SBI recently spoke with Kristen McClain, the chief human resources officer at Barocdes Inc. We discussed the challenges faced by newly appointed CHROs. The first few months in this role are critical. At the time of our interview, Kristen had just spent the last few months overcoming these challenges and making an immediate impact as a new HR leader. She provided us with insights and tips that other new HR leaders can use immediately.
We began the conversation by explaining their corporate strategy. “At Barcodes, we’re a value-added reseller, so our differentiator is our ability to create solutions from a portfolio of over 10,000 different products and suite of services that we offer our customers,” explained Kristen. Their strategy at the firm level is to be the premier solutions provider in every category that the organization represents.
Aligning the HR Strategy
What is Barcodes HR strategy, and how does it align with the corporate strategy? “Well, it’s not a stretch to say that human capital is our product,” said Kristen. Since the organization does not develop or manufacture anything, it’s their people that make them successful. As a company, they have a very aggressive growth strategy. They achieve this revenue growth both organically and through acquisition. Kristen’s strategy must reflect this, and can be summarized into 4 different areas:
- Hiring ‘A ‘ Players
- Retaining and developing the right people
- Creating a sustainable, scalable infrastructure for their systems, processes and tools to support their growth
- Ensuring successful integration of all of the company’s acquisitions
In order for Kristen and her team to be successful, they must also work closely with the other functions inside the organization. For example, at Barcodes they are at 9% below their budgeted sales head count due to their growth expectations within their core business. “When every single person who is productive on your sales floor directly correlates to growth and profit, getting in the absolute best people and making sure they’re successful quickly is key because it directly translates into revenue generated for the company,” explained Kristen. This is why talent acquisition is the first and foremost piece of her HR strategy, and is where she spends the most time.
Building Hiring Profiles for the Sales Team
As Kristen mentioned, one of her key responsibilities is hiring ‘A’ players. How does she build this profile? When she started in her role as HR leader, she realized they weren’t sourcing the right talent. Why? Because they didn’t know what they were looking for. Each sales manager was looking for different things. So, developing a profile became critical. “Based on the volume we’re looking to hire this year, sourcing the right profile will help increase ramp time to productivity, and maximize the gross profit received from each and every rep,” said Kristen. These profiles will be used for both the hiring process, and to assess the current team. At Barcodes, they have a rigorous talent review schedule. They review metrics, behaviors, sales skills and technical competencies of their workforce every month with the executive team.
Sourcing the Right Talent
Next, she must consider how to properly source the necessary talent. Previously they would cast a wide net when sourcing sales talent. One of the first things Kristen did as a newly appointed HR leader was to rewrite the job description for their sales roles. Immediately she was able to see an increase in the quality of candidate that was responding to the posting. “Now together with the sales leaders and their teams, we’re building out profiles in target company lists to more proactively source passive talent,” Kristen explained. They are also doing some very specific things to ensure they sustain this change. This includes interview training, redoing success metric criteria and interview guides.
Onboarding & Developing New Talent
One of the final topics we discussed was onboarding new sales talent. At Barcodes, they do weekly training interventions, daily coaching, call campaign training, and more. New sales reps get evaluated on a regular basis so that they can receive direct coaching and feedback from a variety of people, including both their manager and mentor. It has help Barcodes see immediate improvement in their new hires.
They also provide talent development and sales training to their team. It is part of Kristen’s strategy to go through all the training material they have by role, and determine what they need someone to be proficient in. She looks at it from multiple standpoints – behavioral skills, selling skills, and technical skills – to develop a more robust curriculum.
As a new HR leader, you want to make an immediate impact to the business. You need to establish HR as a strategic advantage inside your company. In order to do this, it is key that your HR strategy align with the corporate and functional strategies. It is also imperative that new HR leaders partner with the sales leaders in order impact revenue growth effectively. If you need help with this, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. It will be your guide to making the most of your honeymoon period as a newly appointed HR leader.