Photo courtesy of Kohler Co.
When Elisabeth Teskie joined the team at Kohler Co. nearly four years ago as Massage Lead of Lodge Kohler — the company’s just-built upmarket hotel and spa center in Green Bay, Wisconsin — she knew it was a career-defining chance.
Teskie is, as she puts it, someone who has “always loved the ability within the service industry to make a guest’s day extraordinary.” She knew she wanted to continue making people’s days special, but to do so in a way that also afforded her some clear leadership and advancement opportunities. She found that at Lodge Kohler.
“It’s very rare for growth into management and retirement planning to be provided by spas or salons,” she said. “Kohler offers incredible opportunities and benefits to associates in hospitality… Kohler offered me not only the vision of furthering my career but also, through Kohler Learning Academy, the education in management to set me and the whole massage team up for success.”
Quickly, Teskie was offered a promotion to be the lodge’s Groups and Events Coordinator, and today she’s able to blend her knowledge of the company’s sister spa properties and hotel to create wellness-centric events that delight. She wouldn’t be able to achieve all that, she added, if Kohler didn’t support her managerial style of “leading by example and with the heart, expecting the best from every person, and finding connection with others.”
Recently, Teskie shared with us her tips for those who hope to advance their careers in similarly emotionally intelligent ways, as well as what’s helped her keep learning.
How long have you been with Kohler Co.? What about it made you first want to join?
I have been with Kohler for three and a half years. When the building of Lodge Kohler was announced, its reputation of being a strong employer with room to grow from my current position made it highly desirable. It’s very rare for growth into management and retirement planning to be provided by spas or salons. Kohler offers incredible opportunities and benefits to associates in hospitality.
Tell me about the roles that you’ve held at your company, as well as your current one. What about this role most excites you?
I started my career with Kohler as the Massage Lead. With 17 years of experience in the industry, I was well versed in industry standards — as an employee. I desired a leadership role and progression into management, and my path with Kohler was clear. Kohler offered me not only the vision of furthering my career but also, through Kohler Learning Academy, the education in management to set me and the whole massage team up for success. After that, I was offered a position as Groups and Events Coordinator. I have always loved the ability within the service industry to make a guest’s day extraordinary. Through this position, I have the opportunity to create a day with the guest offering a pristine and memorable experience for the entire group. This role has groomed me for my further succession into management. I was also able to participate in Kohler’s LEAD program with other managers from different departments to gain a broader view of all that my future roles may entail.
How did Kohler make it possible for you to work interdepartmentally?
I have been able to experience not only our sister spa properties, to observe and learn what is working for them, but also to experience the hotel side. I have worked to create wellness events with our food and beverage outlets and coordinate across departments to delight guests. Open communication and breaking down barriers has been a focus of Kohler’s culture evolution, and my experience is that this is happening.
What’s something you’re especially good at work?
I have been very successful at building trust and loyalty within my team and throughout the spa. I believe that leading by example and with heart, expecting the best intentions from every person, and finding connection with others have helped me with this.
What tools or resources does Kohler provide employees in terms of professional development opportunities (tuition reimbursement, training, online courses, etc.)?
Kohler offers tuition reimbursement for associates looking to join the massage team. We have four members of the spa team that are graduating from our inaugural class in December.
All departments in the spa also receive free education on both our products and new skills to enhance our trade. In my time with Kohler, our spa teams have participated in free training offered in holistic and advanced services such as cupping, singing bowls, Hydrafacial and reflexology, along with countless others.
How have you been able to use these to your advantage?
Free education for associates not only enhances the guest experience, it keeps our team engaged and builds loyalty. It allows us to come together across locations and see the larger vision of hospitality.
How is this type of support reflective of the overall culture at Kohler?
Kohler’s core competencies are: Build Trust, Set a High Standard of Performance, Drive Continuous Improvement and Focus on the End Customer. I cannot think of a better way to do this than through the answers I have given above.
What advice do you have for other women who are looking to develop and grow their skill sets?
Accepting feedback and learning from failure have been crucial to my career development. This was a difficult skill set for me to learn. I truly had to change my mindset on feedback from one of avoidance to a true desire for it. It has allowed me to advance with greater speed and overcome obstacles with ease.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
My current manager is truly my mentor. Her best quality is her transparency when delivering feedback. It is very clear that she has the best intentions for her team and she has a vision for our advancement. She leads with kindness and passion.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Learn from every experience, both positive and your failures. Ask yourself: what did I learn? How can I improve next time? How can I duplicate that great result? Never stop learning.
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