May, 2012

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Article Index

Labor Law Update
Article by: Gregory Peters

NLRB Poster Requirement Delayed Again. On April 17, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an emergency injunction, enjoining the NLRB’s rule requiring employers to place a poster in their workplaces. 


Make the Most of Candidate Interviews
Article by: Bob Burfeind

After nearly thirty years of recruiting, both from inside a company and as a consultant, it’s fair to conclude many companies are not using interviews effectively to determine whether or not to hire a candidate.  This article will illustrate three key areas where you may refine your skills.


MN Manufacturing Economic Outlook
Article by: Dr. Ernest Goss

The April Minnesota Business Conditions Index was above growth neutral marking the 32nd consecutive month that the state’s leading economic indicator was above growth neutral. 


Top HR Challenges in 2012
Article by: Manufacturers Alliance

Participants in the 2012 Manufacturing Compensation and Benefits Survey reported their top three human resources (HR) challenges in 2012, with the most frequently reported issue being recruitment of qualified, skilled talent.


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Labor Law Update

NLRB Poster Requirement Delayed Again. On April 17, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an emergency injunction, enjoining the NLRB’s rule requiring employers to place a poster in their workplaces. 

The poster requirement was scheduled to go into effect on April 30, 2012.  The Order follows the lower court’s March 2, 2012 decision, which invalidated the enforcement mechanisms and penalties that were prescribed for violations under the rule.  The Court of Appeals also denied a request from the NLRB to permit the rule to take effect while the court system continued to review the legality of requiring the posting.  The Court determined that the uncertainty surrounding the legality of such enforcement necessitated postponement of the rule.   The April 17 Order is aligned with an April 13, 2012 order from a District Court Judge for the District of South Carolina, which invalidated the poster in its entirety and determined that the NLRB overstepped its authority. 

Following this decision, employers are not currently required to post the NLRB’s employee rights poster in their workplaces.  This is the fourth time the poster requirement has been delayed.  The Court’s April 17 Order sets oral argument on the matter for September 2012 (which means the Court will not decide whether this posting will be required until sometime after September 2012). 

Union Ambush Elections Invalidated by a Federal Court. In a significant win for employers a federal district court in Washington D.C. ruled the National Labor Relations Board’s new “ambush election” rules were invalid and unenforceable. 

In its May 14 decision, the Court held that because Republican Member Bryan Hayes did not cast a vote on the rule, the Board did not have the necessary three-member quorum to enact the rule.  The rule had become effective April 30 after the same court failed to grant a temporary restraining order delaying its implementation.  The new (and now invalidated and unenforceable) ambush election rule did not set a minimum time period between the petition and election, however, the result would have greatly expedited the election process.

Employers will continue to have 42 days from the time the union filed a petition until the election to educate employees on the effects of unionization in the workplace.

Best Practices

As both the poster requirement and ambush election rules continue to work their way through the courts, this recent activity by NLRB highlights the importance of training managers to legally respond to union organizing efforts. Employers with good employment practices are far less likely to be subject to union organizing drives led by unengaged or disgruntled employees.    

Gregory L. Peters, is an attorney with Seaton, Peters & Revnew, P.A. whose practice is limited to representing employers in labor and employment matters. Mr. Peters has worked with companies in all areas of employment counseling, employment litigation, labor arbitration, union organizing and labor negotiations. Mr. Peters can be reached at (952) 921-4607.

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Make the Most of Candidate Interviews

After nearly thirty years of recruiting, both from inside a company and as a consultant, it’s fair to conclude many companies are not using interviews effectively to determine whether or not to hire a candidate.  This article will illustrate three key areas where you may refine your skills.

Know what you’re looking for and ask about it

Begin with a thorough discovery process and explore the company, its competitive market position, and the position itself.  In defining the role, dig into the job duties, the department composition, and manager’s style. This “picture” is a key part of a search strategy to identify candidates who best meet the needs of the role.

A mistake many companies make is not beginning their search with a thorough understanding of the situation and needs. Too often, the interview does not get to the real point of the interview: can the candidate do the job?

Interview questions need to explore the candidate’s practical experience in specific components of the role, and candidates should be asked to give examples and results of their work in executing various responsibilities of the position.  For a manufacturing engineer, relevant questions might include:

  •  Give me an example of a time when you had to resolve a fixture design problem with your company’s design engineering staff.
     
  • Describe your working relationship with floor employees.  Give me an example of building this relationship, and another about how you mended a relationship that was in trouble.

