How Great Leadership Improves the Recruiting ProcessMay 09, 2023
Earlier I mentioned starting what I thought would be a job to get me through college on March 12, 1996 and referenced how much that organization invested into the process of hiring 40 of the close to one thousand candidates who applied. What I didn’t share was how much of that investment came during the first two weeks we were on the payroll. The company certainly had a lot of time and money tied up before we ever set foot on the property; several rounds of off-site interviews, competency testing at the local tech school, drug screens (not drug testing because that’s a whole different can of worms), and background checks. That all carried a hefty price tag, even back in the 90’s, but not nearly as much as the organization invested by having all 40 of us go through two full weeks of orientation!
At that point, the starting wage there was $9.48 per hour before factoring in any of the benefits - which were some of the best in the Shenandoah Valley at the time. They paid each of us almost $500 per week to sit in training rooms for two solid weeks, some of which was covering the processes and procedures we’d soon be expected to follow to the letter but there was just as much face time with the local management team.
I won’t pretend like I remember the majority of the material that was shared over the course of those two weeks, and my point here isn’t to make a case for whether or not the much time was even necessary. What I do remember like it was yesterday was the impression the plant manager made with us from day one and how he walked the talk for the next few years until he retired. The things that stood out the most to me were his focus on the importance of safety, him making sure we knew he was always approachable, and his emphasis on paying little attention to the rumor mill. With regards to rumors, he assured us we’d hear at least one every day and said we should start one of our own if we didn’t…
While he was joking about us starting rumors, he was incredibly serious about safety and how approachable he was! I saw him on the shop floor interacting with the off shift crew I was part of more in my first month than I had seen the construction foreman at the job I came from in the entire year I worked there - and he was only responsible for the six to eight of us on that crew…
Fast forward to late 2013 and most of 2014. I was doing almost all of the hiring for that same facility. At that point, the amount of time we were given to get all the new hire paperwork completed, cover all the rules and regs, and to provide the new employees with an introduction to our safety and quality processes was limited to just four hours then they spent the rest of their first day engaged in something similar to what they were hired for. I’m still not making a case for whether the amount of time for the orientation process was good or bad but I will challenge you to consider which version of orientation in that same facility provided the new folks coming onboard with more exposure to the local leadership team… Since I’m too impatient to give you much time to guess, I’ll just lay it out for you! During my final 18 months with the company, the time I mentioned where I hired around 225 people, I don’t remember a single instance where the plant manager ever even said hello to a single group. To that end, the only managers who were involved in the orientation process regularly were the safety manager and the quality manager, both of whom I consider close friends still today - which is likely tied to the fact that they actually gave a crap about the people we were bringing into the organization…
Here’s one more question I’d like you to consider: If you worked in that facility under both of those management teams, which would you be more likely to recommend to your friends or family as a place to consider when they were looking for employment?
In March ‘22, Forbes.com published an article by Karla Reffold called Three Reasons Why Your Leaders Are Essential in the Recruiting Process that shared :
“Improvements in the recruitment process often focus on candidate experience, an important thing to keep in mind. Further improvements might focus on interview training for hiring managers, ensuring they focus on a welcoming and fair process. Yet leaders are noticeably missing from the attraction stage of that process. In a world where the need for talent has never been more pressing, your best leaders might be the missing piece to the puzzle.”
While the example I shared here was from one of our area’s largest manufacturing facilities, I can honestly say that, with a select few exceptions, I’ve seen little difference in the level of involvement management/ownership has in small businesses. We are indeed in a world where every organization has a pressing need for talent! With that being the case, I’m convinced that this absence of leadership in the recruiting and onboarding processes is sending a loud message to every potential candidate that’s driving the recruiting costs even higher, and killing our profitability!
Next time, we’ll take a look at the three reasons Reffold alluded to and we’ll dig into what this lack of visibility with leaders can do to a culture!