Women in Business: Margie Adams, Because Culture Matters

WIB LogoAs founder of Emerge Approach, Margie Adams, knew that company culture was crucial to business success long before it was a corporate buzzword. Her Denver South-based firm provides consulting, training, and team building for emerging leaders and millennials. Here’s what her firm is doing in the area, and why she thinks there’s no place like Denver South.

Denver South: What does Emerge Approach do?

Margie Adams: Emerge Approach helps companies create a culture that attracts and retains top talent, promotes loyalty, and advances business goals. We believe that company culture is the backbone of employee retention and productivity. We want to create great working environments that are reflective of an organization’s mission, vision, and values. We do this by training frontline managers (whether the CEO of a nine-person organization, a supervisor at Amazon, or a brand-new supervisor of a 20-person team) because we believe they are key to organizational culture.

DS: How do you help companies establish their company culture?

MA: If an organization doesn’t have a culture, we tackle that first. We also look for values that are sitting on the wall because we don’t like values just sitting on a wall. We take them off the wall and put them into action. We make sure that they’re incorporated in hiring practices and evaluation processes. Then we work with managers and supervisors to incorporate them into their job functions, like giving feedback, providing instructions, or dealing with conflict.

DS: Why is this training so important for managers?

MA: The bottom line is that if managers aren’t communicating well with employees, things aren’t working. According to a recent Gallup poll, 69% of employees are disengaged at work. That’s a lot. If employees aren’t engaged, they’re on their phones half the time. They aren’t working as effectively as possible. But, if you work with managers to foster a good company culture, your company is going to be a lot more successful.

DS: How does your training work?

MA: We’re very practical and we’re all about outcomes. Our training is mostly about practicing. I don’t like standing in front of a group and saying, this is how you do it. Instead, I give examples of how supervisors should handle specific situations. Then I guide them in practicing, asking: how would this work in your organization?

DS: When and how did you start your business?

MA: I started it in the middle of the night in 1996. Prior to that I had been in the travel business for close to 20 years. The owners of the travel company had always been clear about where the company was going until the company merged with a competitor. After the merger, the owners/partners had issues and the supervisors ran the show. The supervisors made sure that things kept going and because of that, the company was successful in the long run. It was then that I realized how important the supervisor position could be to a company. 

DS: Does your training use a specific assessment?

MA: We use the DISC tool to show people their natural tendencies. By natural tendencies I mean the things that are easiest for them. We also show them it’s not impossible to do other things that aren’t as natural. 

For example, I’m off the charts a person who wants to meet people. I can speak to a crowd of 2,000 people or I can go into a room of 200 people, shake hands, and feel comfortable. My coworker, however, might freeze up in the same situation.  Even so, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t capable of public speaking with some work if he wants to be. By the same token, I’m terrible at details, but I must deal with details in running my own business. So, I’ve learned to do details well even though it takes extra work.

DS: What are the advantages of being in Denver South?

MA: We primarily work with companies in the Denver South area. I love the spirit of innovation here, rather than a fear of changing. People in the region are always looking at new ways of doing things. I think back to when I moved here in 1977 and how the telecommunications pioneers and other industries that have done well were so far ahead of their time. There’s also a wonderful mix of diversity and a spirit of collaboration.  Arapahoe county itself is politically purple and I like that because it means that people are willing to listen and consider different points of views. 

I also like the fact that the Denver Tech Center is nationally known. I can jump on light rail at any time, day or night, to get downtown. The neighborhoods are wonderful. The schools are amazing and are highly supported by the community. Parents and administrators are both supportive of teachers. Most kids go to their neighborhood schools with their neighbors. It’s a wonderful place.