When your company is experiencing tremendous growth, you often wonder how you’ll sustain your current workforce and keep your employees engaged.
Brian Stern has managed to not only sustain his employees, but actively engage them, give them ownership, and help their personal development. In less than ten years, their company has grown from nothing to four subsidiaries in multiple cities across the county, but he’s never lost touch with his employees.
Brian joins us on this episode of Lead to Grow to share his experience as an entrepreneur, and what he’s learned about leading a company through growing pains.
Brian is the CEO and President at LED Supply Co., which has been featured numerous times on Inc’s coveted Fastest Growing Companies list.
Sometimes Leadership is About Letting the Market Lead
LED Supply Co. has undergone fantastic growth in its nine years of existence. In less than a decade, Brian and his co-founder have already started four subsidiaries, acquired LED Pro, and founded two e-commerce websites. Inc magazine featured them multiple times in their 100 fastest growing companies in the nation.
That’s exciting growth, and Brian didn’t foresee much of it. Many of the subsidiaries began in response to customer needs. Brian embraced the change.
“Where the market and your customer takes you, is probably the direction you should be going,” said Brian.
Engage Employees From Day One & Uncover Any Additional Interests
In 2010, they had two employees — Brian and his co-founder. By January 2019, Brian says they will have expanded to 45 employees.
Individual engagement, ownership, and personal development have all been major factors that sustain the company. At least once a year, they host a meeting with all the employees and let them know the direction the company is headed. This ensures continued buy-in and team alignment.
On a more personal level, each employee has this same level of ownership when hired. On day one, each employee is given information about new acquisitions or company initiatives, in case the employee has additional interests above their assigned duties. If the employee has expertise or interest in another area, they are cross-trained immediately.
Brian doesn’t stop there: He keeps his employees up to date with training on any industries LED is considering emerging into, new technology, software — anything that could help impact the employee’s engagement.
Also, to ensure all employees understand the business through the same lens, everyone is given the same training. Even the administrative staff gets the same training as the sales team because if they know the entire process, they’ll be better equipped to perform their duties.
Allow Your Employees Ownership, and Reap the Rewards of Efficiency
Integrity tops the list of characteristics Brian looks for in employees. That’s not just a nice PR plug: Each employee has a bi-annual review where integrity is front-and-center.
To Brian, when you trust your employees, you can provide them with growth opportunities. Also, if you’re going for the long game, the integrity of your employees is vital.
Because they hire for trust and review for integrity, the company culture is quite relaxed— no micromanagement. Leadership gives goals and direction, not the steps to get there. Because employees have the freedom to develop their own methods, they can bring innovative efficiency their leaders may have missed.
Most Importantly, Your Favorite Cookies
One thing we caught from our time with Brian was the intense care he has for every single one of his employees, and it extends through everything the company does.
Besides the karaoke, hockey games, and employee development, they do something we think every company should do:
His marketing leader finds out each employee’s favorite cookie, and then bakes them the night before their birthday, just so they’re fresh.
We just couldn’t leave that part out.