Many people will insist that the most important part of having a corporate recruiting team is to have a clearly defined structure, utilize metrics to drive business decisions, and to gather as much buy-in as possible throughout the organization to move initiatives forward. Most of that is absolutely correct. But what about when all of your best laid plans start to…..change?
While having the clearly defined structure is important, it’s key to remember to be flexible and open to integrating change on an ad hoc basis. It’s critical to ensure that your teams are flexible with your recruiting programs, SOPs and approach to projects. There will be almost certainly be situations where you may need to change based on unexpected situations or business needs.
For example, within your recruiting team there may be a certain process or chain for approving requisitions or offers. But department heads or other executives may determine that a different course of action may be required based on headcount needs. The process-driven recruiter in you wants to continue to instill process and order, but that just may not be feasible at the current moment.
Having a level of flexibility in situations like these actually helps you more than you might think. Executive teams recognize when they have team players who can be highly adaptable, and perceive them as strong business partners. Being viewed in such a way can be critical when you are trying to “sell” your department’s initiatives. What I’ve learned over the years – sometimes the hard way – is that you just need to “play ball” sometimes and see how things turn out.
There are a few things to keep in mind the next time you encounter a situation where your recruitment team is having some change thrust upon it.
1. Keeping good metrics can help to draw tangible conclusions as to whether an experiment or pilot actually worked. It can also help to identify where the most/least successful areas are for making changes. As one of my former bosses told me “facts are our friends”. Feelings are not. People tend to ‘feel’ a lot of things in the hiring process : “it feels like this req has been open for 4 months” (and its been 17 days). This is the opportunity to influence change through facts.
2. Ask questions. Be sure to ask probing and clarifying questions when changes to your program are being suggested. This allows you to accomplish two things. First, it allows you to understand what the motives are behind the change, which could lead to additional solutions or parts of the solution. Secondly, it shows the other party that you are genuinely interested in how you can assist.
3. Remember that exhibiting flexibility puts you in a good light with your peers and executives. Executives tend to gravitate to those that they feel can be open-minded and those that they perceive are able to see the ‘big picture’.
4. Manage the change down. When working with your recruiting teams – if you want real buy-in – be sure to give them both the political side of the change and the action that needs to be taken in order to be successful. Challenge them to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone and you may be surprised how many people embrace the change. Be approachable and willing resource who can answer questions throughout the change process.