Human Resources - Hiring & Growth within a Small Business

DeForest Group - Thursday, August 28, 2014

CREATING THE RIGHT TEAM

Since 2010 DeForest Group, Inc. has hired 22 employees. Human Resources has been very busy.  TWENTY-TWO in less than 4 full years is a lot for a small business. As I look down my list and look at those names & hire dates, every interview momentarily flashes through my mind. Each candidate comes with the promise of skills, education, talent and job readiness. Every individual also comes with an employment history and personal story. Finding the right person for your new opening, whether a vacancy or new position, is very challenging. There’s a specific existing office dynamic and level of expertise you always strive to meet and a climate you want to maintain.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A CANDIDATE

Sometimes with all the right stuff like a great interview and references galore, you might not have the right person. Almost equal to skills and education, it’s imperative that the candidate fit the organization and existing team. The DeForest group has a unique culture and group of people that come from all over the area. Adding the wrong person to the group changes the chemistry and overall performance of a given department; a lesson I learned early on here handling the HR for DeForest Group. As of today we have a great crew and I’m proud to say that, along with our managers, I had a hand in helping to create this group of professionals.

The DeForest Group Partner Program is the centerpiece of our business model and requires a team that has to be superlative. We cannot have an average placement team, average underwriters or customer service representatives.  Unlike some of our contemporaries, we also cannot have automated service. We need real people with a real talent for their profession and a willingness to meet the challenges facing our organization and agents every day. It’s a company point of pride that you can still pick up the phone, without an endless list of phone menus and options, to speak to real folks and discuss your risk, dilemma or opportunity. While some people prefer to text and email, there are so many aspects of placing business that need talking about. You need to be able to express expertise, provide reassurance and perhaps crack a joke to close the deal. You can’t necessarily do that the new fashioned way (twitter, facebook, Instagram).

GROWTH WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION

I feel fairly certain in saying that there’s always room for improvement, advancement, ingenuity and enhancement at all organizations including us. We’re a humble group always looking to educate our staff, advance training and obtain the best tools of the trade. The reorganization of our resources last fall and the fairly newly established line of leadership has been an example of how we are always looking to conduct business most effectively.  Moreover, with the recent retirement of one of our original staff members, Alan took the opportunity to challenge several members of the existing staff with new responsibilities rather than hire from the outside. This type of change is such a great opportunity for staff members to sharpen their skill set, broaden their knowledge base, learn a new post, gain a new organizational perspective, and increase their overall value and advance to the next level.

I’ve had to take classes and re-learn things I haven’t seen since my sophomore year of college. I’ve had my days when I had to scrap a day’s work, yell at my computer and whine to my neighbor but at the end of the day, as I learn from my mistakes and learn the new responsibilities of my post I gain tremendous confidence and appreciation for the opportunity. If someone would have told me 11 years ago where I’d be today, I would have doubted it to some degree.

Creating the right team and meeting the challenge with a new employee or working with the staff you have can be challenging and risky either way. A significant investment is made in each individual; Time, training, education and benefits just to name a few. In our day and economic environment being able hire and expand speaks volumes about the organization and its leadership. DeForest Group puts people to work and that’s not something everyone can say these days.

You never know what the future holds and hopefully with all our combined hard work we will continue to grow in leaps & bounds and continue to hire talented individuals that embellish our already outstanding team. We have a positive work environment, a great captain and a great crew so the sky’s the limit! Henry Ford once said “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success.”

 

-Liz Benjamin, HR Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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