  • What have you found to be some practical approaches to increasing efficiency or driving costs out of the production process?  For example…

Candidate answers should not be thoughts, theories or opinions…candidates should be asked for specific examples and experiences.

Use multiple interviews to gather information

At InPursuit, any viable candidate is evaluated during multiple contacts, beginning with a telephone interview, lasting up to an hour.  Use this initial contact to prequalify candidates and determine the quality of mutual fit.  In-person (or video) interviews, also lasting about an hour, may follow to further explore candidate qualifications and match to company need as described in the position specifications. 

Hiring companies benefit from a multi-stage selection process. Screen candidates “in or out” by phone before setting up a live interview.  The goal is a slate of a few qualified candidates, rather than how many candidates were interviewed live.

It is also recommended that the candidate interview several people. For a Manufacturing Engineer, the interview team might include the direct supervisor, quality manager, a production manager, and plant supervisor. The number should be restricted to those with decision-making impact on hiring. The interview team should be trained in interviewing, be provided a list of approved questions, and be prepared to complete an evaluation of each candidate, which includes the “must have requirements” of the position.

Final candidates are invited back for a follow up meeting, with dual purpose:  first, to confirm the candidate’s qualifications and second, to promote the opportunity to the candidate.  You might consider meeting in a less formal setting, such as over lunch or dinner.  In such a setting, other aspects of the candidate’s style, communication skills, and interpersonal skills are explored.

Focus on “culture fit”

At InPursuit, our qualifications matrix has two parts: tangible skills and experiences, and intangibles. The first part is used to qualify a candidate; however the second part, the intangibles, will make or break a good hire. 

Companies improve the hiring process by fully understanding their culture, or “what it feels like to work here.”  It is important to use descriptive words to describe the culture, so the interview process may be used to explore how well the candidate will fit. 

 Most candidates will have experience working in different settings, and the interview may explore these settings further.  In our example, cultural fit includes the department environment, as well as the direct manager’s style

Ask a candidate to give examples of the environments in which they have worked, and what they liked and disliked about each situation, then how they would describe an ideal work environment.  Keep in mind that candidates won’t really know your company culture; therefore the candidate description of a desired culture or work environment should be a solid prediction of the quality of fit on the culture side.

In the end

Interviewing is challenging and time consuming.  There are three ways to improve interviewing:  explore the candidate’s experience based on specific qualifications, evaluate the candidate over multiple contacts, and determine the culture fit.

If companies improve in these areas, better hiring decisions will be made, and candidates have a much improved chance of making key contributions and staying with the company longer.

Bob Burfeind is a founding partner at InPursuit, a Twin Cities based retained executive search and development firm. The firm specializes in small to mid-sized manufacturing companies and their search work covers all functional areas of manufacturing. Learn more at www.inpursuitsearch.com

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MN Manufacturing Economic Outlook

The April Minnesota Business Conditions Index was above growth neutral marking the 32nd consecutive month that the state’s leading economic indicator was above growth neutral. 

The index, based on a survey of supply managers in the state, climbed to 61.0 from March’s 56.7. Components of the index from the April were new orders at 71.1, production or sales at 69.5, delivery lead time at 55.2, inventories at 49.1, and employment at 60.2. “As in past months, durable goods manufacturers, such as metal producers, are growing briskly even as nondurable producers detail no gains.  In addition to upturns in hiring, manufacturers and non-manufacturers are increasing the hours that current employees are working,” said Goss.

Dr. Ernest Goss of Creighton University, used the same methodology as The National Association of Purchasing Management to compile this information. An index number greater than 50 percent indicates an expansionary economy, and an index under 50 percent forecast a sluggish economy, for the next three to six months.

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Top HR Challenges in 2012

Participants in the 2012 Manufacturing Compensation and Benefits Survey reported their top three human resources (HR) challenges in 2012, with the most frequently reported issue being recruitment of qualified, skilled talent.

For this report, “recruitment” refers to an organizations’ ability to find and attract the talent / employees they need to achieve business objectives. Are the skills being developed at local colleges and universities? What aspect of working for an organization is attractive to candidates? e.g. Pay, company culture, benefits, working conditions, etc. The second most frequently reported issue is training and development. Companies are concerned about training existing employees and developing their talent and skill levels, with one of the major concerns being  leadership development.


The chart below summarizes the key HR issues. Click on it for a larger version.

If you would like to learn more about compensation, benefits, or general management trends in local manufacturing, consider purchasing the Manufacturers Alliance Compensation and Benefits survey.

The mission of the Manufacturers Alliance is to provide peer-to-peer training, education, and resources which inspire manufacturing companies to continuously grow, improve, and stay competitive.

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