Working with Intention: Meet Mark Halmrast
Mark Halmrast has worked in the Business Management consulting world for more than 20 years, specializing in business improvement and customer experience. Mark’s superpowers are listening, simplifying and delivering practical strategies and tangible results that move businesses forward.
Today, Mark is a Senior Solution Consultant for the Aeritae Customer Experience Management practice, helping clients deliver exceptional experiences for their own customers through people, process and technology expertise.
Below, Mark shares some insight on what drew him to this line of work and the three pivotal “mailroom moments” that defined his work mission.
When I entered the workforce, I was coming out of the military. I had been serving ____ . At the time no one seemed interested in hiring a veteran lacking experience in the business world. So, I did what any ineffective job-seeker does and took a job as a driver for FedEx.
Through my daily rounds, I was now coming into contact with 50 businesses each day. I noticed that some organizations just felt different from others. I wondered why but never really got close enough to figure it out. Eventually I was hired on in the mailroom of one of these major corporations – a highly regarded global enterprise. From this front-row seat, I could now observe all the parts of the business up close.
My work area was located across from a core operational team. And here’s where my first pivotal moment occurred, observing this daily rhythm:
|6:00–8:00 AM:||Leaders arrived early to attend to emails & voicemails from frustrated customers and frustrated field reps.|
|The production team arrived and started the normal work day.|
|8:00 AM–5:00 PM:
|Leaders spent most of their day split between meetings and addressing urgent situations, fires, and various crises. The production team went about business as usual.|
|5:00 PM:||The production team went home for the day.|
|6:00–8:00 PM:||Leaders stayed late to attend to emails & voicemails from frustrated customers and frustrated field reps.|
I asked myself, “Who would want that? Who would want to be a leader in this organization?” Secondarily, I wondered: Why are there so many issues? Why do customers continue to do business with us? Isn’t there some way to get ahead of all this?
From my mailroom position, I was eventually promoted up into the business. One of my fellow mailroom employees was an exceptionally quiet man named Bill. Bill kept to himself and went about his business of delivering mail to employees every day.
Not long after I had moved to my desk job, Bill stopped by my cubicle one afternoon and just started talking. He talked about his time serving in World War II (?) and shared some deeply personal and moving experiences. I was honored that he chose to share his story with me, but even more so, I was struck by the realization that Bill was actually a hero. He wasn’t someone who needed corporate coaching or help managing his time. He wasn’t defined by his role as a mailroom clerk. That was a pivotal realization for me. We all have our full lives that we manage and run outside of our work roles. We are people first.
My third pivotal moment came a few months later. I was given the chance to manage the Microfiche team (remember microfiche?). The team was made up of about 40 people and was locked off on a specific floor of the building for security reasons. I stopped by to meet the team after taking the position and was asked to say a few words. I started to talk about my previous pivotal moments (see above) and several people started to cry. Alarmed, I stopped and asked, “OK, what’s going on here guys?”
One of the employees looked at me and said, “Your predecessor oversaw this team for 5 years, during which time, he came up to this floor, twice. Both times to announce layoffs.” It struck me then, how significant it is to be present with your teams and to let them know they’re supported and that you understand their challenges. So often, we look first to our people to see what’s going wrong. I wanted to look at the process and technology supporting them, so I could enable the team to be successful.
These are the moments and experiences that have shaped my career. I spent the next 20 years focused on how I could help leaders change how work gets done—and searching for those ways of doing business that would create better experiences and outcomes for customers, employees, and shareholders.