Wednesday, 04 April 2012 11:06

The importance of being empowered

At CGI, we have conducted hundreds of searches for a wide variety of businesses from Fortune 100’s to small, privately-held companies. Despite the ever-growing need for efficiencies, we still see examples of where the human resources function is perceived as a cost center and not positioned strategically in the organization. This can lead to greater hiring challenges, missed opportunities and what I call a “groundhog day” scenario that repeats itself over and over.

Reflect back on when you were hired by your current company or a previous employer. Was it a great process that made you more motivated to pursue the opportunity, or was it one that raised questions? If it raised questions, the company is fortunate that you did in fact pursue the position. Candidates often include the talent acquisition process as part of their evaluation of the opportunity. They pay attention to the flow and efficiency of the interview process and whether or not the company’s talent team is on the same page. A weak HR structure can be revealing about the overall business. When a candidate engages with an HR professional who is well informed about the business and fully empowered, it makes the right first impression for the candidate.

At times, a hiring manager can take a myopic approach and “plug a hole” without taking into consideration the long-term objectives of their department and the business as a whole. They may not recognize that top talent is not lined up outside the door and eager to join the business. In engaging HR, they must understand the manager’s objectives as it relates to talent, have the ability to look forward from an organizational development standpoint and finally, be given proper resources and budgets to successfully attract and retain top talent. As a result of this, the empowered HR professional on the front end of the talent acquisition process can be instrumental in a positive hiring experience.

On the other side of the fence, HR professionals need to be sensitive to the challenges their internal hiring managers are facing and be effective in partnering with that manager to drive results. HR needs to be empowered to stop a search process if it is setup to fail from its onset or be accountable to increase resources if a search is falling behind schedule. If these areas are lacking, it can quickly drive a wedge between HR and the businesses hiring managers, causing a regression in the talent acquisition process.

All businesses want to make a great hire and ensure that talent is moving forward. To accomplish this, HR professionals need to invest their time with executives, managers and other stakeholders to truly understand talent requirements for the business. Conversely, hiring managers need to be willing to invest their time to ensure that HR is informed, empowered and that clear processes and protocols are in place for the talent and on-boarding process. Communication and calibration are paramount and need to flow in both directions throughout the search process. Keep in mind that talent acquisition will always have a human component and as a result, will never be a perfect science. The hiring team should be able to openly and quickly convey challenges they encounter in the hiring process and recalibrate as necessary to keep the process moving forward.

Continued commitment to empowering and integrating the HR function will save money for any size organization where an HR function exists. Strategic milestones of the business will be better met and the business’ brand to the talent pool will be elevated. Candidates will experience a cohesive management team and in the talent acquisition process can serve as a greater allure to the opportunity, giving greater clarity about their future within the business. As I have stated before, one of the best measures of success in talent acquisition is ultimately who is gaining and retaining the talent … you or your competitor?

Chris Carmon is the founder and president of CGI (The Carmon Group, Inc.). You can find out more about CGI by going to our website:  www.teamcgi.com. Carmon can be reached at  (216) 328-9060, ext. 1001, or carmon@teamcgi.com. Connect with Carmon on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/chriscarmon.

Published in Cleveland
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 09:02

Succession planning starts yesterday

Succession should be at the forefront of every business leader’s priorities. The best CEOs, boards and management teams know this and put as much emphasis on succession as they do running the day-to-day operations of the business. Succession planning is often neglected as other (short-term) business matters trump proper planning. Although a painstaking and time consuming task, it is far less costly than being without a strategy in play. The reactive state of filling open positions and the true cost associated with this approach, in many cases, could have been avoided if proper planning was done earlier.

In January of 2004, Peter Burg, then CEO of First Energy, passed away prematurely. Although his were big shoes to fill, Tony Alexander was promoted to the CEO role and to those outside, First Energy never missed a beat. What most outsiders never realized was that Alexander was being groomed and developed for that role years before the transition actually took place. I was fortunate to work with Alexander, as well as key board members and executives during this time. As I spent time with these people, there was clearly sadness about the passing of Burg, but not a sign of panic or concern about the transition. The executives who surrounded Alexander knew that he was ready to assume the role. First Energy had prepared for this moment and was able to successfully make the succession move.

