The 3 Most Dangerous People in Staffing: Cinderella’s, Unicorns & Ageing Rock Stars

By on March 10, 2017 in

While winning and retaining customers is regarded as top priority for most companies, many describe recruitment as their most significant challenge. Forward thinking firms have figured out that their ability to attract and retain talent into key roles, determines the success or failure of most strategic initiatives.

However expensive talent acquisition can seem, it is vastly less costly than poor hiring decisions, leaving key roles empty or not being able to retain bright new talent that can make a lasting difference. Maybe your firm is the lucky one, the smart organisation but many others stifle good hiring because of Cinderella managers, Aging Rock Stars or because they chase Unicorns.


Cinderella line managers are the bane of HR and TA teams. Driven by fear of making a decision or organisation politics, Cinderella managers continue to keep a role unfilled often at the expense of others carrying the workload. No amount of candidates, addressing the different and continuously rising range of needs and concerns, is suffice to enable talent being brought on board, the shoe just never fits.

Everyone wants to avoid making expensive mistakes, but the damage done to an employers’ reputation from such indecisiveness can be significant. Hiring becomes more challenging as frustrated candidates share their experience with others. Counter this by making sure staffing processes have clear timescales, commitment and allocated responsibility to ensure hiring managers stay on point.


Organisations that chase Unicorns, are seeking the perfect candidate, however the perfect candidate does not exist. They apply more and more resources to seek out what cannot be found, often at the expense of other positions that need to be filled. The search for a Unicorn generally arises, from poor hiring needs analysis or under investment in a role, team or department. The cost of the position being unfilled is rarely fully considered.

The reason Unicorns do not exist is that top talent does not want to move to a role that they can already deliver. High performers want a new position to stretch them, offer something new to learn, be a challenge and add new experience to their CV’s. Work out your must haves versus your nice to haves. Prioritise the essentials, create a development plan for other issues, hire for potential not just experience.

Ageing Rock Stars

Baby boomers started retiring 5 or 6 years ago, but some still hold senior positions and have final say on recruitment. Having lived through rounds of economic crisis and change, their expertise makes them valuable to our firms. However, too few of them possess the intergenerational flexibility to fully integrate, work with and understand the motives of later generations, particularly Gen Y and Millennial hires. They misread the desire of Millennials to work smarter, as them not having enough work ethic. They view a Millennials desire to develop connected relationships with their line managers as not having respect for boundaries or authority.

Millennials are put off at interview if they sense an Aging Rock Star and will not stay long if they end up reporting to one. Ask your millennial employees to feedback openly and honestly, in a safe environment on the experience of working with your organisation. Where Aging Rock Stars exist, and are causing damage, share the feedback, the associate risks for the organisation and counter coach the assumptions that the manager has developed.

Recent research by The Boston Consulting Group placed recruitment as having the highest impact on revenue and margins. Too many firms fail to recognise the incredible loss of corporate revenue from under investment in recruiting functions and allow inappropriate practices to prevail. If people really do matter to your firm, place a highly capable executive across all mid to senior hiring processes, to ask the right questions, move processes along and to demand faster decision making and actions from stakeholders within and outside your company.

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