3 ideas for Multi-location Recruiting

ciel blog - rcruiting from multiple locations

Talent Acquisition Leaders plan recruiting calendars and methods based on what the business leaders need for their teams. This is fun and excitement; regular day at work. This gets a bit tricky when the plan is to hire in large numbers or there is a demand-supply issue. In such situations, recruiters get out of their familiar territories to explore new possibilities. They source talent from multiple locations, adopt new methods to attract talent, review their assessment methods just in case they are losing out good candidates, focus on candidate experience, challenge existing norms and so on. Though organizations keep doing this during their growth phase, each time such an exercise is undertaken, it becomes unique in many ways because we live in a highly dynamic environment. What are the top considerations for one such multi-location recruiting exercise?

Who is Recruiting for You?

Recruiters deliver the moment of truth to an applicant. They take your Employer Brand out there to the talent market. They need to have a good grip on both sides of the equation : demand side as well as the supply side.

The demand side point towards the Employer brand. So, they must have a good understanding of what you stand for, your future plans and relative positioning with respect to the employer brands competing  with you.

On the supply side, they need to have a good understanding of the behaviours of the candidates in the local market. We have technology-enabled databases such as job portals, social networks of professionals and various job search engines. Yet, it is critical to have a good understanding of candidate behaviours, availability of talent, their typical expectations and the dynamics of local talent market. It is important that the recruiter has a physical presence in the market and has a good connection with the candidates there.

Do you have many recruiters working for you? Are they all well-qualified and competent to work for you? When you have many recruiters tapping the same market, they compete against one another and often work at cross purposes. Secondly, recruiters tend to give their everything to an assignment which is exclusive to them, especially when the pool of eligible candidates is small. And at the same time, when you put them on a contingency mode alongside many other recruiters, you do not get any of them to deploy their strategic bandwidth on the assignment. So, the value that you receive becomes sub-optimal.

It is important to make the right choice of Recruiters.

Right Methods to Assess

You must have the right methods to screen applicants so that the right candidates do not drop off the process, great candidates feel encouraged to apply and misfits get eliminated early on. This is easier said than done. The context of demand and supply could be unique in each market. Hence, the methods for attraction of talent and doing prelim screening needs appropriate improvisation. For example, one could introduce a method of group interaction when you have far too many walk-ins and you do not see a challenge in picking up the desired numbers. Another situation could be to screen candidates online right at the stage of expressing interest. On the other hand, one could encounter situation of tight supply of the skillsets being hired. In those cases, you could hold challenges or seminars to engage with potential talent and network with them to build a long-lasting engagement.

Keep track of the Efficiency

It is exciting to go places and attract talent from various pockets. There is always a cost involved and the returns that we get for the organization. The costs include the fees paid to agencies, online databases, logistics and the person-hours invested by the personnel involved in the process. The returns are to be measured in terms of number of hires, average cost to company of the hires vs the company average, the retention rate of the hires vs the company average and the value of diversity on customer satisfaction.

At times, companies do not keep track of these metrics and hence, have no idea if the system is working well for them. It is not enough to keep a track of the efficiency but also, one has to make course-corrections in the system based on the outcomes.

Advertisements

Hasslefree Onboarding for New Joiners

ciel blog - onboarding

Organizations hire new people to fill either a new position or a vacant slot. As soon as the new joiner arrives, a payroll record is created and various stakeholders in the organization start their tasks to help the person start his or her work. Everyone is well-intentioned to make sure that the new person gets on with his or her job at the earliest.

A Check-list

Most often, the best case scenario of a hasslefree onboarding means, the employee has a welcome mail, a bouquet, a set of forms to fill, a few documents to read, a few videos to watch, a meal with a bunch of folks, a tour of the workplace with quick introductions and handshakes by many and assignment of a workstation with a bag of office stationery. This seems to be a well-organized check-list, but it takes immense efforts to organize. An HR person has to co-ordinate with several departments and seek some approvals to get these in place. Needless to say that many organizations find this tough to get all of these done free from glitches.

And some organizations have a longer list of activities in the list. They need to be delivered on the 7th day, 30th day, 60th day and so on.

Emotional Connect

Is onboarding all about organizing a set of tasks? Do these activities make the new joiner feel at home and make the person get onto the expressway?

