Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

Are You Using Best-Practices in HR Management for Growth?


Here are HR solutions to accelerate your growth



In cost-cutting, many companies focus on the wrong priorities when they’re too quick to implement layoffs and cut back marketing budgets.

It’s obvious many companies have struggled.

“Duh,” you’re thinking.

Cutting costs is vital. But operating efficiently with best-practices in management and marketing should be the top goals.

Where to start?

The best way to achieve optimum efficiency is a management-performance audit, development of solutions and implementation of best-practices in management.

So, I was delighted to spot the results of a study by RainmakerThinking, Inc.

The study is entitled, “Increased supervision and management was the #1 most effective business strategy.”

To cope with the lingering adverse effects from the Great Recession, the study shows companies implemented one or more of three strategies in 2009.

They included:

1. Cost-cutting

2. Other innovations, such as processes of production or delivery

3. Improved management

As expected, the companies that implemented all three strategies performed the best. And if none was implemented, the financial performance was dismal.

Here’s what happened when businesses implemented just one of these strategies:

– Cost cutting – “…were the most likely to report that their bottom line financial results (at the level closest to the manager’s control) in 2009 were ‘bad,’ ‘very bad,’ ‘worse than expected,’ or ‘much worse than expected.’”

– Innovation “…other than cost cutting’ did better than those who pursued only cost-cutting, but less than half of these managers reported that results were ‘good,’ ‘very good,’ ‘better than expected, or ‘much better than expected.’”

– Improved management – “more than half reported that results were ‘good,’ ‘very good,’ ‘better than expected,’ or ‘much better than expected.’

Not to be sarcastic, but what really brought a smile for me was seeing the results for those companies that did not improve management.

By not upgrading management, here are the reported consequences:

  • “too much time” solving “preventable problems”
  • “too much time” solving “small problems that got out of control” “
  • “too much time” on “salvaging wasted resources”
  • Nearly 50 percent reported their employees appeared “demoralized and worried”
  • An unspecified high percentage suffered from “increased turnover among high performers”

My comment: Amen. I’d also add some big-picture strategies for how to improve management.

“The truly great tragedy is the destruction of our human resources by our failure to fully utilize our abilities, which means that most men and women go to their graves with their music still in them.”

 -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Client case study

A public agency was regularly pummeled by negative publicity in the newspapers because of a$250,000 embezzlement by a longtime employee. The agency was worried about its poor image from the embezzlement, not to mention many unhappy ratepayers who were already dissatisfied with the agency’s customer service.

Of course, the senior manager was apprehensive about hiring a consultant. But she knew her board of directors was restless. To persuade her to hire my firm, I stressed that she would receive full-service, confidential solutions. She agreed to hire me.

A public relations campaign was deemed insufficient. In just walking through the offices, I sensed an inefficient workplace culture. Fear and negativity were rampant. Embezzlements were likely to reoccur and customer complaints would continue.

Because the agency’s budget was problematic, I suggested focusing on the internal issues and the PR would take care of itself.

The agency adopted my recommendations:

  • Assess the extent of issues in human resources.
  • Solutions included interviewing each employee with open-ended questions.
  • We issued a press release containing empathy toward ratepayers, and reassured the public that steps were being taken to prevent future embezzlements and to improve customer service.
  • I designed a comprehensive training program for all workers. Many employees were apprehensive and hostile to management. I told them that my dialogues with them would confidential. However, I would provide senior management with a report on the general status of the training, and whether any employees were un-trainable.
  • I trained managers in what the non-exempt staff would be learning. Managers were deficient in soft skills, too. Afterward, I taught them how to be good supervisors. In that way, the managers would be able to reinforce my principles as I trained their employees.
  • Once managers were trained in the two modules, I trained the non-exempt staff. Because of the negative attitudes, many workers required mentoring.
  • Management reports – I notified management of a popular employee who was not trainable.

Management ignored my warning, and a week later my client received a phone from a uniform vendor. My sheepish client then called me. I was told the vendor complained about the agency’s employee in-question – accusing him of sexually harassing a teenage employee.

While it served as a validation for my firm’s process, it was an urgent problem and we immediately developed a strategy. When informed of the accusation, the agency employee vehemently denied sexually harassing the the vendor’s employee. Instead, he blamed me for the problem. But two hours later, the accused employee abruptly resigned and left the state.

As for the training program, it worked and the agency became a model for efficiency and great customer service.

Again, the No. 1 key to success — best practices in management.

From the Coach’s Corner, you might consider other HR strategies.

“The truly great tragedy is the destruction of our human resources by our failure to fully utilize our abilities, which means that most men and women go to their graves with their music still in them.”

 -Oliver Wendell Holmes


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.