Innovation requires trial and error.
This is true for any organization, but especially within an industrial engineering firm where team collaboration is critical to delivering a successful project.
In this interview, Engineering Manager, Jennifer Gray, talks about the need to have a safe environment for your team.
Jennifer recounts stories from her long career at Vista Projects to highlight how feeling safe within a team can build trust and improve quality.
About her experience as a young engineer working with Vista’s Founder, Alex Campbell, Jennifer says:
I was allowed to innovate. I was allowed to do what needed to be done…
The Importance of Trust
Years later, as a Mechanical Engineering Manager, Jennifer paid that experience forward by trusting the engineers on her team.
The importance of trust within the workplace goes beyond your internal team structure and Jennifer also explains the benefit of having trust with clients.
When you know you’re trusted, it creates the right environment for innovation and good ideas. She says, “that empowers us even more to do a really good job.”
Read the Full Transcript – The Importance of Trust in Building a Culture of Innovation with Your Teams and Clients
Vista has always been a forward-thinking engineering company.
You know, back in the day, you know, 20 or 30 years ago, that was different.
But that approach to fit-for-purpose, but always providing the client the best we can, always thinking of a better way to do things.
I remember when I first started at Vista, it was maybe several years in, but you know there’s this procedure we do. And we do it all the time.
I can make it better.
And I remember going into Alex’s office… I knocked on the door. It was a couple of weeks before Christmas.
I said, “Alex, I wanna spend next week, and I wanna get,” it was the material requisition. I said, “It’s not working, I wanna fix it. “I can fix it this week. It’s quiet before Christmas, let me fix it.”
And he just looks at me, “I’ll spend next week and I’ll do it.”
And I did. And that tool is still used today.
It’s come a long way. You know we made that step change. I was allowed to innovate.
I was allowed to do what needed to be done to that tool. And now it’s evolved. It’s gotten better and better over the years but even back then, “Hey, let’s do this more efficiently.” I said, “I can get this more efficient.”
You create an environment that you trust the employees. I remember as a mechanical lead I would have what we call the coffee meetings in the morning just to set the day.
“Hey, what does everybody working on?” Everybody got a few seconds to say what they needed what they’re doing, what troubles they’re having.
And I remember the young engineer was asking me questions and I would tell him, “I trust your judgment.”
And I remember he was taken back. He was taken back for a long time. And I’m like, “Bob, I trust you, I trust your judgment.
“If I didn’t trust you, you wouldn’t be here.” I said, “If you have a question, come see me “but I trust you.”
And you know, I took a course at Harvard and they reiterated that to me in a different way. You got to where you are in life because somebody or people along the way trusted you.
And if you think about that statement for a minute, it’s true.
Everything you’ve done, somebody’s had to trust you. And so I think trust is very important.
Yes, our clients very much trust Vista and that empowers us even more to do a really good job.
Like it just creates the right environment for innovation and good ideas. People aren’t frightened to speak up and say, “Hey what about doing this?”
And I know I’ve spoken up in a meeting and I’ve said, “Hey about doing this…”
I’m like, “Yeah okay, you’re right.” But it was a safe environment for me to say that.
And that’s important cause not every idea is gonna be a good idea, but that one, hey, what do they say in hockey, if you don’t shoot at the goal, you’ll never score.
So it’s gotta be a safe environment.