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Mastering Safety... continued from previous page
        Turning a negative culture around

        Here’s what Mike would typically do when faced with a struggling company with severe cultural problems:

            1.  Interview all employees
            2.  Remove employees who don’t fit
            3.  Hire employees who are motivated

        Interviewing employees
                                                          Mike’s process of turning around a company would begin with an
                                                          interview of every single employee. He found that it was important to
                                                          talk to everyone one-on-one in order to take the pulse of the company
                                                          and see the big picture.

                                                          “I asked everybody the exact same questions and put it all on a
                                                          spreadsheet. What I was doing is getting a picture of the company,
                                                          getting a picture of the people, trying to figure out what was wrong. So I
                                                          was just learning,” Mike said of these exercises.
                                                          Mike commonly asked questions like:
                                                          ● What’s wrong with this place?
                                                          ● How do you get along with your colleagues?
                                                          ● What markets do you think we should be in?
                                                          ● Why aren’t we succeeding here?
        “The reason I asked everybody the exact same question, I never deviated, was because I wanted to hear the different answers that
        everybody was giving. It was pretty clear that everybody had somewhat of a different idea of what was going on there,” Mike said of the
        Arizona office.

        “We figured out we needed a vision,” Mike said. “We really needed to reinforce the values we had to get the bad actors off the place.”
        Terminating employees
        In many cases a totally broken culture requires letting people go. At one office, Mike interviewed 34 employees. Afterwards, his instinct
        was that only 4 of those people were keepers who should remain with the company.

        “Of course, you can’t just walk in one day and go ‘you 30 people are out.’ You can’t do that,” Mike said. It’s a careful process that starts
        with hiring a stellar management team to turn things around and set the tone for the culture you want.
        Next, it’s a process of carefully explaining to employees what’s needed versus what they are doing, and letting them go in a respectful way.
        Mike would tell employees: “You’ve got strengths that you can use at other companies. You just don’t fit here. It’s not that you’re bad. It’s
        you just don’t fit where we’re headed,” he said.
        It’s never easy. Mike estimates over the years he’s been responsible for laying off about 200 people, yet he’s done it in a thoughtful way.
        This means that he still has employees he’s terminated who stay in touch with him and use him as a professional reference.
        And in the case of that Arizona office that was so damaged and hadn’t made money in six years? Under Mike’s oversight, they increased
        revenue by $60 million in just three years.
        Hiring motivated employees
        Once negative or poor-fit employees have been weeded out, the next step is to find people who are truly motivated to succeed.

        “If you have to motivate people all the time, you probably got the wrong ones,” Mike said. “You need people that are achievement-
        oriented, and they have an ethical compass that points in the right direction.”
        To this end, Mike would hold strategic cultural meetings. He regularly gather his management team to talk about the culture they
        wanted to build and the results they wanted to see.
        “It’s not big grandiose things. It’s Hey, when somebody emails you, email them back in 12 hours. If somebody calls you, call them right
        back even if you don’t have the answer. It’s just simple little stuff. Be positive. Lean into problems, never run away from them. Just all
        the cliche things that you do,” Mike explained.
        His advice to professionals is this: if you want to find opportunities, look for the challenges that everyone else is running away from.
        That’s where the learning and growth will truly happen.

        How safety culture connects to company culture
        In the surveying world, there’s perhaps nothing more important that a company culture that prioritizes safety.
        Workers in the engineering and construction industry face many hazards. Construction sites in particular are perhaps one of the most
        dangerous places to work in the world.
        6 The Nevada Traverse Vol.49, No.1, 2022
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