It’s been said that 90 percent of business issues walk in the door every morning. Decisions regarding people are top of mind for business leaders. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the right people and place them in roles where they can thrive and contribute their full potential to the organization. Managing people is more than a human resources challenge. It defines the growth trajectory of the company, as new roles throughout the organization must be staffed, trained and supported. Each growth spurt comes with the need to hire more people at every level of the company. It’s one thing to want the best employees, but hiring, developing and retaining them is another.
Talent management is a broad category that includes activities like talent planning, talent review, human resource management, bench-strength analysis, staffing, compensation, benefits, employee engagement and performance management. Hiring is a key dependency for growth, as great employees with the right balance of skills, experience and salary requirements are hard to find. In a small business, the responsibility resides with its leader. As employee headcount grows, human resource professionals are needed to manage the growth and development of the organization’s talent pool.
Fast growth can be tough to manage. Fortunately, Mark Laufer had advice from his Vistage group.
While many companies struggled during the recession in the late 2000s, Laufer Group International, Ltd. bucked the trend. CEO Mark Laufer successfully took the international logistics company his father founded in 1948 and built it into a middle-market leader in the industry. While 2009 was a year fraught with financial challenges for many business owners, Laufer had a different problem: He had built a business that was bigger than he knew how to manage.
Laufer could no longer lead the entire team on his own. He just didn’t know how to go about it without relinquishing control. Laufer says he had the sense to know “that you don’t know what you don’t know.” At the coaxing of a friend, he joined Vistage. Through group and one-on-one coaching sessions, Laufer learned about the outsized importance of corporate culture and the value in aligning people through corporate values and goals. He was so impressed with the program he enrolled his management team in Vistage groups across the country.
His team benefits from Vistage speakers, concepts and trainings, as well as the group dynamic. Vistage group members challenge your ideas and hold you accountable for your plans. Laufer says this helped him and his team become better decision-makers and define a core company value—a “culture of collaboration.” Investing in his employees’ professional development also improved retention.
Vistage helped Laufer create a work environment that has facilitated incredible growth, one in which team members work together to problem-solve. In fact, Laufer Group has grown by 100 percent in the past five years.
It can be hard for C-level executives to realize that they don’t always have all the answers. Vistage members taught Laufer to challenge his assumptions, consider alternative viewpoints and bring his executive team into the decision-making process.
“My Chair, Mark Taylor, has been one of the most incredible influences on my personal and professional growth,” he says. “He presents business concepts and ideas in broad minded and cuttingedge ways, both through his selection of speakers and through his personal coaching. He has helped me, as an individual and a CEO, to push the boundaries of our business.”
Laufer adds that many of his Vistage group members have become close friends, on whom he still relies for guidance. “We are all here for one reason: to improve our business and to help our Vistage teammates improve theirs.”