A set of well-organized tasks can make someone experience a machine-like accuracy. However, it does not give the confidence to the person about the future that lies ahead. Starting a new job is much more than getting an appointment letter at hand, signing a few documents and getting introduced to a few colleagues and seniors. A new job inspires the person with new dreams, hopes and aspirations. An organization needs to think about these and create the space in the program to touch upon these vital aspects.

Normally, organizations treat onboarding as a transaction. Hence, a new joiner is most often just a headcount and a row in the HRMS database. While these are important pieces in the labyrinth of a firm, it is equally or more important for the leaders to build systems and processes to make the new employee feel valued.

Performance matters

Ultimately, an organization has a purpose and a mission to accomplish. It has its systems and processes. It has a set of tangibles that define the journey. There are roles and responsibilities for people working there. The organization has a structure that facilitates the employees to perform various tasks. Also, it delivers rewards and recognition to the employees. Onboarding must include this critical aspect the life at work.

Many organizations do not have an onboarding program that gets down to the brass tacks. A new joiner is not sure what is expected of him to be considered successful in the role. LEaders shy away from explaining the targets, the methods by which the job is evaluated and what support will be provided along the way to aid success. The measures of success must be clear for the new joiner.

In sum, there are three aspects of an ideal onboarding program : carry out a set of tasks driven by a check-list, build emotional connect with the person and define the key indicators of performance.

Handling Employee Queries

ciel blog - employee query handling

This is such a basic topic that nobody talks about it, not even the HR folks! Ask any line manager how easy it is for their team members to find answers when they have a query for the HR team. Employees often do not know who the right person is in the HR team to deal with their queries. Even if they know, it is difficult to reach the concerned HR person. Sometimes, they reach the person, but she is busy when the employee has reached her! One has to cross three obstacles to be able to discuss a query. Isn’t this a problem really?

Back to Basics

We know, the HR folks have to listen well, show empathy, gather facts before they decide, deal with employees respectfully, explain the decision transparently and so on. They are also expected to observe the pattern of queries coming up; reflect upon them in the background of queries they encounter in open house interactions and feedback from the line managers. Then they are expected to go to root cause of the queries, take not only corrective actions but also preventive actions in collaboration with various stakeholders. HR team must communicate the decisions, watch the impacts of the decisions and make changes in due course of time. Do the HR folks deliver consistently on these aspects?

Effectiveness matters

Some organizations have impersonalised the process. They have a toll-free number or a common email or an e-platform where a query can be raised. Sometimes, there is a set of FAQs given to the employees so that they can find answers on their own for most of their questions. Some organizations have outsourced the process to a Shared Service Centre where SLAs are defined to handle employee queries with speed and efficiency.

Sounds good to you? Some love this while some cringe at it. The context of each organization is unique. If you have scientists working, you would put some of your best HR folks deal with their queries and at the same time, create multiple channels such as tech-enabled self-service, emails, phones, chat, call back option and so on. If you have a large number of employees largely on transactional activities, you would possibly set up a lot of automation for them to respond to their needs efficiently and ask their managers to play a role in HR. One size doesn’t fit all. You have to choose what works well for your context and is effective for you.

Are you Agile?

Given the context of instant gratification that we love, employees want quick answers to their queries. The HR helpdesk needs all the information at one place to be able to give the answers quickly. Employee queries range from leaves, holidays, taxes, reimbursements, salary components, deductions, needs of special documentation to issues related to career growth, nature of work, behaviour of supervisor, interaction with peers or sub-ordinates, workload or a point on ethical behaviour. We can see, it’s a wide range of subjects on which an employee could have a question. Some of these can be addressed by automated systems, FAQs or bots to provide quick answers. However, there are a whole range of other topics on which the HR person needs to listen, understand, empathise and resolve.

At times, organizations deliver poor experience to their employees because they do not have all the information at one place such as leaves, holidays, payroll record, employee record, history of the benefits availed and so on. Oftentimes, each of these topics are handled by different desks and hence, the HR helpdesk doesn’t have the access to all the information at one go. Hence, an employee cannot get quick answers and have to keep chasing the HR department for these.

In sum, the HR team or the Agency has to do the Basics right, ensure that they are Effective and Agile!

