'Motivational human resources' gives company solid backbone
Jim H. Houtz
"Motivational human resources" is a philosophy of bringing out the best in people. It starts with recruiting the right people, inspiring them, training them and putting the programs in place to evaluate and reward them. Here's how it works:
Recruiting and selecting personnel
The most important decisions you'll make involve evaluating and selecting employees for your company. You don't need to do all the initial screening of applicants, but you should be involved in the interviewing process and certainly in making the final decisions. It's the only way to ensure that the company's vision is being applied to the hiring decisions.
There are numerous theories and techniques regarding hiring. I tout the following simple process. During and after an interview, ask yourself:
*Do you like the candidate? Surprising as this sounds, liking the candidate is the single most important decision point. Just ask yourself if you had fun meeting and talking with this person during the interview.
*Is the candidate a mature individual? You need people with a mature attitude about work, specifically a belief that advancement comes through effort and results, rather than longevity and presence.
*Will the candidate be able to handle the job? For a candidate who is from outside your company, you'll need to make this determination after evaluating skills and experience. For a candidate who is a current employee, look at his or her performance in a current position. You should only promote or reassign proven performers.
Inspiring your team is much easier if you have recruited effectively and if you are true to yourself. If you are inspiring integrity, then you must display high integrity. If you are inspiring drive and motivation, then you must be driven and motivated. Living up to your words shouldn't be difficult if they represent who you truly are.
Train your employees
When you hire someone, you and the new employee make an important commitment you both hope will last. The employee agrees to work for you. And the company agrees to pay the individual for his or her work, plus provide training. That's right. You agree to invest in that employee and all the others so that they are able to perform, grow and succeed.
Smart entrepreneurs know they are not going to get where they want to go with the same sets of skills that got them here today. It's going to take more. Training is the one vehicle, and through it, employees should be worth significantly more to themselves and to you after three years. That is the mentality, and the training plan should reflect that.
Employees, just like customers, need to have realistic expectation levels. As the entrepreneur, it is your job to specifically define that reality and clarify expectations.
This happens through employee orientation within the first week of your new hires' employment. It is simply a meeting with all the new hires that defines reality and clarifies expectations for everyone.
From a content perspective, at a minimum you'll want to cover the following areas:
*Training - All employees need to understand the commitment the company is making to their growth and advancement. Training is a big part of that commitment.
*Meeting expectations - Every employee should have a defined list of key objectives and a defined expected performance level.
*Career growth - Help employees understand that career growth is a by-product of success. As the company grows and you grow professionally, careers can grow.
*Proven performers - Motivate your employees by letting them know that when new opportunities arise in the company, managers look within the company first.
*Employee turnover "Spring Drill" - Employees need to know from the start the concept of the spring drill. At that time, the company implements planned labor reductions, evaluates its entire work force and ranks employees based on their individual performance and their delivery on expectations. Those individuals who are not meeting expectation (in the bottom 10 percent) will receive corrective training and a fair opportunity to improve performance.
*Compensation philosophy - Compensation is usually not an issue, unless your pay scale is below the market average. A good goal for wages is somewhere close to the 75 percentile with bonus plans for outstanding performance.
*Salary schedules - Salary schedules provide full disclosure of employees' earnings potential in their current positions. A basic salary schedule will show salary levels by function, and each function could have several steps or grades.
*Benefits - Your benefit plan needs to be competitive with the plans of other employers in your area, and during orientation all employees will learn of the specifics.
*Integrity - The company's integrity level is the mirror image of the entrepreneur and his or her executive management. Sit down and define the company's code of ethical conduct. Ethics can vary by industry, but truthfulness, honesty, taking responsibility, and giving credit to others are all universal traits of integrity. Set your integrity levels high.
Human resources is about the human side of running a business. Experience proves true that the ultimate success of any entrepreneur is a function of how well he or she recruits, trains, re-trains and retains a work force base. It plays a huge role in dispelling the myth that entrepreneurs can't run their own businesses.
If you lead your team with integrity, train them better than your competition trains their employees, then you will win most of the time.
Even if the other side has people who are smarter, high paid or better educated, none of that matters. If they can't play as well as you do, you win. Not once in awhile, but most of the time.
Jim H. Houtz is the author of "Seize the American Dream: 10 Entrepreneurial Success Strategies." This column contains excerpts from the book's chapter nine, "A Motivational Human Resources System." For more information on the book visit www.seizetheamericandream.com. Houtz is also chairman of InteGreat Inc. and Southwest Jet Aviation.