2017 Priorities for Talent Leaders: Strategy, Process, Impact

The new year brings new challenges and opportunities as we attempt to whip our HR and recruiting functions into shape. One of the new projects we’re working on at Lighthouse is our Global Talent Acquisition Sentiment Study. With more than 400 votes, we are helping to narrow down the most pressing priorities and topics across the talent acquisition function. The infographic below offers some insight into what those priorities are, and my forthcoming report on the topic will delve into how the data shows differences in US and non-US populations, what trends are driving the relative importance of each of these issues, and what to expect in the coming months.

I’m also delivering a presentation on this topic in March and would be glad to share these insights with your group in a lecture, workshop, or webinar. Just reach out via my speaker page and we can discuss. 

Below are some of the noteworthy findings.

Key Priorities are Not Function-Related

Some of the key priorities in the study that came out on top were focused not on specific practices in recruiting, but on more broad aspects, such as process improvement and business alignment. This is a positive finding, because all too often when I’m working with clients I see that they have a great onboarding or branding program, only to find out that it’s working in opposition to their goals and business strategies.

Onboarding, Sourcing, Candidate Experience Top the List

It consistently surprises me when I see a group of talent leaders prioritize onboarding. Not because it is unimportant, but because it seems like so little effort is placed on it in reality. It’s possible that 2017 is the year we turn that around, making this a strategic differentiator for growth.

Next up is sourcing. I see a great divide between the highly capable digital sourcing professionals and the rest of the HR and talent leader community. This is so pronounced that it almost seems like a different profession, akin to marketing or customer acquisition more so than HR.

Finally, candidate experience was barely edged out for third place. In our recent research on the candidate experience, we pointed out some not-so-obvious ways to improve this practice with assessments, video interviews, and more. This discipline is steadily becoming more of a concrete science for talent leaders, which means we can find what works, make specific process improvements, and deliver higher value to our future employees.

One final note: you’ll notice that not much room separates any of these in the infographic below. This is good in that companies have their priorities in order, but it is also challenging, because when we have competing priorities it means we’re going to be less effective. It is critical to find the specific talent practice your team needs to work on and make it happen before attempting to move to other opportunities in the list.

Lighthouse 2017 TA Sentiment Study Graphic

Onboarding Process or Onboarding Mess?

Last week I dropped in on a webinar by the Brandon Hall Group and one of the comments floored me.

40% of organizations say their onboarding process is “less than effective.” Wow. @BrandonHallGrp

— Ben Eubanks (@beneubanks) February 12, 2014

Seriously? 40%? That’s pretty incredible, considering the amount of information available out there to help with this process. In the organizations I’ve worked in, there have been three players involved in an employee’s onboarding:

  • Recruiting brings the person in during the recruiting process, then gives them to HR
  • HR helps with the basics up through day one, then hands them to their manager
  • The manager either does their own internal team welcome/kickoff/assimilation, or they don’t. It’s fairly obvious which one occurs, because the difference is obvious within only a few days on the job.

I’ve written previously on the topic of onboarding, and I feel like those suggestions alone are enough to get the processes up to snuff for many smaller organizations. Whether it’s onboarding tips for managers, the importance of intimate and personal contact, or onboarding remote employees, plenty of information exists to help HR professionals, managers, and organizations DO onboarding better.

The SHRM Foundation put out a solid guide to maximizing success during the onboarding process a few years back, and I’m sure you can find at least one or two tips (or a dozen) to increase the effectiveness of your own internal workings.

The bottom line is this: we hear the numbers like I quoted above, and we feel helpless to act, or we feel like “at least we’re not the only ones,” or we think ours is “good enough.” There’s no shortage of excuses. However, while it’s never going to be perfect, you can always be looking for ways to make it better.

Let me put it this way: if your competitor down the street is getting new hires up to speed in 4 weeks and it takes you 8 weeks to get the person to the same proficiency level, they are going to beat you. When you think about it in that context, it gives the argument considerable weight.

Better people practices lead to better company performance.

Let’s make it happen! How are you going to tweak your onboarding process to make it more effective?

