About six months ago, we recruited Silvia to lead HR for Trussway, one of the leading manufacturers of building trusses and structural components in the US.  Trussway has been a valued client of GattiHR Industrial for nearly 10 years.  We sat down with Silvia to discuss some of the challenges she faced as a first-time CHRO. 

Since joining Trussway at the end of 2018, you’ve addressed several immediate and pressing challenges that go along with  the steep growth trajectory at Trussway.

A: One of our first challenges has been to rebuild trust in the HR organization. Anytime a company goes through major upheaval, that trust can be an early casualty People were approaching HR with fear and doubt, questioning whether they’d receive a timely or appropriate answer.  That’s my first priority. 

It’s very much like a start-up. I have a new team, there’s no complete data set to view employment history or even basic employee documentation. So, we’re trying to rebuild histories, performance appraisals, compensation structures, you name it. 

PayrollWe’re focusing on small “wins,” like error-free payrolls. And, while it shouldn’t be something to celebrate, people are actually celebrating error-free paychecks!  

The second thing we had to tackle early were our benefits processes. The company had changed brokers, carriers, and plan designs and moved to an active enrollment cycle, but this just wasn’t well-communicated More than a third of our workforce had some kind of issue, and again, trust suffered until we fixed them 

So, four months in, we can get people paid properly, their benefits in place, and we’re compliant overall.  Small wins, but SO important! 

Looking forward, we have to make sure these core processes are completely stable and repeatableThen, we can move to integrate our job descriptions, goal setting, compensation structure and performance management architecture Again though, small wins matter — our policies and procedurehandbook needs a complete overhaul. 

If we do the day-to-day job of HR well enough, we’ll have room to be strategic, creative and add value that’s beyond the obvious. That’s where I want to be in 18-24 months.  

How are you and your team able to maintain focus on the near-term deliverables, while keeping an eye toward the longer-term objectives you’ve laid out? How have you nurtured support from Leaders within the organization?

I am lucky. Our leadership is amazing. I report to our CEO, he believes in what we can do, and he’s open to new ideas.  

The rest of the leadership team is also supportive.  They can be skeptical, usually because they’ve not seen what a great HR function can do for them.   It’s my job to turn that around. 

To keep their support, we have to to improve things by actually improving things. We don’t launch campaigns announcing we’re doing this or that. We communicate when it’s appropriate, but we make change happen and show real results 

That way, we prove our value as we go, and let the work communicate the progress.  

How do you want to see Human Resources evolve in the next few years?

Strategic fundingWe’re going to become less about support and more about contributing to essential business decisions. We make great products, and the critical ingredient for us are the structural engineers and designers that turn concept into reality.  Finding the talent we need will, in large measure, define how successful we’re going to be.  Talent will drive everything – new products and markets, M&A strategy, and even where we locate.  

Well, is there anything else you’d like to share?

Recruitment Yes. Let’s talk about attracting and recruiting people. It’s an historically challenging market and organizations need to be more resourceful and creative than ever before. Recruiting has changed. Requirements have tightened up, as talent pools have become scarce. But there are alternative channels, options and resources available.  We’re working with managers to look at people’s careers and resumes and help them develop new thinking and perspective and not discount candidates for lack of a single specific credential. There are some very talented people in the marketThey shouldn’t be penalized for a condition they may have had no control over earlier in their lives that may not have allowed them to get a degree.  I consider experience and hard work. Consider the whole person. Give people an opportunity and they will work hard and be loyal to you.