Sunday, 30 June 2013 20:00

Helping your team work together

Whether in the workplace or in sports, teamwork can produce extraordinary results. While this seems like a relatively simple task, teamwork does not happen automatically. There are a number of factors that are required for a team to develop and work cohesively and seamlessly.

At Clark-Reliance, we attempt to always use the following rules in our interactions:

Help each other be right, not wrong.

This is the underpinning of all successful teamwork. Our employees are encouraged to try to help their colleagues make a correct decision. This helps to avoid duplication of tasks. It also helps to avoid tasks being executed which are not in the best interest of the company.

Look for ways to make ideas work, not for reasons they won’t.

Make sure that you are promoting listening skills. Never dismiss an idea from someone. Listen to what someone else has to contribute and to try to help make that idea work.

If in doubt, check it out!

Don’t make negative assumptions about each other.

Simply stated — don’t engage in water cooler banter. Instead of fostering negative communication, create an environment of positive communication. If you are uncertain about something, go to the person directly and verify the facts.

Help each other win, and take pride in each other’s victories.

Celebrate your co-worker’s accomplishments. Share compliments. You will find that your enthusiasm is contagious.

Speak positively about each other and the organization.

When you have a chance (internally or externally) speak positively about your colleagues or your company. This can be at press opportunities or charitable events. Always promote the company and your colleagues.

Maintain a positive mental attitude no matter what the circumstances. 

The adage, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it,” can be applied in life and business.

There will inevitably be difficult circumstances where difficult decisions will need to be made in a decisive manner. You have to carry a positive attitude no matter the outcome of those decisions. Do everything with enthusiasm because if you have a good attitude, it will come back to you in return.

Act with initiative and courage.

This is Clark-Reliance’s “empowerment team rule.” We spend a lot of time ensuring that everyone in our organization understands that they have the right to participate and are encouraged to take the initiative to help drive positive outcomes, no matter how small they believe their idea is.

We want our employees to feel comfortable to take the initiative to do what they know is right. We want them to understand what the company is trying to accomplish.

Whatever you want, give it away.

This is troubling for some. For example if you want someone to trust you and have them respect and trust you, then you need to engender those same values in someone else.

If you want to be trusted and respected, you have to be trusted and respectful as well.  Those who trust and respect others are generally those most trusted and respected by others.

Don’t lose faith.

There are always going to be times when the rules have been stressed, strained and broken. As long as everyone keeps pushing in the same direction, it will heal itself.

Have fun.

We want everyone to have fun doing what they do. We are direct and serious about running a successful business, but we want employees to have a positive, fulfilled and enriching career, and so should you.

 

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation, a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors, corporate co-chairman for the 2013 Five Star Sensation and chairman of the National Kidney Walk.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

Published in Columnist
Friday, 31 May 2013 20:00

Finding character and cultural fit

It is always difficult to find the right employees, not only people with technical skills but with other traits that will ensure long-term success for your organization.

Finding the right culture “fit” in terms of character and personality traits begins with the creation of the job requirements, preliminary candidate screening and the interview process. Preparation is critical before the interview to develop a series of questions designed to reveal the key traits desired of an employee.

At Clark-Reliance, our first hiring objective is to find candidates with superior technical qualifications and skills necessary to perform the tasks of a particular position. However, a candidate must also have the personal qualifications and skills to thrive in our corporate culture.

Identifying the major character traits that allow employees to fit comfortably into your organization and excel in their work allows you to create the appropriate interview questions. At Clark-Reliance, we have identified four major character traits necessary for an employee to have so that he or she will fit into our culture.

Self-awareness and personal accountability

Our goal is to find employees who have the ability to analyze and critique themselves. We want people to take accountability for their actions and success.

Continuous improvement

We want to find employees who are constantly seeking to sharpen their skills, which means either developing skills further or seeking skills they do not currently possess.

Passion

Simply stated, we want employees who have passion for their job and for our company.

Communication

We want employees who are willing to speak their mind as well as listen to other’s thoughts and ideas. A collaborative environment makes all employees invested in the development of the company.

In order to identify these traits in potential employees you should use behavioral type questions like the ones below:

Self-awareness

  

  • What are three accomplishments or significant successes that you identify with and take great pride?

  

  • What would your present or former boss say about you? What would he or she have liked to see you do differently?

  

  • Can you tell me about a mistake you made, either work or personal, that taught you a significant lesson?

  

Continuous Improvement

 

 

  • Where have you sought to improve yourself over the last three months?

 

 

  • How would a co-worker describe you?

