- On October 5, 2015
- hire, human resources, operational staff, rules, supply chain management, turnover, workers
Recently I hear more and more often the phrase “There are no candidates for the job” as an excuse that the firm does not work effectively. In the beginning it sounded weird – in a big unemployment not to find people to work. Analyzing deeper what stays behind this phrase, I realized that actually the hunger for human resources is a relative term and is stays more as perception than a reality. The hunger for human resources is more tangible in small and middle sized firms. The big corporations attract with their organized working process and relative stability. In principle, in supply chain the majority of employees is with low qualification (workers in production and warehouse) so they should be easily replaced and trained. It is more difficult to find specialists. Have you noticed that in well-arranged companied the human turnover tends to zero and there are always candidate for work, nevertheless the salaries are not the highest in the sector or in the region? Why is that? It is because when the workers have to choose whether to earn 500 BGN salary in stable and regulated job or to earn 600 BGN salary and be exhausted every day by the owner’s outrages, the majority of people would choose the first, more calm variant. So, it is not that there is no or not enough human resource but there are human resources that prefer not to work for a certain company.
I shall now look through the regions with a demographic decrease where really physically there is no one to do the job. There are even paradox situations when two firms “are fighting” for one and the same employees. In this article I shall analyze “the lack of people” perceived through the eyes of different employer types and how there is always way to find staff for the operational departments.
The departments in supply chain are with the highest man turnover, lots of illness and other absences. The main reason for the man turnover and the lack of operational staff is the poor image of the company. People talk to each other about employers. What is valuable for the employees? They value the stability, the regularly paid full salary and the free time. If any of these criteria is not 100% met, in company starts complains, ruining of the discipline and the team. Often the production and warehouse halls are dirty, untidy and in general unpleasant to work in. There are no rules for work and maintenance of machines and halls. The workers at lower levels do not have the mentality of a householder and thus they do only what they’ve been told to do. E.g. if there is no supervisor above them who to organize and respect them, the total operational weight is taken by the owner who of course cannot be everywhere. The lack of clear written rules and control breeds carelessness and work simulations. The owner is angry because he knows how things should happen and thus he imposes penalties. In worker’s eyes penalizing is unfair – he cannot understand the reasons (except if there are big damages caused by him). For the worker this is a fad of the owner which has double effect: (1) the worker is insulted and (2) he cannot afford to earn less than the promised salary just because he is short of money. Respectively he starts to look for a new job and tells everywhere how bad is to work in a certain company. I’ve met a case in which a worker has changed his job for 20 BGN higher salary. Rumors go around the labor market and people even don’t come to interviews. Some firms are forced to organize meetings in the small towns and villages and try to convince people to join their company. Part of the residents really comes to work … and latter leave due to the same reasons, mentioned above. Lack of rules, criteria and control ruined many businesses. After such problems the employer thinks that to get out of this situation he must hire mainly educated and capable employees who to listen to him and do everything as it should be done. Of course such people exist and they expect high remuneration. The employers who meet the requirements of the high class employees and give them enough freedom to act, progress very quickly. The employers who almost meet the requirements of the high class employees but keep the management and control for themselves, see very soon that they pay salary to persons who do not do their jobs 100% – and so the situation of discourage is valid for both parties. There are employees who keep their staff at low salaries. They claim that the business does not progress and the reason was that there are no people on the labor market. I had such case recently, a company cannot hire a production manager because it offers payment a little bit higher than the minimal salary to professionals who should understand the production and supervise the rest workers. So, there is no way and it should not happen, high skilled personnel to work for small money.
How to decrease the man turnover?
- Build clear rules and apply them to everyone. This is how employees shall know what is allowed and what is not allowed and what the sanctions are if they do not stick to the rules. Where discipline exists and everyone sticks to the facts, things go very well. If the owner relies on word orders or he changes his mood frequently, or the work atmosphere is depressing, the employees minimize their efforts and the company suffers.
- Get acknowledged about the salaries for the position in that industry in the region and give adequate salaries which prevent the employees’ movement for money purposes only. Money is never enough for both sides – the one that gives and the other that receives. But the economy works somehow, so there is some balance, even no everywhere. The fear of employers to give higher salaries is reasonable having in mind the last crises and the worldwide uncertainty – all these make the entrepreneurs more cautious. At the same time the knowledgeable and capable people know their price and stand for their positions. Once reaching an agreement with the employer, the high class employee is hardly to change his current job. This is how by normal selection capable staff is concentrated in some companies while the rest firms take less experienced staff. This is not frustrating also, because there are workers, they just have to be trained. Easy to be said, isn’t it? Actually in practice it is also easy. And it is one of the big pluses for the companies – to cultivate their own employee by their own criteria. It is true that the first 2-3 months the new employee would not be 100% effective. But after he is polished, he may contribute a lot to the firm in short and long terms.
