Top leaders in the corporate world are superb listeners who encourage employees to share their ideas for making the business better.
Just ask the people who work for Doug Yearley at Toll Brothers, Warren Chaiken at Almo, Paul Black at Comm Solutions Co., and the management team at Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack.
These executives were rated highly by workers as the best leader in a company of its size as part of the annual Top Workplaces survey.
The poll by WorkPlace Dynamics of Exton asks employees to anonymously evaluate their bosses and corporate cultures by answering a series of questions. Some are open-ended, and what employees choose to mention can help paint a vivid picture of how well their bosses are leading.
LEADERSHIP - LARGE COMPANY: TOLL BROTHERS
"We work very hard to create a culture that instills a sense of ownership and pride in the company," said Doug Yearley, CEO at Toll Brothers, which won the Leadership award among large companies. "We keep an open flow of communication, hire the best and brightest, and challenge and reward excellence."
Employees of the Horsham-based homebuilder have confidence in the business model established by the company.
"They have a system, and as long as it's followed everything works out well," an employee said. "They have been doing it so long they know what works and what doesn't."
They also like that leaders entrust workers with the autonomy needed to do their jobs.
"I am not micro-managed, and flexibility to perform my job well is afforded to me. My abilities are recognized and allowed to be utilized, never quenched," said one staffer. "My manager is extremely well-respected and very good at balancing the workload in our department and is always available to help with any situation."
Several employees noted that the leadership in their company shows respect for workers both inside and outside the office.
"My opinions are valued, my work is meaningful, and I get to contribute to the success of my team and the company. Additionally, my boss has been very understanding about work/life balance and family emergencies. That motivates me to go out of my way to deliver the best work possible."
A little fun in the workplace boosts employee satisfaction, as well. When asked "What does the leader of this company do well?" one staffer replied: "running the company and table tennis."
They also feel good about the product that keeps a roof over their heads.
"We are a dynamic, popular, highly respected company which produces an industry-leading product. People aspire to live in our houses. Other homebuilders want to be like us, but they aren't."
LEADERSHIP - MIDSIZE COMPANY: ALMO CORP.
With 190 workers on the payroll, Almo Corp. is too large to be a mom-and-pop business.
Yet the company functions like a family — one in which everybody gets along.
"My leadership philosophy in managing a business is to treat your employees like they are your extended family," said Warren Chaiken, president and CEO. "You need to care for and look after your employees as well as let them learn from their experiences so they can develop into better people."
A major distributor of consumer electronics and appliances, Almo traces its Philly roots back to 1946. Management has established a corporate culture of respect and appreciation across generations, which likely played into the company's 2015 Leadership award for mid-size companies.
"The Chaiken family is wonderful and makes you feel valued and respected," an employee said. "They understand that we have a personal life and work with us to balance both. It makes you want to work harder for them."
Said another worker, "There is a personal feeling at Almo. I have worked at several companies in the past and never felt as appreciated as I do here. You truly feel like you are working for a small, family business and part of a team. Everyone is helpful and works well together."
Workers say the vibe at Almo is energetic and friendly. Management also reacts nimbly to shifts in the marketplace. Employee input is welcome and encouraged.
"It is challenging and always keeps me on my feet," an employee said. "It has helped mold me in the field I have always been interested in."
LEADERSHIP - SMALL COMPANY: COMM SOLUTIONS CO.
At Comm Solutions Co., leadership and the rank-and-file are in it together.
"It is important to me that Comm Solutions has a culture of respect, continuous improvement and collaboration," said Paul Black, CEO. "Employees know that they are valued and that their ideas for improving how we do business are essential to the future of our company."
Currently, 57 people work at Malvern-based Comm Solutions, an end-to-end technology solutions provider in the corporate, education, government and healthcare markets. The firm received the Leadership award among small companies and employees say their leaders offer a clear vision of the company's goals.
"Great focus on where they want to take the company and ability to articulate the message," one employee said. "Our leadership team lets everyone know they appreciate the contributions of staff."
Said another, "I feel I am part of a winning team."
Management's appreciation for great work is a recurring thread in the responses.
"I feel empowered. My manager and the owners are expressive about their belief in me and financial and professional investment in my practice area and education."
Support from leaders translates into a team spirit among colleagues, including insights on how to do the job better.
"Hard work is recognized and when there is improvement needed, guidance is provided and our entire engineering team is always willing to help each other out," one worker said.
"I love my job because of the people I work with and the support that is given," another employee noted. "Other team members and management are very supportive and encouraging. If anyone ever needs any help, before you even ask, people will recognize and ask if there is anything they can do. It's a family environment."
MANAGERS: HARRAH'S PHILADELPHIA CASINO AND RACETRACK
Employees at Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack frequently say they enjoy going to work, thanks to managers who appreciate their efforts and help them to succeed. Harrah's was the recipient of a special "Managers" award for comments most closely matching the sentiments "My manager helps me learn and grow," "My manager makes it easier to do my job well," and "My manager cares about my concerns" in this year's Workplace Dynamics survey.
"My manager is always available for questions and there to teach," says one employee. "He makes sure I am in the best position to be noticed. He knows what I want in my career and is always offering advice on how to get there."
Based in Las Vegas, Harrah's has 1,500 employees in the Delaware Valley. Several employees said the company gave them a chance to prove themselves in the workplace.
"This job first of all gave me an opportunity to show what I can do, and for that I am forever in debt to the company," one worker said.
A colleague said, "I admire senior management because they truly care for me and for my guests and I can always count on them to help me with challenges and to cheer my successes."