Marcus Lemonis, the investor that hosts the highly rated show The Profit on CNBC, says IT service providers that want long-term success need to start focusing more on the people, processes, and products that define their business.
Speaking at the IT Nation 2015 Conference last week, Lemonis told the audience of MSPs that they need to identify the employees they wish would quit and have a frank dialogue with each one. In these conversations, they, as the leader of the company, should take responsibility for the failure of the employee to live up to their expectations. Once that new baseline in the relationship is established, Lemonis said IT services providers need to make it clear that they're willing to sever that relatonship if things don't improve. Initially, though, it's critical for business leaders to acknowledge the fact that the primary fault for the existing situation lies more with them than the employee.
Like it or not, Lemonis said senior managers of IT service firms need to understand that employees are betting their ability to pay their own bills on the leadership of the IT service provider. So, MSPs need to recognize that when they employ someone they are essentially making them part of their extended family and then treat them as such.
Lemonis also explained that IT services providers need to focus on the products they sell, which in their case is one in the same with the people they have and their expertise in IT. Once that is addressed, they need to make sure the processes they put in place result in the business becoming—and remaining—profitable. After all, without profits the business itself is not sustainable, which lets down the extended family that makes up that business.
Overcoming leadership challenges
Lemonis is the first to concede that it’s hard to be a business leader these days. In fact, it’s often a thankless task that impinges on the time they have available for their spouses and families. For that reason, Lemonis advised the audience that business leaders need to be more transparent and share their vulnerabilities with both employees and perspective customers alike. It’s only when business leaders actually share those vulnerabilities that people begin to bond with them, noted Lemonis.
While at first blush some of this advice may seem obvious, many IT service leaders don’t have extensive management experience. Many of them are “accidental entrepreneurs” who started their companies either because they lost of job or fell into an opportunity. As a result, many MSPs struggle more with management fundamentals than they do with complex technical challenges their customers ask them to master.
Most IT leaders will buy into the concept that they need to focus more on their employees, at least in theory. The trouble is that managing the business itself winds up consuming most of their time. That's why ConnectWise is making a case for integrating the capabilities of a professional services automation (PSA) platform with remote management and monitoring (RMM) tools within the context of a common platform that can now run in the cloud.
Clearly, there’s an argument to be made that when it comes to IT services the people that enable and deliver those services are the business. For that reason alone, it makes sense for the leaders of IT service providers to focus more on the people that define the services by which every single IT services firm ultimately lives or dies.