Does your company’s performance ebb and flow in response to the economic, environmental or global influences? Or, does it consistently demonstrate top level performance regardless of the direction and whim of these influences?
Can your company struggling to achieve its goals with the current employees? Or, does your company’s culture foster employee engagement, innovation, empowerment and teamwork, making it easier to exceed the goals?
While collecting information for the subject of this article, I had the opportunity to speak with several business leaders in the area. Each of their companies have been publically and privately recognized for their top level performance. Being recognized “privately” refers to customers rewarding them with a steady increase in business growth.
During the discussion with each business leader, it was easy to pick up on the common themes – all of which are possible in any business, none of which occur by happenstance.
It’s all about the people
For the past 7 years, ALL4, Inc., based in Kimberton, PA, has been recognized by Inc 5000 as one of the fastest growing private companies in the US. And, if that isn’t impressive enough, they started at #7 on the “Best Places to Work in PA” list in 2009, and continue to move up their position, reaching #2 in 2014. These are just two of the many awards ALL4 received for being a great place to work.
Bill Straub, Principal Consultant, and one of the firm’s founders, said “it starts with hiring.” This environmental consulting firm specializes in air quality, hiring well, and growing and developing every person on their team. From the recruiting process, to the in-house university training concept, to the ongoing performance feedback – every employee is connected to the mission, vision and core values, and feels empowered to do their job and make decisions on behalf of the firm.
After 13+ years, the company leaders still have the “fire in their bellies” and passion for the business, because of the healthy and dynamic culture they’ve been able to build and sustain.
The right people add value to the organization
Gregg Ciocca, CEO of Ciocca Dealerships, said “we’re an overnight success that took us 38 years to get there.” Gregg credits their success to the “3-legged stool” concept – “employee satisfaction + customer satisfaction = profitability.” In order to support that concept, the leadership team continually reinforces empowerment with the 600+ employees working in their 9 locations.
Ciocca Dealerships is on an aggressive growth track. Hiring well, and putting the right people in the right positions, is critical in keeping the organization’s culture healthy and thriving. But, Gregg confesses that “sometimes it is difficult to recruit new employees because of the perception of our industry.”
During the screening process, candidates get an in-depth view of a career path that includes extensive training, coaching and mentoring on the – who, what, where, when, and WHY of the organization and the industry. If they are the right candidate, they will soon see the value in the organization, and the value they can bring to the organization.
An emphasis on education
Born in a dorm room at Penn State University almost 20 years ago, Listrak, is a high-tech, Omnichannel Solutions Company that supports digital marketing campaigns. Ross Kramer, Listrak’s Founder and CEO, attributes their success to the recruiting, hiring and training techniques used in their Lititz, PA based firm. Not unlike, ALL4 and Ciocca Dealerships, they also find it difficult to recruit. “The best people have jobs, so we look to recruit in places where people have been displaced by mergers or similar situations,” offered Ross.
Once a candidate is selected, onboarding and ongoing training is paramount. Ross explained that “training is huge at Listrak. Our associates participate in Listrak University for e-learning, mentoring and leadership development programs.” Associates participate in these programs throughout their career at Listrak.
The company has a focused vision and shared values that define their culture and day-to-day interactions. This takes the guesswork out of commitments to each other, and keeps everyone on the same page.
Each of these companies share several factors that continue to help them be top performing companies. Putting these factors in place will not guarantee that your company could survive and thrive during a great depression, or the many twists and turns we face in a global marketplace. But, it seems fair to say that if you and your company develop and maintain a solid environment within the company, it will stand a better chance of surviving and thriving the good, bad and ugly times.
Making it happen
As the company’s leader, it’s up to you to inspire:
When you benchmark your company’s performance, look beyond the sales and profitability. When we only focus on the numbers, the people become a commodity, and lose their real value.
Take a hard look at your company’s culture and the alignment of the people to the culture. Anything and everything is possible when they are in alignment. It takes hard work to become a top performing company, but it is well worth the journey. Plant the seeds, make adjustments, grow the people, reap the harvest, and feel great about the achievements.