Transition at this level is rarely seamless, especially when due to the untimely death of an executive. However, we would all have to agree that First Energy has not only survived the transition, but has continued to move forward as a business. When you look at companies who have stood the test of time and continued to grow, succession is a key reason for their success.

Another local example of proper succession planning would be Parker Hannifin. It is common to see managers and executives with 10, 20 and even 30 plus years of tenure with the business. Parker Hannifin is one of the best companies in our region for effectively executing promotion from within the business. They identify high potentials early in their career and develop career paths that enable the employee to continue their career development, creating higher employee retention due to a defined growth path. Their talent is fluid, moving from divisions to corporate level roles to gain the necessary experience to manage functional areas, divisions and even groups for the business.

Parker Hannifin has also been flexible to offer key individual contributors, managers and executives the ability to maintain their residence while working at locations that are not close to their homes. This has further contributed to Parker Hannifin’s ability to better retain talent long-term which by default supports succession strategies. Many companies tend to push great succession talent away by not offering more flexible work arrangements, forcing this talent to pursue other companies that are in their backyard.

Succession planning is never a perfect science. Companies should dive deep into their talent pool, building multiple scenarios and contingencies whenever possible. The succession plan should be assessed on a regular basis to ensure that the plan is moving in line with the business’s progression. Talent that may be deemed for succession roles today may not be the right choice as time moves on. Companies need to react to this evolution to ensure that the talent is developed appropriately or that other talent is identified who may better fit the future succession needs.

We see it all too often in business. Leadership hits the panic button in an effort to backfill a role as unforeseen challenge become a reality. Top talent is becoming increasingly hard to find. Once you find it, take the proper steps to retain that talent by investing in succession planning. In my experience, there are two types of companies: those that grow and hold onto talent for the long-term and those that develop talent for other businesses to benefit. Make sure your business is on the right side of this equation.

Chris Carmon is the founder and president of CGI (The Carmon Group, Inc.). You can find out more about CGI by going to their website at www.carmongroup.com.

Published in Cleveland
Thursday, 05 January 2012 17:56

Calibrating your search

Safe to say, companies want to acquire the best talent who brings as much to the table as possible for a given position. To this end, it is appropriate and necessary to create a job specification that represents the ideal/perfect hire for your business. At the same time, it is important to be realistic with your expectations and be flexible to recalibrate the position requirements if necessary as pertinent information shows itself in the process. As you work to define the job specification, a management team needs to examine existing conditions and market variables (data) that could have an impact on the search. This data is critical in determining if the job specification is realistic. How you react to the data can determine your ultimate effectiveness in the search.

Proper due diligence prior to conducting the search is a smart practice. Knowledge about trends in your market, competitor data, compensation and where the talent sits geographically can prevent frustrations before they become realities. As an example, if your company requires a unique industry expertise for the role and your company is unique to a region for this industry, relocation is something that needs to be addressed prior to beginning the search. The management team needs to evaluate and prepare for a relocation package that will compel the right candidate to make the move to your city. If you are based in Cleveland and that talent pool is largely based in larger cities outside of this region, compensation and relocation become touchstones.

Ensure that you are utilizing the relevant data that you uncover in the search process and use that data to advance your search. Track things like response rates, salary data, bonus, medical premiums, org charts and even perspectives on your business that the sourced talent may share with you in the process. The answers to challenges in the search are almost always in the information collected if you pay attention. If salary data for the right talent is higher than your range overall, a decision has to be made on whether to upgrade the salary, downgrade the role or to continue to keep your fingers crossed in hopes that someone with the right background will actually fit your compensation range.

