How I Apply Requisite Organization Methods

- In terms of assessing individuals and their level of capability. It's still is an area that we struggle with, that I struggle with because people are very complex. The bigger challenge for me was when I moved from that role of business development, HR and legal and became the president of the company.
- How do you use this in terms of growing organization? We have now probably doubled the size of the company in people in the past four years. How do you make sure you're getting the right people into the right roles and then going back and reassessing?
- The next challenge is going to be as we get larger. You have to start thinking more in a more systematic way in succession planning. One challenge is always having to come back to the 80 20 rule. Compensation needs to be fair and equitable across an organization.
- I need to have more customer interaction than I have. I need to put more of my time on the orientation for everyone. Another challenge is making sure I have a personal relationship with each one of them. And I really need to be looking in terms of where is that next group of management going to come from.
- It was a great privilege to have worked directly with Elliot Jacks. He was a person who could always make you think. Today, this is one of the biggest challenges in the role I have. It's finding those kinds of moments.

Speaker A In terms of assessing individuals and their level of capability. It's still is an area that we struggle with, that I struggle with because people are very complex and so you know them in dif...

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Speaker A In terms of assessing individuals and their level of capability. It's still is an area that we struggle with, that I struggle with because people are very complex and so you know them in different ways. You know them based upon if you've been working together in an organization for some years, you know them in different ways. Sometimes you know them because you have a good relationship with them. Sometimes you know them because you know they've been very effective. And some and our tendency is people who've been effective to move them up. That is not necessarily going to make them more successful or effective in the future. And this is where a manager is sometimes challenged because there's issues of compensation that are attached to grade and all of these things become very difficult for managers and came difficult for me. Part of this in terms of for me was also in the growing responsibilities in the organization. But through most of the time I didn't have that many subordinates. I had the HR function which was relatively small. I had a very small business development group. So through most of this time I personally didn't have that many subordinates or subordinates once removed. The bigger challenge for me was when I moved from that role of business development, HR and legal and became the president of the company, that was a much bigger jump in terms of having to think in terms of people. And as I said, the other part of that that's difficult is how do you use this in terms of growing organization, because we have now probably doubled the size of the company in people in the past four years, maybe even shorter than that. And if you think in terms of that many new people coming into our organization, how do you use this in terms of making sure you're getting the right people into the right roles and then going back and reassessing and making sure that's happening? And that is one of the challenges we have today is how we really can make sure that we're getting the right people at the right capability. You can check, in a sense, knowledge and skills because it's in the resume and you go back and do your checking and you can sort of get that checked. You can even check this pretty well in interviews. If the technical position you can ask a few technical questions you can find out, but you don't really know if the person is going to have the capability of really working at the level we need to in terms of a relatively small organization and number of people, but fairly complex in terms of the business that we're in and the geographical scope that we have in our company. So those are still challenges for us in terms of growing and using these techniques to be more successful. I think we're getting somewhat better at it, partly coming at it from a little different angle I think we're getting better at it more from the cascading down of the goal setting setting. And that seems a little maybe odd, but a part of that cascading down you have to go back and reevaluate at the time is the person capable now of accomplishing those goals once they're very clearly defined. And by clearly defining the goals, you're also defining the time span and then it will tie back and you'll be able to make the loop as to this person and this role and the company's goals are all tying together. And this is really something that Sabrina drove through in the past year. And I start seeing that this is really going to be helping for us to sort out who is going to be able to be successful and who's not going to be able to be successful. And it's not to try and make, say, a person is not a valuable person in the organization. Sometimes it'd be more valuable in a different place in the organization. I had a very good example of this, of one of my many assistants over the time who was not very successful working for me but has been very successful working in our new business when our new businesses where she has more of a customer service role and is much more consistent with her values as well as her capability. And so she's done an incredible job there which is more outwardly focused in terms of working with customers. So we have to also find where people really can fit and do well, not just necessarily saying because they didn't do well in this position, there's no place for them in organization. And so I think these are different things that we are trying to do as we're using, as we're still learning more as we move forward. The next challenge is going to be as we get larger. It's one thing to run a company that has less than 400 people because I could know everyone, basically. I knew everybody in the company. I traveled extensively. I would be in every part of the world today. I don't know everyone. I don't really even know everyone that's in the office in St. Louis. And that becomes more of a challenge as you start looking in terms of how you now have to start structuring