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Staffing Up When Staffing Down

Newsletter • volume 1 • number 3

All the gloomy headlines across the country about staff cutbacks seem to mask a trend that partially explains why we are now so busy coaching organizations on how to improve their interviewing and selection skills.

This new trend seems to be taking shape on two fronts:

Running Lean

As companies run leaner, the surviving staff members have to become more productive. This requires new skills and attitudes. For example, as layers of management are eliminated, span-of-control issues increase. As staff disappears, the remaining staff takes on more work. As uncertainty increases, self-confidence and self-motivation become more important.

We are hearing about a new management philosophy at various companies. The September 9, 1991 issue of Fortune captured this in its "on The Rise" column which featured Arnold W. Donald. Fortune said Donald "has a simple but demanding management philosophy ­ have three people do five jobs but pay them like four." He calls the result a "high performance organization."

Clearly this philosophy requires terrific and highly motivated people. The salary dimension of the work (pay three people like four) may attract many candidates. The challenge is to find and select the right people to increase the potential for this style of management to work.

Total Quality Management

As companies increasingly commit to Total Quality Management (TQM) programs, they gain a new focus on how critical it is to have the right people to make these programs work. Part of this is driven by the move to self-managed work teams, where teams set their own goals, measure their own performance, and select additional members. This requires that team members learn new skills, including how to interview.

All of this points to the critical need to upgrade staff. Thus, even in the midst of staff cutbacks, techniques for improving hiring decisions are getting more attention from management, and time and money for interviewing skills training is being found despite the recession's impact on most training budgets.