GREAT IDEAS FOR ENTREPRENEURS FROM THE THOUGHT LEADERS AT CASEY NEILON
It’s not enough to hope to grow – you have to plan to grow.
My Role At Casey Neilon
As Chief Operating Officer at Casey Neilon, my sole focus is on positioning our company to grow in line with the goals set forth by the management committee. While I have many duties, my primary responsibility is to ensure that our company has the capacity to scale. One of my jobs is to coach and inspire people to do their very best work.
I’ve been in this role now for more than a decade. Over that period of time, we have grown substantially. We’ve opened new offices, hired dozens of people, grown revenues and profits and significantly improved the valuation of our firm.
In our line of business, people are the product. It takes great people to deliver high-quality services and produce client delight. I’m very proud of our people and of our culture. We have built this business carefully by focusing on hiring and motivating the best people.
Five Principles For Utilizing Human Capital To Achieve Meaningful Growth
For you to achieve significant scale, you have to inspire and lead your team members to give their very best. For most businesses, performance of the people will ultimately determine the growth potential.
How do you do this? I believe you need to focus on five core areas:
- Expressing your vision
- Attracting the right people
- Empowering people to do their best work
- Nurturing the best business culture possible
- Embracing new technologies
Expressing Your Vision
As the leader, you have to articulate a vision that you believe in, that your staff believes in and that excites everyone’s imagination. Who wants to work for a company that doesn’t know where it is going?
Just because you can see the future of your company, that doesn’t mean your people can see that future. In order, for your people to give you their best efforts, they have to believe in your vision. Your vision has to excite them and after reading it, they should think, “Yes! This is where I belong!” To express your vision, simply ask yourself a few questions:
- What are our core values?
- Who are our people?
- What does “leadership” mean to us?
- Who are our clients/customers?
- What is our business development and marketing philosophy?
Years ago, our entire team worked together to develop our firm’s vision. It was written using these five questions. We revisit it often. The three-page document is signed by every staff member and it is framed in both of our offices as a reminder of where we are going.
Attracting The Right People
The first step in attracting the right people is defining what that means to your company. Then, utilize technology and your other resources to find them. Most likely, the best people are not looking for a job, they already have one. The cost to hire a professional to find the right people is far less than the cost of hiring the wrong people.
At Casey Neilon our goal is to attract the future leaders of the firm who are passionate about what they do, have a love for learning and who take initiative in achieving success both individually and as a team. With that said, we are a diverse team with varying skill-sets and career goals.
For example, we have staff members who aspire to be our future managing partner with both the technical skills and business development skills to move the firm to the next level. We recognize that accountants are typically not good sales people. These staff members thrive on the challenging, technical accounting work. The key is finding that balance of talent that works for your company.
Empowering People To Do Their Best Work:
Empowering people to do their jobs can be a risky thing – especially if you are not confident that the work will get done the way you want it done. But if you don’t give people room to grow and to experiment and even – dare I say it – to fail, then they will continually second-guess themselves. The key is to be aware and monitor to ensure that the mistakes or failures turn into growth and learning opportunities.
Innovations often come from people doing the job and who see a way to get better results with improved efficiency. If you give people room to try their ideas, even if they don’t work out, you’ve made a very important statement. You’ve said that you think they have merit and you have confidence in them. Confident people give their best efforts.
Nurturing The Best Business Culture Possible:
Culture is different for every business. What inspires a team of sales people, may not inspire a construction crew. At Casey Neilon our vision sets the tone for our culture. We also place a lot of emphasis on the company’s core values, the people who share and embrace those core values, the opportunities, the rewards, and the place where it all happens. If you want to create a high-growth business, you need to be intentional in building a great business culture that is unique to your company.
To get you started, here are some questions to ask yourself about your company:
- Do your people understand and aspire to be part of your company’s vision?
- Do you have people who have core values that align with the company’s core values?
- Do you provide opportunities for advancement and technical growth for all staff levels?
- Are job expectations clearly understood and then rewarded or acknowledged?
- Place: Are your people comfortable? Do they have the tools they need? Do they have fun?
However, you might answer these questions or others that better fit your industry, your responses will help you to define your business culture. On the flip side, you should ask yourself and your team, “What is hurting or damaging our culture.” Often times, small changes can make a big impact on improving business culture.
Embracing New Technologies:
Our Managing Shareholder, Darsi Casey, sits on an international board of accounting and legal firms called the Alliott Group. Darsi, Suzanne Olsen, and I went to the Alliott North America Leadership Meeting in January. One of the topics of discussion was the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the professional services industry with regards to job automation.
Technologies that have the ability to learn and reason should be embraced by entrepreneurs. As machines are taking on administrative and routine work, your people can provide proactive, human to human customer service – something no computer can provide.
When leaders put forward a vision that inspires people, give them room to try new ideas, nurture them with a great career path and embrace new technologies, great things can happen.
Debbie Vaughan – COO, Shareholder
I am the Chief Operating Officer at Casey Neilon. In this role, I manage the firm’s operational support functions, including human resources, information technology, facilities, firm accounting and coaching. My focus is to manage the internal operations of the firm so that the shareholders can concentrate on serving our clients.