the organization differently. You really have to have those kinds of organizational tools there to actually start thinking more in a more systematic way and a more planned way in succession planning in really how these goals head into cascading of goals, how these things get captured now before they could get captured. Because we could just talk about it on an airplane or we could talk about it in a staff meeting today that's not enough. Today we really have to have it much more in terms of an organized discipline plan. And you would think because I'm a lawyer that would all be very well for me but it's actually not true. I guess that was one of my failures as a lawyer. I really like to always keep going after the new ideas and the new things. And one challenge is always having to come back to make sure that most of the organization, it's back to the 80 20 rule, 80% of the organization has to be dealing with the here now and what's going to happen in the next twelve months. Because we have to meet our numbers, we have to be able to make sure that we're on track with that, but we have to always make sure there's a certain percentage that is out there looking farther ahead. And I think as you go higher up into management, it becomes important. But it's one of those presentations that was done last time. The guy from Deloitte, I think, where he made a present, Michael Reader, he made a presentation along those lines, which I thought was very interesting because he showed as you are higher in the organization, more of your time and thinking needs to really be creating options. And I thought that was a very good way of looking at if you're stratum three in the organization, you really got to be getting the budget done. That's what you got to be doing. That's your twelve months. It's very easy to see, and there are people who love that and do that very well. And once you're moving up to stratum four and five six, you really have to be creating those options for the future. You really have to be thinking in terms of what are those future risks to the organization which are going to be out there in a longer time. And eventually when we're making investments, large capital investments, we're projecting out in ten and 20 year time periods because we have to know how these investments are going to pay back in that kind of time frame. And so that right there comes back and reestablishes the differences in terms of the roles and actually what needs to be done. So I think Elliot was able to bring all these things together, working at from the time span or how long the horizon we have in terms of what we need to be doing. The other parts, in terms of how compensation needs to be fair and equitable across an organization, how that's going to be represented by a certain kind of a structure that's very transparent in terms of compensation, is not to be a hidden secret only known to HR, but should be fairly transparent. We try to be transparent about most things. Although we're a private company, we tell our employees about what the financial results are, what the financial risks are, and where they can make a difference, enabling the organization to achieve its goals and enabling our customers to be successful with regard to their goals. In terms of how we bring people into the organization, I think it's very we started pretty early on when I became head of HR, we started doing interview panels and we started looking in terms of having those. Of course everyone will have multiple interviews. I think this is kind of standard in all companies, but what we added to that was require all those interviewers to get together afterwards in one room. Because before we were doing it the old way, they would just send to their written comments and I felt like it was the elephant because these different comments about the same person didn't seem to all connect. So we started having all the interviewers meet and then we got a much deeper, richer perspective in terms of the candidate. Because sometimes a person and if you have 45 minutes or an hour with them, you're talking they'll talk about one thing and you'll get one perspective, and it may be quite off the mark just because of how it's been a long day. Maybe they said something not quite how they would want. Or it may be actually very critical piece of information, especially, I think we've found along the way, people who would not be very open to diversity at this way. By listening carefully at multiple comments, you'll find out who is comfortable with working for a woman manager and who's not. So you'll find out if you are careful and actually make sure that during the interview process you have multiple people interviewing that comes from different parts of the company, from different perspectives and then bring them all together. Ideally, which we don't do the ideal, ideally they would meet before and they would actually have somehow allocated some areas of questioning and we talk about trying to move to that point. And I think this would really even make the interview process more powerful. Then once you've identified somebody, your chances are still 50 50 whether it was a good one, but at least now you have a better appreciation of the person when you're bringing them in. And now it's all the question of orientation and we are getting better at that. We had had the experience where people will be the company for quite a number of months, sometimes more than a year, but now we've gotten more systemized in terms of having regular orientation sessions we have now outside of the US as well as here. So now the goal is to try and bring each person that new into the organization to St. Louis. Sometime within the first year or so they joined the company, but long before that they should have had a local orientation in their area at least to know the basic aspects of the novice manager system, really to know the kind of basic aspects of the company, the company's products, those just kind of the basic things. And then to be we have a 30, 60, 90 day review period and hopefully the managers are following that because it's only by doing that that they're really going to be making sure that all this effort they put in to hire this person is now going to start paying off. If they don't go through, that process, will be left there wondering what they're supposed to do. And we have a lot of that too, because we still have a lot of new people coming in and it takes a lot of time. And I'm always amazed with managers how much they complain about not having enough