The Options4Growth Blog

Options4Growth Co-Founder Kirsti Tcherkoyan Profiled in Forbes Online

Kirsti Tcherkoyan, Co-Founder of Options4Growth, was recently profiled in Forbes Online. Kirsti and her business partner, Jill Pappenheimer, have a unique approach to running their business—they honor their people. They hire people who can no longer work 60 hours a week, but don’t want to be limited by what part-tme employment opportunities may offer. People want flexibility to pick up the kids, or care for their elderly parents. The employees of Options4Growth drive their own work schedules, so they can prioritize their lives. Kirsti and Jill’s approach is to empower employees to volunteer their time, give back to their communities, take care of themselves and their families.

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This honoring of PEOPLE concept carries thru to their cloud based software tool called OPA Connect, that Kirsti and Jill are introducing to the market. This tool is a solution to the problem that has been exposed in media recently—eliminating annual performance reviews. Annual reviews are backward looking, one time, subjective perspective of an employees performance. What OPA Connect brings to an organization is an opportunity to be forward looking, while addressing our unique human nature and requirement for communication, clarification and acknowledgment. After all, it is all about the PEOPLE.

Read the full article about Kirsti and Jill ’s successful approach to growing their businesses, at Forbes Online.

“OPA Connect” Links People to Strategy

I have to say we are not in the habit of blogging, but we have a big announcement to make, hence the shout out. Options4Growth has been consistently delivering the message to our clients and our network about the importance of connecting “people” to the organization’s strategy. When employees share in the creation of their roles and responsibilities and can see the link to the company initiatives, change happens, accountability and engagement occurs.

Conceptually, this makes good sense, but how do you implement? As of last week Options4Growth has engaged on our own journey of practice what you preach. We now have our own proprietary, cloud based tool, that helps employees engage, perform and move in the same forward direction, together, toward the completion of company initiatives.  Key word here is “together”.

The software enables each employee to see how achieving their goals adds to the bigger picture and enables them to see exactly the value they bring to the company. It also allows them and the management chain to see how they are performing against the goals they set, regularly, not annually. This in-itself could eliminate the need for performance reviews, as everyone will be on the same page for every employee’s performance, eliminating the subjectivity, arduous work, and frequent employee-employer communication challenges common in performance reviews today.

Hmmm, eliminate performance reviews and still have everyone moving in a forward direction toward completing defined company initiatives.  Hard to imagine, but easier than you think to accomplish.

Email info@options4growth.net for more information about OPA Connect and rid your organization of the dreaded annual review process.

Kirsti in Kenya – My Last Update from Kenya

Saturday was the second day of leading a “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” workshop in Nairobi.  The workshop was made up of working class women, many of which are entrepreneurs, looking grow their businesses.  We worked again, on the normal foundation of a strong business, including defining their core values.  Many of which included:

•  Hard work
•  Respect
•  Trustworthiness
•  Fear of God

What I was most impressed with was how many women said, “Hard work was a core value (for them).”  Many in this second group are single parents, which is even more difficult in Kenya.  There is hardly a social welfare system to support them, so working and raising a family on your own is quite difficult.  However, these women can see, and working hard, to preserve a future for themselves and their children.

Several are “hawkers,” the people, who walk down the sides of busy streets and sell their wares to people waiting in cars stuck in traffic.  Imagine trying to figure out your brand promise, when that is your livelihood.  Though their enthusiasm and persistence led them to define what they can do to grow their businesses.  They even worked on defining their “sandboxes”.

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Many finished their one-page plans, and promised to keep in touch with their progress.  My promise is to return in January to review their year and to help facilitate the planning for 2015.  In return, they will mentor the next group of young entrepreneurs, on how to start their own plan for the new year.  The model has to be sustainable.

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We may not accomplish it all in one year, but certainly over the course of a few, we can be successful.

Kirsti in Kenya – A Day for the Entrepreneurs

Today was a day for me to dig in and work hard. Part of the work I am doing in Nairobi is with two small non-profits, eMentor and Youth Banner.  Both programs support entrepreneur’s by giving them training and mentoring to start their own businesses.  I am working with individuals, who have gone through the training programs and have already been running their own businesses for a period of time.  The workshops focus on how they can build a solid foundation for their businesses and how to grow them.

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We had everything from rice and potato farmers to caterers, clothing merchants, tailors, graphic designers and hawkers.  We did a lot of the work that I would normally do with our clients – defined their core values, their SWOT analysis, what their brand promise is and how they will measure their success.  We spent time practicing their “pitch”, developing their messaging and putting together their execution plan.  It was a lot of work for one day, but so valuable.

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Here’s what I learned: the gifts I have been given to do this work, need to continue to be given; plain and simple.  The last two days of being immersed in the school system gave me a strong foundation to work from in offering examples and suggestions.  The ability to tell stories from local organizations made all the difference.  I’m grateful to the schools we visited earlier this week, who shared their visions with me.  I am also grateful for the amazing women I continue to meet, who are building their communities, one step at a time.

Kirsti in Kenya – Day Two of Visiting Schools

Today we visited three more schools, all of which are public, government run institutions. What struck me the most, was that every single school had their mission, vision and core values posted all around the school.  It was amazing!

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I spoke with Alice Watakah, the Deputy at Kileleshwa Primary School, and asked why it was that all of the public schools had this.  Her answer was simple. “Because we must!  How else would people know what we do and why we are here?”   Such a simple answer to a tough question.

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Many of the companies I work with, spend a lot of time defining what their mission, vision and values are.  They are the cornerstone to building a strong team, focused on a common goal.  Behind the posted core values are the goals for the year.  A regular report card that looks a lot like a “KPI Chart” that lets parents, guardians, teachers and students alike, know how well the school is doing. Pretty impressive work.

The public schools here continue to impress me.  I’ll keep asking the companies I work with ~ “What do you do and why are you here?”