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Sarah Sillars talks recruitment

IMI chief executive Sarah Sillars asked delegates at the recent AM People Skills Conference how brave they were when recruiting.

She questioned whether they recruit quickly to fill a vacancy rather than wait to find the right person.

No-one should underestimate the importance of having the right staff in the right roles,
and providing feedback and coaching to keep them motivated, Sillars says.

When recruiting, companies should not forget that the candidate is also interviewing the company on its practices, rewards and how it helps its staff develop.

It is important to show that employees are listened to, and that they are shown what success means.

Getting the best out of employees

Managers should understand the people they are responsible for, and what triggers their individual stress levels.

They should ensure that staff know what support is available and that they feel able to ask for help.

“Most stress comes from people feeling not valued, not supported, not recognised and not knowing where to get help,” Sillars adds.

Often the solution to keeping them motivated can be as simple as a message of thanks for work well done.

Examples of companies which take their human resources functions very seriously were Nationwide Autocentres, Honda, Sytner Group and Phoenix Motor Company.

Case studies

At Phoenix, managing director John McGuire conducts all first interviews. “I don’t care if they’re a manager or a valeter, we all need to enjoy working together,” McGuire says.

The Scottish dealer group often targets graduates and advertises vacancies for trainee
sales managers rather than sales executives. McGuire believes strongly in continuing to raise the standard.

Sytner Group, currently AM Employer of the Year, uses open days and its website as recruitment tools.

It also rewards existing staff for being company advocates, with £300 paid to those who recommend a recruit.

New joiners meet the group’s senior team and are inducted to Sytner’s culture. “How people are treated in the first two weeks will have a profound effect on their longevity in the business,” says head of HR Melvin Rogers.

With 217 branches to staff, Nationwide has a rigorously structured recruitment process for all vacancies, and trains recruits to its processes and standards at an inhouse academy.

Recruitment and retention is measured for success, and leavers are given independent exit interviews which are fed back to management.

The independent service group employs 200 apprentices. Managing director Duncan Wilkes says it’s an “investment in developing a pool of people” who will fit Nationwide’s business.

Technicians and managers have a variety of roles and high earning potential – an
uncapped bonus scheme pays a percentage of gross margin for sales above target, and means some technicians regularly earn twice that of a centre manager.

Apprenticeship programmes

The Honda Institute is also focused on creating skilled and highly competent staff for its retail networks.

It operates a nationally accredited apprentice programme which puts technicians on route to becoming a master technician five years after completion, and its Honda People service can assist dealers in recruiting staff for all roles.

Head Neil Fletcher says the record for recruiting was 72 hours from being alerted to a vacancy.

The IMI’s Lesley Woolley urged retailers to back industry initiatives aimed at promoting the sector to schoolchildren.

Its Headlight project wants to partner schools with automotive businesses to enable young people to learn about the roles available.

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