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How I Made My Millions: Teamwork is the Key to Business Success

Oftentimes, I’m asked what the key to TransPerfect’s success has been as we’ve grown from an idea born in a dorm room to the world’s largest privately held provider of language services and technologies. My response hasn’t changed in 19 years: It’s all about the people who work here. From the production team to the salespeople to the C-level executives, TransPerfect wouldn’t have become the family of companies it is today without the team of people alongside me and my business partner, Phil Shawe.

Transperfect
Source: Transperfect
Transperfect

To make sure we get the right people on board, we stick to a series of hiring principles. We take the time to locate the right people, the people we feel will help sustain our steady growth.

Since we invest so much time in hiring the right people, we make it a priority to retain them and to encourage them to grow along with the company. To do this, we train, motivate and cultivate each and every person who works for us, regardless of his or her position in the company.

Train

Our training process is extensive. From day one, we provide the bulk of our employees with a blended learning approach, combining 102 online modules with hands-on practice. Additionally, we cross-train. Our sales teams take the training courses that our production teams take, so they have more knowledge and can sell better, and so on.

But we don’t stop there. Our training continues well beyond our employees’ first days with the company. As an employee develops, so does the complexity of the training. We conduct several sales conferences a year so our teams can learn more about certain vertical markets or specific skill sets. We also conduct an annual production conference.

Furthermore, when people are promoted, we help them adjust to their new roles by hosting management seminars with our senior-level staff. The value of these seminars is twofold: New managers learn from veterans while veterans have the opportunity to share what they have learned in their years with TransPerfect.

Motivate

Once we have hired and trained the right people, we focus on motivating them and, more importantly, keeping them motivated. We have found that a mix of incentives is most effective at achieving this goal.

Financial compensation is obviously important. We reward our employees with a range of financial perks, including a phantom stock program, lavish getaways to which they can bring their families and annual parties. Even during the economic recession, we maintained our schedule of events because, beyond the value of recognition, the team benefits from interacting outside of the office and getting to know each other’s families. We all work hard, but work isn’t the only part of our lives, nor do we want it to be. We find that a team that takes time to really get to know its members will succeed together.

Another fun perk we offer is something we call “spin the wheel,” where we offer our top performers a chance to win different incentives, such as trips, gift cards, cash prizes, etc. Whatever prize the wheel lands on is theirs to keep.

However, we have found that money is not enough. It takes more than bonuses, raises and trips to keep people engaged and producing stellar results. This is why we offer other incentives, such as guest speakers including Colin Powell, Coach Rudy Ruettiger and Charlotte Beers.

Additionally, we hand out non-financial awards and accolades that are designed to highlight to the entire company an individual’s accomplishments. Since financially focused rewards are not public, we find that the non-financial awards, which we give at least six times a year to recognize publicly top performers, instill a sense of pride and promote some friendly competition among our team.

Cultivate

We’ve learned that motivation alone isn’t enough to retain top talent. At TransPerfect, we focus on long-term cultivation, both professionally and personally.

From a professional standpoint, we work with our employees to set and reach individual and group goals. We also encourage the team, and even pay for the team, to attend networking events and training sessions outside of the ones we host as a company. Finally, we provide opportunities for people to get involved with the charities TransPerfect supports, and we even support charities that employees champion if they weren’t on our radar previously.

We have established a structure for both informal and formal mentoring relationships. For example, we pair up longtime employees with new employees so they can learn from each other.

Another successful mentoring program is one focused on women who are about to marry and/or have children. We feel that family is important, so we want people to know that, and we want to provide a path for them to feel supported and successful at work while raising a family.

Finally, we listen to our employees, which directly impacts the motivation, cultivation and retention of our team. We regularly survey our different departments (300 people from each) to find out what they think is working and what isn’t, and then we address each person’s views.

Almost exclusively, we promote from within the company; most of our top leaders started as entry-level employees. We believe the process works. By focusing on training, motivating and cultivating our team, we inspire longevity and provide a path for the company’s growth.

Tune in:

'How I Made My Millions' Monday, August 1 9p | 12a ET

Liz Elting is co-founder and co-CEO of TransPerfect, the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business services. Elting oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, headquartered in New York City. Elting has earned numerous awards for her outstanding entrepreneurship, including Working Woman's Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for Customer Service, the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and American Express and Entrepreneur’s Woman of the Year Award."

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