Is your Age just a number?

Related image

A fifty year old salesman is looking for a change from his current job. He is a graduate and has been selling electrical appliances all his life. He understands the consumer preferences well; knows about the products thoroughly. He is skilled well to make a sale happen and has been meeting his targets. It should be easy for him to get a new job based on his proven track record, knowledge and expertise. Will the Top retailers hire him? Will the consumer durable industry welcome him with open arms to retail their products?

Age plays an important factor in recruiting decisions

Recruiters and employers alike, are prejudiced towards hiring a certain kind of people. They subconsciously choose people who match a set of criteria. Age is one such unspoken criterion that interviewers and assessors apply while deciding.

Two-thirds of our population are below the age of 35. Hence, a lot of managers in the mid to senior levels are in their youth. Given the social norms that we grow up with, most Indians are not comfortable to supervise someone who is senior to them by age. So, subconsciously they look for younger people to work in their teams. Age plays an important role in getting chosen for a job, not the skills alone.

And it is often believed that the younger people are energetic, dynamic, ambitious, quick-learners, tech-savvy and willing to adapt. Many people think that the older people are rigid, inflexible, slow, impatient and among the spent-force. Naturally, there is just a handful of jobs such as a trainer, a teacher, a singer, a chef where grey hair is valued.

No Law that prevents discrimination based on age

In the US, it is unlawful to enquire about the age of the applicant in an interview. In India, our constitution prevents discrimination based on caste, creed and religion. Age is not one of these. Hence, an employer can decide to use age as a criterion for their decisions of recruiting and retirement. Legally speaking, there is nothing wrong in using age as a filter. Organizations do look at the age of the applicants to judge their suitability with what the role demands. They tend to figure if the applicant will be able to cope with the stress, work schedule, challenges and demands of the role. This kind of judgement is not among the best HR practices. However, interviewers and assessors follow such methods most often than not.

Make way for the young

Many organizations in India are on a growth path. So, it is easy to promote someone into a bigger role, offer greater responsibilities at a higher salary. Hence, the ageing manager does not obstruct the individual growth of his or her direct reports, rather the experience and maturity of the senior are leveraged often in the organization. This sounds like a fairy tale. Does this happen routinely?

Certainly not! Workmen do not follow this kind of a growth path. Secondly, most organizations do not get on this dream run. Since our economy sees inflation, costs keep increasing each year. As someone ages in the same role, the cost goes up without a comparable increase in the impact. The only way an organization can deal with this situation is to rediscover new ways, transform itself and optimize its cost structure. So, the old guard has to make way for the young in order to optimize the costs and inject new thinking.

Age is not just a number. As long as it correlates with the impact delivered, it is hale and hearty.

 

Do you build consensus?

Image result for participative leadership styles

Democracy is the largest form of governance in the world now… close to 60% of the world’s population live in democratic nations. Our societies value freedom of speech, majority view and the power of making choices. Organizations are microcosms of our societies and hence, we behave the same way at work. We expect our leader to be consulting us, acting upon our views, figuring out the majority view and updating us about the state of affairs from time to time.

Long and Arduous

Leaders often are worried about the time it takes to arrive at a decision if they open out the process to their team. Given the diaspora of our society, it is natural that the manager gets wide-ranging opinions and perspectives. Firstly, it takes time and effort to explain the issue to the team; secondly, it takes time to listen to the opinions of people. And most importantly, given the diverse suggestions one receives, it is not easy to decide. In the leader’s mind, there might be something very compelling but the team might not be seeing it with equal fervour. So, the leader takes time to re-position the issue and repeat the process. This is undoubtedly a long and arduous process.

Apply it in the right context

It is not possible that a manager builds consensus for each and every decision. As long as the guiding principles and values are clear, governance becomes easy and non-controversial. So, first of all, organizations need to create appropriate methods and platforms to co-create the guiding principles which determine the way of life. Secondly, a manager must recognize when the issue is complex either because of the inter-dependencies or it has a conflict with one or more principles. Those are the situations which need a larger involvement of people at different levels of the organization.

