Developing People Within the Organization to Handle Higher-Qualified Work

When you’re trying to recruit highly-skilled employees for a highly-skilled job, you have to look everywhere you can. However, those candidates are not always available for you to just pick one out of a pile of résumés, ready to start work at a moment’s notice.

In a lot of cases, you can focus on developing people yourself or create opportunities where they can develop their own skills.

One place to look for employees with the needed skillset is with your own vendors. Oftentimes, depending on the processes and products you buy, the people you buy them from have the kinds of people you need. After all, they’re familiar with the products and the processes, so the transition should be a smooth one.

Of course, you can hire from your vendor partners, but you have to be up front about it and approach the vendor before you ever approach the employee. Once you get their okay, you can approach the employee, and bring them on board.

Developing people within your organization can make it easier to get the talent you need to work on your machines and processes.Another option is to pay for the training and education of your own employees, sending them back to school to get the education needed to run your technical machines, such as a CNC operator or 3D printer operator.

When I was the President of Robroy Industries, we had a program for developing people that would pay for anyone’s continuing education. We just had two preconditions: One, your education had to fit the mission of the organization. That is, if you wanted to be a veterinarian, it didn’t make any sense for us to invest in that. Second, you had to pass.

It was that easy. If you did the coursework and learned the subject matter, we paid for it, and you could move up into a higher position with more pay. It was a rather successful program too. Out of the 321 people who worked there, nearly 10% of our whole workforce took advantage of it.

Another option in developing people is that your vendors can be your best educators and trainers. They’re already the specialists in what they provide, and they can take an unqualified or underqualified individual in your organization and either train them on the job or you can send them to the vendor for training.

For example, you could send your CNC router operators to the vendors for additional training to learn a new CNC machine or CNC programming for a few weeks. But don’t send them for a 6- or 12-month immersive apprenticeship. They could decide they like their new surroundings and abandon ship, so a few weeks at the vendor’s place should be sufficient. Just make sure you maintain that umbilical cord between you and the associates so they know they’re wanted back home.

Another option is to pay some of your vendor partners to send their people in to train yours. Developing people can even be part of your contractual arrangements. They can train your operators and maintenance people on the actual operation of the machine, how to fix the most common problems, and even be on call to help with problems after the training program ends.

If you’re buying a new piece of equipment, choose your operators and maintenance people very carefully, and then involve them in the selection, installation, and operation of the machines right from the beginning. The managers should be there, but since they don’t actually run and maintain the equipment, they don’t need to be as involved in the process. But they should be aware of what it takes, so let them be involved.

Finally, look to your local community college for employees. We’re fortunate in that we have Kilgore College and LeTourneau College in Longview, Texas, and they provide a lot of the education and continuing education that we needed. We would sometimes recruit their graduates to come and work for us in our various positions.

If your community college doesn’t offer the classes you need, ask them if they would consider starting the program. You might even be able to supply the faculty members to actually teach the program, which puts you on the inside track for recruiting the graduates when they’re finished.

Recruiting talent isn’t just limited to posting job openings in your local newspaper or on the online job boards. You can find plenty of skilled labor if you look in places your competition hasn’t begun to look and start developing people. Find them in your vendor partners ranks, find them in the local colleges, or train them yourself. This way, you can get the kind of talent you need, rather than letting orders and functions go unfilled, or launching expensive recruiting searches that may not turn up exactly who you need.

I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Photo credit: Thomas Altfather Good (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Author: David Marshall
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.