“I was ready to give up.”
As the owner of Solid Blend Technologies, Ken Elrich was passionate about his business. But communication was at an all-time low, and the morale was poor. In addition, Ken needed to hire a new water technician. But he was unsure of how to hire the right person for the job.
Day-to-day HR functions were under control, but, like many small businesses, Solid Blend Technologies needed to make sure that the structure of the company lined up with its vision—and that their employees felt a part of it.
“I thought I hired the wrong employees. I didn’t know how to fulfill the HR role for the company. I didn’t know how to communicate,” says Ken, who runs the business with his wife, Lois, and son, Steve.
Getting everyone on the same page: Evaluating and restructuring roles.
“Initially [Solid Blend] was looking at its water technician role. It turns out they needed clarity on all of their positions and what the structure looked like. Do we need a lead water technologist? Should someone be running operations? They had internal issues with getting everyone on the same page. Once they got clarity on the roles, we could work on getting people in line with the roles, finding gaps, and figuring out how to put together a plan to fill them,” says Melanie, a Aliniti Advisor.
Benchmarking: Clarifying the critical goals and key business successes the role is accountable for producing.
Melanie and Bill Ratterman, the President of Aliniti, began by benchmarking the role that Ken thought needed the most clarity—the water technician, a service role—and ended up benchmarking seven roles.
Benchmarking clarifies the knowledge, intrinsic motivators, personal attributes, behaviors and hard skills required for success in a given role. Benchmarking one role takes about four hours—and that’s partly because answering questions and thinking differently takes time. It’s not easy, but as Ken says, “it’s worth it.”
“We knew we needed service people, but we had no direction. Benchmarking gave us a clear direction of what we were looking for,” said Ken.
Benchmarking: Asking tough questions to get the answers that will provide the clarity needed to move forward.
You might think of the first step in benchmarking as a conversation involving everyone impacted by a role. It’s often a tough conversation, because you have to look at the needs of the role—rather than the skills or tasks of the person currently in that role—to get the best results. That’s because every job is important, but not every job is strategic.
“You have to think bigger than the people you have. What do you really need from the position? My job was to get them to focus on their goals and objectives. When they get clarity on why the job exists, and see that it’s part of their mission statement, and they get it and see it,” Melanie explained.
“Melanie and Bill kept pushing, asking ‘why’ to get the answer,” said Ken. They truly want you to come up with the answer yourself. It made us think hard about the decisions we were making and what we’re expecting out of the roles.”