The Co-Ownership Effect
I’ve been working at CCi in the north of Winston-Salem, NC for over a year now, and a pleasant year it’s been. As with most new jobs, much of the first year was spent learning and acclimatizing, as every company has their own systems, culture, and ways of doing things. This was especially true for a Software Developer, such as me. As a developer, my job is to develop the programs and systems needed to serve our growing customer base, whether it’s in CoBOL, CL, or SQL on the IBM iSeries, or in C#, VisualBasic, VBScript, or WinForms, in the Microsoft Windows and .Net platforms.
But unlike most new jobs, one thing stands out about working at CCi.
I’ve only worked for Fortune 500 companies before this, and CCi is comparatively small. A medical billing and patient communications company, it was founded in 1972 by Gilmour Lake and his wife around their kitchen table. CCi has since grown to about 100 employees and in 2005, when Gilmour retired, the employees bought the company and turned it into an employee-owned company, or ESOP.
We are ALL co-owners of this company! Companies may say they care about their employees, but many publicly listed companies are only focused on their shareholders and meeting their quarterly projections. I do, indeed, feel like I belong in the family at CCi. It’s a different mindset. As co-owners, we’re highly engaged, doing our jobs exceptionally, and helping each other when we need help. With only 100 co-owners, it’s all too apparent to each of us that the company’s success depends on each one of us carrying our own weight and more.
Another aspect of co-ownership is transparency. The vision, goals, and financials are freely shared between the leadership team and the rank-and-file. Even when we experienced the occasional growing pains, the vision and plans on how we needed to navigate the waters of change were also freely shared and feedback garnered and acted upon.
I have found this to be a refreshingly new mindset. I can see clearly where the rubber meets the road, how I can contribute my own skills to the plan, and how I can help my co-owners, as well as be helped by them.