Welcome to my talent acquisition blog series! Over the next several weeks, I'll share some of my TA-related best practices and tips. If you missed the first posts in my series, you can go back and read them here:
- Top TA Strategies Every Modern Recruiting Team Should Use!
- Recruitment Marketing for TA Teams on a Budget
I've never met a leader who, in their heart of hearts, didn't want to be at a minimum much better than what they currently were. The great ones probably strive to be even better than an average leader, but all of us as leaders strive to be as good as we can be.
Becoming world-class doesn't happen because you wake up one morning and just decide, "Hey, today is the day I make my function great!" It doesn't work like that. Greatness doesn't just happen one morning; it happens little by little, grinding day after day. Then you suddenly look up from your hard work and realize you've actually reached a really great place!
In my book, The Talent Fix, I interviewed hundreds of leaders. TA leaders, HR leaders, operational leaders to find out why some organizations have world-class talent acquisition, and others seem to be a mile behind. I found that great functional leaders share three common traits.
I'm not even sure I can call them "traits". The term "traits" seems so minimal when you talk about these world-class leaders. It's more like these pieces of greatness were hardwired into their DNA. They couldn't stop themselves from doing these things.
1. Measure, recognize, and reward performance
If I could change one thing about average leaders it would be their ability to actually understand how to drive performance to achieve world-class outcomes. You don't become great by allowing yourself or anyone on your team to be average. It is the single hardest thing to teach a leader.
It's easy to start. You set up great goals and measures. You train, develop, and watch the data to see the impact. The difficulty comes in consistently having high expectations, every single day, that don't go away. Too often, average leaders will just tire of always being on. "Well, we killed it last week, we can ease up a little this week and take a break!" And you just took two steps back!
World-class talent acquisition leaders drive performance of their function, of themselves, and of every single person on their team. It's their number 1 through 10 priority every single day. Sound exhausting? It is, that's why only a small percentage of organizations become world-class!
The easiest part of this is to reward. In fact, average leaders are actually better at rewarding than world-class leaders because it's the most conflict-avoidant part of the job. World-class leaders reward great performance in big ways, but only great performance.
2. Data-driven processes that align with the business goals
Most talent acquisition leaders have a very limited view of their data. World-class TA leaders are starved for data even when they have exponentially more data than you. Why? Data tells them what is really happening. Our biases lie to us every single day. Data is a truth-teller.
Data-driven TA leaders use this information to understand every single aspect of their function and how it can help them make better strategic decisions, drive performance, and ultimately meet and deliver what the organization needs to be successful.
These leaders are the ones who are continually pushing IT, Finance, and Operations to give them more data and insight into the business. This data lets them determine what their function needs to do in the future to meet the organizational demand, not just put out daily fires. They make business moves within their function before anyone pushes them to, before anyone asks them to. They aren't asking for permission, they are going to their stakeholders and telling them the next steps they'll be taking and why.
3. They own their recruiting tech stack
World-class TA leaders build their tech stack. You can't be great and not know the operational system you rely on to drive your function. It will never happen! If you don't know your technology inside and out, you can be good, but you will never be world-class. Sorry, that's just the truth. You don't need to know how to code, but you better understand exactly what your stack is capable of and what it's not capable of.
Another piece of this is that world-class leaders are constantly testing and tweaking their stack to make it better. They hear of someone doing something better than them, and they can't shut themselves off until they see it for themselves. Will that work for us? Could we use that? How do we get that?
When you talk to a world-class recruiting leader you will never hear them say, "Well, IT (or Finance) picked our ATS..." That actually might have happened, but they will quickly take control and build out the stack to make it work for them. Just because you were given a Chevy doesn't mean you can't trick it out!
Many world-class talent acquisition leaders actually carry the blueprint of their recruiting stack with them throughout their career, taking it from organization to organization. It's a very common behavior we see across industries. If you own your stack and you continuously work to perfect it, you will build it again at your next organization!
So top "traits" to keep in mind to be better than average - drive performance, learn and adjust based on your data, and use technology to its fullest. If you do those three things really well, world-class is within your reach!