Moving forward

Sometimes when Mark
Pukita wants to be
involved in the decision-making process at Fast Switch
Ltd., he has to ask.

But that’s not because he’s
not at the bottom of the totem
pole; instead, he’s CEO of the
$6 million information technology consultant recruitment
company. Over the years, he’s
worked to empower his 137 employees to make decisions on
their own, something that
they’ve fully embraced it.

“Our thought on giving people the ability to make their
own decisions and live with
them has really been taken to
heart because now I’ve had to
ask to be more involved in the
decision-making rather than
people coming to you and saying, ‘You make the decision for
me,’” Pukita says.

Smart Business spoke with
Pukita about how to convince
people to be decisive and how
to live with the consequences.

Q. What are the keys to successfully growing a company?

You have to learn to be decisive because, in most cases,
there isn’t just one acceptable
answer. If you put off making
decisions to do things that you
believe will grow your business, you won’t grow your

You may not pick the right solution — it’s like there’s 10 ways
to skin a cat. You may not pick
the 10-out-of-10 solution, but
you may pick the eight-out-of-10 solution, which is better
than staying where you are.

Be decisive, and then just go
execute. Don’t procrastinate.
Just go do it. If it doesn’t work
out, then take another path.

Don’t sit there and wring your
hands, ‘Oh, we weren’t successful.’ Just chalk it up to
experience and learn from it,
and move on.

Q. How do you get members
of your management team
to do that?

It depends on the person.
Some people are very decisive
and some people are not. I
think you can teach people to
be more decisive or coax them
and give them the opportunity
to be more decisive.

In some cases, as a
leader, you have to give
them the right environment, if you tell them,
‘Hey, I want you to be
decisive, but if you
make the wrong decision, you’re going to pay
for it, and I mean pay
for it like I’m going to
hold it against you for
the rest of your career,’
people aren’t going to be
very decisive. [Instead]
say, ‘Hey, think about it;
it’s your decision to
make, and we’ll both
deal with whatever the
consequences are. If it
works great, we’ll both
celebrate. If we don’t,
we’ll both take a look at it and
we’ll figure out how to deal
with the issue and move on.’

Be decisive and encourage
your people to be decisive,
but if they end up making a
bad decision every once in
awhile, don’t hold grudges
against them.

Q. How do you get employees
to feel comfortable making

You have to build a relationship with them where they trust you and you trust them,
and you have to explain to
them that you want them to
take over more responsibility
and make those decisions and
you’re not going to hold it
against them.

Certainly, you want to have
the ability to step in, and say,
‘This was a bad decision, I
think it’s time we go in a different direction,’ but at the same
time, you have to communicate
to them that what you really
want to do is allow them to
make their own decisions and live with the results, compensate for them if they were the
wrong decisions, celebrate if
they were the right ones.

In that way, we’re all going to
leverage things because if I get
them to make decisions and
they practice making decisions
and they get good at making
decisions, that allows me to go
out and do more corporate/client
development things and not
have to worry about the piece
of the business that they manage, so everybody benefits
from that. That’s really the
corporate culture. They just
buy in to it and go do it.

Q. How do you deal with

We’re certainly going to
make mistakes in running our
business, but let’s not make
mistakes we’ve seen other
people make in our business.
We try to say, ‘Hey, let’s look at
what other people have done
wrong and not do that.’

There are plenty of opportunities for us to go do things
and not be as crisp as we want
to be, but let’s make new
errors — not old errors. There
are probably things that your
parents told you when they
were raising you that you
thought were just foolish, but
now that you’re a parent, your
parents look like geniuses.
They were right.

It’s that philosophy — let’s
look at what other people
have done, and let’s do what
they’ve done well and not
repeat what they’ve done

Associate Editor Kristy J.
O’Hara also contributed story.

HOW TO REACH: Fast Switch Ltd., (614) 336-1122 or