There’s a fine line between being a hands-on leader and being an intrusive micromanager. Tom Mosure, chairman and president of ms consultants inc., says executives need to understand their industry and develop an information network to monitor their company’s direction. His 320-employee firm provides engineering, architecture and planning services for the transportation, environmental, architecture, commercial and construction markets. The firm had $34.3 million in 2006 revenue, and Mosure expected a flat 2007. The company has offices in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina and Florida; its sister company, ms consultants international, recently opened a United Arab Emirates office. Smart Business spoke with Mosure on how taking growth slow and steady helps him win the race.
Create an entrepreneurial environment. Everybody needs to be a stakeholder in providing good services to your clients, and everyone should be engaged in the quality of what you’re doing. Everyone should have a vested interest in your growth and your success. You do that by providing people with information on how you’re doing and how they’re doing on their specific assignments. Don’t hide information from people about sales, project budgets and leads.
The more information people have at their disposal about their performance and successes, the better they’ll do. You can’t do very well in a vacuum.
A lot of people like the ability to have entrepreneurship as part of the day-to-day philosophy and attitude of the company.
Make employee education a priority. We believe in continuing education, training and involvement with trade associations, national committees and writing papers those are all incentive programs for employees here. We’ve been doing that for years, and our employees are aware that we encourage it.
There are not enough young people coming into technical education areas to fill the voids, so you have to have a system in place. We just visited 12 universities and their career fairs. We’re trying to bring in young people, train them in the ms way and develop the skills through their careers.
Don’t be afraid to change your business concept. We used to have branch managers who reported to a regional vice president and then to myself. About four or five years ago, we changed that to a sector-based organization with 20 different technical service areas.
We’ve become better because we’re focused on the quality of that individual sector. We’ve also seen good results in internal coordination. People are working together and going to the right people for the right answers. We’ve developed standards in each of these units that’ll assist in our efficiency.
Companies focus on improving the business of their clients. The better you understand your clients’ problems and concerns, the better you can deliver expert knowledge to them. You learn and improve every day, and you maintain a focus. In the long run, the name of the game is keeping your clients happy and satisfied.
Seek information, but stay on track. You have to keep tabs on the trends of the various industries, and with that knowledge of the industry and society in general, you’re able to predict and be in a place that the world’s going to go. You can look at a number of different indicators, but eventually, you’ve got to make a choice.
You can’t be everything to everybody, so you’ve got to lock down on that understanding of your business, make those necessary decisions and pick that direction. You might tinker with it and refine the exactness of it, but stay focused on what you’re trying to accomplish.
I often say that I’m a tortoise, not a hare. I’m in for the long haul, not for the short gain. You have to look at your business for the long-term; where will that business be, and will it be sustainable?
You can do a lot of things, but if there’s no market for it, then what value is that? There’s not going to be growth if there’s no market for it. Sustainability is the key.
Learn from being a mentor. Everybody gets mentored every day by their life experiences. It’s very important that all managers keep in mind that they are mentors, whether they believe it or not. You’re sending a message; the question is, which message are you sending?
There’s a saying: God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason; you should listen twice as much as you talk. Knowledge and good ideas are not something that is constrained by position. You can pick up nuggets of good ideas and information from everyone.
Uncover your employees’ skills. When I was a young man, I always thought in business that everybody was trainable in a lot of different skills. One of the things I’ve learned is that everybody has a skill that can fit into the team. The leader has to identify what those skills are and get the right people in the right places.
How do you frame an organization that allows the best skills of the team to come through? You need to establish your organization to identify those types of issues and deal with them; it’s not easy. It starts with hiring but that’s just the beginning. It’s more in the day-to-day performance.
Establish strong relationships with your managers. As a leader, you establish the framework of the system, and that’s carried forth through your organization. When you have 50 employees, you can do that personally but as the company grows, you can’t do that as an individual.
Part of having a good relationship with your managers is communicating and engaging with them. You have to continually communicate what your vision is. That extends not just to where you want to be in the marketplace but also to your day-to-day internal operations and philosophies. That vision is what keeps people happy, wanting to stay around, wanting to grow and doing good things. That’s how it all comes together.
HOW TO REACH: ms consultants inc., (614) 898-7100 or www.msconsultants.com