Recruitment is the new management development

Good work leads to productivity and business performance

The Work Foundation findings published in May this year find in favour of “good work”  for boosting business performance and identify a number of organisational processes and dynamics that shape “good work”.  One way of explaining the concept of good work is Eurofound:

  • Secure and interesting jobs that employees find fulfilling, which contribute to the achievement of high performance and sustainable business success
  • A style and ethos of management that is based on high levels of trust and recognises that managing people fairly and effectively is crucial to skilled work and high performance
  • Choice, flexibility and control over working hours
  • Autonomy and control over the pace of work and the working environment
  • Voice for employees in the critical employer decisions that affect their futures

I guess no surprises here; more reinforcement that management and leadership behaviour is the most significant factor in shaping organisational performance.

Here’s something that grabbed my attention – their findings under inequalities talk about the importance of recruitment:

Gender, and other, inequalities persist in the workplace – but the underlying causes are as likely to be in processes and culture that set expectations which perpetuate disadvantage, as in the pay structures:
Tackling inequality means exploring whether the design of recruitment, assessment and promotion processes and procedures, often unintentionally, mitigate against equal chances of progressing through the organisation.”

Umm, what’s going on with recruitment ?

So here’s the thing I wanted to write about – recruitment.

“The REC’s Medium Term Forecast predicts the recruitment industry’s annual growth at 3.6 per cent next year (2011/12) followed by 4.7 per cent in 2012/13, rising to 7.1 per cent for 2013/14 and 7.3 per cent in 2014/15. This represents a return to single figure growth over the next four years to reach a new peak of £30.8 billion in 2014/15.” From the Recruitment and Employment Confederation website.  

You say what??

The skills of recruiting when undertaken by the recruiting manager is in my view one of the most important learning activities that managers can do that is directly transferrable into all managerial work.

Here are some facts and some observations – how many of them do you agree/disagree with?

  • People leave their jobs primarily because they are dissatisfied with their relationship with their manager/opportunities to discover and fulfil their potential
  • People are the most expensive resource in the majority of organisations
  • A workforce who feels valued and included is likely to be more motivated.
  • A motivated workforce has more potential than a disenfranchised workforce.
  • Difficult conversations, uncomfortable relationships are the most time consuming and complex problems many people have to deal with at work.
  • Women are still paid less than men and there are less of them in senior roles that there could be.
  • We have an ageing workforce
  • Having a disability should not be a disadvantage.
  • Recruiting the wrong person is costly and has negative impact.
  • Recruiting the right person is costly and brings about benefits.

If you agree with just some of these, it begs the question of why we outsource recruitment of this most precious and important, time consuming and costly resource.

There’s a lot being discussed and written about recruitment at the moment.      The candidate experience is really variable and often poor (I’m being nice)-  you just need to talk to anyone looking for job.  Filtering systems are subjective (the list of things that annoy recruiters is long and wide, just google it) and therefore open to discriminatory practices.  More than 90% of HR professionals think that inequality is still rife in the workplace, particularly between the sexes,.  Changing this surely must start right at the beginning of the process, flushing out unconscious bias at conception.  Employers too seem to see recruiters as a necessary evil, and yet are spending £30bn – a costly complaint.

I wonder too how all this outsourcing transfers to underlying attitudes towards staff – are they seen as commodity with a monetary value or a person with whom their manager feels both emotional and financial investment?     Outsourcing doesn’t create accountability, just provides someone to blame if it doesn’t work out,  and most central to my argument, managers don’t learn anything from it.

Do it yourself

Here’s why I believe recruitment if it sits with managers brings about amazing benefits:

At each stage, there are rich experiences that will be directly transferred into day to day work and skills for the recruiting manager.

  • Understanding the commercial aspects of recruiting, the time, energy, costs by designing and implementing the end to end process.
  • Having to know the law on equalities at the outset, helps understand their own filters and  prejudices and this insight gets transferred into every day decisions, choices and programme design.
  • Undertaking interviews, learning to ask exploratory, probing questions, directly applicable to performance management, providing skilled constructive feedback and making evidence based decisions.
  • Observing at assessment centres/evaluating other data collected through the interview process  increases capability to collect objective evidence and increase capability to be fact based when providing feedback
  • And importantly ownership and investment in the person recruited.  One mistake and more care will be invested in this timely and costly process.
  • Oh, and HR should get less trouble shooting as recruiting decisions will be more carefully thought out, owned, managed and learned from.

I’m not suggesting that there is never a place for outsourcing; for bulk seasonal roles, for specialist search, for interim/FTC roles, and when you just have to,  but currently managers are not getting the opportunity to develop these core skills.

Recruiting skills are transferable into all aspects of their work and financially, I can’t see how the time it takes to put into the recruitment won’t give an ROI as the emotional and economic investment is so much greater into the person they have recruited.

I know there are recruiters out there who are totally committed to professional standards and who are equally frustrated with some of the poor practice.  These I am sure are delivering both a great candidate experience (don’t hear lots of these I have to say) and providing wisdom and guidance through ethical and businesslike processes.    Managers will make better partnering choices when they decide to outsource, if they understand,  care about, and feel responsible for recruitment which should mean that recruiters become not the problem but the solution.

Is this just me then?