Monday, July 16, 2012

There's a reason they're called financial "statements"

A good friend of mine teaches his accounting students to "make the financial statements talk." This advice is brilliant in its simplicity, yet seldom followed in finance departments around the globe.

Instead, the typical financial review is comprised of a senior financial person passing out the income statement and balance sheet. While the managers around the table stare blankly at the list of numbers, the finance person, usually renowned for his ability to captivate an audience with his charisma and eloquence (think "Bueller … Bueller"), walks everyone though the income statement as follows:

Revenue increased by 2.1 percent, fueled by 2.8 percent growth in our Central region, partially offset by a 7 percent decline in our Mid-Atlantic region. SG&A increased by $50,000, as a result of an arbitrary expense allocation from the corporate office of $200,000, partially offset by a $150,000 cushion we had on the balance sheet in the event of an arbitrary expense allocation from the corporate office.

Usually this is met with awkward silence and confused expressions. It's no wonder why. The financial statement did not clearly communicate what management needs to know to understand the economic performance of the company and make good business decisions based on it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

7 ways to hire the perfect employee

Every employer has excuses for why employees don't work out at their company. But at the end of the day, most bad hires are due to missteps and miscues during the interview process.

The interview process is crucial to garnering a complete and detailed picture of a candidate -- their skills, experience, and talent. That's why we've developed an interview process that is thorough, rigorous, and well-defined.

Our entire interview process is designed to find individuals who reflect Stroll's core values:

1. Strategy-mindedness
2. Mental toughness
3. Ownership thinking
4. Results oriented
5. Being the best

To find these individuals, we've made our interview process intensive and exhaustive. You can read through Stroll's interview process on our website. But more than that, we wanted to share some best practices for finding individuals who can unleash untold growth potential for your company.

1. Know what you want. Recruiters often simply create a recruitment ad and take to the phone to screen candidates. It's all done without fully understanding what the organization needs in a new hire. Before beginning to recruit, you need to identify the specific expertise, talents, and worldview you are seeking in a candidate. We start by creating an HR scorecard that details the hard qualifications that are non-negotiable. These vary by job function. For instance, we might require HTML proficiency for our web professionals. For our call center professionals, we look for softer factors, such as their ability to effectively and diplomatically interface with customers. The HR scorecard lays out our needs in black and white, and gives us a definitive game plan to score our success.