The candidates who make it into the interview process represent great calibration points. Actually assessing the talent in an interview can cause managers to rethink what is most important for their roles. It may even open their eyes to a new way to approach the talent need, causing the company to redefine the position. A test candidate can be the means to have a tangible that can be used to help build clarity and consensus specific to the role. Managers should have a level of patience with their human resources department knowing that the human resources person is not the expert in their functional area and despite a highly defined job specification, it still may be challenging to make the match. Managers should be willing to invest their time early in the process to assist human resources in focusing their search efforts.

Whether you are sourcing for a role relying on internal resources or utilizing a third party search firm, candidate flow needs to be tracked. If response rates and candidates moving into the interview process are low, one has to ask why and possibly adjust the strategy. Talent may be passive and not looking at a job posting, the internal recruiting staff may be overwhelmed or ineffective and/or the third party search firm may be missing the mark. The need for calibration can fall on one or more components of the process. Clearly, keeping your finger on the process and being flexible to alter the requirements and/or the search strategy based upon market variables and your process metrics can bring the search on track.

I heard it best from a CEO of one of our region’s major corporations. Perfection is the enemy of progress, meaning it is better to be moving forward at 80 percent than to be paralyzed waiting for 100 percent. I know that this person was not settling or advocating subpar performance. It is all about the moving forward and being able to see the true value in the 80 percent while recognizing other areas that may satisfy the 20 percent.

Chris Carmon is the founder and president of CGI (The Carmon Group, Inc.). You can find out more about CGI by going to their website at www.carmongroup.com.

Published in Cleveland

Finding top talent for your team is tough, as we know. What’s even tougher is identifying that top talent, investing hours of time in the interview process and then losing them to a counter offer. As I look back at the times that this has occurred in my career in search, this situation could have been avoided in most cases if better due diligence had been completed early in the process.

Let’s face it, there is always the “human” factor in talent acquisition and we should expect that a small percentage of the candidates will ultimately accept a counter offer. The following are ways that may help you to see this situation coming and cut the process off or take measures to derail the counter offer situation.

Look at the facts

One area to look at is the tenure of the candidate with his or her current employer. Tenure is a great thing to see with talent, but also can make acquiring that talent even more challenging. These candidates have stayed with their company for a reason(s). These are candidates who have been loyal to their employer and may cave-in when they present their resignation letter to their boss who has probably become a trusted friend over the years.

When engaging the tenured candidate, ask them what their employer will do if they resign. More importantly, ask them how they will handle this situation. You might be surprised by the answers you receive, but at least you can begin the dialog and address a potential counter offer situation and why accepting it could be a very bad move for their career.

The behavior of the candidate is another tangible that should be noted. Stage components of your interview process so that the candidate is required to complete a follow-up action. When a candidate follows through with these actions, this is a good sign that they have a sincere interest in your opportunity. If you find yourself chasing the candidate more than they are chasing you, this could be a strong indication that they are going in another direction.

Listen to what the candidate is really saying

During the course of an interview process, you have many opportunities to find out what is really motivating the candidate. The early part of the process is the best time to find out why your opportunity may represent a better one then their current situation. Spend time really vetting out what makes your opportunity more compelling than where they are presently. This will help you to have a deeper understanding of a candidate’s impetus.

If the candidate focuses on compensation as their main driver for making a career move, beware. As the hiring manager, you have to be able to dissect the candidate’s motivation during the interview and then see if your opportunity truly matches their motivations. If there are not tangible reasons for making the move other than compensation, the candidate is not only a counter offer risk, but also a flight risk if you do in fact get them on your team. Moving forward, they will potentially make the same move for the next employer who is willing to dangle more money in front of them.

Stay close with the candidate

In many cases, a candidate is put under enormous pressure during the time between giving notice and starting the job. The candidate has to go into work every day and face the boss and coworkers. This is the time when the candidate can think of many reasons why not to pursue your opportunity. They can get into a mode of thinking that it is easier to stay in a place they know the business and team. I don’t care what level the role is, people go through anxiety in making the jump even when they know the opportunity is better for their career. Your company represents the great unknown; new business, new team, etc.

