5 Steps to a Stronger HR/Hiring Manager Partnership

hr-hiring-manager-partnership

5 Steps to a Stronger HR/Hiring Manager Partnership

Grow Your Talent Pool, Boost Your Brand, and Hire Better Candidates, Faster

hr-hiring-manager-partnership

In his recent article on eremedia, “Slow Hiring is Damaging Your Firm and Here are 20 Reasons Why,” Dr. John Sullivan details how delays in hiring do enormous harm to everyone involved.  As an executive recruiter, I was happy to see someone lay out the facts so succinctly.  After all, I see the effects of hiring speed on candidates, hiring managers, entire organizations, and frankly, me, every week. 

So, here’s what you already know: 

A smooth, speedy, well organized hiring process keeps the most desirable candidates engaged. Conversely, a sluggish, inconsistent or confusing process turns them off.

But it’s worse than that.  Slow hiring can also turn top applicants into opponents.  Yep, I said opponents.  Disappointed, disengaged, highly talented candidates aren’t passive, quiet folks who simply fade into the background. They are vocal.  They are articulate.  And they have access to multiple megaphones.

If you doubt me, stop for a minute to consider what happens when a talented individual feels courted-then-ignored, frustrated, disappointed, or misled by a potential employer.  What do they say when other highly talented job seekers ask about their experience with you?  They tell the truth.  And they tell it vividly.  But these days, they don’t have to wait for anyone to ask.  They simply hop online and vent those frustrations, warning the next wave of unsuspecting job seekers to stay away from you and your organization.  Sites like glassdoor.com make it easy for word to get out – and stay out there.   

In other words, pokey process doesn’t simply create short-term frustration. It leads to the long-term erosion of your employer brand.

Sure, there may be multiple causes (and countless excuses) for delays in the hiring process.  But I’m not interested in the finger pointing exercise. I think it’s more productive to look at best practices.  There are plenty.  And they’re all pretty easy to put into practice because at the heart of great hiring practice, I consistently find one thing:

A strong partnership between the hiring manager and the HR recruiter.

Depending on how many layers of baggage and bureaucracy currently lie between your HR recruiting team and the hiring managers they support, this may seem difficult.  But it shouldn’t be.  It can’t be.  There’s too much at stake. 

Build a better partnership now, starting with these 5 (pretty painless) steps:

1.  Goals:  Start by Agreeing on the Vision

When it comes to acquiring new talent for the organization, the hiring manager and recruiter have one shared goal:  bring in the best candidate.  Break that down into meaningful sub goals.  What are the highest priority skills and competencies you need in this new hire?  What are the must-haves vs. the nice-to-haves?  How would the hiring manager describe the ideal candidate?  How could a new hire fill certain ability gaps in the manager’s team?  What is absolute latest date you need to have the new team member on board? These are goals that are best defined during a sit-down, face-to-face conversation. 

2. Strategy:  Define Your Recruiting Plan

At the start of every new search, take the time to define how the two of you intend to achieve your hiring goals.  Treat this like a project plan with milestones, steps and granular detail on how progress will be measured, discussed and corrected when necessary.  Micromanage this part of the process.  It will make everything else easier.  Start by define dates and distribution plans for the job requisition and description.  Agree on internal and external recruiting strategies to attract passive candidates, screening procedures, and interviewing tactics. 

3.  Roles:  Who’s Doing What?

As you agree on your strategy, be sure there’s a column devoted to key accountabilities.  And never take anything for granted.  (Yes, this should be in writing.)  I cannot tell you how many times a great candidate has waited in the wings as the days tick by because everyone on the hiring team thought someone else was “the hold up.”  Determine who’s drafting the requisition and description, conducting initial screenings, conducting phone interviews, vetting finalists, scheduling and conducting interviews, writing up and approving offers and even finalizing the onboarding plans. Define every single step – and absolute maximum lag times for each.  Doing so at the onset will strengthen your internal hiring partnership, spare you all kinds of frustration along the way, and ensure a quick and reliable candidate experience.  I get how tempting it is to ignore this step.  After all, you’re trying to move quickly.  But failing to define roles now almost guarantees that you’ll be retracing your steps and blaming each other for failures later in the process. 

4.  Learn as You Go

If you enter into a recruiting effort expecting perfection from each other, you’re destined for failure, frustration and a lot of ugly baggage going forward.  If, on the other hand, you commit to learning about each other’s roles, skills, talents – and challenges – you’re destined for mutual understanding, true collaboration and more successful recruiting outcomes.  Achieve this by asking questions, listening to the responses you get, demonstrating care and, of course, sharing your own perspectives.  Focus on the specifics of your shared goal, review progress reports and candidate feedback together, and be generous with your knowledge.    

5.  Never Stop Communicating:  Honestly, Openly, and Fairly

“Let’s stay in touch” rarely works.  “How about if we talk every Tuesday at 9:30” does.  More importantly, use that time to truly dig into the process and talk about what’s working, what’s not, and what you can tweak to improve.  As applications come in, sit down to review top tier candidates.  Are you in agreement on strengths, weaknesses and potential?  What about after initial phone screens and interviews?  As you talk through your impressions of candidates and how well they fit the job, you’ll be able find disconnects and fix them before too much time is wasted. 

Hiring the best talent is a high stakes challenge.  It’s never easy.  And it’s rarely as quick as you want it to be.  But by making sure that HR and the hiring manager are on the same page, you can remove obstacles, speed up the process and impress your best candidates.

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