While some recruitment is planned and carefully coordinated, a majority of hiring (73% according to HRM’s 2016 HR in Practice Poll) happens due to an unexpected resignation. Timing is always inopportune and companies often respond in emergency mode, missing time to reflect on the role and profile, resorting to driving recruitment “as it has always been done”. Much has been written about the true cost of ineffective hiring, if you are a hiring manager you already know the damage that getting recruitment wrong causes. From working with clients on hiring programmes and helping to analyse breakers and blockers in their recruitment processes, we see three reoccurring themes that reduce the effectiveness of their talent acquisition processes. In a separate report, HRM – A 10 Step Guide to Great Recruitment, we set out a series of steps that will substantially improve the results of your talent acquisition. For now, we look at those three reoccurring barriers and propose solutions that can be implemented immediately.
One | Recruitment seen as an operational problem
Making recruitment a sporadic operational agenda item and only when a vacancy arises, prohibits continuous evaluation of role effectiveness. Evaluation of the role design in this case only arises if the performance of the employee is sub-par.
Consequence – Line and HR remain over optimistic about retention and rely on reactive measures to recruit when needed. Backfill processes are rarely more than an attempt to replicate the incumbent, a plug and play hire, little thought is given to growth of the role. Ordinary performance becomes the de facto peak.
Solution – Recruitment should be a continuous strategic initiative, designed to ensure all roles deliver competitive advantage. Talent in those roles should be continually evaluated for flight risk, role impact and understanding of their performance output (is it determined by their effort or the design of the role). Role re-design should be a regular discussion to support employee growth or greater efficiency in team design.
Two | Cookie cutter recruitment Using standardised role specifications
Using standardised role specifications, often with organisation specific terminology and hiring only for “fit” and “experience”.
Consequence – Where a standardised job specification forms the basis for an advertisement, it reads cookie-cutter and uninspiring to the external talent pool. Focusing on fit and experience may support a “replication” approach to filling a role but does little to lift performance in either the role or the wider team.
Solution – Design roles from scratch and build them around the concept of Purpose. “What is the purpose of the role?” “How important is that purpose and how does it relate to organisation goals?” The professional candidates you seek, millennials in particular, are drawn by the need to make a difference and to deliver meaningful performance. Purpose is both a feature of motivation and esteem. This articulation should flow from job design, advertising and through to the interview process. An interviewer describing how “by not having the role filled, this problem exists and by joining our organisation, this is the important difference that you will make” sends a compelling message to candidates.
Three | Only hiring for today
Relying on traditional (to the organisation) processes of assessment, regularly leads to poor hiring decisions. Over focusing on the perfect fit and experience, often masks the value of high potential hiring.
Consequence – Performance culture has no neutral position. It is either improving or eroding. Hiring for current needs to standard pre-existing frameworks can only lead to gradual erosion of team capability. At a basic level, the absence of the organisational knowledge held by the departing employee means we never quite replenish talent at the same level if solely searching for fit and experience.
Solution – Hire for intelligence and creativity, place greater emphasis on potential than experience. While the new hire may start behind the incumbent, they can pass the point of equilibrium quickly, rising to bring added value to their role. Hiring for intelligence and creativity is a substantial shift for firms who rely on talent replication models but represents a big step towards developing a high-performance culture. Setting up to hire these competencies is a challenge to current processes, managers and culture. The change effort however, is worth it. Intelligent, creative, high potential hires are sponges. They absorb faster and transfer the learning quickly into serving the purpose for which they were hired.
If talent matters to your organisation, clear and relevant recruitment strategy is an imperative. Hire for stretch potential, treat each process as a unique proposition and not a production line output.