Ken Bratz Consulting at Heart of Leadership Development in Plano
BISHOP, TX — The collection of novelties Charlotte Maples keeps in her home include a few fond memories of her days spent working at the Stratton Field office of Union Pacific Resources Oil Company in the South Texas town of Bishop. But perhaps none of those holds as much fondness with Maples as a small bell she was given by fellow employees during her 12 years with the company.
“It started out as a joke,” Maples fondly recalls of the novelty she says was eventually dubbed “Charlotte's Bell.”
“My office was situated between the superintendent’s office and that of the production foreman,” Maples recalls of her days working as an operations specialist at Union Pacific. “Ever so often some of the guys would be visiting with the superintendent and, as men are prone to do, they would let out a few cuss words.”
Curse words always struck a sour note with Maples, a Christian. "And the guys in the office knew that," she said.
“They were always very respectful and were always careful not to say anything that would offend me,” Maples recalled. “The problem was they never knew when I would return to my desk.”
Whenever Maples heard foul language, she politely issued an advisory that would bring an end to the off-color talk. “Guys, I'm over here,” Maples would say.
Before long, one employee came up with a novel idea: “We’re going to buy you a bell so you can ring it whenever you come back to your desk,” the employee said. Maples first thought it was a joke, but in no time at all she found herself playing the “office crier”—ringing a bell whenever there was a slip of the tongue.
“I don’t mean to imply that there was profanity in the office all the time because there wasn’t,” Maples said. “But whenever there was, and they would hear ‘Charlotte’s Bell,’ and it stopped. I worked with a unique group of people and we were a very small company. People will be people, and every now and then something would slip. It was easy for things like that to just happen.”
While Maples believes her co-workers gave her a bell out of genuine respect, she also feels the gesture may have been a direct result of some prior training Union Pacific had provided that dealt with management-employee relationships.
“We learned some good things about how to relate to each other and how to be sensitive to one another’s needs in those sessions, Maples said of the training received through Ken Bratz Consulting, a Palestine, TX-based training and management consulting group that specializes in employee-management relationships. “They may have been respectful of my feelings and me, but had we not gone through that training, it probably would not have worked. I believe what we learned played a big part in their being sensitive to the point of showing me respect.”
Ken Bratz, who along with wife Patsy formed Ken Bratz Consulting 30 years ago, says communication has a lot to do with how employees and management relate.
“Trust can only be increased with dialogue,” says Bratz, who adds that communication is a focal point in what he and his team at Ken Bratz Consulting works to achieve through its IMPACT Process, training sessions designed to bring management and its employees together. “If you can create an atmosphere where you can get people to talking to each other, irrespective of rank, you can solve most any problem. Through The IMPACT Process, we not only create an environment to get people to talking but we keep them talking. Usually, the result is a working environment free of strife, free of mistrust, and one that is very productive.”
Today, Maples chuckles when she thinks back on the ringing of Charlotte’s Bell.
“All it took was one ring, and the place got quiet as a mouse,” Maples said.
Bell Set Tone When Office Language Ran Afoul
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