Trust and transparency have been the focal point of Todd Skokan’s management style for years and it serves him well at BirdDogHR, the talent management software company. As Chief Executive Officer, he puts a lot of trust into his staff, something that’s hard for many leaders to do.
“You have to trust the people you hire to do their jobs and do them well,” Skokan said in a recent interview with The SaaS Report. “I know BirdDogHR would not have as much success if I were the one calling all the shots. I trust our leadership team and the teams they hire to do what I cannot.” It’s also the key to a highly productive workforce. Trust breeds responsibility and a sense of ownership in the organization, driving collaboration and innovation.
Skokan’s belief in trust, commitment and transparency date back to his upbringing in a small midwestern town. His dad managed the local fertilizer plant where his honest straightforward approach resonated with BirdDogHR’s CEO. “If you said you are going to do something, then you did it. It was about commitment, trust, and friendship,” said the executive. “I have tried to carry that mindset with me through my career and in the relationships I have.”
When it comes to leading Skokan sees his job as enriching the lives of his leadership team and employees by listening to their needs and coming up with solutions. He also fosters a culture of recognition via the company’s Bucket Slip initiative in which employees acknowledge workers who have done a good job, the company’s employee of the month and annual awards and outside work events. “If it weren’t for our staff, we couldn’t delight our customers, so serving them and helping them to be the best they can is of utmost importance,” said Skokan. That mindset had helped Skokan even in trying times when he was faced with challenges such as creating a leadership team. After all, it's the team that has to do the heavy lifting of conveying the company message to employees and customers. “They deserve the credit for the success of the business,” said Skokan. “Finding leaders with the right mix of empathy, commitment, and willingness to challenge our employees to improve and grow professionally is a significant challenge.”
As for what advice he would give the next generation of tech CEOs, Skokan said always listen to the needs of customers and deliver on them or someone else will. “Don’t dismiss good ideas just because they seem like work,” he said.