Create a friendly work environment. People seek out others that they are comfortable with. They must be motivated to work with clients to bring new ideas to the table. They must believe they are in a very entrepreneurial environment, which allows them to think freely and speak freely. It really starts at the top with the CEO.
The CEO must have a vision that people in the company can relate to in terms of the company’s goals and where the CEO is taking the company. But they also have to relate to it in terms of their own progress and their own goals. If they feel motivated to participate and work long hours and weekends, it’s because they believe in the vision.
We meet and visit with every new employee that comes into our company. Our HR director will sometimes put a welcome mat in front of their office. We introduce them not just to the people in their department where they are, but she’ll take them all around the agency. Even if our door is closed, she’ll knock on the door and introduce us to this new employee, and we’ll visit with each of them.
We actually walk the halls, not in a systematic basis, but on a regular basis a couple of times a day. We try to have one-onone discussions with our people and talk to them about their problems. We try to help each other.
Make the interview process challenging. We really spend a lot of time looking at people’s backgrounds and their relationships and where they came from. We ask them a lot of questions about themselves and about what they have accomplished.
What are some of the best things they have done in their life? What they are proud of? We ask them what mistakes they have made and what they would do over if they had a chance.
People need to feel that what they contribute to the company will, in fact, help them in their success, as well. We look for individuals who are motivated and that want to better their lives. We look for people that don’t have bureaucratic and political motivations. We look for people that have entrepreneurial underpinning.
Deliver the vision to everyone. Have a vision for the business and be able to communicate that vision to the lowest level, to everyone in the company and not just a few people at the top. Our associates should understand where we want to go and where we believe that this business should be taken.
While it may be hard work, our business is full of change. We have to get people that want to support that. We need their help to take us through.
Having dreams and having the vision are a little different. A dream is something that may not come to fruition. A vision for a company is something that can and should come to fruition if properly communicated and properly motivated to the organization.
On a biweekly basis, we have meetings in our atrium. Openness is very important. We talk about our goals and what we’re trying to achieve. We tell them about the business, tell them where our plans are and talk about the future. We try to use that as an open forum.
Be a good listener. You have to be able to work together. So many entrepreneurs have a good idea, but they don’t listen. You have to seek out good advice.
Start with a good plan and seek out good advice from people that you respect. Make sure that you have a product or a business that is unique and understand that you will now be on a new plateau in your life. If you’re a successful entrepreneur, you probably will be consumed by your business over the short period of time and maybe over the longer period of time.
Understand that fear may not be an enemy, but it may be one of your best motivators. Fear of failure can be an extremely strong motivating device.
If you’re not open and if you don’t listen and if you’re not willing to change what you’re doing today and do something different tomorrow and do it better, then you might as well retire and go home.
Never lose sight of your reputation. A good reputation is never accomplished overnight. It’s usually one that is earned and not sought. It’s one that people bestow on you, not one you take upon yourself.
It is earned in other people’s eyes before it becomes a reality in your own company. It’s one of those fine intangibles that gets word-of-mouth treatment by your clients or by media or vendors or people who call upon you. They are the people that really spread your reputation.
Unfortunately, a reputation takes many months and years to build. At the same time, it can be eroded very quickly. I don’t think reputations are typically destroyed. They are eroded over time by changes in management, changes in significant policies and by the management in companies embracing earnings per share as their principal objective, as opposed to growth of the company through good practice.
Once you do acquire a good reputation, it’s easy to mistreat that. A good brand takes many years to establish. But once a company stops either managing the brand in a positive way or not managing it at all and maximizing the profitability of that brand, the brand will begin to erode. Having a good reputation is a constant process of making certain that you’re investing into the company’s future in a positive way and not draining the resources for a short-term gain.
HOW TO REACH: Fogarty Klein Monroe, www.fkmagency.com or (713) 862-5100