Situation: A small company is growing nicely and needs more people. However, the CEO is struggling to find the time to properly interview and hire additional people. In addition, he is not comfortable in this role. Hiring the right people will be critical to the future success of the company. How do you get the right people on the bus?
Advice from the CEOs:
Particularly if the CEO does not feel that hiring is a strength, hire an outside HR firm or consultant to screen and select candidates for interviews.
It is critical to decide, in advance of any search, exactly what the company needs in the individuals that are hired. A good HR consultant can help the company work through this.
Structure the agreement with the HR professional so that they are paid based on successful integration of the individual into the company. It may cost more on the back end for this type of agreement, however, it will save the CEO and the company valuable time and money far in excess of what the company will pay for this assurance.
Plan to only see the final candidates.
What does the company look for in an HR consultant relationship?
Generation of a job description and the key traits of the individual that the company seeks. This helps the HR consultant to select the right candidates for the business and situation.
Candidate recruitment, screening, and selection of final candidate(s) for company review.
The HR consultant will also prep the candidates to succeed in the company’s environment.
Assistance in identifying the key objectives and metrics that will be used to assess the success of the individuals hired during the first quarters or year in the company. If the HR consultant’s compensation is structured so that they are paid well for long-term success, it may cost the company more for the successful hires, however the company will only pay for success and will save considerable cash by averting failures.
In addition to making sure that the right people are put on the bus, work diligently to assure that they are also in the right seats, and that they change seats as necessary to complement the company’s growth.
Situation: A family-owned business has a family member on hourly pay who puts in excessive overtime. The cost of overtime significantly cuts into company profits. The CEO wants to cut back these overtime hours and get the employee to work more efficiently. At the same time, she feels that maintaining peace within the extended family is important. How do you cut excessive overtime for a single employee?
Advice from the CEOs:
Situations like this within a family business are delicate because of relationships beyond the work place. Treat this individual respectfully, but make it clear that you have to act in the best interests of the company and all employees.
Develop a job description with this employee that will help to get their overtime under control.
Communicate to the employee: “I don’t want to take advantage of you by requiring this much overtime.”
Let the individual know that you are looking for additional talent and want to more tightly define the roles.
Develop a company policy on overtime that limits the amount of overtime that any one individual can accrue. If anyone starts to approach this limit, then have a process in place that shifts additional overtime to others.
This is a serious problem for the company. It calls for company transformation. Enlist the employee as a champion for the cause of transforming the company. Keep this a positive vision.
If the individual is not a keeper: start controlling hours, but don’t give a raise. Let them leave on their own time.
If the individual is a keeper: give them raise, while cutting overtime hours.
Situation: A company has a long-term employee who has been growing in responsibility as Customer Service Supervisor. The CEO is considering giving this employee the new title of Production Manager at the same time that the employee receives an annual wage increase. How do you optimize a promotion?
Advice from the CEOs:
Any promotion or increase in responsibility must be consistent with the strategic direction of the company. What are the company’s current and future needs and, based on past performance, can this individual satisfy those needs? If so, this may be a good match.
In addition, it is important to consider the needs and career path of the individual. Does the new position involve an increased time commitment, additional skills and training, or other important factors, and is the individual prepared for this increased commitment? Will a higher level of commitment be rewarded financially? The only way to answer these questions is to have a conversation with the individual.
If as the first two questions are considered there is any doubt, a longer-term transition may be appropriate. Meet with the Customer Service Supervisor and set a series of goals and objectives that will demonstrate their ability to assume the new role over a 6 month time frame. The concept here is that you must work at the level of the new job before you get it.
Before embarking on the above recommendations, draft a job description and list of responsibilities for the new Production Manager position, consistent with the company’s needs as it grows. This will involve input from employees who currently handle these responsibilities. Also look at the reporting structure as it currently exists and as it may change.
Situation: A company wants to create a succession plan for key roles. Historically they haven’t had succession plans, but they are actively looking at candidates, skill sets, and so forth. The CEO wants to be able to make a recommendation to the Board. What are best practices in succession planning?
Advice from the CEOs:
Start with job and role descriptions. Select internal candidates for the positions and offer trial opportunities to assess their capabilities.
Test potential successors with projects to see if they can rise to the level of the higher responsibility. It may take more than one try to assess this.
Along the way you may discover hidden talents possessed by some of your employees.
Start with your incumbents. One of their responsibilities should be to identify possible inside candidates as successors for their positions, and to create a profile of qualifications for outside candidates. This should also be part of their job descriptions.
Succession candidates must desire the responsibility of the higher position. Don’t assume that everyone will want this. Some will be very good in their current role. Trying to force them to advance in responsibility can be counterproductive.
Do not assume that an outsider with a good resume and industry connections can fill the role of an insider who knows the company and its products and services.