-Michael Wendland, Founder of Refresh Financial
When New Talent and Your Team Clash
In this episode of Resilience Radio, we explore:
- What to do when an employee doesn’t fit with your company’s core values
- How defining your core values can quickly ramp up your business
- How having a coach has been strategically advantageous for Michael
- How to identify the core values of new hires
The Greatest Challenge of Growing a Team
Kim: You have 80 people in your company. What has been the greatest challenge of growing your team?
Michael: We grew very quickly, but organically. Kelowna, BC isn’t the hotbed for financial service companies in Canada, but it has some other advantages. It’s a fantastic lifestyle community where there’s everything that you could possibly imagine in terms of recreational opportunities. When I started Refresh, we hired from the ground up to fill positions in the front-end of the business. I didn’t do a series A round, raise $10 million and then go to market – I literally launched, put sweat equity in and slowly and organically built it in the first number of months. As we were building it, we filled necessary seats to perform certain functions.
Probably the toughest part now, as we’ve accelerated our growth in the past number of years, is starting to layer on a strategic management team to properly run certain functions in the organization. There’s change management and culture management because people don’t necessarily have that direct line into me every day like they did five years ago. I used to be three steps away and working alongside them to grow the business.
When an Employee Doesn’t Match Your Core Values
Kim: What do you do if you happen to walk down your hallway and hear something that doesn’t align with the company’s core values? Do you personally step in? What’s your strategy?
Michael: I take [company] culture pretty seriously. I heard Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, say that culture and brand are two sides of the same coin. I don’t think that we can build a great brand in Canada that’s truly trying to provide a “Wow,” high touch, red carpet experience to clients unless we get our culture right first. I take it to heart and pretty personally.
I will step in in some situations where there isn’t resolution or I need to call a spade a spade and have a heart to heart with an individual. That’s my approach.
How to Ramp up Your Business
Kim: Interesting. Many entrepreneurs listen to this podcast. What would your advice be for someone who has a young company and who really wants to ramp up?
Michael: This may sound a bit counter-intuitive, and it was to me at the time. When we were about two years into the business, we defined our core purpose and core values in the organization. If you can define your “why” as a company and the values you’re going to build off of as soon as you can, it’ll help your company be able to scale much faster because you’ll have that organizational cultural clarity from day one.
We made it work – it was a couple years in and we had about 15 employees when I established that compass in the organization. Looking back, I wish we had done that much sooner because it would have helped right-size and make everything more clear in terms of who we’re bringing in the company, what functions we want them to perform and what values we want them to live by.
That would be my advice. I know it’s counter-intuitive for a growth-oriented entrepreneur who wants to blow the doors open and conquer the world, but if you start with that cultural piece first, if your company is successful and you’ve got the right value proposition for your product, it’ll add more fuel to the fire in terms of your growth opportunities.