APA Center for Organizational Excellence: Best Practice Honoree

The Awards

Picking Their Own Peers

Washington — At most companies, a new employee is hired by the supervisor and hopes to fit well with the team. But at Steelscape teams are responsible for the hiring.

Steelscape, a Kalama, WA-based manufacturing company, believes in self-directed work teams and that having a team select its own additions increases the team members’ feelings of ownership in the company. Since Steelscape is a 24-hour operation and no managers or supervisors work the night shift, employees must make key, on-the-spot decisions in the plant. As a result, teams are motivated to hire the best available candidates, so the team can function effectively under all circumstances.

A person hoping to work at the company, which produces cold-rolled, metallic-coated and painted steel coils for the construction market, must first qualify for employment by taking skills tests. Candidates are then interviewed by a team of six to eight peers and rated in the following categories: commitment to safety, environment and quality; interpersonal skills; teamwork and cooperation; initiative and motivation; and use of rational processes. Although a human resources professional attends the interview, that individual serves as a consultant and does not conduct the interview. Candidates that meet specified criteria move on to a final interview with members of a small work group who will make the ultimate hiring decision, pending background and reference checks and a pre-employment physical.

The team-centered hiring process has proven successful. New employees have been such a good fit that Steelscape’s employee turnover rate is 1.6 percent, far below the national industry average.

More importantly, Steelscape’s teams work together smoothly and work safely. In 2003, Steelscape was recognized by the National Coil Coaters’ Association as the number one company in safety performance and has an OSHA recordable rate of only 2.3 incidents per 200,000 work hours.

"Many of our organizational values focus on employees, with a goal of maximizing quality service to our community. This award illustrates our level of commitment to providing our employees with a healthy workplace, both physically and mentally."

Ed Everett
City Manager
Redwood City, CA