A Shared Approach to Decision Making: Empowering Everyone

Businesses should not shy away from talking about company culture. Businesses should be committed to working hard, achieving results and having fun at the same time. And this means not only taking pride in meeting customer needs and providing exceptional service, but also making it a priority to focus on creating a positive work environment for employees.

A key philosophy that has helped drive results at Service Express Inc. is a shared commitment to making decisions based on what we call Four Core Objectives. These objectives are:

  • Revenue growth,
  • Margin retention,
  • Excellent customer service and
  • Employee engagement.

Before we make any decision, we bounce it off each of these Four Core Objectives. If we can explain how a decision will positively affect each of the four objectives, we feel confident that we’re making a good choice.

Let me share an example. We were considering adding a downtown Chicago office because customers and prospects were asking for it. The decision-making process looked like this:

  • First, we considered that it often took 1.5 hours to get to customers in the Loop from our current office. But, if we were to open a location downtown, we could provide much faster service, which would improve customer service.
  • Employees wouldn’t spend as much time on the road, so that would increase employee engagement.
  • Services in the Loop also meant we could sell more high-end system deals that could offer higher margin.
  • And, of course, more agreements with higher margin equal revenue growth.

The result was a no-brainer and we decided to open the downtown location. Consequently, our growth in that target area increased. Customers experience a much more immediate response time and employees are not spending hours in traffic. The decision was the right one.

To make sure that everyone is able to participate in decision-making, we take time to teach and review using the Four Core Objectives in making company decisions with all of our employees. Understanding the logic of the objectives is essential to confidence in taking the right approach to making the right choices and getting the best results. Being able to analyze a decision with the Four Core Objectives in mind gives employees the green light to address problems in the field. This approach supports a company culture where everyone is empowered, which motivates employees and keeps them pointed in the right direction when faced with challenging issues. For our team, finding the solutions that meet our criteria means more accomplishment, more success and less “let me check with my manager.”

Many of us have worked for companies with departments that have conflicting goals, right? We find that using these objectives also helps us keep our goals consistently aligned. Basing our everyday decisions on our company Vision to “work with our employees to help them achieve their personal, professional and financial goals” and our Four Core Objectives sets the stage for all of us to work together as a cohesive team.

Our leadership team doesn’t promise that everyone will agree with all decisions. But we can promise that we’ll be able to explain why we made the decision based on the Four Core Objectives.

Ron Alvesteffer in president of Service Express Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich. He can be reached at [email protected]. SEI is a 2010 and 2011 winner of West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For.

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.