We are all very focused on growing the business, retaining clients, and overall being the best in class for our respective areas. We attend seminars, watch live videos and even participate in hallway chats at conferences to learn tips and tricks from our peers and industry experts, but there is one thing I think some MSP’s forget about at times, and it’s their own team.
When was the last time you asked your own team how to make things run better? When was the last time you took feedback from the team on decisions you have made and on the way the company is running?
It is very easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of business, and as business owners we seldom get the opportunity to be reviewed for our own performance as the head of our companies. When we previously worked as employees for other businesses, I think we can all agree that we greatly appreciated our performance reviews to get the boost of hearing we did a good job, and learning constructive insights into areas where we could improve.
Over the next few weeks, I challenge you… yes YOU, reading this article, to build an “Employee Comment Wall” using sticky notes. It does not need to be a giant wall, perhaps even the back of a door. Give each employee a stack of sticky notes (since you don’t need them for passwords anymore J) and a Sharpie. Make sure the wall is not customer facing, and as a warning, you won’t experience the same success with the exercise if it is done digital on a Slack Channel or otherwise, it is best done on a physical wall.
The instructions are simple, break up the wall into the following sections:
- Our Processes
- The Tools We Use
- Things That Could Be Better, and
- My Idea Is..
You can come up with some of your own, but you get the idea. Encourage all of your team members to write out notes for each of the categories, and let this exercise run for 2 to 3 weeks to collect sufficient feedback. This exercise is intended to be totally anonymous, and it should be. It’s just like a comment card box from days of long past, but it’s visual – I often find that people read what others say and it helps spur other thoughts.
When 2 to 3 weeks has passed, take a photo of the notes, and transpose them into a document to review with your team during the next company or team meeting. Good and Bad! Let’s be honest, if someone says “get better snacks” it’s a real feeling someone has, let’s consider that the off-brand snacks you are getting are not enjoyed as much as you think they are. It’s the same thing when someone says that “we should automate XYZ, its taking too long and I hate it” – There is a potential way to SAVE MONEY on the business, and make an your technical team happier (squad goals).
During your review with the team, grade each suggestion and let the whole team vote on the grades – Sample Grades are as follows;
- Consider implementation of this change over the next 1 to 3 months
- Consider implementation of this change over the next 3 to 6 months
- Consider implementation of this change over the next 12 months
- Lets re-assess next time.
When done, re-structure the post-it’s based on the Grade. Once that’s done, pick the top 3 items under Grade A and assign someone to come up with the plan. I call it the “if we were to do this, how do we do it” plan. Let’s see what they come up with. The plan should be due within two weeks, then the operations team can look and see how feasible it really is (or isn’t). I would then repeat the process next quarter and so on. During your team meetings, always refer back to the topics and see how they are progressing. Perhaps even incentivize team members for helping implement higher impact tasks.
One of my favorite results from this exercise was finding a manual task that took 60 mins to complete each month, the resource in question that did the work was a higher-level resource, so our “out the door” cost on that person was $50.00 of loaded cost. This person really disliked the process since it was manual and tedious, they would much rather be helping clients with solutions versus doing mundane tasks that had to be done. They started to only work on this afterhours and it was taking time away from his family. It didn’t need to be done afterhours, it was his choice, but it never occurred to anyone that we could automate the task. They were so focused on the here and now it just never hit the radar. By automating the task, we were able to take the 60-min task, down to a 5 minute review of the results each month. This engineer was so much happier, and so was the team. This spawned other processes that were getting automated, now this engineer is one of my go-to PowerShell administrators for when I need stuff done.
Why do this exercise? It gives your team a voice. It’s amazing what your team is capable of if given the opportunity to be involved. They should not be afraid to fail either, there is no growth without struggle – remember this, you didn’t build your business by doing everything right – the same goes for your team. It’s when we learn from our mistakes that we open the door to make amazing things happen.
Not only can this boost employee engagement in your company, which helps with staff retention, happier employees deliver better customer service, and any time savings you can find will hit your bottom line!
About the Author: Charles Love
Charles J. Love is an independent consultant specializing in the operational efficiencies of IT managed service providers. He has been very instrumental in helping MSP’s grow and enhance their offerings as well as guiding them through common growing pains to elevate them to the next level.
Vendors and service providers continue to leverage Charles for his experience in the Managed Services business. Their common request is for him to deliver targeted content to help them fine tune and enhance their offerings by finding gaps and inefficiencies in the solution’s processes and procedures. Charles has a unique way to view the MSP environment at the 10,000 foot level to see where there may be opportunities for improvement. During these sessions he shows the team how to bring fiscal responsibility to operations and enhance offering by leveraging vendor solutions to ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness. You can count on Charles to help you vet and deploy your vendors’ solutions in addition to providing you a process to audit your agreements to ensure maximum ROI is being met.
Over the last 17 years Charles has both hosted and participated in panels and breakout sessions at various conferences and roadshows to share his experiences around the Operational Efficiencies of the Managed Services Business Model. He has delivered educational sessions during Comptia’s Annual Member Meeting and ChannelCon, Datto’s DattoCon, ConnectWise’s IT Nation, Continuum’s Navigate Conference and recently concluded a multi-city tour as a featured speaker to give the “how he does it” story.