Empowering Employees To Be Their Best: James Canada | Alliance Technologies, LLC
Published in the ST. LOUIS SMALL BUSINESS MONTHLY / August 2017
While James Canada’s 35 years of corporate experience encompass manufacturing, human resources, operations, customer service, total quality management, process improvement, facilities, re-engineering and more, he still had a burning desire to be an entrepreneur. He wanted to give back to those in need while establishing his own destiny. “I wanted to create something to provide solutions that may benefit others, create value for what I can offer while rewarding myself for my hard work,” he says. “The corporate workplace does not always allow you to make a contribution to the company and see the benefit of your efforts. Your ideas oftentimes belong to the company, and you don’t always have the satisfaction of a reward.”
Today, as the managing partner/president and CEO of Alliance Technologies LLC, Canada is focused on creating company values that are driven by culture. “I believe the benefits of developing values and sharing them with your organization helps everyone be more consistent in conducting business,” he says. “Most employees enjoy structure and purpose in the workplace. Having clear values that support the vision and mission, in my opinion, helps clarify the direction and overall work environment.” While values including customer and employee satisfaction, taking ownership, developing relationships, quality, integrity, financial performance, and civic responsibility drive the direction of Canada and his employees, he still works on creating trust in the workplace. “Trust in the workplace is paramount, especially for a small business,” says Canada. “Without it you waste needless time wondering what the other person is doing to counter your progress or set you up for failure in some way. Some waste time worrying about others pulling their share of the workload or taking care of the finances.
Trusting in your partners or employees frees you up mentally to get the tasks you need done.” In building the vision behind Alliance Technologies’ culture, Canada has found one of his initial goals — helping others — rewarding. “Help those in transition find opportunity,” he says. “Help my employees succeed and prosper. My philosophy is that you can never give too much. Giving more to another person, and sharing more with them, is a great way to help them.” Throughout his corporate and entrepreneurial career, Canada has learned that leadership requires providing the direction and the tools to help employees be successful and then empower them.
“Empowerment must be a feeling the employee has if there is any real chance of success. You are not empowered until you feel empowered,” he says. “Clearly you cannot mandate employee feeling, so you must create the right environment that allows the appropriate feeling to flourish. Doing this is no easy matter… “Empowerment is being in control, not being controlled. If you have management constantly checking on employees, explicitly or implicitly, they are not empowered. Empowerment is the ability to satisfy customer needs as they arise. It is being allowed to make decisions — even a limited number of decisions if the employees understand that boundaries will start the process. Empowerment is being valued as an individual and as part of a team. Empowerment is being allowed to make a mistake — although mistakes are not encouraged.”