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June 2012
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The (updated) People Cycle of business


Five years ago, in this very column, I introduced readers to the People Cycle. Now, I would like to bring you the 2017 version.

The first decision of the cycle usually comes as a result of a failure. Perhaps a deadline was missed, or the quality of some specific work output was poor.

An analysis of the error shows someone was too busy to handle the job in the proper manner. As a result, usually duties are re-organized, procedures revised, and/or new technology introduced. And this will help for a period of time. However, eventually, someday, a decision will be made that an additional employee is needed.

The next phase of the People Cycle is to determine exactly what the new person is going to do, relative to those who are already with the company. Hence, a job description needs to be written. Many a businessperson skips this step but I strongly suggest that you don't.

First, you need to know what the new person is going to do so you can search for individuals with the right skills. Second, you need the information to determine where the new position will fit in the company, both in terms of an org chart and compensation. Third, in case you end up with an applicant with some form of disability, you need to have pre-determined which of the duties are essential functions, as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act, or risk a discrimination lawsuit.

My experience is that a well-written job description also gives the supervisor an easier task in justifying to his/her manager the need for and the cost of an additional employee.

Once the job description is completed and approval has been obtained to add a person, the search can begin - sourcing and review of resumes (first internally and then from the general public), interviews, testing, reference checks, selection and negotiating a job offer. The cycle is rather robust.

Just like expensive machinery, however, people have to be periodically maintained. Once hired, there are performance reviews, development plans and salary adjustments. All of this constitutes what HR professionals call talent management.

And if someone truly excels, plans are made for additional responsibilities, departments are re-organized and promotions announced. High potential employees are identified and sent off to special training so that they can become future leaders of the company.

Once an organization employees a second person, the cycle has started and it truly never ends. People retire, resign or otherwise change jobs, such that it all has to start anew with a fresh look at a revised and current job description. That, my friends, is why I call it a People Cycle.

Randy Fox, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, is founder and senior partner of Capstone HR Services, Inc.

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