Over the years, I’ve been pretty transparent and objective about where I’ve gone wrong in business and my missteps in leadership. Today, I want to share three things that have actually worked out!
First, when I launched the company, we really embraced what I feel is “the new workplace.” I grew up in a “9 to 5,” “suit and tie” environment. Today, we have a virtual workplace, which – to be successful – requires us to be very specific about the goals, objectives, and expectations around staff performance. When you make a make a commitment to a virtual work environment – you must have in place a rigorous measure of expectations. Our workplace philosophy has 1) enhanced staff performance, and 2) helped us to maintain great team retention. If we required all of our team members to be at 6621 Richmond Highway every day some of our best performers just would not be with us. So, this approach has been a winner for us.
The second thing is that about 95% of our client agreements have a 60-day out clause without cause. Washington, DC is a very small town and the association community even a smaller part of that. What I’ve learned with our approach to agreements is if services do not meet clients expectations, I can guarantee you the deal is not working for me. Occasionally, a project is not a good “fit,” which is why I offer the no cause out clause. I believe this “out” enables us to maintain good relationships with folks in the industry. And, it serves to motivates us to work very hard to ensure the other party doesn’t execute the clause. It works both ways.
The third factor is absolute “transparency” with my staff about financial records. I’ve worked for too many companies where we didn’t know whether or not the company was successful financially. The reason I’ve extolled transparency from the get-go is so my team can understand why we undertake specific initiatives in our business – why we are increasing our efforts in one area while decreasing in others. This transparency allows my staff to understand the decisions I make from year to year. They may not always agree with these decisions, but at least they have some perspective. And, if health care costs rise 25% in one year, the team can see that those costs are real cash.
A virtual workplace, the 60-day out clause, and total transparency regarding the financials – I recommend these three approaches to any organization, whether you are an association or a consulting firm like ours. They’ve been fantastic for our success.
For more on successful business strategies, check out Six Steps to Building a Fantastic Team.