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EP 97: Hiring as a team sport. Aligning hiring strategies with the company's North Star metrics.

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  
Hey, everyone, welcome to The Breakthrough Hiring Show. I'm your host, James Mackey, who got a short and sweet episode for you today.  

We're gonna keep it for around 10 - 15 minutes somewhere in there. Before we jump into it, I just wanted to say thank you, to our audience, for everybody tuning in, I really appreciate you feel free to reach out with feedback on the show. Remember, this is for you, it's not for me, I want to make sure that I'm adding value to you that our guests are helping you as well, and that we're able to guide talent strategy for you whether you're sitting in the CEO, COO, CPO, Head of Talent Acquisition, I really appreciate you.


 We've developed a really great executive audience. I hear from some of you folks every week, people reaching out through DM on LinkedIn, letting us know that some of the tips that we're sharing are helping to guide town strategy. Love hearing that feedback. And remember, if there are any topics that you want us to discuss, I'd be happy to receive that feedback from you as well. So you can reach out on the website, breakthrough Or you can also just DM me on LinkedIn, I have an open profile. So I'll see it, I'll make sure to get back to you. So I always enjoy engaging with the audience. The only thing that I've really been impressed with about the audience's just the simple fact that being here, you're the type of person that is investing in yourself that wants to learn and grow. And so just by that as sort of everybody's default setting that is engaged with the show, it's just been so incredible to engage with our guests and our audience. So anyway, thank you so much. And I'm really, really excited for the future. We are building out some incredible partnerships with category-leading tech companies, bringing on CEOs and executives from a couple of these companies to run co-hosting segments. So the show is going to continue to evolve. 


And we are going to be providing you with the range of episodes you know, I love the panels, right? We're just kind of riffing with a couple of my peers here at secure vision, we're also going to be bringing on more incredible guests. I mean, as the show's taking off, we're getting outreach from some really high-level C-level executives, that category-leading tech companies that want to come on the show. So the guest list that we have coming up is quite impressive. And I think you're really going to enjoy those episodes as well. So we're trying to provide you with a variety of content. And you know, some a little bit more casual, some this a little bit more data-driven, right, or emphasis greater on data, hopefully everything we talk about, whether casual or not is based on data and evidence, not just our beliefs, if you will. So we always tried to do that for you. But anyway, so let's dive into it.


I got a few topics, stuff that's been top of mind folks that I've been speaking with lately, and a couple of things have come up. But I want to share with you the first topic that I think it's you know, for those of you executives out there, as you're communicating a message alongside ROI, right, like you need data and evidence to really dramatically improve or change the direction of a culture or the way a company is operating. But the narrative alongside that one of the narratives, if you're pushing toward people-first culture and you're looking to buy in that and this is what you can lose use alongside data is simple terminology. Hiring as a team sport. 


That's really the message that you want to drive home. And you need to show an ROI as to why that's so important. But sharing the story, remember, it doesn't matter how good your recruiters are, it doesn't matter how good your agency partners or it doesn't even matter how good your recruiting tech stack is. I don't care if it's generative AI, you know, backed, or whatever else just doesn't matter. If the hiring managers aren't clear on what they're looking for, or there isn't a process in place to ensure that they're clear on what they're looking for. If the interview team isn't prepared, the interview process is too long and dragged out. Basically, if you don't have structured hiring, then the company is not ultimately going to be successful at hiring top talent. 


So a big part of achieving results, as we know, in recruiting is making sure we have executive buy-in. And a big part of that is being able to prove the ROI. It's being able to look at the North Star metrics that the company has, and any key people initiative that you have needs to be directly tied back to one of those Northstar metrics. So if you can't show a clear causal relationship between a project that you're doing and the ROI, opportunity, cost, or cost savings that it can provide, it's gonna be really hard to move the culture in the direction that You want to move it in. So when you are speaking with the CEOs and the board, we need to be able to show that ROI. And then the high level again, philosophy, right? Hiring is a team sport. So the only way to get it done. 


So that's one topic that's been top of mind. For me, I think something else that's come up recently is, we've been in this market correction, particularly those of you that are in the tech industry, it's been about six to nine months now. Right. And I think that there are sometimes folks that aren't involved with hiring on a regular basis that they believe that an employer market means that recruiting is easy. It's easy to pick up talent. And the reality is that there probably is more qualified talent out there, right, we've seen significant layoffs in tech. And I can understand that in some cases, it might be a little easier to recruit talent. But it's very important to remind folks that it doesn't get dramatically easier. 


