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Part 3 - Recruitment; whose job is it anyway?

Sunday, December 16, 2007   

The UK is up to 40% behind its economic competitors in terms of organisational output.

The argument that this can all be solved by skills development is examined in the 'why training isn't enough' feature.  

Parts one and two of Whose Job Is It Anyway? highlighted some of the ludicrous decisions that are made within the confines of current hiring paradigms, all of which are symptoms of the scenario where one party is responsible for a process, whilst another is carrying the can for the results it obtains.  

This, the third and final part of the series, begins to answer the ownership question and considers the compelling evidence that says it's time for operational executives to stop dumping responsibility onto HR.

He or she who owns the departmental performance, owns hiring and retention!

One CEO said to me recently: "Of course I know how important hiring and retention is to this business; every one of our objectives for the next five years is linked to those two things!."

I asked if the company paid bonuses to senior executives?  "Yes, of course" was the reply.   When I asked how many of those bonuses were linked to executives ensuring their departments hire or retain great people, his answer was "None".

So, in other words, neither of the two most important things to the company are in any way measured or rewarded, with all the focus being on sales, not production capability.

Let me venture that there we have a classic example of one major part of the UK productivity problem. 


It frustrates the hell out of me that we needed to 'prove' what is obvious in the first place, but there is now compelling evidence coming out from organisational performance research in the States that does actually prove the points that the For The Want of a Nail campaign is making; namely:-

  • HR should develop and steward talent management systems, not own them. (This represents a great opportunity for HR - more on this below.....)
  • Hiring & retention are business problems, therefore their solutions must be business focused, owned by line management, with top down support for performance
  • Integrated talent systems with top-down ownership get 60% higher returns than standalone software
  • Only 5% of companies have yet developed truly integrated talent systems (suggesting many companies are kidding themselves  - plus there's still a phenomenal opportunity to gain competitive advantage, if only leaders would recognise it as such!)

'Real' HR 

The HR profession sits on the verge of great things in terms of other areas of people management and development, as more and more research provides credible evidence as to the tangible impacts of good people practice.   This is the real area of HR expertise and where the profession should direct its main focus.  Lack of hiring results, however, threatens the profession's credibility and perceptions of its rightful place, central to organisational activity.

Hiring is now a specialist skill in its own right. There's an argument to say that, if the HR profession is smart, it will take this opportunity to:-

  •  gradually detach itself from responsibility for hiring performance
  •  keep hold of process management and stewardship
  • hand responsibility for results either back with the managers supplying to hiring briefs, or to a dedicated hiring management resource.

By keeping hold of hiring performance ownership, every time there's a hiring delay, mistake or failure, HR leaves itself open to more criticism.  Nobody will be reporting that the line manager gave a poor or unrealistic spec, sat on CVs for so long that the candidates were lost to a competitor, or just failed to inspire the candidates at interview.

HR should limit its own responsibility to devising a best-practice process and monitoring the manner in which line managers follow it, evaluating training and development needs in relation to the overall objectives of improving hiring performance.

Line managers should own responsibility for the accuracy of the brief and place their signature on a hiring requisition which shows them taking a best judgement decision, having first considered ALL of the critical elements surrounding a hiring need.  This is complex - email me if you want more detail.

If you think that this is too much additional work for a line manager,  try living with the consequences of NOT doing this (example case study).

Executives should negotiate the hiring budget with finance on the basis of ALL of the critical elements surrounding the hiring need.

The CEO gets their own section

The finance director at one of my  new clients told me last month, that her department didn't have any hiring problems.  You know, despite hiring and losing three people for one role in a single year, paying the recruiter fees and facing the associated disruption, she was absolutely right! 

You see, her boss, the managing director, didn't ever question why they'd spent £41,500 in a year on agency and advertising fees to fill a £50K position.  Furthermore, shareholders weren't to know that half a million pounds worth of extra turnover needed to be generated, just to recover those costs.  Too right she didn't have a hiring problem - because nobody was MAKING it so!

  • Talent problems are business issues NOT HR ISSUES. He or she who is responsible for the performance of the organisation should, ultimately, own hiring performance; managed down through the line.
  • Solutions have their foundation in integrated talent management strategies, monitored  by the leader using a organisationally unique set of metrics, devised against the annual objectives of the business:-
  •  Each objective must have been given due hiring need consideration (based on real internal impact and current market data - not supposition!). 
  • Leaders should ensure that organisational hiring practice is regularly (every 2 years) and independently subjected to a Gap Analysis in order to have an objective review.

One thing is for sure, the time when bosses distance themselves from the issue that is most likely to effect organisational performance is over.  Those who ignore this message are sleepwalking towards their own oblivion, whether it's their own business, or they are employed to be the most senior custodian of organisational performance.

Certainly, this campaign will continue at least until media business columns cause shareholders to ask leaders what THEY (not the HRD) are doing about the company's integrated talent solution.

Some best practice...

As the research suggests, 5% of organisations are getting it right and connecting hiring practice with the realities of the prevailing business and labour market dynamics. The most successful scenarios I have personally experienced have had the following characteristics:-

1. Leaders take an active involvement in hiring performance (allow me to bend their own ears for a start!) by applying metrics to the hiring activity of all managers who hire, through the executives heading up each part of the organisation.  Any bonuses are linked to hiring and retention targets, and any manager not following  the agreed best practice activity (and it IS best practice, not some load of compliance tasks), faces disciplinary consequences.  Yep, it really is that important!

2. The HRD / HRM have a sound grasp of the commercial and operational aspects of the organisation.  When any piece of hiring activity takes place it involves the line manager directly responsible for managing the hire, the executive in charge of divisional performance, and either an HR or hiring management representative. This team follow a system that helps them understand exactly why someone is getting hired and the consequences or getting it right or wrong, which in turn drives the hiring budget.  HR stewards the process and ensures that the system is being followed, reporting any non-compliance by managers through to the executive in charge of the division (although this is rarely needed as 'best practice' has become a habit).

3. All of this is part of an integrated talent system that marries business need with labour market dynamics, people development with personal aspirations, close supplier relationships, 'narrow-casted' communications, pulled together with software gathering and sharing relevant data, that gets acted upon.

This series of three represent the longest blog posts yet and we're still only scratching the surface of the hiring practice issue.   I am happy to answer any questions you might have on hiring or employer brand development issues, so just post a comment or (as most do) drop me an email via the contact section.

If you're reading this, chances are that you already know how important the whole hiring practice issue is. The most important thing, therefore, is to help open up the debate in your organisation and help move away from the out-dated practices that are damaging your productivity, morale and overall performance. 

So, please, share this message and be part of the solution

© Copyright 2007  - please credit where shared or reproduced.


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Your company needs you!.png

Talent Management is now everyone's job, not something to be dumped on HR


facing the chop.png

Having consequences for hiring performance might just see managers placing greater importance on their ability to attract and retain good people!




HR Hats.png

HR - be very happy to take this opportunity to pass on some of the workload!






I didnt get where I am today.png

Leaders must recognise for their own good that it's time to step once more unto the (talent ) breach......





shareholders want answers.png

Or face the consequences..........














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