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What CEOs want in new hires

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By Diane Stafford
Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

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 represent 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 resources professionals that it's their job to find and hire employees with those traits — and to put them in jobs that are the right fit.

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.

Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Email

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