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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
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