As the hiring manager, you should stay in touch with the candidate during this time. Proactively call them to see how the transition is going and to reassure them that they have made the right decision. If the candidate has been offered a counter offer, take the time to explain all the negatives that come with this perceived positive. If possible, schedule the candidate to come into your office during this period to help them acclimate to the new team. Take them out to lunch or dinner to further help build a more personal connection with you and/or your team. Having a signed offer letter and then waiting for the person to show up on their start-date is not always a great strategy.

“People should be banging on our door to work here”

Good luck if this is your view on the talent acquisition process. I am not questioning the fact that many companies are in fact great employers. However, to the candidate, you still have to prove this to them. Great talent is going to evaluate the opportunity since their career is one of the most important things in their life. A wrong career move can be devastating. A good employer understands that they have to show a candidate why their company would be a positive career choice.

Counter offers will always be a potential threat to a hiring process. Companies need to hone their skills on bringing threats to the surface early and develop effective interviewing processes to move through these issues as early in the hiring process as possible. In doing so, ratios like offer to acceptance and time to fill will improve by default.

Chris Carmon is the founder and president of CGI (The Carmon Group, Inc.). You can find out more about CGI by going to their website at www.carmongroup.com.

Published in Cleveland
Monday, 31 October 2011 21:01

The talent race is back

Over the last twelve months, we have seen the market improve as it relates to talent acquisition. Most of my colleagues would say the same. Companies are seeing their business conditions improve and hopefully are capitalizing on the upswing to maximize growth. As a result and contrary to unemployment statistics, the talent pool is seeing an increased level of recruiting opportunities. That was not the case in 2009 and 2010 when most individuals experienced a limited number of recruiting calls. Thus far in 2011 and presumably if the economy stays the course, talent will continue to see multiple opportunities. Suffice it to say the talent war is on.

If the recession has taught us one thing, it is that no company can afford to make a bad hire. Strong profits allowed companies to look the other way at times or force the proverbial square peg into the round hole just to get someone in the seat. Times have changed and today, good companies are scrutinizing every hire to help ensure only top quality hires are made. Hiring time is longer and more steps have been added to the process in many cases to better qualify talent. These additional steps are perceived as being good and necessary, but in the effort to make better hires, companies may inadvertently create other challenges.

Companies need to focus on making the best hire while at the same time, ensure that their talent acquisition strategy/process moves as quickly as possible. The following are a few tips on how to help streamline your hiring process while still gaining the best fit for roles in your company.

Map the process

Prior to any talent acquisition efforts, the process should be clearly mapped out. When mapping out the process, take the time to analyze each step. Ensure that each step has a purpose and is not redundant to another step in the process.  Communicate this process to all stakeholders/hiring managers in a given process.  Once the process is communicated and agreed upon, all members of the hiring team need to be held accountable to doing their part in the process to ensure no delays once talent is in the pipeline.

Build in flexibility

Flexibility in scheduling can shave weeks off of your hiring process. Scheduling interviews can become extremely difficult. In many cases, the talent is gainfully employed and taking time off may not be possible or could raise a red flag with their current employer. On the company side, hiring is usually additional work on top of an already busy schedule. Unfortunately, time can kill your ability to gain the talent you are seeking. Companies need to apply as much flexibility in this process as possible to keep things moving. Evenings and weekends, although inconvenient, may be the best way to move through portions of the interview process.

Perfection is the enemy of progress

In an effort to make the best hire, sometimes we create a dream list of requirements that may not be realistic. Rarely does a candidate meet all of the criteria for the role 100 percent. You have to know what is critical for the role and what represents a development opportunity for the candidate once they are in the seat. If 80 percent of a fit gets the job done and keeps the candidate challenged and growing, this is a win/win. Knowing when 80 percent gets the job done is the tough part.

