Each time I work with a new company, I grapple with how to get my hiring managers’ buy-in to the recruitment process. For many hiring managers, recruitment is just another task on their infinitely long to-do list, and some don’t feel it’s part of their role’s core responsibilities. So to help along the process and address their pain points, I’ve tried different methods of getting a buy-in. Each company has its own culture, product, and organizational structure, so figuring out the best approach can be overwhelming. How to start? I was talking to my client, Ginny—a Director of HR Systems, Total Rewards and Recruiting for a Pacific Northwest–based software company—about this very subject, and she came up with a method that works well.
Ginny used many of the old-school methods, such as emails, newsletters or attending staff meetings, which weren’t always effective. The energy spent on resolving small recruitment issues was taking up her team’s valuable time and frustrating her stakeholders. These issues were usually due to the hiring managers’ minor misunderstandings of the process, tools, or procedures, but these little snags were slowing down searches, which meant time-to-fill numbers were going up.
Stakeholder involvement is extremely important to Ginny. Her strong relationships with leadership and hiring managers had enabled her to secure funding for proactive resources in the past, and gave her the credibility to be able to introduce and try new approaches. Keeping these folks engaged, actively involved, and positive about the hard work her team was doing was always a key goal for her.
Ginny decided to shift her focus and find a new tool for solving this problem, and instead of looking outside for a “best practice” or tool, she decided to see what works well within her own company. She reviewed key functions that had similar challenges—long processes, multiple stakeholders, information overload, etc.—and evaluated the approach they took to problem resolution and stakeholder involvement. That’s how she had her ah-ha! moment.
Her search led her to the company’s software development methodology. The company uses an Agile software development approach that involved, amongst other things, a Scrum Master. (If you work in an environment that doesn’t do software development, this might be an unfamiliar concept. It was new to me too.) This particular type of product development management framework involves three different roles, but the Scrum Master’s role is the facilitator who manages how information is exchanged, helps resolve issues, and ensures that teams can self organize and make changes quickly. The Scrum Master would establish scrum sessions—meetings where all interested parties are brought together to discuss key topics and resolve outstanding issues.
Ginny ensured that her scrum sessions reflected the tone and timbre of the equivalent software development sessions. She focused on creating a safe environment where topics could be raised and discussed without fear of offending anyone or hurting feelings. She made the sessions fun by including lunch and keeping the tone energetic and fast paced. Most important, she used words and a process that many of her managers were already familiar with. This helped speed up the impact because they didn’t have to master a new way of doing things.
There was an added bonus. It increased the credibility of the Talent Acquisition team. By demonstrating their knowledge of the how the business operates, the business felt that the recruiters understood them. Now, it’s important to note, Ginny’s team already had a lot of credibility. But this gave them an extra boost and helped them become viewed as part of the business, and not just as overhead.
So, big question—Did it work? The metrics say YES. By speaking to her clients in language that was meaningful to them and using a methodology that they were already familiar with, Ginny saved time, and reinforced her alignment to the business. By creating an open, inclusive environment for discussion, she identified problems early and was able to resolve them before they grew into bigger concerns. By doing it in a group session, she increased the likelihood that all issues would be raised and proposed solutions were shared with the larger group at once. And most important, she was able to help move her recruiters closer to the business.
Ginny’s WUWUK moment is something that you can adapt to benefit your recruiting function. You don’t always need to look for a Talent Acquisition best practice when you may have an effective internal process that you can co-opt. Think about what your company does well and apply that to your Talent Acquisition process. Re-use that knowledge and those values. And ensure that your recruiting function builds credibility with your stakeholders by truly understanding their world.