Can you give a quick overview of what you do professionally and why you do it? What do you find most meaningful about your work?
Karlena: I own Early Childhood Education Centers in Pennsylvania. I direct and manage Educators to effectively care for, teach, direct, assess, and supervise children ages 6 weeks to 12 years of age. What I find most meaningful is inspiring teachers how they can become better educators and in turn, they inspire my students to succeed on a daily basis.
How important do you believe company culture is to an organization’s success?
Karlena: Company culture is extremely important to the success of a company. It can essentially make or break a company. Great company cultures that I have worked for are very few and far in between.
Without naming the companies, can you give examples of good cultures you have worked in and bad cultures you have worked in and how they have led to positive and negative results respectively?
Karlena: The best culture I have worked for was a culture based on respect. Management were active in ensuring all staff were in compliance with company policies, and if not, they helped redirect and coached the employee to become the best they could be. There was no gossiping. There was fairness. It was a structured environment. This company was a child care facility and their company culture yielded positive results because the staff respected one another. There was no tension within the company. There was nobody bad-mouthing anyone.
A terrible company culture was one of another childcare center I worked for a while back. This culture was absolutely unbearable. Gossiping was the main part of the culture. Management would discuss private information of the staff with other staff members. There was preferential treatment, in which the teachers that were friends with management could arrive to work late, call out of work as they pleased and not get reprimanded for slacking off on the clock. This company culture yielded negative results, and eventually closed down. The clients could not deal with the unprofessionalism and look elsewhere for childcare.
What is the company that you have worked for or with that you believe has the best culture and why? What can other companies do to emulate their success?
Karlena: Not to be biased, but my companies The Child Development Center of Easton and The Child Development Center of Bethlehem have the best work cultures I have ever seen, because I created them. I took every negative experience that I have had working for many companies and changed what I hated. I care about my employees, truly and deeply.
I build my employees to become the best they can be. I don’t allow negative mindsets or negative talk within the company. I promote a family-type relationship in which teachers work together and have each other’s backs. If someone is going through something and slacks off , then the other staff are there to pick up the slack. We celebrate each other’s successes and cry with each other through our pains. A very close-knit work culture is what I promote and require.
What is the company that you have never worked for or with but believe has the best culture? What are about that company’s culture do you admire from afar?
Karlena: Yes! There is another large chain of child care centers that has amazing work culture! It is extremely professional and fair. No gossip, no unfairness, just respect. I admire how professional they always are with parents and staff alike. I modeled my own company culture after that center.
Describe your office environment and how it relates to your company culture. Give us a feel for your office design from the office furniture design to the intangibles.
Karlena: My office environment is professional, yet personal and shows off my individuality, just like my company culture. My paint color is Tiffany Blue!
I have added silver furniture for a hint of upscale elegance and then cabinetry is an off white, scratched and weathered. It represents to me elegant, classy, fun functionality. It is beautiful! I buy expensive and old world but modern style office furniture. I do not currently own Herman Miller office chairs, but I am looking to buy the Herman Miller Sayl Chairs for my staff, because they are so functional, durable, and stylish.