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HR can be your biggest asset! April 14, 2011

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Accountability, Business Improvement, human resources, Improving Personnel Performance.
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Nothing probably influences your company more than Human Resources. Our consultants have found a plethora of opportunities involving HR which not only lead to cost savings but more importantly keep good people employed and provide remedies for marginal performers. First a quick list of do’s and don’ts, and in Part II we will delve into more specifics.

Do’s and Don’ts

1) Do not hire relatives of employees – never have we seen a situation where this is a positive. The worst example was a company that had thirty relateds working in various departments. Supervisors were not allowed to correct bad behavior, their team participation was weak and salaries were skewed high similar to their peers. Needless to say this sent a rippling effect throughout the company that you did not have to perform well in order to get a job, keep a job or be promoted.

2) Do not put up with poor social behavior. Party animals are only entertaining when you are in college – there is not a good translation for them in the office. The same holds true for office romances. The worst example I have come across was a VP having an affair with a senior salesperson. Everyone knew about it including the execs and HR. His wife found out, there was a divorce, she took the kids out of state but no action was taken by HR. A bigger problem was the entire company knew about the moral breakdown and because it was condoned by management, guess what, the problem multiplied like bunnies in the forest. This was distracting at the very least to the important tasks and responsibilities that should have been going on – the VP commanded no respect and it sent a negative message to the associates.

3) Create detailed job descriptions and metrics (KPI’s) to measure desired results. Don’t expect your HR department to do this in a vacuum – the effort should be led by the department manager or executive staff with HR oversight/comments – after all, who knows more about the job than the first line manager/director.

4) Be consistent about compensation. This starts with the detailed job descriptions and needs to be administered by a competent compensation analyst. If you think folks don’t know what everyone is earning then you are just kidding yourself. Regrettably, our consultants report that there is still a gender gap in pay – make sure that your company isn’t setting themselves up for failure – equal pay means just that and a logically managed compensation program is the best thing in the world for morale and productivity.

4) Work with HR on making hiring decisions. You should insist on looking at every application/resume or at least a representative sample. It is a good practice anyway as a hiring manager you need to know what type of applicants are out there in the world.

5) Use group interviews and at least two rounds of them. Developing a standardized set of questions for the applicants and for references and make sure to call them. Qualifications and culture fits cannot be ascertained from the initial interviews. Keep in mind that 50% or more of marriages fail and oftentimes these people have been dating for months – how can you expect to make a good hire unless you take the time to know your applicants.

6) Have a comprehensive semi-annual review program. You can’t expect one size to fit all so tailor the questions to the position. Use Key Performance Indicators, Objectives-Goal-Strategies-Measurement or other system to quantify the accomplishments of the employee. Use a blind system and average the results to assign a numerical score based on qualitative data so personal bias is minimized.

7) Be accessible and customer-centric – Engage your employees. Find out what is working and what is not working and take special care to bridge the gap.

8) Have a system of organization for all new hires. Use document scanners to keep files in an electronic form because paperwork loss is the chief HR complaint that should never happen. In a perfect world, if your company is big enough, you could install a full blown HRIS system, but for many companies you can build a database (yes, anyone can do this, you don’t need a service) using one of the many web-based systems to keep thing organized. Besides, file rooms are a thing of the past and they never get cleaned out. Electronic documents are universally recognized as a legal method of storage and they are a lot easier to search, mine data, build performance dashboards and reduce/eliminate the flow of paperwork.

9) Many HR departments have taken on training as there are several issues that fall under HR purview – new employee orientation, harassment, safety, etc. Many successful HR departments have one trainer who creates reusable videos and elearner instead of trying to deliver live training. This standardizes and then use a free survey tool (from the internet) to ask pertinent questions to make sure your audience was paying attention. Instantly, you will get better consistency of delivery, validation of results and you can keep your training department lean and efficient.

10) Send communication back to every person who puts in an application. Why? because everyone is a potential customer and everyone talks – you want them talking positively about your company. One of the best I’ve seen comes from Scripps Networks and goes something like this:

Dear First Name,

Thank you for your interest in employment with Scripps Networks, and the position of ______________. The selection of candidates requires difficult decisions and at this point it has been determined that your background is not a match for the specific requirements for this position. Accordingly you will not be considered further for this particular opportunity. Please do not consider it a poor reflection on you; rather, it is an indication that another candidate has skills that better fit the role.

We encourage you to periodically review the list of available job opportunities provided on our web site and follow the application process described. Thank you again and best of luck with your career search.

11) Have a senior exec (not in the chain of command for HR) conduct a semi-annual survey of all employees which polls the performance of Human Resources. Then release a summary of the report with action items so that positive steps can be taken to improve the level of service.

More to follow in Part II

Yours in procurement,

Steve Gordon specializes in procurement, logistics, cost saving and business process improvement initiatives – call him today at 865.356.3575

Remember what the Aberdeen Group says……….

“For a typical enterprise, it takes an increase
of $5 in sales to equal the impact of
a $1 reduction in procurement costs.”

Solutions is happy to complete a complimentary audit of your firm’s expeditures. Just call or write to get started.

If you want to learn how to save money on a particular commodity, just send me a comment or email me directly. I will do my best to answer your request in a future post.


