Leading Lawton into the future

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At The C.A. Lawton Co., we take leadership development seriously. Because we’re committed to a culture of continuous improvement, we go to great lengths to provide our supervisors and managers with a solid foundation for success.

According to Forbes magazine, leadership has nothing to do with seniority, title, personal attributes or management. Influence, not authority, with the purpose of meeting a goal is what true leadership is:

Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.”

Every candidate who seeks to be hired at Lawton for a supervisory role must read the book, The Leadership Test by Timothy R. Clark, Ph.D. This book captures the real meaning of what it means to be a leader. As part of the interviewing process, the candidate and hiring manager have a discussion about the book, the principles it contains and how they can be applied to real-life situations.

Another leadership book, The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman, is also used as both an interview tool for potential supervisors and as a playbook for existing supervisors. During the interview, we focus on two specific things. The first is the importance of one-on-one meetings that are held weekly with every employee. Second, we discuss feedback, and the specific methodology that is used when giving feedback to employees.

“We truly believe in these tools as an effective means of communication between an employee and their supervisor,” explains human resources manager Lori Goemans. “We want to ensure that all leaders at Lawton embrace and practice them in their work.”

Many of Lawton’s first-line leaders have “come up through the ranks.” Naturally, they have a tremendous amount of knowledge about our company, processes and products. Most have been informal leaders. But a formal leadership role is something new, and it presents new challenges to them. Simply having the title of manager doesn’t automatically prepare them for success in their new roles.

Through our grant with Northeast Technical College (NWTC) in Green Bay, Lawton is making a significant investment to help our new leaders develop and grow into their new roles. As part of this program, they learn how to:

  • Engage in behavior-based safety,
  • Increase training effectiveness,
  • Have open, constructive conversations with the people they manage,
  • Develop their conflict resolution skills,
  • Take the step from peer to manager,
  • Understand generational differences in the workplace,
  • Improve their coaching and development plans,
  • Improve their communication methods, and
  • Drive a culture of continuous improvement.

“This training partnership will provide nearly 900 hours of leadership specific training for the current and future leaders of our organization,” Goemans points out.

Additionally, we are beginning to roll out Development Plans (or the “Appendix A” as we call it) for new and existing employees. For new employees, it’s a roadmap that summaries their duties and their path within Lawton for the next one to two years, and highlights the milestones along the way.

“As part of the job offer, the candidate and hiring manager have an open conversation and set clear expectations, so there are no surprises,” she emphasizes.

We are also developing plans for the next one to two years for current employees. We look at areas including:

  • Opportunities for cross training,
  • Any schooling, seminars, or training would be beneficial, and
  • The projects they can participate in to help them achieve their career goals.

The employee and his or her supervisor must agree on their goals, and how they will get there. These plans are not set in stone, either. They are frequently reviewed by both the employee and supervisor, and are adjusted as needed.

If you have a calling for leadership, Lawton may have an opportunity for you. Whether you have served in a leadership role before or are looking to get your foot in the door and advance through training, we’d love to talk to you. Please contact our HR department at 920-983-4177 or employment@calawton.com.