What kind of employees are employers looking for?

And how can human resource officials help?

Those two questions were chewed on along with the chicken at a recent Society for Human Resource Management chapter meeting.

The answers came from a panel of four Kansas City-area CEOs who represented a hospital, a bank, a manufacturer and a marketing agency.

In answer to the first question, the CEOs said they want:

  • "Key people" who share their philosophies about managing and growing their operations.
  • "Rainmakers" who produce revenue.
  • "Workers who are willing to work" and show up every day.
  • "People who are willing to change" and be flexible.
  • "Nice people, because you can't train nice."
  • "Bright people."
  • "Team-oriented people."

The executives answered the second question by telling the human resource professionals it's their job to find and hire employees with those traits — and to put them in jobs that are the right fit for each.

The CEOs said HR departments also should provide training that "increases the value of the people we have."

They told the HR folk to avoid getting bogged down in administrative details, that they have lawyers and accountants "to keep them out of trouble."

Rather, they said, their HR experts should understand their businesses and bring "operational value to the table."

Those are tall orders. In the real world, HR departments get consumed with administrative details. There are plenty.

It's also true that many HR departments — not a revenue-producing unit — are understaffed for the company's payroll size. Many lack time or expertise to provide the ideal training or emotional hand-holding that some workers need to be productive.

CEOs rightly can expect HR professionals to be their "people people." But there's a problem if CEOs cavalierly tell HR to handle their people issues without adequate funds or staffing to do it right.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Her "Your Job" blog at economy.kansascity.com includes daily posts about job-related issues of wide interest. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or by email at dstafford@kcstar.com.

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©2012 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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