staff and how little time they put to actually onboarding the staff they have. So it's a really interesting thing to observe with managers. So one thing that we're trying to do better from the HR department side is actually trying to provide more tools to them and more structure around that so that will be more effective in bringing people into the organization. I think from my own side, my own participation in that, I do try and be a part of that orientation. I try to do part of the presentations of the orientation. It has become more challenging with my travel and more people coming in as to how much time is really spent with that. It's always get bigger to find ways to make that better. And now I have a lot more subordinates once removed. So another challenge for me today is making sure that I have a personal relationship with each one of them. So finding ways to be effectively having that personal relationship, because I take seriously that my responsibility to them is to really be there, thinking in terms of what is their career development opportunities in Novas. And that is one I need to do better at. And I clearly recognize that's where I need to put more of my time now, maybe a little bit less time on the orientation for everyone, because that needs now to become more ingrained and out into the organization. And I really need to be looking in terms of where is that next group of management going to come from in this company, in terms of how I try and allocate my time. There's some aspect that I need to have more customer interaction than I have. I tried to be more outwardly focused in terms of the company. There's a certain representation aspect to this job in that I really need to be out with other organizations, really, that have common purpose to Nova's achieving its goals and with its customers achieving their goals. So these can be very much in terms of trade associations, or they can be other kinds of organizations that we're trying to collaborate with where that takes quite a bit of time and quite a bit of travel. I try to make sure I visit all parts of the company around the world at least once a year. That in itself leads to quite a lot of travel, and that does give me the opportunity of directly interacting with the employees everywhere in the world. But so far, what is still missing from my really if I'm serious about and really seriously looking at what I'm not doing well, it's really this mentoring relationship. What I tried to do before was just to make sure I was having a lunch or something like this with the ones that were local with my direct subordinates. I have long term relationship with them. I've known them for many, many years. So there it isn't such a challenge. We have the regular reviews, we have the phone calls in the corridor, and I know what they're going to be able to do. They know what they expect to meet. They know when they need the feedback. So that part because we have many years of working together that works with my direct subordinates. But we have a lot now of new people directly under them. That's where a lot of the new organizations come in. And it's there that I really need to start spending more time. One of the challenges is that from this role, when I spend time at that level, sometimes people feel threatened, the man at my direct subordinate, or they feel that it's going around them, or sometimes it will even lead to confusion because people don't have it. They don't have this personal relationship. And so it's a question of, is the CEO now telling me something different than my manager told me to do? Because you want to have a conversation, at least personally, I want to have a conversation with them. I want to understand how they're thinking, what they're thinking, what they think that Novus is doing well and what we're not doing well. And by having these conversations, it can, I've been told, lead to some confusion with people. But nevertheless, it's something that really has to happen, because it's only by going to that next level that I will start to really understand. First, are we on track? Are we really developing the talent pool we need in terms of the company's growth? Secondly, are we likely to be successful in achieving our goals even in the near term? Because this is where most of the work is going to get done. And this is not from the vice president, it's not from the CEO. It's going to be done from the directors and managers and their staff that it's going to get done. So I really need to have that opportunity. And it can't very well be done so much in the bigger meetings. I attend the regional staff meetings, I attend a lot of these kind of meetings. And there it's always a challenge if I say too much or am I overly critical or am I actually putting them down so it can happen better one on one. And so I have to find more time to spend really with my sors I should know, but I don't really know exactly how many there are. They're certainly all over the world. I will have all over the world, and it's probably going to be something like 30 or 40 in the way we're structured today. And I think that is not impossible to deal with, but is not easy either, with that number to make sure that it's going to be. You spend the time to really know who they are personally and how they see themselves growing in the organization. I would like to say that it was a great privilege to have worked directly with Elliot Jacks. He was quite a special person. He was a person who could always make you think. And to me, that's always the greatest compliment I can give to anyone. If you can grab me long enough to sit me down and ask me the questions that made me think. And today, this is one of the biggest challenges in the role I have, because there's so much that we're dealing with every day. It's finding those kinds of moments, and that Elliot was able to do. And you would say it's almost simplistic what he would do. He would just ask the most simple questions, and at the end, you would really think deeply and hard. Sometimes it'd be questions you wouldn't want to answer, things you wouldn't want to think about. And that's fine, too. He was always respectful, but he would sometimes be very direct in his comment. And so I just wanted to to close with things. It was a great privilege to have had the opportunity of working a few times directly with Elliot.

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Thad Simons
President & CEO
Novus International, Inc.
Novus International

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