Do Recruiters Still Need To Make Phone Calls?

Recently, I was on a webinar, and in my presentation, I harped on the talent acquisition pros and leaders on the webcast on why 100% of us are not using texting as a primary first form of contact with candidates. The data is in. Texting works! It works better than email by a mile, but still, less than 50% in the room are texting candidates.

After I was done a great TA pro contacted me and said, “Tim, shouldn’t recruiters be calling candidates!” I fell in love! Why, yes, fine, sir they should always be calling candidates! But, let’s not forsake other tools that are working at a high level. We know people, in general, respond to texts at a much higher rate than email and phone calls.

You see a text and within seconds you read it, and you respond to it at more than double the rate of email or voicemail. In talent acquisition, we are in LOVE with email, even when it doesn’t work.

In 2011, I wrote this post below – funny enough, it’s still relevant today (except now I think we need to add in more texting with those phone calls!)

Do we (recruiters) still need to make telephone calls?

I mean really it’s 2011 – we have text messaging, emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – hasn’t the telephone just become obsolete?  Does anyone actually use their cell phones to make actual phone calls anymore?

The New York Times had an article: Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You, in which they delve into the concept of whether the act of making a phone call has jumped the shark or not.  From the article:

“I remember when I was growing up, the rule was, ‘Don’t call anyone after 10 p.m.,’ ” Mr. Adler said. “Now the rule is, ‘Don’t call anyone. Ever.’ ”

Phone calls are rude. Intrusive. Awkward. “Thank you for noticing something that millions of people have failed to notice since the invention of the telephone until just now,” Judith Martin, a k a Miss Manners, said by way of opening our phone conversation. “I’ve been hammering away at this for decades. The telephone has a very rude propensity to interrupt people…

Even at work, where people once managed to look busy by wearing a headset or constantly parrying calls back and forth via a harried assistant, the offices are silent. The reasons are multifold. Nobody has assistants anymore to handle telecommunications. And in today’s nearly door-free workplaces, unless everyone is on the phone, calls are disruptive and, in a tight warren of cubicles, distressingly public. Does anyone want to hear me detail to the dentist the havoc six-year molars have wreaked on my daughter?

“When I walk around the office, nobody is on the phone,” said Jonathan Burnham, senior vice president, and publisher at HarperCollins. The nature of the rare business call has also changed. “Phone calls used to be everything: serious, light, heavy, funny,” Mr. Burnham said. “But now they tend to be things that are very focused. And almost everyone e-mails first and asks, ‘Is it O.K. if I call?’ ”

Sound Familiar?

Now I could easily turn this into a generational issue because for one it’s easy to do, but this isn’t a GenX vs. GenY issue.  This is a basic communication issue.  An understanding of what we do in our industry issue.  Whether your third party or corporate recruitment, we do the same thing, we search and find talent.  There are two basic ways to screen potential talent for fit for your organization: 1. Meet them in Person (no one would argue that this is the best way, but boy it’s expensive if you are using it as your first-line screen); 2. Meet them over the phone (done in some form or another by 99.9% of recruiters).

There really isn’t any way around this issue, we recruit, we make telephone calls.  If you don’t like to make telephone calls, if you believe what the New York Times article believes, you shouldn’t recruit.  It’s not an indictment on you, this just isn’t your gig.

Recruiters like to talk to people, to question people, to find out more about people, not a career, best done by email and text messaging. We need to talk live to others. That’s how we go to work. Doesn’t matter if you’re 21 or 6. It’s how to deliver great talent to our hiring managers.

So, here’s a tip, if you’re in recruitment and you don’t like making phone calls get, out of recruitment, you will not be successful.  If your first choice of contacting someone isn’t picking up the phone and calling them, instead of sending them an email, when you have their phone number, get out of recruitment. If you’re thinking you want to recruit, and you don’t like making phone calls take another path.

Recruiters make phone calls, that’s what we do.

Here is the Average Time to Fill a job for most employers in the U.S.!

I gathered data from around 13,000 sources to get the most accurate Days to Fill metric that I could. It is one of the most asked questions I get from the audience!

So, what’s the number? 37*.

Cool, now can we stop asking? Did that just solve all of your hiring problems?

No, it didn’t. Why?

