Human Resources Successes

Readers of this column and attendees at our events probably know how I feel about human resources: Your staff is one of the most important factors of your company’s success, if not the most important.

Changes in demographics like the aging of the workforce, among other things, are making it even harder to find experienced people, so training is key. I thought that this month, I would share some of our human resource–related stories.

We’ve had big HR successes in hiring inexperienced but eager people and training them (mostly on the job). James, our marketing associate, started as an intern in 2004 with no experience and later joined the company full time. Among other things, he is now responsible for our highly acclaimed events, working with our circulation consultant, our partner program (with business organizations) and just about anything else related to marketing. So how did James make the leap from intern to having a significant role in the company? We gave him a lot of responsibility, a lot of guidance and room to make some mistakes. Keep in mind that some mistakes could have a major negative impact on the company. So in the beginning, I would review just about everything James did. As time went by and he learned from my changes, I needed to review less of his work. Now we both feel comfortable with James taking the lead with most projects. But the foundation for this HR success was hiring someone who is a hard worker with a can-do attitude. Then, it comes down to letting go.

We have had our challenges as well, particularly with hiring salespeople. Despite receiving hundreds of résumés, we have filled only two out of five sales positions. Knowing that there is a lot of business out there that we can capitalize on is frustrating, but I refuse to take the suggestion that I’ve heard from a few other entrepreneurs — hire just for the sake of having butts in chairs. I am very particular about the people we hire for sales because we use a consultative approach that requires a skill not many salespeople are proficient at — listening. It is that approach that has led to our success to date, and it is part of our brand.