Evaluate the challenges of the role

Before starting a search for a role, take some time to evaluate the inherent challenges in filling the position. Look at the various components of the role and what your company is offering to the potential talent. Once you have identified the challenges, take the time to create a strategy that will better ensure a successful search.

On compensation, if your compensation package is lower than your competition, it will be hard to attract top talent. If talent is not likely to be in your backyard, you have to figure out a means to relocate talent so that they can financially afford to make the move. It is obvious that companies don’t want to overpay or have the expense of relocation. However, when you look at the true cost for not having the best talent in the seat or the value that the talent will bring to your business, these should almost negligible expenses.

Be as transparent as possible

It is important to realize that talent will probably know a bit about your company. If not, they will certainly ask pointed questions to learn more once they begin the process. Be prepared to address issues like turnover, layoffs and even business failures that may have occurred in the last few years. In my experience, there is never a perfect company and all companies have issues. Talent usually appreciates a company and management team who is transparent about their business. Let the talent know what is going well in your business and also where the business is struggling. This approach can turn a perceived negative into an opportunity for the candidate to impact your business.

Stay connected with the talent

Inevitably, a hiring process can hit a brick wall despite everyone’s efforts. An unforeseen lapse in time could create a missed opportunity to hire the right candidate. A phone call goes a long way when you hit these roadblocks. The hiring manager should not hesitate to make a proactive call to the candidate to reemphasize the company’s interest in the person. This is an opportunity to build more rapport with the candidate. Not staying close is a big mistake. It is during these windows of time that the candidate may be getting sold on another opportunity or may be figuring out all the reasons why not to pursue your position. Don’t hesitate to ask candidates if they are pending on another position during this time. If so, ask them to keep you posted and let them know that you will work to accelerated your process if necessary.

Chris Carmon is the founder and president of CGI (The Carmon Group, Inc.). You can find out more about CGI by going to their website at www.carmongroup.com.

Published in Cleveland

I believe that every CEO, hiring manager and search consultant wishes that there was a defined formula for talent acquisition that could be replicated across all hiring initiatives. Talent acquisition would be so much simpler if we could develop that “special ingredient” that could be sprinkled into every search initiative to guarantee a great outcome. Unfortunately, at the core of hiring is still a human being with unique motivations, goals and challenges.

Systems, methodologies and metrics are all critically important to a business’s success – including those utilized within talent acquisition. This sets the framework for how talent should be identified, attracted, gained and grown. However, as long as the word “human” is in Human Resources, companies need to realize that flexibility, agility and sensitivity are paramount to their ongoing success in talent acquisition. Not only will this help a company’s ability to attract the best talent, but it will also contribute to the company’s overall branding to the talent pool as people hear more and more about their “human” approach to onboarding talent.

When you are conducting a search effort, it is important that every person on the hiring team is on the same page. Your corporate values can’t just be something hanging on the wall; they need to be cemented into your culture. As much as hiring managers are interviewing talent for a role, they also need to have their selling caps on to showcase why their company is truly a special place to work. Once again, this is something that has to be real, not scripted – a “human” touch. Selling needs to include honesty, and hiring manages must be willing to discuss any potential weaknesses. Candidates appreciate this much more than just being sold. They are fully aware that no company is perfect and would like the opportunity to help in the growth of the company.

Be prepared to break protocol based upon the talent you identify for a given role. Having a more senior-level person initially speak with a candidate could be beneficial to the process. Recruiters should have the flexibility and empowerment to quickly turn great talent over to a more senior-level hiring manager who is better suited to talk with the talent – even if the talent has not been fully qualified by the recruiter.

Also keep in mind that the spouse or significant other is a big part of the decision-making process. Taking time offline to meet with the candidate and their spouse can be a nice “human” touch and could assist them in their decision-making process. I have seen instances where candidates reject a more highly compensated position to go with the company that paid them less but was a better cultural fit. This investment of the senior hiring manager’s personal time makes a bold statement to talent looking to come onboard with the company.

