That’s a good question…

One of the most important tools a HR pro can have is the ability to ask good questions. You won’t find it in many of the “earn yourself a seat at the table” articles, but trust me it’s true. Good questions are your best friend.

Why?

To start with, good questions help you out when you don’t know what else to say. They help you enter a conversation and are a brilliant way of interacting above your organisational level. Generally, the more senior you get, the more you like the sound of your own voice. Asking questions plays right in to that sweet spot and gets you noticed.

Good questions help you learn. They give you knowledge, insight and understanding that you otherwise would not obtain. They’re your key to learning more about the business and developing your commercial and strategic acumen. Good questions are personal development on speed.

Good questions help you avoid making a fool of yourself. Too many times when things go wrong you have the, “why didn’t you tell me” moment. Which of course has the answer, “you didn’t ask”. Good questions replace volume, they get to the issue quicker than lots of questions and they identify issues before they happen.

Good questions make the other person work. You only have to develop your repertoire of good questions once, but you can deploy them time and time again. The person on the receiving end, however, has to do the thinking. Not only does it make them smarter (and they’ll thank you for that) it also means you can spend the time listening, it’s a win win.

It’s too easy to think that getting yourself noticed, getting influence, getting that organisational recognition is about being heard. And too many HR people spend their time talking and talking to try to fill that space. Next time you’re tempted, ask a question instead (but make it a good one), and see what the response you get is.

Trust me, you’ll never look back.

 

5 HR mindsets for the future (and right now)

1) Adaptability – HR has been built on creating fixed structure and immobility. That’s where we used to add value, but no more. The frustration that we hear in a lot of organisations is that the world is demanding more flexibility and yet the profession is slow to catch up. We need to be more adaptable, able to turn our hands to anything and make decisions based on the immediate circumstances that face us, to help our businesses move forward.

2) Tech Savvy – I can’t repeat this too many times; if you don’t understand technology then you’re going to find yourself obsolete pretty damn quickly. It isn’t a case of being an expert, although having some coding experience in your team is never going to hurt. Our experience as human beings is increasingly influenced by technology, so if you want to be in HR you need to understand that experience.

3) Commerciality – Before I lose you….I’m not talking about the stupid linear relationship that most people draw when they talk about HR and commercial reality. I’m talking about the big global issues that you need to understand to help your organisation navigate the next ten or twenty years. Demographics, pension legislation, immigration and emigration, skills and education. Changes in FX rates, inflation and interest rates. You’re on top of them right?

4) Creativity – If we are going to adaptable, tech savvy and commercial then we sure as hell need to be creative too. We too often look down our noses at creativity and view pragmatism as the holy grail of HR. Remind me the last time you went to a party and talked to your friends or family about this amazing piece of pragmatism. Then ask yourself the same question about creativity. It matters.

5) Connectivity – Our ability to see inter connections, relationships, to look inside and out and see how things relate, to understand the impact of one element of practice on another is critical. Our ability to think systematically and understand that neither our organisations nor our practice can operate in isolation. We need to be the organisational glue, not the institutional porridge.

Information is energy, not power

How does your organisation treat information? I mean proper information, the stuff that makes a difference.

The organisational response to feedback about their information flow is normally one of two things, to instigate more formal information sharing platforms, to berate management for not cascading the content of the already existing platforms.

Meanwhile, the real information flow in the organisation doesn’t change. Because it isn’t a process, it’s culture.

We all know the phrase, “knowledge is power” but the reality is that in far too many of our organisations information is being used as such by a large proportion of our people.

It strikes me the leader’s job is to use information as energy and not as power. We are there to disseminate the appropriate information at the right time to aid performance but also to retain information, to shield people if that information would hinder performance.

And that’s a fine balance.

I don’t buy the idea that total absolute information flow is the organisational gold standard. The demands to know everything is a simple means of recognising that information is seen as power within your business.

We all know that organisations produce ridiculous amounts of data and also, particularly in these fluid times, the agenda can change repeatedly. Sometimes it just isn’t helpful to know.

Culturally advanced organisations know when to share and when not to share. Likewise, people in culturally advanced organisations recognise what they need to know and what they don’t.

And that’s where we need to aim.

Ten reasons we don’t care about candidate experience

We love talking about candidate experience. I hear time and time again how important it is, yet the reality is that most of us are pretty dreadful at it regardless of whether we are HR or recruitment professionals.

The fact is that most recruiters don’t care about candidate experience, and here’s why:

1) We build dodgy website experiences – Most online application processes make getting in to Berghain look like a piece of cake. At a recent event I was at a roundtable of recruiters roundly condemned every single major ATS. And yes, whilst we can be a whiny bunch, there’s some truth in it. If these were e-commerce sites, we’d be losing money.

2) We don’t have time to give feedback – This is probably the defining question that sets out where you are on candidate experience. People tell me they just don’t have time, and I’ve got sympathy with that. But then don’t say you care about candidate experience, because you don’t.

3) We create mystery processes – Would you order something without a delivery time? Enter a competition without any rules? Our single-minded focus on making sure people don’t know how to get a job with us is something to behold. I mean, if people knew, they might hold us to account? And we’re too busy making sure they have a good experience to deal with that.

4) We don’t understand our own biases – I’ve heard too many recruiters….I could actually stop the sentence there and it would be enough…but let’s indulge…I’ve heard too many recruiters say, “I would never consider someone who xxxxx”. Bias? Who knows, but the chance is yes, absolutely. Get yourself here. Now.

5) We allow indefensible criteria – “The manager wants to only see people who can hold eleven marshmallows in their mouth and still hum the national anthem. Apparently the last two job holders could do that and they were both top performers”.

6) We value operational efficiency over optimal pathway – Every process redesign I have ever seen in recruitment has been to make things easier for the recruiter and the line manager. Not once have I seen people take on more work to make the candidate’s life easier. Not once.

7) We want to separate recruitment out from the employee cycle – Centres of excellence, outsourced solutions, service centres. Can you imagine setting up your business so that you sold a product without actually being aware of the quality of the build, design and the delivery times? No, me neither so how can we give candidates a great experience if we don’t know what’s going to happen when they’re hired?

8) We STILL use social media to sell – Even the companies lauded for using social media well are way, way, way behind the customer service functions of most businesses. Candidate experience? Don’t ask us questions and we won’t need to respond. See our FAQ and in the meantime, click this link. Thanks.

9) We work office hours – People enter the recruitment process when they’re not at work. For example, we’ve been using the awesome HireVue technology now for nearly three years. Our data shows that over 50% of people use the system outside of 9-5 and the most popular day is…..Sunday. We know this as a profession, but want to speak to a recruiter out of hours? We’re in the pub. But, don’t let that worry you, just enjoy the experience.

10) We serve the business not the candidate – I’m not saying this is wrong, it’s a thing, it just is. Every time we will put a line manager before a candidate because simply we care more about their experience. I know. I’m not wrong.

Don’t believe me? The REC have just launched the results of their research in to candidate experience, you can get it here.  And whilst you’re at it, join up to the Good Recruitment Campaign here.

Let’s stop talking the talk.