While working in-house as a headhunter (the real market-mapping and cold-call headhunting “headhunter”) I often got asked the question about the ethics of direct headhunting from competitors. When I was giving a talk on the value of in-house headhunting at the 2012 Fall ERE conference in Miami, someone in the audience actually asked me this very question, “Do you think it’s ethical to headhunt from competitors?” keep reading…
The majority of bosses in a new study admit they knew who they wanted to promote before the formal process got underway.
Published by Georgetown University, the study by Jonathan Gardner, COO and senior managing director of Penn, Schoen, & Berland Associates, found 56 percent of large company (with more than 1,000 employees) executives with more than one candidate for a promotion already had a favorite. After going through the evaluation process, 96 percent of those managers with a favorite gave them the job. Twenty-nine percent of the managers had only one candidate.
No wonder, then, that 78 percent of managers said their promotion decision was easy. And no wonder, too, that 92 percent say favoritism exists in most large organizations. keep reading…
This public trust is our Company’s most valuable asset: one earned every day through our scrupulous adherence to the principles of integrity and fair dealing… Each of us has the power to influence the way our Company is viewed, simply through the judgments and decisions we each make in the course of an ordinary day. — from News Corp’s code of conduct manual
The News Corp scandal has been an expensive one, tanking the stock valuation by $7 billion in a single four-day period. While it might not be obvious, the scandal will have many serious human resource implications not just for News Corp, but for all large organizations in general.
News Corp will need to replace many key leaders following permanent damage to its employer brand that influences its ability to recruit and retain top professionals (incidentally, Scotland Yard faces the same issues). In both organizations the primary causes of damage appear to be large numbers of employees and managers acting badly.
Undetected employee misbehavior is a common problem at almost all large organizations, so this example should serve as a wake-up call to all in HR that it needs to re-examine its capability for identifying damaging employee behaviors.
What Is HR Accountable for?
One of the fundamental tenants of modern business is accountability, but you would be hard pressed to find any part of the HR function at News Corp accepting responsibility for the recent events. When employees behave badly, you can blame the CEO, but in a massively large organization he/she often pushes oversight off to others (Murdoch has stated publicly that he can’t closely monitor the actions of 53,000 individual employees worldwide). You can also blame corporate culture, but if you do, you must identify who is accountable for maintaining the culture and what systemic actions sustain it. A third possibility involves blaming whoever is responsible for monitoring and guiding employee behavior.
These last two possibilities bring to mind an important strategic question: keep reading…
Recruitment, at times, can seem a lot like a poker game. The client is the dealer, and every candidate is a player. At prescribed stages in the game, all cards are hidden, and bit by bit, each individual reveals his or her hand. Each show of cards is a risk. Sometimes the dealer wins, which is good because that means the game can remain solvent for other players to enjoy. At other times the players win, which is also positive, since a losing game draws no players. As long as the odds are relatively even and everyone abides by the rules, the game can go on. But what happens when a player steps up who doesn’t play by the rules? keep reading…
All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. — Galileo Galilei
“At corporate we prefer to have someone in-between us and the name sourced. We prefer to hire sourcers like you to do the really proactive stuff.”
I think he meant phone sourcing, as that was the demonstration on the movie he had just seen.
Unsaid in that confession is the simple truth that many corporate staffing departments believe that the act of “sourcing,” especially phone sourcing, is best left to third party vendors — that it’s kind of a rogue activity.
That’s all yippee-skippee and profitable to us phone sourcers out here, but moving beyond that is the internal, mistaken, and dangerous belief that there is something not-so-sacrosanct about phone sourcing. keep reading…
When people are stressed and economic pressures rise, both candidates and recruiters are tempted to act in ways that may not be ethical. While I have never met a recruiter who thought of themselves as dishonest or unethical, many candidates feel that they have been told less than the truth and have been disrespected.
We all get so caught up in our own success and survival that we forget to act in the best interests of the candidates, ourselves, and our organization. Almost everyone involved with talent acquisition is squirming under pressure from hiring managers to find qualified candidates and, therefore, are quick to grasp at any solution that offers hope of giving them access to better people. Hence the rapid rise of referral and networking tools and great interest in Internet search, as well as in “poaching” candidates.
