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A guide to employee development

You have honed your management and leadership skills. You have done the research to develop a winning Strategic Plan. You bring your enthusiasm, vision and deep personal commitment to succeed.

But all of that time and effort has the value of a bell without a clapper if you cannot find and develop the staff you need to implement your genius.

October 18, 2011  By  Rob Colman

The rubber truly hits the road through the people that you hire, develop and retain. It is through these people that all your investment begins to earn you a dividend. And regardless of whether you are the owner, the general manager or an entry level supervisor with visions of greater responsibility, your attention to the issues related to employee development will be crucial to your success.

Your personnel, truly, are your most important asset. Markets change, products evolve, competitors come and go. But the team that you assemble will ideally be with you through all of these events.

We live in unusual times. Stock market volatility and unpredictability are unprecedented. Prospects for domestic sales growth are more discouraging than at any time in the past century. Our industry continues to have few barriers to entry so competition remains intense. In the face of all of these issues, there is a tremendous comfort in knowing that you have a team in which you have unqualified confidence. Not only does it make work easier, but it makes it a lot more fun and enjoyable as well.

In this multi-part series we will examine the various phases of the employment relationship. The articles will include the following different topics.

We will begin with the hiring process and build an understanding of the difference between simply filling vacancies and team building. I have four rules to follow in the hiring process. The most critical is summarized in a simple statement: “chemistry trumps competency.” But resisting the urge to compromise is almost as important so this article will set the base line you need to follow to ensure that you don’t subtract through addition. If that comment confuses you, we need to talk.

Secondly we will examine your responsibilities in the post hire/development stage. The hiring process is often time consuming and can even become an emotionally draining experience. So why would you not ensure that the investment that you made (and that of your new addition) is not secured by following some simple steps? These steps are easy enough to state but difficult to execute if you don’t keep your eye on the ball. And they begin on the date of employment and continue as long as the person remains on your staff. To be certain, your responsibilities change somewhat over time and are based on the individual’s personal experiences and abilities, but I guarantee that your attention to these details is appreciated by any new staff member.

It is often said that people join companies and leave managers. In our third article we will look at issues of AD and RD. But Attraction Difficulty and Retention Difficulty are serious issues that prevent you from building a team that delivers results. Some of the potential problems can be prevented by close attention to the topics covered in the first two articles. But at the end of the day, AD and RD reflect the quality of leadership that you provide your organization or work unit. So we will examine the kinds of issues that prompt people to leave what should be considered as good jobs.

And finally we will look at the issue of termination. Sometimes, despite best efforts, things don’t work out and someone needs to go. We will examine how to go about it; some alternatives to layoffs; and how you can maximize your investment even in a dismissal. Terminations, layoffs and resignations are all emotional events. This simple principle provides clarity to the process: “Do the right thing for the company; do the right thing by the employee.”

As you are confronted by personnel issues please keep these two guidelines in mind.

As it relates to recruiting, have the mindset that you are adopting, not hiring. This attitude will help you in evaluating the skill sets of prospective candidates and how these skills complement and compliment your existing team members.

And as it relates to the potential of termination, remember that no one is irreplaceable. Clearly, the loss of certain team members will have a more dramatic impact than the loss of others. But you should never be required to compromise your decision-making process because someone else holds the key to your success.

I am confident that each of the articles will add to your personal experience and insight on personnel matters. Whether they bring you something new, or simply reinforce your current practices, there should be something you can take away to make your organization better.

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