CEO Spotlight: Mike Waddell of INTEGRITYOne Partners
When it comes to providing client service with integrity and excellence, Mike Waddell knows a thing or two on the subject. We interviewed the Managing Partner/Founder of INTEGRITYOne Partners to learn more about the leadership and strategy behind a firm that has never lost a client.
Helios: What are some of your strategies for employee development?
Mike Waddell: For IOP, employee development is centered around providing the right training and/or right tools to grow our employees and our business. It involves first looking at what’s up-and-coming in our industry that our people will need to know or be equipped with, then understanding what are our employees’ professional goals, desires, experiences, and where they are in their careers. We then match business and market needs with the strengths and professional aspirations of our employees.
Helios: What advice do you give fellow CEOs?
Mike Waddell: Most CEO’s that I encounter are at similar points on their company’s growth curve. A real strength of ours is client retention, so I am frequently asked about how we do this. My advice for fellow CEOs on this topic typically covers development of long-term relationships with clients, accepting slightly lower profit margins if it means providing superior service, and/or caring just as much for your employees as you do your clients.
It is easy to view client delivery as solely important, but to do so leaves 50% of an important equation unaddressed. IOP views itself as two companies within one. The first company is all about the client; delivering value on each engagement, providing thought-provoking points of view, fearlessly doing what is most beneficial to our clients. The second “company within our company” addresses the needs of the employee alone. Are we developing leaders? Are we growing their careers? Do we provide the right benefits, incentives, and challenges? A Managing Partner within our firm heads each of these “companies” within IOP to ensure that focus, effort, and monetary emphasis are placed correctly within each.
So my question to CEOs in other companies is, “Are you placing emphasis on BOTH of these important areas within your firm?” If you are emphasizing your employee’s needs their focus is more easily applied to providing superior service to your client, which brings you back to client retention.
Helios: What feedback would you share with HR executives?
Mike Waddell: HR policies exist to protect and guide both employee and firm, but too often I have seen those very same policies stand in the way of what I would consider to be a more “humane” business decision. In essence, the policies become double-edged swords that can either include or exclude depending on how they are wielded. Rather than siding with just the employee or just the firm, we strive to make “right,” not just “correct” decisions, and then apply them equally and fairly. Step outside of simply creating and applying an HR policy despite the consequences; balance is needed.
Helios: Are you involved in community outreach? If so, how do you engage your employees in these initiatives?
Mike Waddell: IOP as a company conducts a significant amount of community outreach and charitable contributions, and we challenge our employees to give back to charities and organizations they feel passionate about. IOP has some favorite programs and organizations that we contribute time and money to on a regular basis, some of which include Make-a-Wish Foundation, Reston Interfaith, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Special Olympics. In addition, our employees and partners are asked to bring charities and community programs that they are involved in back to IOP so we can rally behind them. In fact, Helios has involved us in several community outreach programs, the largest of which being the Annual Coat Drive. Over the last two years, IOP has contributed over $80,000 to charities and other outreach programs, and even more importantly we have contributed far more time than we can quantify as an organization and individuals. Our employees are passionate about giving back to our community and to charities we connect with.
INTEGRITYOne Partners is a business and technology consulting services firm based in Reston, VA, offering a specific set of consulting and technology solutions customized to the U.S. Federal Government. For more information about their organization, please visit their website at www.ionep.com.