As Morales Group Inc. began to grow, Tomas Morales realized that not all of his employees were up to the challenges posed by a larger, growing company.
“Growth really gives them an opportunity to see whether they fit or don’t fit,” Morales says.
Parting ways with employees who don’t match up with the company’s needs is never easy, but a CEO should avoid letting the moves become personal.
“I used to see it as I’m letting my people down, or I didn’t supply them with what they needed,” Morales says. “But what I really found was, in reality, I was not doing them a favor by just keeping them on.”
The work force development service provider has grown from $800,000 in 2003 to $15 million in 2006 with 30 employees.
Smart Business spoke with the founder, president and CEO about getting employees to see their work as more than just a job.
Q: How do you get employees to buy in to your plan?
We’ve had a very open philosophy with sharing our numbers and metrics. Things have to be measured. Whatever goals are set, you want some sort of metrics that will show that. When there is sharing of information, there’s always some sort of food or fiesta that is occurring. We have our lunch-and-learn (meetings) or town-hall meetings or little question-and-answer sessions.
It allows them to share in the growth of the company. They believe they are a part of it, and they are not just a certain piece that doesn’t know what is going on.
One of my activities I do almost every day is that I go around almost shaking everybody’s hand or at least saying good morning. I want people to understand where they stand.
In any of the operations or administrative meetings, one of the things we try and do is give them a picture of where they have been, where they are, and where we need to go. It’s a constant reinforcement. We have priority cards. I’ll pick two or three individuals out of the day and say, ‘Show me your priority card.’ They’ll show me, and on that card is a list of five items that are their priority for that day or that week. All that we’re trying to do is make sure we’re all paddling in the same direction.
Q: How do you attract good employees?
It’s got to be a position that allows them growth, allows them to see that there is some satisfaction in what they are doing. We talk about fun, and I think too many times we lose sight of that. People really do want to have that enjoyment. It’s not just an emotional feeling. Whether it’s a project, whether it’s the ability to position certain individuals, whatever that might be, that fun characteristic needs to be a big part of it. I’ve seen the enjoyment and the laughter that goes along with it.
Q: How do you deal with failure?
Failure is an excellent opportunity to learn, to adapt and to refine. More importantly, I don’t repeat that same experience.
Identify what the mistake really is. It’s not about you should have done this or should have done that. In their minds, we’ll preface it with a prerequisite that they were not trying to do something bad. They weren’t trying to make a mistake. Based on the information that they’ve got, this is what they came up with, good or bad.
What we have to do is help them identify how they received this information and why it doesn’t fit. I learn more from failure than success. I just don’t want to learn too much.
Q: What skills can help a CEO succeed?
Be quick to decide and act. Too many times, we talk about analysis paralysis. Decisions need to be made. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they are wrong. Hopefully, we’re making it right once in awhile. We don’t ever know that all the time. Too many times, no decision really is as bad as a bad decision.
Too many times, we don’t want to deal with the conflict. The customer doesn’t want to hear what he is doing wrong. But if it’s based on the fact that you’re just giving him the yes-man situation, I don’t think you’re serving that customer well.
When we do look at the customer, we want to understand that their willingness to accept our service is sometimes based on how clearly we state the need that they have. We talk about pain in sales. What does that really mean? What is their real need? Until that pain is so great, they don’t make too many changes.
HOW TO REACH: Morales Group Inc., (317) 472-7600 or www.moralesgroup.net