First off I have to tell you that I had one of my “Eureka!” moments when I discovered your very informative casts on the itunes software. They are astounding for two reasons: 1 - they are free??!! and 2 - they highlight that I sure have a pile of progress to make. I have listened to several this weekend as we have a civic holiday Monday here in Canada and the kids are away for the summer.

I have been loading your new and past podcasts at work while waiting for an opportune time to start listening to them. I am new to podcasting and recently purchased ipods for all our staff – there are only five of us including myself – as a perk.

A little background is in order at this point.

Our company started as a sole proprietor structure as I was the only employee at the time. As volume grew my wife quit her regular job to join me. We are in the bookkeeping, tax prep, property management (those we own and some owned by others), business consulting, and financial management business. Whew!

We live in the arctic in northern Canada and our community is only 3000 souls. We have no road access and you have to fly in to our community. We have long periods of winter with snow covering the ground 8 months of the year. Due to our isolation many of us in business don’t have problems finding opportunities but rather finding quality people here to do the work.

In any case we are now up to five staff with the responsibilities roughly as follows:

My wife – President of the company and involved in regional politics which means she attends meetings out of town on a semi regular basis. She oversees one of our larger contracts with another staff member.

Me – managing partner I suppose who more or less oversees the company from a corporate standpoint – where are we, where are we going, etc, while creating a controller position.

Operations manager – he is new to our company and is my wife's brother so my brother in law. He oversees all day to day activities with the aid of two clerical staff.

As we are a relatively young company (five full years in operation) and only recently moved to five full time employees we do not have regular meetings, performance reviews, etc and have realized for some time that we would need to step up our game. This is what led me to your podcasts as I was struggling with my role as strategic planning guy.

I have a mid term plan to create a controllers role which will allow me to move up and out of it and allow for the operations manager to be promoted into it. This would pave the way for one of the clerks if they are ready to move into his vacated operations manager role.

My questions are as follows and essentially come because of our small size and small town. You need to know that the majority of people in our town are Inuit (once known as Eskimo) and are culturally not long term thinkers. They are generally only concerned with today and there is a certain peace associated with that mindset.

1 - Given our setup – two girls reporting to the operations manager who in turn reports to me – who should conduct meeting with who? My wife works directly with one of the clerical staff on one particular contract and I work directly with another one another large contract. We have not phased this over to the opp mgr as he is still new.

2 – Our operations manager is family – I can see with us being in a tiny town and knowing each other as well as we do the personal side of the one-on-ones being a little weird. J Should we bypass that entirely since we already know one another outside of work quite well?

Thank you so much for this invaluable content – I have already ordered a half dozen books you list in order for me to step up and lead our motley crew in the coming decades.


danstratton's picture

I would like to jump in here. I was employee #7 in a family company (and not part of the family) many years ago. The one thing my boss (CEO)complained about was never having time to talk to his brother, the COO. They could have used a One on One to make sure the weekly stuff gets covered. Sometimes those little scheduled chat times are very important in a small company. Because I didn't have a scheduled time, I had to interrupt the boss with any questions I wanted. There were some weeks I never talked to him and then had to redo work because I didn't know what he wanted.

To sum up, I think it is important for you to do it with your COO and him to do it with the clerks. My opinion, your mileage may vary, worth every cent you paid for it. :-) Good luck!

Unfrozen Caveman's picture

Thanks very much for the comment. I was beginning to feel inadequate with all these views and no advice/comments!

We feel we need to institute weekly meetings as a group as well as the O3s - just wasn't sure who should meet with who. I knew I was going to meet with the operations manager and thought he should meet directly with his two ladies but beyond that am open to suggestion.

Y'all don't be shy now ya hear??!!

danstratton's picture

Try something, see how it works and then adjust. I don't believe in a "right or wrong" here - it's people. You're a small company and most people here work with larger ones. I am willing to bet you will feel a little odd, like a small fish pretending to be a large fish. Stick with it and see how it benefits your team. If something about it doesn't, tweak it. Better to start good habits while you're small rather than to wait and have problems later. We were never able to turn the corner and grow like we should have because the boss always acted small and never tried to act bigger than we were.