Every business is comprised of three major management areas: financial management, marketing management and human resource management. The owners and managers of today’s businesses must be equally strong in all three areas.
Being a good – really good – people manager is a learned art and skill. There’s a lot to it.
Large companies have separate departments headed up by trained professional human resource managers who are dedicated to handling this part of a successful business. The kitchen and bath industry, made up of several thousand small (20 or fewer employees) companies, often does not have the luxury of hiring a specialist to manage the different segments of the business. So, generally, the owner ends up doing everything. Owners who recognize that they must become well-rounded professional managers have been and will be the survivors in this increasingly competitive marketplace.
Employees represent the intellectual capital that can make or break a firm’s ability to remain competitive. People are your most important asset – but if they are not well managed, they can also be a liability.
As business becomes more complex, so does the human resource function. Today, this encompasses everything from addressing staffing needs more strategically to launching effective training initiatives, interpreting federal and state/provincial codes and implementing policies and benefits that safeguard workers while protecting company interests. The legal and economic consequences of a major human resource misstep can be enormous.
For many kitchen and bath owners, human resource management is an intimidating prospect. Most of you would agree that being sensitive to, and doing your best to meet the “people needs” of your employees, is in your best interest as an employer. However, debate exists concerning just how much responsibility a company must assume with respect to those people needs, and how much time and money a company must devote to the needs and priorities of employees, as opposed to those of its business operations and customers.
As owner/manager, your job is to focus on the practices and policies in your company that directly affect the welfare and morale of your most important asset – your employees. It’s up to you to help your company strike the optimum balance between the strategic needs of your business and the basic needs of your employees. This task is not only harder than ever before, it’s also more important than ever before.
For one thing, the market for the employees with the skills and knowledge that growing technology-driven businesses require is extremely competitive today. Consequently, your ability to attract good employees relates more closely than ever to the “human” side of the day-to-day working experience (the general atmosphere that prevails at the workplace) and the extent to which your company practices help people balance the pressures of work and home.
Whether you call it “human resource management” or “personnel administration,” this important facet of business is generally described as “the decisions, activities and processes that must meet basic needs and support the work performance of employees.”
The most common areas that fall under human resource management include:
- Staffing: Strategically determining, recruiting and hiring the people to help operate your business.
- Basic Work Place Policies: Orienting your staff on policies and procedures such as schedules, safety and security.
- Compensation and Benefits: The salary, commissions and bonuses and company services that ensure your staff stays with you and grows in knowledge and expertise to help your company grow.
- Regulatory Issues: What your company must do to stay in compliance with the ever-increasing number of federal, state/provincial and local regulations.