Because Time to Fill is a worthless recruiting metric for the most part. There is zero correlation between how fast you fill a job to how well your talent acquisition function is performing.

37 days is meaningless out of context, as a comparison, every job is different, every organization is different, and every market is different.

So, if you are currently at 37 days time to fill a job, and in 2022 you magically get to 36.2 days to fill, are you better at recruiting? Are you? Maybe you hired too fast and now your turnover is increased. Maybe the economy went south for a bit and increased the labor pool and now you have more candidates applying. Zero. Correlation. To. Talent. Acquisition. Success.

So, why do we use it? Frankly, and this hurts because you know I love talent acquisition and the pros that work in it every single day, we’re lazy. We’re too lazy to measure what really matters. That hurts. That should make you mad. We are better than this.

Can your Time to Fill matter at all? Yes, as a health metric of your TA function. If your industry average is 37 days, and you’re at 54, your function might have cancer! That being said, you have to support that with other stuff. Your 54-day hiring process might have reduced your turnover to 15% in an industry that has 50%, then your 54 days is understandable. But, what I usually find in most industries and jobs are fairly close to the mean on time to fill. So, it can be used as a universal health TA metric.

But, once you start trying to reduce by .4 days or .3 days, you’ve lost your way.

*For those wanting to now use “37” days as the average time to fill in the world, I totally made that metric up! Stop it! Be Better!

Should Corporate Recruiters Get Paid Salary & Commission?

First, shoutout to @Hervbird21 (Recruister) on Twitter for starting this conversation (Editor’s Note: Hervbird21 I don’t know who you are but send me a note and I’ll share your LinkedIn if you’d like) Also, take a look at the Twitter thread as there are some exceptional recruiting thought leaders who had thoughts on this subject.

Link to the thread

I’ve written about this a number of times over the years, but with the recruiting market being so hot right now, I’ve actually had a number of Recruiter compensation calls with corporate TA leaders trying to figure out three main things: 1. How do we retain our recruiters; 2. How do I attract more recruiters; 3. How do we reward great recruiting performance?

First, I’m all in on the fact that recruiters should be paid in a pay-for-performance model. That doesn’t mean that corporate recruiters, agency recruiters, and RPO should all be paid the same way. All three of those roles are different and should be compensated based on what the organization needs from each recruiter.

Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of Performance Pay for Corporate Recruiters

Pros:

  • You get more of what you measure and more of what you reward.
  • Your best recruiters will be compensated more, and higher compensation is tied to longer tenure.
  • Low performers and internal recruiters who actually hate recruiting will hate it and self-select out.
  • It will most likely raise individual recruiting team member performance in the aggregate.

Cons:

  • You will most likely have turnover with this type of change
  • Potentially, you could get behaviors that aren’t team-oriented. (IE., senior recruiters not helping junior recruiters)
  • Potentially, you could lower your quality of candidates as recruiters move quickly to gain performance comp. (the quantity over quality argument)
  • It actually might increase your compensation budget, initially, until you can find the model that is most effective.

Okay, wait, why did I say “potentially” on the Cons? Primarily, because it truly depends on the model design. Just making a decision to pay more for hires is ridiculous and leads to bad outcomes. But, developing a model that rewards individual performance that is based on recruiting behaviors that lead to better hires, quickly, and in a team setting, well, now you diminish the negative outcomes of pay for performance.

How could we make pay for performance work for corporate recruiters?

I’m not trying to dump on all the folks who commented on “Quarterly Bonuses” but stop that! “Quarterly Bonus” really means, “I don’t want to be individually measured and held accountable, but I also want more money on top of my great base salary”. Quarterly bonuses in most corp TA shops are a joke. They are usually based on Hiring Manager satisfaction and days to fill, two of the most subject measures that have zero correlation to better recruiting.

Also, internal recruiting pay for performance is not just a modified agency or RPO model. Corporate recruiters do much more than just recruit in most TA departments, so if you reward them to just recruit, understand, you’re just standing up an in-house agency model. Your internal recruiting model for corporate has to be unique to the job.

Some thoughts and ideas:

– Spend a bunch of time deciding what you actually want from your recruiters and from your function as a whole. Those two things must be aligned.

– Before going to a pay for performance model you need to get your arms around your recruiting funnel data. Otherwise, you’re just guessing at what and who to reward.

