Black History Month Employee Spotlight: Michael M

Copper and Brass Sales is celebrating Black History Month, in part, by spotlighting members of our staff whose exemplary work and inspiring stories further our mission and values. Stay tuned as we spotlight inspiring employees of Copper and Brass Sales throughout the month.

Today, I would like to spotlight Michael M, a Plant Supervisor who has been with Copper and Brass Sales for almost three years.

Michael has spent most of his career working in a warehouse in one capacity or another. 20 years ago, he started out on the shop floor of a Swedish hardware manufacturing company. He progressed through different positions, some of which included control, foreman, and as a superintendent.

Michael reflects on his time with that company as a place that wasn’t very diverse. He found himself as the only African American member of a management team of over twenty people. Having identified strong people of color within his team, Michael took steps to work with Human Resources to implement career growth plans for them – something that would further enhance the diversity composition at different levels. Unfortunately, those efforts were not successful. Many didn’t feel as though the corporation wanted to promote minorities, including women. Eventually Michael hit a wall where his own opportunities to learn and grow seemed to stagnate as well. After finding the position of Plant Supervisor for Copper and Brass Sales on a job board, Michael applied, interviewed, and we happily invited him to join our team.

In contrast to his time at the hardware manufacturer, Michael says Copper and Brass Sales employs more people of color and more women – underscoring a more inclusive and diverse culture. Those weren’t the only things that were different for him. Michael had to adjust to a completely different culture in coming here, discovering that the culture here allowed for more flexibility for each team member.

In Michael’s experience, he’s found that when people don’t feel empowered, they just want to be told what to do so that they can get their paychecks and go home. Working with other supervisors, Michael and the team utilized the Copper and Brass Sales Skillset Matrix to determine the team members current skill set and identified where they wanted to be. This is where flexibility would need to come in for growth to occur. Michael spoke of value, “You’re only as valuable as what you can learn to do. Flexibility makes you more valuable. Moving to different seats on the bus also helps you to grow with the company.” Naturally some of the team were hesitant and wondered if they were going to be taken advantage of. Quickly, they learned the personal and financial benefits to flexibility and learning new skillsets: they were promotable!

Michael likes to lead by example and leads the same way at home for his 12-year old son – a relationship he uses as his guide. Michael spoke about how important it is to acknowledge effort so that everyone feels appreciated. A person who feels appreciated will find motivation to do more and become passionate and driven. Michael spoke of the challenges of building and developing the team he has now. He tries to be fair and consistent which helps to build appreciation and respect. He likes to hear what people have to say and where they’re coming from, noting that sometimes a person’s gruff exterior isn’t always who they are or what they’re feeling. Michael said, “If you can become a better listener, you can become a better manager.” Michael is proud of the growth of the team and feels that they now are a well-oiled machine with people who can do their jobs with precision and without detailed supervision by honoring and respecting the plan they’ve worked to put in place.

Michael’s responsibilities have also changed since he started working with Copper and Brass Sales. Enjoying change, he likes to be seen as someone who can do more and therefore welcomes the additional responsibilities. “If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, it’s deflating,” said Michael. His plan moving forward is simply to work with his team to help Copper and Brass Sales succeed. He aspires to become Plant Manager, telling me that he wants to make his boss look good and put him in a position that he feels he can move up and on, comfortable with what he’s left behind.

It’s clear that Michael likes to work hard, do his job well, and empower his team to do the same. We’re privileged here at Copper and Brass Sales to have Michael as a part of our team and we’re glad to be able to share his inspiring story with you through our celebration of Black History Month.

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