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Feb 19 2014

Love the Ones You’re With—At Work!

April Gray is a payroll administrator for our Pneumatic Scale Angelus operation in Akron, Ohio. In the office next to hers, there’s a picture on the wall of a herd of sheep that often makes her stop and think. “The sheep all look alike, just indistinguishable members of a herd,” explained April. “At Pneumatic Scale, we are nothing like that herd of identical sheep. We’re all unique with different skills and abilities. We all know each other as people, not just co-workers. We know each other’s families. We know each other’s life stories.  We care about each other personally.”

That must have been what retired three-star Marine General George Flynn sensed after spending a day there recently. He was visiting the operations with close friend and bestselling author Simon Sinek. Flynn interacted with a number of associates throughout the day and, after reflecting on what he heard, he said “Barry–Wehmiller is not LIKE a family. It IS a family.”

April feels the same way. The care and compassion she feels at work is what has kept her at Pneumatic Scale for almost 20 years and what makes leaving home each day a little easier. At home is April’s 30-year-old son who is autistic. “Everybody at work knows him,” she said. “They’re always asking about him. They all know how much my son likes potato chips. Every December, for his birthday, my team member Mark brings my son a garbage bag filled with all kinds of chips. It’s a highlight of my son’s year.

“When people come to visit Pneumatic Scale, they feel something different in the air,” April said. “But to us it’s normal everyday life. At work, I feel loved just like at home.”

Fostering an environment of care and love and compassion is a natural extension of Truly Human Leadership.  When we, as business leaders, care about those lives entrusted to us, our team members in turn care about others.  We’ve been on a journey to create this kind of culture for the 7,500+ members of the Barry-Wehmiller family for more than 13 years now. And we are encouraged that business leaders and academics are beginning to realize the need to move from managing to leading!

Recently, a Chicago Tribune article summarized a study about “companionate love” conducted by management professors Sigal Brasade of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Olivia O’Neill of George Mason University. “Companionate love” is the sense of warmth, affection and the friendly connections that bind us in the workplace. Ultimately, what Barsade and O’Neill found was that “people who worked in a culture where they felt free to express affection, tenderness, caring, and compassion for one another were more satisfied with their jobs, committed to the organization, and accountable for their performance.”

In other words, expressing emotion is not only acceptable in the workplace, it should be nurtured and embraced. Showing care, kindness and compassion for our fellow team members should be as natural as the care we show to our families. As leaders we should strive to create work environments where our team members feel safe, loved and comfortable being their true selves.

“We spend almost as many hours at work as we do at home so it should be a place we want to be,” said April. “If I didn’t have to work, I would prefer to be at home with my son. But at least I know I am going to a place where people are looking out for me, accept me for who I am, and truly care about me. It’s not a big transition for me because work feels like home.”

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Truly Human Leadership is found throughout Barry-Wehmiller Companies, where Bob Chapman is Chairman and CEO. A $1.7 billion global capital equipment and engineering consulting company, Barry-Wehmiller prefers to measure its success by the way they touch the lives of people.

6 comments

  1. lee wenzel

    The true meaning of humanity.

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    1. Gary White

      I have met April and think she would be great to work with.
      April is full of energy and everyone around her can feel her friendship.
      Good luck and hope for the best with the Angelus seamers.

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  2. Brian

    This is exactly the way my previous employer environment was. We had ‘Family’. Since the company ceased operations in 2009, many of us still stay in contact with each other, sharing in success, joys, and heartaches. I wish my current employer, a manufacturing company, would embrace what I read about on these posts. Instead, they use intimidation and fear of firing to generate results, than to encourage and support employees. In my present position, it is more of a “big brother is watching you” than a “we hired you as an expert and are fortunate to have you doing such a great job”.

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    1. lee wenzel

      Sad but true in many cases. I hear the same from one end of the country to the other. The greatest asset of any company neglected and treated like another nut or bolt.

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  3. Jerry McCoy

    What a great story, It was as if she was talking about our PA location!! We are a small group here at the PA location and we share the same values. Every year I bring my Granddaughter into work one day on the school to work program. For Karlie it is the highlight of her school year. Right after we arrive I normally don’t see her much! She spends the day going from office to office to visit and help the other associates. Last year during her visit she put together a fund raiser for children with cancer. She generated a sizable amout of funds for such a small office! I just can’t say enough about our small family here in PA! Most of us have been here and worked together for 30 to 40 years. So to say we know each other and function as a family is a modest understatement!! Jerry

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  4. James Prasad

    Just beautiful beyond words

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