Monthly Archives July 2013

Jul2013
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Culture-Based Growth

Over the nearly 14 years I worked at Eidetics, our annual revenues increased by an average of 20% and employee attrition was always under 10%.

For those of you unfamiliar with such metrics, those are pretty darn good numbers. Sure, some companies see growth greater than 20%, but incredibly few do so for a dozen years in a row. And that sub-10% attrition? Bureau of Labor Statistics data show average annual turnover percentages for professional and business services during that same period running in the mid 20’s. (Attrition: lower is better!)

There’s a pretty compelling argument that low attrition among a group of carefully-selected high performers, will drive growth. So how is that achieved?

Executing on the fundamentals of hiring well, defining roles and responsibilities so that each employee is applying a focused set of skills (i.e., wearing fewer hats), having managers dedicated to company oversight and development, and monitoring / measuring performance is a good start. But doing those activities mechanically can still result in a soulless environment where folks just come to do a job and get a paycheck. In this environment, it’s likely that the folks who stick around a long time aren’t setting the world on fire or contributing substantially to company growth.

Bringing greater depth and focus to those four activities will result in greater employee engagement, better processes and quality, and ultimately better performance at both the individual and company level. Here’s how:

Hiring. It isn’t all that difficult to determine technical skill, but at least as important (more, in my opinion) is whether a candidate is someone existing employees want on the team and see as a good fit. I’m a believer in binary hiring: a candidate is either 100% right for the job, or they’re wrong and you need to keep interviewing.

Job descriptions. For a company to grow, the work has to be specified and divided up so that for each position, one human can reasonably be expected to handle the full variety of tasks routinely, happily, and really well. Very early-stage companies tend to need generalists who are comfortable with ambiguity and the absence of structure. Growing companies need greater division of labor, to control costs, make it easier to hire, and drive quality.

Management. There have to be people who see the big picture, are always thinking about how the work can be done better, and are attentive to employee development and needs. When employees have the dual role of managing and doing, managing will almost always take a back seat. Leadership and management are more frequently about support than direction – especially when you’ve hired well.

Metrics. Revenue and profitability are always paramount, but those numbers are typically considered after the fact. Process / trend metrics quickly highlight how well the work is done and yield valuable data for management, enabling faster correction and improvement.

So now you’re thinking, this article is titled Culture-Based Growth – where’s the culture?

Creating culture-based growth means building a cohesive and focused group of employees who feel cared-for, directed, supported, and inspired to bring their best every day. When this is your foundation, the odds of success increase dramatically.

That’s what we had at Eidetics, and that’s why our numbers were so good.

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