Recruiting for one person can be relatively straightforward, however recruiting a new team can be fraught with opportunities for failure. One of the most common is being distracted by detail, when success lies in keeping the big picture firmly in view.
Chatting to a client brought this topic to mind. They had just gone through the process of recruiting a new team for one of their divisions and discovered that it was more difficult than they had anticipated. Further discussion revealed the main cause of their problems; they had been confusing tactics and strategy, or, if not actually confusing the two, had let tactics take the lead.
The difference between the two is quite distinct, although the two terms are frequently misused. Think of tactics as the short-term means to a goal, while your strategy is the overarching plan. Tactful execution of various tactics will make up your (often complex) strategy plan.
My client’s situation was typical. They had a critical project with a tight deadline, plus, they were attempting to recruit by primarily using their in-house resources. They quickly discovered that it was easy, and comfortable, to bypass strategic thinking, move straight to the tactical level and start talking about topics such as the individual roles and requirements. This may give a sense of progress, but it is at the expense of having a coherent view of the bigger picture – their strategic objectives for the recruiting and functional requirements of the new team.
It was at this point that we initiated a broad-ranging discussion that include the following questions:
- What is the measurable outcome that they wished to achieve by bringing the new team onboard?
- What would be the cost of ‘business as usual’ i.e. not hiring the new team, or worse, the new team underperforming?
- Have they considered the financial costs to the business of a bad hire – or the opportunity cost of ongoing vacancies?
Only then do they start thinking tactics. At this stage, it’s important to consider what tactics the company has adopted in the past when thinking about the future and ask, what worked and what didn’t? If past experiences of recruitment have been stellar, then that’s an added bonus, but if there were aspects that may have hindered the process or delivered inconsistent or unexpected results, now is the time to address them.
Now that semblance of an overall strategy was forming and the big-picture crystallising, the time came to get into the nitty-gritty and think about:
- Have they a clearly defined value proposition for their new recruits?
- Is there a clear set of hiring requirements for each role?
- Are the roles prioritised to ensure that the most critical spots are filled?
- Do they have compliant job descriptions for each role?
And then there was the question of how to manage recruits once they’re in the door:
- Is there a plan that shows how they will resource and handle the process internally once candidates are sourced, screened and ready for interview?
- Do they have a structured induction process for the new people?
- Have they allocated a total recruitment spend for the project, broken down into steps?
Working through the questions and answers above (for some questions they had ready answers, other proved more difficult) enabled us to outline a strategy to achieve their goals, while concurrently looking at the tactical requirements that the strategy implied.
The result was that a relatively small amount of work, at the right time, saved substantially more time and cost throughout their recruiting process. Plus, it provided them with the confidence that enabled them to move ahead with a shared focus and vision of success.
Occasions such as this, and they are quite frequent, demonstrate the value that an outside perspective can add. Sometimes, from the inside of an organisation, it’s easy to lose sight of the heartwood of strategic objective as is becomes obscured by tactical trees and illusions of progress!
There will be some readers out there who can identify to experiences some of these recruitment obstacles. If that’s the case, let’s talk about a fresh look at your recruiting requirements.