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Ryland Marek, 3M, NECA 2018

Insights on How Top Companies Recruit and Develop Talent

NECA attendees got a look inside the recruiting and retention practices at 3M.

Recruiting top talent is a critical issue for any business, particularly so for the trades in the current environment. Ryland Marek, business development manager in 3M’s commercial and industrial electrical business segment, shared with NECA 2018 attendees Tuesday morning the approach taken by his company to recruit and develop talent, along with some lessons he has gained in more than ten years with the global manufacturing company.

Most electrical contractors, of course, don’t have the size and name recognition, nor the human resources organization, to recruit the way a global product manufacturer. Marek said 3M operates as 52 separate smaller businesses and most contractors can apply the same principles on a smaller scale, yet still produce significant improvements.

Marek attributed the company's success developing talent to the way it has integrated leadership training throughout the company culture. People at every level are evaluated and compensated based on leadership behavior, even if they’re not in a supervisory role, he said. All employees are measured on a five-point scale in each of the key leadership behavior categories.

Through mentoring and training, each employee develops what he called a competency portfolio, a sort of map of skill sets that will allow the employee to progress in his or her career and take on larger roles.

In terms of recruitment, Marek suggested contractors optimize their search to make use of social media and especially mobile communications because that’s the way many top recruits prefer to communicate. He also said companies should do all they can to increase hiring speed because recruits see slowness in hiring and communications as a mirror of the way the company makes business decisions in general.

Use existing talent to recruit. “You want employees bragging about your organization being a great place to work,” he said.

Benefits are a critical part of the discussion and contractors should make a point to evaluate any changes to benefits in terms of how they’ll affect recruiting, particularly health care, paid leave and retirement, three benefits that outweigh all the others. “Other perks and benefits don’t really matter if you get one of those wrong.”

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