The concept of a ‘learning organization’ is not new, in fact its heyday occurred in the mid-90’s. However, as we navigate our current business, health and well-being journey, we are testing our own ability to adapt and adjust.
We posed some questions to team members who began working at Atmosphere just a few years ago, to get their fresh take on our culture and development programs.
“Do you believe Atmosphere is a learning organization?”
Amy: I do believe Atmosphere is a learning organization. Great efforts are put into creating Learning Paths for our employees that are role-specific, helping them to on-board and become productive contributors as soon as possible.
Everyone wants to feel needed, productive and successful and I believe we, as an organization, guide people, through learning, to become that.
Managers need specific coaching too, which is always an opportunity to expand on. Leadership Development is encouraged and supported, and should be ongoing. I believe [our core values] become the language we communicate with and can use to streamline conflicts and misunderstandings, if committed throughout.
Bonnie: At Atmosphere, we are continually encouraged to aim higher, both as individuals and as a team. Atmosphere sets team members up for success by consistently offering ongoing training and development opportunities. For new team members, Atmosphere invests heavily in developing talent by offering a robust on-boarding program. Best of all, we have a vast amount of collective experience within the organization – team members are always willing to share their knowledge and experience to ensure we all continue to get better together.
Gary: When I arrived at Atmosphere in June 2019, I was coming from a home office environment with very limited resources and technological advancements. There weren’t any training programs and the relationship with our lead vendor partner was pretty non-existent. So when I received my 90 day on-boarding guide on the first day at Atmosphere, the very comprehensive guide and training classes were both overwhelming yet refreshing as I had become part of a company that takes so much pride in ensuring new hires truly understand and become part of the culture of the organization. I didn’t even know what a purpose statement was and now I know how “to enlighten organizations to the connection of people, purpose, and place😊.”
“How have our professional development programs helped you as a team member, or as a leader to develop your team?”
Amy: The role-specific learning has been helpful for me and for my team members, as much for its content as for the impact on their willingness to function as a part of a team. The more of them that buy-in and participate, the more they can set professional boundaries around what they do best, the better the outcome and performance.
Bonnie: I like that my professional development is tailored toward my unique experience within the organization and how I want to grow as a professional. My manager and I have an open dialogue on what opportunities may be relevant for where I want to be in the future. As a result, one of my next professional development opportunities will be attending the next Steelcase Health Solutions Workshop – this will help me understand how to better serve and support the growing healthcare business in my market.
Gary: Pre-COVID I was very inexperienced at setting up and conducting virtual meetings, but since that is the only way we’ve been able to meet over the past month it’s really improved my confidence and efficiencies. This would not be possible without the tools and support provided to us by the organization. I also believe we can use this experience to our advantage by conducting virtual meetings when applicable to help progress the sales cycle. Our industry has typically been driven by in-person meetings due to the tangible nature of furniture. However I believe a lot of the planning and conceptual meetings leading up to the order phase can be conducted virtually. It’s typically easier to get time on a client’s schedule virtually than in person as well.
“Do you find our core values to be encouraging or inspiring?”
Amy: The core values have been both encouraging and inspiring for me as a leader. They are very clear and specific and guide behavior as well as expectations in a very easy to understand and an objective manner. When I am struggling with a situation and/or an opportunity, I look to our core values for guidance. Is what I am searching for reflected in one of them? Can I use one of them to help articulate or guide communicating expectations for behavior, attitude and performance?
Most of my work experience in our industry has been with organizations who have core values, but only express them through marketing to distinguish themselves from the competition. I believe Atmosphere Leadership genuinely try to model our values as well as ask everyone to think about them, learn about themselves through them, and use them to guide us in our collective responsibilities.
Bonnie: I love our core values! They are short, fun phrases that are easy to remember and understand. Every time I read our values, I am inspired because I feel lucky to be part of a team that truly lives them every day.
Gary: I do find our core values to be very encouraging and both Atmosphere team and client-focused. I think they are important to have – even if you aren’t always thinking of them they are very memorable. I will find quite a few instances that come up on a weekly or even daily basis that I sit back and will correlate our core values to that situation. Amidst the crisis we are dealing with there have been certain things that create frustration either internally, with clients, or with our vendors. However, [I can] sit back and reflect on the “Better Together” core value, which allows me to take a deep breath and remember I’m grateful to have this role along with the support my teammates and our partners.
In the end, I’m blessed to be part of such a great organization, my second family😊.
We thank Amy Welty, Director of Client Experience in AZ, Bonnie Krahn, Workplace Consultant in Eau Claire, WI, and Gary Bednar, Workplace Consultant in Minneapolis, MN, for their thoughtful words and time.