I’m proud to announce that our Chief Executive Officer Aron Ain was named CEO of the Year by the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC). The MassTLC Technology Leadership Awards program is the Commonwealth’s most prestigious honor for technology companies, innovators, and leaders. The Awards Gala brought together more than 800 of the region’s top tech innovators to network and celebrate the area’s best leaders, companies, and technologies. Winning companies were selected from hundreds of nominations and judged by panels of executives, investors, analysts, media, and thought leaders in 16 categories.
Aron has spent the entirety of his 37-year career at Kronos, starting as one of the company’s first employees in 1979, working his way up through the ranks and playing a role in nearly every functional department at Kronos. Since taking over as CEO in 2005, he has been the driving force in building Kronos into a $1.1 billion global cloud company with more than 30,000 customers in over 100 countries around the world. More than 40 million people use a Kronos solution every day. The MassTLC 2016 CEO of the Year award closely follows a number of other accolades Ain and Kronos have received connected to the company’s WorkInspired culture. Aron was named to Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEO list, ranking as one of the highest-rated CEOs at large organizations in the U.S. – and top 10 in information technology – based solely on employee reviews.
The Boston Business Journal once again named Kronos a Best Place to Work, ranking the company #2 overall – and as the top technology employer – within the extra-large category of companies in Massachusetts. Kronos won Great Place to Work® Institute honors this year in Australia, Canada, and India and is Certified as a Great Place to Work® in the U.S.
How does Aron manage to balance great business results with the cultural investments required to earn recognition as a great place to work? He never forgets that the people of Kronos drive the results. When he is praised for the company’s track record, he’ll immediately flip the focus to the team of 5000 Kronites around the world who are making things happen for our customers every day. In the photo above, he’s serving lunch during our annual Thanksgiving celebration. I love this picture because it exemplifies Aron’s humility. In a The New York Times Corner Office column titled, “The Incalculable Value of a Good Boss” Aron is quoted as saying “Leading and managing people is a privilege.” And because he really believes that, his employees want to work even harder for him.
If you want to hear more from the man himself, you can listen in on an interview I did with him this year by clicking the link below. We talk about why Aron considers the Kronos culture to be a strategic weapon. If you take a few minute to listen, you’ll know why I gleefully passed my 10 year anniversary at Kronos recently. When the CEO walks the talk, it makes all the difference in the world.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Traci Fenton, Founder and CEO of WorldBlu. She founded WorldBlu in 1997 and has had clients in over 80 countries globally representing over $30 billion in annual revenue. Traci was recently recognized byInc. Magazine as a Top 50 Leadership Thinker, along with other world-class leaders such as Dan Pink, Brene Brown and Marshall Goldsmith.
Traci has a clear passion for her mission, and impressive case studies of how organizations like Davita and WD-40 have transformed their workplaces to engender employee engagement and better results.
Please listen in and join the conversation by adding your comments to this post. Below the podcast player are the discussion questions we cover.
- Your mission is about promoting freedom and democracy in the workplace. Can you expand on what that means and what it looks like in action?
- How do business results of organizations that pursue freedom and democracy in the workplace compare to those who don’t make that a focus?
- Annually you publish a list of the Most Freedom-Centered Workplaces™. Can you give us a few examples of organizations who’ve earned this distinction from WorldBlu and why they stood out for you?
- Do you have statistics you can share about how employee engagement and retention is impacted when organizations pursue workplace democracy and freedom?
- If leaders want to explore how to implement these kinds of practices in their own organizations, what can they do to get started?
How much is freedom and democracy the norm in your workplace?
Kettle Cuisine was founded in the Boston area in 1986 and have their headquarters in Lynn, Massachusetts. They make small batch, all natural soups from scratch for restaurants, food service operations and grocery retailers nationwide. They employ about 275 employees, many of whom are immigrants to the United States. I was introduced to their Sr. VP of Innovation and Process, Nick Murphy, at a local food pantry where Kettle had donated soup for the guests, in keeping with their mission of helping to address food insufficiency in the local community.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting their headquarters in Lynn, and meeting with Nick and his colleagues, Director of HR Ann Hargraves and HR Manager Julie Roix (pictured left to right in the photo above). Kettle has prospered for 30 years by focusing on their culture and their employees. In the photo here that illustrates their value of “Honor each other” you see rows of wooden spoons on the wall. Each one represents an employee, and is decorated by that employee. A small, but personal touch to drive home the value of every team member.
They have a great story that powerfully illustrates the benefit of investing in your employees in order to build a great business. I recorded our conversation, and you can listen in on the podcast link below to hear their story directly from them. We discussed the following topics, among others:
- Kettle Cuisine founder Jerry Schafir placed a significant emphasis on culture from the start. How are the values he established still going strong today?
- Ann Hargraves speaks about investing in the whole person in order to engage and retain your employees.
- Most of their employees are immigrants to the United States. Learn about the various programs Kettle has put in place to help them thrive at work (and outside of work and beyond Kettle).
- Although many of their jobs are entry level and hard, they have a number of employees who’ve been with Kettle for 15+ years. What is it about Kettle that encourages this kind of retention?
- What challenges are they facing as the business expands – and what are they doing to address these challenges?
Please click on the player below to hear our conversation.