The reason is that there are a lot more candidates coming inbound, there are a lot more candidates in your funnel, you have to do a lot more work to filter through candidates, and make sure that you're getting the best candidate hired. So if you don't have a structured interview process, there's going to be a tonne of candidates in there. And it's going to basically be very hard from a bandwidth perspective to manage that pipeline. So, of course, companies have to make hard decisions to keep costs low. However, you have to factor in the cost of managing larger inbound candidate flows. And having more candidates on top of funnel screening calls, these types of things. The other thing is that great candidates are asking harder questions, people are a lot more hesitant to move to a new company if they feel their company is stable. So that's something to consider too, and 2021. Right, when the market was growing at an insane rate, people were jumping left and right. They were all over the place; it was easier to pull people away. Whether true or not folks felt like it was true in their situation or not. People are so embedded with the idea, the concept that they can make more money with a jump than saying that their current company and I know there's data out there to back that, what I'm referring to is that regardless if it was true in their specific situation or not, that's such an ingrained part of the tech culture that a lot of people were jumping in quite rapidly. We're not seeing that, right now, people are diving in a lot more, they're a lot more cautious than they used to be. So I think that you have to remember, just because it's an employer market, it's still hard, you're gonna have a lot more work to do on top of the funnel. 


And just because you have more inbound applicants doesn't mean that you're not doing outbound, you still need a clear outbound strategy. The way that I like to think about it is thinking about our revenue funnels, right, our revenue acquisition, funnels, inbound, customers inbound leads are great. The issue with inbound leads is you get whatever comes in. So one of the things that I noticed just as a business owner of secure vision, we do contract recruiting and better recruiting RPO is that a lot of the inbound leads that we get are from the SMB market. And that's great when you're starting out as a small company. But when you start to want to achieve scale, you start to look at our case at larger companies, growth stage companies, mid-market enterprises, those folks were coming inbound for us. And so we had to be more thoughtful and figure out how to engage with later-stage companies. And that requires to some extent and outbound motions. And the same thing applies to talent acquisition.


Now some roles for some positions, or maybe at a certain level of growth, are going to be more effective. The reality is that to get this type of talent, you need the best possible talent, that's the best possible fit at the right time, you're going to need an effective outbound strategy, and you're going to need a budget for that. So I found, I mean, again, you need data, you need to be able to show an ROI and opportunity costs. But alongside that, I found it's really helpful to give that revenue analogy to executive leaders who might be a little bit more sophisticated when it comes to understanding revenue strategy. But they don't. They haven't exactly figured out how to draw the parallels to talent acquisition. The other thing is,

I've seen some companies slow down their hiring process. They're letting candidates spend more time in the interview process, there's almost less of a sense of urgency. I think that this is caused by two reasons. One, maybe folks feel like candidates don't have as many opportunities on the market. But it is very important to remind our teams that the best candidates always have options. And I know that there are some cases where really great people are out of work for several months. But if a player is out of work for several months in this market, I think it's still because maybe they got a good severance, they're sitting on a little bit of cash and they're taking their time. A players that want to get back to work quickly, are going to be able to find something relatively quickly. So I think that that's something to keep in mind, we can't just kind of take our foot off the gas, I think it's really important to share that with the people on your team. 


The other thing I mentioned is that we're seeing a lot more in decisiveness because you know, we'll see certain roles open up, and companies might change their mind a little bit more frequently in this market condition. I think clearer planning, really slowing down in the planning phase, and possibly adding a few additional steps to consider whether a role is even opened in the first place or not, are particularly important in this market condition. The idea should be whenever we open a role, we're moving at full speed ahead, with a high sense of urgency. And we're looking to get this thing done and achieve a great result with a great new hire, there should be no ambiguity, or ambiguity or uncertainty surrounding if a position is needed. And this market condition is a waste of everybody's time. And not only does it create a bad candidate experience, but your hiring managers and leaders, if they're not if they're focused on recruiting for roles they may not actually need, they're taking their time away from working on other aspects of their role, which are going to provide more value to the people that they're managing, and to customers.


So that's one thing I would just consider looking at your pre-kind of the approval process for roles that you're thinking about opening up. And let's try to, you know, fine-tune it, right, make maybe that approval process a little bit longer. So that if people are kind of flip-flopping back and forth, whether it's leaders or hiring managers or whatnot, let them get that out of the way. And so I think, the approval process for roles maybe, if it usually took, maybe it takes almost a third to half the time more. And of course, that depends if you're working for a large enterprise, maybe you already have a very robust long process. But I think for a lot of folks out there, we kind of rush the approval process.


