Let me start by saying I have a lot of respect for recruiters. I have been a recruiter. I have led teams of recruiters. I have many friends who are recruiters. Recruiting is a critical part of building an organization’s talent pipeline… and this is why I believe we should replace a recruiting mindset with a marketing mindset. A recruiting mindset focuses on process and procedures. A marketing mindset focuses on the customer and creating connection. Marketing at it’s core is the process of identifying, anticipating, and satisfying the customer’s wants and needs better than the competition. In today’s social media world, a bad hiring process could be your Pepsi commercial. Your candidate is often also your customer -or was. According to a recent survey of over 1,000 recent job candidates, 64% of job seekers say that a poor candidate experience would make them less likely to purchase goods and services from that employer. One-third of the job seekers post about their poor experience on social media. So how can you create a marketing mindset for your recruiting team? Integrate marketing fundamentals in your recruiting — identify your target audience, anticipate their wants, and satisfy their needs.
Identify your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? What do they do? What is important to them? If you are looking to find top performing salespeople to join your organization, your interview scheduling needs to be flexible (because what they do is work and travel) and brief (because what is important to them is selling not interviewing). Looking for innovation leaders to transform your R/D department? What do they experience during your interview process? Is it innovative or are you having them sit in a conference room for four hours to conduct panel interviews? Redesigning your interviewing approach through the eyes of your target audience can be a powerful differentiator.
Anticipate wants. Your candidate is a candidate for a reason- there is something they are seeking. Find out what it is. If he has had a progressive career in human resources including merger and acquisition work, mention your open change management leadership role. If she has a strong finance background and also lists several non-profit boards on her resume, what about that opening in your philanthropy organization? Most professional job skills are transferable- figuring out how to connect experience and passion is transformative.
Satisfy needs. Satisfaction is the fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs. One of the most fundamental expectations of candidates is that they will hear from you in a timely manner about the next stages of the process. When you check on the status of your Amazon order would you be satisfied with the reply, “I meant to follow up with the manager on that but we’ve been so busy. I have a bunch of orders I am working on.” Timely is hours or days, not days or weeks in the candidate’s eyes. Most candidates are hoping for an advancement when taking a new job – either in salary, title, or scope. So even if you can squeeze the person into a lower salary band or if their title could map to a lower title in your organization, will that satisfy the candidate? Will they be a brand ambassador or antagonist based on their experience? 55% of job seekers who have read a negative review have decided against applying for a position at that company. So saving pennies can cost you your brand.
According to a recent survey, 97% of employers plan to invest in employment branding in 2017 and a majority (51%) plan to increase their spending from last year. Yet very few are taking an integrated marketing approach to recruiting. The candidate experience and recruiting process are going to be connected to your organizational brand — the question is are you going to manage those impressions or learn about them on Glassdoor? So free your recruiting team from their requisition chains and empower their marketing superpowers so they can identify, anticipate, and satisfy your candidate and customer better than your competition.
One of my favorite 80’s songs is “Change” by Tears for Fears. In the song Curt and Roland lament, “I did not have the time. I did not have the nerve. To ask you how you feel. Is this what you deserve?” When I hear this stanza, it makes me think of how well intended change initiatives often unfold. John Kotter’s research on organizational change found that 70 percent of transformational change initiatives fail (Harvard Business Review, 1995). The Towers Watson 2013 Change and Communication ROI Survey shows that only 25% of change initiatives achieve long term success. Most of us can recall a recent change initiative at work that fell short of its initial promise. So why do we keep our needle in the same groove when we know it isn’t working? There are a number of effective change models and frameworks that outline the critical steps in a change process. Where we often forget to focus is on the change preparation. What do we need to do before kicking off an organizational change?
