Core Value #2: Accountability – What it means at all levels of the organization

May! Welcome to the beginning of peak season for window cleaners! Last month we discussed what Safety First means to us and why it is so important. In the same vein, in the next few months, our newsletter will highlight one of our company values. This month, we discuss Accountability.

Accountability is the second cornerstone of our training program. For techs this means accountability to our customers in providing quality work, and once we are sure you are safe, this is what we will focus on in the second phase of training.

Let’s break down Accountability for each level of the company:

Technicians: As mentioned above, delivering quality work is the main responsibility of our field techs.

Techs are accountable to other members of their team; they are required to show up on time and to look out for their teammates, making sure that work is being performed in a safe and efficient manner. Technicians are accountable for making sure they keep up with the agreed daily production and that jobs get completed on time (more on that next month), and for reporting their hours accurately. All techs are accountable for their own safety and the safety of their coworkers. It is their responsibility to report, and when possible, correct any situation that challenges our high safety standards.

Supervisors: Supervisors are accountable to technicians for providing instructions and equipment needed to perform their daily tasks.

They are accountable for training and ensuring they have the appropriate level of knowledge and technical skills needed to perform the work assigned to them. Supervisors are accountable for keeping jobs on time and require the collaboration of technicians in ensuring that things keep moving at the pace set at the beginning of a job. They are accountable for job budgets and oversee all hours and expenses associated with each project. Most importantly, supervisors are accountable for the safety of their team, on each project. They are responsible for filling out safety documentation and for keeping a close eye on their teams.

Management: Management is accountable to our clients for delivering on our company promise (see 360° promise below).

Management ensures all employees are well compensated and taken care of – the combination of those two things is why we do what we do. Ultimately, management is accountable for the company vision and to ensure we achieve excellence at all levels, both internally, in how we operate and treat each other, and externally, in how we treat our customers.

As you can see, accountability works in all directions, and we are somehow all accountable to each other. It is the glue that holds us together and helps us grow and move forward.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions, and would love to hear from you if you see areas where accountability might be lacking or if you have any suggestions. Please feel free to approach your supervisor or a member of the management team, or to use our handy monthly anonymous survey.

Best,
Seb

Core Value #1: Safety First – Why?

… A message to our employees from our Founder & CEO, Sebastien Nault.

When I moved to Vancouver, in 1999, I was introduced to high-rise window cleaning by a good friend of mine.

You would all be appalled by the training I received and equipment I was given. I was basically given a 20 minute briefing on the roof, given a 10 year old Home Depot harness and was told to go sit on the bosun chair that had been setup for me on the side of a 10 storey apartment building in West Vancouver.

I was obviously terrified, mostly because of my fear of heights. If I had any idea how dangerous what I was doing was, I probably would have walked away to never come back, but I trusted my boss at the time, and stepped over the edge for the first time.

Fortunately for me, in my 7 years of bosun chair work, despite a few close calls, I never suffered a major fall or accident. What was less fortunate is that it left me with a sense of invincibility and a clear lack of understanding of basic safety standards. I was of the mind that common sense should prevail, and that safety protocols were mostly overkill.

Fast forward to 2011, the year I started Black Tie. I went out and purchased a couple harnesses, ladders and bosun chair kits and started pounding the pavement to get our first jobs on the books. Unfortunately, my mentality around safety had not changed, and our first hires were poorly trained and safety was evidently lacking. 

As our client base grew, our need for more qualified workers also increased and we started receiving applications from certified rope techs, so, for about two years, we ran a hybrid crew of bosun chair workers and rope access technicians, while our ground crew remained mostly untrained.

It quickly became evident that the rope access technicians were more knowledgeable about risk management and safety in general and despite the significant cost associated with moving to rope access only, we decided it was the best decision for the business.

For me, the turning point in my personal views and mentality around safety was when we crossed the threshold of 10 employees. I realized that I now had 10 people under my responsibility, out there, on ladders, on ropes, basically risking their lives every day, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if any of them was to suffer a preventable injury. 

Shortly after, Rob and I went through the exercise of creating our company values, and Safety First is the one that most resonated with both of us. We wanted to create an organization that would be truly driven by high safety standards. A company where cutting corners would not be tolerated, and where everyone would have the training required to perform their work safely.

We wanted to create a safe space where workers would feel empowered to challenge the status quo and would help the organization grow and elevate the standards in our industry.

