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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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Company Culture and Retaining IT Talent: Q&A with Kathy DeShields

Posted September 15, 2016by Lily Teplow

Do you ever feel like your employees aren’t excited about coming into work, or that employee engagement is lower than it should be? Today, retaining quality IT talent has become a critical issue that many MSPs struggle with. What they don’t know, though, is that culture plays an important part in employee retention.

Company culture is a topic that’s discussed a lot in modern business, yet it isn’t very well defined. That’s because culture can serve many purposes, depending on who you speak to – some may call it the key to employee retention, while others may even call it the secret sauce to a company. As an MSP, why should you focus on creating a positive company culture for your business?

You might be asking yourself, what exactly is company culture and why is it important? To answer these questions and more, I sat down with Kathy DeShields, VP of Human Resources at Continuum, and discussed how to create great company culture and how it can help grow your MSP business!

 

Q: How would you define company culture?

A: I’d define company culture as a set of behaviors, values, reward systems and rituals that make up an organization. You can 'feel' culture when you visit a company, because it’s often evident in people's behavior, enthusiasm and the space itself. I like to say it’s like the company’s personality!

 

Q: Would you say that it’s become a buzzword today? Why and to what effect?

A: Yes, culture has definitely become modern business’ biggest buzzword. It’s now a critical term across businesses and boardrooms because of its systemic impact on organizations. Whether it’s employee engagement or financial performance – it all relies on the ‘culture’ and perception of that specific organization.

 

Q: Would you say that there are companies that don’t invest enough of their time and energy in building a stronger company culture?

A: There are companies out there that don’t focus as heavily on company culture. Sometimes number and metrics are more important to them, causing culture to be put on the back burner – and quite honestly, that creates a culture in and of itself! 

 

Q: In your opinion, what are the benefits of having a strong company culture?

A: A strong company culture is the formula that guides, inspires and motivates employees. When collaboration and engagement is promoted, it can help increase employee morale and productivity. Great culture is also responsible for attracting and attaining great talent, as well as creating a fun, happy and exciting work environment.

 

Q: How can a weak company culture impact business?

A: On the other hand, a negative culture can have the adverse effect. It can lead too employee turnover, the inability to attract top talent, poor performance and many other factors that can inhibit the growth and success of that organization.

 

Q: In your experience, what are some key factors that contribute to a corporate culture that complement any business? Do these factors change depending on the size of the business?

A: I would say communication, trust, teamwork, transparency, recognition and quality of work life (a.k.a. having fun). I think these factors are applicable to companies of all sizes and are an integral part of what makes company culture work best for each organization.

 

Q: Is the process of creating company culture a natural progression, or are there certain steps an organization can take?

A: I believe it’s a combination of both because it should be an organic element to the culture that is created, but in the process of creating that culture it’s important that a company sets the right direction and tone through its leadership. Assigning a “champion” to focus on the culture and guide everyone is also helpful in taking a step in the right direction.

 

Q: How can company culture be used as a recruiting tool?

A: Job-seekers are leveraging more bargaining power now that the economy has turned around. As a result, company culture has become one of the most important features during the recruitment process – it can help potential employees envision themselves at the company and better relate to it.

 

Q: What kinds of values do applicants, business partners and clients look for in a company?

A: A company’s culture is its unique identifier – it sets the values and norms of the organization. When looking at a company overall, I would say accountability, balance, commitment, innovation, empowerment and teamwork are on the top of the list for values.

 

Q: How can leaders and employees impact or contribute to company culture?

A: The most successful company cultures have a deep focus at heart. Having committed and realistic leaders and an organization that is completely part of the journey can have a strong impact to a company’s culture.

 

Q: How can great company culture translate into great customer service?

A: A company culture defines the way in which an organization interacts with one another and how the team interacts with the outside world, specifically your partners and suppliers. If your employees are happy, they’ll exude that happiness to your clients!

 

Q: What are some ways to measure employee engagement and get feedback?

A: Developing an engagement strategy and plan is a good start. Typically, companies begin with an internal employee engagement survey to gauge feelings around team and organizational structures, as well as attrition and work productivity. Other methods like new hire check-ins, stay interviews and exit interviews are a great way to measure and obtain employee feedback. An important next step is then to assess that feedback and find ways in which you can improve.

 

Q: How does company culture help a company’s bottom line?

A: Great company culture attracts great partners – which, in turn, creates great success! People will want to do business with you because of what you believe in and stand for, rather than solely on your products alone.

 

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to readers that may struggle to retain valuable IT talent?

A: Excellent employees are the backbone of your business. Invest in them and they will invest in you! The long-term success and development of your business relies heavily on the vision and long-term investments that your employees have for the company. When your company is able to retain valuable talent for long periods of time, there is a substantial reduction in the time-consuming tasks of having to find, attract, recruit and train new talent.

 

Attention Navigate Attendees: Are you ready to get started on creating a ‘best place to work’ type culture? Be sure to attend our session, Creating a Culture Where People Want to Work, where you’ll walk away with actionable takeaways on how to create the best corporate culture for your business! Check out the agenda for more details!

Download the Navigate 2016 eGuide

Lily is a Content Marketing Manager at Continuum and is passionate about helping businesses solve their biggest challenges. She is responsible for managing Continuum’s MSPblog and writing on a variety of topics, from sales and marketing to cybersecurity, helping establish authority in the MSP market. Lily is also a seasoned content creator and has supported Continuum’s PR and media efforts. In her spare time, Lily enjoys singing, traveling the world, and cheering on her favorite Boston sports teams!

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