-like discussion. There is a questions and answers session, as well as discussion on anything new happening inside the company, or potential growth we may see. This gives senior management an opportunity to converse face-to-face with all of the employees. This also gives employees, who don’t normally see the office staff, a chance to hear things from the horse’s mouth.
2. We created a Communication Board where all employees have the ability to ask any question and receive a written response within one week from Norm, our executive VP and GM. This gives every employee a venue to voice their ideas, thoughts and/or concerns. The communication board sees a wide variety of questions, including ones about why certain decisions were made, or why Dymotek does certain things. Most questions prove valuable. Also we have received great ideas for change from employees on the communication board. Similar to the monthly senior management meetings, the communication board keeps the lines of communication open. This supports key components of Dymotek’s culture.
3. We completely shut the facility down to hold a company-wide meeting. Last year’s meeting, we created a Dymotek timeline. This timeline had broken down how did Dymotek get to where it is now? Milestones, like when the first press was purchased and when the company expanded for the first time were captured on the timeline. This was a great exercise that shared the Dymotek history with our (55) new employees and gave them a sense of belonging.
4. We hired a full-time trainer. Our Education Coordinator, Taylor, introduces Dymotek to each new associate upon hire. Taylor spends time presenting the company, going over Dymotek’s past, present and future, as well as the safety philosophy and individualized job information. We have found that investing in employees up front and immersing them in our philosophies is more effective in maintaining our culture, than all of the above combined. (More to come in upcoming blogs about our new training strategy.)
It’s been said before, and it will be said again, Dymotek is an amazing place to work and we strive every day to make it better. Holding onto the great culture of who we are and who we are striving to be makes me proud to be part of something so special.