Maybe it’s a bit sensationalist, but there’s no better tagline for a management consultant. Scott Perkins of PeopleFirm is taking that mantra to another level, though.
In assuming the role of Canadian Market Leader, he’s no longer just another skilled consultant delivering client work. Now, he’s the leader responsible for driving the expansion of Seattle-based PeopleFirm into a new business market, Western Canada.
Recently, I sat down with Scott and discussed the evolution of his work and how this new venture is growing him.
What’s it been like to tackle this business expansion project?
It’s interesting. When you’re “employee number one,” a lot of work is put into managing and balancing complexity. To build a new business, we have to drive multiple facets of the business — building infrastructure and capacity- while at the same time driving sales and delivering for clients. Very quickly, I figured out I needed to partner with others so I could play to my strengths.
So, I brought someone in to focus on sales and front-end business development. It’s actually, my old boss from Telus. We make a good team. His focus on building relationships and generating clients has allowed me to focus on creating infrastructure and delivering client work. We call ourselves “Yin and Yang” — the two interconnected opposites driving towards a common goal.
A lot of the work this year has been done in marketing and brand development — getting out there and telling the unique story about PeopleFirm.
Recently, we’ve landed a couple of projects in Canada. We’re now starting to hire employees. It’s exciting: we’re gaining traction and growing our capacity.
What are you learning in your work?
I am really good at delivering for the client and have made a career around doing it well. But my role encompasses so much more now. As a result, my learning has primarily been about how to balance multiple tactical drivers such as selling services, running internal operations, coaching and developing people, and building a recruiting pipeline.
This is really stretching and growing my skills. Delivering to a client is my wheelhouse. Understanding articles of incorporation, for instance, is not. All of these new experiences are expanding my knowledge of our industry and my abilities as a leader. Luckily, I am surrounded by a lot great people that can help bridge the gaps while I am learning. I lean heavily on our all of PeopleFirm’s leaders as well as my partner, Don Towner.
What is the driver of your passion?
Early in my career, I was doing organizational re-design work. At the end of the day, this work resulted in downsizing. At first, when I started driving the outcomes the executives wanted, it was easy, a name on a spreadsheet was just a name, it didn’t mean anything to me.
As I got more immersed in these projects and began learning about the people around me, the names all of the sudden became people. This made me focus even more on getting to the best result. I became intent on ensuring the right decisions were being made, and things were done fairly and equitably for all involved.
This experience led me to see how vital it is for an organization to get the most out of its people in the right way. Treating people fairly and with respect reduces employee turnover and develops enthusiastic and engaged employees — people more interested in seeing the company vision and more willing to give maximum energy and effort in the pursuit of it.
Working with organizations to create authentic, positive ways to “get the most out of people” is what excites me. That’s what brought me to PeopleFirm. Our tagline is: your people = your success. To me, this means an organization’s real success driver is honing people’s innate energy and desire. You have to learn what that innate energy is, and then just get out of the way. This is a significant challenge, but it’s what makes me jump out of bed in the morning.
What advice would you offer organizational leaders?
Everything starts with a strong corporate strategy — it is the foundation of an organization. If you know what the organization wants to do and how it plans to do it, you can translate that vision into the underlying people strategies and talent requirements needed to achieve it.
The final, and possibly most important, piece to this puzzle is ensuring there is alignment across the executive team on the vision. These two concepts are key tenets of PeopleFirm’s practice.
Having a clear strategy and a united leadership lays the groundwork for the rest of the organization. For HR, it defines the essential ingredients the department needs in order to maximize and leverage talent for the business.
I see a lot of organizations struggle with the front-end of this process. Everything has to connect back to the business strategy and what the organization is looking to achieve. We believe that’s the cornerstone for long-term success.