Guest blogger – Ian Hackett – HR should be every company’s ‘killer app’

HR should be every company’s ‘killer app’ – What could possibly be more important than who gets hired…” — Jack Welch, ex-CEO of GE 

Although not someone that always got everything right during his highly successful CEO career in one of the worlds largest companies,  I do passionately agree that the most important task undertaken in every business, whether they be big or small is who they choose to recruit.    In every industry and at any stage of a company’s evolution, the quality and cultural alignment within teams of people makes the biggest impact on a company’s success.  I would also contend that success not purely be measured as profitability or sales growth or market position – but the intangible elements of a quality culture is a measure of success that is sometimes taken for granted.  Today more than any other time the importance of mental health should also drive leaders to be building teams of people who ‘fit’ within their business and can be their true selves at work.

If you even slightly agree on the above opinion, then how do you increase the odds of getting it right every time?

  • Be patient – The time to hire metric that is sometimes measured by larger corporates is a troublesome KPI. I have on numerous occasions frustrated procurement and internal HR stakeholders by sometimes replying to tenders with a ‘not applicable’ response given it is my opinion that the shorter the time to hire the more likely to get it wrong.  I am not suggesting that every recruitment process should take 6 months+ however if you find the perfect fit efficiently then don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.  I do believe that for most permanent recruitment processes have 2 – 3 interviews of an hour each is warranted to ensure the 2 stakeholders know what they are getting.
  • Be honest – If you are hoping the candidates are going to transparent in their discussions about what they are good/great at and what they ‘really’ want in a role and company then at least have the decency to tell people the good, the bad and the ugly about the job and the business. The amount of recruitment discussions that occur with clients over selling a role and a teams dynamic is too high.  It is one of the driving factors that erode a culture of teamwork between leadership and the team of employees.  How do businesses expect people to respond after joining a business on false pretences?
  • Compromise on technical skills never on attitude and values.
  • Ensure that the ‘will’ to do the role exists within the candidate. A lot of assessment is focused on skills and that they’ve done it before – which is the easier element to measure.  But I would say it is more important to ensure the person ‘wants’ to do the job you have for them.
  • Get to know the person and the professional.
  • In most cases, use a deeply experienced specialist recruiter. The value that can be obtained that is difficult to measure is immense.  The ability to source and shortlist from a deeper pool of candidates than the applicants from SEEK or a LinkedIn ad is only one benefit.  The skills to assess and read people that is derived only when you interview 10 people a week over a 10+ year career is valuable.  Also the ability to relay the IP you have obtained by having potentially spoken to peoples bosses and colleagues and staff over a long period of time is another element that increases the chances of hiring ‘right’.
  • Always seek to improve your skills as a recruiter. It is an inexact science that you should aspire to get right 90% of the time.  Even with 19 years experience in the same ‘trade’ and in the same city I cannot promise to get it 100% right – but I do help every clients process increase the probability of success when engaged.

Dean & Ling Executive works across Vic and Qld recruiting in the accounting and finance, legal, funds management and executive general management spaces.


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