Demonstrate accountability to the employees. Don’t just add window dressing, have a plan to put programs in place if culture change is needed. Show everyone in the company that their goals matter and you have a vested interest in them.
Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Swantek of Ambulnz. After graduating from Cal State Long Beach, Joe Swantek joined the Louis B. Ball Company as an entry level sales associate. From the very beginning, Joe excelled at customer and client interaction. His ability to relate to people allowed him to succeed in a number of companies in relationship positions.
While working at Investor’s Business Daily (IBD), Joe developed several programs and procedures that helped IBD’s sales team attain record productivity. He also created a reporting and grading system that ranked IBD sales associates based on their performance.
Joe is currently the Cultural Affairs Executive at Ambulnz. In this position he works with both the employees, and the executive team lead by Ambulnz President and CTO Anthony Capone. Joe’s main focus is to maintain a high level of positive culture while monitoring Ambulnz NPS scores for both customers and employees in all of its national markets.
Enhancing strong corporate culture requires employee focused programs that reward employees for their work ethic and attention to detail. Ambulnz has been quick to build on these concepts and is an industry leader when it comes to providing motivational programs designed to help employees succeed.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Growing up, I participated in a variety of team sports. During that time I realized how integral the coach is to the development and success of not only the team as a whole, but also the individuals that comprise it. I believe the same can be said for the role of manager; a successful manager instills a sense of pride and purpose in their team of employees, creating a united goal one strives to achieve.
During my time as National Sales Manager at Investor’s Business Daily (IBD), I strove to be the best “coach” I could be for my team, focusing on clear, consistent, honest, and respectful communication and support for all of my employees. Through these foundational pillars, we became a strong and successful team, experiencing the fewest amounts of turnovers than any other department at IBD.
I have continued to strive to live by these fundamental ideas during my time at Ambulnz, both as Ambulnz California Sales Manager and Ambulnz Cultural Affairs Executive. I look forward to working with my Ambulnz team as we continue to work together to reach our united goals.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
During my time at Ambulnz, we have continued to strive to improve upon employee recognition. One of the things we recently implemented was the “Ambulnz Employee of the Month” award, which I have had the pleasure of presenting. Recipients receive an award that is mounted on the “Wall of Achievement”. In addition, I have made an effort to personally reach out to individuals, compliment their work, and pass along positive patient/customer reviews. The feedback I have received in return from the Ambulnz employees has been rewarding. One of the responses that stood out to me was, “Oh wow, I really appreciate it. I take pride in my job and like to make everyone feel tender loving care. Thank you for the recognition.” The experience has been heart-warming and fulfilling to hear this from Ambulnz EMTs.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
One of the projects we are currently working on at Ambulnz is using the company communication channel on Slack as a conduit for internal culture. We are working on utilizing the channel not only for Ambulnz business communication, but also as a means of social engagement, recognizing hard work, achievements, goals, and upcoming Ambulnz events. There is also another way to connect the company as a whole: communicating with the employees across the nation. I am excited to see the implementation of this and how it improves Ambulnz employee morale and retention.
Let’s jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?
In my opinion, not enough companies show enough interest in their employees. I believe that if a company shows interest and makes an effort to communicate and build a strong corporate team culture, employees will respond with higher satisfaction ratings. Employees need to be shown what the company stands for and see action from leadership that confirms a commitment to them.
Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?
Productivity, profitability and employee well-being all come down to values not being practiced, or fulfilled. Many times, an employee’s frustration comes from a lack of communication. Employees need to feel like their goals and the goals of the company and its leaders are aligned.
Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?
1. Monitor key matrix. Investigate your reputation; find out what people are saying about the company. Learn to track NPS and find or generate data that shows what your culture looks like to employees and others.
2. Get everyone to buy-in, “together everyone achieves more”. Find ways to spread the message and implement programs that confirm the cultural message you are sending. Take action to prove that the corporate culture has real components.
3. Communicate values that everyone understands. Make sure that everyone understands what is expected of them, and what they can expect from the company in return. Everyone in the organization should know where they stand and what it will take to reach their goals.
4. Take a new/different approach. Don’t be afraid to try something different. If you keep on doing the same old thing, you will keep on getting the same results.
5. Demonstrate accountability to the employees. Don’t just add window dressing, have a plan to put programs in place if culture change is needed. Show everyone in the company that their goals matter and you have a vested interest in them.
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?
Everyone wants to be appreciated. Employees need to believe that they are just as important to the company as it is to them. It’s really on management to find this balance. If an employee feels good about where they are working, they will be happier and much more productive.
How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?
Going back to my earlier sentiment, I consider my management style to be that of a supportive coach, working to help my team of employees at Ambulnz to be the best they can be. One of my favorite phrases is, “try this.” I consistently encourage my team to try new things in order to help them further excel at their job.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I worked at Investor’s Business Daily for many years. The company is owned by William J. O’Neil. One Saturday I was in the office working on a project that was due the coming week. Mr. O’Neil was in the office as well, and he came over to me and said; “Never be afraid to work on the weekends, I’ve been doing it all my life and I’m in pretty good shape.” Needless to say, I still work on the weekends.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have a large body of experience and find satisfaction and gratitude when I get a chance to pass on life lessons that I have learned on to young business professionals entering the field.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Best life lesson quote is from Ralph Waldo Emerson; “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” I think that this quote is actually the definition of a life lesson.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amounts of good to the most amounts of people, what would that be?
To help people find a fulfilling satisfying purpose. The purpose of life is not to be happy, but to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to believe that your life will turn out well, all of these things in turn, result in a happy, well-lived life. This would be my movement.