THE TECHNACIOUS RECRUITER NEWSLETTER

August 9, 2006   view past issues

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Feature: The Right DNA for Recruitment Leadership

A year and a half ago, I gave a conference presentation entitled “Leadership: The Secret Weapon in the War for Talent.” I was excited about the session because it was based on my then new book, Generalship: HR Leadership in a Time of War. The response from the audience, however, was a collective yawn. As I thought about it later, their reaction made perfect sense; most of us are so busy just trying to meet our daily requirements that thinking about something that sounds as conceptual as leadership simply doesn’t rise to the level of being important.

Fast forward to the recent news that the CEO and Vice President of Human Resources of Brocade Communications, a Silicon Valley employer, have been indicted for back-dating option awards in order to improve their payout. Unlike previous examples of corporate misbehavior, however, these charges do not finger the executives for attempting to enrich themselves. Rather, the motive that has been widely cited for their behavior was to improve the company’s ability to recruit and retain high caliber workers. They were allegedly cheating to gain a competitive advantage in the War for Talent.

Whether the charges are true or not, this situation offers a number of interesting insights:

  • First, the War for Talent has finally moved out of the realm of executive happy-talk and into the realm of action. It’s not on the agenda of every Management Committee meeting, but it’s there often enough to be a legitimate leadership issue.
  • Second, when leaders confront the War for Talent, they don’t always make smart decisions or implement appropriate actions. Leaders can mislead and managers can mismanage, and when they do, the entire enterprise-including the recruiting team-suffers. In fact, an organization can have highly skilled recruiters and a recruiting process replete with Best Practices and still lose the war … if it has lousy leaders and inept managers. To put it another way, recruiter skills and strategies determine what an organization does to win the War for Talent; it’s leadership that determines how well they do it.
  • There’s another lesson to be learned from this unfortunate incident, however. Let’s assume for the moment that the allegations leveled at the Brocade executives are true. They directed that illegal actions be taken; they almost certainly did not carry out those actions. Someone else on their staff did. In other words, the leadership failure in this situation was both individual and systemic. The organization as a whole-not just its titular leaders-failed the test. And that, it seems to me, is no less an important point. Coincidentally, it was also the theme of my conference presentation.

    I discovered in doing the research for my book that the best organizations are those in which every person sees him or herself as a leader and acts on that vision. Some will be formal leaders occupying the titular leadership roles in their organizations; most, however, will be informal leaders whose influence is derived not from where they sit on the organization chart, but from where they stand as professionals. Now, some say that leadership is DNA in staffing organizations-it Does Not Apply to anyone beneath the person in charge. I believe, on the other hand, that leadership is in the DNA of everyone in staffing and that tapping into it is the key to victory in the War for Talent.

    History tells us that the vast majority of leaders, formal and informal, are of the garden variety, not natural born. They don’t arrive fully formed as effective leaders, but instead, consciously acquire and then steadfastly hone their leadership skills. They grow into being a leader by re-imaging their role in the enterprise and adopting that role into their workday.

    How can you do that? I think it takes just two steps.

    First, make sure you understand the differences between management and leadership.

  • Managers tend to focus on “know how” and doing things right. Leaders focus on “know why” and doing the right things.
  • Managers see recruiting as the optimization of a process such as a supply chain. Leaders see recruiting as the optimization of the experience that recruiters, hiring managers, job seekers and others have in the process.
  • Managers worry about efficiency (e.g., cost per hire, time to fill); leaders strive for effectiveness (e.g., quality of hire, customer satisfaction) as well as efficiency.
  • Second, apply the leadership attributes in the workplace. To appreciate how that happens, it’s helpful to examine the different perspectives that managers and leaders bring to teamwork. Most agree that teamwork is essential to organizational success, yet:

  • managers look at teamwork and see teamWORK. They regard themselves as separate and distinct from the team, and they believe their job is to tell the team what it must do to be successful.
  • leaders look at that same word and see TEAMwork. They regard themselves as an integral part of the team, and they believe their job is to do whatever they can to make the team successful.
  • Some have called the leader’s perspective “servant leadership,” but I don’t think that term is accurate. To me, a better description is “service leadership.” Good leaders do whatever they can-within the limits of doing the right thing-to ensure the success of others on their team. And good recruiters see their team inclusively; it includes their colleagues in the staffing function, hiring managers, job seekers and employment prospects, the CFO and anyone else who is involved, however remotely, in the recruiting process. Help to make them effective at their jobs, and they will, in turn, see you as effective in yours.