So there'll be should be several steps, everything from 30-60-90 day plans to understanding the current capacity of the team and why this position is needed to finding salary ranges, making sure that the hiring manager truly understands strategic initiatives from the leadership team, again, showing a direct causal relationship between hires and the company, achieving Northstar metrics, clearly understanding performance, and making sure that on a department level, key initiatives aren't loosely tied to Northstar metrics, there needs to be a direct relationship. And if a higher is required for something that seems more project-oriented, whatnot, there's more likely to be a chance for folks to change their mind or for companies to pull back on that higher. So I think as people executives, we need to do what we can through the approval process to make sure that other executives in the company don't rush into hiring plans that they're ultimately gonna just shift around a couple of months down the road, because we see a lot of these types of market conditions. 


The other thing that I would like to mention is how we recruit recruiters. You know, right now, we might not be doing a whole lot of that. But we want to be thinking one step ahead. And I don't know if it's going to be three, six months from now or in nine months, but we're gonna get to the point where we're going to need to start hiring again. So the last topic is a reminder that not all recruiters are created equal. Of course, some recruiting positions might be a little bit more straightforward. A transactional type of funnel may be sourcing or just screening calls for individual contributors, right, where it really just comes down to communication skills and the ability to follow a process. However, I will say that the best recruiters out there and the people that actually have the potential to move up into team leads or managers within your organization are going to be the folks that really understand the core business objectives that understand Northstar metrics. They need to understand the relevancy of the roles that they're recruiting for and why that matters to the company. The reason is there's a lot once one for one that you want them to understand how Northstar metrics cascade down to their position. So how do they think about spending and investing their time and approaching their role? 


Second, you have future leaders. Third, it shows a lot of self-awareness and awareness about somebody's environment shows a lot of details around their ability to think holistically about the company and the core objectives show you a lot about their intelligence. It shows you a lot about their ability to adapt. You know, people that have the ability to have that strategic mindset are ultimately going to be folks that are going to be most valuable and create the most value. Again for your organization So, I want to share with you a question that I asked, I think is a very, very high-leverage question. I ask it in any final round interview that I'm on for my company, secure vision. And I want you to give it a shot. I don't, don't be closed-minded. Don't knock it till you try it. And I think you're gonna get some really incredible results as I have. I feel like this question was really a game-changer.


So keep in mind, this is a question that I asked in a final round after a structured interview process, behavioral interviews, and screening calls. And we've asked a lot of very specific questions to get the right field if somebody has the right traits and skill set to be successful. And when they get to the final round, if I'm the final round interview for the role, the question that I like to ask again, individual contributors, I will ask them, if you were promoted to CEO of your company, tomorrow, what would be your top three initiatives and why? 


This could be something that you're doubling down on, this could be something that you're going to discontinue, or this is going to be something that you shift around or change. Or maybe it's something completely new? I absolutely love this question. Because again, it's going to tell me so much about how that person thinks. It's going to tell me how much action they're going to take and how quickly it's going to let me know if they're analytical or emotionally driven. How are they going to make decisions about people-related decisions? It's going to show me how collaborative they are. It's going to show me how intellectually curious they are. How self-aware they are about their own abilities and shortcomings. How self-aware they are about their team's abilities and shortcomings. How will they understand how the organization runs as a whole? What are the key parts of key things that actually drive success? What are the highest leverage things that drive success? 


Adaptability shows neuroplasticity, it shows a lot of things that are going to be indicators of success, you're going to get a lot of information on their raw intelligence and ability based on this question. What's really cool about it is you can dive in and ask follow-up questions and really get a sense for Okay, that sounds really good. How would you go about executing that? And you're gonna learn so much about this candidate? It's like one question and a tonne of value. And I will tell you, since we've implemented that question, our batting average for hiring incredible people has skyrocketed.


What are the important things to keep in mind is when somebody has the ability to understand the company's key Northstar metrics and how that cascades down to their role they're also going to be able to explain that to other candidates, they're going to be able to explain the impact that candidates can have at the company, given the point of impact they're going to be in right, given their role. And that's incredibly powerful because you gotta remember, A players are going to be thinking about that. They're going to be thinking about what they're learning, what their point of impact is, and why it matters. And so by asking this question of candidates, you're going to be sure that these recruiters are going to be able to explain the value to other candidates, the value that those other candidates will be able to create and contribute to the organization. 


So those are my three-pointers today. I hope you enjoyed the episode. Thank you so much for tuning in. I'll see you next time. Take care.

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