- In every department we must have at least one well-intended senior employee who to introduce the new comers and to control their performance. Why is it so important the senior employee to be well-intended? Because with his behavior and attitude he would help to everyone in the team and the individuals would give the best from themselves to achieve the common target. Also he would not stand misusage and conflicts that ruin the team.
- Be engaged with your personnel’s problems. The employer must take care of his people so that they are loyal to him.
- Do not stand destructive behavior and moods in the company as they go around like decease and attack the organization. It is obligatory to have positive people around us and to inspire them by showing the extraordinary results.
How one small company to hire the accurate staff?
- Moral is on first place.
When we look to hire people for the operational departments (and not only) we usually build profiles based on knowledge and skills of the individual. Just at the end of the job announcement we mention the personal skills. At the interview, HR specialists ask the candidate for his experience. Sometimes some tests for evaluating the person are also applied. I’ve met many owners and managers – the majority of them seek the specialist, not the person whom to indict to the organization. There are often evil employees who torture the rest but the boss keeps them just because they were good specialists. The big issue here is that sometimes HR specialists think that if they find the specialist even with not so nice personality, the firm will melt down his imparity and everything will be fine. This dictum is valid to some extend for the big companies where rules exist and everybody follows them. But more important is that entering a big company every employee has the will to follow the rules in order not to lose the given privileges. With small and middle sized companies such understanding is pure illusion and this may destroy one well developed department. Because of that it is crucial for small and middle companies to hire persons with high moral and cultivate them rather than to hire unmoral specialist who will scatter everything due to his character. Even education does not play big role here. I had colleagues in the operational departments who did not have economic education. There was one colleague from the Conservatoire, another from Forestry university and one with Geologic education. They performed perfectly just because they wanted to be part of this team and learned constantly from practice. Experience is crucial for the management positions in operational departments. The good news is that for these departments you can hire a person with no experience in logistics, warehousing, supplies or production and train him. The only personal skills required are honesty and willingness to work – all the rest can be learned.
One significant difference that blocks the dialog when hiring new staff is breeding. The so called “old generation” was taught to value the hard working and persistence to achieve excellent results while the breeding of the “new generation” is orientated to easy catching the prize or leaving it. This is also easy to overcome if you have a person with the same value system as yours.
- Rules are on the second place.
The work in operational departments is directly related to legislation and intercompany procedures. The staff in production feeds the whole company. One mistake during production or logistics reflects unpleasantly over consumers and may cause withdrawal of clients or serious sanctions by state authorities. This is why it is so excited to work in these departments. From one side there are many limits (laws, production capacity, warehouse capacity, delayed orders, procedures, ect), on other side we have to find an exit from every situation. High management is trained how to think out of the box while operational staff every day invent new ways to solve whatever issues appear. Creativity is a privilege of marketing and sales and for supply chain creativity is a standard. And how fulfilling is when despite all limits the goods are produced and delivered on time to the customer and he is happy about this. Have you seen the flames in the eyes of the operational staff after overcome difficulty? These flames show you that you have hired the right people – they not only have complied with the laws and procedures but have also served your clients well. Then you are in good hands. With the dynamics in operational departments if there are no rules at every step, the chaos is full. Rules are the backbone that helps the manager to control the performance and that helps the company development.
When we hire employees without experience, in order he to adjust quickly to the situation, we’d better have an integration program on place. I personally have seen such integration programs in some international companies. This is how the new comer understands the company requirements in details and the transfer of know-how is easier because the employee want to confirm that he is decent for the team. The program gives appraisal whether the new comer performs well in the set terms and for which position he has potential. Let’s move to the other pole – we hire a person and leave him to deal with the task as good as he can. If we have in the team nagging “old” employees (they exist almost in every firm) who are afraid not to lose their jobs, they will make the new employee to feel useless and he will quit the job.
Few years ago the training programs became famous – one very good initiative. But it also faces some problems with the realization. You hire a young ambitious person who does not ask how much the salary is, just wants to learn faster how to work. You allocate him in Logistics department for instance and expect that when he completes the training program, you’ll have a good employee. But you don’t have a program according to which he would be trained systematically. The old employees start to treat him as a technical support and give him to arrange documents, to file way-bills and to watch how the rest employees work. On the 6th month this trainee is firmly convinced that logistics is the most dull job worldwide and then starts to seek for new challenges outside this department. This is how the good idea goes to an end quickly.
