Ken Fink doesn’t have to remind his employees about the daily meetings at Consulting Professional Resources Inc.
The president and founder of the $5 million IT staffing and consulting company set the daily meeting for 8:17 a.m. to make it stand out in people’s minds.
“It’s a time they’ll never forget,” he says. “It’s not 8:15, and it’s not 8:20. It’s different. Standing for 10 minutes is different. Taking accountability early in the morning before you get your day started is different. Then committing to what you will do for that day is different.” While most of the company’s 50 employees are at client sites during the day, Fink says it’s important for those employees in the office to stay up-to-date.
“We go around the room and ask employees how things are going and to share a positive story,” he says. “We also talk about the individual and team numbers. How we are doing from the financial standpoint. Let them know they are partners in the success of this company.”
Smart Business spoke with Fink about how to find employees and deal with risk.
Q: How do you know if an employee has the tools to do the job?
We interview them and we test everyone for sales skills. Along with that test, we test for personality and try to find the right fit.
We designed this particular exam to meet our expectations in terms of what I am looking for in an individual. I’m looking for those more aggressive individuals who take the time to learn and take ownership in what they do.
I have certain values and beliefs, and I want to make sure someone lines up with those. We talk about those up front people being reliable, and are they results-driven. What in their background through their sales time, and even if they haven’t sold, what have they done that demonstrates they are ready to step up and take a position and responsibility for their daily actions?
In sales, there is a lot of rejection. They have to be able to take that rejection and understand it is not the individual rejecting them, it’s the company, the idea or the situation they are rejecting. It’s not a personal thing.
Q: How do you handle business problems?
We also do that in the weekly meetings. We go over hassle logs. What gave you a hassle over the past five business days?
I ask employees to write these things down. They have been pretty straightforward about bringing it forward and laying it out on the table.
If you can take two or three of those hassles a week and fix them, you’ll see how much smoother your business is going to run.
On top of that, there is an open conversation around what we call a rock. The rock is what is standing in the way to your success. How do you break the rock down?
Right now, the rock is set around finding good people. (The employees) came up with some great ideas, like bonus programs. I’m always looking to them to tell me what is going on in the market.
Q: What are some pitfalls to avoid as a CEO?
You really have to have your values and beliefs and stick with them. You have to be reliable and results-driven. Strive to maintain optimal balance between work and life activities.
When someone has something that comes up, the best thing I can do is handle that situation as, ‘Take care of your family.’ I want people coming here happy.
I don’t want them coming here with problems and knowing they can’t come to me and take care of things. If they need half a day to take care of something, do it.
Q: How do you interact with employees?
I’m kind of a cheerleader here. I try to keep people up. I have fun at this company. I go around and make jokes. I keep things light because I realize this is a difficult business.
I watch what I say, obviously. You don’t want to be buddies with everybody because you have to make decisions at times that could adversely affect those individuals. I try to keep it at a business level.
Q: How important is taking risks?
Risk to me is part of your day. You take a risk every time you make a decision. You have to determine where you are going.
I build a one-page plan to tell us where we’re going, three years out, one year out and 90 days out. Everything I do, every risk I take, is based on making this plan, and I have opportunities to exceed the plan.
I try to mitigate the risk by doing this. You have to plan for change and first assess it and find out if the reward is worth the risk.
HOW TO REACH: Consulting Professional Resources Inc., www.cpr-pa.com or (412) 939-0838