I got asked by a CEO of an F1000 company last week how would I build a Recruiting Department from the ground up if I was given the chance. Clearly, she was not happy with her current TA team and the results.
It’s a fun thought exercise to run through and we were talking socially, so we both played along. The problem is, in enterprise-level organizations, you never really get the chance to start from scratch. Anyone who would come in has plenty of legacy issues to deal with: technology, process, and the biggest issue, the people.
The people on your TA team become the biggest hindrance to you truly changing your talent acquisition function!
Not because they’re bad. In fact, some of them might be world-class. It’s because, especially in large shops, everyone is empire building! Okay, you want me to reinvent Recruitment Marketing, well, it starts with “Me” at the top, and then how many of my current team do I keep, and how many new heads do I get, and…
Recruiting Ops, Sourcing, Recruiting tech, etc. Every single leader you have has a number of goals and one of those goals is to grow their team! If you bring all of these people together, let’s say it’s you (the biggest leader) and all of your VPs and/or Director levels (let’s say 5 of those). If you truly started from scratch in your design, immediately you might not need three of these legacy leaders.
It takes a very, very, very, special person to throw themselves on the chopping block and say, in the new organization, I’m not needed! Like this is a one in a thousand type person. The rest all will work not with an open mind to what is best for the organization, but what is best for me and the organization, as long as the two things are running parallel to each other.
If I do 100 recruitment consulting gigs, 99 of those times the leader will tell me how great the team they have is. Yet, they are totally failing!
They are open to change anything, except let’s be careful when we start talking about people. They’ll go to great lengths to save most of their people, even when facing team failure and ultimately probably termination.
“You can change the people, or you can “change” the people” – was a phrase a great leader use to love saying to me. Meaning, you can physically change people. Fire some, hire new ones. Or you can actually change people and help make them better. Both take a lot of work, but not “changing” the people, isn’t the right answer!
Back to my CEO friend and starting from scratch…
So, I reminded her I wrote a book about this very thing! But like most leaders, she just wanted the highlights. I went through at a high level what I would do, and she would jump in and say, “oh, we can’t do that, “Mary” is good and that’s her role…”
That’s when I became the thing I hate the most. Tim Sackett, Life Coach.
You asked me what I would do to remake your recruiting department. You didn’t ask me to remake your recruiting department with all the current people. That’s impossible. Mary might walk on water and maybe there will be another role for her, but I don’t need her the role she’s in, in my “new” recruiting department.
What we really discussed was how far could we use technology in today’s modern recruiting and where do people then fit within that modern recruiting tech stack? There are definite roles that are much needed, but there are also roles that I think could be done away with if technology was fully utilized.
It’s a fun leadership experiment to have with your team if you’re looking for certain behaviors. You’ll see immediately people trying to hold onto their territory, protecting their empire, not really even comprehending they really aren’t trying to remake your function, but only trying to build and maintain their empire.