Through my journey as an executive headhunter, I never fail to be surprised, and possibly even depressed, at the short-term view companies of all sizes have in 'filling a vacancy' as quickly as they possibly can. Whether they're global blue-chips or small independents, the all too common mind-set appears to be that the longer a senior vacancy remains open, the more the rot will set in and declining performance will follow. Armed with this thought, HR professionals or Line Managers are tasked with finding candidates to fill the role as quickly as they possibly can. Sadly, too few companies give themselves space and an opportunity to draw breath and invest time to review the role thoroughly, where it sits within their overall strategy and how it could add even more value if changed or tweaked. Even worse is not understanding the person requirement, not only the skills and experience needed but the far more reaching behaviours, values, leadership style and softer skills needed to achieve a successful cultural integration. Employees, no matter what level they are in your organisation, are your single biggest and probably most expensive investment you can make. One bad appointment can have an immeasurable negative impact on your business and yet, more often than not, companies are happy to take this risk with 'as long as the vacancy is filled in set time-scales' approach. On average the cost of an unsuccessful appointment is said to be 2½ times basic salary, so the more senior the role, the more expensive mistakes cost.
If you were creating a business case to convince your board to agree to a £multi-million investment for new automation on a manufacturing line to make your market-leading products, you would undoubtedly undertake a 'no stones unturned' process to identify what investment would provide the greatest benefit and ROI to your business. This process is never a “knee-jerk” reaction and yet, filling a vacancy often is.
In our experience, companies who take time to really understand and develop their people strategy aligned to their corporate objectives are the ones that achieve the most success. Success here is not just higher revenues and profits, but also an environment that engages their employees, provides personal growth and ultimately results in low attrition and an entire team committed to their “cause”.
As trusted advisors and leaders in executive recruitment and talent management, Collingwood recommends the following 5 key actions when considering your next recruitment process:
- Gather the key stakeholders and invest time to consider and debate the role being vacated. What are the objectives of the role and if achieved what do they contribute to the overall company performance. Do you need the role? If yes, then can you change it to impact even more positively on the company? Do you want to replicate the role or is this a great opportunity for change? Create a detailed job description specific to your requirements and with measurable objectives.
- Once you are happy with the content of the role, consider the type of person you need. You should consider both short-term and long-term performance. What do you want the role to achieve and, therefore, what are the behaviours, leadership style and experience needed to achieve this? Are you looking for someone to achieve the 'status quo' or do you need someone to drive real change? What does success look like in the first 6/12/18 months for the role?
- Do you really understand the team dynamics the role will be joining? If not there are many different ways to identify these including simple team/people assessment tools and software. This is critical to find the right person.
- Define a structured recruitment process that will identify, engage and fully assess potential candidates. Recruitment is a two-way process and not merely about companies deciding if they want to recruit the individual in front of them. High calibre candidates are always in demand, no matter the economic environment, and so you really need to create an impression that will wow. What’s on offer to them? Not just remuneration but also your environment and the investment they can expect from you to achieve their career goals now and in the future.
- Invest time to create an exciting and all-encompassing on-boarding process. First impressions count and set the scene of expectations for new employees.
Read our recruitment tips for assessing the best candidate fit here.
Investing in talent is a complex and expensive exercise. I am happy to answer any questions you may have based on my 18-year experience of delighting clients and getting this process right the first time. firstname.lastname@example.org