Karen Young is the founder and president of HR Resolutions, a comprehensive provider of outsourced human resource solutions. She is an award-winning HR professional who carries both the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and the Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) certifications. In this interview, Karen shares her insights on the rapidly changing world of business growth.
WP: Tell us a little about yourself and your professional background.
KY: I studied business administration and psychology in college, graduating from Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania with my bachelor's degree. Early in my career, I also completed a Master of Arts in Industrial Relations at Saint Francis University.
My career began in general office management, but within a year I found myself working in human resources. From there, I had the pleasure of working for a succession of world-class companies including International Paper, xpedx, Thomson Industries, Voith Turbo and Graham Packaging, among others.
At each step in the journey, I sharpened my skills and became even more excited about the strategic value of human resources in an organization. Your business is truly about your people, and in human resources we are entrusted to recruit, onboard, manage and support that talent.
WP: What led you to found and build your own business?
KY: I recognized for some time that employers of all sizes struggled with human resources. After all, even in a large enterprise like many of the companies I worked for, the demands of proper human resource management required an enormous commitment of time, energy, resources and know-how. One of the realities of HR is that every employer is required to 'get it right', whether they have 2 employees, 20 employees, 200 employees or 2,000 employees.
My vision was to bring to the marketplace a solution that would allow us to deliver the highest-quality services to the vast majority of employers who, understandably, struggle to stay on top of the responsibilities of HR. We want to help them avoid the pitfalls of what we call Accidental HR™ so they can instead focus on their business and know that their employees are being professionally supported.
WP: How has your business and industry changed over the years you've led it?
KY: Our business has been transformed in many ways, all designed to respond to the needs of our customers. Some of our clients are companies with operations across the country and others are small, local businesses. Some have in-house HR professionals and others are lucky to have a filing cabinet with HR files in the right place.
Recognizing that wide range of needs, our business has continued to evolve. For example, we recently launched a new service called '”HR Help Desk" that allows us to provide on-demand support on a case-by-case basis to clients through a help desk model, similar to what you'd experience when you call tech support for your computer. This new service is a complement to our existing offerings, which range from issue-based services to project support and monthly service offerings.
WP: What led you to seek a consultant to assist you with the growth strategy for your business, and why did you choose Wendt Partners?
KY: I've had the pleasure of working with a stellar business coach through my Vistage group, and both he and I agreed that the firm would benefit from outside expertise to help us build a truly state-of-the-art marketing and sales effort, built around a clearly-defined growth strategy.
With that in mind, we were looking for a firm that could offer both the high-level knowledge of a business consultant and the down-in-the-trenches support of a communications firm or marketing agency. Wendt Partners brings both capabilities to the table, and does so with a specific focus on companies like ours: business-to-business companies, many of them in professional services, that need to integrate what Wendt Partners refers to as the four focus areas of business growth: sales, marketing, strategy and leadership.
We initially hired Wendt Partners to develop our strategy and action plan for growth, and then we retained them to implement the program in a variety of areas, from content marketing and strategic advisory support, to assisting us with the selection and implementation of a CRM system for the management of client services.
WP: What are one or two key outcomes from your work with Wendt Partners that were particularly valuable to your business?
KY: The first benefit has been clarity. Wendt Partners has been extremely adept at helping us sift through strategies, ideas and options and then focusing on the best approaches to help us grow. The second benefit has been quality. Everything they do, from giving advice to creating content to implementing our growth program, has been of the highest quality. In that sense, they have clearly 'raised the bar' and helped us achieve all that we can.
In fact, I'm now in the midst of authoring a book on human resources titled "Stop Knocking on my Door: Drama-Free HR to Help Grow Your Business", and the work that Wendt Partners has accomplished - from strategy to execution - was a key element in making this new initiative possible.
WP: How would you describe the value of Wendt Partners as a strategic resource to other CEOs?
KY: I would tell fellow CEOs that there are three key values they should understand about working with Wendt Partners. First, this firm truly 'gets it' when it comes to the challenges and opportunities of growing a business-to-business company. Second, the unique Wendt Partners approach that focuses on integrating sales, marketing, strategy and leadership is extremely powerful.
And third, they truly have your best interests as the CEO in mind. I always felt, no matter what the situation, that when Wendt Partners offered me advice or counsel, it was professionally presented and delivered with one goal in mind: my company's growth.
WP: Do you have any key lessons learned or nuggets of wisdom you'd like to share with fellow CEOs about growing a business?
First, growing your business is a relentless challenge, and it requires incredible focus and intensity. I've worked extremely hard to achieve a high level of visibility in the marketplace for myself and for my company, but I know that tomorrow I will still need to do that, and more, to stay competitive.
Second, you have to have fun and make sure to share your lighter side with your team. I try to be very flexible and approachable with my team, and I have things outside of work that I love (in no particular order: my church, my greyhounds and my wonderful husband!).
And third, know that if you stay focused on the goal, your business will reap the rewards of long-term focus. My company is where it is today, in part, because I started building it from day one and never stopped.