Steve Trautman’s Hiring Best Practices
Posted by Michael S. on July 9, 2018 in Manufacturer Focus

Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with talent risk management and knowledge transfer expert Steve Trautman about the importance of the hiring process. Steve provided some incredible insight on how HR teams can recruit, attract millennials, and judge if someone is the right fit for their culture.


Question: Do HR departments need to change the way they are currently recruiting?

We’ve all heard the phrase “war on talent.” Companies—especially manufacturing and technical organizations—are feeling desperate to get and keep employees. 


Alex, the general manager of a factory in Wisconsin, recently told me he goes to new employee orientations to deliver two messages: thank you for choosing us, and please don’t quit before calling me first. He is handing out his cell number to people he wouldn’t have considered interviewing—much less hiring—five years ago. For Alex, the war for talent is real, it’s messy, and it’s threatening his ability to keep his doors open. It isn’t just about attracting talent (thank you for choosing us), it’s mostly about keeping them (please don’t leave).


Given this reality, HR departments need to think more holistically about what recruitment means. In my view, recruitment starts with understanding the business need and being able to articulate it in plain language. Then, it goes to writing a requisition, interviewing, selecting, and onboarding. Recruitment should never end when a new employee is hired. It should continue through the onboarding phase until the employee is independently productive or there’s a clear path to get them there.


The truth is, when people are productive, they’re happy and more likely to stay. And so, competent recruitment includes making sure employees are becoming successful in their new roles. 


Question: What are millennials looking for in a workplace that would make our company more attractive to them?

What millennials want is what everybody wants—to be part of something valuable. We think of millennials as being socially conscious, and I see that as wanting to be part of something bigger than themselves. It doesn’t always have to be an NGO, but it does need to be something of value. So, when you can show a millennial employee how their work is valuable and directly contributes to a company’s big picture, they’ll find meaning in that. Wouldn’t anyone?


One way to show millennials how they’ll fit into the big picture is to be crystal clear about their role and what it takes to be good at it. Yes, millennials are used to getting gold stars—well, I think that’s great. Show them exactly what they need to do to excel, to succeed, to earn that gold star. 


In my experience, most companies aren’t clear enough about roles and success indicators. Companies will tell recruits they’re going to be technicians, but they don’t tell them which specific tasks they’ll need to do or what their roadmap to success looks like. Let’s help them by giving them a clear path forward.


The truth is, with 4% unemployment, we need to be responsive to all our employees' needs, not just millennials. I’m not interested in doing any millennial bashing. In fact, I think what they’ve brought to the workforce is productive and useful, because it shines a bright light on what leaders should be doing anyway.


Question: How do you judge if someone is the right fit for your culture?

There’s a bit of work to be done before you can assess whether someone is the right fit for your company’s culture. First, it’s critical to be clear about what you mean by “your culture.” A great starting point is to identify actual names and faces of a few people on your team or in your organization who are truly representative of your company’s culture or the culture you’re trying to build at your company.


Then, note a few tangible things those people do that are good for your culture. It might be the way Jen presents her ideas, how Adam talks about your customers, or the way Michelle runs a meeting.


Now, you’re in a better place to assess a candidate because you can ask interview questions based on those things. How do you present your ideas? How do you talk about customers? How do you run a meeting? And, you can listen for answers that indicate whether the candidate would be a good fit. 


I also recommend explaining your culture to candidates by telling them a bit about Jen, Adam, and Michelle. You’ll be able to learn more about candidates' potential culture fit by their reactions. Do they chafe at the way Michelle runs meetings, or are they enthusiastic? The good news is that you don’t have to rely on a gut check. A process like this one offers a more rational way to judge whether someone is the right fit for your company.

Michael S. is our Manufacturing guru
I have over 30 years experience in a broad range of manufacturing areas. Starting with an apprenticeship in Germany I’ve worked my way through a variety of positions within the manufacturing field. I got my start as a Tool and Die maker. I next became a supervisor of a class A tool room, then manager of a machining department. I was exposed to lean manufacturing in the mid 90s and adapted the lean philosophy. Loving and teaching the lean approach, I moved on to become a Continuous Improvement manager which led to a job as a manufacturing manager. I joined Acuity in 2015 as their manufacturing expert. I hope to evolve how manufacturers deal with and think about insurance companies, as well as be a resource to my fellow employees – enabling them to better understand the unique needs of manufacturers.

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Posted By: Michael S. on April 26, 2019 in Manufacturer Focus
If you follow manufacturing, even from a distance, you have likely heard about the skills gap. Unfortunately, the skills gap has now turned into a body gap. There are simply not enough qualified people to fill all the open positions that are available.
Posted By: Michael S. on April 11, 2019 in Manufacturer Focus
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