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Denise Altman is the Founder and Principal of Altman Initiative Group in Denver, North Carolina. She is rated as one of the Charlotte Business Journal’s “Top 25 Women in Business” and was listed in 1998 in the Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” She received her MBA from UNC Charlotte. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Professional Behavior Analyst.
The Altman Initiative Group, Inc. focuses on people. They help business owners hire, train, and coach their employees for greater job satisfaction and productivity. They facilitate group meetings and conversations to keep everyone on the same page and moving in a positive direction.
MO: What initially inspired you to found The Altman Initiative Group?
Denise: I was the marketing/sales director for a local CPA firm in Charlotte, NC. As I talked to prospective clients (business owners), I realized that their most pressing business needs revolved around people – finding them, training them, motivating them, keeping them. I went back to my partners at the CPA firm and proposed that I start a division to help with those issues. They were on board, so off I went. A few years later, we decided to sell our firm to a national CPA firm. The national firm didn’t offer the types of services my division did, so I opted to take the division out on my own. And hence, the Altman Initiative Group, Inc. was born and thrives today.
MO: How has your background and experience contributed to the development and success of the company?
Denise: I have a varied background – I’m a CPA, so I understand the bottom line and metrics, I’m a Behavioral Analyst and Observer of people, so I understand the impact people have on the bottom line. I’m also a very practical business person. I don’t provide “fluff.” My services are designed to provide impact for my clients by taking a practical approach to people issues. Having been (and still being) a business owner myself, I look at the consulting equation from my client’s perspective.
MO: How have you integrated a behavioral approach in your services?
Denise: I believe behavior style is the most critical component of interactions and of relationships. I use the behavioral approach in every aspect of my business. People need to learn to communicate better with each other, and behavioral tools help them do that. I have to know how to speak the language my coaching client can embrace, and the behavioral assessments help me do that. Learning about my own behavior style and its impact on others was life-changing for me about 15 years ago. I know it works, and I have a passion for teaching it in everything I do.
MO: You believe that people perform best when they are in a job that fits their temperament. What are some tips for individuals to discover or explore career options that are most suited to their disposition?
Denise: The first step is to take a behavioral assessment. There are many on the market – we use DISC©. Seeing the 20+ pages about yourself helps to clarify things you may have known in part, but you perhaps never understood their significance. The report we use includes a couple of pages on “Value to an Organization” and “Ideal Environment.” They provide suggestions on the contributions people of a particular style want to make in an organization. While they don’t suggest specific jobs or industries, they do provide insight that will help the individual key in on what’s really important in the jobs they pursue. Beyond that, we provide coaching to help people explore the types of jobs that might be a good fit. Most of our work is with the company, not the person seeking career advice. We use these tools to help our clients understand the temperament that would be best suited to the job they have open. Then we assess candidates on many fronts, including the behavioral one, to help our clients put people in places where their temperaments will be a good fit.
MO: What are some suggestions for people looking to become more productive and attain a greater sense of job satisfaction?
Denise: My dad always said “Life is too short to be in a job you hate.” Most people don’t even realize why they hate their jobs, they just know they do. The best job satisfaction comes from being in a situation that allows you to use your natural behavioral strengths, so that’s the first part of the equation. Your productivity will be higher in those positions as well, because you’re not trying to be something you’re not. You can use your energy more efficiently. Certainly the culture of the company and the attitude of the boss have a bearing as well. Interview the company you’re considering joining as they interview you. Ask lots of questions to determine if you’re going into a good situation for yourself.
MO: You’ve been in business for over 10 years and your client base is continually growing. What do you think the key elements of your success have been over the last decade?
Denise: I help companies with their most critical components – their people. My clients use me again and again because they get good, practical, cost-effective solutions. They tell others because everyone needs this kind of help from time to time. I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I’ll clearly tell a client when I don’t think I can help them. They trust me, and I value that trust.
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