Williamson, Inc. event emphasizes relationships in business during isolation

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Topics of Today

Matt Largen (left), CEO of Williamson, Inc., speaks with JP Cowan, principal at TMPartners, about strengthening business ties during self-isolation.

Williamson, Inc. continued its new virtual series, Topics of Today, on Monday with its second Facebook Live event, sharing tips on strengthening business ties and placing an emphasis on maintaining relationships during this time of isolation. 

Matt Largen, CEO of Williamson, Inc., spoke with JP Cowan, principal at TMPartners, an architecture firm based in Brentwood, about working with businesses and internal teams remotely. 

Cowan mentioned it’s important to acknowledge the difficulties people are facing during this pandemic and remember to treat businesses and team members as humans. 

“At this time, when we’re all kind of fragmented and have some isolation, it’s really important to communicate, communicate, communicate,” he said. “Reach out to folks — not just email, but call them and check in. How are things going? It’s not just business, no tone-deaf emails or marketing brochures. This is not the time for that, but it’s, ‘How can we help you?’” 

He added his team always talks about keeping clients happy at their weekly meetings, but he said that could look different for everyone. 

“We don’t prescribe what that is because everybody values things differently, so we ask folks to kind of practice empathy, really understand what it is that our clients and people are trying to achieve,” he said. 

Largen mentioned THNKS, a Manhattan-based company in the process of relocating its headquarters to Williamson County that allows businesses to send gifts of gratitude, such as a free lunch or Uber ride, to clients, customers, business partners or employees, encouraging this as a resource to strengthen business relationships during this time apart. 

The two also discussed tips for leaders of business teams. Cowan said his company was able to keep all its employees during the 2008 financial crisis, but everyone underwent shared sacrifice, giving up something, “whether it’s financial or certain opportunities” for the good of the company. 

“It’s important to us because of how close we are, how much time we spent building our team,” Cowan said. “Knowing that there is an end to any situation like that, being able to come out of it stronger will give us returns faster.” 

Though not all companies are able to implement this kind of retention model, Cowan did say now is an important time for leaders to be transparent and provide hope to their employees. 

“There’s a lot of strain on a lot of people, so as a leader, you have to shoulder that burden — as much of it as you can — to provide clear, transparent facts about what’s going on in your business so folks can say, ‘All right, they’ve got this,’” he said. “(It’s) also important to say, ‘Look, we are going to work our butts off to get through this, and we’re going to make it happen.’” 

For more information about Williamson, Inc. and its upcoming events, visit williamsonchamber.com.

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