– In most cases, you can’t make the rewards the same because recruiters have different requisition loads and levels of position. Also, in most cases, certain areas of your organization hire at different times. So, get ready to test and be flexible to do the right thing at the right time.

– It’s okay if a recruiter makes more than you think if the model is producing what you want it to produce. Too often I hear from TA leaders that are like, “Jill is making too much!” But, Jill it killing it and the top recruiter.

– If you can’t get your head around paying for hires, pay for the behaviors and activities that lead to more hires.

– Start with a month or quarter test, make sure during the test no one will lose money. The goal is to try and reach some sort of outcome of better performance, to see if it can work. If they are only concerned they might make less money, you won’t truly see what can work or not work.

– It’s not about quality or quantity. It’s about quality and quantity. I’ve never led a recruiting team in a corporate or agency where good recruiters would ever send a crappy candidate on purpose. That just doesn’t happen, normally. If it did, that recruiter didn’t belong on the team.

I don’t believe in recruiting “team” rewards as pay for performance in most cases. Most teams are not designed and measured for “team” performance, so many on the team are getting the reward for a few doing most of the heavy lifting. You can still have team rewards, but you truly have to think about how you reward your most effective recruiters, short and long-term.

I think the ideal ratio for compensation for corporate recruiters should be 75% base salary and 25% pay for performance, where your best top recruiters can make 125% of their normal total comp if they are killing it. As I mentioned above, you will have recruiters quit because you have “recruiters” on your team that didn’t take the job to recruit, but to administer a recruiting process and collect a nice base salary.

Okay, tell me what I missed in the comments or if you have a model that is working you would like to share with everyone!

Top Speed is Overrated in Recruiting!

I have this tendency to get up on a soapbox and tell HR and TA leaders that measuring “Days to Fill” (Time to Fill, Time to Hire, Applicant to Hire, etc.) is a complete waste of time! I do this knowing that this is primarily the main recruiting metric used by the vast majority of organizations. So, I’m kind of calling them dumb, and I don’t like that, because that’s not what I believe!

I find the majority of HR & TA leaders to be hardworking, caring folks who want to do the right thing, but no one is showing them the “right” thing. I mean, I did in my book, but no one wants to read a full book!

Why is speed overrated in recruiting?

First, there is absolutely no correlation between how fast you got someone hired to how good of an employee they will be. Zero! Nil! Naught! None! So, you are measuring something, and telling people is massively important, but it has zero correlation to whether or not you hired someone that will be good for your company.

Awesome! Wow! Let’s hire faster! The faster we can get these walking zombies in here the faster we can fail! Yay! Fail faster! #WinkyFace

Second, I’ll give you that some sort of speed of recruiting metric as correlated to your industry benchmarks might be a good indicator to let you know how well your function is running or not running. Meaning, if your average days to fill is 40 and the industry benchmark is 30, you probably have some work to do. But, if you are at 29 and the benchmark is at 30, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are better at recruiting, just a bit faster.

Third, you can hire too fast. We tend to never think about all the false-positive hiring we do by moving too quickly. If we are rushing our process, we open the door to letting bad hires into the organization. We also open the door to filling roles before we can truly see what’s available in the market. Oh, Timmy is interested, let’s hire him quickly! And then the day after, Mary, applies and she’s much better, but you already hired Timmy.

Fourth, a large portion of the time in a day’s-to-fill metric isn’t even owned and controlled by recruiting. Hiring managers and the candidates themselves, control upwards of 50% of a time metric in any recruiting process.

Why do we focus so much on speed in recruiting?

Because “speed” is something c-suite executives get all excited about. If we are doing it faster, we must be doing it better. Plus, most c-suites think it takes too long to hire, so slower recruiting validates their belief that recruiting is broken. But, 99.99% of c-suites never recruited, so they are stupid. I mean, they are stupid about recruiting!

Because this is the metric we’ve always used to measure recruiting success in our organizations. Throughout the history of recruiting this is the metric that was measured, so this is the one we use. Kind of like how sports used metrics like points per game, and then advanced analytics came out, like plus/minus and now we look at older metrics as rudimentary in describing the performance of athletes.

