Program offers a chance for newer and younger associates to explore and grow
During this emerging associate meeting our group of associates participated in a few team building exercises, including the one above where we had to work as a team to untangle this cluster of hands.
While there can be a lot of satisfaction in a job well done, many people delight in a chance to stretch a little and acquire fresh skills in new areas. Our company president, Keith Johns, saw such a program in action a few years ago while visiting Swagelok headquarters. He wanted to give the associates at Edmonton Valve & Fitting a chance to participate in something similar. And so we started our Emerging Associates program with about a dozen people.
The Emerging Associates program has two main components. One subgroup focuses on the social side of our business, finding ways for our associates to start conversations with others at Edmonton Valve outside their normal day-to-day contacts. For instance, the group gathered on a Saturday earlier this year for some team building exercises. It was a fun way to improve our performance as a group and to help associates improve themselves as individuals.
The other subgroup focuses on community engagement by taking on some charity projects. So, for instance, we got involved in a blood drive as part of the annual Edmonton Corporate Challenge. We had an evening of slow pitch with a barbecue afterward. And we've participated in some obstacle course races.
There can be some crossover as well. The charity projects draw participation from associates throughout the company, including those in the social subgroup.
A free hand
The details of the subgroups' operation are up to the associates. They come up with an annual plan for the group. Human Resources manager Ben Grant and a couple of other managers help them get the necessary internal approvals and figure out where funds will come from.
While we try to keep things casual. Primarily an associate has to be interested in improving some aspect of our business. We typically ask for at least a one-year commitment from each associate in the group. We want to foster the chemistry and bonding that comes from tackling a project with the same people over time.
Now we're getting ready to refresh the program by having some associates "graduate" and bringing some others aboard. Since we have only about 65 associates at Edmonton Valve, we prefer to keep the Emerging Associates group at its current size, while maintaining a good cross-section of disciplines.
A strong, cohesive group of associates helps us do our jobs better, which means giving better service to our customers.
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