“THE MPS WAY is a code of conduct and core philosophy at MPS that will allow all stakeholders to enjoy the highest level of experience possible. We are working hard to ensure employee satisfaction and professionalism through The MPS Way.”
- Jim Monk, CSP, MPS president, Markham, Ontario
The MPS way: Jim Monk, CSP, and his daughter, Jenna, are working to transform its culture and to spread the word that MPS is a destination company for people seeking rewarding careers in snow and ice.
A company culture doesn’t have to be broken to fix it. Culture can look different throughout a company’s evolution, so long as the vision and standards remain solid. MPS President Jim Monk, CSP, realized change was needed as the company’s growth, an inefficient hiring process and a more discriminating talent pool had MPS focused on all work and no play.
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“Our culture wasn’t terrible but as a result of outside pressures and other opportunities, young people can find work easily. We started hiring people out of necessity rather than them being a great fit for our company,” Monk says. He says the problem was compounded by allowing operations managers to hire their own staff; but as the company grew, it stretched them in terms of time they could put into the process.
“We took a step back and said we want to be a destination company - that if you want to work in this industry we want it to be with us. We asked ourselves what that looked like and realized we didn’t have the intangibles in place that could build camaraderie and pride in the workplace,” he says.
Recognizing MPS needed someone full time in the human resources role, Monk didn’t have to look far for the right person. His daughter, Jenna Monk, had just graduated from Queen’s University and had worked with MPS for several years.
“Jenna embodies all of the characteristics we want in our employees - quality of work, ability to interact, hard working and personable. She has a high EQ and gets along with and reads people well. It was a perfect fit,” Jim says.
Having worked in the field for four years, Jenna was able to bring the employees’ viewpoint into the equation.
“I saw our culture from a different perspective. When I came in I knew right away that I wanted our team to know how much we appreciate their work. We also wanted to build social opportunities to develop camaraderie and have that become a point of emphasis,” she says.
Coffee and donuts, a recognition board celebrating birthdays and other successes, and games have brought a new levity to MPS. Jim and Jenna say it’s starting to pay off. She noted that last year they did an Attendance Olympics to try to correct punctuality and attendance issues. Over four weeks, if you were on time every day, you advanced through. In the end, two people were rewarded with $100 each for being on time every day. This year, they couldn’t even do the challenge because attendance is no longer an issue.
“The improvement has been very dramatic. Thinking of where we were a year ago, it’s been great,” Jim says.
Additionally, Jenna worked with Jim to rethink incentives and raises and put in place a wage matrix that looks beyond seniority. It also takes into consideration skills and quality of work.
“We can make it more tangible and more focused on their contribution to the company instead of simply showing up each day,” Jim says.
With an improved work atmosphere and more equitable compensation, Jim and Jenna looked at what else could be done to help strengthen the culture. Jim homed in on adding better equipment that is easier to operate, focused training through the company’s MPS Academy, and the implementation of technology to improve communication and documentation. Jenna is focused on the face to face time with employees and staff at all levels.
“I have made it a point every morning to be here when the staff gets in, to encourage communication, friendly conversation and bonding. We want them to see that we’re serious about building a team, not just a work force,” she says.
Those commitments and many more have been encapsulated in what Jim calls the MPS Way, which focuses on three pillars that guide the company in everything they do: Customer Service, Quality Workmanship and Health & Safety. This philosophy drives not only how people treat each other within the company, but is also the foundation for future hiring.
“It is our expectation that everyone - customers to staff, staff to staff, staff to management and vice versa - will be treated professionally, and with respect and inclusion,” Jim says. “It is hard to articulate but it has become a powerful tool. Those who couldn’t embrace it have left, and those who have stayed appreciate the change. Our culture and quality of work has improved, and we’re a better company for it.”