Categorized | Management

Does Your HR Process Recruit or Repulse?

A lot of large companies are coming to the realization that in order to grow and thrive, they need to develop and pursue internal innovation capabilities. However, they also frequently recognize that they don’t have the internal talent needed to foster a culture of innovation. Organizations are hidebound by organizational memory that stifles innovation and continually pursues existing process.

That’s why it’s essential for companies to look outside their own organizations to bring in talented individuals who have proven their ability to nurture innovation and guide organizational transformation. But, when the recruitment process is turned over to HR, do their established policies and procedures aid in the recruitment process or actively repulse creative talent?

I was reminded of these organizational conflicts last week when talking with an executive who had recently been approached by a large public company whose CEO determined that the company needed to emulate successfully innovative companies like Whirlpool and Apple to fuel their company’s growth.

Overcoming Organizational Memory
Recognizing that their current staff was likely incapable of crafting and implementing a dramatic shift towards an innovation culture, the company directed their HR department to recruit talent to help direct these new initiatives.

What followed was a laughably complex, lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful attempt by an entrenched HR department that followed their carefully choreographed hiring processes that served two purposes: to consolidate HR’s central role in the hiring process and to repel precisely the type of candidate they desperately need in-house.

The Process
The steps followed over the course of months (yes, months) was:

  1. contact by internal recruiter
  2. conversation with internal recruiter to determine nature of position and corporate commitment
  3. conversation with senior recruiter to review candidate’s qualifications
  4. requirement by HR for candidate to apply for the position through their unnecessarily complex online process
  5. request for candidate’s resume, despite the fact that the company approached him and his entire portfolio, blog, references, presentations and public appearances were all publicly available online
  6. follow up interview with senior HR recruiter to confirm level of interest (which was waning sharply by this point)
  7. telephone interview with hiring manager
  8. follow-up interview with senior recruiter
  9. second telephone interview with hiring manager
  10. in person interviews with hiring manager and four other executives lasting over half a day
  11. request for personality assessment and permissions for assorted background checks
  12. interview debrief with senior recruiter with promise to provide an answer within a couple of weeks, after they had processed several other candidates as well
  13. silence

For those people involved with corporate HR there’s probably nothing surprising about the length or detail of this hiring process. And that’s exactly what repels the corporate innovator. After all, if the corporate processes to bring in a single hire are so complex and embedded, how sclerotic is the rest of the organization and how likely will any individual change, or even shift, an entire corporate culture?

The entire hiring process so repelled this executive that he ultimately abandoned any interest in the organization.

Do your hiring processes communicate what’s best about your organization or are you losing the competition for talent because your initial contacts turn off the best and brightest?

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Tim McPherson

By Tim McPherson

Tim McPherson, President and COO for Nesco Resource, has over 27 years of experience in all facets of the Staffing Services Industry.

4 Responses to “Does Your HR Process Recruit or Repulse?”

  1. Susie Sharp says:

    John, first of all, you totally charmed me with the descriptive word “sclerotic”. I love good word-smithing.

    Secondly, I’ve experienced inane procedures like this before. HR provides an applicant an opportunity get a feel for a company’s corporate culture, and what entrepreneur can thrive in that environment?

    I can jump through a hoop or two, and fill out repetitive paperwork to show that I can follow instructions, but a lemming I am not. If a company wants to keep and retain innovative talent, HR’s going to have to figure out a way to put out the Welcome mat and stop looking like a 3 Stooges production.

    HR’s job is to attract and retain talent, yet the first thing any job seeker is taught is that HR Departments’ first function is to rule an applicant OUT, not IN. Job seekers are inevitably coached by job seeker support groups how to circumvent HR. How does the HR profession get a better perception? I don’t know. It seems that the bigger a company is, the firmer and more suffocating a grip the HR department has on its life blood.

    IMHO “sclerotic” HR procedures are partially a reason why many creative entrepreneurial types tend to be employed by smaller companies which can respond quickly to promote growth and change. The larger companies, for multiple reasons, cannot. The dinosaur slowly turns its head and then the massive body s-l-ow-l-y follows. By that time, the jack rabbit is long gone.

    Thanks for another insightful post, John.

    Susie Sharp
    Cleveland, Ohio

    • John Heaney says:

      Susie, although large companies are most frequently to blame, there are large and nimble companies out there who handle their HR the right way. Zappos does an excellent job, despite their size, because their HR department is infused with the same cultural imperatives of creativity, imagination and customer service as the rest of the company. Culture always trumps strategy, and unfortunately HR departments frequently display cultural signals that are in conflict with the rest of the organization.

    • jobshopper says:

      Susie, although large companies are most frequently to blame, there are large and nimble companies out there who handle their HR the right way. Zappos does an excellent job, despite their size, because their HR department is infused with the same cultural imperatives of creativity, imagination and customer service as the rest of the company. Culture always trumps strategy, and unfortunately HR departments frequently display cultural signals that are in conflict with the rest of the organization.

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