Strategic HR: Anna Huffman, Vinculums Services and Mike McGraw, Pridestaff

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and the strategic methods behind what their methods that are the keys to successful employee recruitment and retention.

Today’s guests are Anna Huffman, Organizational Development at Vinculums Services; and Mike McGraw, Owner at Pridestaff.  To hear the entire show, click here.

Both professionals delineate the power of focus and strategic human resources: in the case of Vinculums, a dedicated focus on employees from the day they start; and in the case of Pridestaff, a sheer dedication to client success.

ANNA HUFFMAN strategic          

Huffman works in the Organizational Development department at Vinculums Services. Her background includes stints in sales, accounting and operations before she realized she wanted to work in HR and talent development. Her ultimate goal is to lead an organization.

“It is my passion to work with people, to see people triumph in their work…If I can be part of developing an individual and achieving our goals as an organization, that’s where I want to be,” says Huffman.

She continues: “What works in one situation doesn’t always work in another. I enjoy finding what areas motivate people and how can we engage in order to achieve shared goals,” says Huffman.

The Two P’s

While in the past HR was not seen as a strategic partner, nowadays it’s important for HR to be a part of the business goals, Huffman contends. “It’s a win-win for both sides. HR is getting schooled on the realization of what it takes to run a business, and business leaders are focusing more on people and culture and what it takes to have a successful organization. And there are two ‘P’ words that go hand-in-hand: people and profits.”

Culture of Performance

Performance and accountability – particularly performance management and reviews — are often dreaded but present key opportunities to help shape the culture. You can provide strategic feedback, and ensure people are held accountable. You can raise the stakes and get the most out of people.

Interviewing for Behavior

But how does an organization build a strategic team of performance-minded talent? When hiring, it doesn’t start with resumes as much as with the interviews, including video conferencing. Huffman says, “What I recommend is having a video conference. An interview — even if it’s only virtually face-to-face — is critical, especially for the behavioral questions. I want to know what someone has done and how they reacted in certain situations. Past behavior can tell me what their future behavior will be, and that tells me how they will fit into the company culture.”

Getting All Aboard for Onboarding

Once hired, one element Vinculums continues to improve upon is onboarding. This can be a strategic piece that to the puzzle that is often overlooked. “The onboarding of an employee, studies have shown, determines the length of stay for someone within the organization. It’s the idea that they’re made to feel welcome…It can be like [the difference in] moving into a neighborhood and…the neighbors come and bring you pie, or you move in and you never see your neighbors. [In the latter instance] you will bring to question what you came into and you start to second guess your decision,” explains Huffman.

And what about the situation where a new employee starts a job and has no office supplies and no computer? Hoffman says, “That’s an opportunity for HR to be a strategic partner. You have brought someone in and are paying them to essentially sit around, and it’s a waste of money.” Today, Vinculums’ onboarding process is called the “Week Of Welcome” – or WOW — program.  When new hires begin, they have a laptop, an email address, a logoed mug, a water tumbler and things to make them feel welcome and part of the company. And new hires are not left on their own from there. “We have check-ins at two weeks, one month and sixty days. We invest in those who invest in us. It’s a two-way street and every employee we bring on is an investment. It’s really about creating that relationship and then nurturing the relationship,” says Huffman.    

What are You Reading?

Huffman is reading “The Artist’s Wayby Julia Cameron.

How Can People Connect with You?

Via the LinkedIn Company Page (Vinculum Services) or her LinkedIn page.

MIKE MCGRAW strategic

An entrepreneur himself, McGraw is now a Franchise Owner at Pridestaff, a national company with locally- owned shops focused on office clerical and light industrial employees.

According to McGraw, “Our mission is to consistently provide client services focused on what they value most…I believe in world-class customer service. It’s free if you do it right, and it goes a long way.”

Pridestaff utilizes Net Promoter Score (NPS), a survey used to gauge customer loyalty. “We separate ourselves from the ‘sea of me’ and focus on quality candidates. Unlike some staffing services, we treat our candidates with respect and dignity. Looking for work is one of the most crucial times in someone’s life; they are trying to provide for their families,” says McGraw.

Constant Communication and Training

McGraw’s style is to empower people to meet their goals, while giving them the freedom to make mistakes and find a better way to do things.  One of the strategic factors to success is the training that Pridestaff offers. The company provides consistent training including proven methodologies – including training at the corporate office in addition to residual and online training. Another key to success is constant communication between team members. 

The Family Business

McGraw had several influences beginning at home, where he grew up in a family business. He learned early to treat others the way you want to be treated. “When you’re becoming an entrepreneur you also learn quickly how to spend money. It’s different from how you spend when you worked for someone else,” says McGraw. He feels he has learned the most, however, from the people who have worked for him, who taught him simply by supplying feedback on how he was doing as a leader.

Final Thoughts

“Find the positive in every situation. Find a positive reason for keeping cool, and moving in a forward direction. Do your homework and be in tune with everything you can. There’s no excuse for not being informed,” says McGraw. Put simply, he advises: “Trust your gut, do your homework, and never give up.”

What are You Reading?

McGraw is reading Influence by Robert Cialdini, about the science of why we say “yes.”

How Can People Connect with You?

Via or via LinkedIn.

Tune into the show next week, and remember, do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.

Date: January 20, 2015