Mike Wessinger, CEO, PointClickCare
“How did you do it?”
It’s probably the single-most asked question I get from aspiring entrepreneurs. From the outside looking in, it’s a fair question.
I founded PointClickCare two decades ago with a background in sales and no technical skills. But I was able to take a simple idea to help nursing homes operate better and nurture it into the North American healthcare IT market leader for the senior care industry, with over 1,400 employees.
So, how did I do it?
Well, I can tell you it wasn’t done overnight. Part of PointClickCare’s success stems from me taking the time to understand my role and recognize the function of my actual job within the company, even when we were a small startup. Once I figured that out, I was able to be an effective CEO.
I realized my job boils down to four essentials that must happen in a specific order: 1) culture, 2) team, 3) vision and strategy, and 4) activation. Here’s why they work for us, and how they can apply to other entrepreneurs.
Create the right culture.
Culture is a singular competitive advantage for any company in any industry. Two neighbouring companies can follow identical strategies, hire talent with similar skillsets, pay the same salaries, and even produce the same products. What differentiates them? Culture.
If you want to get culture right, you must be deliberate about it. It needs to be a continual focus, persistently redefined, and nurtured to keep it thriving.
Sometimes CEOs, especially at startups, confuse culture for perks. A company can have all the pool tables, gyms, and subsidized coffee in the world, but a culture of negativity or stress will repel top talent. When companies compete for talent, it’s culture that attracts the best.
I see culture as the operating system of the organization. It’s how its people behave around and treat each other. Culture reflects the rules of engagement that everyone understands and supports.
Maybe it’s because I founded the company with my brother, but I’ve always felt our culture has a family dynamic. We may not always agree, but we have each other’s backs. We respect each other and are passionate about what we do. We celebrate diversity and don’t tolerate intolerance. And if we don’t get it right, we find a way to fix it.
If you get the culture right the other CEO essentials will become a lot easier. It’s what attracts and keeps the right team, and what helps you build and achieve some amazing things together. This brings me to the second element of my job: building that team.
Build the right team.
Right after setting the culture, my priority is to build the right team. For me, building the right team means stripping away barriers including experience, location, and borders. As a result, we’ve built a team of the right people in the right roles. This is why I’m such a fan of hiring people from varied backgrounds. The more diverse a team, the stronger a company will be. It’s something to consider even as a small startup.
Set your vision and strategy.
I can think of a handful of companies—Apple and Facebook among them— with a true genius and visionary as a founding CEO. They can fill operations roles to seamlessly follow their founder’s vision and strategy.
While the rest of us—myself included— may have a strategy and vision in mind, nothing becomes fleshed out without the right team in place. Not only does your team expand on your strategy, they can cover off the blind spots you may not see.
By placing vision and strategy third, you’re giving your team ownership and accountability. This helps provide purpose to your company, and enriches your culture. You want to have each other’s back and you want the strategy to succeed because it’s yours.
Put your plan into action.
The general management of the company is the last of the four priorities for a reason. If you’ve got the right team in place executing on the right strategy and vision, and the right culture that supports all of that, as CEO you can focus on how the business is doing and where it needs to go.
I don’t mean spending time in the weeds. With the right team I don’t have to do that. Instead, I can focus on holding the team accountable, and making sure we deliver.
Henry Ford said, “Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.” For me, getting ready is lining up these elements to allow runway for my company to succeed. Reprioritize and the process grinds to a halt. Nurture and feed your culture, and your company will be prepped to grow.
For more from Mike Wessinger, follow his blog series on LinkedIn.