Friday, June 28, 2013

Staffing ups and downs

In the last post, we were discussing bonusing of employees. Keep the use of those limited to your absolutely best people. Let's chat some more about that and some other staffing topics.

Something else I have found to be a valuable “bonus” is sending someone to an industry conference or training event. Note that I used the word “bonus” for this. Think about it: the actual value gleaned from folks attending these kinds of events is usually quite minimal. If it’s current news and practices you want, online feeds and forums are probably much more up to date. If you’re looking for training, there are books and online learning out the wazoo. And all of that can be obtained at minimal cost, or even free, as opposed to the thousands you’ll have to pay for the event and travel.

The real benefit of attending most events is in rubbing elbows with folks from other parts of the industry, making connections, and feeling appreciated that the company felt good enough about you to blow all that cash on your attendance. That kind of treatment should be reserved only for your top players – solely as an additional reward. Other folks who simply need information or training can be handled much more easily and much more cost effectively.

Speaking of top players, always be on the lookout. You may not have any officially sanctioned positions open, or the company might be enduring a long, cold hiring freeze. That’s no excuse. Opportunity is knocking. When a great candidate shows up at your door, you have to find a way to snag him. Chances are that someone else will depart, voluntarily or involuntarily, in the new few months anyway, right? So all you’re doing is pre-filling the hole. And in the process you’ll be upgrading your staff. You’ll probably need to go into battle to thaw the freeze or get a special position opened, but any reasonable leadership should understand the case you make for doing the hire. No sense being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Also, from time to time, analyze your entire staff and determine where your weak points are.

Next, look at that group and ascertain if they are really that bad or not. Maybe you happen to have hired a totally awesome team where even the worst guy is far above average. That would be major kudos to you. This can especially be true in smaller companies and startups, or in situations where you’ve actually been able to hire the entire group to your own specifications.

In most cases however, your bottom 10% will probably be below-average performers. You may already have some of them on performance improvement plans. If not, start considering it. Your goal (and the goal that will make HR the happiest) is to improve this person so that he’s no longer part of the lowly bottom 10%. That would be a win-win-win for you all. Your goal is not to terminate him.

Sure, the enactment of a performance improvement plan will inevitably result in a paper trail that will justify that action should it become necessary. But your goal should always be to make this guy better. You have time and money sunk in him. He knows stuff. Think of the inevitable costs if you replace him: a long hiring gap while you convince HR you need to replace him, dealing with recruiting and interviewing, and the eventual ramp-up and training time for the replacement.

It is a much better return on your investment if you can keep the guy you have, with all his knowledge and training. It also makes a great success story. Of course, when it becomes obvious that saving this person is unlikely, don’t hesitate to take the necessary steps.
Stepping back from the day-to-day fracas and analyzing who your poorest performers are is just as important as picking out your top performers. Maybe you do a rank-ordering exercise, or maybe it’s blatantly apparent after you actually ask yourself the question, but figure out who makes up your bottom 10% or so.

No comments:

Post a Comment