Take the time and have the nerve. In Jim Collin’s book Good to Great he talks about how great companies get the right people in the right seats on the bus. I couldn’t agree more. But before your change bus embarks on a new initiative ask the passengers if they have the time to take on the project. The “right people” are often the same people we ask to do everything. How can this specific project take precedence over their other objectives? Why should it be their main focus? What will impact their pay and incentives — this initiative or their day job? If we don’t ask and evaluate these questions we can quickly steer the change off course before it leaves the parking lot. A real bus makes stops and lets people on and off. Before launching a change how can we give people permission to get on and off the project at different stages? It take guts to say, I would love to help kick off the project but my lack of attention to detail and work demands will make me less effective in the next phase of the project. But imagine the impact we could have if we gave individuals that license. Lack of time, passion, and commitment are common road bumps- or roadblocks- on the change path. Before hitting the gas, evaluate your team and their commitments carefully.
Ask how people feel and what results we deserve. Communication is a staple step in all change models. Understanding why change is needed is a critical element in changing behavior. Unfortunately too many change communication plans seem pre-recorded, telling employees why a change is needed once the destination has been determined. What if instead we invite employees into our recording studio to help us lay down the track? Asking for employee’s voices before decisions are finalized is powerful and insightful. It helps us hear both what they know and how they feel. Before we invest time and resources in a change, it is critical to invest in listening to our teams. What do they love about the current state? What do they hate? What do they wish for? What are they worried about? Understanding the emotional current state can provide invaluable insights on how to design the future state. While you’re having these discussions, take a deep breath and ask, “So what results do we deserve?” Be honest with yourself and encourage your employees to be honest with you. Have you underfunded or under resourced the project? If so, share the project timeline and ask what risks they see and what recommendations they have. Have you responded to the latest employee engagement feedback? If not, revisit the feedback with your employees and understand what they are looking for from you. Leaders need follower-ship to make change stick. Have you examined other factors- internal or external- that are competing for airspace with this change? Engage your employees in brainstorming how, given this reality, the change can be effective.
Change is hard work- and even harder if we don’t take the time to prepare effectively for it. So take some advice from Tears for Fears and take the time, have the nerve, and understand how people feel so you can move the needle and make change stick in your organization.
Let’s face it. Going to work is not like going on vacation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t bring the spirit of aloha to our organization. Most of us translate aloha as hello or goodbye. But in the Hawaiian language the real meaning of aloha is peace, love, and compassion- I extend aloha to you. Too often we take a short sighted aloha approach to talent – one focused on welcoming employees on their way in and exiting employees on their way out. What if instead we focused on the talent within our organization, cultivating a positive and empowering environment?
It’s clear a change is needed. According to the 2016 Gallup Survey, 51% of employees are looking for a new job. Only 31.9% of workers are engaged in their job. The implications are astounding. Study after study shows the correlation between engagement and customer satisfaction, productivity, and quality. So before our top talent packs their bags, let’s unpack a new approach to talent – one that draws on the peace, love, and compassion elements of aloha. Here are three suggestions:
(1) Provide peace of mind. Employees want to understand the business strategy and know that their work impacts organizational results. So let them! Show them how they make a difference. Ask for their input and act on it. Collaborate with them to set clear objectives that drive both business results and their motivation.
(2) Know what your employees love. I love the list of questions posed in David Hassell’s Mindreading 101: Questions to Ask Your Team Every Week. Ask your employees about their wins this week. Ask what you are doing, or should be doing, to make them more successful. Ask for their ideas on how to improve your products and services. By understanding what they love you can also evaluate what they hate and try to eliminate rules, processes, and communication practices that push down morale and productivity.
(3) Be compassionate. Webster’s defines compassion as the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress, together with a desire to alleviate it. Employees define it as my boss cares enough to listen to me and to give me honest feedback. Give employees your full attention when they express their frustration. Help them see the big picture. Coach them on what they might say or do differently next time.
Engagement isn’t about leis or luaus. It’s about making a difference for both our employees and our customers. So before you head out on your next vacation, how might you bring some aloha to your workplace?