Here is one of the most important things we know about engineering sustainable cultural change: it starts at the top. The CEO may have a reputation as “the invisible ghost” with the staff, but if he or she does not buy off on, and visibly support, the change, it will not last. The workforce will know it.
Which brings me back to Monday’s Blog: Is Your Organization Making These Hiring Mistakes? In that post, I outlined some of the most common issues that crop up in dysfunctional recruiting: interview teams rarely have skin (accountability) in the game; organizations lack a strong recruiting process supported by systems and policies; during the actual site interview with a candidate, there is a shocking lack of emphasis on relevant experience and whether the candidate will be a true cultural fit. I know executives may shrug these issues off as rare exceptions, especially when it comes to their own organizations, and I hope they are right, but from what I’ve seen during my 20- plus years in executive search I can assure you of this, like so many other problems we don’t want to deal with, these issues are more common than you can imagine.
So what is the answer? Like recruiting itself, it requires a commitment to excellence, focus, and attention to detail, but it is not rocket science.
In the interest of fair and full disclosure, I am a devotee of the tried and proven idea that the Human Resources department plays a key role in the success or failure of an organization. First and foremost, this is a strategic department that has transactional responsibilities. They should be on the senior leadership team, not relegated down in the organization — on the border. When key decisions impacting the organization are made, I believe that they should be at the table.
Here are three concepts that will provide the foundation for best-in-class recruiting that I have observed in management and executive recruiting:
Establish A Recruiting Process – First and foremost, this should include preparation of a Position Prospectus — the document describing the position, from the required credentials and needed years of experience to thesalary range, deliverables (how you will define success for the new hire) and cultural profile of the organization to how screening interviews will be conducted and the content of the recruiter’s assessment reports. The hiring authority and processes governing the site interview, feedback from the interview team, candidate vetting and how the offer will be made should also be included. That sounds like a no-brainer but far too many organizations consider recruiting a manager or executive as a “happening” with the process created on the fly, and it is different every time. There are best practice processes in companies all across America. Find one that represents your organization, copy it and implement it as soon as possible.
Insist On Accountability – This is critical. It should not be taken for granted. Not all industries have the same intensity for excellence. An HR executive once said, “It is impossible to be perfect” when explaining his lack of intensity and passion for improving the management and executive employment system. Based on his organization’s rate of miss-hires and their overall turnover rate, he seemed to be content to win the race for mediocrity. (Update: he was successful in achieving perfect mediocrity. A competitor built a new building where his business once stood.) In the HR director’s defense, the lack of accountability, and the absence of the word consequences in the C-suite, set the tone. Cultural change really does start at the top. The CEO must set standards and approve incentives to reward the pursuit of excellence. These incentives must be correctly aligned to ensure that corners are not cut. For example, a standard for time-to-hire and cost-of-hire must be linked with the success of the onboarding program and the turnover rate in this employment category — management, executive, C-suite, for example.