Steve Gordon
Senior Consultant
Solutions Business Consultants
”Bringing Service, Value, and Efficiency to the Supply Chain”

(865) 356-3575
Skype: stevegordskype
Blog: https://innovativeconsultant.wordpress.com/
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevegordonthecostsavingsguy


Engaging Your People! September 27, 2009

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Accountability, Business Improvement, Improving Personnel Performance, Increase Profitability.
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A common theme has cropped up in several of my recent engagements. A perceived (and actual) communication gap between direct reports and their supervisor.

Here are some actual quotes, “I think John is here only to draw a paycheck”; “My boss has no idea about what is going on in the business and doesn’t have a clue as to what I do. . .”; “I wonder if my company really has a game plan.”

These issues didn’t happen overnight but they can be solved in a relatively short period of time. Here are a few tips. . .

1) Manage by walking around – If you live in an office with a door, make sure you spend no more than 20% behind closed doors and the remainder (outside of meetings) with your direct reports and internal/external customers. Ask what is going on and how you can help facilitate their mission.

2) Communicate clearly what the company (and your department’s) mission statement is.

3) Have regular (agendized) formal meetings with your staff as well as brainstorming and social (lunch or outside the office) sessions. Make sure you are getting and giving feedback so people don’t think they are working in a vacuum.

4) Compliment and recognize those that are doing a great job.

5) Collect and post KPI’s for your department.

6) Use the phone or in-person approach instead of relying on email or memos.

Today, every department is running lean so it is easy to disengage from your staff. Take the time to put the “human” back into Human Capital by engaging your staff!


Solutions Business Consultants are specialists in cutting costs and expenses without sacrificing employees™. We take an enlightened look at a company’s spend and create innovative cost savings methodologies which bring money to your bottom line!

Is there any Passion Left? or I love my job! May 5, 2009

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Business Improvement, Improving Personnel Performance, Increase Profitability.
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A while back, I spoke about customer service and illustrated my points with a couple of concrete examples. But that didn’t solve the customer service meltdown we are experiencing in the States.  This post speaks about the underlying causes of poor customer service and poor employee performance and most importantly, offers some solutions.

Recently I was reading comments in Facebook that had been entered during working hours, it is amazing to me the number of people that are counting the hours, minutes and seconds until they can leave their job for the day. It was as if they were being tortured and at 5pm the prison gates would swing open to freedom. What truly amazes me is that we are in the middle of an employment crisis and today I still heard those magic words in a Starbucks, “my job sucks”. I asked the employee if she just said “her job sucks” and she turned a little red and dismissed her comment. I wasn’t fooled – hopefully she wasn’t either.

Understand that I am not one of those people who lives to work but I have to ask, “Where is the sense of obligation of today’s employees, the passion to do something great, the joy of solving a difficult problem or innovating a new process. Why would you drive 5 or 6 days a week to something you hated?

Incredible yes? But this issue is completely reverseable with a paradigm change from two departments….HR and Senior Management. Before your hairs raise up on your arms you have to understand that I am not here to slam Human Resources or Senior Management (they are usually the folks that hire me) but for today I am saying that things must change  if you are wanting to maximize productivity, create a culture of innovation and retain good employees. The solution is relatively simple and involves an old management concept aptly named, managing by walking around. In many companies, HR and Senior Management types typically hole up in their silos and await an triggerin action by an employee. “I need an insurance form”; How do I apply for FMLA” or “I appeal this write up by my no-good supervisor” or “I have this idea I would like to share with the President”.  If Human Resources and Senior Management would  come in early and talk to folks getting their morning coffee or while they are settling in their cubes or if they would stop by at the end of the day and ask questions – both personal and business – the results would be amazing.

Examples of questions:

1) How is the family?
2) What project are you working on?
3) What roadblocks are you running in to?
4) What could the company do to help your team operate more efficiently?
5) Would you mind if we spoke more in detail at a later time.

Now you wouldn’t ask all of these questions to each person nor would you get perfectly honest answers initially but you get the picture – over a period of time you will meet your most important asset – your employees. And you would give them a gift far greater than money – you will bestow them with a sense of belonging, supply them with someone to connect with, and show they that the folks upstairs really care about them and their work product.  And as a free bonus, you will find out quickly what can be done to better your company.

It is important to remember that everyone who works at your company begins with passion.  After all, they send a motivational resumé and cover letter, beam during their interview and promise that they can fulfill the companies goals and objectives.  Their passion is fueled during  the orientation week as they are introduced to the company, staffers, leadership, their department and their new desk and duties. Sometime between that magic hire date and six months to a year later, things can start to turn sour. The pox may be unclear goals or multiple unachievable targets; it could be an already vexxed employee who actually poisons our new recruit; many times it is a supervisor who knows the technical skills of the job but lacks the people skills (nurturing, training, listening, advising, mentoring). Companies that fail to manage by walking around are condemned to never know what is happening around them as they sit around and wonder why they are the last to know when a staff member decides to terminate their employment or why their latest IT project is six months and $40 million dollars behind

Some of the most critical solutions in running a successful company are the simple ones and they involve key players investing precious time in their staff. Starting is easy and can begin tomorrow.


Solutions Business Consultants are specialists in cutting costs and expenses without sacrificing employees™. We take an enlightened look at a company’s spend and create innovative cost savings methodologies which bring money to your bottom line! Many of our services can be enjoyed on a contingency basis – based on our success!