When construction on Kraus-Anderson’s new corporate headquarters is completed in fall 2017 in downtown Minneapolis, about 250 KAers from multiple offices, companies and functions will be coming together under one big roof. The KA Metro Office Consolidation and Alignment Committee (aka the KA Culture Group) is working together to ensure a successful transition. Committee Chair Diane Duguay and Co-chair Jennifer Parent recently shared some of the committee’s progress.
Q: Talk about the makeup of the committee and give us some background. Why was this group formed?
DIANE DUGUAY, DIRECTOR OF EMPLOYEE RELATIONS AND DIVERSITY: The group was identified by senior leadership as part of our strategic initiatives. We’ve been meeting monthly since May 2016 to nurture alignment, gather policy and practices among our metro offices as we work towards uniting into one building.
I was very excited when I was “Voluntold” I would be heading this committee. The members represent a range of positions, offices and roles within our company. We are tapping into that great perspective. People often have concerns about change, but once they are in the new environment, they often find these are unfounded. We really want this to be a positive experience for our employees. Many KAers have already gone through the transition to our temporary Minneapolis offices. One common theme I keep hearing is how people love being in an open space environment with lots of natural light. Some challenges relate to transitioning from an office to a workstation, and learning work station etiquette. We will be sending out reminders of etiquette; and we are encouraging employees to be open with one another in a gracious and tactful manner if it is needed in this area.
Q: Jennifer, you’ve already experienced a few change cycles over the past years; transitioning from the Circle Pines office environment, to a telecommute from Colorado; to now working in our temporary Minneapolis offices. What have you learned?
JENNIFER PARENT, PROPOSAL COORDINATOR: I left a very comfortable place where I knew all of the faces and could walk to a person’s desk to talk. When I telecommuted for a year, my concerns were: will my computer work, how will the internet function, will people be able to find me, will I lose the great connections I had to people in the CP office? Then I moved back to Minnesota and immediately began working in the Minneapolis office.
My 7-mile commute became 20+ miles each way. Then my concerns were driving and traffic, being further away from my kids and not as able to quickly respond to them. As it turns out, all has been great. Not only was I welcomed back into the CP office with open arms, but also in the Minneapolis office. (Our KA family at its finest!). I love and am comfortable in an open environment and find there are many options for me if I need quiet or need to get away to a quieter area.
Q: Metro area KAers have experienced a fair amount of consolidation and change already over the past 10 years. What have we learned from those experiences?
DIANE DUGUAY: We’ve learned how vital it is communicate to our employees any changes, and to do so early on in the process; almost verging on “over-sharing” of information.
Also, as we experience change it is often followed by opportunity. We encourage people to look at what opportunities lie within the change and embrace it. With the new open concept floor plan and layout with workstations people have embraced the opportunity to interact with people they don’t normally get the opportunity to see or talk to.
Q: What are some of the topics and questions you are covering at the monthly committee meetings?
• What worked well in past consolidations?
• What should we do differently?
• What are your office traditions?
• Does your office/location have summer hours?
• Does your office/location have team building events?
• Does your office have casual Fridays? What does this mean for your location?
• Topics related to wellness, our Fall Giving campaign, dress code, weddings/baby gifts, KA anniversaries, retirements and telecommuting.
Q: What is happening with the feedback and findings you are getting in these meetings?
DIANE DUGUAY: Results so far have been shared in a leadership meeting. HR will share final findings with Senior Management; and recommend a plan of action how we can be united in policy and practices going forward.
Q: What have been some of the findings so far?
DIANE DUGUAY: It has been a very impressive committee. We have people being represented in all departments, different locations, multiple generations and years of service with KA. There has been completely open, respectful and wonderful dialog and interaction amongst this group. We have utilized some of the practices from the Lean Coffee to help our meetings run effectively (implementing a time keeper, using Trello, sharing Plus/Deltas). It has been a rewarding committee and we are proud and appreciative of each and every member’s contributions.
Q: You mentioned incorporating some Lean practices. What have been some of the plus/deltas from the meetings?
DIANE DUGUAY: Some of the Pluses: Great conversation, Everyone was involved in good positive discussion, productive, making sure all voices were heard; Great that we are discussing these things as a group, we get to be a part by getting involved. Some Deltas: Appoint a timekeeper, Pick fewer topics to discuss and let the group vote if we run out of time when the time sounds; off topic at times, adjust start time.
Q: Are there any examples about how the group’s findings and discussion are influencing the building features?
DIANE DUGUAY: Recently somebody asked if we’d be able to grill on the fifth floor terrace, and Rich Jacobson said he’d check to be sure we have a gas line running up there! Another topic that came up is reissuing the workstation etiquette document, and that will be coming out soon. Also discussed was the need for a lot of collaborative work space and meeting rooms. This was shared early on, as we have some of the appropriate people sitting on the committee that were able to share that in the design process. As we continue to start the work of consolidation and alignment, many of the discussions, cares and concerns will be taken into account as we develop new standardized policies and practices where applicable.
Q: Final words…what would you like every employee to know, today?
DIANE DUGUAY: That we truly work for an amazing organization and leadership that cares about these topics. We care so much that it became one of our strategic initiatives early on. Our leadership is supportive and wants us to focus on how we can come together to be one strong united KA. We want the end result being a collaborative, healthy, thriving environment where our employees can contribute, grow and be happy.
If you are a KA employee with a question or suggestion for the KA Culture Group, please contact Diane Duguay or Jennifer Parent.