The recession caused people to become cautious in their decision-making process. Years of dedicated service, in many cases, were overlooked by employers as the economy spiraled downward and layoffs became prevalent. As a result, candidates now look at the culture of a company and how the company’s values align with their own. Talent looks at balance as much as career advancement and an upside in compensation. They want to enjoy working for their employer and be a part of a team that both challenges them and makes their day enjoyable.

Take time to understand how your company is being perceived by the talent pool. Surveys to candidates who have applied for positions could produce very valuable information to help you improve your corporate cultural branding. Top leadership needs to ensure that corporate values are more than words in a mission statement. They need to live those values and then permeate the culture with these values. Further training with staff will then cement how to better articulate these values within the hiring process – and put the “human” back into Human Resources.

This article was brought to you by Chris Carmon, President of The Carmon Group. You can find out more about The Carmon Group at www.carmongroup.com.

Published in Cleveland
Thursday, 10 March 2011 11:44

Career fairs just aren't enough

Not too long ago, companies could show up at a career fair at a local college once or twice a year and the effort would produce a line of great talent predisposed to start work upon graduation. Today, great talent is still graduating all the time, but this talent is proving to have very different motivations and perspectives on how they want to position themselves in the workforce.

Companies that understand the nuances of the younger generations of talent can position themselves better to create opportunities to attract this talent and maximize their productivity. As the baby boomers continue to retire, companies must identify strategies that connect them with local colleges, their faculty and their programs to ensure an effective transition of talent to their business. This more strategic investment of time creates opportunities to attract talent and to mold that talent to better fit positions with their business long before graduation.

Recently, I had the chance to interview Deborah (Deb) Mills-Scofield, who is a strategy and innovation consultant, a partner with Glengary LLC and a Growth Partner with Baldwin-Wallace’s Center for Innovation & Growth (CIG). Deb shared experiences, insight and advice on ways her clients engage with local colleges and create programs to benefit from younger talent entering their businesses.

Q: Why do you continue to work with college students, and what benefits have you received from these efforts?

A: As I reflect on my career, I was mentored every step of the way – through college, Bell Labs and AT&T. I wouldn’t be where I am without it. So I feel that mentoring is important. I do that several ways: through the Brown University Women’s Launchpad for senior women, informal mentoring of startups from Brown, and through BW’s Center for Innovation & Growth (CIG).  Frequently I’ll have the student fellows at the CIG get involved with my clients and at the VC firm, Glengary LLC, in which I’m a partner. At the VC firm, the students help us with due diligence. Their work has been very impressive and thorough, providing insights that we wouldn’t have thought of because of their age and different experiences. I will also have students help my clients as we do planning and innovation – doing some primary and secondary market research and analysis.

Q: What are the tangible benefits to having students involved in your work?

A: By involving students with my clients and Glengary on real projects, these companies get access to some of the best students in Northeast Ohio. These firms are able to assess how well the students fit into their environment and get an inside track to hire them after graduation. The students get exposure to how things are done in businesses, learn about corporate cultures and networking, and they receive practical, useable experience. This helps them get a better feel for what they may or may not want to do – including their own startup – and better evaluate their opportunities. And, let’s face it, this looks great on the resume.

Q: What are some of differences you see in Gen Y versus baby boomer and Gen X talent?

A: The 21st century has really shaken up the world – and the business world in particular. One of the major shocks to companies is Gen Y’s attitude to work, often misunderstood as selfishness or lack of commitment. The boomers and Gen Xers have worked hard, did as they were told, didn’t challenge the status quo, and punched the industrial clock. Gen Yers don’t buy in to this, for some very good reasons. They have grown up with absentee parents caught up in the corporate ladder-climbing rat race and experienced the lack of loyalty companies had to their parents in downturns. Gen Y’s loyalty must be earned over and over again (as should any employee’s). They are willing to work very hard, just not in vain, and they’re not eager to accept the same traditional rewards and recognitions their parents have (e.g., 2 weeks of vacation, 9-5, etc.)

Q:  How do you think Gen Y talent will change business?