This is easier said than done. When one opens up the issue to the larger audience, various possibilities come at play. Some people see various lacunae in the capability of the boss; some people come up with utopian ideas due to their lack of knowledge or experience; some people in their quest of coming under the spotlight raise various issues. So, a manager ends up spending a lot of energy in cancelling the noise.

One needs to know which level of the organization needs to be involved and to what extent in the process. At times, discussions with colleagues help simplifying the issue and evolving new possibilities. Hence, participative style of leadership has to be applied in the right context!

Sustainable method

It is unlikely that the manager or the leader knows all. And at the same time, one must have the humility to learn new perspectives and develop solutions in collaboration with others. While making a decision, one has to be clear if the decision has a long term impact on the organization. For example, evolving the 3-year strategy, introducing a new product, launching a new advertisement, entering into a new wage agreement with the union, modifying the rewards scheme and so on have far-reaching consequences on the organization.

An organization can ill-afford to let all such decisions rest squarely on the shoulders of one person or a handful. While building a consensus takes time and calls for efforts to dialogue, it is critical to invest these efforts for the long term health of the organization. Participative style on all strategic issues for the organization assures sustainability.

The leader has to know when to apply democratic style and involve whom in the process.

Are you a Laissez-faire Leader?

The High Call of Church LeadershipIn our world today, a significant part of our workforce values freedom, demonstrates self-confidence and sets high ambitions. This phenomenon is not restricted to the white collar workforce, rather all-pervasive. Leaders  having the experience of directed people and having seen their managers directing teams in a certain way, find the changing environment discomforting. They are trying to readjust their styles and adapt to the new situation. It is common knowledge for a leader to practice clear communication while delegating tasks, but the trick lies in the manner of delegation, the tasks are organized and distributed.

Micro-managing or Hands-on Leadership?

Leaders in their quest to be clear, get highly task-focused at times. They tend to break down the goals into miniature steps, direct their team members in carrying out each of those steps, measure the results and tell them what to do when the results differ from the desired goals. Is this micro-managing or leading the team hands-on?

It depends upon the context in which the leader operates, the experience and the maturity level of the team members. Let us say, the team is highly skilled and the members have a good level of understanding and co-operation. This is a good situation to adopt a laissez-faire leadership where you need the team to know the end-goal, the near-term milestones, the purpose behind achieving the milestones and the timelines. Since they know the ‘how’ and ‘what’, the leader does not need to tell them the break-down. It is good enough for the leader to keep an eye on a few parameters at an appropriate interval of time. The team needs a pat on the back at the right time; a few insights and suggestions as and when needed. However, at times, leaders in their quest of ‘being in control’ get anxious and micro-manage. They hurt the team dynamics by over-monitoring, nit-picking and meddling too much. One must know what kind of delegation works the best in the given context!

A team which is newly formed or has many freshers or relatively inexperienced members needs support and direction. Managing them by setting a high-level goal, defining the objectives and a process might not sound wrong. However, the team could potentially feel lost, un-cared for and dull given this style of delegation. They need a style of hands-on leadership where the leader is always eager and available to help the members on-demand, coaching real time, enthusing the team when a task is done well and course-correcting when needed. In this context, the leader isn’t micro-managing, rather showing hands-on leadership.

Are you abdicating your responsibility by Laissez-faire style?

One argues that the laissez-faire style of leadership could create a lot of free time for the leader if the primary responsibility of delivering the results is passed on to the Direct Reports.

Experienced people look for independence in decision-making and a certain amount of latitude in going about achieving their goals. Hence, the top boss has to provide the space for them to function and steer their respective teams towards the predefined goals.

Given this context, the top boss has to find a way of adding value by providing the necessary encouragement to his team crafting a space to support them and continuously evolving it in tune with the challenges that they face. This is easier said than done since this space that we are talking about, is fuzzy and more often than not, determined by the dynamics in external environment.

A leader fails miserably when he passes on all his responsibilities in the name of delegation and takes on the administrative role of aggregating information and presenting them to the others. The team stops looking up to him and relating to the larger purpose behind the goals. It loses momentum and often looks forward to holidays, breaks and off-sites. This is worst that can happen to any team.

The Leader has to be playing alongside his team.

Every game has multiple stakeholders and there are umpteen challenges. The leader has to be playing alongside his team or the concerned member in the team solving the tough issues rather than merely being an observer.

