The one constant in business is that nothing ever stays constant. Jeffrey Tinsley has firsthand experience on that front.
In February, Tinsley relaunched the former Reunion.com as MyLife.com Inc., a brand that better reflected the company’s growth from a high school reunion site to a broader form of social networking.
But with the launch of MyLife.com, Tinsley — the founder, chairman and CEO of the company that generated $52 million in revenue last year — was faced with a multitude of transitional tasks, not the least of which involved bringing the company’s 120 employees on board with a new brand and new strategy.
“That is really the one constant here in any business, that things are going to change and evolve, and we’re always going to try to evolve the business in a positive way,” Tinsley says. “We had to coordinate a number of teams and people across this entire organization to make it happen over many, many months. It wasn’t just something that happened overnight.”
Smart Business spoke with Tinsley about how you can focus your employees on common goals.
Hire to evolve; train to evolve. It starts with new people joining the organization. I have an orientation meeting with new people to start, and within that meeting, we do a number of things. We talk about the business, the opportunities of the market and what we’re going to focus on. We take people through the individual departments, how they impact the business and drive us toward the goals of the organization. We even get down right into values, what do we believe in here. We believe in open, honest communication, collaboration, yielding the best possible results, the best possible opportunities, and we believe in evolution, that things are going to change and that we’re going to embrace change.
It really starts with good, solid orientation that shows what the company is about, your opportunities and how you’re going to operate as a business. It’s a really great way to get people on board.
Show your purpose. When anyone joins a company, one of the important decision-making factors in joining that company is feeling like you are joining a business that is providing a great product or service and a business that has the chance to be successful. For the people who are part of this business to know that the work they’re putting into making this business successful is actually paying off is something that is very positive. It reaffirms for many people why they joined up in the first place. Nobody wants to be a part of an organization that is struggling. They want to be a part of a company that is making consistent progress and is winning in their particular category.
That’s what we’ve done. We’re making consistent progress, even with the state of the economy, and we want to share that with our people so that they continue to be excited that they are a part of a growing, thriving business.
Facilitate communication. You have to communicate, which is what we really believe in here. That starts with helping people on a broad basis understand the thinking behind the change. Reiterating to the whole company what you’re focused on as a business, where the opportunities lay and how making the shift will better position your company for achieving the goals of the business. It’s very important to help the teams and different individuals in the company understand their roles in that evolution and helping them understand how they impact your progress against your internal objectives.
The leaders have a very important role in helping their pieces of the organization understand the overall objectives of the business and how they relate to the areas of responsibility in that group. They’re obviously breaking down to another level of detail what the priorities and actions are that are going to drive toward the overall goal. Those leaders need to provide the feedback necessary that shows how the team is progressing in relation to the overall company goals. They’re taking the higher level messages of upper management and bringing it to another, more consumable level for the individual team members. Our leaders are no different. They consistently communicate with their groups. Some groups in the organization are meeting on a daily basis.
It goes back to making it part of our culture and making it a natural part of the way we operate here.
You just can’t be open and honest and direct enough. It’s another one of our values that is part of our entire intake orientation process. We talk about the importance of open, honest communication, even if it hurts sometimes. As long as that communication is done respectfully, people need to share openly and not look back. At the end of the day, people are trying to make the business and make each other successful, and the way you do that is by working well together. And you do that by sharing openly and without hesitation.
Give employees their say. You also need to develop feedback channels for employees. At a minimum, within the monthly meetings we’re sharing everything we possibly can about the progress, from a key metrics and financial perspective to the external feedback from consumers, analysts and others that are having conversations about the business. All of that is communicated in these monthly meetings.
Taking it to another level, each of the teams within the business are looking at detailed feedback mechanisms, which include customer feedback and actual key metrics that they’re tracking on a daily basis. I actually do involve myself on a consistent basis with various teams across the board, just to check in and make sure that every group has their questions answered as to our organizational direction.
How to reach: MyLife.com Inc., (310) 571-3144 or www.mylife.com