Find the best talent.
My success is dependent on our ability to attract and retain the best talent out there.
The history that the firm had built, a strong reputation, a good culture and taking care of our people and then hiring people that appreciated that, I think being able to build on that foundation is what I would point to. In my case, I am lucky enough to have a father who understood that and built his whole business on it.
Stay in close touch with your staff.
In any business, you can get off track or digress. We spend a fair amount of time talking directly to staff.
I like to talk to every new staff member, because every time you bring a new staff member in, it’s important that they understand what our culture is and what our vision is. So I at least like to be introduced to them and let them hear it firsthand.
We do some informal things, have lunch with staff where we discuss how we’re doing. We spend a fair amount of time trying to get feedback from them and then keeping that vision in front of them all of the time.
Every quarter, we visit the priorities that are going to help us move in that direction. That gives us a framework, if you will, to constantly communicate with everyone, and it’s a never-ending job.
Share your performance with your employees.
We post the metrics every day that are important to the organization how’s the company doing as a whole, how’s my division doing, how are we doing against our critical goals for the quarter.
We use all the electronic forms we can, even though they’re a little less personal. Very frequent e-mails from me to staff, here’s what we’re doing, here’s an update on our progress.
Occasionally, we’ll do staff surveys. We’ll take a cross-section, maybe 25 percent of the staff with very specific questions how are we doing here, how are we doing there, how can we improve. I don’t think that will ever end.
It’s very valuable to get their perceptions. Everybody on staff is involved daily in some opportunity to interact, to identify things that might be in the way of them doing their job.
Hold yourself accountable to your employees.
I have an obligation to everyone who works here to make it work, to make it a better organization, to make sure that they have new challenges and new opportunities.
I think it’s important that you have that sense of accountability back to the people.
We work hard with everyone to understand what it is they enjoy doing. We are, obviously, out there from a business development standpoint pursuing exciting new projects.
As a professional services group, the staff really wants to work on new things, fun things, so we’ve been able to do that, bring some tremendous projects that they really enjoy doing and make the work environment stimulating.
Strive to serve your clients, your employees and your company.
We work very hard at balancing what we need to do to be successful for our clients, give a client what they need to make sure that we meet their schedule and their budget, making sure staff sees that they’re continuing to grow and (that) their success is really the challenge we bring in with the new projects as well as the rewards side of it.
We look at it as those three legs. We’ve got to be successful at each one. We can’t sacrifice one and really achieve our vision for the company. We’ve got to make sure we’re addressing all three of them every day.
Guard your reputation.
One thing we can always fall back on is our reputation, and that’s what we tell our staff. Day in, day out, that’s what’s going to give us opportunity.
We can do everything else right, but if we don’t earn that reputation, nothing else will matter. We’ve got to earn that reputation every day, and we’ve got to go out and earn that opportunity every day.
Learn to sell yourself.
We look at market trends and we spend a fair amount of time talking to clients and listening to what they’re going to need as their needs change and grow.
We have a fairly well-organized marketing and business development team that is out looking for business opportunities every day. We’ve historically been a sales-oriented firm.
Many service firms 15 or 20 years ago, whether accountants, architects or lawyers, they really weren’t business development or sales-oriented. We had always been that way, so it’s really part of our culture.
We’re a little different than most firms in the industry, in that we have built a full service model. We have five primary business segments, so if one’s flat, another’s in a growing mode.
That’s helped us balance the business and continue to grow without seeing any sharp declines. So we’re able to be a little more flexible in reacting, moving resources into different market segments.
We built a full-service firm, we’ve diversified what we do and we’ve expanded our geography so that we’re not really subject to a single market or geographic influence that can hurt us.
HOW TO REACH: L. Robert Kimball & Associates, www.lrkimball.com