For all businesses, and especially small businesses, having the right team, both internally and externally, can be the difference between growth and success or struggles and hardship. Having the key employees and advisors in place allows the owner and management to delegate without hesitation, think strategically and focus on growth.
As a business grows and the scope and complexity of roles change, an objective review of staff composition and key positions is an important management responsibility often overlooked. The negative impact of missing this step can result in key staff members going unrecognized and unrewarded, important positions being staffed inadequately, and the right people being unmotivated in their jobs. The worst case scenario can be high turnover at a time when the business needs high staff retention.
Corporate culture is an important factor in an employee’s choice of employer and it is a major factor in retaining employees. It has to be considered regularly and reviewed. Employees that contribute to the desired corporate culture should be rewarded; those employees that are toxic to the corporate culture need to be removed before they cause long-lasting damage. When assessing the culture it is important to realize that, as the business owner, it is difficult to get an objective sense of how the company functions on an intangible level. Conduct an anonymous survey, speak to employees that can provide honest feedback, or ask an outside service provider to provide a professional opinion of the culture. Many different views will help the overall assessment.
It is important to take a step back and ask some important questions about the team:
- Are the key positions staffed by the best people and are those people aligning their groups with the direction and vision of the company?
- Are key staff members motivated to succeed in a way that satisfies them and leads to the growth and well-being of the company?
- Is the corporate culture leading to the retention of key staff members or is it a reason why the company struggles to keep good people?
The other important team that keeps the business on track is the external advisory team. Do you have the right advisors in place such as accountants, lawyers and bankers? Don`t wait until there is a crisis to determine there is a gap in the owner or management’s access to expertise. Find the right advisors you feel comfortable working with, who understand the business and where it is in terms of growth, and add them to the advisory team. Make sure to keep external advisors familiar with plans and goals. Keep them in the loop on key decisions so they are all working towards the business’s goals.
Keep an open and ongoing dialogue with your staff and external advisors to ensure everyone is on the same page and the entire team is aligned and working towards achieving the goals of your firm.
Peter Berry, CPA, CA, TEP
Manager at Welch LLP