HYPE Entrepreneur Round Table 4/26/12

Apr 27, 2012

ForeSiteThursday’s ERT featured the expertise of Michael Giuffrida, the President of ForeSite, as well as Paul Decelles and Phyllis Rizy, the Co-Founders of YardeZone Inc. Mike explained to the group that as President of ForeSite, he brings his skills in business management and a strong technology background to client’s technology problems. He develops strategic partnerships and manages financial and business planning.

YardeZonePaul and Phyllis had an interesting beginning to their partnership. In 1998, they started working with Yarde Metals to implement an innovative “open book” management program, creating an empowered team-based workforce. Yarde metals became the fastest growing and most profitable company in its sector and in the region. The company grew from a $1,000 investment into a $650 million company. Then in 2006, Paul and Phyllis together with Craig Yarde, founded YardeZone Inc., a company whose mission is to “Redefine Monday” for all employees by creating empowered work teams that succeed.

Even with their involvement in a successful partnership, Phyllis and Paul cautioned the group about jumping into business with a partner. Many partnerships are started for the wrong reasons and you need to talk about more than just a business plan and financing in the beginning. Potential partners should explore where they see the business going, the culture they want to implement, risk tolerance, sharing of power, responsibility, and any other issues that may come to fruition. The partners need to prepare an open dialogue so they are able to talk about issues early. Mike added that “if you ever have an itch, talk about it while it’s an itch and not a festering wound.”

When asked about their business model, Paul explained that YardeZone, Inc. implements a concept they termed “leveling.” This concept promotes “respect and dignity for every employee.” For instance, rather than making top down decisions based on privileged information, they believe a business should spread the knowledge, accountability, and responsibility amongst all employees. By doing this you will see improvements and innovation coming from the ground up. Mike added that before he implemented Phyllis and Paul’s ideas he was seeing horrible employee turnover. He knew his employees were talented but they weren’t engaged. ForeSite has since gone from an average engagement of 63 to 76 (out of 100) in a matter of a year! (National average is 60, based on YardeZone Workplace Engagement Survey)

The Workplace Engagement Survey shined an interesting light on the failures of companies to fully engage the collective potential of their employees. Each employee falls into one of four different levels of engagement:

Highly Engaged
Engaged
Disengaged
Highly Disengaged

While the typical performance review shows most employees as being engaged and proficient at their job, Phyllis and Paul felt this was doing a disservice to the company and employee. Reviews should be honest and give constructive feedback (NOT constructive criticism, criticism is destructive and personal.) With traditional reviews, the company is unable to see where they are struggling and employees are unable to understand how satisfied/dissatisfied they are with the work. They may be in the wrong job or department and looking for a change that would mutually benefit both them and the company. Paul shared with us some startling numbers regarding the 2011 national average for employee engagement:

Highly Engaged (5%)
Engaged (45%)
Disengaged (48%)
Highly Disengaged (2%)

That’s half the American workforce feeling disengaged from their work! To make matters worse, that 2% that’s highly disengaged is like a cancer in the organization as they try and bring down productivity by disengaging otherwise hard working employees. Paul even said that the “highly engaged don’t necessarily drive a company forward but the highly disengaged will drive a company down.” To combat this, an employer has to practice sound hiring techniques. You need to pick an employee who will be a team player and fit within the company’s culture. Skills can be taught to these people after the fact, but an ability to adapt and fit in is essential. Once the employees are engaged, you will begin to see the ground up improvements and innovation and business owner wants!

We want to thank Mike, Paul, and Phyllis for coming in and sharing their expertise with our members! To learn more about ForeSite or YardeZone, Inc., please visit their websites.

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