Abbey Hellickson, business growth consultant, Enterprise Minnesota
In an era when most savvy manufacturers realize that their growth plans are directly pegged to the quality and skills of their workforce, Abbey Hellickson maintains that the development of a company’s current leadership is particularly essential for attracting a new generation of skilled employees.
“Your leaders are actually your core component to developing the talent within your organization,” Hellickson says. “When you start with developing your current leaders, it trickles down throughout the entire organization. Once the leaders have been developed, they have the information and skills to manage better. They also have a stronger understanding of what it means to develop the team underneath them.”
“That’s the core foundation to bridging the skills gap,” she adds.
Hellickson is an Enterprise Minnesota business growth consultant who works with manufacturers throughout the state to help them engage their workforce, maximize productivity, improve company culture, and strengthen their leadership teams. Her mission is to help companies drive performance at all levels of their organizations and develop the effective leaders they need to build and sustain profitable growth.
With a business degree from Winona State University and a master’s degree in human resources and training from the University of Minnesota, Hellickson most recently served as director of business and workforce education at Rochester Community and Technical College. Before that, she was a corporate training instructor at Fastenal.
Hellickson’s mission at Enterprise Minnesota is to help her clients attract, engage, and retain the workforce they need to maximize a positive/productive work culture and to grow business. Questions she asks: Do you have people ready to step up and become your next supervisor or leader? Are you empowering your employees at all levels to solve problems and make decisions? Are you equipped to manage and develop employees representing multiple generations?
She helps determine the competencies that manufacturers need now and in the future and shows employees the knowledge and skills needed to improve productivity, become effective leaders, and help businesses grow profitably.
Hellickson says her approach to the Talent and Leadership services at Enterprise Minnesota is customization.
Manufacturers all have different approaches of personalities, behavior, the culture, environment, and relevant issues, she says, noting, “We don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution, because organizations are not one size fits all. We design and develop a service based on the specific needs of an individual company.”
Her process starts best with a visit to the CEO, she says. She asks CEOs to identify the nuances of their organizations and then designs solutions that will resonate with the people who are going through it. Often a CEO senses that something is wrong but has difficulty diagnosing a particular gap or prescribing what competencies are needed to remedy it.
“They can feel it, or sense it, but they’re not sure exactly what it is. That’s our role,” she says.
Hellickson then assesses whether the company’s leadership team models the competencies and behaviors that the CEO wants to see.
“If these competencies aren’t being demonstrated, we create a solution to address that,” she says.
The ideal assessment enables her to come back with strong data.
“It’s really up to me and my team members to come in and be able to have conversations with individuals at different levels, make some observations, and potentially do some focus groups. Then, we make the assessment based on our observations and, in turn, develop solutions based on that.
She says the customized services at Enterprise Minnesota are targeted specifically for manufacturers; it’s not an out-of-the-box program.
“I feel like we have a stronger understanding of what the industry means, how it operates, and what the needs are within it,” she says. “We’re able to provide long-term solutions and long-term relationships. We know our clients, we’ve been with them, we’re providing them a holistic view of all the areas of their business, talent and leadership development being among them.”
“When we’re finished, clients will use a stronger leadership culture across their organizations, which prepares them for growth,” she says. “We’ll diagnose the company’s skill and leadership gaps and design a path to close those gaps.”