    It’s easy to see the recent and seemly endless parade of indicted corporate executives as a failure of their leadership. Certainly, there’s plenty of individual blame to go around. However, within the enterprise, in general, and the recruiting function, in particular, everyone has the potential to be a leader. The more who are, the lower the likelihood of individual failures and the greater the performance of all.

    Thanks for reading,

    Peter

    P.S. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!


    This Issue’s Sponsor: The OnRec Global Summit

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of the OnRec Global Summit for Online Recruitment.

    Onrec.com/Online Recruitment Magazine, a publication based in the United Kingdom, is holding its first U.S.-based conference in Chicago, IL on September 12-13, 2006. Called its Global Summit for Online Recruitment, the conference will feature well known U.S.-based speakers, such as

  • Joel Cheesman,
  • Tony Lee,
  • Shally Steckerl,
  • John Sumser, and
  • Peter Weddle.
  • Unique to this conference, however, will be a whole new complement of speakers from around the globe, presenting a fascinating, new perspective on Best Practices in online recruitment. You’ll hear from:

  • Jerome Ternynck, the CEO of MrTed, a European application tracking system;
  • John Benson, CEO of eFinancialCareers.com;
  • Matt Parker, Managing Director of StepStone Solutions; and
  • Patrick Sullivan, the President of Workopolis.com, among others.
  • For more details, click on the link above.


    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Consulting firm Accenture recently published the results of a survey of middle manages in the United States, Europe and Australia. In yet another indication of the discontent in business organizations today, fewer than half of the 1,025 respondents were either extremely or very satisfied with their employers and a third described their organizations as “mismanaged.” Among the chief complaints was a lack of support from and communication with senior management and the absence of developmental programs below the executive level. How might that be averted in your organization? Executives, of course, must recognize and value the role of middle managers, but assuming that foundation is in place, you might set up:

  • an area on your company’s intranet for line managers and get the CEO to contribute a blog there to communicate with the leadership team and solicit its input on key issues, policies and practices;
  • a curriculum designed specifically to help prepare middle managers for the challenges they face on-the-job and in advancing their careers (I recommend that you start with Interviewing 101); and/or
  • a Best Practices discussion board on your intranet where managers can interact with their peers to solicit problem solving advice, lessons learned and other information helpful to on-the-job performance.
  • The AirPower Wiki made its debut as a site where business travelers can find and add to a listing of those rare and often hidden electrical outlets in airports. With the power available in computer batteries still limited, knowing where you can plug-in can often mean the difference between a productive layover and a waste of time. For example, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you can find all the juice you need at the base of the fire hoses in Spain’s Madrid Barajas Airport or behind the automatic teller machines at Chicago’s O’Hare International? Sure beats wandering around with your laptop in hand and a frustrated frown on your face.

    Social research organization Jobs for the Future released a report entitled Making Good on a Promise: What Policymakers Can Do to Support the Educational Persistence of Dropouts. The study debunks a number of misconceptions about secondary school dropouts and underscores how serious a threat this situation is to employers’ ability to win the War for Talent. Among its findings:

  • Propensity to leave school is determined by socio-economic factors, not ethnicity. Black and Hispanic youth are no more likely to drop out of high school than are their white peers of similar family income and education.
  • Dropouts are not unmotivated or disinterested in education. Almost 60% of those who leave high school before graduation eventually earn a high school credential, in most cases a GED.
  • The loss of students who drop out is draining a precious segment of our domestic talent supply. Nearly 20% of all students drop-out, including 10% of those in middle and upper-class families.
  • What can employers do? There is, of course, no easy or pat answer. Some organizations are adopting schools to provide financial support and “real world” role models for students. Others are inviting students into the workplace to witness the opportunities and rewards of working in fields that require a secondary school diploma or higher. While no single initiative will solve the problem, a rising tide of corporate-based initiatives can make a difference. I respectfully urge you to be a part of the higher tide.

