Getting together for breakfast every fortnight is a positive experience for the Watertight team.
The waterproofing experts, based on Auckland’s North Shore, bring their 35 employees together for a breakfast that serves as a fortnightly sounding board and a chance to connect.
Mike Sharp - the General Manager of Watertight - believes the breakfasts are “ a really good part of our business.” But he’s also quick to deflect any praise for the ongoing twice-monthly catch-ups to Operations Manager Ken Mackenzie.
“It was his initiative. He was the driving force behind it. We’d often all get together for a few beers at the end of the week but Ken initiated the breakfast. Ken gets it going with one of the guys who used to be a chef around five in the morning. And then the rest of us rock up at 6am and then we’re gone by seven.”
With around 35 staff working at different locations the breakfast serves as a crucial way of building up the team culture and ensuring everyone is heading in the same direction.
“We all work on different sites. We’ve been working on 10 sites all over town so if we didn’t do this we wouldn’t see each other. It’s also a great way of sorting out gear that’s being swapped around - so there’s a positive practical side to it as well. There’s no question that it has led to better communication,” says Mike.
“It has also broken down barriers in that the team can freely discuss any issues that may be impacting them. The team looks forward to the breakfasts which is a good sign.”
Combining the breakfast with Toolbox Meetings has also resulted in greater efficiencies.
“It’s a really good chance to go over our procedures, discuss where we’ve been working and look at what’s coming up. It’s turning something that you’ve got to do anyway into something that’s a really good part of our business.”
Having a guest speaker at the breakfasts has also been beneficial even if it does take a while for the team members to interact. “We try to get a speaker in to mix it up a bit. It could be a tool supplier or someone like that. As an example we had the great team from the BNZ (Bank of New Zealand) who came and had a chat about financial planning and budgeting. It was engaging and as a result several of the guys had one on ones with the bank. At first it can be quite quiet but there’s always a bit of banter and the guys open up. As an example of how it can work - we use heat guns on the PVC membranes so we had one of their guys over and he got up and talked for five minutes. No one asked any questions but he hung around after he’d finished and there was a queue of guys waiting to talk to him about the heat guns."
“So it just shows you what you can achieve. It’s definitely something we’re proud of and it makes for a better workplace.”
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