Because we don’t know a better way to measure how or if we are successful in recruiting in our organizations. This is a tough one because we don’t know what we don’t know. I wish our ATS and recruiting technology vendors would do a better job of measuring and teaching advanced metrics to TA leaders. (Shoutout to vendors like SmartRecruiters, Greenhouse, Gem, and Predictive Hire – they all have some good stuff if you choose to use it.) The reality is, you would make your technology stickier if you did this.

What should recruiting focus on, rather than speed?

You know what’s coming. The funnel dummy!

We have certain actions that lead directly to recruiting success in our organizations if we analyze our recruiting funnels. The recruiting funnel will show you directly individual and team performance. But, let’s set that aside for a second. The funnel will ultimately give your organization the first truth about recruiting it’s ever had, the actual capacity it can rely on in recruiting. Your c-suite is dying to know this, and all you can tell them is, “we’ll work faster and longer and harder”.

Knowing your actual recruiting capacity will set you free and make you look like a genius as compared to every other TA leader that has become before you in your organization.

Cost of hire by source. Source effectiveness. Quality of applicant by Source (No, not the quality of hire, that’s not a TA metric), candidate experience metrics, recruiter experience metrics, etc.

Most shops run a classic 6-3-1 funnel. Meaning, it takes six screened candidates passed onto a hiring manager, who will then choose three of those candidates to interview, and then make an offer to one. If you take the billions of hires done at all organizations each year, it will almost always, on average, fall into a 6-3-1 model. Top of funnel, I.E., how many applicants to find six screened candidates, is a different story. That is dependent on a number of variables.

So, should you stop focusing on speed?

Yes. And, No.

Yes, you should stop focusing on speed if you are in a cycle where this year’s recruiting speed goal was to reduce your days to fill from 37.1 days to 36.8 days. At that point, your speed goal is worthless. You are only incrementally getting faster and you’ll see no real positive outcome from such a small time savings, even at enterprise and a million hires. Yes, I know the math says different at scale, but you are also forgetting the most important part. THERE. IS. NO. CORRELATION. BETWEEN. SPEED. AND. QUALITY. IN. RECRUITING!

No, you should not stop if you know your recruiting is flat-out broken and you are not even in the ballpark from a speed perspective. If it’s taking you 50 days to fill a position that your competition is doing in 25 days, you’re broken, and while speed isn’t the cure to your ills, you’ve got to catch up on the process side of things.

Okay TA Peeps! Tell me I’m wrong in the comments!

Performance Feedback for a New World of Work!

It really is a choice.

Either you can decide to perform the job you have, or you can decide to work someplace else. Maybe that someplace else is working for yourself. Good luck with that, truly!

Either you believe this is the right company for you, or you can decide another company is right for you.

Either you treat your coworkers as peers, or you are welcome to go treat someone else’s employees like crap, but you can’t treat these coworkers like crap.

Either you follow our rules, or you will follow someone else’s rules, or you can follow your own rules. I find most people who want to follow their own rules, struggle at following their own rules.

Either you make a positive contribution to the organization, or you make me make a choice about your future and the contribution, or lack of contribution, you’ll make somewhere else.

Earning the right to work here isn’t hard; it’s just a simple choice that you control. Losing that choice is up to you until you make it up to me.

This new world of work is amazing! It’s your life! It’s your choice. Really, just like the old world of work, but you just didn’t see it that way…

Should we reward outcome or effort?

I’m a huge believer in results. When I test, my results orientation is off the charts! So, naturally, I’ve always believed you should reward outcomes/results. The world is filled with folks who put in the effort, but in the end, can’t close the deal, was how I’ve thought about it.

Over the past few years, I’ve softened a bit on this. I still love and want results, but I started to believe that obtaining success isn’t about failure, but small successful efforts that lead to success. I was reminded about this recently when I overheard a story.

The story was being told by a parent who was watching his son’s youth soccer match. A boy on his son’s team scored a goal and all of the kids and parents were cheering, but this father noticed that the boy’s dad who scored was not cheering. “Oh, boy,” he thought, “another crazy sport’s parent, never satisfied with what their kids do…”

After the match, this guy really wanted to talk to the Dad, to tell him what he was doing was wrong, and eventually was going to push this kid to hate sports. So, he waited around looking for the perfect time, when the boy walked up to his dad and the dad asked him, “how did you score that goal?” The boy thought a minute and walked through the play, how he got the ball from the opponent, how he ran really fast to get in front of the opponent, and then went as fast as he could dribbling the ball down to the other end, and kicked the ball past the goalie.