A: Well, I keep trying to get my clients to realize that Gen Y will have a very large impact on 21st century capitalism. The 20th century’s view of profits as the ‘ends’ versus the ‘means’ is not sustainable, as our financial crisis blatantly illustrates. Gen Y wants to be part of an organization that makes meaning, not just money. If they are going to give their time, energy and talent, it better be for more than just corporate profits. Gen Y gets it right – profits are an output; making a difference in customers’ lives is an outcome. Profits are a means to the end of making a difference, not the end in itself. As these ‘kids’ enter into business, creating their own ventures and working in existing ones, they will transform business into something much more meaningful and impactful. And that is a very, very good thing. Companies that allow Gen Y to make a difference will have a powerful advantage over those that don’t.

If you would like to learn more about Deb Scofield or the Baldwin-Wallace CIG Program, you can visit her company website at www.mills-scofield.com for more information.

This article was brought to you by Chris Carmon, president of The Carmon Group. You can find out more about The Carmon Group at www.carmongroup.com

Published in Cleveland
Monday, 28 February 2011 16:05

Parker Hannifin walks the talk

Most every CEO has made the statement that "our people are our greatest asset." I do believe that most companies realize that their people are their greatest asset. However, to sustain this value, companies need to continually evaluate, measure and evolve their strategies for talent acquisition and retention. After having completed several successful searches for Parker Hannifin and working with numerous executives, it is clear they "Walk the Talk" and their track record speaks for itself.

Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss talent acquisition and retention with one of Parker Hannifin’s HR executives, Nate Jackson. Nate is a vice president of human resources for Parker Hannifin’s Instrumentation Group and one of the primary stakeholders in the execution of Parker’s workforce planning strategies. Parker Hannifin has continuously demonstrated success in attracting and retaining top talent globally. In a time where employee tenure is shrinking, it is common to see tenure with their employees of 10-, 20- and even 30-plus years. This success is a direct result of corporate culture and values, competitive wages and benefits, and career growth and succession strategies.

The following are some of the insights Nate Jackson shared with me regarding Parker’s efforts.

What steps does Parker take to ensure that senior level talent fits the culture?

We view the hire of a senior level manager or executive like bringing someone into our family. We want to get to know them and be certain that this person will take care of our customers and employees the Parker way. Senior level candidates will meet with numerous executives in the interview process to ensure we really know the candidate and evaluate the fit effectively. At certain levels, we will engage the services of industrial psychologists who conduct in-depth assessments of the candidates. References are checked with an emphasis on management style. We look for people who can influence others versus those who just exert authority.

Parker has locations in 46 countries, 132 divisions and approximately 55,000 employees worldwide and growing. What is different about Parker’s talent acquisition process in various regions in the US and the world?

As a corporation, Parker will continue to drive efficiencies through global processes and procedures as it relates to our talent. We have developed Parker Leadership Business Skills which serve as a universal standard for Parker employees and consists of values, behaviors, attributes and skills. With that said, we realize that being a growing, global business, we need to empower our divisions to create best practices for their specific location based upon both Parker values, as well as, regional cultures.

Parker has regional VP’s of HR who are then supported by divisional HR managers within their region. These professionals are experts in the local culture, hiring practices and regulations. They are empowered to execute strategies for talent acquisition and retention which are aligned with Parker’s values and goals.

Experts keep talking about the talent shift. What is/has Parker done to retain talent during the recession and as the economy picks up?

As we entered the recession, Parker took major steps to minimize reductions in our workforce and save as many positions as possible. We started with a top down approach where senior level executives made the first sacrifices. Ultimately, we took a team approach to the sacrifices being made to weather the economic storm. This approach strengthened employee loyalty to the business.

During this time, we realized that we were asking employees to do more with less to get us through this time. Parker has and will continue to execute programs that incentivize our employees for their performance within the business. We offer a profit sharing program, equity programs and strategies for our employees to be rewarded and grow through globalization of our business. Parker continues to think outside of the box by expanding our medical coverage including alternative medicine. We also have a goal to have a workout facility in every Parker location. This is an obvious convenience to our employees and helps to increase the overall health of our people.

