December 16, 2010   view past issues

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Ranger Recruiting III: Mission

This column is the latest in an ongoing series called Ranger Recruiting. An archive of previous columns can be found here.

Rangers are the elite of America’s fighting forces. Their motto says it all: Rangers lead the way. What does that have to do with recruiting? The tactics and strategies that Rangers use to accomplish their objectives on the battlefield can be equally as effective in helping recruiters win the War for the Best Talent. This column explains how.

The first step in any Ranger operation is to ensure that every member of the team understands the team’s mission. That mission might be to take control of a strategic bridge or mountain pass, to deny the enemy access to food, water or other resources or to execute any of a range of other tasks that will contribute to the success of the larger military unit to which the team belongs.

It’s no less important for every member of a recruiting team to understand their team’s mission. Is it to fill requisitions quickly and with top talent? Or, is the team’s objective to provide world class customer service to hiring managers? Is it to deliver recruiting services at the lowest possible cost? Or, is their mission a combination of all these goals?

Those are all reasonable answers, but why is it so critical to recognize the mission? Why even bother articulating a recruiting team’s operational objective?

For a Ranger unit, the mission defines both collective and individual responsibility. It must be stated in clear and unequivocal terms so that the group and every person in it are absolutely certain about their interrelated obligations: They know:

  • 1. What the unit as a whole must accomplish according to what standard and in what time frame.
  • and

  • 2. What the unit is relying on each of its members to do in order to ensure the unit’s success.
  • In other words, the mission is defined so that the Ranger unit focuses its all of its combat power on a single and specific objective and by doing so, maximizes its potential for success. There is no deviation of effort for priorities number 2, 3 or 4, and every member of the unit knows what the rest of the unit is counting on them to do when they go to work. Each individual and unit plan, decision and action is evaluated with a single metric: is it the best way to achieve the mission.

    That’s how you win in combat and that’s how a recruiting team wins in the War for the Best Talent. And, achieving victory in that competition is – or should be – the goal of every recruiting team. Why? Because there are only two kinds of organizations in the quest for the best and brightest: winners and losers. There is, as General MacArthur once said, no substitute for victory … on the battlefield and in the talent marketplace.

    But, what is the definition of victory in the War for the Best Talent? How does a recruiting team (and the rest of the enterprise) know when it’s been successful?

    The Definition of Victory in the War for the Best Talent

    The metric of victory is as simple as it is difficult to achieve. Success in the War for the Best Talent is accomplished when a recruiting team acquires a disproportionate share of the best talent for the organization to which it belongs. It occurs when the team puts more “A” level performers in more of that organization’s open positions than the competition puts in theirs.

    Why that definition? Because in today’s highly competitive global and domestic markets, organizations cannot survive, let alone prosper with a “normal” distribution of talent. Unlike in the past, they can no longer get by with a handful of “A” level performers, a couple of “D” level performers and a huge group of “C” or satisfactory performers. They must recruit and hire more than their fair share of the best and brightest in the workforce.

    As in combat, there will be constraints on the recruiting team’s ability to do that. The parent organization may not provide all of the support necessary for effective operations. Members of the recruiting team, itself, may be sidelined by illness or distracted by problems at home. And, the competition won’t be sitting still, but will be doing everything it can to win the war for their organization.

    It’s imperative, therefore, that every member of the recruiting team not only know the mission, but believe in it. Each recruiter must see it as their responsibility to ensure the team’s success. They have to make it their job to do whatever is required to realize the victory, no matter what the obstacle and no matter how long the odds. That’s a tall order to be sure, and it’s what separates the winners from the losers in the War for the Best Talent.

    Thanks for reading,


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