Adding EHS Bench Strength

Alex Pollock

I was recently approached by an environment, health and safety (EHS) colleague to suggest people who could possibly fill a staff vacancy. My colleague had little experience in hiring, since budget reductions and “ranking and yanking” had been all that was demanded over the last decade or so. To this point, replenishing the “bench” had remained a dream. I’d like to share the points I asked my colleague to consider and get your reaction.

  •  Ensure you have support for the budget increase: Your leader and your key clients must support the expenditure and accept your assessment of the value added. A solid business case exists for improving the value-added services provided to clients.
  • Ensure your new hire advances your functional vision: Resist hiring to cover one-of-a-kind projects or cover temporary increases in workload. Seek temporary help to get you through. Also don’t hire to cover the inadequacies of a poor performer. Resolve any performance issues you have and keep this need separate from your hiring decision. Fill a position which momentum has already created and resist “staffing for growth” that is just around the bend.
  • Think paradigm shift: Don’t rush. Step back. Dream a little. Resist the like-for-like option. What is the competency mix that increases your bench strength and allows you to advance your service offerings and better meet client needs?
  • Be patient: Now you have the green light make a wise hiring decision. Take all the steps necessary to ensure you feel good about your hiring decision three years from now. Do your homework. Ensure you have the character, chemistry and competency boxes ticked.

What do you think?  Your input to these points are welcomed and appreciated.

About Alex Pollock

Alex Pollock has been studying leadership effectiveness for more than 30 years. A former leader in environment, health and safety, and public affairs at The Dow Chemical Co., he learned that we all have leadership roles to play. He enjoys discussing new ideas and sharing practical ways we can all become better leaders.

View all post by Alex Pollock »

  1. Stephen Evanoff

    March 18, 2012


    I think you’ve captured the essence of the process. In my experience, your last point, “be patient” is most important.

    I would also add “Culture Fit” to the list, and suggest that the interview process and people involved be designed to select someone who is a good fit with the culture of the organization, its norms of behavior, communication style, and pace.

  2. Georganna Lagen

    March 23, 2012

    I generally agree, but would caveat the “staffing for growth” comment. If you know it’s coming, start the hiring process enough in advance that you don’t have to rush a decision. You should also allow a little time for the new person to settle into the organization.

    • Alex Pollock

      March 27, 2012

      Thanks for taking time to comment Georganna. “If you know it’s coming” is a key point. Please be sure you really, really know. Unfortunately from my experiences business deals have turned sour at the last minute leaving organizations overstaffed and facing the trauma of “downsizing”. Very best wishes!

Leave your comment