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Beat Your Competitors to the Punch

by Embracing Change Every Day

LinkedIn Pulse

To review the original article click here 18th May 2017

Whenever I attend a conference, my goal is to leave with one new idea that I can put into action when I get back. If I get two, I’m a winner. Give me three and that’s the cherry and the whipped cream on top of my learning sundae! (By the way, if you’re buying, I’ll take hot fudge).

We hear a lot lately about how ‘strategic HR’ happens when HR gets into the fight, and is front and center as organisations execute their corporate strategy. But a few weeks ago, I was at the Avature User Conference in San Francisco, and hearing the great stories told by HR and talent acquisition professionals I realized: HR is already in the fight, every single day.

I mean, is there a function more intrinsically important to an organization’s success than HR? Without great talent, it doesn’t matter how amazing your product or service is (in fact, if you don’t have great talent, chances are your product isn’t that special either!) That’s why finding and engaging top-tier candidates and employees can make all the difference between success and failure.

Boxing legend and philosopher Muhammad Ali said: “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” 

So how does HR prepare itself—in the background, away from the bright lights—for its time in the ring?

Here are my thoughts:

  • Get ahead of the game: You must make disruptive moves before the need is clear. Otherwise, you’re just playing catch-up. It’s important to get away from the corporate bubble sometimes and attend events like the Avature conference and others. They give you a chance to learn about new technologies and methodologies, exchange ideas with peers, and understand how to stay one step ahead of your competition. Because if you’re standing still, you’re already behind.
  • Embrace technology: Technology should move you forwards, not lock you into the past. How often are we hampered by systems and technologies (and underlying processes) that are old and tired but require more investment than your CFO is willing to sign off? I was at the Avature conference with Mike Webster, who leads the technology implementation group at our Talent Collective consulting organization. Mike and his team are constantly assessing the latest technologies that can help talent acquisition teams become more effective. The fact that we’re technology agnostic means we can look objectively at every client’s needs and make a recommendation that works best for them—not one that earns us a referral fee.
  • Consider Talent-as-a-Service: One of the worst (but most common) excuses for not trying something different is, ‘we don’t have the budget this year’. Of course, every investment should have a solid business case, but sometimes—and for perfectly good reasons—money is tight. So, how can HR departments become more nimble? Consider adopting software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms that don’t require as much up front capital investment as traditional on-premise solutions. The ‘as-a-service’ concept has revolutionized just about every other horizontal technology category—so why not ‘talent-as-a-service’?
  • Risk aversion is not risk management. Of course, every organization wants to minimize risk. But at what point does risk management become risk aversion? At what point does it hurt more than help? It’s important for HR departments to continually push the envelope, because the cost of standing still—of playing catch-up to your competitors—can increase your time to hire, decrease your quality of hire, and raise attrition rates. All of these will have a negative impact on the bottom line. Of course, every investment should be well thought-out, and demonstrate both qualitative and quantitative benefits to the organization. But having a visceral aversion to risk is no way to move a company forward.
  • Treat candidates like you would customers. Online shopping and increasingly sophisticated, predictive technologies have changed the way consumers use the internet. But HR has been slow to learn from these lessons. Today’s candidates—especially millennials—demand the same consumer-grade experience they have on Amazon or iTunes when it comes to interacting with potential employers online. It’s not just about improving the way recruiting websites look or how responsive they work on mobile devices—it’s about creating personalized messaging, and experiences that are more relevant to candidates’ individual needs and interests. It’s about making the online candidate experience easy. And it’s about engaging gig workers just as effectively as you do candidates for permanent employment.
  • Measure everything! “I love filling out reports!” said no-one, ever. But I know they’re important because, otherwise, how do we know anything we are trying is actually working? With every new process and every new technology, it’s vital to measure, measure, and then measure again. How are you moving the needle, and are you moving it enough to justify the investment? By the way, don’t put all your faith in the numbers. Ask end-users if the new way of working is making their jobs easier, more efficient and more effective. And don’t forget to ask your candidates how you’re performing at every step along the recruitment lifecycle. Our Employer Branding & Candidate Experience team have great insight into how you can do this effectively.

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact.  It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

-Muhammad Ali

Everyone needs a coach. Muhammad Ali had Angelo Dundee in his corner, and their collaboration resulted in a career that spanned three decades, won numerous world titles and finished with a 56-5 win/loss record (yes, even “The Greatest” had a few setbacks along the way—something we should all remember!)

That’s where Alexander Mann Solutions and our colleagues at Talent Collective come in. We know this stuff. We work every day with clients in a wide range of industries—clients that are constantly pushing themselves, and us, to stay ahead of the curve. We’re agile, we’re curious and we’re constantly looking for new ways to help organizations improve their talent acquisition performance. It’s all we do—and that gives us a tremendous ability to provide best-in-class, customized content and solutions. 


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