Philie Group Blog

Leading Indicators for Your Printing Business — Your People
By Mike Philie

It goes without saying for any business, but in particular for those in the graphic communications space, that having an engaged workforce has never been more important. I get to work with printing companies throughout the country and witness the value of having teams effectively working together. I also get the chance to see when they are not working well together. I also have seen, and have tremendous respect for the passion and pride that each employee brings to their job every day.

I believe that the majority of people go to work each day, expecting to do their best. Whether or not they are able to, often depends on being in the right job, the environment they are in, the folks they work with, a clear understanding of their expectations and the right tools and technology to do the job. I previously wrote on the importance of your employees and how they can influence the path of your business.

OK, so why is it important to invest in your people? Not only in wages and benefits, but in their training, development, and their individual growth within your business. There’s that old saying – well, if I train them they’ll only leave and go to work for a competitor. Well, what if you don’t train them and they stay?

After all, in a world that revolves around KPIs, your team is your true leading indicator. Focus on keeping your employees engaged and excited about what they do, where they work, and how to feel part of the success of your organization. It’s a worthy investment of your time and the added benefit of doing it right is that it leads to enhancing your customers journey.

In 2015 Jack Welch, like him or hate him, said, “There are three measurements you need to understand at a business to know if you’re on the right track: the second was customer satisfaction, and the third was cash flow. “First and foremost is employee engagement. How do your employees feel about their jobs, where they’re going and do they like the work? Are they proud of what they do?”

Being the best at what you do, and doing it every day is hard work! No question. So what are some things that you can do to help bring out the best in your people? Let’s start by looking at what they might be looking for at work. Some of these are more geared to millennials than others, but it seems many of the companies I see today do have a better mix of ages than what I saw 4-5 years ago.

  • It’s not only the paycheck or the fact that they should be “lucky to have a job.”
  • Hire right – Simon Sinek says if you hire those who believe in what you believe, that they’ll give you their blood, sweat, and tears. If they don’t believe in what you believe, then they’ll work for the money.
  • They want to feel part of something bigger and better than what they have alone.
  • They are looking for an engaged, compassionate manager – not one that has checked out.
  • They want to have a sense of purpose in what they do.
  • They want to learn and to collaborate – lifelong learners? Maybe.
  • Getting feedback? Is it surveys or face to face? How many do surveys? There are many software application options available to take the pulse within your company. And while surveys and software are becoming more popular, there is nothing like walking up to someone and sincerely, authentically, asking them “how are you?”
  • Offer to have voluntary 1:1 meetings with you or members of your leadership team. Many claim to have an open door policy, but is it really practiced?
  • Hire smart. Make sure they fit within the team and use your onboarding process to increase their odds of success in their new role and new company. Some offer new employees a mentor for a period of time. This is similar to what some sports teams do with rookies.
  • 1-800 safe place – perhaps through your benefits provider, offer a 1-800 number that employees can anonymously report any level of misbehavior, or bullying by an employee, a manager, or even you.

As always, there isn’t a “just take this pill and everything will be better” solution. Leading a profitable business is a combination of many skills and it is never ending. Working on your team is a great place to focus on. If you have any comments or thoughts as to how you’ve approached these issues, please send me a note or include them below.

Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.comLinkedIn or email at

Originally published in Printing Impressions


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