This past week, we had the privilege of speaking with David Dourgarian, Chairman and CEO of TempWorks Software. This company offers innovative office staffing software solutions and payroll funding programs for any business, big or small. We spoke to David about this company and what makes sets them apart as leaders in their industry, and here is what he had to say.
Tell us about your business/for purpose organization (how long have you been in business, what is your specialty, products or services, how many employees you have, etc.):
Since 1997, TempWorks Software has delivered staffing software solutions that streamline the everyday work of busy, temp volume recruiters. In 18 years, we’ve expanded our offerings to include payroll processing, tax management, and onboarding, as well as payroll funding that gives staffing companies with fluctuating headcounts access to consistent funds, in turn helping them grow. TempWorks is located adjacent to the Twin Cities in Eagan, Minnesota, and we’ve grown to a staff of 125.
What makes your company/organization leaders in your industry?
Many of our core leaders have been immersed in the staffing industry (not the software industry) since they were young. This perspective allows us to think like recruiters and payroll clerks and to constantly improve our user experience by incorporating those essential perspectives. We’re never afraid to jump in feet first and try new things. In fact, our management team is surprisingly nimble, which allows us to make decisions in a timely manner and implement new strategies within a shorter time frame than a more bureaucratic organization. However, we don’t scrimp on time where it counts the most: learning about a customer’s unique business model and niche before devising the most fitting combination of tools.
Who or what has influenced you (book, movie, person, other company/for purpose organization)?
As a college history major and a hobby reader of history books and encyclopedias, I find decisions of John F. Kennedy were useful to study.
A few things stand out:
First, he decided that we would go to the moon. When he made that decision, the Russians were already lapping us in the space race. Making it a success required gutting an entire Federal agency (NASA), and then building it back to five times its size very quickly. The massive research and development investment trickled down to defense contractors and their respective subcontractors, increasing the sales of organizations like Xerox and IBM. A generation later, those investments were getting parlayed into little companies like Apple and Microsoft. This taught me that it is never too early to put your eggs in the research and development basket, especially when you’re running a technology company. The initial return is always further away than you can expect, but when the chips eventually fall, the return can be prolific.
Secondly, JFK led our country through the Cuban missile crisis—the closest we ever came to nuclear war. He did so without firing a shot. This teaches us that while running any organization, even if you don’t find conflict, conflict will find you. There is a fine line between standing your ground and not escalating the conflicts you become involved in. Finding that line places your organization in an environment where it will be most competitive.
I often wonder how much more JFK might have accomplished had he lived through his entire first (or even a second) presidential term. To me, he remains a shining example of confident decision making and leadership defined by action, something I strive for every day on a much smaller scale.
What key qualities do you look for in your employees/team?
Participation and initiative are ingrained in our office culture. Since we do not have a rigid department structure, it’s entirely feasible for employees to learn from inter-departmental work and find their true fit. When an employee shows interest beyond their department’s “walls,” it shows us they’re motivated to stretch their skills and support our company in a variety of ways. We value that curiosity and that willingness to step outside an initial job description in order to help one’s co-workers and customers.
We also look for people who take personal pride in their work. If an entry-level employee has a suggestion, we encourage them to ‘raise their hand,’ so to speak. When they care enough to speak up, we know that they take a personal measure of pride in their work, and that’s a quality that’s important at any level. This is more of a personality trait than a skill that can be taught.
Words of advice for others growing their business/for purpose organization?
Getting the right talent on board is step one. Once you assemble a team of employees who care as much about your organization as you do, give them freedom. At the same time, realize that your team is not set in stone, and be able to make uncomfortable decisions when necessary. Constantly evaluate your business for ways to improve. In other words, don’t assume that the way you’ve always done things is the best way. As you grow, don’t lose touch with the qualities that helped you grow in the first place, whether that be your availability to (or familiarity with) customers, your finger on the pulse of operations, your visibility in the community, or your cutting-edge software—which is only going to remain cutting edge if you keep reinventing it.