It is easy to divide a target into a few parts and assign each part to a member in the team. However, the leader’s job doesn’t end with it. Rather, it starts right there. The critical contributions of the leader must be in creating an environment for the team to succeed, providing the right strokes of rewards and reprimands, getting hands-on to solve an issue or create a process or a system. The energy levels, confidence and the determination of the team must be held up by the leader.

Laissez-faire works well. But, there is no one particular style that works for all the situations. While the leader delegates, one must know what to delegate, how to monitor and what to get one’s hands dirty with.

How about the leader being a facilitator?

ciel blog - facilitative leadership

Every leader is invested with some authority, given the command over a set of resources and asked upon to deliver predefined results. Leaders make decisions each day how to marshal their resources. Some of them arrive at the decisions themselves and make announcements to their team. Some of them involve others in the team and arrive at an action plan by consultation with them. And some of them empower the others in their team to take the decisions required to achieve the results. Which style is better than the other? Does one style work most of the time?

Adapt to the market!

Today’s time has heightened economic uncertainty. Customers are increasingly discerning and in constant need of speedy action; they are looking for maximizing the value that they derive from the supplier. The environment is highly competitive and the boundaries in the world are getting highly complex due to socio-political changes all over. Technology has been changing fast and disrupting not only the internal environment of a firm but also the marketplace. Given this context, it is near impossible for any leader to be able to comprehend all relevant information, arrive at the insights and conclude the action plan. The erstwhile leader was considered a superhero who had all the wisdom and prowess to decide the course of the journey; the team followed him. However, the macho style of leadership which was commonplace a decade ago does not work now. One has to necessarily discuss the state of affairs with the others in the team and co-create the path to the destination.

Telling style or directive style is not going to work any more unless the situation is simply a task-based decision which has limited risk on the ultimate results. Rather the leader of today needs to show empathy, trust and respect the members of the team; be listening deeply. That is facilitating the team.

One size doesn’t fit all!

There are situations in the team which are unique to an organization and the leader of the team. For example, many members in the team could be new and the team could be establishing the practices and norms for their performance. Another situation could be that the person is a first-time leader or a young manager; most members of the team could be inexperienced. The organization could be a start-up. In each of these situations, the demands on the leader are not only to get a set of tasks done but also to build the team. Hence, one needs to balance between directive style to complete the tasks and democratic style to build ownership.

On the other hand, if the organization is established, the leader is experienced and the members of the team have a track record of performing well, the leader’s style should be largely delegation and empowerment to the others in the team. The leader largely should be happy with information coming in at regular intervals rather than intervening every now and then to take stock and direct next course of action.

It is impossible to prescribe a leadership style without taking into consideration the internal dynamics of the team and the extent of risk posed by the situation towards achieving the ultimate goal. However, irrespective of the style, any situational leadership these days has to be that of facilitation.

The leader has to facilitate in such a way that the members in the team have to be clear about the end goal, the processes to follow and the rationale of doing what they are expected to do. They value freedom and independence; but do not expect to be left alone to learn swimming by themselves. They expect appropriate amount of coaching and guidance along the way to reach their full potential. The leader has to facilitate all of these along the way!

Facilitating Course-Corrections:

One of the important roles that the leader performs is to keep the ship steady and safe on the course. Given the context of our times, the leader has to move fast, negotiate sharp turns and create alternate paths creatively. Driving these change programs is one of the most challenging aspects of leadership. This gets exciting when the pace of change is fast in the external environment as well as internally.

The leader constantly looks at the results and the process if everything ran as expected. More often than not, things have to change : they may be the metrics, the benchmarks, the process, the equipment or the raw materials. When there are changes in the external environment such as government policies, technology, the approach of the business partners or the competition, the need for change becomes all the more complex.

It is critical that the others in the team get involved in observing such trends, analyzing them and making course corrections. Such programs are critical for the leader to initiate so that the changes are co-created, co-owned and hence, implementation on the ground gets better. While the top boss cannot abdicate his responsibility of delivering the results, it is important to facilitate these change initiatives across the the entire spectrum of leadership in the firm rather than mere announcement of change measures and asking the team to implement them.

The leader’s authority in the current times do not mean much unless there is active facilitation. Let’s take these on!