Category Archives: Hiring Managers

Having a Hard Time Recruiting?

Its not uncommon for companies that having some trouble acquiring talent. Potential candidates who are looking out for better opportunities, decline attractive career offers  – sometimes even before they are told of the details.

I like to offer an additional but often over-looked reason why this could or has happened – and its not something that happens overnight. Many of these potential candidates could have either heard or had bad experiences with the company before. These could be in the course of work, for example at business meetings, at joint marketing exercises, or even when competing for a business. They see an obvious mismatch between what the company professes to be and what is been practiced.

Closer to home, it could be that he or she has had a bad hiring experience with the company. In the normal course of recruitment, there are probably 5 or 6 rejected candidates for every successful candidate. Let’s focus on these rejected candidates. Did they, even though rejected, had a good experience with the company’s recruitment process? (either with the company directly or through its recruitment agency). When rejected, how was the rejection communicated? Did they go away thinking that they missed a great opportunity to work with a great company, or did they go away telling themselves they will never want to work for the company again?

A company could profess that it wants to be the employer of choice – but during in the first meeting, the candidate had to wait for more than an hour for the hiring manager who’s busy with other priorities. The candidate was put down during the interview, and told flatly that he will not ‘make it’ in the company. For some, its the deadly silence – they are not notified that they have been rejected after an interview and been kept waiting. For others, by the time they are to go for a second interview, they have already found another position – with the company’s competitors.

Other than being rejected candidates – who are these 5 or 6 individuals? They could, either now or in future, be one of your vendors/suppliers/business partners or competitors. He could even be a potential client/customer deciding who to give the company business to. These are also the ones that other potential candidates may check with  – whether your company is a good company to work for. Their answers would be obvious. They may be personal friends, or connections made by word of mouth and through the internet community and discussion sites.

Over time, a community of ‘ex-applicants’ who gives the company bad references has been built. And it all starts with a bad hiring experience.

These rejected candidates could have been a community of strong advocates if managed properly.


On Talent Management

This is probably a topic that has been beaten to death, but is also one that we as managers should constantly remind ourselves of. “People don’t leave their jobs, people leave their bosses.”

There are enough studies that point to the many reasons why people move jobs –  from poor working conditions, to compensation packages. The major reason that invariably stands out across all levels is the employee’s workplace relationship with their manager. The relationship determines whether one looks forward to the office or drags his or her feet to work. Seemingly, basic issues are taken for granted – lack of trust, unfair treatment, lack of appreciation for a job well done, respect for the individual.

These are side lined in a fast paced environment – there the quarterly sales targets to achieve, customer service level agreements to meet, rapid technology change to keep up – the temptation to become a task oriented manager is really great . Deliver my numbers and all will be well, to the peril of losing the most valued talents in the company because they have not been looked after.

In a recent book entitled “The three signs of a miserable job” by Patrick Lencioni, he outlined the 3 signs as anonymity, irrelevance, and “immeasurement”. Put together, the worker feels that management has little or no interest in them as a human being; takes no interest in their personal lives. They cannot see their job or contribution making a difference to the company, customer, fellow worker or even the manager himself. The third, is where employees cannot access for themselves their contribution and have to rely on subjective opinions of others to gauge their performance. So much for self worth in the work place.

Paying the appropriate attention and showing genuine interest to employees to establish their sense of belonging and self worth has long been studied, since the Industrial Revolution. Enough of the theories….  by why does it still happen? Lencioni suggests 3 root causes –

Many managers think that they are too busy, and suggests that the real reason is these managers see themselves as individual contributors who happen to have direct reports. There’s a lot of truth in this. Many of the candidates we speak to have been promoted to managerial ranks because they have met their sales target or have excelled in managing at a project. Managing people especially knowledge workers, as oppose to task execution, requires a very different skill set. HR plays a key strategic role here in preparing managers to manage.

Managers don’t communicate the concern and feedback performance as they simply forget what it was like before they moved into management. They forget how their previous managers took an interest to them and motivated them to grow into their new role.

The third is that managers failed because they are either too embarrassed or to afraid to try, hounded by the fear that the employees will see them as being manipulative or even hypocritical.

In the midst of our tight schedules, we should take time to evaluate how we are managing the most valuable resources that have be entrusted to us as managers. Human Resource has a invaluable role to ensure that managers who are either promoted because of their performance or have been in management for years are trained and constantly reminded – that they will only do well when their employees do well. In the words of one of my ex-managers at IBM a long time ago. ”I will only make my numbers if you make your numbers.”  – communicates my contribution, relevance and measurement.