The boy’s dad said, “so, you gave great effort, to get that goal?” Yes, said the boy. The dad congratulated the boy’s efforts. “That was a tremendous effort you gave that led to that goal”, said the dad.

The other father stood there listening, now more than ever wanting to talk to the dad to apologize for thinking he was such a jerk. So, he went up and told him what he was about to do, but glad he stopped himself to overhear his conversation with his son. “Well, he will never be able to guarantee the outcome in sports, but he can always guarantee his efforts”, said the boy’s dad.

In the business world, it’s really about both effort and outcome.

My business is recruiting. We reward “outcome” all the time. Did you actually find and hire the person for this job? Pretty black and white!

But, the reality of recruiting is so often the recruiter has very little to do with the outcome. Yes, they have to find a candidate, but ultimately you have a hiring manager who has some say, you have a candidate who has some say, you have others who have input to the final say. So, only rewarding for an outcome they don’t necessarily control, seems like we are missing a piece.

I often see great effort put in by the recruiters I work with to find and uncover talent, to talk that talent into interviewing and getting them interested in the job, the hiring manager, and the organization. The entire process can be measured and viewed in bursts of effort.

It’s one of the biggest failures most recruiting departments, agencies, RPO’s, etc. do in recruiting. We only reward outcomes and not efforts.

I advise people all the time if you want more employee referrals, stop rewarding the final outcome, and start rewarding all the small efforts that lead to an employee referral getting hired. Reward an employee for just giving you a name and contact information, reward the employee when that referral comes in to interview, reward that employee when that candidate they referred show up on the first day of work, etc. Most of us only reward our employees when the referral has stayed on working for us for 90 days or six months.

The problem is, the employee has so very little to do with that referral getting hired, the outcome. They have plenty they can do to help lead a referral down the path to the outcome, the efforts!

There’s a time and place for outcome rewards. Ultimately in business, we need outcomes to be successful. That is just a fact of life. But, if you believe in your process, your training, your tools, etc. Rewarding efforts can lead to awesome, sustainable results, that can be very rewarding to those grinding it out every day.

The Death of Average

“The world needs ditch diggers, too.”

You’ve heard this saying, right? We say it in regards to explaining that we all can’t be high performers. We all can’t be the best. I’ve said a million times that I would take an army of “B” players, just folks who show up to work and actually do the job they are paid to do!

The reality is, it’s now rare to find anyone who just wants to be “average”. I grew up in a world where the majority were completely fine with just doing their job, going home and living their life, rinse and repeat. Now, everyone wants to be extraordinary.

The problem is, if everyone is extraordinary, we all just are the same. If we are all the same, aren’t we all just average at that point? We are. You just raised the bar. This notion of abundance is a falsy, a dream. If everyone becomes high performing, that becomes the new mean, and someone will step up and become a higher performer. Welcome to life, kids.

Does the world still need ditch diggers?

I’m not sure, to be honest. It feels like we can build a robot or a machine or software to do most average stuff. Do we really need Starbuck baristas anymore? No! Robots are already making better coffee without the attitude, and if you want “attitude” we can make a button to push and the bot will give you attitude!

The current employment crisis will only speed up this evolution of eliminating the average. Say goodbye to some disinterested kid at the front counter at every fast food place. Say goodbye to grocery checkout clerks. Bank tellers. Truck drivers. I could do this all day.

If you can do your job and be average and no one says anything to you, know it’s just a matter of time until some sort of technology replaces you. That’s why no one is giving you any grief, it’s not worth pushing you for more when they know you’re going to be replaced!

The world will always need people who are willing to work, show up ready to work, and find some personal satisfaction of a job well done. Somehow that has become a lost art.

Average is Over

Average is over primarily because most people lack the self-insigt to understand and comprehend they are average. We are developing a world of people who believe they are above average at the very least, when most are performing below average work. This is a “participation medal” type of issue. At some point in our lives, we all got a participation token of some sort. This is a blurred lens of not understanding the person next to you is actually way better than you, either through hard work or flat out better talent.