Onboarding Tips for Managers

Every once in a while I share things here that I’ve put out to our managers. Why? Because I know that many of you struggle with getting your managers on board in some areas, too! The message below is one that I recently passed to our supervisors in order to help them understand the end of the recruiting process.

I see this as a critical juncture, because as the in-house corporate recruiter, I’ve developed a rapport with the candidate and have their trust; however, to ensure that the working relationship goes smoothly, I have to transition them into the care of their supervisor for any future needs. Here’s how I try to set the managers and employees up for success:

Next time you have a new hire coming onboard, please take the time to look at the steps that they will be going through. The HR, security, and accounting teams are working closely with the new hires to make sure they are as ready as possible for their first day of work, but you have a job to do in that regard as well.

You’ll notice that there is no specific training to help the new hire fit into your team. Oh, there is an orientation session for new hires, but that is for answering benefits questions, gathering paperwork, etc. The moment they leave the orientation session, they are starting to gather input and learn more about the company and person they will be working for.

Here are a few tips that you can use to help get the employee productive (and profitable) while making them comfortable as well:

1. Email the person a few days before their start date to see if they have any questions, concerns, or comments. Be sure to mention how excited you are about them starting with you.

2. As soon as their orientation session is over with HR, consider implementing your own short orientation session to help get the new hire engaged with regard to team dynamics, communication styles, workload, and anything else they might not think to ask about. (Check with HR if you want some help with developing a department-specific orientation session; we’re happy to help!)

3. Take time often in the first days to ask and answer as many questions as possible. The more time you invest in the person, the sooner you’ll be able to “take off the training wheels” and let them do what you hired them for!

More questions? Contact me at HR@….

This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but if I can get managers to understand, accept, and practice these three items, then it will go far in helping them to have a happy, well-adjusted staff from the earliest days of work. If you’re looking for additional ideas, check out the free New Hire Orientation eBook.

What tips and ideas do you share with your managers about onboarding, orientation, etc.?

Hiring, Onboarding, Culture, and More on DriveThruHR

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with the great team over at DriveThruHR about some of the things that are “keeping me up at night,” so to speak. We discussed hypergrowth (how to prepare for 50% growth in less than a month), what it means to hire for culture fit, and more. It was a great conversation, and I had a lot of fun discussing the things that make us better HR professionals.

I’d love for you to check it out and let me know what you think! The player is embedded below. Subscribers click here to see the player.

If the player doesn’t work, feel free to use this link to listen to the episode.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

New Job Orientation for Remote Employees

While we have plenty of resources for how to onboard new hires, there isn’t much info with regard to new job orientation for remote employees. How do you handle off site employee orientation? What do you say? How do you communicate?

Today we’ll look at all that, plus I’ll share a few ideas on how to make it especially valuable for the employee. New job orientation isn’t easy, and it’s even harder when you’re off site! Here’s the message from a reader that got my brain fixed on the topic:

Just read your article about Onboarding. Some really useful stuff there but I was wondering if you have ever written about trying to onboard a new employee in a remote location where there is no team in place yet. I am currently doing this and came across your article in my desperate search for some help. — I’m located in our office and the new employee is located in the remote office which has the awesome advantage of being in a different time zone. We do have employees in the office there but nobody who will be doing anything like his specific job. This is also my first employee ever so I’m having a minor meltdown as you can imagine. There are so many things like taking them to lunch etc that I can’t do so I’m trying to figure out ways to substitute these kind of team bonding activities. We are going to be hiring a few more people in the next few weeks but I want to try and get it at least partially right with this first one so that he doesn’t run screaming from the building. Any advice would be most gratefully received.

Here’s what I had to say.

Very neat! I definitely agree that you have a challenge on your hands. I would make it a point to use video chat if you have that capability. That’s the most personal, and personable, interaction you can have with someone who’s thousands of miles away. Another neat idea might be to do a quick video tour of your local office, show them who else works for the organization, and let each person wish them a quick “welcome” message. That would take ten minutes to walk around, record, and upload/send, but it would be very valuable for creating a connection among the staff.

