Big Money

Manage Your Employees Well

Unless your employees are happy, good luck. Especially if you're a technology company or your staff is on the small side, your employees likely spend a huge chunk of their lives working for the good of your brand. If they don't feel they're being well-compensated or that they're making a difference, expect a high turnover rate.

Maintaining a spirited team is something Chu feels is imperative to not only getting a business to Point B(illion), but taking it further. To remind his employees of their importance, he calls them employee-partners. That doesn't just insinuate they enjoy generous employee benefits and services, including profit-sharing and a broad-based stock option plan (which they do). According to Chu, "They feel like [ViewSonic] is their own company, and that's the reason they put their hearts into it. If you only have a 'job' and you're not that happy, you can't contribute more [than is required]."

Chu admits that when a company hits the billion-dollar mark, the overall tone of the workplace changes. It not only becomes more frenzied and exhilarating, but it also requires more manpower to keep up with the numbers. When new management is added, the "treat employees like family members" culture can be jeopardized if you let it. "It's a whole different environment. Everybody's thinking [that much harder], and everybody approaches things a little differently," he says, "but employee partnership is the spirit we want to continue pushing. If we want to become a $10 billion company in the future, the goal won't happen for the long term without good employee partnership."

"To err is human." Get used to it

Chu feels that if his employee-partners aren't making mistakes, then, frankly, they're probably either not working hard enough or not taking creative risks. He and his management team encourage outside-the-box thinking and don't reprimand employees for the odd, unintentional mistake, because a lesson of how to do things better is always born of it. "You must be doing and trying, but make sure your mistakes are affordable mistakes--more like tuition," says Chu.

While learning from your own trial and error can be beneficial, also look to your industry peers as possible "what not to do" examples. "Learn from how competitors make mistakes," says Chu. "It's like making a mistake but not spending money [on it]."

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This article was originally published in the May 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Big Money.

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