When a group of specialty engineering and construction firms experienced rapid growth over the course of a few years, they understandably began to experience challenges with the efficiency of their internal operations, especially their Human Resources functions. To effectively address these issues as their growth continued, they retained one of the “Big Three” management consulting firms, which developed a comprehensive strategic plan for the group.
One of the primary recommendations of the plan, flagged as a critical need, was securing Director of Human Resources (Director) who could centralize HR functions and elevate the department and its practices to the level that was necessary for the company’s size, sophistication, and growth trajectory. This included getting up to par with its succession planning, leadership initiatives, onboarding, professional development, and all aspects of its benefits program.
When traditional recruitment methods didn’t generate candidates with the necessary skills and experiences, the consulting firm referred the President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to Helbling.
With this being our first engagement with the company, initial discussions focused on understanding the organization, its growth pattern and strategy, and its future vision. The Director would be involved with the group’s many entities, so it was necessary to understand the structure, reporting relationships, specific responsibilities, objectives they wanted to achieve and in what timeframe, and the overall internal culture and environment of the companies. Having this understanding was essential to developing a search strategy that would identify candidates with the right skill set and cultural fit, as well as a plan of how to attract them.
From the start, our client was open to considering candidate sources beyond the engineering and construction realm to include large corporations in diverse industries within the geographical region. Since one of our goals was to provide the company with an array of candidates, we recruited professionals who were in high-level corporate HR positions, as well as others who were in divisional HR roles. We presented the President and CFO with a cross section of talent from which they could consider various skill sets and compensation parameters, and make an informed decision of which candidates with whom to move forward.
With all candidates having the necessary experiences and capabilities, they selected the final candidate for his cultural fit. They had a “gut instinct” about him - he had a strong business acumen and excellent presentation skills, and he had proven himself to be an adaptable leader who can get things done in a large corporate, and sometimes bureaucratic environment. He was a proven self-starter who was accustomed to taking initiative, and who would provide strategic leadership of our client’s HR function, which is exactly what they needed.
Upon being hired, the new Director was tasked with 40 initiatives. Within a short timeframe, he accomplished 20 of them, including: refining all job descriptions, integrating a new performance management system and online applicant tracking system, revamping the orientation and onboarding process, and establishing the company’s code of ethics.
Two and a half years later, we now work with the Director on various search assignments as the company continues to grow and expand expeditiously. Thanks to him, HR functions are streamlined, efficient, and effective for recruitment and for the retention of the group's valued employees.