This report is the result from an informational interview with a professional of Human resources management with a minimum of five years experience in the field. An informational interview is an interview which allows a student or career changer to ask questions to someone working in the field he/she is interested in. The purpose of this informational interview was to gather more information regarding Human Resources Management, the experience of the interviewee and the company under which the interviewee is working for. Jennifer Horne is HR manager generalist, and the interviewee. She is the HR manager of Krug Inc and she has been doing the HR job for six years already.
This informational interview was an opportunity for me to improve my communication skills with a professional; to know how people in this field are doing and gain knowledge that I will help in my resume. It was also an opportunity to know some of the challenges encountered by the HR department within an organization example keeping the employee engaged and motivated. Moreover, the informational interview helped me to have a better understanding of the future of the HR; and also know more about Krug Inc which is one of the Canada’s largest manufacturing company.
An Informational Interview is a meeting in which a job seeker asks for career and industry advice rather than employment. The job seeker uses the interview to gather information on the field, and to find employment leads and expand their professional network. The informational interview was held on March 27, 2014 at Krug Inc Manitou drive Kitchener. It was a face to face interview. The interview lasted for 15 minutes. This is because the interviewee was so busy. However these few minutes were useful because I succeeded to have some important information concerning the HR and the ways to get experience in the HR field. During this interview the interviewee answered all the questions that I asked her in a professional manner. Her answers were reflecting her experience in the job. She was feeling very comfortable and confident. I learned more about the contribution of the HR department in the achievement of the company’s mission and goals.
Jennifer Horne is the HR manager of Krug Inc. She is HR manager generalist. She has a HR certificate. From the time she was doing her certification the degree was not required. The degree was required from 2011. Jennifer’s first job was in 2005 as administrator of human resources; then she got a couple of contracts in small companies and then she got this one. Through these jobs she developed a good personality and experience. The experience she had with small companies helped her to get this job at Krug. According to Jennifer Horne, there are some aspects of HR that are not taught in school but she learned through experience for example how to counsel the employee. When an employee comes to her, she shuts down everything and hears about the employee’s concerns because employees are her priority.
As advice for the new comers in the HR field, Jennifer says that we should not look only for high positions because we do not have experience. She suggested to newcomers to start with short work opportunities (3-6 months). Additionally, she said that we, new comers, should consider jobs which are proportional to our skills but not above because if we want jobs which are above our skills we won’t get them. In others words, we should start by the entry level position. Hartman Krug was a cabinetmaker of Germany heritage. He founded Krug Inc in 1880. He started his business in Berlin and Kitchener. He was producing upholstered office chairs and carved residential furniture. Krug‘s attention to detail and quality was the force behind its popularity within Canada. Krug goal is to create an elegant and lasting product. In 1930’s, krug was producing office and contract chairs and tables exclusively, and in the war years of 1939 to 1945, virtually all the company’s production was for the Canadian government’s war effort. In the post-war boom period, Krug’s output grew rapidly to supply a market in during which office furniture was in high demand.
The implementation of new equipment and procedures were required for Krug‘s entrance into the U.S market mid 1970’s. As a result Krug entered into the desk market, and purchased imperial furniture of Stratford, Ontario in 1980. Krug immediately moved its large lumber and kiln-drying line there, while continuing production at the Ahrens street plant. In 1984, Krug purchased a large building on Manitou Drive in Kitchener and immediately relocated its warehousing and distribution operations to the new facility. A large veneer operation was put in place, and over the next few years the Manitou plant became one of the premier manufacturing facilities of desks in North America.
Today Krug is one of the fastest growing companies in the office furniture industry. Fueled by product development and plant expansions, Krug has enjoyed double- digit growth each of the past four years. Additionally, Krug’s showrooms and outstanding team sales representatives across the United States and Canada have achieved sales of almost 100 million dollars. “This is a very exciting time for Krug,” says Len Ruby, Krug president. With 125 years of rich heritage we continue to grow by leveraging today’s technology, with Hartman Krug’s vision for detailed craftsmanship.” . Located in the heartland of southern Ontario, Canada, we employ over 500 non-unionized staff members . The human resources department of Krug Inc does not have the entry level position. The branch of Kitchener Manitou has one HR manager generalist and one HR manager specialist who controls the generalist.
Krug is a vertically-integrated manufacturer, taking raw materials through state-of-the-art processes to finished products, and delivering them directly to its customers. The customers of Krug include many of North America’s growing companies and its products are specified by designers, architects and major distributors across the continent and beyond. The different products of Krug include private office casegoods, conference tables and meeting room furnishings, and a wide range of office and hospitality seating and tables. Krug encounters many challenges. First of all, the rapid appreciation in the value of the Canadian dollar is the first challenge. Krug and other companies of the same sector are highly exposed to the international trade; and the export prices are fixed in US. The second challenge is the increasing of energy costs. Energy intensive manufacturing industries make up approximately 29% of Canada’s manufacturing gross domestic product and the companies of the energy sector have considerably increased the price of the energy cost. The third challenge is the competition from emerging economies. The Canadian manufacturing sector is impacted by the global competition especially the one from china.
