Nordson Corp. clearly recognizes the importance of finding the right people for the right position within its manufacturing organization. Indeed, when the Westlake, Ohio-based firm received the 2006 Performance Through People award from Northwestern University's Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement, Vice President of Human Resources Bruce Fields clearly spelled out the key role a talented workforce has in the company's success.
"Nordson's people performance strategies arose from our unwavering commitment to our customers," Fields said. "We invest time and other resources to recruit talented people who can deliver solutions to meet customers' needs."
How does Nordson do it?
Every job opening is treated as a "precious asset," explains Fields, who says executive involvement in the recruiting process is more than simply executive commitment. Efforts to fill every professional job opening begin with what Fields calls a "sourcing meeting," which includes the hiring manager (person to whom the new hire will report), the appropriate human resource manager, as well as a manager or managers one or two levels above the hiring manager.
In this meeting, they discuss the type of position that needs to be filled: Is it a development position where the hire may move on in a year or two, or is it a position that requires an experienced person and longer-term stability? The group also discusses where to look for candidates: Should they use a professional search firm, look at sister companies, on the Internet?
Where to look is important. "If you are not sourcing from the appropriate part of the swimming pool," explains Fields, then while you may be getting the best in that arena, you may not be getting the best overall.
Additionally, the meeting includes a discussion about what outstanding performance in the position should look like a year from now. For example, in a sales position, those goals may include the level of sales the hire should be producing a year from now or the number of new customers that person should have cultivated.
Typically, when someone leaves, the hiring manager may ask for a replacement with all the same qualities, Fields says, particularly if the departing employee is someone very good. "But we're always trying to raise the bar," Fields says. "We ask, 'Could we do more with this position than we have done in the past?'"
A strong recruiting program also requires "a strong, effective, influential human resources team," Fields points out. That means, among other things, that the team must look beyond whether the potential hire has what it takes to fill the immediate need. While the hiring manager is rightfully looking at filling an immediate need, the human resources team is tasked with looking at the broader picture: What is best for the company as a whole?
An effective human resources team also is one that has gained the trust of senior management. The HR team is no good if it knows the right answer but can't influence management to make the right decision, Fields points out.
When Nordson determined four years ago to increase its emphasis on recruitment, the manufacturer backed that up with an HR tour to all of its locations worldwide. The training tour was delivered to anybody who had responsibility for hiring at any level. The training included a range of topics, including recruitment, and it provided not only theory but also actual tools that hiring managers could employ, Fields says.
And lest anyone forget, recruiting the best requires having good company fundamentals, including competitive pay and opportunity. "It's hard to recruit really good people if you don't have good fundamentals," Fields says.