Parker continues to engage in strategic workforce planning initiatives. Talent challenges are a result of retirement, expansion & acquisition, new product launches and increasing globalization of our business. We are constantly looking for better ways to increase our talent flow into the business and talent growth once inside the business.

If you would like to learn more about Parker Hannifin, you can visit their website at www.parker.com for more information.

This article was brought to you by Chris Carmon, president of The Carmon Group. You can find out more about The Carmon Group at www.carmongroup.com

Published in Cleveland
Sunday, 09 January 2011 19:00

The recruiting black hole

Like most professions, there are countless recruiters to choose from when help is needed to fill a critical role in a business. An effective recruiting partner is one that will drive the best talent to your door, serve as a trusted advisor for your management team and expand your corporate branding to the passive talent pool. Companies should create a benchmark to measure which recruiters will maximize recruiting efficiencies and reduce hiring costs.

The following are a few guidelines to boost your recruiting platform and more effectively evaluate recruiting partnerships so you can avoid the “Black Hole.”

  • A recruiting partner is much more than someone who finds you the talent. They are an ambassador as well as a reflection of your business to the talent pool. It is safe to say that a business doesn’t have just anyone selling their products or services, so why would a company settle for just anyone representing and selling the business to potential talent? Ask a potential recruiter for both client and candidate references. Make sure they have a track record in your industry and in the specific functional role.
  • Use recruiters who have industry expertise, depth and a professional team.  Once again, the recruiting firm is an ambassador for your business.  Ask to meet the research staff and anyone else who will be involved in the search process. You have to look behind the curtain to clearly see the team that is working on your search. This investment of your time will save countless hours in the future. This meeting will tell the company very quickly if the recruiting firm is professional, as well as whether or not they have the capacity and expertise to successfully represent your business.
  • Ask the potential search firm about their methodology for search and performance milestones. A great recruiter can articulate their methodology for how they recruit top talent and how they will communicate progress throughout the search process.  This communication should include things such as performance milestones or checkpoints, interview protocols and techniques, written progress report and candidate summary report formats. Their search methodology should have the flexibility and means for recalibration or redirection of the search for unforeseen challenges that arise.
  • An effective recruiting partner works on a select number of searches to ensure that they fill your role. Ask the recruiter how many searches they are working on and what resources they will allocate to your search. Recruiting partners should also be quick to say “no thank you” to the client if the search is not a good fit for their firm or they cannot dedicate the proper resources to complete the search in a realistic time frame.
  • Recruiting fees come in all shapes and sizes and you get what you pay for. Fees ultimately should be commensurate with the resources allocated, challenges of the role and urgency. It is important to know where a role fits in this equation to then identify the right recruiting path and subsequent investment. Every company wants to save money, but evaluating the cost of a hire is much more than looking at the recruiting fee. Ensure you conduct an honest assessment of true costs for a given search including:  your internal capacity to recruit for the position, cost for not having the person in the seat (usually grows with time), strategic milestones you need to hit which require the person in the seat and the talent pool size for the given role. This will help you to identify the most effective path for your talent acquisition efforts.
  • Vendor policies and supporting contracts should address fees, performance guarantees, candidate guarantees and confidentiality. Establish policies that are mutually beneficial for you and your selected recruiting partners. A clearly defined vendor policy with supporting contracts will protect your business from unsolicited resumes and hold all members of your team accountable to a defined protocol.

Today, more than ever, companies have to have the best talent in every seat and need to get that talent their as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. As we kick-off a new year, take an honest look at your talent acquisition process to ensure that both internal and external efforts maximize your short and long-term hiring strategies.

This sponsored content is brought to you by Chris Carmon, president of The Carmon Group, Inc. For more information on The Carmon Group, visit www.carmongroup.com.

Published in Cleveland