Callahan's Corporate Development Program (part 1)

One year ago the management team of Callahan & Associates, Inc. was looking seriously at the culture of our organization and what we had become. Over the past few years, while the economy was booming and talent was in short supply, the carefully-crafted entrepreneurial environment that Callahan's was founded on had begun to erode. We faced two main challenges. The first was finding talent that could thrive in the high-accountability, high-reward environment that drove our success in the early years. Our second challenge was to knock down the silos that developed between departments as we grew both the bottom line and the number of employees.

 

By Callahan & Associates, Inc.

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One year ago the management team of Callahan & Associates, Inc. was looking seriously at the culture of our organization and what we had become. Over the past few years, while the economy was booming and talent was in short supply, the carefully-crafted entrepreneurial environment that Callahan's was founded on had begun to erode. We faced two main challenges. The first was finding talent that could thrive in the high-accountability, high-reward environment that drove our success in the early years. Our second challenge was to knock down the silos that developed between departments as we grew both the bottom line and the number of employees.

The First Challenge: Changing the Way We Hire Talent
First, we took a look at how we got to where we were and decided our hiring practices were partly to blame. In the roaring dot-com era, the company fell into a cycle of hiring people only when we had a vacancy. That often led to long periods of time where key positions were unfilled. This also put pressure on us to hire fast rather to hire the best person to fit in our small company environment.

During the first half our 2002 fiscal year, we spent 20% more on recruiting than for the entire previous year. This covered only direct expenses and did not factor in the costs of bringing new employees up to speed, lost productivity or the effect this was taking on company morale. It didn't take a consultant to make us realize that we needed a better way to recruit.

The Second Challenge: Changing the Way We Train Talent
Not only did we need a better way to recruit, but we needed a way to help our new entry level recruits identify their strengths and interests. From my own personal experience, I knew that my education (an undergraduate Japanese Language major and an MA in International Relations) had not clarified much for me at all. It was my experience as editor of the graduate school paper that led me to try a position at Callahans with their publications unit. Six years and four job descriptions later, I'm still learning about myself.

Looking at the most successful employees in our past and current organization yielded the same results. Many started with the company in one position, then changed responsibilities multiple times as their skills and interests dictated. This made us realize our goal wasn't just to recruit new employees, but to help them identify where they were going to be most successful-not something you can accomplish in an typical interview process.

The Opportunity: A Weak Economy?
While many people viewed the weakening economy as a time to refrain from further investment in employees, we decided to take the opposite approach. Students graduating from college were facing the slowest job market in 10 years. We felt Callahan's had a winning proposition for the best of these students: a position with real responsibility, hands-on training and career development potential.

The company was already looking to fill two openings that were the result of our current hiring practices, reacting to vacancies rather than growing talent from within. In addition, it was the time of year we traditionally interviewed students for summer internship positions. This got us thinking…if there was so much talent on the market, why not hire a whole fleet of outstanding new college graduates to be permanent employees? In this way, we would fill our staffing pipeline with real talent and eliminate the extra effort of training students for internships that ended as soon as the cool September weather rolled in.

Our proposed solution: the Callahan Corporate Development Program. To read a description of the program, click here.

Many questions were thrown around the boardroom that month, including:

  • What would be the impact of bringing 5 new employees into a company of only 25?
  • How much of our managers' time and other resources would need to be devoted to this project?
  • How would our employees react to having a new team member every 6 weeks?
  • Was there a way to ensure diversified skills across the group without pigeon-holing the recruits before they had a chance to explore their strengths?

Next Week: The Results
Tune in next week to learn how the CAs fared; what the impact was on our culture; and to see the answer to the question ''Would we do it again?''

This sponsored content article is provided to the credit union community for shared insights and knowledge from a recognized solutions provider in the industry. Please note that the views and opinions offered here do not reflect those of Callahan & Associates, and Callahan does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer.

If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact our Callahan Media team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.

 

March 17, 2003


Comments

 
 
 
  • The situation you folks face is not all that unusual. Many organizations are turning to employment assessments to help. We provide the best of the best. Just go to www.personnelinsights.com. I think you will like what you see and understand how this helps with both pre and post employment. The name of the game is to hire the right people the first time and then once you have them, manage them well. Bob Solomon Profiles
    Anonymous
     
     
     
  • Very interesting. Well-conceived program. Hope it's working well for you.
    Anonymous
     
     
     
 
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