 

 

  • What personal needs do you think this position will satisfy?

 

 

Passion

 

 

  • What has been your toughest job? How did you handle this job?

 

 

  • Has a job ever conflicted with your thoughts of what is right or wrong? If so, how did you handle it?

 

 

  • What work situations irritate you or make you angry?

 

 

Communication

 

 

  • If you were involved in a heated discussion with a fellow co-worker, would you be more comfortable in the role of the peacemaker or decision-maker? Why?

 

 

  • Have you taken the initiative to handle something that is technically out of your area of responsibility? Why did you choose to handle the situation that way?

 

 

  • How do you deal with your boss when he or she overrides a major decision that you have made?

 

 

 

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation, a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors, corporate cochairman for the 2013 Five Star Sensation and chairman of the National Kidney Walk.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

Published in Columnist
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 20:00

An extension of your team

Every company, irrespective of size, at some point needs a variety of service professionals. The amount and experience these professionals possess can substantially add value to your business and mitigate risk.

Technical matters of law, financial audit, tax, industrial marketing and public relations are usually best handled by outside experts. Attorneys, auditors, tax experts, public relations and industrial marketing professionals have specialized knowledge and skills that you couldn’t and shouldn’t hope to duplicate.

Clark-Reliance’s business philosophy has always been that we make service professionals an extension of our team. We frequently invite them to sporting events, company dinners and other internal events. Knowing our service professionals on a personal basis and allowing them access to know our staff makes it a better and more effective partnership.

Our senior management works closely with these providers so that they can answer questions efficiently and quickly whether it’s a simple or complex business issue.

It is also good practice to formally meet with service providers on a frequent basis, even if the meeting is only an update. This practice will allow your providers to gain a better understanding of your business and provides a discussion forum that is different than just dealing with them on an as-needed basis or for “crisis interventions.”

Legal services

Whether you have in-house counsel or not, outside legal service providers are an imperative partner to help you grow and protect your business. Partnering with a reasonably sized firm allows you access to worldwide contacts, practices and procedures.

Almost everyone has four distinct reasons to use an attorney or specialized law firm, even if you do employ general counsel:

Acquisition — When your company is engaged in an acquisition, you need a highly specialized legal team to provide expertise in areas such as due diligence, negotiation, asset acquisition, purchase agreements, taxation and employment transactions.

Intellectual property — The need to safeguard your new product ideas can be ensured by a highly specialized attorney who can protect and defend your intellectual property, patents, trademarks and copyrights, both domestically and worldwide.

Product liability — The misuse and misapplication of products that have been sent into the stream of commerce may result in litigation or unjustified claims that need to be addressed by competent legal counsel.

Labor and employee issues —The multitude of employment law issues, regulation and compliance requirements and employer/employee legal issues demands a working relationship with a labor/employment legal professional.

Financial services

The changes in the United States Federal Tax Code and the continuing compliance with tax laws for federal, state and local taxation demand comprehensive and technical knowledge. Most companies also need to have audited financial data for borrowing purposes or to meet public company regulations. This highly specialized and technical knowledge can only be accessed through a tax and financial adviser.

There are four areas where a financial/tax service professional can assist any business.

Taxes — Whether you are an S-corporation, C-corporation or LLC, you need to have a tax adviser analyze the tax implications of business decisions to ensure that you are properly taking advantage of the complex tax code.

Grants and tax credits — The research tax credit remains a valuable source of support to businesses that conduct qualified research and development.

Acquisition process — During the acquisition process, it is imperative to include your financial advisers in terms of due diligence and specific issues like goodwill, inventory valuation and working capital adjustments.

Audit — Private or public, it is a good idea to have your financial data analyzed and scrubbed by experts in areas of revenue recognition, inventory valuation and off-balance-sheet transactions.

Utilizing service professionals provides a road map to avoid the pitfalls that can present significant obstacles to your business success. ?

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation, a member of the University Hospitals Board of Directors, corporate cochairman for the 2013 Five Star Sensation and chairman of the National Kidney Walk.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies. He is also the chairman of the National Kidney Foundation Golf Outing.

Published in Columnist

Clevelanders have an amazing ability to come together and support things they feel are important, says Matthew Figgie, chairman of Clark-Reliance Corp. Figgie spoke at the National Kidney Foundation’s Corporate Kick-off Breakfast at Cleveland Browns Stadium earlier today.

Clark-Reliance, recipient of a 2011 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service, presented by Smart Business, has proved Clevelanders can make a difference through the company’s extensive support of the NKF.

