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Decisive Group lands Best Places to Work win third year in a row

CEO Mitchell Carkner leads with empathy and ‘hyper-transparency’

Decisive Group goes golfing

Whatever Decisive Group did to reach Ottawa’s Best Places to Work list for the third year in a row, it seems to be working. 

CEO Mitchell Carkner is quick to give credit to his team, because when you lead one of Ottawa’s top digital transformation companies, empathy is essential.

Respecting diversity means knowing your team

Decisive Group believes that the best way to motivate a team of professionals is to know them and respect the diversity they bring to the table.

“It’s important to realize that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work,” said Clare Sullivan, vice-president of human resources. 

“When we conduct our yearly ‘celebration survey’ we ask our staff what recognition looks like for them,” she said. “Some people appreciate public recognition, but for others it would be the worst thing to do.”

Decisive Group basketball
Work and play go together at Decisive Group.

This approach — taking the time to know your team — starts at the top. 

“When I join an organization, I start by getting to know the leadership team,” said Carkner, who joined the company as CEO in 2020. “The level of care and respect amongst ours and our employees makes it easy for me to show up every day.”

Professionals deserve hyper-transparency

That openness isn’t just about knowing each other. It’s a core value that ensures everyone knows how they’re running the business. 

“We are hyper-transparent around our financials, performance, objectives, and how we’re supporting our customers,” said Carkner. “We share that broadly across the entire organization through a number of different meetings, whether it’s all-hands calls, teams, chats, emails, or water cooler chat.” 

Decisive Group lunch

Hyper-transparency also means they don’t shy away from sharing both the good and the not-so-good news. 

“We want folks to know what we’re excited about, as well as anything that’s not so positive,” said Carkner. “We believe in treating professionals as professionals, so if you make a decision that doesn’t make sense to your team, you’ve failed at this.”

Employee growth leads to business growth

Hyper-transparency has also taught them that when you’re clear with your team, they’ll be transparent with you. 

They’ve learned that taking their staff seriously leads to business growth, because employees who feel heard bring their best ideas to the table. 

“We like to reframe ‘climbing the corporate ladder’ through an entrepreneurial lens so we build the business together,” said Carkner. 

“If an employee wants to develop a new skill set, we ask ‘Does that fit our mission? Is there a business case around it?’” he added. “If the answer is yes, we can build something new.” 

Decisive Group golf girls
Decisive Group brings their team together outside the office.

While they’ve always supported professional development, Sullivan’s department has been making it even easier to access a plethora of learning resources to achieve this goal.

But it’s not the only way they foster an entrepreneurial spirit – they do it by keeping their operations just agile enough. 

“There’s a fine line between being agile and structured enough to get things done,” said Sullivan. “We’ve struck that balance well by aligning new projects with the right business unit.”

Overall, this combination of efforts translates into a work environment their employees love. “I’m super proud of what we hear in our quarterly engagement surveys,” said Sullivan. “People always put a great work atmosphere in the top three.”

That’s why Carkner knows once you’ve found the best talent, you do what it takes to keep them.

Click here to learn more about Decisive Group.