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Culture of Respect: Leading By Example

Kathy Kerber and Tom Martin talk about building a company culture built on the foundation of mutual respect.

Kathy Kerber

A culture of respect starts at the top. Leading by example and assisting all levels of a company are vital elements to creating that culture. Kathy Kerber, President of Kerber Sheet Metal, and Tom Martin, President of T.H. Martin Inc., commented on their companies’ cultures. Kerber says, “It is imperative that Contractors understand that culture starts with them. We must give our leadership team the training and tools to create a respectful company culture. It really flows down from the top.” Martin added, “To be fully engaged and offer assistance creates a respectful culture.”

Kerber and Martin also gave some insight into how operations are run at each of their companies. Kerber recalled a situation in her company that resulted in a successful operation. “A recent conversation with my shop foreperson is a great example: we discussed a recent successful collaborative effort. That effort would not have been possible without our leadership team fostering the space for that diverse team to work well together. Our leadership team could do that only because they were given the skills and training to build those relationships on the team.” This approach focuses on leading by example and giving the members of the team the tools and resources they need to succeed. Creating a respectful environment allows for new ideas to be fostered in the workplace. 

Tom Martin

Tom Martin noted, “Every company is different; as a leader, engaging with your team in any required facet is important. We're making sure they are supported by asking if anyone needs help at every meeting, whether that be an estimation, presentation, or constructability. Different company layers have different perspectives, and by listening to their ideas, we can implement new safety and working measures that we might never have thought of. Collaboration is essential in creating positive results for your team and the customer.” Martin’s approach focuses on helping wherever possible, showing that no job is too small or unimportant for any team member. 

Ensuring a culture of respect is about creating a sense of belonging for all people. We can foster everyone by forming a diverse, inclusive, and unique industry. Creating a culture of respect is essential for all workplaces because it ensures more trust is built for all levels of a workplace. A respectful work environment can inspire, encourage collaboration, and increase productivity, all of which KSM and T.H. Martin Inc. strive to do by leading and assisting. 

(This article was written by Megan Sawchek)