Monica Eaton-Cardone and her associates had several years experience as online merchants. In the course of their business, they saw a need in the industry for a service to manage the chargebacks that were eating away at their profits. None existed, so they took matters into their own hands. In September 2009, they launched Chargebacks911, offering merchants technologies and strategies to effectively manage chargebacks. The company now has 350 employees worldwide.
(Photo courtesy of Monica Eaton-Cardone)
At first, Eaton-Cardone says, “I ran my business more like a West Coast tech company. I wanted to streamline processes to increase workflow and productivity within my business. I based my beliefs on traditional company structures, thinking my business needed to become more corporate to grow.” She hired a business consultant who created an elaborate system of statistics drawn from daily tracking of each department’s productivity. Policies and procedures were implemented, but employee morale plummeted. Talent left.
One of the issues, as Eaton-Cardone describes it, was the layers of management created by the consultant. “Under this system, employees shared their ideas and/or problems with their direct supervisor. The supervisors brought the issues to their manager, who reported ideas and concerns to me.” This system interrupted the flow of communications, particularly between departments. Employees, who had been accustomed to dealing directly with Eaton-Cardone, were frustrated. Other policies that proved counter-productive were an overly rigid dress code and time-consuming tracking of minute-to-minute activities that had little to no impact on the bottom line.
How did Eaton-Cardone turn things around? “I apologized to my employees. I got rid of the consultant and introduced Kanban to the organization.” Kanban is an online whiteboard tool for managing projects and collaborating in real-time. Eaton-Cardone says the introduction of this tool transformed her business, increasing processes, employee morale and productivity. Training was minimal as she was introduced to the tool with the book “Agile Project Management with Kanban” by Eric Brechner. It was a quick read and entertaining. “I loved the efficiency of the model so much that I implemented it into our culture.” The free-flow of thoughts generated by throwing out overly complicated procedures and policies and adopting a system that facilitated communication allowed creativity to flourish. Also, in this new, employee-friendly environment, it became apparent the dress code was unnecessarily restrictive and needed to be revised.
This article was written by Gillian Burdett of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.