ARCHIVED  November 1, 1996

Susan Pratt turns management upside down at Longmont firm

LONGMONT – Though Susan Pratt is a woman at the helm of a $22.5 million construction and property-management company, she won’t toe the line that says women have it tougher in the workplace. Workers, no matter what their gender and no matter what their job description, will excel in the workplace if they are given the skills to make good decisions and if they are treated with respect, she says.And to that end, Pratt and a team of “members” from throughout the 84-year-old Pratt Management Co. LLC are involved in an immense effort to reinvent their corporate culture. Until a year ago, Pratt employees answered to a single “leader,” and input to the top didn’t come easy.
To begin to evolve the corporate culture, Pratt first surveyed employees. Then she inverted the management triangle, putting her job – general manager – at the bottom, supporting front-line employees, or “members,” and unit managers, or coaches.”This company currently has approximately 300 members,” Pratt says. “These are competent, loyal, intelligent human beings of what sex, I don’t care. My job is to release their power. I don’t look at any of the positions as being gender oriented. My people can be whatever they can be.”
The team has developed a mission statement that hinges on respect for the people who work at Pratt and the job they are charged to do, teamwork, commitment and values. Company members, no matter where their job stands on the management pyramid, are encouraged to gather information and make suggestions for the good of the company.
As a result of one of those suggestions, Pratt Management, for the first time, has begun to operate as a construction company outside the Pratt holdings and its circle of friends. Unit members brought to the table a long-term plan that was approved by consensus. “We are taking the steps very easy,” Pratt said.
Though she is already listening to members, Pratt said she realizes there is a learning curve to this new management approach. “If people don’t know how to make good decisions, it’s because they haven’t been taught how to make good decisions,” Pratt said.And teach she is willing to do. “This company needs to be able to operate without me.”
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LONGMONT – Though Susan Pratt is a woman at the helm of a $22.5 million construction and property-management company, she won’t toe the line that says women have it tougher in the workplace. Workers, no matter what their gender and no matter what their job description, will excel in the workplace if they are given the skills to make good decisions and if they are treated with respect, she says.And to that end, Pratt and a team of “members” from throughout the 84-year-old Pratt Management Co. LLC are involved in an immense effort to reinvent their corporate culture. Until a…

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