I attended a talk this week on how to work with millennials in your company. After hearing some of the issues people were having it became clear to me that the first step in resolving almost all of the issues was to discuss expectations. Surprisingly, a lot of people didn’t know what that would look like. Here is an example:

Manager: My expectations are (submitting the reports by this deadline, communicating with Joe whenever this happens, calling the customer back within 4 hours, etc.). Let’s discuss whether you think you can meet those expectations and, if not, let’s discuss the factors that would keep you from meeting those expectations.

This isn’t going to solve all the issues but it will make the issue clear and you will either get a commitment or get an idea of what issues you are facing.

And for you employees out there, if you aren’t clear on what the expectations are, ask. “What are your expectations?” Managers will appreciate the question and you will have the information you need.


Of the four aspects (Recruiting, Hiring, Onboarding and Retention), let’s take a look at just hiring. There is no secret to hiring. It just takes work and persistence, like achieving any other goal.

Here is what hiring boils down to:

  • Determine what skills matter.
  • Screen your resumes properly for the skills and attributes needed.

  • Think about what skills are NOT listed in the resume.
  • Phone screen.

  • Interview the candidate in person.
  • Give competency tests when applicable.

  • Do a team interview and check for cultural fit.
  • Choose candidates who have at least the will to learn, if they don’t already have all of the skills required.

Obviously, there is a lot of time and energy that should be spent on each of these items and I could write a blog on each one (hmm, maybe I will). Urgency is one of the things that damages the hiring process the most. Depending upon the position, it can take time to go through all of these steps and find the best candidates. Don’t rush the process.

Reviewing workflows when an employee leaves

When an employee leaves, it’s a good opportunity to review the work assignments and work processes you have in place before automatically refilling the position.

I was asked the other day to help a small company (about 75 employees) brainstorm how to fill a position for an Accountant that was being vacated because the employee had left for another job. Often the first instinct is to put an ad up and fill the same position as quickly as possible, however during the brainstorming process we came up with several other possible scenarios, which included outsourcing part of the work and dividing up the rest. (As background information, the company already had a Controller in place so the Accountant was not the highest level accounting position in the company).

We came up with the following options:

Payroll – The company was already using a third party payroll provider, so the Accountant position was mostly entering work hours and vacation days, making changes in deduction amounts, processing garnishments, and generally managing the bi-weekly payroll. This portion could be outsourced to an HR firm that was already being contracted to do some of the company’s administrative HR work.

Accounts Payable – Hire an entry level Accounting Clerk to process accounts payable. This would be at a lower wage than the Accountant position.

Accounts Receivable – There were two types of invoicing being done. About 2/3 of the invoices were Fixed Fee invoices. The new entry level Accounting Clerk would be trained on this simpler invoicing. The company was also involved in Time and Materials (T&M) projects that required more detailed invoicing of time and expenses. The process could be changed so that the Project Coordinators would pick up some of this. The Project Coordinators were already responsible for reviewing the T&M invoices for accuracy before they were sent to the customer. They could now prepare the initial draft invoices, which could then go to the Administrative Assistant who could put together back up support if required, and then the Project Coordinators would do a final review before submitting the invoice to the customer.

Miscellaneous accounting work – A few other minor items, such as processing the credit card statements, etc., had been part of the Administrative Assistant’s work. Now those tasks could be part of the new Accounting Clerk’s tasks, freeing up a bit of the administrative assistant’s time to help with operational support.

Why not just replace the previous position as is? That might still be your final decision. However, I recommend going through a brainstorming exercise such as this every time any position opens up. It opens up ideas and possibilities!

Internships are a great addition to a long term hiring strategy

Ed Diehl, President of Concept Systems, Gary Petersen, MECOP Executive Director, and Jamie Diehl, President of Higher Up, showing the MECOP 10-Year Sponsor Award for Concept Systems.
Here are just a few of the many advantages of hiring interns to work at your company:

  • You have the opportunity to try out someone and observe their work habits and skills for several months with no long-term commitment to hire.
  • Interns can provide valuable feedback to a company on how to attract new college grads to your business.
  • Internships programs can be an easy way to get a company’s name associated with a college or university for hiring purposes.
  • Most interns I’ve hired in the past have far surpassed their cost in terms of ROI.

If you are hiring engineers and are in the Pacific Northwest, our local Oregon universities have an outstanding engineering internship program (see MECOP) which will give you access to a very qualified engineering intern pool.

Contact your local university to find out what internship programs they already have available to you.