Seek out passionate people.
We hire people that are passionate about what the company does. We’ve found over time that when people have that passion, they perform extremely well and love their job.
A lot of our most successful people are that way. The people that really put in the extra effort are usually those that are passionate about our technologies or our products. They usually work harder and love what they do, so they end up contributing more and then they end up getting promoted.
All employees see that, so typically it builds a culture around that love of the product, creativity (and) innovation.
Support your employees.
Give them the power to make good decisions and give them the resources they need. Be there to help them when they have a tough time with something.
We have weekly meetings to talk about the various projects ... and they have an opportunity to say, ‘I need help with this,’ ‘Can we meet with the customer?’ ‘I need an extra bit of money’ or ‘I need an extra person to achieve this objective.’
We have a pretty open communication style here where people come forward and say, ‘Here’s what I need to get things done,’ and I’ll get them done.
Discover what you’re truly good at.
If you don’t know what you’re good at, if you haven’t defined what you’re good at or that which you can be world-best at, if you haven’t determined what that is, then you’ll probably end up not being very good at anything.
Particularly for a smaller company, you have to determine what you’re going to be world-best at, what you’re going to build a culture around ... and then get after it. If you don’t do that, then you’ll end up floundering. That’s the only way you’re going to build passion with the people in your company.
Build trust in good times and bad.
The important thing to understand about relationships is that when things go well, it’s easy to manage a relationship.
While we strive for zero errors, we also have to be realistic in knowing that sometimes errors do occur. What really separates a great company is what you do when that happens.
If you have a long-term relationship with someone - this is probably true in both personal and business life - you’re going to run into a couple of bumps in the road. And the truly great companies are the ones that separate themselves by handling those bumps well.
If things go wrong, you build trust by living up to objectives, so if you tell them something is going to happen by a date and it will cost the following amount, then it has to meet those objectives. That’s how you build trust on one level.
The next level is, when something does go awry, you level with them. Tell them the truth. ‘Here’s what happened, and here’s how we’re going to fix the problem.’
Create systems to meet your goals.
Just saying, ‘I’m going to grow sales 18 to 20 percent a year’ is not good enough. You have to figure out how.
It’s also difficult for employees to ... get to the top of that hill if they can’t understand how it is they’re going to get there. If they know what our strengths are, they build on those strengths, and then they can reach for that vision of the future.
And the ‘how’ here is fostering innovation, because that’s what leads to great products that customers then look at and say, ‘I want to buy more of those.’
We have programs here where employees submit ideas, and then they’re screened by a group of people here not necessarily just senior management but a group of folks who focus on this innovation, and then they’re rewarded for those ideas.
We don’t keep it just at the executive level ... or only in the product development group. We encourage and reward employees across the company regardless of their function or area of expertise.
Lead by example.
A lot of times in life you’ll see people give presentations, but you wonder if they actually perform what they’re saying. It’s important to reinforce your message to employees by actually living that way.
In other words, managers here need to roll up their sleeves, and if they encourage people to act in a certain way or do certain things, then they need to do them themselves. We talk the talk and we walk the walk.
Always be aware of the competition.
Staying on top of the trends in the marketplace is a responsibility of everyone here in the company. We stay ahead of the curve through personal experience.
We actually encourage people on our team to purchase and play with the cutting-edge products in the market - and in those markets that are adjacent to ours so that they can see what (is) state-of-the-art. It spawns more innovative or creative ideas on how we can make our technology better.
That’s how you come up with innovation. You experience your own frustration with a product, and you come up with a new idea to help make it better.
HOW TO REACH: Universal Electronics Inc., www.uei.com