Hire Smart, Train to Culture, Build Your Bench

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Hire Smart, Train to Culture, Build Your Bench

 It is your people, your team, that makes your parking operation successful, or not. When building your staff, it is crucial that you hire, train and continue to build a robust team that can maximize performance and drive progress for your organization. 
 
Hire Smart
Finding the right people to represent your organization is the first step to building customer loyalty. “Hiring smart” means taking the time to understand your customers’ needs and the skills required to fulfill those needs. 
It also means learning to market the job for maximum response, and developing an interview process that makes sure all of your needs are met.
 
Colleen Niese, SHRP, CPP, a Principal of The Marlyn Group, shares three steps to hiring smart:
Revisit the job description. “When you’re looking at today’s manager … there’s been a subtle shift from being a caretaker of the facility to really being a consultant and true partner with the client,” Colleen says. Write a job description that captures that shift, including strategic ability, in addition to skills such as budgeting, marketing and revenue control. Make sure your ad actively sells prospective candidates on the idea that they will be a key part of your company’s success. 
Interview for culture fit. Once you’ve decided to bring in a candidate, you have likely already identified that they have the right skills and experience for the position. The interview process is more about finding a good culture fit for your team and organization. One way to determine this is by asking open-ended questions to help you recognize behavioral competencies.
Evaluate objectively. Colleen warns that you must be mindful of the “horns and halo effect.” First impressions can be deceiving. Balance subjective impressions by employing an objective evaluation tool. Simply take the core objectives defined in the job description, weigh them and score your candidates.
 
Train to Culture
You’ve hired the right people; now support their development through training. Andi Campbell, Vice President, Human Resources of Laz Parking, explains: 
“When you think about training and professional development, remember that your team is your biggest asset. Learn how you can provide your employees with training resources and tools that will help them feel more engaged and empowered to reach your goals and increase your bottom line.”
Andi stresses that the most important thing about developing a training program is to keep it about the people who are being trained, not about the trainers. Ask yourself, “What do I want them to be able to do” after the training and communicate that to them. 
Andi’s tips for developing a training program:
Keep it brief. People learn in quick, easy on-demand ways these days. 
Mirror what people are doing outside work. Create tools and resources that people can access online in an easy way.
Coach, mentor and develop. Don’t rely on the classroom as the only method of learning. Andi uses the analogy of a football player who learns “on the field, with a coach, and through practice.” 
“Learning happens for people as an experience, over the course of time, not as a onetime event,” Andi emphasizes. Leverage online tools, reading and in-person events such as conferences as part of your overall blended learning approach. 
 
Build Your Bench
Maintain a strong, committed team by providing growth opportunities. Tim Maginn, EVP Sales at T2 Systems, provides some advice on how to support your team and build your bench strength. 
Encourage curiosity. You want your staff to have a natural curiosity and desire to solve problems. Encourage this behavior by providing the freedom to act on the established company direction. 
Provide feedback. Providing frequent feedback, both positive and negative, is important for continued growth. Tim explains: “The more you can point out those experiences that work well, and the more you can use teaching moments for those that didn’t go so well, people know what to expect and will be open to your suggestions.”
Challenge them. When you see your team members beginning to get comfortable in their role, Tim says, “it’s time to tap them on the shoulder, give them an opportunity to stretch, give them a project, ask them if they’d like to step up and do something a little tangential to what they usually do.” This provides opportunities for coaching moments to develop leadership skills. 
 
Your Success Matters
Your future depends on the success of your business. And the success of your business depends on a strong team. To learn more about how you can cultivate the best team in the biz, join Colleen Niese, Andi Campbell, Tim Maginn and a host of other parking industry experts at the 2015 NPA Convention & Expo, Aug. 31–Sept. 3, at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. For more information, visit www.npaconvention.org/2015. 
 
Christina Garneski, CAE, is VP Marketing, Communications and Events for the National Parking Association.
Contact her at christinagarneski@weareparking.org.
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Christina Garneski
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