I met the executive vice-president of HR of a global firm the other day. He asked me to tell him about Cenera. I told him we were employee-owned, Calgary born and raised, we offer a range of HR services, and that we work as a team. “No you don’t. That’s impossible”, he said. “You’re a professional services firm. You guys never work as a team.”

business competitivenessWhen I asked him what he meant, he told me about an executive search firm that he used who asked for additional work that was not a search – and they completely blew the project. The search firm didn’t share the most basic information with each other (i.e. company structure, culture, etc.), let alone collaborate to make sure the client got outstanding service and the best solution.

After some more questions we figured out the possible reason why. They were commission-based. There was no reason to share. In fact, there a thousand reasons NOT to share with each other.

Cenera is Calgary born and bred and employee-owned. We are paid a salary. We do not pay a commission to any of our staff/shareholders. If there is money left over at the end of the year, we call it profit sharing and divvy it up accordingly. If one of us gets the search for an Executive Director, we let each other know and spread the word. We work as a team regardless of our specialty or practice area.

When is a team not a team? When they are set up to compete with each other at the expense of the client.