Attracting and Retaining Talented PersonnelWritten By: Ron Slee
Article Date: 08-01-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
It's the largest challenge facing every business everywhere in the world.
During my years in the industry we have gone through significant changes. From the cyclical nature of the business, to the arrival of technology, to the development of workable business models, to market coverage and customer service issues - and now comes the grandpappy of them all. We have always needed to have good, hard-working, skilled people serving our customers in order to succeed, but now it is becoming critical. And don't look now, but it has become a worldwide issue. The population demographics are changing the look of the workforce. More seniors and fewer rookies. This is a very dangerous development.
Look Around You
Take a look at the technical workforce across our industry. More than 60 percent of the mechanics in the equipment world are over the age of 50. They are experienced and hard-working and getting tired physically.
Who is going to be developed to replace them in the coming 10 to 15 years?
Have you got the bench strength on hand now?
Have you got a plan to find these young ambitious people? When will you start?
Now walk over to the parts department and have a look at the phone and counter staff. How about the product support salesmen? The same thing exists, doesn't it?
And then how about the tools that we give to the parts and service departments? Diagnostic tools for the new models of equipment; GPS systems on our own vehicles and on the machines we sell or rent; dealer business systems; signature pads; voice recognition software for reporting; RFID or scanning tools for labor collection and equipment and attachment history; and customer history easily accessible to the people serving your customers. I could go quite a bit further.
Without the right tools for the critical personnel asset, how do you attract the right people? We live in a competitive world, and the new workforce is looking to learn from their jobs - not just get paid.
Remember what Jack Welsh said: "When the world around you is changing at a rate faster than you are, the end is near." Well it is true. Without the tangible evidence that you have invested and continue to invest in the tools that allow employees to grow and customers to be served without equal, you will be challenged to get talent.
And without talent where will you be?
It has been true for a long time that you hire attitude and teach the rest. That takes us to training. Last month I suggested reading a book called the "Science of Success" and I hope that many of you read the book. The headline was "Roles, Responsibilities and Expectations." In the AED/ Quest training classes we touch on Management Development that requires everyone to have a clear understanding of their job function and standards of performance that would allow each employee to know how they are doing against standards, without a daily intervention from the "boss." We try and get the message across that individual employees have to manage their own performance with a clear understanding of what is expected. Next, we must help each person achieve whatever it is that they strive to accomplish in the work life.
This is a large challenge in and of itself: Knowing each employee, their specific skills and their potential - then establishing with each individual the road map to take them where they want to go. This is what I call a skills inventory and a career tracking path. It's also a clear indication to each and every employee that you care about them, which is a key need for new - and the new generation of - employees. If they aren't learning and you don't show that you care they will leave. And I would have to agree with that decision.
They hold the hammer and we have to accept that fact and work within it to attract and retain the type of people that will take you to the promised land of market share, customer satisfaction and profitability. It is quite simple.
Another thing to pay attention to in the new workforce is that over 71 percent of the PhDs awarded in the U.S. go to foreign nationals. The world is competing for talent. This is no longer a local phenomenon. I recently returned from training sessions in Singapore, Dubai and Moscow, and there is a hunger to learn all over the world. Peter Drucker said nearly two decades ago that adult education was going to become a very important industry. It has happened.
So please take stock. How does your workforce stack up demographically? Age groups and genders; specific skill sets and the depth charts involved.
If there are shortages, start to address them. The sooner the better.
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