The Value in Employee Outreach

When we look at what makes organizations great, it often comes down to, first, having a clear vision and, second, ensuring that employees are given the tools to embrace it. Strong communication, from the top down and the bottom up, helps employees be aware of the goals, achievements and challenges that we all face. Every company benefits from facing them together.

When employees don’t have a regular stream of communication, it creates a vacuum—often filled by rumor and innuendo. This can easily detach a workforce from its shared goals and attach it more closely to gossip.

No work environment is perfect—there will always be issues—so companies must do their best to listen and understand what those are from an employee perspective and respond to the best of their ability. When Powerlink sent out its most recent team survey it was clear that some of our messages were not making it down to front-line staff.

We’ve been grateful for the honesty of these team members in identifying issues—that means we can help fix them. Regular surveys are a great tool to give employees the opportunity to respond—then we as a management team need to do our best to act on this feedback, and communicate regularly and effectively, to ensure our team knows our goals—and they know that we understand theirs.

Categories: Business Success

The Leadership Fallacy

How many times have you heard someone say some variation of the following phrase: “If I was in that situation, I would have _____.” Feel free to insert whatever strategy or action you like into the blank, the underlying error is the same. In fact, it is one of the greatest professional failings that I see on a regular basis—especially amongst younger leaders and entrepreneurs.

That failure is something I call the Leadership Fallacy: people trying to use their values, morals and leadership principles to figure out what someone else may or may not do.

Logically, this is absurd; professionally, it’s misleading and counterproductive. What you would do is irrelevant; you have to think about what someone else would do, given what you know about them. As a leader, the inability or unwillingness to see another’s perspective means that your own decision-making abilities will be compromised. Effective leaders understand that they can’t apply their decision-making framework to other. Instead, they work to understand their motivations and perspectives. They work to put themselves in others’ shoes and figure out how they look at the world.

If you can do that successfully—figure out what variables someone else is considering and determine what is likely going through his or her mind—you can anticipate mistakes they might make and either help them avoid those mistakes or beat them to the punch, depending on what is more advantageous to you professionally. It is precisely because our different individual “software” drives us to react to situations differently, that it’s so important for a successful company to have its own set of values to drive strategies and behaviors.

The most successful companies structure their decision-making around those shared values, instead of those of specific individuals, thereby avoiding the perils and pitfalls of the Leadership Fallacy.

Categories: Business Success

Why are Some Businesses Scalable?

What makes some businesses scalable and others not? How do businesses make that critical transition from being a small business to hitting the mid-market—because that is really the key to long-term sustainable success?

This is something I’ve given a great deal of thought—and had some firsthand experience with myself—and ultimately I think it boils down to two things. The first is the right people. Entrepreneurs (even some of the most successful and inspired leaders) all too often lack the ability to surround themselves with great teams. Subsequently, they make a misstep at a crucial decision point that keeps them from getting to the next level. In some cases, self-doubt and uncertainty and questionable decision-making take their toll. I’ve found that companies that move to mid-market successfully do so by continuing to upgrade the people around them to help them move to the next level.

If you frequently find yourself in a situation where you are the smartest guy in the room, that’s a problem. At that point, you may want to reevaluate your hiring strategies. The second element is processes, specifically the ability to translate business processes into effective action and sustained professional momentum. Most businesses have processes in place, but they fall short when it comes to the deployment of those processes; they don’t have a system in place to deploy those processes across the organization.

Most failures don’t occur because there isn’t a process, but because it’s not followed. Getting a good idea down on paper is one thing, but it’s manifesting those “best intentions” that distinguishes the best from the rest of the pack. It’s all about implementation: not just about you knowing what needs to be done, but making sure that every member of your teams also knows (and follows through). So what is it that I think makes businesses scalable? In two words: employment and deployment.

Categories: Business Success

Winning Futures—Why We Support Them

Many well-meaning individuals and corporations make a point to donate to multiple charitable initiatives, non-profit organizations and worthy causes. More often than not, however, they have no idea whether their money is being used effectively. What’s ironic is that business leaders and entrepreneurs make a living working hard to maximize efficiency in our businesses, and to make sure that we get the most out of every dollar we spend. But if we don’t apply that same degree of scrutiny and analytical rigor to the charitable organizations that we support, we are doing ourselves (and them) a disservice. Your check might be going to support a truly great cause, but if that organization is not run efficiently, some of that money is essentially being flushed away.

Understandably, many corporate leaders want to support organizations that will make an impact—doing things the right way—and truly supporting your mission so you can help the most people. That’s why everyone here at Powerlink is so proud of our association with an organization like Winning Futures. Winning Futures was recently named one of Crain’s Best-Managed Nonprofits of 2013. It’s great to know that our dollars are going toward helping kids, and that our donations are truly making an impact. The Warren-based nonprofit mentoring agency has more than doubled its annual revenue in recent years, and also more than doubled the number of students who move through its programs. When Powerlink first contributed funds to the Winning Futures mission, we knew that we were assisting an organization that is truly committed to making every dollar count. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons why I am proud to serve not only as a contributor, but also as the President of the Winning Futures board of directors.

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility

Powerlink’s New Construction Division Comes Online

Since 2002, Powerlink has worked hard to build our reputation as one of Michigan’s most capable and reliable staffing and facilities management companies. Today I’m proud to announce the addition of an entirely new Powerlink division. Partly in response to customer demand and partly as the next step in an organic and ongoing professional evolution, Powerlink is expanding our range of service offerings to include a dedicated construction division. With several projects already underway, we have also opened a new Powerlink Construction satellite office in Warren.

Kevin Ryan will lead the new division as Powerlink’s Senior Vice President for Construction. Kevin brings more than 30 years of experience managing projects nationwide to the position, with a particular expertise in health care, commercial/office and historic renovations. He has helmed construction projects ranging from build-outs to $100+ million, multi-year projects.

It is no coincidence that Powerlink already maintains membership in the Construction Association of Michigan (CAM). Construction is a logical and intuitive next step for us as a firm. Working with schools, hospitals and manufacturers across metro Detroit, Southeast Michigan and the Midwest, we’ve learned what it means to create and maintain the kind of clean, efficient facilities that help patients heal and students learn. Along the way, we have set new standards for quality and professionalism, and our skilled, diverse and dedicated team has delivered extraordinary gains in efficiency, cost effective service and customer satisfaction.

Critically, we have acquired an intimate and sophisticated understanding of how buildings run from the inside-out, and we will use that expertise to enhance our construction expertise and lay the groundwork for each project’s long-term success. It’s exciting to see the demand for these kinds of projects continue to grow in the City of Detroit, and we are thrilled to be able to hire more people from the diverse communities where our clients do business. Over the past two years, we have doubled our revenue to $23.5 million and added more than 200 employees. With several new projects and clients already on board or in the pipeline, the future looks bright for a new—and expanded—Powerlink.

Categories: Business Success, Press Releases, The Industry