By Matt Ellis
“Experts are the people who make the impossible possible, so make me the plan to succeed.”
This quote from Israeli Army general Ben Gurion during the 1967 Six Day War was included on the agenda for a recent AffinEco Leadership Team meeting. It illustrates how the company is harnessing its leaders to play a greater role in the company’s future growth and development.
“We want to increase the strategic thinking within the company and develop leaders who are strategic thinkers and problem solvers. We want people to see the big picture that Michael [Diamond] and I have, and understand the big picture when servicing clients,” said Managing Partner Paul Senecal.
“We offer a unique business proposition to our customers which goes beyond service delivery. We provide the additional value of our management insight, so we need to develop that among our leaders,” Managing Partner Michael Diamond added. “The deeper we drive the leadership in our organization, the better our teams work and more efficient and effective we can be.”
In 2010, when Premier Maintenance, United Services and Melillo Maintenance merged the companies under the AffinEco umbrella, Diamond and Senecal knew eventually a new corporate culture would emerge as the result of bringing these three divisions together. Moving under “one roof” at the company’s new corporate headquarters in Bridgeport last year has helped to mature that process.
Now, AffinEco has formalized regular Leadership Team meetings, facilitated by an outside consultant, to identify goals and deliverables, and to create a structure to get them done.
“This is not about improving our cleaning process. That’s something we are doing all the time,” said Diamond. “This is about the setting the company’s goals and directions—really focusing on the big picture.”
Diamond says the meetings are intense; on average they run six hours. At the July 2013 meeting, the team identified 17 strategic goals and assigned each one to a team member to oversee its implementation. The goals vary from financial to operational to cultural.
For example, AffinEco has identified a specific kind of client it wants added to its roster and expects to have at least one in place by Q4 2014; it will roll out online inspection software for all its field teams by Q1 2014; and it will expect to beat the industry average for client retention by 50 percent.
So far, Diamond and Senecal say the company is responding well to the challenges.
“It’s always a balancing act,” said Diamond. “We know that to achieve excellence we have to stretch it a bit, but everyone is working hard and smart. We are asking them to take on additional responsibilities by owning certain deliverables, because it’s important for their growth and the company’s growth.”
The process of including managers at multiple levels within the organization has helped create a sense of shared ownership.
“Overall they see the hard work it takes, but they feel proud of the opportunity to help shape the direction of the company,” said Senecal.
The hockey star Wayne Gretzky famously said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” AffinEco embraces that concept for designing where its company is headed and not focusing on where it has been or what issues it has already overcome.