Managed Services

November MSP Growth Habit: Pay Attention and Promote Gratitude

Although in Canada we celebrated our Thanksgiving Holiday back in early October, for those in the US, November is the month where many American families and friends will gather together to ‘give thanks’.  However, North America is not the only area of the world that practices an annual tradition of giving thanks around this time of year. Countries like Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have their own set of celebrations that have roots in honoring the autumn harvest. The United Kingdom celebrates the Harvest Festival in late September/early October with food and festivities to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Japan, Liberia, and Brazil are noted to all have ties to this custom.  

What does this have to do with your MSP and improving your business? 

Giving thanks, and showing appreciation and gratitude should not just be once-a-year sentiments. Rather, these characteristics should be the cornerstone of establishing and maintaining a type of corporate culture where people are engaged, committed, and want to come to work. And, more importantly, where people won’t want to leave.    

Many MSPs are still struggling to source quality talent—whether it’s in tech, sales, or marketing. According to a survey of technology industry leaders by Deloitte in August this year (2023), 90% of leaders surveyed said that recruiting and retaining talent were a moderate or major challenge for their organization. In addition, 72% expressed “meeting workers’ broader needs” as a moderate or major challenge as well. 

Focusing on creating a warm, energetic, and supportive corporate culture can go a long way towards winning potential new talent over. However, it can also help to reduce churn and retain crucial talent by stopping them from potentially signing with one of your competitors. 

So what can you do to help build and strengthen the corporate culture within your MSP, where your top talent won’t want to leave? 

Prioritize Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is not the sole responsibility of your HR department. Rather, it must be made a priority at the leadership and managerial level as well. Employees need to feel that their thoughts, views, and opinions matter, and there should be mechanisms in place that allows them to communicate their concerns in a safe and non-judgmental manner. When employees feel ‘seen’ and ‘heard’ by their managers, they tend to be more involved and enthusiastic to come to work, and less likely to look elsewhere for new employment opportunities. According to a workplace survey, a manager or team leader alone accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement. That is a significant statistic as it demonstrates how crucial managerial sincerity is when it comes to soliciting employees’ feedback on how the company is being run, and what actions are taken afterwards to improve things.   

Here at N-able, we receive bi-annual engagement surveys that all employees participate in, and our C-level executives are transparent in the survey results and what they intend to do to address any concerns the engagement survey highlights. It is something that is openly discussed at all company town hall and quarterly kick-off meetings; and it is at the core of how our senior executive team plans future employee directives. As a long-time employee of N-able, I know that ‘employee engagement’ is not just an “HR thing”, but something in which our entire executive leadership team believes.

Provide Ongoing Opportunities for Career Development 

Employees are keenly interested in gaining an understanding as to what the next rung on the corporate ladder is for them, and what is needed to get there. Having a roadmap as to what ‘success’ looks like for each employee within your MSP and outlining what the expectations are for promotion, can provide a great sense of comfort and direction. Employees want to know where their next career growth and development opportunities exist, and if you cannot provide this kind of structure, it will create uncertainty and hamper your abilities to not only retain staff, but also to recruit new employees as your MSP grows.

One way to help with career growth and development is by implementing a mentorship program. This is something that I am a part of at N-able. With my 20 years of experience in the MSP space, I very much enjoy working with newer N-ablites and sharing my knowledge and expertise in whatever way possible that is most beneficial in helping them thrive and succeed in their respective roles. 

Celebrate Your Employees’ Talents and Strengths 

Employees thrive best when they are in roles that foster their creativity and skillsets and where they are also given the autonomy to shape their role in a way that helps to increase their overall job satisfaction.   Now depending on your MSP’s size, what this looks like might vary, but employees will appreciate it when leadership gives them the freedom and flexibility to really make their role their own, which may be a bit outside what the formal job description says.

Although I was in Sales and Account Management for most of my career at N-able, I always had a passion for creating educational training content for the partners I supported, to uplevel their sales and marketing skillsets. As a result of this, I began to see a correlation between my partners’ sales confidence and my sales success, and so I would develop and deliver training sessions to help improve their sales skillsets, which then helped them to land new customers, which meant they then needed to purchase more licensing from me. Although ‘consulting’, ‘training delivery’, and ‘content creation’ were not part of my actual job description as an Account Manager, I appreciated the autonomy I was provided by my managers as it helped me to build a quality book of business for N-able. And after a period of time, a key leader recognized and appreciated this competency I had and promoted me into the Head Nerd role that I am in today.  

So being cognizant of your employees’ talents and recognizing what brings them joy and fulfilment—and giving them autonomy in the process—is another sure-fire strategy that will help to keep your employees caring and engaged and committed to your MSP.   

Be Flexible Wherever Possible 

I often joke that I am the original WFH N-ablite. I have enjoyed the benefit of working from home since 2005, and this luxury is one of the main reasons why I have continued to work at N-able for the better part of 20 years. I had some personal issues come up where my husband and I felt that we needed to move home, and N-able demonstrated their trust and loyalty to me by granting my WFH request. Now in this post-Covid world, where hybrid work seems to be here to stay, other colleagues of mine around the globe are able to enjoy the same flexibility and work/life balance that I have always known. For many MSPs, having an entirely remote workforce will likely not be possible, but your employees will appreciate efforts that are made to figure out what WFH or hybrid options could be possible. Being open to at least having the conversation and seeking the input and feedback from employees can go a long way in building trust and loyalty between both parties.    

I’m just touching on a few different employee engagement ideas that you could implement, as these are the top ones that have meant the most to me as I reflect on my tenure at N-able. I’m proud of how N-able has really embraced the concept of employee engagement over the past several years and how our leadership and senior management teams have worked to ensure that all 1,500+ employees are heard and their ideas are accounted for. It isn’t just a “trend” but something that is at the heart of how we are building, shaping, and defining our company moving forward.

For other MSP growth habits, check out: New Habits to Target for MSP Growth in 2023

Guest blog courtesy of N-able. Stefanie Hammond is Head Sales and Marketing Nerd at N-able. You can follow her on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @sales_mktg_nerd.