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The Three P's of Hiring by George Plotner President of MRC Staffing Solutioins

May 27, 2016 by

Why is discussing a strategic approach to hiring relevant?  Answer: because there is an acute shortage of qualified talent to fill positions and old solutions don’t work.  If you do not believe a talent shortage exists, then complete the following assignment. Contact 5 people who lead organizations (any size and any industry) and hire people (any number and any discipline) and ask them to identify their 3-5 biggest challenges.  The responses will vary depending on industry type, geographic location, and special circumstances; however, there will be – with high probability – a common theme which points to the difficulties they have hiring and retaining necessary talent to run their businesses.  Just 3-4 years ago hiring authorities had their pick of the litter.  In 2012 a moderately difficult search to fill an opening would generate 3 good candidates with high probability of offer acceptance.  Contrast this to 2016: the level of difficulty to fill this same position has increased markedly as measured by number and quality of qualified candidates, number of offers each candidate receives before acceptance, time to fill, and frequency of counter offer.  None of this is ground breaking news to the vast majority of us whose jobs include hiring people.  All this means it is a “sellers market” for candidates, which leaves companies struggling to figure out how to hire and retain the best people.  The talent shortage and companys’ strong need to stay lean from a staffing standpoint combine to make staffing and organization development very, very challenging for sure.  These days staffing is listed as a top “strategic challenge” for most all companies and for some it is a matter of survival.  Based on my 40 years business experience (21 years as a 3rd party recruiter) I have come to understand at a deep level that companies who do the best job of hiring and retaining people are most successful in terms of sales, quality, customer service, and profitability.  The converse of this is true, too, which is to say companies that do the worst job of hiring are least successful.    What are the differences between a good vs bad hiring process or is good vs bad in the world of hiring merely a random occurrence?   

 

First of all, there are exceptions to every rule.  There are companies that do a C or D job of hiring, but have A level financial performance and there are companies that do an A job of hiring who go out of business.  The aforementioned abstractions are few and far between.  Bring me a long list in either category and “I’ll eat your hat”.

 

Companies that are most successful at talent acquisition do the following things well. I call them the 3 Ps of Hiring which are Process, Presentation, and Position.  Below listed are brief descriptions of each.  

 

  1. Process – a series of defined, progressive steps designed to achieve an outcome.   Great manufacturing companies devote much time and energy to process development and process control.  Likewise, companies that do a great job of hiring devote the same energy to hiring process development and process control.  This P begs two questions: a) what is a great outcome, and b) what standardized steps will yield an optimal result.

     

  2. Presentation – introducing a career opportunity to a candidate is no different in concept than a salesperson showing a new product to a customer.  Presentation is everything! 

     

  3. Position – or position development.  This starts with a written Needs Assessment Profile which should answer the following questions (not all inclusive): a) how does this job fit with the mission and strategy of the organization, b) what are the requirements, including experience, education, travel, etc.  c) why is the position or opportunity open, d) how will success and failure be defined, and e) what are reporting relationships and accountabilities.  The aforementioned are not all inclusive.  This step by its’ nature must precede the hiring process.

     

What are characteristics and examples of good and bad hiring Process (1st P)?  Many times I have heard it said by candidates, “They don’t have a bad hiring process, they have no hiring process” which is technically an incorrect statement.  In the end someone eventually gets hired; it just may be that people never get hired the same way twice, which is a manufacturing plant is referred to as an “out of control process.”  What does an out of control manufacturing process yield?  Low productivity, rejects, rework, lost business, and frustration, which in concept, is not different than an out of control hiring process.  Another common observation by candidates (as well as company reps) has to do with the undue length of the hiring process.  To illustrate – the shelf life of an engineering manager candidate is about 8 weeks.  If a company’s hiring process takes 12 weeks, then you have a big problem.  Compound this by multiple candidates in process at varying stages combined with the normal stress and emotion associated with career change and you have a Rubik’s Cube like challenge.  The answer here may be not to eliminate process steps.  If a step is necessary, then by all means keep it; just reengineer the process and timing of steps to better coincide with the normal shelf life of the candidate (in short supply and high demand).  In many cases hiring processes can be shortened dramatically by process reengineering and better scheduling.  One more common observation among candidates speaks to a lack of preparation or readiness on the part of an interviewer who shows up to the interview late and has not reviewed the candidate’s resume before the interview; and what’s more, in some cases has little or no familiarity with the position.  The list of live examples could go on and on to illustrate the efficacy of good process which is dynamic not static which is to say it is continuously changing and requires continuous improvement.

 

Presentation (2nd P) is everything?  Think about a Division 1 NCAA coach recruiting a top prospect.  The coach shows up late to the prospect’s house.  He does not have a good handle on the prospect’s stats or specific achievements.  He pronounces the prospect’s last name wrong and has to check his 3 x 5 cards to ascertain the parents’ first names.  The coach talks more than he listens during the meeting.  What do you think the chances are the prospect will sign with this school?  Think about a VP of Sales recruiting a top sales prospect for a product marketing company. The hiring authority is at the interview location when the prospect arrives.  She demonstrates by her value focused questions an intricate knowledge of and interest in the candidate’s past accomplishments, educational achievements, and family.  She spent a lot of time listening to the prospect, providing ample time for high value questions.  The prospect left the interview on cloud nine.  What do you think the chances are the prospect will consider an opportunity with this company?  

               

The Position (3rd P) or opportunity needs to be well thought out and well presented to the candidate.  Frequently, a candidate will say to me, “I really like the company and the people.  The hiring authority is someone who I could work for.  I like him, but I am not sure he knows what he is looking for.”  What does this say about the opportunity and presentation assuming the candidate’s observation is accurate (sometimes they are not)?  At best – the hiring authority has poor presentation skills.  At worst – the hiring authority and his company have not thought through the scope and purpose of the position and how it fits in the organization.  You are the candidate.  What are the chances you are going to have a top interest level in this position? 

 

All the above is part art and part science.  It is easy to calculate things like “time to hire” and “cost to hire”.  Similarly it is relatively easy to create a stepped hiring process.  What is hard is execution and dealing with human behavior which can be challenging, unpredictable, and sometimes hard to figure out (both on the side of the candidate and hiring authority).  There are no silver bullets, no off the shelf hiring programs that will provide instantaneous success.  I have been working with clients for years whose understanding and relatively mastery all of the above is high, but who still constantly struggle with finding right talent acquisition formula that optimizes their ability to hire the right people on a timely basis.

 

If you would like to discuss how you might improve your ability to hire the best talent, please do not hesitate to email or call me at george@mrctv.com / 937-438-0042.

 

George A. Plotner

 

Mr. Plotner is currently President & Owner of MRC Staffing Solutions an MRINetwork Affiliate which he founded in 1995 and is located in Centerville, Ohio.  Prior to 1995 George spent 22 years working in human resources management for various companies, including Corporate VP HR at Huffy Corporation.  For more information about George and his company visit his company’s website www.mrctv.com and LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/mrctv.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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