How the Best Firms Convince Line Managers to Focus on Recruiting

Getting Managers to Pay Attention

The following is a list of the things that world-class recruiting functions do to get line managers to pay attention to recruiting professionals and recruiting issues:

  1. Rewards for great recruiting. At the very best organizations, managers are measured and rewarded for great recruiting and for recruiting-related issues such as diversity. Unfortunately, only 39% of firms currently reward managers for great people management. Managers are money driven. If their bonuses depend on great recruiting, they will pay attention to it.
  2. Calculating the dollar impact of recruiting. Some recruiting organizations focus on convincing the CFO about the value of recruiting. While that's important, it's equally important that recruiting demonstrate to individual line managers the economic impact that great hiring has on their business results. To increase the chances of getting their attention, convert standard recruiting metrics to dollar impact. For example, instead of just providing the time to fill, quantify the dollar impact of a position vacancy and of slow hiring.
  3. CEO involvement. In many of the firms that have a great recruiting functions, the CEO is publicly on record supporting recruiting as a critical success factor in business success. It's no accident that the CEOs of firms like GE, Southwest Air, SAS, and Microsoft routinely speak both internally and externally about the significance of attracting great talent. The CEO of MGM Grand, for example, has declared himself the "chief recruiter" for the organization. By demonstrating their support for great people management, these CEOs send a clear message to every manager that they want to be known not just for their business results but also for their creation of a well-managed firm that attracts the very best.
  4. Prioritizing recruiting. Regardless of budget, no recruiting department can hire great people in every job. Instead, the best recruiting functions prioritize their managers and business units, focusing their time and resources on the most important ones. In this case, the most important ones should include the most profitable and the most powerful. Getting the most successful managers to provide testimonials to other managers about the impact of recruiting on the bottom line is priceless.
  5. Distributing recruiting metrics. By distributing recruiting results to all managers each month, you encourage competition and you effectively embarrass the slackers. If you rank the managers in ascending order based on their recruiting results, time to interview, and offer acceptance rates, I assure you that you will get their attention.
  6. Benchmark comparisons. Rather than comparing to the closest talent competitors in the same industry, the very best recruiting functions compare themselves to the best in the world, regardless of industry. By setting stretch goals and attempting to become world class, recruiting also demonstrates that it operates in a competitive environment.
  7. Data-based expertise. While all recruiting departments provide advice and counsel, the very best increase their credibility by providing advice based on data (fact-based decision-making) rather than on the more traditional feelings-based and experience-based advice. By demonstrating on a daily basis that they are experts and that they use real data to determine what works in recruiting and why, great recruiting functions encourage managers to listen more closely, because managers are more accustomed to a data-based decision-making model.
  8. External branding and benchmarking. The very best recruiting functions make an effort to get their best practices written up in business and industry journals. As a result of this external recognition, managers come to realize that their recruiting function is recognized as one of the best in their industry. Recruiters should also speak at recruiting and industry conferences to increase their exposure. Recruiting can also participate in benchmark studies to further increase its credibility as well is to learn from other firms.
  9. Selecting "headhunter type" recruiters. Executive recruiters are almost always well liked by managers. The very best corporate recruiting managers realize this fact and learn from the practices of the best executive recruiters. Some of those practices involve spending more time getting to know the manager in informal settings, additional attention to responsiveness and customer service, and most importantly, limiting the number of resumes presented to managers to only those candidates that are highly qualified. Offering internal recruiters incentives for great hiring and high manager satisfaction also goes a long way in convincing recruiters to build stronger relationships with managers.
  10. Appearance in the annual report. All significant strategic efforts and accomplishments are noted in the firm's annual report. Although it might seem like a small thing, appearing in the annual report can get you instant respect from managers. As a result, the best recruiting functions make a concerted effort to undertake exciting, high-impact recruiting programs that qualify for inclusion in the annual report. Getting included in the annual report sends a message to managers that what you do is important to the corporation. Great recruiting departments further realize that they must market their function within the corporation.
  11. Best-place-to-work listing. Work with HR and PR to get your company listed on best places to work lists. The increased visibility builds pride throughout the organization in its people management practices. Even if recruiting doesn't lead the listing effort, getting listed clearly influences managers and employees to maintain that ranking through great recruiting. Winning ER Excellence or Optima awards also demonstrates to managers that your peers view your work as superior.
  12. A forward-looking approach. Rather than the more traditional approach, in which recruiting responds to requisitions, the more respected and successful recruiting functions are forward looking. They forecast and alert managers about potential problems and upcoming opportunities in recruiting. For example, these recruiters identify the choice targets for recruiting at the beginning of the year and they notify managers when one of these targets has begun a job search or might have an increased interest in changing jobs. In addition, they are active in workforce planning because that demonstrates to managers that they are forward looking.
  13. Business knowledge. The director of recruiting and his or here senior leadership must demonstrate that their knowledge extends beyond recruiting in order to be respected. Recruiters at the very best firms are well versed in the organization's products and services, and they are familiar with both the business and the recruiting practices of the competitors.
  14. Best-practice sharing. The most respected departments expand their role to seek out and identify the best recruiting practices anywhere in the organization. They then develop a process to ensure that managers rapidly learn about all of these internal best practices as well as any potential problems in recruiting. Managers are often reluctant to try outside or "untried" recruiting approaches, but they are much more willing to accept recruiting tools and approaches that have been demonstrated to work within the existing culture and corporate constraints.
  15. Desktop availability. The very best recruiting departments purchase technology that allows line managers to own recruiting information. They provide managers with easy-to-use laptop recruiting tools and information so that they can make better-informed recruiting decisions.
  16. Coordinating your efforts. The very best recruiting functions try to eliminate the image that recruiting is an isolated function. Instead, they develop a plan to work closely with PR, branding, marketing, and even sales to learn the best practices of these functions. At the same time, this collaboration provides an opportunity to share what you're doing in recruiting. The cross-fertilization helps improve your image, and it may also result in getting marketing and PR to include recruiting in their ads and public events.
  17. Speed and responsiveness. One of the primary aspects of recruiting that frustrates line managers is the length of time it takes between getting the budget allocation and having a new hire come on board. By setting high responsiveness and customer service standards, you can demonstrate that you are doing all you can to shorten the time it takes to recruit. In addition, the very best firms learn to "anticipate" openings and develop candidate pools that allow for some rapid hiring. If you can decrease hiring times to as short as a week, you will find that managers will be much more willing to find the time to screen resumes and interview.

Not every recruiting department strives to become world-class. But almost without exception, every recruiting department wants line managers to devote more time and effort towards recruiting. Unfortunately, you can't convince line managers to respect recruiting just by talking about it. Instead you need to develop a plan to build trust and respect by implementing some or all the items listed above.

Recruiting is facing a need to build its image and demonstrate its value because of the increased popularity of outsourcing. Mediocre recruiting departments no longer just get their budgets cut, they get outsourced completely. In my experience, outsourcing recruiting has gained popularity because senior recruiting managers have failed to realize that it takes a major structured effort to build the high level of management confidence and trust that is required to maintain your job security.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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