Issue Mar Apr 14
Macresco’s contributions to performance can’t be held in your hands. They can, however, be seen in the dramatic improvements the firm makes to client bottom lines. CEO and founder Scott Gauvin says the Boston-based management consulting firm specializes in helping companies capitalize on the value of their businesses through organizational alignment and employee engagement. Its services may be intangible, but their impact is clearly felt.
Gauvin founded the company in 2002, literally enlightened by the kindness of strangers he didn’t expect to experience so frequently as he hitchhiked across Europe and drove his motorcycle through the Americas. Burnt out and on sabbatical from the consulting firm he was working for at the time, these positive encounters would change the way he came to see the impact employee engagement had on performance. Specifically, that this important element in the performance equation was often ignored.
“What crystalized for me was that contrary to what I had come to learn about behavior via my professional experience, people have this innate desire to do good and they take pride in being of service,” Gauvin says.
This revelation has become the foundation of Macresco’s philosophy. The firm believes that waste is created not because employees don’t care or don’t want to contribute, but because of conflicting structures and activities that prevent them from providing value as well as they could. Indeed, their approach recognizes the delicate balance between an organization’s structure and activities and the behaviors and attitudes that underpin its culture.
“Too often organizations focus on process – structures and activities – without understanding the implications these changes have on culture and performance,” Gauvin says.
Whether difficulties arise because the organization as a whole lacks focus or is affected by external pressures, Macresco devotes itself to understanding and addressing the true origins of performance so that everyone within the organization is empowered to contribute to the fullest extent.
Clarity of Purpose
Macresco helps its clients achieve enterprise excellence through intervention across three focus areas: Strategy, organization and operations. “Our goal is to help clients focus their efforts. Looking across these three areas of an organization ensures the development of a cohesive improvement solution,” Gauvin explains.
The company’s process generally begins with a reconnaissance period, during which Macresco spends up to 100 days assessing profitability, looking for and addressing red flags in the operation. Next, Macresco runs down the gaps in strategy and organizational health that gave rise to that operation’s pain. This includes assessing competitive advantage and orienting the company around a common vision, mission and values.
Macresco also plays a significant role in the effort clients make to achieve their goals. “Planning for change is tough, but it’s the doing that is the hard part. This is where you see transformation really occur,” Gauvin explains. “This is where not only capacity is expanded, but also capability is honed and competitive advantage is affected.”
Lack of focus is often what keeps companies from reaching their potential, he says. Leaders that don’t commit to their values and purpose don’t have a point of orientation to guide their strategy or growth. As a result, they can get caught up in the reactionary vs. purposeful cycle of survival-style management.
Employees that don’t have a clear understanding of the company’s purpose and goals can lose sight of what’s important, pursue conflicting agendas or become frustrated, and behaviors manifest that can slow down or halt progress.
“Once you have an understanding of your value and how to create and best deliver it to the market, success depends on the company’s ability to focus on their performance goals and getting everyone in the organization aligned with those goals,” Gauvin says.
The Power of Your People
Macresco encourages clients to give their employees more latitude to solve problems on their own, without micromanagement. When employees know they have more direct agency over their work, they tend to become more engaged.
“What we try to do is help organizations see this and work on improving the engagement piece,” Gauvin says. “A lot of companies won’t delve into the realm of culture because there isn’t a set formula they can follow, but it’s critical to sustaining performance gains.”
For example, one of Macresco’s recent clients was outsourcing a lot of work to Asia out of concerns for the bottom line, but its customers weren’t being served to their satisfaction. Drawing from the institutional knowledge of the employee base, Macresco implemented a production process that not only returned manufacturing to the United States, but significantly improved competitive advantage and increased sales by nearly 700 percent.
Examples like that illustrate the value that Macresco’s services can bring to clients. More firms are taking employee engagement seriously, and are changing their model from a top-down style to embrace a bottom-up approach where employees have leeway to present ideas. “Satisfied employees give more, do more, save more and provide more value,” Gauvin says. “And they, according to Macresco’s mission, are key to achieving company greatness.”