Thursday, March 29, 2007

Who needs to know about the Family Leave Act? YOU!!

Just when you thought I'd dropped off the face of the planet... here I come, rebounding back into the blogosphere.

As the post title hints, this little rant is about a topic that may make some of you roll your eyes, but take this as firsthand testimony... you need to get a grip on this subject. I found a pretty solid and concise site on this matter that I think will give you some bearings on it, but the basic premise for those of you too impatient to follow that link is this - if your company employs 50 or more people, you have to permit employee who qualify with a job protected leave of absence to care for themselves or a qualified family member, for a period of up to 12 weeks.

Even if your company does not have the legal obligation to comply, it's a good idea to consider it because as the talent pool gets tighter, the folks you don't offer this to are going to find it more attractive to go work for your competitors who do.

I'm an HR geek, so you'd naturally expect me to raise this issue somewhere along the line, but I am writing about it now because I am currently on such a leave. I can tell you that I have arranged hundreds of these Leaves for employees in my career, but never appreciated exactly how important they could be till I experienced it for myself.

Take a look at your team - who has ailing parents, kids or spouses? Who is ill? Who is having a child? Even better - consider who MIGHT fit any of those descriptions? What will you do when they come to you and say "I need time off to take care of my critically ill child"?
Scary prospect, I know, but you'd better prepare for it now because I can assure you - this situation is going to come your way!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The secret sauce of building your team - PART 3

Part 3 in the series on how to build your team focuses on three areas; establishing your hunting ground, choosing your weapons, and defining your tactics.

1. Defining your hunting ground -

In this step you define where you want to hunt for your talent - this "hunting ground" is going the place(s) where you think you are most likely to find the talent you need. For example, if in setting you laser focus on the target, you determine that an advanced degree in widgetology was the key requirement, you'd probably want to hunt in the schools that teach widgetology, or the national association of widgetologists. You should also define where you don't want to hunt - are there competitors, clients or partners you should not annoy by poaching their talent away?? Consider whether the types of folks you want belongs to a professional association, are alum of certain schools, or are bloggers. All these vehicles can be prime

2. Choosing your weapons -

No - I am not talking about guns (thought it would be fun to muse on that). I am referring to which of the various recruitment weapons you would like to employ; Networking, Employee Referral, job board search, niche advertising, diversity recruiting, research recruiting, contingent or retained search... or some combination of these or others. Knowing which weapon to use, as well as how and when to use it is more art than science, and this is one of those places where I have to refer to the counsel of your resident HR person. If, however you don't have one of those, remember this - Of all the weapons to use, Internal Transfers (Promotional or developmental assignments), Employee Referral and network hires tend to have the highest success rates, longest tenures... and are VERY inexpensive ways to go - you should always try to exhaust these two methods before moving on to the others.

3. Defining your tactics -
This is the simplest part of the equation, and the one we most frequently get wrong! The tactics I refer to are how you will actually attack the search. Key decisions like who will be involved in the interview process, how many interviews will be required, how long you let candidates wait, who communicates with them, how and how often.... all the key decisions on how you manage the candidates you search for.... I know that many of those points seem self-evident or perhaps a bit too nitty to focus on , but I can assure you - the tactics you employ in dealing with candidates can derail the best search process and leave you with no talent, no pipeline of candidates, and a bad organizational reputation to boot!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Secret Sauce of building your team - Part 2

Part 2 - Setting a laser focus on your target

Now that we have defined that we need to fill the position and the results we need this position to achieve, we can start setting our focus on the target of our recruitment efforts. Again, we're going to operate guerrilla -style here so we have to focus on working smart with the resources we have.

STEP 2 - Defining your target

  1. With a clear understanding of the results we need this position to achieve, look within the organization to see if anyone has accomplished such results - and think a little more broadly here; If we need someone to sell 50,000 widgets this quarter, and no one else in our company has sold that many widgets before, consider:
    • Do we have someone who has sold an outstanding amount of a similar product?
    • Do we have an expert on widget marketing who has sales skills?
  2. If we find someone who appears to be a good model, let's dissect them to see why they were successful. Exactly what is it that sets them apart from the crowd?
    • Is there something about their training, background or development that helped them get where they are? If so, can we find others with similar talent by looking in the places where this person "grew up"?
    • Do they belong to professional associations for widget sellers?
    • Did they attend a college or other educational program that focuses on the widget sales profession?
  3. Recognizing that our world is imperfect, we have to plan for the fact that we may not find what we are looking for in our company. In fact, they could be working for our major widget competitor. We're not going to dig in deep on this point here, but competitive hiring (aka raiding the competition) is a real tactic and you better be aware of in terms of both your talent hunt, and protecting your valuable talent from being poached.
  4. With this clear picture of the DNA of a person who can do what you need done, do a sanity check on your view - get other managers and leaders to review your model. Do they find it accurate, reasonable and feasible? Do they have any ideas to add?
  5. Knowing the results you need and where folks capable of such results might come from, it's time to start staking out our hunting ground, our weapons and our tactics... and those points are what we will focus on next time.