Any Wayne Gretzky fans out there for whom this makes any kind of sense? While he was famous for his skills on the ice, his thought process was another source of cool inspiration. Gretzky is famously noted for saying, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”
We talk about talent forecasting a lot on this blog, because it saves countless resources and creates a competitive advantage for companies that use it. Skating to where the puck will be is great advice for recruiters who aim at ending their reactive tendencies and want to use forecasting to step up their game and recruit for where the need will be.
Most recruiters are forced to react to every day fires, and are often kept too busy "putting butts in seats" to truly start planning for succession or workforce trends. This method of recruiting has the organization constantly one step behind its competitors and frustrates both recruiters and candidates. While business is known for throwing a few curve balls (you must pardon all the sports references) there are several things that recruiters can do to catch them and throw them right back. Leadership expert and author Alan Murray said:
“If all you do is react, you will fail as a manager. You may be good at solving problems that arise. You may be skilled at responding to the needs and requests of those you work for, or the people on your team. You may work long hours, be loved and respected by your employees, and be the very model of organizational efficiency. But you will not be an effective manager.”
In short, responding to talent needs is very different from guiding talent needs. Recruiters need to know what's going to happen in addition to being able to handle all their current requisitions. Playing catch-up means there is no time for future planning, process improvement or room to grow beyond the reactive. One of the most important tools for underfunded, overworked recruiters? Their very own data.
Where’s the puck going anyways?!
Talent forecasting can seem a bit out of your realm if you’ve never done it, but it’s worth the extra effort. According to a survey of 4,288 HR and non-HR managers by the Boston Consulting Group, talent acquisition is the single most important driver for revenue growth and profit. How can recruiters know where the organizational needs are to affect this crucial business driver?
Study Industry, Company and Departmental Trends
Industry trends are sometimes quite predictable, but you have to be paying attention. The known ebbs and flows of business have to be shared throughout the entire organization, especially recruiting. Industry trends are going to help you predict where you’ll need talent and when. This obviously is going to affect recruiting and training. Your industry may not be the only benchmark for how your business needs to be run, but it can serve as a watermark. Whether it's keeping an eye on the financial indices or focusing closely on your competitor's new fall product line, take note and look back over previous years to discern a pattern.
If you know when sales are traditionally up, you know when to hire and train. If you know when sales are traditionally low, you know when to work on your recruitment messaging, building the employer brand and fostering relevant talent pools. These trends are easy to see just by looking back at company data (or making it available to your employees). Combining these findings with company history may allow stakeholders to more accurately predict what's coming up for the enterprise in the future.
Taking the need-to-know information down to the granular, study your departments. Every team is a small microenvironment with its own rules, norms and yes, trends. While it can be more difficult to get this information from your busy hiring managers, it's nice to know that accounting has low turnover but someone gets promoted every six years like clockwork. As a hiring professional, that is information you need to know!
Get in the know
Each department is often privy to different information because of the way that we’re used to communicating in business. Leaders are finding out that the total picture is what every department needs to run on all cylinders, not just the bits of information that are deemed relevant to each group.
Department heads should get together on a regular basis to talk about talent needs, skill gaps and projected talent issues. How else will the recruitment team get in the know? Without a conscious effort to keep this dialogue open across departments, recruiters are forced to react, instead of guide the talent acquisition needs.
What a concept! Ask your employees how they experience their jobs. Do you find yourself always putting out a requisition for Jeff's marketing team? Maybe there's something you don't know about Jeff or the supervisor above him. Or perhaps the school from which you're recruiting serves up candidates that are imminently qualified but always leave after six months because the drive is farther than they anticipated. Pay attention to what the employees are telling you en masse. Perhaps the hiring manager in that department is known company wide for his procrastinating ways and everyone in marketing could see that Debbie wasn't coming back after maternity leave.
The whole point of getting proactive with talent needs is to gain a competitive advantage in the category of business that matters most –talent acquisitions and human capital. Reacting means that you’re behind the issue or demand; leading means that you have forecasted, prepared and acted.
Want to know more about how you can get proactive with your talent needs? Take a demo today!
Photo Credit: photosquared via bigstock
As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent hundreds of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.