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Forget ABC, It’s All About ABR: Always Be Recruiting

Are you looking for great salespeople and recruiters? Join the club! I have spoken to many industry leaders over the past three months, and literally every person I have spoken to is hiring for these revenue-driving roles.

Considering this situation, your current team is likely juggling more work with fewer resources. This is often a recipe for bad hiring decisions, which ironically lead to less productivity and more stress on your workforce - it’s a vicious cycle.

I recently spoke with Tom Nunn, strategic consultant for the IT staffing industry and a member of the TechServe Alliance Board of Directors, to get his tips for overcoming a common obstacle he sees when coaching growing firms in this climate: Hiring too fast and firing too slow.

Four Ways To Identify Talent with Long-Term Potential

With decades of experience within the staffing and recruiting industry, Tom has seen many firms struggle to identify top talent that will grow with your company. But he’s also seen many that have overcome that struggle. These are Tom’s four keys to identify top talent that will advance with your company:

  1. Always be recruiting
  2. Don’t rush the interview process
  3. Set your team up for success
  4. Have discipline across your team to follow 1, 2 and 3
Staffing and Recruiting Success is All About ABR

These sound easier than they are in practice. For instance, do you have a simple people pipeline where you’re tracking potential internal hires? How often do you review this pipeline? How many conversations did you have with your leadership team about your people pipeline? This last one might be harder: how many touches did your leadership team make this month with talent you’re scouting for your internal team? Unfortunately, this critical component of hiring often becomes an afterthought. Consider adding this people pipeline to your list of key performance indicators because if you’re not ABR, you could already be behind.

1. ABR: Best practices of effective hiring programs

The most effective hiring programs tend to adhere to a set of best practices:

Always be in a recruiting mode for talent => Developing a people pipeline is crucial, or you’ll always find yourself competing with many for a select few. Remember, just because someone is happy where they are, doesn’t mean they’re out of your pipeline. The staffing and recruiting industry thrives on building relationships with passive candidates to deliver results for clients - why isn’t your organization doing the same?

Start at the executive level => Everyone within your organization has responsibility for talent. However, this starts at the top. Set the example by tasking your leadership team with making their list of dream hires and engaging with them at least once a quarter. Just like sales – it’s about timing and you want to be top of mind when your ideal candidate has a bad day.

Ask the most important question => Before moving into the interview process there’s one critical question you have to ask regarding potential talent for your organization: Will they cut it? If you hesitate or don’t know the answer, you have your answer. Be honest early in the process to save time and energy in the long run.

2. Interviewing essentials that provide better insights

Act like a buyer, not a seller => The art of interviewing has taken a hit in recent years - up your game and you’ll see significantly better results. With so much talk about a “talent war,” organizations are focusing more than ever on selling their organizations. This is absolutely important, but more critical is thinking like a “buyer” - ask the right questions to get the information needed to make an informed decision. Act like a buyer for 50 out of 60 interviewing minutes and go into selling mode later.

Go beyond the essentials => Create a standard list of thought-provoking questions to ask people. These revenue-driving roles are critical to your long-term success; digging deeper is necessary to truly understand the value a candidate can bring to your organization. Questions that provide insight into coach-ability, self-awareness and weaknesses can provide tremendous insights.

Don’t make common mistakes => Have you ever given interviewees the answer? It can be tempting, particularly if you’re excited about a particular candidate. Make candidates think with your questions (open ended questions, never “yes or no”), and engage them in further conversation. Dig deeper into their responses and probe for more information that can help determine how they might perform within your organization.

3. Nurturing your top performers for sales and recruiting success

You’ve kept your talent pipeline open - ABR is your new credo and everyone in your organization contributes to your recruiting efforts. Then, you’ve stepped up your interviewing to identify those candidates who are poised to make a real impact on your organization. Now what? It’s time to nurture your new hires to create a successful environment:

Review your onboarding process => Take a close look at your onboarding procedures and be critical - the first 10 days are the most important to long-term success. Are you truly setting up new employees to thrive within your organization? Technical and social elements are key - do employees have the tools needed to get started, and are they comfortable reaching out and interacting with your team? Have expectations been accurately conveyed? What is the process for accountability? Think about the information you would need to feel comfortable if you were just starting out in this role - then, be sure you have properly conveyed that information to your new team members (and that the process is documented and repeatable).

Be present => Be the boss who’s looking over your employees’ shoulders for the first few days to primarily offer encouragement and support. When new employees have a question, be the person who’s behind them (figuratively, over course) with the answer. When they’re not sure where to head for lunch, pop in with an invite or recommendation. Go above and beyond to help new employees get settled and feel comfortable in their new role, and the results will pay off.

Focus on development => Employees with career paths and options have more clearly defined goals. Internal leadership programs are a fantastic talent development tool. Besides creating career paths and logical progression for your team, they can also demonstrate firsthand that committed employees will be promoted. Your top employees continue to perform and contribute to your goals, and morale gets a boost from the firsthand look at how their work can pay off. Keep this morale high by always being prompt with your feedback – both positive and negative. People have a right to know where they stand at all times.

Be willing to say goodbye => Letting people go can be painful, but it is a necessary part of assembling and nurturing a successful team. Keeping staff that underperforms or isn’t a part of the “big picture” can mean hiring in desperation mode. Plus, morale can take a hit when employees see coworkers who underperform continually without ramifications. Don’t put your organization in that position - remove people who aren’t right for your company as soon as possible. If you are saying goodbye and following these rules, there should not be any surprises.

4. Are you inspecting what you expect?

The three steps mentioned above require commitment and discipline. If you’re not monitoring your progress on a regular basis now, you could be missing great talent that will set you up for long-term success.

Great salespeople and recruiters are waiting for an incredible organization like yours to advance their careers. Follow Tom’s advice, and you’ll be on the right path toward attracting and nurturing them.