Marketing maniacs Featured

7:00pm EDT January 29, 2008

Delegating comes easy to Joy Gendusa. The owner, founder and CEO of PostcardMania doesn’t need to be involved in every decision because she knows her management team is quite capable of considering all aspects of a situation, then making an informed decision.

Gendusa’s theme of employee empowerment is woven throughout the $21 million organization, allowing her 163 employees at every level of the postcard direct mail marketing company to make decisions and take action.

Smart Business spoke with Gendusa about why empowerment is important but that the buck still needs to stop with the CEO.

Q. How do you empower your employees?

I’m not a control freak at all. When I put somebody in a position, I expect them to wear that hat as if they are the owner.

I expect them to make decisions based on what they think Joy would do in that situation, and if they get it wrong, I say, ‘Well, you missed the boat on that one. I would have done it this way, but thanks for making an executive decision.’

I’m more appreciative of people taking charge than leaning on me for answers for everything. I say to them, ‘Pretend this is your money: How would you handle it?’

I really do believe in empowering my people at every level to make decisions based on what their post is, what their job is.

Q. How do you create a successful company culture?

We allow zero office politics. There is no back-biting, there is no talking crap about anybody here. You do that, and you are so fired. So if you find yourself getting involved in that sort of thing in your past job, you won’t last here, so you might not want to take this job.

We tell them where it’s at right at the get-go. If you’re going to suck up to someone high up and treat your peers like dirt, you won’t last here.

Everybody wants to know what your benefits package is; you can’t get mad at them for that. But back in the day, I had no benefits package. I hired my best people when I had nothing to offer but a dream. We’re looking for people who want to be part of the dream.

You won’t get there by kissing ass or back-stabbing. You’ll only get there by hard work and good production statistics.

Q. How do you make sure you’re hiring the right employees?

When we interview, the first thing I do is want to disarm the person in the chair. I want them to be comfortable with me, so they’re not showing me their game face; they’re showing me their real face.

Once I get them out of that interviewee mode, and they’re in true communication with me — and I know the difference — then I just talk to them, find out things like what they are the most proud of in their life.

I want to find out about them. If I can’t get them in real communication with me, I’m not hiring them. If you can’t disarm them and get them to be real with you, don’t hire them.

Q. How do you deal with bad decisions?

When I decided to have a business, I decided that I am 100 percent responsible for everything that goes on in this company, whether I touched it personally or not. Bottom line, it’s me.

If someone wants to sue my company for something, it’s because I didn’t know what was going on and I wasn’t proactive enough, so I’m responsible.

I’m the check writer; I’m the one who’s going to go bankrupt if everything dies — nobody else. And I’m the one who makes the biggest amount of money for when things go well. With that, I’m 100 percent responsible.

So when I realize that I was wrong in hiring someone or if I was wrong in agreeing to some decision or if I was wrong in not agreeing to something, then half the battle is knowing you’re responsible. It’s so much easier to take full responsibility than to blame.

Most people who I’ve met in my life, business owners or otherwise, defensively say, ‘It’s because he didn’t show me what this was; if she would have told me; if I had been shown’ — and they get angry. I don’t do that. It’s much easier for me to say, ‘OK, what process is not in place that this wasn’t shown to me?’

I don’t enjoy getting angry. It doesn’t yield any good benefit to me. If I have anybody working for me where I need to get angry for them to produce what I need them to produce, then they don’t work for me anymore. It’s just not what we have going on here.

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