We chose three pillars to use as a basis for everything we do here at Your Strategy Navigator: “Personal Attention”, “Commitment to Caring” and “Walking Alongside”. Of these three pillars the first two are fairly easy to understand and definitely expected when you are selecting an advisor to work with you. “Walking alongside” does need further unpacking so that is the purpose of this post – to see what this looks like and how it differentiates us.
How this approach evolved
Let’s start by providing a bit of career history of myself, the founder of YSN, Bryan Huck. I worked as a financial leader in three small business organizations over the past 20 years, two of which were family businesses. Early on, I learned that I wasn’t the type to sit at a desk all day to crunch numbers and create policies to manage, control and improve profitability of these organizations. I felt my best when I was walking around, engaging with the employees closest to the work, asking questions, listening and then encouraging them to work with me through some of the biggest challenges we would often face. Here are some examples that will demonstrate this approach in action.
During the first few weeks at the one organization the president encouraged me to go on delivery for a week and work directly with several delivery drivers. This was so natural for him to encourage since he knew no other way himself – being in the family business for many years … you do what it takes and no title gets in the way. Was this ever a great learning opportunity for me, not only to begin building relationships with those closest to our customers but also to see, first hand, how hard our drivers worked and to experience the pure joy on our customers faces when their new furniture arrived. I went home late each day, very sore and so thankful that I didn’t drop that last really heavy piece of furniture we delivered up, what seemed to be 100s of stairs. I did this occasionally over during my nine years at this company and each time, I appreciated the opportunity, asked a lot of questions, encouraged the employees to talk about the biggest hurdles they faced, and walked through a few solutions with them. I would make sure I followed up the next day or so to discuss where some of the solutions stood and what the next steps were.
Here is another example from the same organization. One question I would ask a lot when passing through the various departments is: “what do you think”? I know as a senior leader, it was expected that I have all the answers to solve the really complex problems. That is what they pay me for, correct? However, my philosophy is different and I have always believed the people closest to the work, know the best about a) the biggest challenges that get in their way and b) the 2-3 possible solutions that might work to resolve them. Who was I to try and “add value” by pretending I knew the biggest challenges and also knew the right solutions? I knew all too well that you must encourage and equip the employees to identify and resolve some of the hurdles they are confronted with in their day-to-day work.
I know, at times, my staff got frustrated with me asking questions – often, they simply wanted an answer to a problem so they can carry on with their work. I wouldn’t let them off that easy and encouraged them to think through many problems themselves. I started asking really careful and deliberate questions and then would work alongside them as they identified the solution and executed it. I was there too if the solution failed and we had to go onto Plan B or C.
I have practiced this skill over the years but it hasn’t always been easy or fully embraced at times by everyone. However, looking back, I know it served the organizations well, especially helping them through some highly challenging and uncertain times and equipping staff to get to a point where they began tackling some hurdles on their own, without my help. When facing problems you have not encountered before, it is comforting to know that you are not alone – whether you are an owner or an employee. You have someone there to “navigate” through it together.
How this Approach is Applied to All of our Services
We have translated this approach into a unique process that we follow in every engagement – whether we are working with you on a transition plan, helping you develop your leaders or work through some projects within your accounting team to develop them into trusted partners and advisors themselves.
Here is an overview:
We work with you and your team as much as you need through each step and will never be happy until the solutions we talked about have been implemented and are delivering the value we had thought they would. This is our commitment we make for each and every engagement we enter into.
To wrap up, I hope you better understand what we mean by “Walking Alongside” and can start to visualize how this approach would benefit your organization in tackling some of your biggest challenges Let’s get started!