A winning workplace

Joseph H. Stadlen has a favorite saying when it comes to a company’s culture: “A rising tide lifts all ships.”

Creating a positive work environment that gives employees a sense
of ownership in their ideas, the freedom to come up with ideas and
the incentive to pursue them will make a company a healthier place
from both a morale and a financial standpoint, he says.

Stadlen, president of the $30 million, Hollywood-based Intertech
Construction Corp., believes in a work environment that is focused on
functionality over formality, on making the most of each employee’s
talents and giving them the latitude to balance the rest of their lives
with work.

Stadlen says employees need to feel they can grow and reach their
goals in their jobs, and a big part of that is maintaining open paths of
communication.

Smart Business spoke to Stadlen about creating a workplace that
allows employees to reach their potential.

Q: How do you make sure employees are maximizing their potential?

Jack Welch’s autobiography used a great analogy comparing a company to a bus. The job of any business leader is to not only get the right
people on the bus but to make sure they are sitting in the correct seats.

Here at Intertech, our biggest challenge is to attract and retain the
best people. You have to understand there are both tangible and intangible benefits to the workplace. First, we make our company an exciting and fun place to work — no real dress code, no one punches a
clock and we understand the time commitments of family.

Second, we use several incentive programs giving key team members a financial stake in the projects that they control — as it has been
said, ‘A rising tide lifts all ships.’

Q: Why is it important to consider employees’ ideas, even if you
don’t use them?

Everybody wants to be part of the team, and it’s a matter of that, yes,
while we are paying for a person’s time and labor, the most important
asset any team member has is their brain, and we want to tap into that
huge resource. Or at least give them positive reinforcement in that,
‘Yes, this idea might not have been used, but you might have another
great idea, and I want you to feel comfortable coming forward with it.’
Considering an idea can be a form of encouragement in and of itself.
My father told me that there is a different value to working with your
back as opposed to working with your mind, and everybody has both
attributes.

Q: How do you keep the lines of communication open with employees?

You keep your corporate structure very linear. The fewer hands a
message has to pass through before it reaches its intended recipient,
the better.

This refers back to when we were children and we all played the
telephone game, how after a message gets passed through a bunch of
different people, it changes at the end. In a flat organization, there is
no reason why a laborer can’t be talking with the president.

To maintain a flat organization, you don’t hire unnecessary people.
Everybody around here wears several hats so that it’s never a question
of, ‘That’s not my job.’ It’s everybody’s job, no matter what it is.

Some people might be more specialized to do one task or another,
but we’re all empowered to do everyone else’s job. Through a certain
amount of redundancy, we don’t have to compartmentalize.

Q: How has growth changed the way you communicate with
employees?

The communication change we have seen has not really been a
function of company growth but more of available technology. Here,
we are constantly looking for ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness of communication through technology, whether it be personal digital assistants, digital cameras, wireless laptops or a private-use FTP Web site.

I might be admitting that I’m a bit of a geek here, but I’m all over any
technology advancements.

Q: How do you make yourself accessible to employees?

It’s cliché to say you need an open-door policy, but it’s the truth. The
only time my office door is physically closed is when I’m discussing
personal matters with a teammate.

When joining Intertech, each new teammate is given a very informal
orientation in which it’s stressed that one of my main job responsibilities is to make sure that each teammate has the resources to grow not
only professionally but personally as well.

Q: How do you recognize employees for good work?

We make public mention of a job well done during our Monday
morning staff meeting. But also, one of the things we do is when a
teammate receives a letter of commendation, it’s posted right over the
watercooler, like a parent would put their kid’s drawing on the refrigerator. So there is no standard reward program, but we do like to mention it in front of the rest of the company.

HOW TO REACH: Intertech Construction Corp., (954) 989-3345 or www.iccbuild.com

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