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Tortoise Capital Advisors

Tortoise employees use a different set of skills to get serious in the kitchen of their local Ronald McDonald House, helping to prepare and serve delicious meals to families staying there.

Tapping into each worker's "genius zone' pays off for the firm and the employee

First place, alternative managers

Tortoise Capital Advisors LLC is in search of employees' genius zones.

The “genius zone” is where an individual's job skills and passion intersect, a point that also creates value for the company, said H. Kevin Birzer, CEO and co-founder of Tortoise Capital, which has 66 U.S. employees.

The idea is not new at Tortoise Capital, which is making its third appearance in Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work in Money Management survey. But this year the master limited partnership manager applied the genius zone idea firmwide. Top executives attempted to zero in on each employee's genius zone and then shift the employee's responsibilities to take advantage of it, Mr. Birzer said.

“There were a lot of people in slots they were good at but it was not their passion,” he said. “Now we put them in slots where they can uniquely excel given their backgrounds.”

So, for instance, a few analysts who were good at their jobs but didn't love them took on business development roles — and they excelled. “They hit the cover off the ball,'' Mr. Birzer said.

A person in the zone is high-energy and highly motivated, added Connie Savage, managing director and chief operating officer.

At the same time, Leawood, Kan.-based Tortoise Capital tried to make a results-orientated work environment.Top executives encourage employees to work from home or a coffee shop whenever they want.

Tortoise Capital also started a fun lunch program.

So far, the firm has had Hawaiian shirt day complete with a contest, a pet parade in which everyone submitted photos of their pets, a Halloween costume party and a potluck tailgate lunch in which everyone wore their favorite team jersey to work, Ms. Savage noted.

“We a want people to come in with a spring in their step and fully engaged to better service our clients,” Mr. Birzer said. “If people are not motivated, it will show.”

This article originally appeared in the December 12, 2016 print issue as, "Tortoise Capital Advisors".