HRP 1: Talent Building is Not Recruiting
The previous post on Human Resource Planning (HRP) was our inaugural: Seven Tenets to Talent Building– an Introduction to HRP. This is no doubt where the Human Resource function can make its greatest contribution to business by strategically improving the company’s talent base to increase the value of the firm. But it isn’t possible if you don’t understand what talent building is all about. And, sad to say, some good HR people focus elsewhere. In fact, I believe and so suggested that well meaning personnel departments may unwittingly serve as gatekeeper for workplace mediocrity rather than champion of high-performance greatness. And that’s, well, not good.
So the first step, of course, is to get a grip on true Human Resource Planning. Define it, give the outline, Switch on the light and all that. That’s why the Seven Tenets were spelled out so plainly to our esteemed readers and will be oft repeated throughout this series–each a chapter, if you will, in textbook workplace Human Resource Planning (HRP):
- INTRO: Seven Tenets to Talent Building
- HRP 1: Talent Building is Not Recruiting;
- HRP 2: Inventory Your Talent Base
- HRP 3: High Performance Leadership
- HRP 1, 2, 3 Halfway There (Interim Post)
- HRP 4: The Talent Pipeline
- HRP 5: Focus on Top Notch Performance
- HRP 6: Strategic Communications Infrastructure
- HRP 7: Knowledge Sharing as Universal Requirement
Crystal Ball Recruiting
Now let’s tackle Tenet # 1 in more detail. Because that’s where things fall down before they even get out the gate. You don’t want capable HR-types spending time on the wrong things. By focusing, for example, on hiring techniques, many in our profession seek and find only incremental improvement in placing good people in the right jobs. But that’s not talent building, no no.
Human Resource Planning is NOT a better way to source and screen job candidates. HRP is not about recruiting. Professional recruiters have long proclaimed to have a best practice method for hiring people. These techniques usually have to do with a combination of creatively sourcing the right candidates in the “hidden job market,” establishing success trait criteria for hire, behavioral interviewing, assessment testing, thorough background checks, structured on-boarding agendas, etc. There are alot of gimmicks too. In fact, few HR disciplines are more fraught with consultant hype and the latest magic potions than in the candidate screening and hiring arena. Headhunter hogwash abounds.
Central to the malarkey is the erroneous claim to have the best crystal ball to predict candidate success. Indeed, headhunters’ entire value proposition is that they can connect people to jobs better, faster and with a higher percentage of successful placements than if employers try to do it themselves. Their bottom line: Delivering hard-to-find, high potential great candidates that ultimately become high performing great employees. Many recruiters ”guarantee” successful placements 100% of the time or your money back (a lot of fine print included).
The One In Five Doctrine
Real world experience does not equate with such claims. Not even close. Nearly three decades of recruiting, using every industry gimmick and technique has taught the following empirical instead:
|1||Would Not Rehire||20%|
Legions of executives, managers and front line supervisors who have collectively hired thousands of people over decades will confirm the simple truth of the age-old numbers game:
One in five are a good catch. Your chance of hiring a good candidate who indeed proves to be a well-regarded employee is about one in every five. About 20% of your hires are pretty darn good. Not always super-great mind you (that’s far rarer), but definitely worth the expense and trouble to bring on board. Yes, yes, you made a good decision. Whew! What a relief. One in five is a hit.
Three in five hires are okay. They get the job done at varying degrees of acceptability. Some are good, others have yet unrealized potential and still others are, well, just okay. They suit up and show up and don’t cause a lot of trouble. They are there for the paycheck; nothing much more. With a little training and regular feedback, they eventually do what you pay them to do, even a bit extra on a good day. They don’t quite live up to your ideal high hopes; but then again, they are not a problem either. So you you learn to appreciate them. Acceptance is the key. You thank them for a decent effort, applaud their comendable attitude and encourage them to keep up the good work—three in five.
One in five is a miss. You would not rehire. At first glance, you deny this. No way are 20% of my employees bad apples. I would never tolerate it, you say. Stop right there. We are not talking “poor” performance here. We can’t. That bar is buried in the mud. The work world has so narrowed the definition of “unsatisfactory” to the lowest common denominator that the standard is down-low silly anymore. Let’s check the personnel file–Here’s a young man who was absent unscheduled 8 times last year, late 17 times and who kicked a hole in the vending machine. He showed up wasted (only once). He snaps at co-workers and pissed off three customers. He has a 13% error rate, improved from 16% last year. Okay, he’s marginal. Give him only a 2% raise this year. That will show him!
No, we can’t apply that standard. Instead ask, would you rehire them? If you could go back in time, would you make the same decision to bring him or her on board or would you have preferred to select someone else? Someone not with the company yet who would, on average, be a better match. Or do look internally. That works too. Rank your incumbents in comparable jobs. Of a five person team, are four of the others better than fifth? Of course. So then, chances are you would not rehire the 5th-ranking. Why? Because four out of five times, some one else can do a better job! It’s pretty basic. Be honest– one in five is a miss.
You can play with the statistics all you want. Split hairs between who is great, who is very good, who is fully capable and who is just okay. You can live in denial and claim that not one person on your team is less than “average.” If that’s your boast, then it is too easy to work at your company—time to challenge people more; time to raise the bar. Every headhunter on the planet meanwhile will say it ain’t so. Their tried and true methods evidence far higher successful placements. The definition of “success,” of course, is where the argument falls. If it worked out (4 in 5 at least), then the placement folks claim success, take their outrageous fee and move on. Few recruiters check back a year later to assimilate your business reality. And the reality is this—one in five is a hit, three out of five are okay, and one in five is a miss. I call it the One in Five Doctrine. And, as you will see, it is VERY important to workplace talent building.
Happenstance Builds Talent
No, I don’t have a research journal to press my case. The reader can decide if what I suggest is crude posturing or practical inspiration. Experience verifies the One in Five Doctrine. Your experience. Forget the executive recruiter’s big-ticket methodologies and high tech model. Pay no mind to the Ultimate Interviewers Guide to Finding the Perfect Employee (I made that up; but if it is a real book title, I don’t recommend it). Reconsider forevermore what you learned in interviewing school. Why? Because most of it comes down to luck. That’s right, luck. Also known as Happenstance. See, when you hired that one in five who is very good–you beat the odds. You were lucky. Good for you. A catch like that comes your way only 20% of the time after all. And when that promising looking candidate turned out, upon hire, to be a dud in high-performance disguise–you were unlucky. Darn, dangit, shucks. Need to try again.
What’s that? Huh? What did you say there? I SAID YOU NEED TO TRY AGAIN. As happenstance will have it, you will get lucky and hire a very good worker one in five times. So if you hire 100 people, you will get 20 real good employees out of it. In the process of building talent there, you will also miss (would not rehire) 20 others meantime. Instead of keeping that score of mediocrity who you would not rehire, you need to try again as soon as possible.
You need to turnover the misses and open the talent pipeline to the 20% possibility that you will get a very good hit. You must maximize opportunities to get lucky!
It’s NOT about recruiting, it’s about talent building. It’s about increasing the chances of getting great people on board by keeping the talent pipeline open in good times and in bad. It’s about hring people quickly, finding out if they are the right fit ASAP, and being very decisive about mediocrity when you miss. Chew on that one for a bit. We will come back to it again and again.
Our next post will get into the nuts and bolts about how to inventory your current talent base and ensure the talent pipeline remains wide open. After all, Louis Pasteur famously observed, Luck favors the prepared mind. And Talent Building favors the prepared leader.