This is obviously a constant work in progress, and we keep finding ways to make things better every year, mostly driven by suggestions offered by technicians and field workers. 
 

Over the years, we have made significant progress by achieving COR certification, creating a Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC), holding monthly safety meetings and weekly toolbox talk and ensuring that everyone’s certifications are up to date. 

This year, we will continue on our path of constant learning and improvement by bringing trainer certification in house for basic fall protection and ladder safety. We will also continue to offer recertification and leveling up for qualified rope access technicians, along with regular hands on training and practice sessions. 

as a reminder …

Mandatory:

*Fall protection (not needed if IRATA or SPRAT certified)
*Ladder safety
*IRATA or SPRAT (rope access techs only)


Optional:

*First Aid – OFA 1 (one rope access tech per site is required)
*Elevated work platforms operation (Boom lift and scissor lift)
*WHMIS

Safety First is not just something we say, it is how we behave and conduct ourselves every day.  We want you to stay safe and healthy, and rely on you to point out areas where we can improve.

Together, we can keep moving forward and create the safest company in our industry.

Unleashing the Power Within: Cultivating Employee Happiness and Engagement

In today’s competitive business landscape, organizations are recognizing the paramount importance of employee happiness and engagement. Beyond mere job satisfaction, fostering a work environment that prioritizes these factors can yield significant benefits for both employees and the company as a whole. Let’s explore why employee happiness and engagement are vital for Black Tie’s success.

Positive Work Culture

A happy and engaged workforce fosters a positive work culture. This positive culture, characterized by open communication, trust, and mutual respect, boosts morale, reduces conflicts, and enhances teamwork.

Reduced Turnover

Employee happiness and engagement directly influence retention rates. When employees feel valued, supported, and connected to their work, they are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. And when employees decide to return season after season, we can provide more advanced scheduling in early spring for our customers. It’s a win win!

Enhanced Productivity

Happy and engaged employees are more likely to be productive and motivated in their work. When individuals feel a sense of fulfillment and purpose, they go the extra mile to achieve organizational goals. The result is heightened productivity, improved quality of work, and increased efficiency across all levels of the organization.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

Employee happiness and engagement have a direct impact on customer satisfaction. Engaged employees provide better customer service, as they are more likely to go above and beyond to meet customer needs. When employees feel supported and valued, they become brand advocates, positively influencing customer interactions and experiences.

Here are some of the ways Black Tie fosters its employees engagement & happiness:

📌 Monthly in-person safety meeting/BBQ
📌 Weekly “toolbox talks”
📌 Events & group volunteer opportunities
📌 Monthly employee newsletter where we share & celebrate work + non-work topics
📌 Peer to peer recognition platform (Bonusly)
📌 Birthday recognitions
📌 Employee driven Slack channels dedicated to sharing photos & videos
📌 Training & education budgets
📌 Employee of the month
📌 Anonymous feedback surveys to gauge job satisfaction & highlight issues

Recognizing and prioritizing employee happiness and engagement is no longer an optional endeavour but a fundamental aspect of a successful organization. By investing in our employees’ well-being, we can unlock a multitude of benefits, including increased productivity, reduced turnover, a positive work culture, enhanced customer satisfaction, and a culture of innovation. When employees are happy and engaged, the entire organization flourishes, paving the way for long-term success and sustainable growth.

Have you met Liv?

Liv

If you have called or emailed our office in the last 3 years, you have most likely had the pleasure of interacting with Olivia, or Liv, as she prefers to be addressed.

Liv joined us in early 2018, as she helped get our Victoria location off the ground. Her life partner, David Bell, moved to the Island to manage the location, and Liv offered to roll up her sleeves and work alongside Dave, doing whatever needed to be done, including cleaning windows and gutters, cold calling potential clients and visiting sites around Victoria to prepare estimates. This was a complete 180 from her career in fashion, and she handled the transition and steep learning curve beautifully.

Her efforts didn’t go unnoticed and in 2019, Liv was promoted to head of customer service team, and started handling all client communications for both our Vancouver and Victoria locations. Her ability to handle large volumes of communications efficiently and to create systems that would streamline our back office processes has been extremely invaluable.

As our operations keep expanding in BC and Alberta, Liv has now taken on the role of operations manager for our back office management team, and oversees all admin functions, ensuring that our clients, in each location, get the same friendly service and personal touch that she has been known for.