Transcending the HR Crunch

Transcending the HR Crunch | Carol Neslund: ChannelEdge Ep. 8

  • August 23, 2018

As of this writing, North American unemployment numbers are reaching incredible new single-digit lows, and in many industries such as the tech space, jobs are being created faster than companies can find qualified people to fill them. Couple this with considerable changes to the way commerce is transacting and the new skills necessitated by these changes, and you can understand what is driving a vast, pan-industrial HR crunch where many businesses find themselves struggling with employee attraction and retention.

Carol Neslund has built a long career in the channel space, including leadership roles running billion-dollar business units with technology companies such as Avaya, Seagate Technology, Westcon and others. Over her career, Carol has become an expert at identifying leadership and management skill gaps and offering a range of ways to improve performance including skills training, leadership development and 1:1 executive coaching, a skillset she leverages in her current role as principal at PartnerPath.

In this episode, Carol drops a ton of practical insight on human resources management, attracting and retaining the best people and some surprising facts on what’s motivating to today’s workforce.

Functional Skills

As employers, there is no doubt that our team members need to understand the core of our business, which in many cases is a product of some type or another.  It makes excellent sense to ensure that our employees understand our product, how it works and how we deliver customer satisfaction, but Carol believes there’s a massive piece of the training puzzle still missing in many organizations.

She says, “Companies are over-focused on training employees about their product; there needs to be more focused time and energy on helping people get those functional skills.”

Strategic human resource management means looking for ways to build and leverage strengths in the whole person.  Screening and training for the functional skills a team member needs, above and beyond training on your core product, make them strong and successful and is a great way to add value for your team in a way that has clear benefit for the organization as well.  Well-trained employees drive top client satisfaction, but also increase retention of both clients and staff.

Think professional development, above and beyond specific job training.

New Employees: Make or Buy?

Part of what comes along with new ways of buying is, naturally, new ways of selling and with that arises the need for new positions and new skills in an enterprise.  The ability to create and hire for new roles, however, has to have some limitation and many companies end up facing the conundrum of whether to replace or invest in the re-skilling of existing staff.

Carol tees up the challenge like this: “Are you going to go out and buy highly skilled talent in the competitive marketplace, or are you going to take someone fresh out of college, likely with limited experience and (help them develop) the skillset that they need.

The challenge is that business is changing so quickly, it’s incredibly challenging to find people with the necessary skills – progress and change with specialized tools and tactics are just moving faster than education and experience can keep up.  Carol is a big fan of investing in employees and sees investment in training and career pathing as a cornerstone of strategic human resource management.  If you’re currently struggling with this exact decision, Carol shares some impressive stats on the real on-ramping time required to get people to proficiency.

Does Your Comp Plan Attract or Repel the Right People?

“(For millennials,) the wage you earn is a satisfier but not a motivator,” says Carol, double-tapping on her above point about training for functional skills.  However, even that is not where it ends.

Potential employees entering today’s workforce tend to have a different set of priorities than they have had historically, and with that comes a new lens for looking at compensation.  For example, many new graduates are entering the workforce with a formidable financial commitment to repayment of a student loan.  These people need to know that their compensation is going to meet their basic financial needs. A compensation plan that has a low guaranteed wage with a more considerable upside that is tied to performance factors outside of their control, or feels too much at risk for any reason, is not always going to attract the best and brightest grads.


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