By Mark Fenner
It’s Time for a People Inventory
Taking inventory is something a lot of businesses do monthly, or at least annually. They log
what’s on the shelves, what’s in the warehouse, which items are hot sellers, and which ones are not. But what most businesses need to do – and they don’t – is to do inventory on their people.
Sure, everyone knows how many employees they have. But an inventory of people is much more than just counting heads. Done correctly, an inventory can identify the strong performers, the underperformers, and the people with great potential. It can also identify gaps in skills that indicate it’s time to hire some new people to fill those cracks.
An essential part of an inventory process like this is objective data. Before you start categorizing people as underperformers, for instance, you want to be sure you understand why they aren’t living up to what you see as their potential. Part of an effective employee inventory involves moving poor performers out to make room for top performers. But you want to be sure that termination action is well justified, and documented, before you take it.
Conducting personality, abilities, and interests testing will shed a lot of light not only on the suspected underperformers, but everyone else as well. You may find that an employee is simply not a good fit in one position, but may have strong potential in another available spot. Maybe this person’s strength is in front-line customer service, but they ended up in a lonely back office somewhere, which would account for their poor performance.
Or you may find that for whatever reason, that person was a bad hire or a cultural mismatch who just won’t fit anywhere in your company, and has to be let go. The testing data will provide some objective insight to aid in your decision.
On the positive side, this process can also uncover hidden gems. You may find people in the middle levels of the organization who have the traits to rise to the top but just haven’t had the chance. You can better assess someone’s long-term value to the company and if you see a lot of potential, act on it. Give that person the chance to develop the skills and experience he or she needs to shine.
What any inventory should also tell you is that you can never really stop your hunt for high-quality outside hires. I guarantee that there will be gaps uncovered through your inventory, and while some of these gaps can be filled with existing staff, some can’t. That highlights the importance of always being on the lookout for good people.