By Ron Alvesteffer
March 19, 2009
Our Vision Statement at Service Express, Inc. (SEI), is “to work with employees to help them achieve their personal, professional and financial goals.”
What does this Vision have to do with providing computer hardware maintenance service to customers? We believe that providing on-site computer hardware service creates the opportunities to help our employees meet their goal and the goals for the company.
This drive to help others succeed began with our owner. He believed in helping people realize their ambitions. Helping his employees reach their personal, professional and financial goals thus became a natural part of how he ran the business. As the company grew, we knew that we wanted to make certain this philosophy of helping employees achieve their goals always remained at the core of our operations. We then formalized our Vision in writing and rolled it out to the entire company.
Preparing managers and employees to work together in this unique way is essential to the success of our Vision. We train our managers on how to have “Vision Talks”, which is our term for the employee-manager conversations about goals. During these talks, employees are asked to define their personal, professional and financial goals. We find that most people do not have clearly defined goals, so managers share examples and also offer guidance in identifying and setting goals.
SEI managers understand that, for many employees, it may take time to build the necessary level of trust before an individual feels comfortable enough to share personal goals. We share numerous examples of employee achievements and encourage employees to take steps to invest in their goals. We always acknowledge that goals may be adjusted - due to changes at home, new interests or switching from a short term to long term time frame.
Once goals are set, employees enter them on our intranet, where they are accessible to the employee, his manager and the president. Employees are able to easily review and update their goals at anytime. As goals are achieved, enthusiasm and confidence grows and new goals are added.
To partner with employees in their efforts, goals are shared with the Executive Team – VP of Sales, VP of Service, CFO and President – on a quarterly basis. Goals are a factor when determining options for current and future company plans. Whenever possible, we look for the right opportunity within our business strategy to help an employee meet a goal.
For example, when we were beginning to develop a process for a new revenue stream – selling toner for printers – I had a Vision Talk with a marketing employee. She knew we were considering several options and expressed interest in helping with the launch. As she is a top performer, our management group agreed that it would be a great opportunity for achievement. Helping her meet her goal was a win-win: she was able to work on a new project that motivated her and SEI had a successful system for its toner sales. This is just one of many creative solutions we find for goal achievement.
A quick summary of our Vision Steps
1. Develop managers’ Vision Talk skills
2. Schedule Vision Talks between managers and employees
3. Help employees define measurable, attainable goals
4. Put goals in a written format
5. Share goals appropriately
6. SEI leaders strategize opportunities around employees’ goals
We want our employees to be able to say that they accomplished a personal, professional or financial goal because they worked here, not in spite of it. Matching strategic initiatives with what our employees want to do creates a powerful business dynamic that generates great results!
Ron Alvesteffer is president of Service Express, a 2008 winner of West Michigan’s and Metro Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. He can be reached at [email protected].