There are a couple of trends I have seen lately in the Talent Acquisition / Recruitment / Resourcing change and transformation world and to be honest they worry me!
I think most people now accept that the act of bringing the right people in to your business at the right time is probably THE most important activity a business undertakes and getting it wrong carries massive risk of not developing great products, not innovating to stay ahead of the market, not selling the great products that your great people create and not meeting the expectations of your great customers. So what are my concerns about how transformation is handled ?
Firstly, I have seen a number of adverts being touted by companies and agencies inviting applications for Recruitment Manager roles that require the individual to deliver the current and future recruitment needs of the business whilst transforming the way the business recruits.
Okay, so occasionally there are people who can do that – but they aren’t likely to be at this level and they are more likely to be focussed on the transformation piece… because that is the level their career is at.
Transformation is something that people generally move into after a career that has combined operational and strategic experience to allow them to understand the links between the tools that are used and how they meet the strategic long-term aims of the business. By definition, it is a “Head of” level responsibility, not a junior manager let alone a delivery recruiter!
Secondly, transforming a key business process isn’t something that you should do alongside a delivery piece because when push comes to shove the delivery piece will take priority, particularly in the eyes of the business, and the focus will move almost 100% to that area.
The transformation element needs to be delivered as a stand-alone responsibility to give it the time and commitment to overcome the unforeseen issues or to predict them in the first place! By providing this you are also delivering the transformation in a relative fraction of the time and thus delivering the benefits to the business quicker.
Thirdly, in an ideal world the assessment of the current state and the plan for transformation to the new state should be undertaken by someone who is independent of the organisation. Too often I have seen great ideas in our field being kicked in to touch even before the discussion stage simply because “the business wouldn’t go for it” or “we’ve tried that before”.
Experience tells me that too much knowledge of the “actors” and the culture of the business can lead to assumptive decisions rather than building a case that provides commercial benefits of any proposed transformation.
Last year I worked with a client where all of these applied. My independence meant I was able to move beyond where the recruitment team mindset was – without creating future relationship problems – to demonstrate the RoI and this lead to the business leadership accepting my proposals.
This only happened because (a) I was experienced enough to have dealt with and predict the objections and know how to overcome them, (b) I was completely focussed on the transformation – even to the extent of refusing to become involved when the business wanted me to support some operational recruitment – though I did use it to test some ideas, and (c) I didn’t let the cultural issues and the negativity of certain “actors” impact my focus on delivering a proposal that many people suggested would never get business sign-off.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been on the other side of the fence where I worked with an independent to deliver some changes and questioned why they were needed ? Looking back, the last of these three concerns was probably the one that I really couldn’t see and I wonder how many times my own perception of the business – or indeed my manager’s perception of the business – meant great ideas weren’t moved forwards ?
A final note to agencies in the HR world or recruiters in an in-house team including RPOs – if a client or your HRD comes to you with a req for an operational delivery person to do a piece of change or transformation alongside the delivery work, it MUST be your responsibility to act not as a supplier or employee but as a partner (isn’t that the mecca guys ?) and challenge their thinking.
That way you will earn the right to be called a Consultant!