Written by Kirkman Beck
This profile of Rebecca Kirkman, President, Kirkman Beck, was published in the “How She Leads” supplement from September 2021.
A passion for staffing was stronger than my fear of failure, which is how Kirkman Beck was born in 2010. My vision for this organization was to stand out from the others for its service and care. Today, 11 years later, with offices in both Texas and California, I can enthusiastically say, listening to this passion instead of my fear has been one of the more meaningful risks of my life.
Passion may look different for many. However, for me, it is something that has only grown deeper and more rewarding over the years. While my initial passion may be what sparked the idea to start this business, that alone is not what has made Kirkman Beck what it is today. Passion and risk-taking are helpful for launching a business. Yet, in my experience, sustaining and growing a business takes much more.
Leading a business can come with its challenges. I find when I focus my attention and time on a few key items, it can be made much easier. A focus on the following concepts has not only helped to grow my passion and my business, but it has also been instrumental in growing my abilities as a leader:
1. Surround yourself with the best people.
Perhaps this seems like an obvious answer for the owner of a staffing business, but the greatest asset for any organization is the team. And, with my business, this may be even more important for us. Staffing is all about helping to connect business needs with quality candidates. Ensuring we have a top notch, experienced, eager, and service-minded team shows we understand firsthand the value of qualified team members for your business, because we value it so much in ours. It is an organization’s life blood.
Our team is motivated to serve because they see the direct connection between the success of our organization and the relationships we build. Service and relationships are vital components to what we do, and they will forever stand as organizational pillars supporting the way in which we operate. Employing the best people allows for stronger relationships and important connections to be made.
For Kirkman Beck, employing a happy and thriving team has assisted us in creating a rich culture that is vibrant and engaged — focused on the same goal. Together, the team works to partner with companies and candidates to achieve a win-win scenario through the building of connections made from customized service. Without the best people, Kirkman Beck — a people business — would flounder.
2. Stay grounded, approachable, and open to new things.
Having the best team is an important start. Yet, simply hiring the best and brightest is not a “one and done” situation by any means. The best people deserve and expect the best leadership.
With years of experience working alongside business owner clients, I have seen firsthand what makes some of them the best leaders in the country. Over the years, I have also seen the damage that can be done because of poor and ego-centered leadership. The good news is there are lessons to be learned from both sides and I am grateful to have benefited from them.
Working to keep and/or eliminate ego from your leadership team is a key component to creating and maintaining a grounded and approachable culture. Titles have their place on business cards and organizational charts, however, if you want to gain the most from your team, I have learned to leave ego at the door.
The best leadership teams stay open to feedback. If your team is sharing information with you, even if it is hard to hear, it is truly a gift. The gift is in the honesty as well as their willingness to share. When a team has checked out or doesn’t trust their leadership team to listen and respond, they will not share the same type of meaningful feedback. If the leadership team creates fear or intimidation, staying quiet is often the only way for the team to feel secure (until they can find another job).
The best leaders identify the best candidates and allow them to do the jobs with which they were hired to perform. Autonomy creates a purpose-driven culture, where people are empowered to act as managers of their own roles and processes. This builds ownership and care within a team. When everyone can own their respective roles, they often are attuned to the specific needs of them and work together to make things more efficient for the greater good.
This type of autonomy brings forth new ideas and suggestions. This is when leaders need to be especially ready to listen and act. Staying open to suggestions from the people who are hired to own their roles shows them that you respect their experience. (This is also an opportunity for you to recognize why you hired them. Thank them for caring and for owning their roles.)
My leadership team and I are intentional with nurturing an organizational culture that is a safe space to share ideas and honest feedback. When a team feels psychologically safe, magic happens. Creating a consistently open environment geared toward innovation is the best way we have found to identifying the best solutions to any of our organizational challenges. We work to remain open to new ideas that come from our team. We are prepared to have meaningful discussions, weigh the pros and cons, and talk through the ideas with each other as a team. This has been extremely important to sustaining our thriving work culture.
3. Find a reason to celebrate…and then do it!
Celebrating with my team is one of my favorite things to do with them. There are so many reasons to, and they do not always have to be focused on business goals. Celebrating the people on the team for who they are and what they bring to the world, not just the office, is huge. Whether it is bringing in a birthday cake or recognizing a personal milestone for someone on the team, celebration of who is on your team shows care and creates a feeling of comradery and family.
The celebration vibe can also be felt by people outside of your organization. Your customers can feel it too. I am always proud to meet with clients within any of our offices because I know that the environment and the feeling of our fun culture is palpable. Clients will often comment about the feel-good vibes of our offices. This is a true compliment to my team.
Kirkman Beck is in the people business, and we LOVE it. Love is a word we do not often hear within the professional realm; however, I believe love is what makes us different from the rest. There is love within this organization; a love for the mission of helping our clients, and a love for each other. I am proud to be a woman business owner and beyond honored to lead the team at Kirkman Beck.