The PROFIT 500 CEO Summit brings together a tremendous collection of strong Canadian business leaders from a vast assortment of industries and backgrounds. Each corporate leader has a proven track record of success and showcases some of the premier leaders in Canadian business. Indellient is proudly one of those businesses.
After 13 years of sustained growth, including all but one of those quarters being profitable, Indellient has exploded onto the national stage and we are excited to be showcasing our successes and sharing our story with the world.
With that being said, we eagerly continue to learn from others as well. Below are some lessons I took away from the CEO Summit.
Lesson One: Transparency, Openness & A Clear Vision
One of the many speakers at the CEO Summit was Harley Finkelstein, Chief Operating Officer at Shopify, whose transformation story about scaling his company from good to great really resonated with me. Shopify carries a mantra of “highly aligned, but loosely coupled” at the organization. Basically what that means is it starts at the top.
This is something that many good companies have, but the great ones don’t stop there. Once that vision is set, it needs to be communicated, sold and bought into at every level – from the board of directors to the mailroom; the sales team to the IT staff. Everyone is on the same page. But it doesn’t stop there. Aligning teams with the same goals also suggests inter-team dependence. However, in order to avoid finger-pointing or merely waiting on other teams, Shopify uses APIs to standardize and contractualize the communication across teams on their platform.
Lesson Two: Recruit the Right Talent
In addition to Harley’s experience at Shopify, the PROFIT 500 CEO Summit engaged at a more intimate level with business leaders as well. Some of the challenges being faced today with other leaders are the ability to recruit the right talent and how to avoid employee turnover.
One example stated in one of the sessions was regarding a telemarketing company, and the challenge they face recruiting telemarketers. In this case, the CEO had an established business, selling – very successfully – an established product via a medium that is publicly seen as a negative in our society. Afterall, nobody wants to be interrupted during family dinner by a telemarketer. Yet this organization was making it work. Their challenge? Hiring new talent and keeping them for more than 6 months.
By collaborating with other business leaders, attendees came up with two solutions for this organization:
- Don’t hire telemarketers. In general, people don’t want to take a call from a telemarketer, so why would someone want to be one. Instead, adopt the role of a Business Advisor where the employees are providing knowledge to a business problem instead of just selling a product.
- Embrace the high turnover rate. Many of this organization’s employees only last 6 months before moving on. By knowing that and not trying to fight it head-on, we suggested you shift your focus to openly expect people to move on. Advertise these roles as a “stepping stone” to something bigger. Get them to earn a shot at that next opportunity over the course of 18 months. Fully expect the turnover, but openly add value to the timing of it to extend the average employee’s time by two or three-fold.
Lesson Three: Build A Flexible Workplace
Another challenge facing Canadian businesses revolves around working from home. Indellient, like many organizations, is a flexible workplace, offering this as an opportunity for its employees. But how do you ensure you’re not losing productivity? Rightfully, many organizations are worried about its effectiveness and unsure whether or not to implement this into their company fabric, as there is an industry shift both toward and away from work-from-home policies.
Here are some roundtable suggestions from the summit on how to handle this shift:
- Incentivize working in the office with perks that are not available at home.
- Leverage technology with “always on” communication tools, such as Skype.
- The main perk of working from home is, naturally, working in more comfortable clothing. Consider audio only as a solution to enable collaboration, but not introduce a level of discomfort.
- Regular updates – whether scrums, status meetings, etc. – ensure employees prepare something to say about the work they’ve done.
- Change evaluation metrics that are observable regardless of location that puts a clear onus on the employee to respond to.
As the day came to a close, we were delighted to hear from legendary Toronto Argonaut football player and Head Coach, Michael “Pinball” Clemons. Pinball was such an encouragement to everyone in the room to keep doing the great work we’ve all done thus far. Many of the businesses in the room form the lifeline of various towns and cities all over the country and offer their employees a higher quality of life. But it’s not enough to “remain at the status quo,” says Pinball. “Don’t manage your business. Lead your business.”
These words resonated with me in particular. It’s so easy to be concerned with the day-to-day and the fires that come up that need to be put out. While those are critical and need to be managed appropriately, it’s our responsibility as business leaders to expand our vision, guide our organization and our employees, and enable bigger and better opportunities so that we can bring more people “to the team.”
While there was much more covered at the PROFIT 500 CEO Summit, I can only share so many secrets. We hope to see your business enter into the list, as Indellient plans to be there for many years to come!