Finding and Keeping Good Help

Russel Caldwell, CGR, GMB, of Caldwell Construction Inc. in Springfield, Mo., explains how his company deals with labor issues.

June 30, 2000

Q: How many employees do you have?

A:Six full-time employees.

Q: What do you think is the key to hiring good people? What skills and experience are you looking for?

A: The key to hiring good people is to have a thorough interview process. You must first attract quality potential employees. Above and beyond their mechanical ability, I’m looking for individuals who have an understanding of the need for excellent customer service. I also want employees who can function as managers, not just mechanics, people who can think ahead. I am looking for strongly motivated people who want to better themselves financially and personally.

Q: You used Caliper, a human resources consulting firm, in some personnel issues. What made you decide to use Caliper? Have you used any similar services?

A: I have never used a testing service prior to my experience with Caliper. Caliper provides personality testing and consultation. I heard about them from a friend in an entirely different industry and thought it might work for us. Caliper provided individual profiling (strengths and weaknesses). My understanding is that they also provide team profiling.

Q: Did you hire the person in question?

A: I did not use Caliper in the selection process for a potential employee. I used the profiling process to make a decision about where in my organization to place a particular individual and on another occasion to help me understand some roadblocks another employee was experiencing concerning his progress.

Q: How has it worked out?

A: It has worked out well. I was able to place this individual where he could be most happy and we, as a company, could best benefit from his employment. On the matter of the other employee, I was able to sit down with him, share the results and talk about the issues we had with him with a better understanding of where he was coming from. He has progressed well.

Q: Would you do it again?

A: If I were in need of a new key employee, the Caliper profile is something I would use in making that decision. I will use Caliper in the future to both hire and place people within our company.

Q: What are some things, in your opinion, that remodelers can do to attract good employees?

A: I have found that employees want more than money, although it’s certainly important. They desire a sense of belonging and a feeling that the things that they do matter. We have an open-book policy here where we share the progress of our company with employees. We offer better-than-average pay, a bonus program based on profitability, paid vacations and other perks. We also include the employees by getting their input on most of the major decisions we make.

Q: Have you had a hard time attracting and keeping good employees?

A: I have not had any trouble keeping people for the most part. As I have learned what matters most to people, I have had fairly good success in attracting quality people.

Q: What other resources might be out there for remodelers looking to make the right hiring decisions?

A: Check lots of references. Don’t wait until the critical moment to make a hire; attempt to forecast your labor needs. I really think speedy hires usually end in dissatisfaction. The No. 1 issue in our industry is a lack of qualified, quality employees. Work hard at making your company a place that employees are proud to work for. Train with a strong commitment to improving customer service.

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