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Recruiting Team Transformation: Both Essential & Tough

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result has two definitions: the famous one and one that applies only to recruiting teams. For them, such repetitive behavior is the definition of defeat in the War for Talent. Doing the opposite, however – doing something different and potentially more effective – brings its own challenges, the most critical of which, is getting everyone on board. That was made painfully clear in a recent interview with a McKinsey Partner. What she had to say about the impact of culture on corporate transformations was sobering, but also a road map for success.

The dictionary defines transformation as the act of changing the composition or structure of something. We humans hate change so, while transformation has a positive connotation, the experience of those going through it is often characterized as unpleasant, difficult and disruptive. To paraphrase Michael Jordan, however, “you gotta’ do the work to get the reward.” Said another way, the means justify the ends. If you want to enjoy the benefits of something that is new or more effective, then you have to invest the time and effort required to achieve it.

In the case of recruiting, the benefit is a recruiting team that is able to respond to the dynamics of a talent market unlike any we’ve ever seen. From the Great Resignation to the Great Drop Out, from a Millennial insistence on remote work to a Baby Boomer tsunami of retirements, it has been recast in ways we are only just beginning to understand. One thing is certain, however: many, maybe even most of the strategies, tactics and technologies that worked in the old talent market, will not get the job done in the new one.

If recruiting teams are to meet their responsibilities, if they’re to fill their employer’s openings with high caliber talent, they have to transform. They must change their composition (the kinds of recruiters they hire and/or the skills of the recruiters they employ) and their structure (the roles, policies, practices and technology they adopt) in order to devise the new strategies and tactics required for success. And there’s the rub. According to a McKinsey Partner, “70 percent of transformations fail, largely due to people- and culture-related challenges.”

What’s that mean for recruiting teams?

First, recruiting teams will have to recognize the scale and scope of what they’re taking on. Transformations are complicated cultural change initiatives, and they cannot be effectively accomplished without careful planning and adept implementation.

Second, recruiting teams must also recognize that all the careful planning and adept implementation in the world will be for naught, if they don’t first address the people-related challenges of change. As we point out in the TAtech Learning & Certification Program in Talent Technology Implementation Management, they involve all the stakeholders in the recruiting process: sourcers, recruitment marketers, recruiters, hiring managers, compliance directors, data scientists, recruiting managers, and HR leaders, as well as the corporate functions which support them (principally IT and finance) and the representatives of the technology vendors providing them with tools.

The challenges, of course, vary, but for those working within the enterprise, they often include:
• The rejection of the need for transformation in the organization and/or the goals it is intended to achieve;
• A shortfall in the skills required to contribute effectively in the transformed organization;
• A lack of motivation and/or capability to acquire any new skills that may be necessary for effective contribution;
• An unwillingness to adjust work habits and practices so as to conform with those of the transformed organization; and
• The refusal to use (or gain full competency with) the technology-based tools that have been integrated into the design for the transformed organization.

Addressing and successfully resolving those issues are table stakes in any transformation. They must be accomplished first before any organizational change is initiated or there’s a very high probability that the recruiting team will not achieve its expected benefit from the effort.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.