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UCC – HR: How to Find and Develop the Right People

When considering hiring a person to fill a position available in your company, searching for the right person can take time. We asked Rietje Lulsdorf, Human Resources Coordinator at United Catalyst Corporation (UCC) based in the US, to provide her expertise and give some practical tips on making this process run as smoothly as possible.


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Rietje Lulsdorf

The idea of hiring, developing, and retaining employees can be daunting for any business of any size, it remains, especially daunting for small businesses. The good news is that the basics covered today are simple, powerful and do not require deep pockets. Though undoubtedly, they will require time, commitment, and consistent follow-through. The three basic principles that are foundational to finding and developing the right people will be explained and practical tips are given on how to implement them in your own organization. When implemented correctly they have the potential to have a dramatic positive effect on retention and employee engagement.

Vision, Mission and Core Values must be Communicated

A business, no matter the size, is responsible to determine and communicate its Vision, Mission and Core Values. Not only are these the guiding principles for how the hiring and employee development processes are approached, but they provide the framework for how business should be conducted daily.

“The mission statement is your identity, it’s what you do day in and day out” (Falco). Business owners and leaders must lead by example for the Vision, Mission and Core Values to have the desired effect on a company’s culture. “It is important to set the culture from day one. New employees should not be surprised at what happens in the workplace. Your employees must see that you are consistent in your dealings—in living out your culture. They will watch you and they will emulate what they see. If what they see is not consistent—not morally in the framework of what they believe in, they are going to leave you. This is the moment when as an owner you have to look yourself in the eye and evaluate if you have contributed to the loss of an employee due to an inability to play by your own rules” (Nordstrom). One of the main reasons people go to work is for the way they feel while they are at work (Snyder).

Both Falco and Nordstrom emphasize that as business owners and leaders they hold the responsibility of establishing, communicating, and living out their businesses’ Vision, Mission and Core Values daily and with undeniable clarity.

Quick Tips:

  1. Make the Mission, Vision and Core Values a focal point of your business as they serve as a reminder to everyone, leaders, employees, and customers alike of what the company stands for and how they can expect to be treated.
  2. Consider framing the Core Values and hanging them up in common areas such as the company lobby and or breakrooms. Everyone should engage with them daily. This is an opportunity to get creative.
  3. Begin all meetings with a brief review of the company’s strategic vision and mission. This small addition to the agenda has the potential to refocus employees and leaders alike and help communicate that we are in fact all in this together and each has a role to play in the company’s success.
  4. Hold monthly all-hands meetings where all employees hear what is happening in the company directly from the owners and leaders. This creates a scheduled time for celebration when company goals are met and allows for space for the owners and leaders to create and guide the narrative, they wish to share given a current situation.

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Clear Expectations for Performance must be Established

It has been said that to be unclear is to be unkind. Not only is it unkind, but it sets the person expected to perform under these circumstances up for failure. Creating structure is foundational to a business’s success and ability to sustain growth. This process is not the most fun or initially rewarding, however, no business can be successful in the long term without it.

Daily operational tasks on all levels of an organization often take precedence and leave little time to methodically think through and document what processes and procedures should look like for certain positions. “Employees who understand what they are supposed to do will execute it better” (Nordstrom). This can seem like a daunting task, but it is the work that must be done by the company’s owners and leadership. The leadership team as well as key employees should be highly involved in both the definition and documentation of processes.

Fully understanding a process and creating clear expectations for its execution will make conversations concerning performance much easier. It gives owners and leaders the ability to speak to a problem directly and be solution-focused rather than shy away from this conversation for the sake of avoiding personal conflict.

Establishing regular times for feedback will also help ensure this and will be expounded on in the following section.

