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Floyd Steele: Finding quality technical talent

Wednesday, 9 Dec 2015 ( #748 )
Your Focus
Floyd Steele is president of Floyd F. Steele Consulting, LLC, a management consulting firm focused on the areas of service delivery, safety, employee development, and business productivity and profitability. He is both a CPA and a CGMA with over 25 years of management experience, including 16 years in the forklift industry.

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The competition for quality technicians has increased dramatically over the last decade with the growth in business and the decreasing supply of good industrial techs.

Part of the problem is that we keep competing for the same technicians. Instead, we need to look for ways to locate and attract new talent.

Stop waiting for them to walk in the door
Gone are the days of sitting back and waiting for techs to knock on your door, or doing what we think is the active step of putting an ad in the paper. The quality techs in the industry already know who is and isn’t hiring. The real challenge is reaching out to a broader group who may not even know they are looking for a forklift tech position.

Go where the talent is and create partnerships
Military Job Fairs
A great source of talent is the military. Not only have they received some first-class training, they also have a professional attitude and appearance. You can meet a lot of quality young men and women at a military job fair. Some may have already separated from the service, whereas others may be six months or a year out before discharge and are sizing up their opportunities. There are many dedicated individuals working with these young men and women to help them make the transition to civilian life.

Connect with technical schools
Reach out to the technical schools and colleges in your area. Ask to go on a tour. Career counselors are eager to find students the right job with a solid employer. Hire a student or two and provide a good path for them and the word spreads.
Remember, forklifts are the little-known cousin to construction equipment, over the road tractors and agricultural equipment. Many technical students haven’t even thought of forklifts as an option.

Talent usually knows other talent
When you happen upon a solid performer with all the right qualities, see if he/she knows of anyone else who might be a good fit. It is not uncommon to get a referral or two of other capable individuals.

Make an attractive offer

A competitive wage and a solid benefits package are still important, but there are other things to consider:

Skills are now the new currency and helping technicians improve their skills is a must. Create opportunities for techs to get training and earn certifications. Make certain to reward the effort. As their skills increase, make certain that their compensation reflects their increased capability.

Gone are the days when all a technician needed was a good set of tools. Today’s techs are making greater use of technology like laptops, smartphones and Internet research. Provide the technology or, at the very least, help offset some of the cost.

Tool, safety shoe and uniform allowances are a low cost extra that mean a lot.

When you get a good one, hold on tight!

Don’t take talent for granted. Show your technicians the same attention you hope they are showing your customers. In so many ways, they are your customer.

Make certain to conduct a timely and balanced annual review. Schedule the occasional lunch to see how things are going and to get their feedback. Let them know they are appreciated.

Last thought

There is a wealth of talent out there that requires new strategies to reach. If you make the effort, you will be rewarded.
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