Nurture a culture of engagement

John Horky
HR Guy/principal, Kahler Slater
111 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee
Employees: 120
www.kahlerslater.com

John Horky, HR Guy and a principal for Milwaukee-based architecture and design firm Kahler Slater, has played a key role in the firm’s current 11-year run as one of the 25 Best Small Companies to Work For in America as determined by the Great Place to Work Institute and published by Fortune magazine.  He believes nurturing a culture of engagement is critical to shaping the next generation of talent.

“Are your employees passionate about the work they are doing?”

“The more closely aligned each team member is with what he or she is professionally passionate about, the better the work will be and the stronger the client connections will become. Some companies work in a process-driven system where employees are assigned work based only upon availability. Something much more powerful happens when you match people with work that aligns with their interests and goals.

“Ask your employees what they are passionate about and then take the next step by together figuring out how to commit to that professional growth. Through goal-setting and performance reviews, company leadership and team members can define mutual expectations and assess progress on an ongoing basis. Create an action plan to reach the desired goals.

“In a culture of engagement, employees may reveal professional passions that can’t be met through the current service offering. This presents an opportunity to leverage their entrepreneurial spirit within a structured corporate environment; an opportunity for ‘intrapreneurship.’ If a new or existing team member is passionate about creating a new market for us, and we see in them the ‘right stuff,’ we help them write a business plan that is discerned by leadership.

“At Kahler Slater, that is how we created our Environmental Branding team, opened an office in Singapore and established several other niche markets that have helped us differentiate our firm.

“Empowering your team members to follow their passions with the full support of the company creates a culture of engagement, which results in greater work satisfaction and higher performance, while expanding the business and growing the bottom line.”

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