    The Society of Hospital Medicine launched its SHM Career Center, which it describes as “the nation’s first full-service, online job bank and recruitment Web site exclusively targeted to hospitalists.” Now, that’s a career field even my dictionary doesn’t recognize. Anyway, the site offers job posting, a resume database, automated search functionality and other services. The Association has over 5,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.

    The Society for Human Resource Management published a Workplace Diversity Practices Survey Report in 2005 which found that only 29% of the surveyed firms permitted “employee network groups” to operate on company property and/or time. Such groups are normally formed around such attributes as ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and disability. They must be carefully designed and managed to avoid adverse impact, but they can be effective in creating a more comfortable environment for group members and, depending on the employer, for acquiring feedback on current or planned policies and even input on product or service design. They can also be very useful in recruiting. If your organization supports such groups, create a channel for each of them in your corporate Career area and encourage their members to field and answer questions from prospective employees. In addition, take select group members to career fairs and on other recruiting trips where they can reach out to their peers among the candidates.


    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. Your utility needs to bring additional technicians on board to handle the increased repair work caused by the crazy weather we’re having this summer. Where could you go online to generate some high powered prospects?

  • EnergyJobsPortal.com
  • PowerPeople.com
  • UtilityJobsOnline.com
  • EnergyCentralJobs.com
  • 2. Back-to-school sales are about to start, and your store needs to hire several retail clerks. Which of the following sites would help you build up an inventory of great candidates?

  • TopSellers.com
  • MegaSellers.com
  • Number1Sellers.com
  • BestSellers.com
  • 3. Your bank is opening several new neighborhood branches, and you need to hire fifteen additional tellers fast. Where could you go online to find a large deposit of experienced candidates?

  • TalentBank.com
  • jobsinthemoney.com
  • BankJobs.com
  • CareerBank.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories

    BostonWorks

    http://www.bostonworks.com

    The Boston Globe

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: Regional/USA – Greater Boston, MA

    Fee to post a job: $295/posting

    Posting period: 28 days

    Can posting be linked to your site: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    Number of resumes: 562,192

    Source of resumes: Direct from candidates

    Top occupations among visitors: Not Reported

    Other services for employers: Assessment instruments, Automated resume agent, Banner advertising, Status reports: Banners/postings

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: Yes

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. All but PowerPeople.com, the site of a Web graphics design company.

    2. None of them. TopSellers.com announces the top salespeople in a Washington real estate firm; MegaSellers.com is the site of a German merchandising company; Number1Sellers.com is the site of a real estate consultant; and BestSellers.com connects you to the merchandise sales area on Amazon.com.

    3. All but TalentBank.com, a site that posts casting calls for actors.


    Support Our Sponsor: The OnRec Global Summit

    This issue of WEDDLE’s newsletter is brought to you through the generous support of the OnRec Global Summit for Online Recruitment.

    Onrec.com/Online Recruitment Magazine, a publication based in the United Kingdom, is holding its first U.S.-based conference in Chicago, IL on September 12-13, 2006. Called its Global Summit for Online Recruitment, the conference will feature well known U.S.-based speakers, such as

  • Joel Cheesman,
  • Tony Lee,
  • Shally Steckerl,
  • John Sumser, and
  • Peter Weddle.
  • Unique to this conference, however, will be a whole new complement of speakers from around the globe, presenting a fascinating, new perspective on Best Practices in online recruitment. You’ll hear from:

  • Jerome Ternynck, the CEO of MrTed, a European application tracking system;
  • John Benson, CEO of eFinancialCareers.com;
  • Matt Parker, Managing Director of StepStone Solutions; and
  • Patrick Sullivan, the President of Workopolis.com, among others.
  • For more details, click on the link above.