Quick Tips:

  1. Set aside time to think through what tasks are expected to be carried out by the person filling any given position in your company. Only when this structure has been implemented are companies truly able to hold their employees accountable for the work performed.
  2. Prioritize defining those positions where you are experiencing the most frustrations concerning work not being done correctly. Develop a timeline that is attainable and write out and document all processes. These should be reviewed and signed by leadership when they are finished to give them the needed authority. Having documented the processes you can now write job descriptions and job announcements that are specific and true to the duties of the job.
  3. Define employee responsibilities. Determine three areas of responsibility —KRAs or Key Result Areas. Then determine how you will measure performance in these areas – KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. This is good information to give to an employee within the first three days of employment. Communicate the expectation you have for the execution of these processes to your employees.
  4. Consider developing a handbook explaining in detail your expectations for workplace conduct. Do get legal counsel during this process to ensure that Federal and State Laws are being adhered to.

Training and Development must be Ongoing

Developing employees, providing the opportunity for personal and professional growth will help motivate the right people with the right attitude to stay with a company. This is especially important as times are changing and the emerging workforce is primarily comprised of millennials who are predicted to spend no longer than 1.2 years in one position.

This poses a challenge for small businesses as they are typically made up of a small group of people who take on a variety of roles and so are short on time and perhaps other resources they believe necessary to develop their people. However, it is never too early to start creating a culture that supports and enables employee growth. It starts with assessing the talent that is currently employed. Look for people who show up consistently. “You cannot build a company on part-timers” (Snyder). “Look for those employees that have a hunger to learn more and are naturally inquisitive. Give them responsibility and then find a way to reward their growth and performance” (Snyder). Training and development should start on the day the employee is hired and never stop. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide opportunities for training and create avenues for personal and professional growth.

Quick Tips:

  1. Prepare to give incoming employees a thorough onboarding experience. Use the employee’s first week to set the tone for the duration of their employment (Nordstrom). This may include a meeting with the owner to give them the opportunity to impart their vision and expectations as well as instill trust, a meeting with the direct manager and various key employees, cross-functional training and the shadowing of top performers in the same position.
  2. Implement introductory period reviews. They can be held every 30 days for three months or at other intervals that better fit the organization’s structure. Remember that this is a trial period for both you, the employer, and the employee. For these reviews to be effective they must be tied to the KRAs and KPIs developed for the position in question.
  3. Implement 1:1s with direct mangers on a regular basis that makes sense for your organization. Use these 1:1s to discuss KRAs and KPIs, areas where the employee needs further training and any obstacles the employee might be facing while performing their job duties. This time should be utilized to truly listen to your employees.
  4. Make regular opportunities for training. Past an employee’s original onboarding it is easy to turn the employee loose (Nordstrom) and not check back in with them. Training provided at onboarding will not be enough to sustain the employee for the duration of their employment.
  5. Utilize resources such as ARA University and URG training that are extremely helpful in providing recyclers of all sizes with relevant training material (Falco, Nordstrom). Invest in creating a video and audio room in your company which you can use for training (Nordstrom). This will communicate the importance of employee growth.

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While the idea of starting the process of implementing these principles and best practices may be daunting, it is achievable with proper planning, consistent follow-through, and a touch of grace. This is indeed a process and any steps taken to improve on the implementation of any of these principles should be celebrated. As relevant processes are established, developed over time, and executed consistently over years a company is bound to see a positive effect in retention and employee engagement.

Some of you might be interested in participating in a monthly HR Owners Meeting. I am excited at the thought of meeting with you, learning about your individual yards and coming alongside you as you find and develop the right people. Please contact me if you would like to be a part of a group like this and I will keep you apprised of any updates relating to its start.

If you would like to contact Rietje to find out more, please email her at

About the Author

Rietje (Reecha) Lulsdorf is originally from Germany and so almost naturally has found herself in an automotive-related field. Graduating with her MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology in 2019 she now bears the official title of HR Coordinator at United Catalyst Corporation. For the last year and a half, she’s enjoyed delving into the automotive recycling community, learning the industry and building relationships with various automotive suppliers. Rietje is responsible for implementing best practices in both selection as well as training and development processes at UCC and is passionate about helping recyclers adopt practices that will allow them to see increased employee engagement as well as an increase in their bottom line.