If you have the capability, you might also put together a short writeup on your culture, what it’s like working there, and the things your leaders believe in. I’ve attached the one I recently put together as a sample. If there are no standing meetings in place, this is a great opportunity to create one and allow each location to kick in a few ideas about what they are working on, any issues they are facing, etc. over a group conference call.

Let me know how it goes!

How to approach new job orientation for remote employees

Here’s a short video where I discuss this topic.

Additional resources

What about you? How do you handle new job orientation for remote employees?

Crafting a Welcome Letter to New Employees

new employee welcome letter companyI ran across this new employee welcome letter example from some old files and had to share. The creator was the best manager out of dozens at a previous employer, and it was little things like this that made his people love him. I had no idea he was providing these documents to his staff for quite a while, but I ran across a copy one day and was astonished at the level of care that he put into being the best leader he could be for his team. (By the way, if you are looking for great ideas to develop or enhance your current onboarding and new hire orientation process, be sure to check out the free new hire orientation eBook!)

A great example of a new employee welcome letter

Dear [Employee Name],

Welcome aboard our team! I am pleased to have you working with us. You were selected for employment due to the attributes that you displayed that appear to match the qualities I look for in an employee. Continue reading

Developing Your Team-Commitment Matters

How to develop a teamDeveloping your team the “Edward Jones” way

For the past few months, my youngest brother has been going through the hiring process for the hardcore Edward Jones PASS program. I had the opportunity to sit and talk with him about the steps he took to get the position, and it honestly floored me at all the hoops he had to jump through to even be considered as a serious candidate. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that EJ had put some serious thought into the process and what they wanted their final candidates to look like.

Here’s the basic process to go through for the highly competitive PASS program:

  • Apply on website
  • Lengthy web application process
  • Someone at EJ performs resume review
  • If considered qualified, you are notified via email to call in and listen to PASS conference call and Q&A (~40 applicants on the line at once)
  • If you attended the call, you are notified via email to call and schedule your own phone screen
  • During the phone screen, the EJ representative asks how you would build a sustainable investing business, what your plans are, what you understand of the PASS program, etc.
  • If you pass the phone screen, they send you the job description again for review, then you are notified to schedule your own phone interview
  • During the phone interview, the EJ asks fairly standard interview questions. This lasts 45-90 minutes based on your responses. If you do not understand the job requirements (multiple questions based on the job description you’ve been furnished previously), you are not considered qualified. At the end of the call you are given an immediate verbal yes/no notice
  • You receive an email a few days later and are provided a task to complete. Once you complete the task, you report back on your results. If you did not meet your goal, you are eliminated from the process
  • If you complete the task successfully, you are notified to schedule a face-to-face interview to discuss the task and answer a few routine interview questions
  • At the end of that meeting, they tell you that you’ll know if you are still being considered within 4-5 days
  • Someone calls you to make sure you are interested specifically in the PASS program and provides conference call info
  • You call into PASS conference call again to listen to the program description and have a chance to ask questions
  • You call into a conference call only for PASS-qualified candidates a few days later
  • One month before your scheduled start date, you must turn in this information: fingerprints/drug screen/paperwork/background check
  • If you pass each of those hurdles, you are considered qualified to join the early stages of the PASS program

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have even half as much difficulty getting my current job. I think having a process like this leads to several things:

  1. Your final candidates are fairly knowledgeable about the company, their role, and how that fits into the organizational structure (I’ve met people in previous jobs with 5 years of experience who don’t even know those kinds of details!)
  2. The remaining candidates are deeply committed. They’ve invested several months of sweat equity into the process, and they won’t just walk away from the position halfway through the hiring steps
  3. The people who don’t make it in still realize it’s a good company with high standards for filling its positions

This article only covers the pre-hire steps involved with developing your team. Hopefully I’ll have some time soon to write on post-hire steps you can take in developing a highly committed workforce. For more on the topic, be sure to check out how to develop managers by getting them involved.

Anyone else have a long, difficult hire process? Did that leave you feeling more committed to the organization? Less?