Innovation Man: Michael Chalmers is the 2023 Innovation MVP
Name: Michael Chalmers
Title: Franchise owner
Company: Spherion Staffing
Family: Wife Kim, son Adam, daughter-in-law Cynthia
Years in Franchising: 13
Years in current position: 13
Michael Chalmers is the 2023 Innovation MVP (Most Valuable Performer), awarded for bringing a new and unique contribution to their brand.
At the age of 50, Michael Chalmers could be said to have 40 years of franchising knowledge to apply to the growth of his Spherion Staffing business. He grew up in a household involved in franchising, worked with his family, earned an MBA in business administration with a concentration in human resources, and spent time working for Spherion Staffing corporate before becoming a Spherion franchisee.
He has learned a thing or two along the way, especially about how to manage change, whether technological or otherwise. “In today’s environment, change is fast, and if you’re not changing, you’re going to be out of business.” He also knows that most people fear or resist change no matter how beneficial it might be.
“What I have found is that the most important thing is to make sure you are communicating with people clearly and often,” he says. “After that change decision has been made, the best I can do is most concisely explain, ‘This is why,’ and try to give them as much information as I can.” Ultimately, though, he says, “Your people have to trust the leader, and you have to trust your team. If they trust you and you bring in new technology, they are more apt to be willing to embrace it and move forward.”
Some might accuse him of overcommunicating, but he knows better, and his track record backs that up. “It’s really important that people understand what’s going on. If they know the plan, it’s easier,” he says. Involving people in that change process also has value because, he says, “Who better to look at change in something than the employees who do it every day?”
Why do you think you were recognized with this award? I’m a strong supporter of the brand and always a leader in trying and using new technologies and processes provided by the franchisor. I’m also a past president of the Franchise Advisory Board.
How have you raised the bar in your own company? Helping to launch Spherion’s Sandy Mazur Excellence in Leadership Scholarship and developing innovations in recruiting during Covid.
What innovations have you created and used to build your company? Use of technology provided by the franchisor, process improvements, and team development.
What core values do you think helped you win this award? Innovation, passion, insightfulness, and engagement.
How important is community involvement to you and your company? It’s huge. We do a lot in our communities in both financial giving and time. Helping to build and sustain our community is a key core value of our company.
What leadership qualities are most important to you and your company? Initiative, drive, creativeness, and compassion. These four characteristics are essential to our industry. It is a very competitive industry, so you always have to be driving for results. Yet we are in the people business, so compassion and empathy are vital to building strong relationships with our candidates, clients, and employees.
Formative influences/events: I grew up with family who were in franchising, so that helped to develop my passion and understanding of the franchise model. During the recession of 2008–2010, I decided it was the right time to make a move and enter into owning my own franchise.
Key accomplishments: Winner of multiple Spherion Awards, past president of Spherion’s Franchise Advisory Board, and growth of over 10x in revenue over 13 years. Three acquisitions: 2014, 2016, and 2022.
Next big goal: Continue growth of the company through organic expansion. Revenue growth goal of $30 million annually.
Hardest lesson learned: You cannot always do everything.
Best advice you ever got: Buy low, sell high.
Favorite book: Know Your Why by Ken Costa.
What’s your passion in business? Developing our teams and making significant positive impacts in the lives of our employees, our customers, and the communities we serve.
Business philosophy: Always do the right thing.
Management method or style: Servant leadership.
Greatest challenge: Managing growth.
How close are you to operations? Weekly.
How do you hire and fire, train and retain? We are purposeful in who we choose to join our organization. We use a testing methodology to determine fit, along with multiple interviews. Candidates are also interviewed by someone in the office where they will be working.
What have been the biggest impacts of Covid-19 on your business? Covid made us rethink our business model by using more technology. Technology has had the greatest impact. Being able to balance tech and touch is the most crucial part of what we do.
Annual revenue: $22 million.
2023 goals: Increase revenue to $30 million.
Growth meter: How do you measure your growth? Number of new clients and dashboards for KPIs.
Vision meter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? Our 5-year growth strategy is to grow our business to $40 million in revenue. In 10 years, I hope to have an exit strategy in place.
What are you doing to take care of your employees? We do many things. We recently incorporated a new EAP for our employees and their household members. We offer full benefits and a rich PTO policy. We invest heavily in training as well.
What kind of exit strategy do you have in place? Currently, I do not have one. I do have a plan in the event of something catastrophic happening to me. I do not have a transition plan from the business at this time.
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