Allan Lutes knows the basic fact about teams: "If it's a team," says Lutes, owner of Alpha Contracting in Ann Arbor, Mich., "you've got to have more than one person on it."
This past January, Lutes, who's served on or managed more than two dozen boards of various organizations, including the local Remodelors Council, formed another one, made up of his own employees.
The seven-person board of advisors meets monthly, and sometimes more often, to confer with Lutes and other top managers at his full-service remodeling company. The group reviews financials such as profit/loss and actual/budget as well as the progress each department -- marketing, sales and estimating, operations (administration), and production -- has made toward goals established at a separate company retreat.
The short-term purpose of the board is to set goals, get feedback on management decisions, improve overall coordination between departments, and make employees feel more part of the management of the company.
The long-term purpose of the board, though, is to "spread leadership out among more people as the company grows." Lutes says he wanted to create a "leadership forum" where employees "will better understand the ups and downs of the business, so they'll think like leaders of the company."
Alpha Contracting employs 24 people. The board includes the company's bookkeeper, production manager, a salesperson/designer, and two people from the field.
"There has to be a training ground where people can learn the information they need to make decisions regarding profitability," Lutes says about his board of directors. "This allows us to see who'll step up and take that responsibility."