Elaine C. Myrback trusts and empowers her employees, but she’ll step in to help if necessary, even catching the next flight out to meet a client to discuss a potential contract. Above all, the president and CEO of EMS Consulting an Enterprise Resource Planning consulting service and its subsidiary, Intelligent Chaos, wants to make sure her customers’ expectations are being met.
It’s a fine line between being an involved CEO and treading on your employees’ toes, Myrback says, and she tries very hard not to cross it.
“You want to believe in your people; you want to give them the latitude but guide them as needed,” she says.
Under Myrback’s guidance, the 115-employee company posted 2006 revenue of $17.8 million.
Smart Business spoke with Myrback about why growing your business can be like spinning plates.
Q. How do you attract quality employees?
When you’re in a growth-oriented mode, you continue to go out and touch base and meet as many different candidates as you can. The success comes from being consistent in interviewing candidates and knowing where the right person fits. It’s like a puzzle, making sure you have the right skills and capabilities in people and putting them in a position where they can be successful.
You have to make sure you give them a dynamic environment where they can have personal development. They’re encouraged to have that creativity, and they are rewarded for it.
Q. How do you create that environment?
It’s a very competitive environment because people get rewarded for their hard work. People see that, so they want to be rewarded, too. You end up raising the standards. If you have that kind of positive momentum in the organization, it really attracts good people.
Q. Once you’ve got them, how do you retain employees?
If they are some of the key management people, they have a stake in it. They are a shareholder. They see the bonus potential if we all hit our objectives.
By people being happy in that dynamic environment we create, it keeps people for a while. That way, it’s challenging; it’s not boring. There are always some new things to learn or try to conquer.
People need challenges.
The more intellectual folk are always looking for challenges.
Q. How do you empower your employees?
I really trust in the employees to make the right decisions. I still take the responsibility overall for those decisions that are being made, but I give them the latitude to have the creativity and run this like it was their own organization.
I give them a bit of the framework of what we’re trying to accomplish, where our vision is, where we need to go. Give them a bit of a starter kit to help them be a little more assertive in the areas they need to focus on. It gives them a chance to prove themselves.
When you give people the space to be able to make their own decisions and they see the results of that, it says a lot.
Something you definitely do not want to do is micromanage. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket. You have to really spread yourself across markets, across people.
Give them the latitude to make their own decisions but also make sure they are responsible for what their decisions
have been by measurement. It all ties into corporate objectives from a profitability and growth standpoint. They all fall in alignment.
Q. How do you keep objectives aligned as the business grows?
If you do a good job in scalability, then you’re able to grow your company in the right way. If you can’t scale the size, then it cripples you.
So from a growth standpoint, how do you scale your key people? How do you get the people behind them to be similar in skills and capability? That is really the challenge.
When you get more opportunities and you sign more contracts, sometimes you realize you haven’t scaled well. You haven’t set up the proper amount of trained resources across the country. So you have to continue to attract, retain and grow, in addition to having an open number of people you feel you need to bring into the organization.
It’s a careful balance; you’re spinning a lot of different plates. When you sign contracts, you have to make sure you’re able to carry them through with enough qualified people in the field. That’s scaling.
Q. How do you plan for scalability in your business?
When you propose and sign contracts, you know what your resource requirements are. You don’t know when you’re getting those, when you get those you have to make sure you have enough people on board, trained and ready to go, and hopefully, those contracts come through. If they don’t then they go to another project.
It’s the whole cycle of managing future growth and sustaining what you currently have.
HOW TO REACH: EMS Consulting, (813) 287-2486 or www.consultems.com