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XChange: Positive Company Culture A Revenue Driver For Solution Provider Organizations

A positive company culture with engaged employees can translate into better business outcomes, Isbrea Culture Advisors' CEO tells solution providers at XChange Solution Provider 2017.

Creating a positive culture and prioritizing employee engagement won't just lower stress levels and make for happier employees throughout an entire organization. Solution providers with a highly engaged workforce can benefit financially, too, said Leo Kelly, CEO of Isbrea Culture Advisors, during the XChange Solution Provider conference.

Kelly got his start in the channel by working for his father's solution provider company, Circle Computer Resources. After realizing the importance of company culture and the benefits that positive and enthusiastic employees could bring to a company, he then branched out on his own to start Isbrea Culture Advisors, an advisory firm aimed at helping solution providers with employee engagement and workplace culture.

Highly engaged employees have better business outcomes than their counterparts that don't focus on culture, Kelly told an audience of solution providers at XChange, hosted this week in National Harbor, Md., by CRN parent The Channel Company.

[Related: Launchbox CEO: Solution Providers That Don't Leverage Millennial Employees Will Lose ]

"If you're a $5 million MSP, the increase in revenue each year is a million dollars just by taking care of your people, and without increasing headcount. That's a major improvement," Kelly said.

One of the first challenges that impacts culture is becoming siloed, a side effect to growth in which each department operates seemingly independent of the other departments within the same organization. When departments don't work together -- even when all employees work cohesively within their departments -- resentment can build that can ultimately undermine the ability for separate departments to work together, Kelly said.

Having new employees interact and learn from existing employees is one way that solution providers can overcome the silo effect, Kelly said.

One solution provider in attendance during Kelly's session is already implementing the concept of current employees helping new staff members get started at the company. Enterprise Data Concepts, based in Lafayette, La., breaks its employees up into teams. Existing team leaders within each team take newer employees under their wing, said Roddy Bergeron, director of managed services for Enterprise Data Concepts.

"The team lead kind of shows the new folks the ropes, and I oversee all the teams to make sure everyone is meshing together," he said.

The natural reaction for existing employees to take new staff under their wing can pays dividends for the solution provider organization for the life of the employee's career. Friendship bonds not only form comradery, but also helps new employees become a part of the organization more quickly. Existing employees will also be more inclined to learn more about the inner workings of the company in order to be seen as "an expert" by the new staff, Isbrea's Kelly said.

Enterprise Data Concepts currently has about 15 employees and is growing. The solution provider is currently working to create a unified culture through team building exercises.

"We've done [exercises like] 'Escape the Room' together, and we try to really bring people together to really facilitate that teamwork," Bergeron said.

Kelly's session helped to reinforce the work that Enterprise Data Concepts is already doing, Bergeron said.

Perhaps most importantly, company culture must start from the top, Kelly reminded the audience.

"A good leader will infuse good culture into a company over time," he said. "You can accelerate that through good processes and techniques, but it simply won't work over time if the leader's character is flawed."

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