Jennifer Lawton, CEO of Net Daemons Associates Inc., which has headquarters in Woburn, Mass., circulates her annual business plan to all of her 58 employees to get their feedback and support. Workers at the $3.3 million computer-network consulting company are given the plan before the yearly corporate meeting, at which employees are expected to ask questions and offer suggestions. "Our employees are very vocal," says Lawton. "If they don't pipe up there, they will follow up with you independently."

Lawton has demonstrated to her employees that she pays attention to their comments. At the most recent meeting, one engineer questioned the 100% to 200% growth projection for the next year. After a lengthy discussion with the staff, Lawton changed the projection to 80% to 100%. "His question caused me to think about how that growth feels from an engineer's perspective," says Lawton. She decided to grow the business more slowly rather than risk alienating her employees.