TINYtalk: Altek Supply's Manager Month Theme and Results

7 min read
Jul 30, 2020

Recently, I saw a LinkedIn post by Altek Supply that shared the results of the four questions they pulsed their team during May, which they dubbed "Manager Month." I was blown away by the transparency and the outstanding results of their pulses, so I had to interview Mike Atema, President and CEO of Altek Supply to learn more.

Don't miss TINYtalk: Step Up For Students - Boosting Culture during COVID-19.

Click the video above to watch the full interview with Mike Atema. Or enjoy the edited transcript below.

Why we created a monthly theme around Managers?

What inspired us to dedicate the month of May asking questions around the leadership team was just their example that they set. Through COVID-19, we've done a lot of things as far as wages, and then being able to manage costs. We've avoided massive layoffs because the company as a whole stepped up and everyone stepped up to help out.

But the managers really set the example. And they were fairly positive, fairly optimistic, very engaging with their teams, having daily meetings. The level of engagement was necessary to be increased dramatically than we would otherwise. They crushed it.

Our monthly theme has been evolving through COVID-19. As CEO, I'm a Chief Emotional Officer right now and managing just the terror from COVID-19 from March when everything was rolling out, and then pivoting. When we were a necessary service and we were going to remain open, I went with "what are we going to do" because it wasn't a lot of business. And then we went to more "growth, personal development", and the managers really led that way. And then it went into "individual process improvement". That was a major focus. Now, it's a bit on recovery and what the future looks like. So it's been evolving month over month.

Great Leadership

How did we come up with the pulse survey questions for Manager Month

Here are the four questions we pulsed each week during the month:

  • How satisfied are you with the level of communication you are receiving from the company?
  • Do you receive an adequate level of feedback from your manager related to your work performance?
  • How would you rate your regular one-on-one meeting with your manager?
  • How confident are you that the leadership team will be able to successfully get us through the current economic challenge that we're facing?

We wanted to make sure that people were getting what they needed, not just from the company, but from the individual managers.

"So top down strategy, we're only as good as the information, the communication channels that we have." So naturally, one question we pulsed in May was "How satisfied are you with the level of communication you are receiving from the company?"

We have great managers, but we wanted to make sure we weren't overlooking anything because none of us had been through this before, so it's not like we pulled out our COVID-19 handbook and went, "Okay, here's what we do." It was evolving, so we wanted to make sure everybody's individual team got what they needed from their managers.

It was a combination of are you getting what you need now, and then we can start building a program of training and engagement coming out COVID-19.

Since we're big believers in transparency, we even recently publicly shared the insights on LinkedIn to recognize their great work as managers. 

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It's one of the things we really appreciate about having a robust engagement and recognition platform is the flexibility to support how we engage, award, and acknowledge some of the great people that we have within Altek. We've always had great managers, and through COVID-19, they have really stepped up amazingly.

"We were hearing it throughout the company, and we just wanted to find a way that they could be heard and acknowledged in a public setting."

What were the results

I was impressed by all of our survey results, to be honest, they were all pretty surprising, but we have been encouraging and harping as a company for a long time the importance of one-on-ones and the importance of engagement. We have a great culture, and we want to keep strengthening that and put more intention into directing that culture as opposed to historically just having great people and it worked out.

"How would you rate your regular one-on-one meetings with your manager?" was responses were surprising because you never think you're doing enough and you're kind of always like, "Man, we can do more. You guys should be doing more."


But to get a result that is 30% above the benchmark (8.7 / 6.7) was an amazingly positive level of feedback from everybody, it just check the box of we're doing it right.  It was nice surprise.

To get a 9.0 out of 10 on "How confident are you that the leadership team will be able to successfully get us through the current economic challenge that we're facing?" makes me the proudest because we put a lot of time and energy into communicating. At the onset of COVID-19, we go back to stockpiling toilet paper. It was mass fear. It was pretty wild. When you go back to the hierarchy of needs, to level one, it's clothing and shelter. So we started there from a communication standpoint and really focused on communications.

To get that kind of confirmation from the staff that we were knocking it out of the park meant the most to me.


Takeaways for leaders

Be intentional about your employee survey questions

We're evolving the theme each month and waiting to see what July and August hold from a business standpoint as well. We're having a town hall meeting. So we will TINYpulse to find out what people want to know about. And, of course, more COVID-19 related questions about our plan in case the second wave coming. July is more of a realignment month, and then August will be more about summer, enjoying time with families. September, October, we'll be back to work.


"We before me." Celebrate peer recognition whenever we can

Giving and receiving recognition seem to go hand in hand and those are the personalities. There's no surprise there. A couple of guys that are leaders in the company. And Izzy is actually our receptionist. But she's not your average receptionist - she's fantastic! She's fully integrated into the culture. She does a great job bringing everybody together the moment they walk in the door.

We're more a personality side of things when hiring over the years. The most common used word is culture, and it can lose its meaning over time if you don't really know what your culture is and what personalities you're trying to hire.

"We're just hiring good people that are genuine. And being a family company, it's important to us to hold true to those family values."

If you get the people right, everything else is easier. With our HR team and everybody being in alignment, it kind of just happens on its own now. Of course, with issues like COVID-19 and a recession, my input comes a little bit more, but with the platform and TINYpulse and with our team right now, it turns along. We set the path and we check in on it every once in a while. 

Culture Code Workbook

Keep a consistent one-on-one schedule while working remotely

We've scored relatively high 8.7 on the ratings for one-on-one meeting because we've been working on our one-on-ones for quite a while. The value from the one-on-ones is exceptional.


"We're very happy to find a platform such as TINYpulse where we can manage and schedule and maintain a certain one-on-one routine."

Having the platform in place, being able to have the consistency is what makes the rating good. We can also build off of one-on-ones month over month and build direction around that. I really think it's the consistency that matters. As entrepreneurs, we have ideas and we run off in this direction and that direction. I really tried not to do that from a business standpoint. 

But from a culture standpoint, when we come up with something good, like a one-on-one, the consistency is key. We wouldn't have scored that high going back a couple years ago. 

About Altek Supply

Altek Supply is a wholesale master distributor into the oil and gas sector in Canada. They have an intense focus on baseline expectations. Established in 1999, Altek Supply takes pride in representing the highest Quality Products and is committed to delivering the Best Customer Service in the Industry. 

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