Some training programs offer mentor programs too. It is great idea really, supported also by EU. Here we face another issue. Each university has granted amount for payments to students and their mentors for the participation in this program. When the money is exhausted, the program is terminated until a new EU program comes. It is weird that even if businessmen want to do some short lecturing and from time to time free mentor seminars just to educate the students, it is impossible to happen in the university. It is impossible because lectures and exercises may be taught only by university lecturers. The good news is that there is way out. Big companies annually visit elite universities and propose scholarships for the excellent students in upper courses. Small and middle companies cannot attract the valedictorians, who have been contacted by the big companies. Small and middle companies may offer mentor and training programs to the rest students, select the future employees and start cultivating them. How one employer to select which students to have for future work? Some universities practice to invite companies’ owners who share their life experience. Definitely this technique inspires the students. If we add to it some practice plus working on projects, the effect would be much bigger for the students. The important thing is they to be involved in a way to chase the tasks at work even when it’s very hard, but also to be able to see the light into the tunnel.
The process is longer but with the adequate program we may invest in young people. If rules and norms exist, it is easy to hire manpower. And if an employee shows leader skills, he may be promoted and developed for a manager. The key here is the training program which to define clearly the steps. Pessimists would say it’s difficult to prepare such program as their business is specific and could not be put in any frames. To this I would reply: Y-e-es, with such point of view and attitude you would hardly overcome the lack of resources.
What prevents us from hiring the correct staff for our company?
It is us.
Owners of small and middle sized companies build barriers themselves towards hiring the proper quality operational personnel. The barriers are usually related to (1) self-confidence that nobody except the owner may do the job excellently or (2) to unwillingness to pay adequately. I know one owner of a firm who 22 years already moves everything alone – from opening the workshop at 06.00 a.m. through ordering the raw materials, supervising the workers, testing each product, till closing the workshop at 8.00 p.m. (in good days; in bad days she sleeps in the workshop). The structure there is flat – she is the boss and has 125 direct reports. Her children do not want to work there until she leaves not only the management but the company. Here is just one more example how there are no people to take over the family business. And this is not a single case in which someone limits himself because he thinks that only the hard way is the right way and that the market conjunction detains the progress.
Cultural differences and prejudice in some regions in Bulgaria become a problem too. There are capable women and young people who are literally oppressed and live in the shadow of their overmastering manager. The exits from here are two – either they leave the firm or continue to work until pension but unhappy and passive. I met a very shocking case recently. An owner of a firm in a small town is going to retire. He has a daughter who has graduated two university specialties and has been working in the company for 14 years at the position … cashier! The owner has also a son with graduated technical university and who has been working in the company for 9 years at the position production supervisor. The father’s opinion is that someone may become a manager only after he has passed all levels in the hierarchy, starting from the lowest one. I also like the approach in which the employees goes through the whole chain and with the help of his supervisor learns how to manage crisis situations. In this firm the young people are stuck. The daughter is totally demotivated but cannot leave due to her breeding and family. When I was talking to her for her vision about the company progress she became vivid and gave adequate solutions. The son also does not feel himself on the right place because he is assigned to one rather rude master who insults him all the time. The son behaves like a scared child waiting someone to scold on him. Neither the son, not the daughter may reveal their potential. The father is nervous because he does not know who may take over the firm. He has hired two managers who has quit within 2-3 months. The saddest thing is that the owner does not trust his kids, does not support and prepare them to handle them the business. He does not even think that a woman may manage a company. He constantly claims that there are no people to work while the resources are under his nose. It is enough to untie the hands of his children, to put them on managerial positions near himself and to start mentoring – within one year he will have prepared directors whom to rely and who to inherit him without quakes.
Just on the opposite side are the family firms which start early the preparation of the new shift managers. These families involve the kids into the company work during the school vacations, then give them real projects and support them on every step. Parents invest in adequate education and nevertheless whether the kids graduate local of foreign universities, they come back to contribute for the family business progress. Then the parents make their children partners in the company, give them a department or activity to manage and help them to grow. Of course the young partners make mistakes but the old partners provide the support. None of the employees even think to criticize the young owner – and he has the freedom to reveal his potential.
The factors that interrupt us actually help us to grow as personalities if we allow this to ourselves. It is not important what education our kid or employee will have, it is important what kind of person he/she is and what conditions we have built to develop him/her and gather knowledge and experience. Whether we shall develop someone by training, mentoring or practice depends on candidate’s needs. One thing is sure, there are enough human resources. There are simple mechanisms for hiring and keeping the operational staff. In other words if there is a will, there is a way; if there is no will, there is a reason. And we look for the reason usually outside us – in economics, politics, education, new generation, ect. But only if we arrange our organization like a flower garden, as bees come to flowers, the same way candidates for work will come to our firm and will make efforts to stay in our company.