Three thumbs up

Kim I. Megonigal knows of
three kinds of people:
Those who don’t know what’s
going on, those who know
what’s going on but don’t do
anything about it, and those
who know what’s going on and
actively try to affect the outcomes. At Kimco Staffing
Services Inc., an Irvine-based
staffing firm, the founder, chairman and CEO uses a diligent
hiring philosophy to get buy-in
from existing employees while
seeking out the best candidates
from that third group.

Too many companies skimp
in this regard to get a position
filled as quickly as possible, he
says. And when people are
what ultimately make or break a
company, a savvy executive
would be wise to invest a fair
amount of time in the hiring
process. Megonigal took his
time when assembling his current staff of 165 employees,
and the effort has paid off, as
Kimco’s annual revenue has
risen from $93 million in 2003
to $109 million in 2006.

Smart Business spoke with
Megonigal about how to get
buy-in from your employees
when hiring someone new by
applying a simple rule of

Follow the rule of thumb. Hiring is
something that takes time. Most
people don’t spend enough time
in the hiring process.

I have a rule within my company that no one gets hired
without having three senior
managers interview the person
and give the thumbs up. If any
one of those three gives a
thumbs down, the person
doesn’t get hired.

They’re all three looking for
different things in most cases.
The person that this person’s
going to work for is looking to
get their job filled. Two other
supervisors who are not in the
exact same area can look at different things: character, values
and the way they present themselves. Those things are equally
important as job skills.

When those other managers
in other departments say, ‘This
is the person we should hire,’
not only are they giving their
stamp of approval, but they’re
also putting their own recommendation on the line. I find a
much greater commitment
from those individuals to try to
help that new employee succeed within the organization.

Bring management together. When
I was a $15 million company, the
company operated significantly
different than it does today at
$100 million. I said, ‘We’re doing
this,’ and man, we went fast. We
made quick decisions.

As you get bigger, it becomes
tougher to make those decisions. It involves more people.

To foster teamwork, I had to
be inclusive with all of our management. I had to share more
information on a more regular
basis. I had to bring people into
the decision-making process.

As we got bigger, a problem
experienced by one department was coming from another department, and the two never
even spoke about it. They didn’t
realize that it was happening, or
they didn’t realize, in many
cases, that if they only knew
about it, they could fix that situation very, very easily.

Our corporate management
comes in once a month, and
we go around a table and talk
about what each one’s doing
and challenges and opportunities — just general, open-flowing conversation. Anybody can
bring up whatever they want.

As you get bigger and you involve all of these people, you are
never going to get 100 percent
agreement on everything. There’s
a new rule that comes into play:
‘We have to make a decision. You
may not agree with it 100 percent, but we need 100 percent of
your effort behind that decision.’

Having different managers
involved just helps you to create
a more supportive organization.

Don’t hide your numbers. We’re a
privately held company, but we
run the company like we’re

We give a report as to what
our business results are every
month. Are we growing? What
are our margins like? How’s our

When we tell them we have to
cut expenses, they understand
why. If we’re feeling margin
pressures, they understand
where the margin pressures are
coming from. When we tell
them we’ve got to get more efficient, we’ve got to figure out
ways to increase productivity,
they understand it.

It’s much easier to manage a
company when they see the

Shut the revolving door. As you
add more departments and
more employees, there are
more and more issues.

I had a revolving door, and it
was one problem walking in the
door after the next, looking for
me to solve the problems. It got
to the point where I had to say
to my executive team, ‘Guys, I
can’t do this anymore. You guys
are overwhelming me. I need
you guys to solve your own

Don’t provide the answers.
The worst thing you can do is
provide the answers. The problem is, you become a crutch for
you employees.

To get bigger, you have to have a management team that
can identify and solve problems.

The biggest mistake that I
made as an executive was thinking that I was helping my organization by giving them all the
answers. What I’m better at
doing today is not giving them
the answers. What I am better at
doing is telling them when they
haven’t gotten far enough to the
right solution and sending them
back and saying, ‘You need to
work on that some more.’

It makes them accept ownership. What you want as a CEO
is your employees to feel like
they’re owners of the business.
You want them to manage the
company like they’re owners of
the business. The more you can
make them think like an owner,
the better they’re going to be.

HOW TO REACH: Kimco Staffing Services Inc, (949) 752-6996 or