The Consultant - 2008 - (Page 36)
The Cost of Breaking in New Employees
BY BARRETT B. MCCALL, ACF
iring new talent is one of the most important decisions a forestry consulting firm can make. The new employee becomes an extension of your firm, and your reputation is affected by their professionalism. Perhaps one day he or she will become a partner or buy the firm. Most forestry consulting firms are relatively small, and a new person can dramatically change the dynamics, often with different communication styles, life goals and work habits. Employees and the associated payroll are likely your single biggest expense, so putting together a good plan and spending time getting to know your new recruit is critical for success.
FRAMING THE DECISION
New hires come out of three basic groups: entry level, mid-career change or specialist (whether they are specialist because of experience or unique skills). One of the most difficult things to do is to take the time to think about your needs and growth opportunities and tie that to the skills and experience of the recruit. There is rarely a perfect match, and each group has its own unique set of challenges.
ENTRY LEVEL: “PROFESSIONALS DON’T LOOK FOR JOBS, THEY LOOK FOR CAREERS.”
At the entry level there are basically two extremes in organizational style: churn and burn (C&B) or nurture and promote (N&P). In the C&B firm, entry-level hires are put to work fast and expected to learn on the job and meet productivity goals early in their career, usually within a few months or sometimes weeks. If they don’t cut it, they get churned out of the business and a new replacement comes in. N&P firms tend to have more of a predefined learning curve, and though most of the training may be “on the job,” they don’t start assessing the individual’s future before a six-month introductory period. Both styles have their strengths and weaknesses, and so most firms, either by conscious decision or by accident, end up with a hybrid of the two. At times you may want to be an N&P firm, but new projects or management clients don’t come along fast enough, and the person you’ve been grooming for five years gets frustrated with the pace and moves on to other opportunities. So much for being an N&P firm. At the other extreme, you want to be an N&P, but a major new contract involves so much work that you have to throw the recruit in to “sink or swim.”
MID-CAREER CHANGE: “THE GRASS IS GREENER.”
I started working in consulting forestry at an entry level, but many decide to jump to our beloved side of the industry. Lately many have been nudged by downsizing or ownership changes in their industry jobs. The primary challenge these individuals bring to the firm is the bias they have from their previous jobs. These biases also can be
THE CONSULTANT 2008
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Consultant - 2008
Executive Director’s Message Mapping the Future of ACF
President’s Message ACF Celebrates 60 Years
Professional Forestry Education: The Present, from a Texas Perspective
The Future of Forestry Education: Will We Prepare Relics or Icons?
Forestry and Consulting: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Carbon – A Forestry Opportunity?
Advocacy – Its Benefits May Come With Frustrations
Katrina Top 10: Public Policy Advocacy Lessons Learned After Hurricane Disaster
‘Mighty Giants’ Details Rich History of American Chestnut Tree
The Cost of Breaking in New Employees
Hiring Practices: Questions You Shouldn’t Ask a Job Applicant
Graduate Forestry Degrees and Consulting Forestry
Taxation and Land Devaluation: An Examination of the Tax Burden on Non-industrial Private Landowners
Forester Licensing: Essential to Guarding the Forestry Profession
Forester Licensing: Not Worth the Effort
ACF Code of Ethics: Canon 15 What You Don’t Say or Do Can Hurt You
Philippe Morgan: European Forestry Consultant Extraordinaire
The Final Word: A Tale of Two Technologies
The Consultant - 2008