Area Economy

Bring in people with updated skills to drive new business

February 20, 2015
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Recent government statistics show a strong trend in employee hiring. There is lots of discussion on what drives these numbers and who is in the labor market and who can or cannot find jobs.

Most everyone agrees the situation is better than five years ago. However, it might be good to stop and think about the jobs themselves and not just the volume. There is, of course, some review of the jobs from a macro perspective. For example, do we have the people with the skills to fill the technical jobs? Are there concerns about losing middleclass jobs that used to pay $25 per hour in the auto industry for low skill work that automation has replaced? How much thought is being given to creation of the “right” jobs?

Most organizations look at hiring as a response to an immediate situation where someone leaves or business demand requires adding another employee. Perhaps the hiring manager should think about bringing in a person with updated skills.

This type of hiring is based on evolutionary job change. Organizations that stay at the front end of the evolution may be fortunate enough to remain competitive. However, many organizations wake up and find they are behind the market, and it causes a fair amount of turmoil to recover. If they are lucky enough to discover the situation before it is too detrimental, they can make the necessary changes before the competition.

One of the easiest steps is to appoint someone or connect with someone who can guide the organization through organization development. This position is most often a part of the human resources function. It can be, however, a function of the board of directors or reporting to the president of the organization, or even a consulting arrangement. The key is that the position is perceived to have influence in the organization to make real change.

Knowing what change is necessary is a critical element of this position. The starting point is strategic planning. The organization has to decide what it is trying to achieve. The more specific it can be, the more likely it will achieve success. Targets that are measurable are the only way you know where you are going and when you get there. One other key element is determining how long you have to achieve your goal(s). Your organization development person has to get the basic objective defined and supported by the organization leadership.

The next step in the strategic planning process is to look at the critical aspects of the operation that can impact the achievement of the goals. It requires a hard look at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This is not a new concept, but one that many organizations don’t take time to consider. One idea when doing this examination is to do it in reverse, meaning start with the threats and opportunities. Next, when looking at these topics, it would be wise to think about them in terms of the duration of your strategic plan. What will be the circumstances in three to five years? Who will be the competition then? What new tools or economic factors will the organization be facing? Then, move to the discussion of strengths and weaknesses.

Once this process has been completed, the next step is to determine those actions necessary to deal with the selected actions chosen. The organization development leader needs to examine the changes necessary to assure the greatest potential for achieving organization goals.

The organization development person needs to be focused on both operating structure and people. The people aspect will be most critical, as it will require a sound assessment of what new skills will be required or even what current skills will need to be maintained. This assessment requires looking at who has what skills, where the gaps are that have to be filled, and what gaps will occur if key people leave, retire or die.

The focus on succession planning is one of the most important responsibilities of the organization development manager. It requires not only identifying what skills are essential, but how those skills will be obtained. An important aspect is to know the timeline for getting people in place who will have the needed skills. It will be necessary to determine where the skills are and whether you can attract them to your organization, or be sure you retain them if you have them. It is important to consider that the skills in question can be both technological skills and/or experience.

Along the way, the organization has to be prepped for the changes that will be brought about as it evolves. This may be the acceptance of new or younger people taking important roles, and it may be organization changes and new reporting relationships. It may also include selective pruning of staff. All such changes have to be made carefully to limit the disruption to operations.

A key point in the whole process requires the organization development person to have the knowledge of where the organization is going and substantial support of senior leadership embracing the plans and providing the resources to make them happen.

Critical hiring is not just about getting people on the payroll. It is about getting the right people on the payroll and in the positions that will drive the organization to the desired objectives. It involves putting someone in charge of organization development who can impact the organization; having an effective strategic plan; knowing what experience and skills will be required for the future; succession planning; and priming and executing organization evolution.

Ardon Schambers is president and principal of P3HR Consulting and Services in Grand Rapids.

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