Russ Levanway, CEO of California-based MSP TekTegrity, recently let me pick his brain about how and why the company acquired four MSPs in the five-year period between 2010 to 2015. Like many solutions providers looking for ways to grow, TekTegrity used these acquisitions to expand its regional footprint and establish itself in new verticals. In the process, Levanway had to integrate differing cultures and a rapidly expanding headcount. The company developed a regimented onboarding process for the companies it was acquiring, which included weekly one-on-one check-ins for six months with each new employee. This commitment to face time requires a significant labor investment from the management team, which led me to ask Levanway what the company did to ensure existing employees did not feel neglected. After all, acquisitions create a lot of hype for a company, but meanwhile the core business has to continue to operate effectively while new employees are being brought into the fold.
According to Levanway, “After the success of those one-on-one check-ins with new employees, we rolled out a new review protocol for our entire staff. Our managers are required to meet at least twice monthly, and ideally weekly, with each of their direct reports, with a specific agenda where the goal is to understand where the employee is at.”
TekTegrity’s new employee review policy was put in to place in January 2017, and Levanway gave me an inside look. Any MSP looking to see an uptick in employee engagement can adopt some of these principles.
- TekTegrity eliminated annual reviews, and instead now requires managers to conduct quarterly goal-setting meetings and regular check-ins with each of their direct reports.
- Managers are required to meet one-on-one for a minimum of 30 minutes at least twice per month with each direct report. According to the TekTegrity policy, “This standard is non-negotiable.”
- These meetings don’t have to be traditional face-to-face across a conference room table. The company encourages lunch meetings, coffee meetings, or even walks to conduct these one-on-ones.
- All of TekTegrity’s one-on-one meetings must have an agenda. The policy clearly points out, “Without expectations of an agenda, it’s less likely meaningful information will be discussed.” Some example of agenda items to cover include:
- Showing empathy for the employee’s current stress level and overall morale.
- Provide real, concrete, valuable feedback, not just general statements like, “you’ve been doing well lately.”
- Discuss the employee’s career aspirations. (I recently talked to the VP of Sales at a large software development company who also mentioned this as a great way to identify employees to put on a management track. Chances are if the employee doesn’t start this conversation, then that employee doesn’t have the initiative required to perform in a management role.)
- Track the status of quarterly goals and tasks. Promote accountability by reviewing these during the quarter, not just at the end.
- Incorporate coaching to help the employee overcome obstacles. According to the TekTegrity policy, “Coaching helps someone discover answers for themselves.It’s not the same as giving directives or checklists.”
- Finally, all one-on-one meetings must be documented, and a copy of the notes must be shared with the employee. Just like your MSP should require all techs to log activities in a PSA tool, you should also expect your managers to log employee meeting notes.
For more resources on handling employee feedback/engagement, see Robyn Porter’s article, “‘Un-Reviews’... And Why You Should Have Them.” Porter is a Human Resources Manager & Consultant for HTG Peer Groups (and TekTegrity is an HTG Peer Groups member).