Open Culture

Marilyn SanfordsmartPRENEUR Blog Series

Employee Profit Sharing

I want to discuss two related yet very different Company initiatives intended to create shared incentives and grow loyalty.   One, I struggled with over the years and simply could not find the right system(s) to support.  Perhaps it was a poor approach or lack of ‘gut’ but we never managed to develop a viable employee profit sharing program.   If you’ve had success, I encourage you to share.  My lack of success was not a reflection of commitment, rather an inability to find, trust and support a system.  

Team Engagement

On the other hand, we did a great job of building team engagement. This included more intrinsic shared incentives and played largely through consistent and committed team communications. We built processes that included celebrations of successes and team members. We instituted team huddles that ensured timely relevant communications between and amongst team members.  We listened, to ensure that any new practices were open to team input. Many were discontinued or altered in deference to reasoned feedback and input. We included our team in our planning process, often led by an outside facilitator so that we all played an equal role in developing the Company’s strategic direction.  

Get Uncomfortable, See Differently

Many of these changes were difficult for me as owner of the firm. They created a vulnerability that wasn’t comfortable.  Equally it provided a different perspective sometimes requiring introspection and review of some of, what I felt were, our best practices. That engagement helped me see differently and, I believe, gave the team reason and context for certain actions and, on the whole, a deeper commitment to our best practices. It also provided a forum for a rethink and response to practices that may not have been serving the team or business.  

Team Huddles

Our team huddles were always standing up, giving audience to prior days’ learnings and issues, the day’s expectations and deliverables as well as an intended forum for what was both working and creating roadblocks. This made it safer, building employee engagement in a healthy way. It created a more transparent dynamic culture throughout. As well, it helped to flesh out unreasonable expectations and align around deliverables.

We would host a weekly full team huddle, again standup, to update, celebrate and encourage team input.   This was not an overnight transformation. It took time and iterations, to discover and build trust and engagement.   

Some of the changes this inspired included: 

  • A rethink and sharing of values
  • Project communication and handoffs 
  • Post project review, forms and processes
  • Hiring processes and decisions

Team engagement in the development of business direction as well as evaluation of its structure and processes, can feel uncomfortable, but the resultant team commitment, process oversight and business improvement can be dramatic.

About the Author

Marilyn Sanford

Marilyn is a Professional Accountant. She spent 23 years running trade based businesses, offering Low Voltage Custom Integration solutions to demanding and discriminating customers for high end residences and businesses. She has served on boards, taught in her Industry and is a Fellow of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA). Marilyn Co—founded Smart fx in 1992, merged with La Scala in 2000 and later acquired LaScaIa in 2007. Over the years running a custom installation business, she learned what it takes to run a profitable business dependent on construction timelines. These insights and lessons learned, delivering ‘skilled labour’ as a primary service offering, were the seeds that grew the LincEdge concept.

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