In our recent interview with Vicki Moening of Appirio’s Cornerstone OnDemand Practice, we discussed how organization fit often makes or breaks a hiring decision. A highly qualified candidate who nevertheless leaves concerns about fitting into the company’s culture represents a tough decision. From HR’s perspective, it is a no-win decision that it should have avoided in the first place.
Yet maintaining organizational culture and finding good cultural fits are complex matters. To address both of them effectively, businesses must develop repeatable processes, and pull in as many critical eyes as possible.
Complex matters such as these are increasingly being handled through crowdsourcing. “It involves more than simply arriving at a consensus,” explains Ben Kerschberg, Solutions Marketing Director and crowdsourcing expert at Appirio. “Here, HR realizes that the larger community within the company forges its culture daily. The ‘crowd inside the organization’ will always understand its culture better than any small collective, and will make better decisions on who fits in best.”
Indeed, combining repeatable processes with crowdsourced decisions makes the difference between dipping into a talent pool and creating a talent pipeline.
Listen to your inner crowd
Applying crowdsourcing methods within the organization does not imply chaos. Rather, it begins by identifying a core set of hiring managers and involving them in application reviews at the outset. By allowing them to view candidate profiles in the applicant tracking system, they gain stakeholder involvement in the review process. Hiring managers can then engage candidates directly, or influence the short list of those to target first.
The candidate search thereby becomes focused much more quickly. The result is often a significantly reduced time to fill openings, along with a reduced time to job proficiency once the candidate is hired.
Crowdsourcing methods add additional precision to candidate interviews. A crowdsourced session is typically brief, and involves candidates meeting with a series of interviewers, each of whom assesses an applicant primarily on cultural fit, although they may also conduct behavioral interviewing. Since there are multiple interviewers, their evaluations can be aggregated so as to eliminate personal bias or even groupthink.
HR plays an important role in calibrating interviewers, and ensuring that cultural fit does not get reduced to a group exercise of determining the closest duplicate of the hiring manager. Properly done, crowdsourcing becomes a sensitive instrument that “takes into account the many tacit dimensions of the organization’s culture,” notes Kerschberg.
Make talent pipelines a priority
Finding one or two really good fits is not enough. Employees are like customers—you need to assure that you have a pipeline, or someone else is going to snap them up.
There are several business benefits to developing a talent pipeline. Some of the most tangible are, as mentioned earlier, reducing time to fill, and time to proficiency.
But as talent becomes more mobile, agility becomes a great advantage. As Braden Larmon, Alliance Manager in Appirio’s Cornerstone OnDemand Practice, explains: “Much like skilled salespersons, good recruiters establish and maintain open-ended, frank conversations with candidates, which can be sped up or intensified as the urgency arises.” Larmon adds that a well-managed talent pipeline can “act as a precaution against top candidates getting briskly hired away by a competing organization.”
In either case, action can be taken quickly once a hiring decision is made, which can deny potential competitive offers from escalating into protracted and risky salary negotiations. More broadly, a talent pipeline minimizes the adverse performance impact of vacant roles, as action can be taken in accordance to a strategic workforce plan, rather than as a temporary backfill measure.
A candidate pipeline also reinforces an organization becoming an employer-of-choice, signaling to the labor market that it the organization is actively seeking talent, and driving market perception of future growth and dynamism.
Combine high tech with high touch
Most recruiters, and hiring managers for that matter, underestimate the time and resources required to develop candidate pipelines. Some of the critical tasks are also not highly visible. Inherent in the process are labor-intensive high-touch tasks of identifying, contacting, and maintaining potentially dozens of conversations.
One major challenge is a lack of capacity in many existing HCM or recruiting solutions, which additionally may not readily support the sort of customization needed for managing a candidate pipeline. Having limited their options, businesses compensate by using the most readily available tools, including tatty manila folders stuffed with Post-It notes documenting phone discussions, along with spreadsheets, text files, and word processing documents stored dodgily on laptop hard drives.
While recruiting certainly involves a considerable human touch, manual handling of recruiting documents creates system-level inefficiency, which is exacerbated when the majority of recruiting data remains stored on individual hard drives. Critical information is seldom shared among the recruiting team and hiring stakeholders. Additionally, a candidate’s current status is unlikely to be updated, and so a single version of the truth about a candidate becomes elusive. Such clumsiness will likely be detected easily by a sophisticated candidate, and reflect negatively on the organization.
More processing power, but without more processes
Cloud-enabled HCM is overcoming the challenge of involving lots of people within the organization to help find talent while not bogging them down with manual processes. With an eye to creating a good worker experience, Cornerstone OnDemand is introducing a Referral Widget, which can be placed in home or custom pages. Such a feature can provide ready accessibility to key recruiting tasks, such as making a referral, and can thereby involve more participants without multiplying processes.
More generally, cloud-enabled recruiting that is also integrated into the worker experience automates information flow and keeps candidate records current. “Both of these are key,” Larmon points out, “as they enable talent on the inside to communicate effectively among themselves, and with talent from the outside.” Timely and effective communication is critical in allowing recruiters to move quickly when the timing is right.
Processes and technology, for the people
Recruiters often know exactly what steps are needed to build a talent pipeline, but they need better technology and processes. Both serve to maintain relevant, up-to-date information about the candidates most likely to thrive in the organization. Crowdsourcing can amplify both technology and processes, by providing a market mechanism to assure the best match is identified before a transaction occurs, and then the right compensation so that the transaction is completed successfully . By mastering all three‒technology, processes, and crowdsourcing‒successful recruiting becomes repeatable. And that’s what turns a static pool of talent into a dynamic talent pipeline.