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Stronger from the Inside Out

As a 100 percent employee-owned company, the team at MW Builders knows all about ownership. As part owners, they have a vested interest in the company, taking charge of their future and directly affecting their bottom line. But MW Builders is finding success in letting employees take ownership of something else as well — cross-company training.

Training programs and company improvement — both financial and operational — often go hand-in-hand, but they are not always successful from the outset. Sometimes it takes massaging an idea to find what really works, as exampled by the progression of MW Builders’ Best Practice Groups. Best Practice groups are just that — groups to share ideas to develop better practices that will take the company to the next level; but leaders quickly found an idea isn’t worth much without passion.

MW Builders Vice President Todd Winnerman talks about the evolution of these groups. "In the past, management would determine the Best Practice Groups and assign people to each one. We noticed some people weren’t really engaged, so we restructured it and made it voluntary. Team members could choose between estimating, operations, field technology, and training, and we encouraged more face-to-face meetings. We’ve seen a spike in not only participation and engagement, but also in ideas of how to improve the company, and I attribute this to empowering our employees to take more ownership of their ideas," he said.

In addition to sharing ideas across the company, MW Builders also reinstituted its formal training for project managers. "We’re capitalizing on the fact that our new building now has a training room and are using it as yet another way to improve," said Winnerman. "We’re firing up our PM training in conjunction with our quarterly project reviews, so our PMs get a crash course in some of the basics from around the company, such as Legal 101 and HR Interview Techniques. We feel it’s important to develop our employees to be well versed in all aspects of the company and how each part pertains to their jobs, not just in their day-to-day project management silo."

With multiple offices and jobsites around the country, MW Builders takes advantage of every opportunity to improve and to share ideas. From Best Practice Groups and gatherings like the annual PM/Superintendent Conference, more employees are taking ownership of personal knowledge as well as the company’s future — because one of the best ways to improve is from the inside out.