The manufacturing sector is facing low cost and high value competition from other emerging economies like India. These emerging economies have a great labor force that is qualified and not expensive. The fourth challenge is the availability of skilled labor. There is a lack of skilled and experience workforce in Canada. This is because the major part of the Canadian population is baby boomers: The populations is aging and close to the retirement. However, there is a high demand of skills labor in the face of advanced technologies and the “knowledge based economy. The last challenge is the regulatory environment. The Canadian government wants Canada to become one of the best countries with a small pollution footprint. For this reason, all companies in Canada have to follow the regulations. The protection of the environment is one of Krug’s missions, but the regulations from the government are a little bit difficult and are considered a burden to the company.
The HR at Krug has a great influence on the organization because it contributes to the company development by hiring potential employees who can fit to the organization culture. The HR train and develop the new and current employees. The HR department also assists employees through counseling. The HR department coordinates the health and safety program and the workplace safety and insurance board (WSIB). The HR department and the safety staff strive to have a zero lost accidents and continually train the employees to the health and safety purposes. To ensure this, the senior management and the HR department constantly review performance, ensuring that both joint health and safety committees are operating effectively. They promote employees in order to motivate them and make them more engaged. The HR helps the payroll department to calculate the employees’ compensation. They make sure the employees are paid proportionally to their performance and productivity. They also ensure that the work force is diverse and contains all the four designated groups: women, people with disability, minority group and aboriginal. The HR department maintains the pay equity in accordance to the regulations.
The HR department is facing a lot of challenges; the biggest challenge encountered by the HR department of Krug Inc is keeping the employees engaged in order to always be productive. The economical situation had an impact on the company and the benefits package of the employees have reduced. This economical situation has made the situation worse for the department. Another challenge is finding the right fit for the organization. The right fit is the candidate who is able to identify himself/herself as a member of the organization and accept the culture of the organization. Furthermore, the HR manager handles employees’ conflicts. Such conflicts make the employee less productive and encourage job dissatisfaction. To keep the employees engaged the organization has to motivate through rewards and by involving them in the decision making process. The reward is a way for the organization to show their recognition of the employees’ performance and contribution to the success of the company. The reward is a kind of feedback given by the organization which pushes the employees to put in more effort.
Get the employees involved in the decision making may be a good way for the organization to always take the right decision because the managers may not have all the information they need to make the decision. Moreover, the involvement of the employees makes them more committed to the decision taken and engaged to carry out the decision. The implication of the employees in the decision making process increases the employee motivation and performance and by the way the productivity of the organization also increases. This informational interview has been a great experience for me because it helps me to know more about the duties of HR and now I actually know what is expected of me in the HR. Primarily, I learned that the HR generalist job required a lot of emotional intelligence (EI) because the manager has to deal with emotions and feelings of employees. The EI helps the manager to understand the needs and feelings of the employees and it also leads to a stronger and more fulfilling the employees’ satisfaction. The EI helps the manager to resolve workplace conflicts.
With EI helps the manager understands what motivate (drivers) the employees. The EI gives the manager the potential to use the diversity of the team to increase the productivity of the each employee in the team. The second major point that I have learned is that the job of HR generalist requires the manager to be more flexible. The flexibility here refers to the ability of the manager to respond to the needs of employees anytime that is necessary and to move easily from one task to another. The generalist does all the responsibilities of the HR department by herself. Therefore, the manager has to be available to hear about the concerns of the employees anytime. The third major point that I learned is that the HR generalist has to be able to work under pressure. The pressure here is caused by the fact that the manager has a lot of responsibilities that are time framed. The HR generalist does all the responsibilities of HR department for example are hire, train and develop employees, assist the payroll department, responsible for the WSIB and health & safety and all others responsibilities. Thus, the manager has to be able to work under the high pressure.
These three elements mentioned above are considered as the major points that I have learned because they reflect the real role of the HR manager within an organization, they help me to better understand the HR field. These majors points help me to know where I have to work more if I want to become a good HR manager. The interviewee was a generalist and I do not really appreciate the role of generalist because they touch everything concerning HR but they do not do it deeply. The HR generalist job is more stressful especially in a company like Krug that do not hire for an entry level position. This makes the situation more stressful. I want to know deeply everything concerning the HR field because if I know a lot about the HR job it will not be stressful anymore. I want to be a HR specialist not a generalist. Moreover, the other thing I would like to do differently is the interview process. This was my first time and I was not really acting like a professional. The next time I will ask more questions to the interviewee and act like a professional. However, what I hope to do the same concerning the HR job is to develop an emotional intelligence so that I will be able to manage effectively the emotions and feelings of employees.
To sum up, the informational interview was a great experience for me because I learned a lot about the HR job, the interviewee and Krug Inc. this interview was an opportunity for me to start building my network and make my resume more interesting. It was a little bit stressful but I succeeded to collect the most important information I needed this is how to get experience in the HR field. For my next informational interview, I think I will be more professional than this first one. Few days after the interview, I sent a thank you carte to the interviewee to thank her for her time and all the information she gave to me. This was a step forward experience.