By Terry Thompson and Jason Kipps.
Terry: Our story begins about 8 years ago. As part owner and general manager of a growing company that had succeeded in expanding across Canada my company was reasonably profitable. The prospects were very bright. We were bringing new services to the market and the market potential was significant. However not all things were as rosy as we would have liked them to be. I was working 60 to 75 hours per week, management and operations turnover was high, and we were not as profitable as I thought we should be. I believed that we had good corporate culture (whatever that meant to me at the time), the clients loved us, and we had good people. So what were the issues that nagged at me but couldn’t put my finger on?
The answers to my concerns were identified when we completed a client survey and an employee survey and began working with outside consultants.
The client survey confirmed that the clients did love us with 97% stating that they would recommend our services to other companies. However, to our surprise it wasn’t because we were great at what we did (the clients only rated us as average with respect to our people and the quality of our service). They loved us because of the strength of our concept – i.e. we were the only company who could provide the type of services that we did. Further, the employee survey showed that we had only average corporate culture. In this case, corporate culture was measured by the level of our “employee engagement”.
These significant findings caused me to reflect seriously as to how this had happened and what path we should follow to correct the situation. At that time we had a significant competitive advantage via the uniqueness and value of the services that we offered but with only average execution we would be open to competitive pressures in the future. It was at about this time that we begun working with Jason Kipps to help us align out business goals with our talent strategy.
The path we followed in response to these revelations and several strategic planning sessions took place over a number of years and was extremely successful as evidenced by:
- Being named Canada’s 7th best company to work for in a highly regarded national survey
- Being named as one of Canada’s 50 best managed companies
- Continuing to grow the company (and improve profitability) at a double digit rate during Canada’s worst recession since the Great Depression
- Reducing my work load to 30 to 35 hours per week and significantly improving my “fun” factor
- A 300% reduction in voluntary turnover over an 8 month period
- Selling the company to a private equity firm at a very attractive price (and thereby allowing me to retire and write articles like this)
In these articles, Jason and I will describe the path we took to achieve these wins in bite-sized pieces. Our hope is that you can have the tools to achieve the same goals much earlier and with less stress in your career and your company’s life than I did.