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Tips on Human Resources

Building a Senior Management Team

  • Start with part-timers. You may not be able to afford a full-time chief financial officer at first, but chances are you can find one who will gladly work part time.
  • Look for volunteers. The SCORE Association is one place to start and may help you establish a volunteer advisory board. Also check with your local business schools.
  • Consider outsourcing your management team. Check the Yellow Pages under Employment Agencies, Employee Leasing, Executive Search Consultants and Management Consultants.
  • Check references and backgrounds, just as you would for a full-time employee. Look for a good fit.
  • Treat part-time and volunteer executives just as you would full-time, paid senior managers. Make them a part of your team.

Employee Performance Reviews

  • Concentrate on what you and the employee can achieve together in the future. Don't use performance reviews just as a means of telling workers everything they're doing wrong.
  • Strive for consistency and fairness. Apply performance criteria to all employees, not just a few.
  • Encourage employees to evaluate themselves and to discuss their own strengths. Your view of an employee and the employee's view of himself should match fairly well. Otherwise, it's a warning signal.
  • Be honest about poor performance, but not brutal. Document your observations in writing.
  • If you're small enough that constant communication and feedback are taking place, you may be able to avoid performance reviews. But don't send the message that performance isn't critical.

Helping Employees Take Pride in Their Work

  • Employees are your most important assets, so hire the best, provide training and growth opportunities, and recognize good performance.
  • Have a meaningful, concise and realistic job description for each employee. Make sure you review it with the employee and that it is understood.
  • Be sure employees know what is expected of them. Establish high standards of performance ethics.
  • Offer specialized training or skills enhancement to your current employees. Promoting from within encourages and motivates your greatest assets-your current workforce.
  • Create a New Employee Referral Bonus Program. Describe your needs in title and duties and offer a reward for your "most wanted."

Hiring Quality and Reliable People

  • Examine your own skills carefully. Know your own strengths and weaknesses and hire to complement your skills, not duplicate them.
  • Assure yourself plenty of applicants by casting a broad net. Interview applicants in a structured way by asking all applicants for a job the same questions.
  • Draw applicants to your Web site by placing the Web address in all advertisements.
  • Use an 800 phone or fax number as a toll-free way for applicants to contact you.
  • Offer a signing bonus-anything from $25 to $2,500 could be an incentive to help bring on a fence-sitting applicant. This is a common practice for "super starts."

Hiring Smart

  • Hire slowly. Be willing to invest time and energy in your hiring decisions.
  • Be clear in your own mind what the job requires and measure candidates' qualifications against the requirements of the job.
  • Consider how well a candidate will fit in with your corporate culture. Are her attitudes compatible? Is he cooperative?
  • Narrow the pool to serious candidates. Ways of weeding out non-contenders include announcing that drug testing is required of all new employees or asking applicants to write a brief essay on why they want the job.
  • Do brief phone interviews with 8 or 10 top candidates to reduce the pool further. Then do longer in-person interviews with two or three finalists.

Where to Go to Gain Referrals

  • Hold an open house or an in-house job fair. Invite schools, county or state job developers, and others in the community to attend.
  • Contact Urban League, Youth Employment Programs and Private Industry Council in your area. These are wonderful training organizations that offer free placement assistance.
  • Go online and search the Internet. Post your openings on free and fee-based bulletin boards such as , or .
  • Contact local government job banks for free referrals. All states have aggressive welfare-reform goals and may be a source of employees.
  • Call the Veterans Administration and Rehabilitation Agency. They can refer some very capable people.