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Piling Canada Q4 is here!

People are holding your business up

By Barbara J. Bowes, Legacy Bowes Group

 

I can just imagine the "buzz" in the exhibition hall and in every presentation room during the recent International Foundations Congress & Equipment Expo (IFCEE) 2015 in March. That's what happens when 3,500 enthusiastic attendees get together to discuss common issues, opportuni-ties and new ways of doing things. So many sessions, so many innovations and so many people to meet!

barbara headshot01IFCEE was designed to help “build the foundation for a solid future” and focused heavily on the technical aspect of doing business in this sector. However, at the same time, as a human resources and leadership professional, I must reaf-firm that a big part of any corporate success is the people side of the business. After all, as one exhibitor broadly displayed, when people work as a team, there are indeed no limits on what you can do together.

With that in mind, let me apply some of the conference terms to the people side of a business.

Building a foundation – As in any business, effective human resources management systems must accompany operational systems. This means implementing effective recruitment and selection processes, establishing market level compensation systems as well as ensuring accurate and current job descriptions. Once hired, new employees need to be effectively oriented to their roles and responsibilities while managers must be trained to conduct annual perfor-mance reviews and ensure strong training and development programs keep employee skills current. Without a strong human resources foundation, success could be elusive.

Deep mixing – From an HR perspective, “deep mixing” means building a strong foundation of skilled employees. It consists of recruiting and selecting the right people at the right time and assigning them to do the right things at the right price. It also means “deep mixing” of people skills and cultures to ensure diversity within your workforce. Diversity adds strength to your organization.

Design and performance – Organization structure lays out the official reporting structures, communication and workflow for your corporation. It confirms who makes which decisions and ensures accountability for operational effi-ciency. Well-structured organizations enable employees to work like that well-oiled machine out in the field. Structure allows people to focus on productive tasks rather than spending time trying to find out where decisions are made. It also provides a roadmap that outlines interdepartmental relationships and occupational career paths. Perhaps 2015 is the right time to review your structure.

When was the lst time you thought about the demographics of your workforce? Are you at risk of employee retirement where years of experience and knowledge could walk out the door? are your young professionals ready to take the leadership you will need in the next few years?

Ground improvement – When thinking of this term, I think of training and development. Leading companies invest two per cent of their payroll costs to ensure employees are highly skilled in every aspect of the corporation’s business. New equipment and/or new innovation require new training. Managers, too, need training and skill building in order to oversee, direct and motivate the upcoming intergenerational workforce.

Risk assessment and sustainability – As you well know, equipment breaks down and/or is simply worn out. But do you ever think that the same phenomenon applies to your people? When was the last time you thought about the demographics of your workforce? Are you at risk of employee retirement where years of experience and knowledge could walk out the door? Are your young professionals ready to take the leadership you will need in the next few years?

Importance of interfaces – It is interesting that com-panies spend copious amounts of time and money on interfacing with customers but spend little time interfac-ing with their employees. Of course, this is made more difficult when employees are scattered around the coun-try and work off-site, but there are many tactics that can be implemented to overcome this. Many companies have developed an “intranet” where employees can access news releases, internal memos and company newsletters, occupa-tional interest groups, and/or register for company training programs. Some companies hold an annual personnel con-ference and/or location visits from the president. Teamwork is possible no matter where your employees work; people want to belong, so make it happen.

Numerical methods, metrics – Client project manage-ment in your industry is key. And, since 80 per cent of your administration budget is personnel, it is also important to not only keep statistics but to review them for trends that are impacting your bottom line. There are numerous human resources information system (HRIS) products that enable managers to assess the metrics that impact the people side of your business. You might be surprised how absenteeism and/or workers compensation issues are creating costs that, with planning, could be reduced.

Extreme events – Similar to issues related to equipment breakdown, organizations are often confronted with extreme events on the personnel side. This could include death or accidents in the workplace, employee theft and/or a resigna-tion of a staff person with an important technical skill. It can also include issues related to employee behaviour outside of work, such as a DUI, that might directly impact their ability to do their corporate work. What do you have in place to deal with these situations? What are your workplace health and safety policies and practices? Do you have backup trained personnel? Do you have a personnel disaster plan in place? Is your communication team ready? Are managers trained and ready to meet and speak with their employees about the situation? These are all public relation issues that need to be effectively addressed.

Teamwork/partnership – The conference wouldn’t have been as successful if it hadn’t been for the four key associa-tions teaming up and partnering together to develop and implement such a complex event. Hours, days, weeks and months went into the planning for such a big show. And the same applies to teamwork within organizations. Effort must be made to ensure that all employees understand the same corporate vision, align their own personal goals and objec-tives with this vision and work in teams to reach their goals. Once again, teamwork doesn’t just happen; it requires train-ing, leadership and motivation.

Building the foundation for a solid future was the theme of the conference. And, just as the various terms used in this article apply to the technical aspects of the industry, so, too, do they apply to every aspect of good human resources man-agement. In other words, it is impossible to have a well-oiled corporate machine without a good team of professionals with the right skills, at the right time, doing the right things at the right pay, following policies and working as a team.

Barbara J. Bowes is president of Legacy Bowes Group and presi-dent of Career Partners International, Manitoba. She is also an author, newspaper columnist, radio host and professional speaker. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.