The Three Keys To Employee Success

The Three Keys To Employee Success

Prairieland FS employeesDuring the winter, we had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with representatives from many ag retailers and basic manufacturers to discuss employee related challenges in their organizations and what they see as their primary concerns for 2015. As expected, each organization had specific concerns and opportunities related to their geographies, industry niche and competitive environments. However, there were three topics that were consistent with each organization we visited with.

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1) Hiring Success

Increased competition for top employees has increased the need for creative compensation and benefits packages. Many of the managers we visited with felt this was an area they needed to improve to get better people. In some organization, that may help. However, what most organizations are missing is the opportunity to set your job opportunity apart from the competition in such a way that money isn’t the difference maker.

Most companies use an interview as a way to screen out candidates in order to find the best. That model works great when you have a group of highly-talented candidates — which is rarely the case in retail agronomy today. It’s far more common to start the interview process with one or two candidates only to find out they have already interviewed with, and are getting offers from, your competitors.

When time is short, and need is high, it’s easy to think compensation will get the win. It doesn’t need to be that way. We work with several organizations seeking to become what we call “destination employers” in which they have been able to increase their hiring success by focusing on three critical hiring steps.

  • Shift the interview a format. Instead of “grilling” the candidate and forcing them to prove themselves, have a meeting that reveals the candidates strengths, discusses the impact they can make on the company with those skills, the unique challenges they will face and the opportunities they will have. Both types of interviews will help you find the right candidate. However, if you were the candidate, which organization/interview left you with a positive thought and which company would you feel better about working for?
  • Full engagement of the management team. Future employees want to feel like they are welcome and part of a team. If one organization makes you interview off-site with just one person while another includes members of the senior management team who are open to answering any questions about the future of the company you might have — which company do you think the candidate would rather work for?
  • Have a streamlined/defined interview process. Have you ever worked hard to put together an offer for a candidate, only to find they already accepted another offer? As with Step 2, streamlining the interview process is a key step to hiring the top talent. Creating an interview process that limits the hoops a candidate needs to jump through will always have a higher success rate than those that extend past a few weeks. Successful organizations have built a process that allows them to complete the candidate interview in one day. In those companies, the candidate will go through a process that gives them the opportunity to meet with key employees they will be working with, and interview with everyone who is part of the hiring/decision process. Top talent is only on the market for a few weeks. When they make the decision to make a change, fast moving companies are completing the process and getting people hired before other organizations have even discussed the first interview!

2) Improve Millennial Employee Retention

One of the biggest opportunities to improve retention in retail agronomy organizations is also one of the biggest challenges — the relationship between Baby Boomer-aged managers and their Millennial employees. The challenge is not figuring out how to get younger employees to work harder and older managers to expect less. In reality, companies that have focused on improving their culture by educating their management team to improve the quality, timing and purpose of their employee communications and total rewards have significantly improved their retention of Millennial employees.

3) Mid Management Succession Planning

Filling your “bench” and keeping it full is a big challenge in a talent-short market where other companies are doing everything they can to hire your trained and successful employees. Companies with a successful and ongoing succession process have done so by making it public to their employees and implementing that strategy sooner than most organizations are comfortable with. Long before there is an opening, these organizations are communicating with key employees to gauge their interest in pursuing the next step of their career within the company. Once these employees realize they are part of the plan, it not only increases their desire to improve but also makes it much more difficult of a decision to leave.

Organizations that recognize the importance of making these changes, and make it a business directive to do so, are gradually becoming what we consider destination employers. These are companies where the employees describe it as great place to work (and therefore have no desire to leave), the regional marketplace sees the company as a great place to establish a career and future employees see them as the ultimate career destination.

Imagine how your recruiting, retention and succession plan would look in a destination employer scenario. Organizations can be successful in going down this path of improvement. Your first step is to get everyone on board, most importantly senior leaders, by recognizing the need to make a change. Once that is accomplished, anything is possible, and building the process to improve is much easier.