A recent study by Goodhire found that 83% of Americans feel they don’t need a boss. The reality is, about 1-5% of Americans can perform average to above average work without some sort of supervision following up and ensuring performance is being met. So what Goodhire found out is that around 80% of Americans are stupid! Or, as I said above, this confirms the lack of self-insight. Very few people have the self-motivation to get up every day and manage themselves to success, let alone to just being average.

If you are an actual high performer in your life or any job, this is the best news you will ever hear! You are basically surrounded by morons who think they’re great, but struggle to turn off Netflix when real work must be done. People who believe because they replied to an email at 9pm at night, they are extraordinary. People you will walk over on your career ascent because they are average and don’t even know it.

The masses are killing average, but don’t be fooled, average didn’t go anywhere it’s just hiding in a new wrapper of “above average” inside of dumb people.

You Are No Longer Fit For Duty…in Recruiting!

I’ve been hearing a lot of “Fit-for-duty” stuff in the news lately and it got me thinking. Are any of us really fit for duty for the jobs we have!?

Fit-For-Duty, according to OSHA, means that an individual is in a physical, mental, and emotional state which enables the employee to perform the essential tasks of his or her work assignment in a manner that does not threaten the safety or health of yourself, your co-workers, your company’s property, or the public at large.

That’s a lot, right!? I mean, on a day-to-day basis I might make one or two of three of those, but being physically, emotionally, and mentally prepared each day!? Get out of here!

As recruiters being physically ready probably isn’t our biggest hurdle. I mean, let’s face it, we sit in front of a computer. If we can physically type and make some calls, it’s not the most demanding job from a physical standpoint. Also, mentally, is recruiting really challenging anyone day-to-day? We aren’t trying to figure out how to put puppies on the moon, we are just trying to talk someone into accepting a job we have open.

Are recruiters fit for duty?

The problem is the emotional side of fit for duty. You see, Recruiters face rejection all day, every day. An average recruiter will face more rejection in one week than an ugly, short dude gets on Tinder all year. That’s to say, it’s a lot!

The recruiter also has to constantly placate dumb hiring managers that believe they are way better than they are and that believe they know how to recruit talent better than the recruiters they work with. On top of that, we have the serial repeat candidates who are awful but can’t take “no” for an answer. So, each week we spend hours with candidates whose own mother wouldn’t give them a job, but somehow they believe they should be the next executive VP at our company!

Let’s not forget our HR brothers and sisters who secretly, and not so secretly hate us, because they ain’t us! It’s hard being this sexy, smart, and cool. We get it, but let’s just be friends! And still, somehow we take the blame for our organization’s lack of talent when we have psychopath leaders who turnover people like there’s an endless supply of warm bodies just craving our average pay, average benefits, and average, cold, work location.

Emotionally, there’s no way, most recruiters are fit for duty!

And, yet, we show up, pick up the phones, and keep finding fresh suckers every day to fill the jobs of our organizations.

When is a Recruiter no longer fit for duty?

Here’s the real deal, because, for all the joking above, there is actually a time when a recruiter is no longer fit for duty in your company. The time they are no longer fit for duty is the exact time they stop believing.

That moment when they stop believing your company is a good company.

That moment when they stop believing that the job they are working on is a good job.

The moment when they stop believing that the hiring manager they are working with has the ability to be someone good to work for.

Now, I get it, we all have a bad hiring manager here and there. a bad job here and there, but overall, the majority is good. The moment we no longer believe this is the exact moment you can no longer recruit for your company.

You are no longer fit for duty, because “believing” can’t be faked. It shows up. It shows up in the bad candidates you let go on to the next step. How you sell your company to the world. How you allow a partner to make a bad decision and just walk away.

As a recruiter, you are no longer fit for duty the moment you stop believing. That is the moment you must leave. Maybe not the company, but certainly your job as a recruiter.

I think a lot of CEOs would like to believe this is a fit for duty criteria for every role in their company, but that just isn’t true. I don’t need Ted in IT to believe in the company, I just need to make sure he keeps the network up. Do I want him to believe? Heck, yes! But, I desperately must have my recruiters who believe!

Take a good long look in the mirror today. Are you fit for duty?

Choose Your Hard…

I was at SHRM Annual last week and a very common story from everyone I spoke to, know matter their title, was the fact that recruiting talent is extremely difficult right now. Most organizations are in desperation mode, and I’m not saying that to be dramatic.

