Constructing your company isn’t all that different from constructing a building to house your company: You need to begin with a strong foundation.
At The Cimarron Group, that is exactly what Bob Farina strives to do.
The co-founder, owner and CEO of the marketing and advertising firm — which generated more than $30 million in revenue in 2008 — says a strong foundation starts with the principles set by the head of the company. A leader must give employees the resources to perform their jobs, a sense of purpose within the organization and mediums through which they can communicate their thoughts and concerns.
“You have to believe in the team, trust them to do what is necessary for success, and you have to give them the support and the resources to get the job done,” Farina says. “I like to give people an idea of what the goals are and let them figure out the best ways to accomplish it.”
Smart Business spoke with Farina about how you can lay a foundation that supports your employees.
Get your people involved. The more people are invested in a plan, the more they put their heart and soul into it, the better the results will be. It is really important to be decisive. I tell my staff that you may not always get the answer that you like, but you’ll get an answer immediately. Leading a person to not have an answer or to just sit around and wait for something is never helpful.
Simply stated, it’s communication. You have to sit down and talk to them. You have to listen to them. It’s not a matter of telling. It’s a matter of describing your ideas, what the goals are and working with them to get there. If you just dictate things, people don’t care. You have to get them involved.
Face-to-face communication is the most important form. I walk the floors twice a day. I see people and talk to them. I ask them how projects are going, are there any issues, are they getting enough support, are they getting enough help. It is always good to get their opinions on things. You don’t always have to agree with them, but you do have to listen. As I said, if you listen to them, they become more invested.
Make communication a dialogue. Don’t lecture your employees when you communicate. Always engage your employees in dialogue and solicit feedback from them. Listen to what people have to say. Good ideas sometimes come from the most unlikely places. When you talk to people, collect your thoughts, and it’s always important to be sure that when you talk to people, that they understand what you’re talking about, that they understand what you are saying. Sometimes you can shortcut something in your head, you think the message is clear, but they don’t get it. In a face-to-face dialogue, you can sit down, look at people’s faces and tell whether or not they are understanding something.
A lot of my ability to read people comes from 30 years of experience. I know what is required to get the job done in many cases. If someone is sitting around, they’re at a roadblock and can’t get to where they need to be, you know there is a problem. That’s when you sit down and ask them what is the problem. It all comes back to good communication, asking people what they need to get the job done.
If you ask them, listen to what they have to say and respond to them, they start to build trust. If you give them the tools they need, they don’t feel like they’re out there floundering somewhere. They know that they’re supported and that they can trust you, which is really what it’s all about.
We have regular technology meetings here at the company, where every division comes in, sits down and tells us what they need on a weekly basis. So we engage in that kind of dialogue on a regular basis. We look at the projects and work that is coming in and we come right out and ask them if they have the resources they need. So we try to stay a step ahead of them.
Set a positive example. Focusing employees on your company goals starts with a strong corporate culture. When you get people to understand what the goals are and you ask them to participate and you get them invested in it, they’ll come along with it. If they have a problem, they’ll tell you, but they’ll come along with it. If we’re going to do something, I’m going to go around and tell everyone exactly what we’re doing and why I’m doing it and what the benefit to them is, how they will become part of something bigger and better. When we successfully launched the agency, I had a party here and thanked our entire staff for the success of traffic.
When people feel like they’ve contributed and they’re being thanked for it, they’ll do it again. Public acknowledgement is a great motivator. We have ways that we bonus people, but when someone is singled out in front of their peers, when their work and success is acknowledged, that is probably the best motivator. I think everybody likes to feel like they’ve contributed to the success of something. When their supervisor or boss or the owner of the company singles them out, it makes them feel good. Great motivation techniques really add to someone’s personal feeling of accomplishment.
How to reach: The Cimarron Group, (323) 337-0300 or www.cimarrongroup.com