I've learned several things through my work on the Manitoba Business Podcast. One of them is that our business community in Manitoba is comprised of many very good people. People who lead by example, people who are generous with their time and advice in addition to their money. People who believe in contributing to something much greater than themselves and their businesses.
I knew when I met him that Doug Harvey was a part of that group. But the more I get to know this community, the more I'm realizing that Doug Harvey leads that group. His name comes up over and over again, on mic and off, as a person who other business leaders have looked to as a model corporate citizen.
Anyway, in addition to being a great guy, he also happens to be pretty successful in business. And he has some interesting advice about what it takes to run a company with 19 locations across North America.
When I asked him how he manages that many locations, he said:
I’m very hands off. I really firmly believe in hire the best person that you can, train them, set goals and objectives, measure those goals and objectives.
And then, following up, this is how he handles management accountability (and corresponding rewards):
So, all of our branch managers are paid on the profitability of their branch. I’d like them to believe that they have a vested interest in it without having any risk. The risk is job security. We have a holiday plan here that we let all our key people, all of our senior managers, including branch managers, in on, and that’s basically I say, “Hey, your holiday’s at the end of the year. You get whatever holidays you want. The end of the year, you’ll sign a form saying that you have taken all holidays that you are entitled to,” so that we don’t end up in court after seven years or whatever.
“You need to take 6 weeks, you need to take 5 weeks, you need to take 20 weeks, that’s your prerogative. You have a business to run. You get paid on the profitability of it, and you have way more of my money at risk than me saying, ‘Did you go away yesterday? Were you there yesterday afternoon?'” So I like to treat them as if they are owners and that they have a vested interest in the business, manage it accordingly, and we’ll measure your performance on your results.
His thoughts on compensation plans for sales folks?
The best earners are the guys that are on the lowest amount of base and the highest amount of commission, because those are guys that have bought into the fact “Hey, I get paid on what I produce. I get paid on what I kill, so let me go and start killing.”
Another thing that a lot of the business leaders I talk to have in common is that they're not looking for external motivation. Doug is no exception:
I’m not big on motivational books or whatever. I’m pretty self motivated. I don’t need somebody to tell me to get out of bed and go charging.
And then there's this:
People will say “What do you like best about the business?” and I always say “the people.” “What do you like least about the business?” “The people.”
If you want to listen to the entire interview, you can find it here.