There’s a concept that motivational folks have been using for a while now. The concept is “Choose your hard.” Meaning, a lot of stuff in life is hard. It’s hard to be overweight and not feel good about yourself, it’s also hard to work out and eat healthily. Choose your hard.

It’s hard to get up and go to work each day and put in long hours to make ends meet. It’s also hard to be unemployed and figure out ways to survive. Choose your hard.

It’s hard to recruit talent.

There are so many things organizations can do to recruit talent better. You can hire great recruiters and give them the right tools. You can actually fund your recruitment marketing and advertising appropriately. You can measure and performance manage your recruiters and sources. You can work with your hiring teams to help out as employee advocates to produce more referrals. You can shop out your entire recruiting to RPO or Agency. You can hire great employees who love your brand and train them to be recruiters. You can go out and lead the market in pay and total compensation packages.

All of this stuff is hard to do.

It’s hard because most of this stuff comes with accountability. If I can talk my CEO and CFO into funding us correctly, this will come with some expectations of performance. I will put a bullseye on myself and my team.

It’s hard to get fired from a job because you didn’t perform. Because you didn’t do the work that was needed to be successful. That you didn’t put in the work to build the plan, to acquire the needed resources, to lead your organization to success.

Don’t get me wrong, working harder is not a strategy. Working harder is a short-term fix, that eventually leads to failure and burnout. Hard is doing the work that needs to be done so your sole strategy is not just working harder.

At the end of the day, we all have to choose our hard.

Leaders Secretly Hate Succession Planning!

Do you want to know what you’ll never hear anyone on your leadership team say publicly? Well, let me stop before I get started, because there are probably a ton of things leaders will say behind closed doors, off the record, and then open the door and say the exact opposite. Welcome to the PC version of corporate America.

One of the obvious, which always causes a stir is veteran hiring. I’ve written posts about Veteran Hiring many times, in which I state that companies will always, 100% of the time, publicly say they support veteran hiring, but behind closed doors they don’t really support veteran hiring. At best they want to offer veterans their crappiest jobs, not their best jobs.

If they did truly support veteran hiring, we would not have a veteran hiring crisis in this country! If every organization that claims they want to hire veterans, would just hire veterans, we would have 100% employed veterans! But we don’t. Why? Well, it’s organizational suicide to ever come out and say we don’t really want to hire veterans.  The media would kill that organization. Yet, veterans can’t get hired.

Succession planning is on a similar path. Your leaders say they support succession planning. They’ll claim it is a number one priority for your organization. But, every time you try and do something with succession planning, it goes nowhere!

Why?

Your leaders hate succession planning for a number of reasons, here are a few:

1. Financially, succession planning is a huge burden on organizations, if done right. Leaders are paid for the financial success of your organization. If it comes down to Succession Planning, or Michael getting a big bonus, Succession Planning will get pushed to next year, then, next year, then, next year…You see Succession Planning is really overhiring. Preparing for the future. It’s a long-term payback. Very few organizations have leadership in place with this type of long-term vision of success.

2.  Leaders get too caught up in headcount. We only have 100 FTEs for that group, we couldn’t possibly hire 105 and develop and prepare the team for the future, even though we know we have a 6% turnover each year. Organizations react. Firefight. Most are unwilling to ‘over hire’ and do succession in a meaningful way.

3. Leaders are like 18-year-old boys. They think they can live forever!  Again, publicly they’ll tell you they’re planning and it’s important. Privately, they look at some smartass 35-year-old VP and think to themselves, there is no way in hell I’ll ever let that kid take over this ship!

So, what can smart HR Pros do?

Begin testing some Succession Planning type tools and data analytics in hot spots in your company. Don’t make it a leadership thing. Make it a functional level initiative, in a carve-out area of your organization. A part of the organization that is highly visible has a direct financial impact on the business, and one you know outwardly has succession issues.

Tinker. Get people involved. Have conversations. Start playing around with some things that could have an impact in terms of development, retention, cross-training, workforce planning, etc.  All those things constitute succession, but instead of organization level, you are focusing on departmental level or a specific location.

Smart HR Pros get started.  They don’t wait for the organization to do it all at once. That will probably never happen. Just start somewhere, and roll it little by little. Too often we don’t get started because we want to do it all. That is the biggest mistake we can make.