Rick Solon, company president and CEO, chaired the 2011 Northeast Ohio Kidney Walk, which raised a record-breaking $185,000. Clark-Reliance’s 162 walkers raised $2,869 toward this, in addition to the corporate sponsor’s $7,500 scholarship donation.

Figgie, recipient of a kidney transplant thanks to the efforts of Clark-Reliance as detailed here, will continue this spirit of service as chair of the 2012 Northeast Ohio Kidney Walk. The event will take place June 10 outside the Great Lakes Science Center, with a goal to raise $225,000.

“We can make the effort, we can raise the money,” Figgie says. “We have to get the word out, we have to educate people, we have to rally – because this is something that we can control.”

Published in Cleveland

Rick Solon started working at the former Figgie International when Matthew Figgie, son of company owner and Cleveland industrialist Harry E. Figgie Jr., was 10 and would pop in now and then wearing his T-ball uniform.

Little did Solon know then that the company culture he was absorbing would later play a big part in saving the life of that boy who grew up to be the chairman of Clark-Reliance Corp.

“Harry and his wife Nancy both started the culture and the mindset that this company was going to be run in as familial a way as it could ? that we wanted to make sure the community benefitted from that in ways that perhaps weren’t always particularly obvious.”

Solon shaped that philosophy further, empowering employees to be passionate about their work and equally compassionate in community and philanthropic activities. He and employees built a distinguished record of community involvement in causes such as the Cleveland Public Theater, the United Way and the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

But it was with the challenge of chronic kidney disease where the culture of giving also took on the sense of giving life.

Solon, president and CEO, spearheaded an effort to find a compatible donor for Matthew Figgie, his friend and colleague who was ill with kidney failure. In an incredible response, more than 80 people including a number from Clark-Reliance offered to be potential live donors.

“The doctors said that had never been heard of before,” says Figgie, chairman of Clark-Reliance. “That is humbling to say the least. The sheer numbers were unbelievable, and I to this day still get goose bumps.”

Solon, likewise, feels the same emotions.

“The fact that employees know Matthew is going to take his ? I will call it newfound life ? knowing that he is taking that so seriously and is willing to pay it forward, not only at the company level but at the community level and make sure to get involved in causes like the Kidney Foundation and such, that's incredibly inspirational to anybody, and it gives me goose bumps just talking about it.”

Figgie received a kidney donated by a Clark-Reliance employee, Dave McKee, on Dec. 1, 2009. Both Figgie and McKee are doing well. McKee gave Figgie some further reinforcement of his mission while they were both in University Hospitals.

“I was standing in his hospital door and said, ‘Saying thank you is so lame, what do I do?,’” Figgie says. “Dave said, ‘Matt, because of who you are and what you do, you are going to be able to touch hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. Make them better.’ So that's my daily mission to try to help other people.”

As for Solon’s mission, he chaired the 2011 Cleveland Kidney Foundation Walk to raise a record-breaking $185,000. Clark-Reliance was a corporate sponsor and its 162 walkers raised $2,869 in addition to a $7,500 scholarship donation from the company. Figgie will chair the 2012 Kidney Walk.

“Matthew’s need and desire for a kidney was our primary inspiration to get involved with the Kidney Foundation and the Kidney Walk in particular, but we got into that and found out that there are so many people waiting for a kidney,” Solon says. “When you are on the kidney transplant list, you are not sure there is going to be a life.”

“Kidneys are taken for granted until there is an issue,” says Amy Solmos Wayne, Northern Ohio regional director of the National Kidney Foundation. “Our job at the end of the day is to educate everyone. Diabetes and hypertension are the leading two causes of chronic kidney disease, and that is affecting a lot of Northeast Ohioans.”

Solon’s success with the 2011 Kidney Walk pointed out the importance of corporate sponsors and raised awareness about organ donations.

“It was a direct relation to companies that are doing business with Clark-Reliance,” Wayne says. “It's a whole community of support. It's their colleagues supporting their charitable initiatives. It's Rick Solon picking up the phone, telling people, ‘This is what we are involved in, we think it's a great idea and your company should get involved too,’ and they do. It is a perfect model of how this event supposed to work with having a corporate chairman.”

The Kidney Foundation asked Solon to serve on its board of directors, and he has accepted.

“With Rick on our board, we feel we will have a long-time corporate sponsorship, and we know they are going to want to be there because of Matthew's kidney transplant,” she says. “I think they will always continue to be one of our top five corporate teams, whether Matthew or Rick are chairing the event or not. They take it very seriously. They love what they've seen happen with the employees getting involved.”

Published in Cleveland