Klein Steel Rewards Values in Action

Feb. 7, 2012
Manufacturer emphasizes the importance of every team member embracing its core values. Its Values in Action recognition program keeps those values front and center.

Recognition programs are nothing new at manufacturing companies. While hard numbers aren't easy to come by, anecdotal evidence indicate that many manufacturers have means and methods by which employees can acknowledge actions taken by their coworkers that qualify as "above and beyond" the call of duty, or are extra helpful in some way.

Many manufacturing firms also have developed a set of company values, typically in tandem with mission statements, that are posted in a variety of locations and which may or may not be remembered by employees.

Klein Steel Service, a 2011 IndustryWeek's Best Plants winner located in Rochester, N.Y., has developed a recognition program that is slightly different, and it speaks volumes about the importance the company places on employees actively practicing the company values.

The program is called Values in Action. It recognizes individuals or groups that exhibit company values. Those values are integral to everything Klein Steel does, explains COO Todd Zyra, and are so important that they are re-examined and refined every year. While the values themselves typically don't change, their definitions are continually being honed to reflect the company's commitment.

The values are:

Accountability: We believe in delegation of responsibilities and taking ownership of our actions.
Candor: We value the positive contributions of every team member and welcome open and honest discussions of questions and concerns.
Customer Satisfaction: We move mountains to meet our commitments -- "We do it right the first time."
Dependability: We are prompt, on time, and keep our promises.
Dignity and Respect: We honor and take care of one another.
Discipline: "We do the harder right rather than the easier wrong."
Integrity: Integrity is non-negotiable -- "We always do the right thing."
Safety: Great companies do not have accidents. -- "No one gets injured on my shift!"
Sharing of Information: We continually learn and empower each other with open communication -- "Who else needs to know?"
Teamwork: "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts."

How the Program Works

Nominating someone for the Values in Action program is simple -- just fill out a Values in Action nomination form. The blue paper forms are available in a variety of locations, and the program is open to everyone.

"Anyone can fill out a nomination form and nominate anyone else," explains Deborah Kurvach, Klein Steel compliance manager. "We have had hourly team members fill out the form and nominate a member of senior staff; managers have nominated their team members, and team members have nominated their co-workers."

Like other recognition programs, Klein Steel's program asks the person filling out the nomination form to answer several questions, including what happened (what, when and where), and why you feel the action is worthy of recognition.

Where the program differs from many others, however, is that the nomination form requires the person filling out the nomination form to identify which of the 10 company values was exhibited by the action under consideration.

There is a check box on the nomination form for each of the company values.

A majority of the nominated individuals or teams are approved for recognition, according to Zyra. Recipients receive a Values in Action certificate, which is presented in front of everyone during the monthly team meetings. The receipt of four Values in Action certificates by a team member also qualifies him or her to receive a $50 Visa gift card.

And the company's values are continually reinforced.

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About the Author

Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

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