I read a post on LinkedIn today that linked to a blog by Idea Champions that had a number of quotes on “Change” (https://goo.gl/ZSPx1s).  Things like “Be the change you want to see in the world” and “We must be willing to let go of the life we have as planned, so as to accept the life we have waiting for us.”

This started me thinking about how we go about our work lives, tolerating sub-par performance in various aspects of our organizations.  Specifically, talent management and acquisition.

One of the observations I’ve made regarding talent acquisition – whether permanent or contract – is that at least two-thirds of employers are frustrated with their process:

“It takes forever to find and hire someone.”

“It seems that most of the folks we hire are average.”

“Why don’t the best people want to work here?”

“We lose too many folks in their first year of employment.”

“I have to interview 20 people just to get one that’s reasonably qualified.”

“Millennials just don’t want to work for companies like ours.”

(Had to throw that last one in there. If I had a nickel…)

And the list goes on.

For all the symptoms that lead to dissatisfaction, there are contributing factors and root causes behind them. Without a whole lot of effort, one can assess, analyze, and overcome these issues, leading to vast improvements in effectiveness of the hiring process and a higher caliber of talent for the organization.

Why don’t companies address it?  Why are they unable or unwilling to change?

We see two root causes:

  • Recognizing and appreciating the problem: It seems that many firms are content to accept the status quo.  They treat the symptoms as “just the way things are”.  Like the copier that seems to jam more often than it should, or the machine that you whack on the side to get to work right, people start to accept the current state as an unchanging reality.  They talk to friends and peers in other organizations, and conclude it is the same everywhere.

So, while the symptoms are acknowledged, there is no realization or vision of a better way.

  • Motivation to take action: Other firms recognize the issues, but believe there is not enough “pain” to change from the status quo. They tolerate underperformance in what is arguably the most critical factor in ensuring long term success because they perceive “we have higher priorities” or “now is not the right time” or dozens of other excuses.  So, it never gets done.

We equate it to eating right and exercise.  Many of us want to be healthy but tolerate gaining a pound or two a year, and say “I’ll start a diet and exercise next month (after the holidays, next year, etc.)”.  Then, we wake up one morning and find we can’t achieve our goals in because we are physically limited – too weak, too tired, not strong enough, etc.

It’s the same with talent.  Quite often, firms tolerate inconsistent results in hiring only to find when the organization needs to grow, evolve, and achieve a goal or vision, they struggle.  Revenue, profitability, and / or market position suffers.

If there is any “good” news with this, sadly, it’s that you can be mediocre and stay even in your sector.

Are you OK with being mediocre?   

What to do:

  • Look at the current hiring process and results you get. What are the symptoms you see?  Are an unacceptable percentage of your hires disappointing in some way?  List them out.
  • Find internal champions with the desire to make it better. Look for those that most directly feel the sting of a bad or mediocre hire.  The Production Manager that is fighting fires.  The VP of Sales who let’s go every other new person.  Spend time with them to get a commitment to try something different.
  • Set your goals. What will a “better” process look like?  What are the gains you hope to achieve?  How will you measure these both quantitatively and qualitatively?
  • Design and pilot a revised workflow and hiring process. Whether it’s your internal OD / CI specialist or a firm like Advisory and Consulting Services, chances are you’ll need a guide to get to the root causes, help step out of the current mindset, to challenge the status quo, and to rework your process.
  • Measure the results, adjust, and expand the program.

Of course, the approach above is a simplistic high-level summary of how to get where you want to be, and every firm has its unique set of challenges.

Advisory and Consulting Services has helped numerous firms in central Ohio with their talent acquisition challenges.  If “being average” just isn’t cutting it anymore, contact us for an initial consultation at no charge.

Rich Grunenwald can be reached at rich@acsconsults.dnsuk.net or (614)561-3412.