Raul Chaparro, General Manager for DMC’s Chile operation, believes in the values of the open workplace culture. His insights and experiences as a leader are a great primer for leaders who want to achieve open communications. His approach to leadership emphasizes availability, making time for others, and collaborative evaluation.
Raul is guided by the idea of understanding: “You need to adapt, as the leader, to the people you work with.” Leaders who adapt to and understand their teams can work better and in closer proximity, and focus on the fundamental aspect of their role, which is “to support their people.”
Raul makes himself available and works to understand the people in his organization, and the key to that is proximity. Being closer to their organizations helps leaders come to a better understanding of who they work with, the key is “trying to have interactions where people are all at equal footing activities outside the office or project site.”
When leaders and organizations understand each other, there will be more communication between them. On visits to project sites and in the office, Raul always asks if personnel need resources or opportunities to improve their work, and lets them know they’re free to call or email him.
For leaders to prove that values are prioritized, they need to demonstrate them. A leader who emphasizes the importance of communication needs to speak with their teams, understand their needs, and how best to support them.
In Chile, a monthly meeting of the parity committee is mandated by law in which every person in an organization can bring up their concerns about the workplace and discuss their working conditions. At DMC Chile, this is an open meeting where everyone is at the table and has a discussion about how things can be better. Raul adds that it’s all discussed. “Even simple things like improving restrooms.”
DMC Chile holds a twice-a-month dinner, open to anyone who can attend, for informal discussion and team building. There’s also a weekly online meeting, where everyone in the company can learn about the other departments, how work is progressing, and what results the work is yielding.
Creating many opportunities for communication requires a time investment, but enhances understanding and team spirit.
In Raul’s view, “the fundamental to work is creating conditions for people to express ideas and opinions.” An open culture encourages shared ideas, actively considers those ideas, and communicates about why they work or not.
Raul’s approach is to evaluate ideas with the people who offer them. This way, their effort is respected, but more importantly, they get to see where their idea fits in the context of the company, and why it’s applicable or not.
Collaborative evaluation doesn’t stop on an individual level. When there are technical discussions to be had, Raul invites people from different departments. For example, reviewing a budget with the estimation group, he invited construction and operation people who could bring up cost items that hadn’t been considered.
Leading by example, Raul is creating the environment where people are seen and heard, where ideas are treated seriously, and where there is time for discussion. For Raul, it’s the critical part of any leader’s role: “The approach that I believe, and trust is that a leader should help all of their people, give them a clear view of the goals, and how we get there together.”