Recruiters face pressure to source in ways that may be legal, but not ethical. Discussions about sourcing on ERE, in magazines, and on various blogs over the past months have not been encouraging. I do not believe in or advocate many of the practices that are being suggested. Poaching candidates, stretching the truth, using the Internet in deceitful ways, and “tricking” people to provide information they would otherwise not have given you are unethical. All is NOT fair in war. That is why we have a Geneva Convention and the International War Crimes Tribunal.
While recruiting is far less serious than war, that is no excuse to use patently dishonest and deceitful practices.
When Lauren Mehler took The MBA Oath this spring, she saw it as a way of holding herself to a higher degree of accountability. Putting her name to the oath during her final semester at Harvard Business School was a public acknowledgment that when, in her working life, she faces a difficult decision with no clear right or wrong, she will think through which course will “serve the greater good.”
Mehler, daughter of Mark Mehler, a founder and principal of the well-known recruiting consultancy CareerXroads, joined hundreds of her fellow Harvard MBA students in signing an oath vowing to “seek a course that enhances the value my enterprise can create for society over the long term.”
Although other schools have tried oaths or pledges for their business school students, this one was the brainchild of a few of Mehler’s student colleagues. “Business schools have been demonized,” she told us recently, as she was preparing to leave home for her job in Minneapolis. Whether rightly or wrongly, they have been blamed for failing to instill a moral compass in the MBAs they turn out, who, in turn, have been blamed for the current recession as well as most of the excesses of Wall Street and the banking community at large.
“We had a lot of discussion about the recession and the conditions that lead up to it,” she told us. “The ethical situations were discussed in every class I had.”
Some of the students, however, believed they needed something more. keep reading…
Monster has come up with a unique way to attract visitors to its booth at the SHRM conference now underway in Chicago: Give away $1 million.
Monster is distributing donation cards in denominations from $25 to $10,000 that conference-goers then decide which of 23 charities gets it. One charity can get it all or the amount can be divied up.
“We’re really psyched about it,” company spokesman Steve Sylven told us, speaking from the busy show floor at McCormick Place. The usual assortment of pens, glow balls and other tsotchkes “have their place,” says Sylven, to whom we confessed we have a draw full of pens from a dozen shows. The “trumps are very popular,” he adds, referring to Monster’s Trumpasauraus mascot, which we also had until the puppy got at it.
This show, “We decided to do something different.”
The charities fall into several different categories include literacy and education, health, military support, environmental and others. The organizations include Doctors Without Borders, Children’s Defense Fund, the USO and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Monster calls the initiative “Doing Well By Doing Good: Put Our Money Where Your Heart is” and pledges to give away all $1 million by the end of the conference Wednesday. Should all the donation cards not be distributed the company will contribute the remainder. Unlikely Sylven thought. At the rate the cards are going, “They’ll all be gone.”
Habit and tradition are useful in many ways. They make it much easier to know what to do and they subconsciously steer us along paths that have worked in the past but may not work so well anymore.
Recruiters, perhaps more than some other professionals, seem to be married to traditional practices. Most recruiters still require resumes, still feel they must have a face-to-face meeting with every candidate, and feel that traditional interviewing is still the best way to determine a candidate’s skills and organizational fit. They feel these things even when objective data shows them wrong because they are what everyone else does and because they are comfortable and expected practices.
It is far too easy to get caught up in our own perspectives, careers, and day-to-day activities that we don’t see alternatives to the problems we face. Instead, we continue to follow traditional approaches, even when they are obviously inadequate.
Almost everyone involved with talent acquisition is squirming under pressure from hiring managers to find more qualified candidates. Recruiters are quick to grasp at any solution that offers hope of giving them access to better people.
One of my earliest childhood memories comes from when I was about three years old. My parents took my brothers and me to visit the grave site of my grandmother, who I never met.
I recall being in the massive cemetery just outside of Cleveland, Ohio; the same final resting place of not only my father’s mother, but also both President Garfield and John D. Rockefeller. Nevertheless, at the ripe age of three, respecting and remembering the dead was just not on my mind at the time. What was on my mind was all of these fabulous headstones and the thought of climbing all over them; like most three-year-old boys, I was more chimpanzee and less human when it came to climbing.
In my time in the recruiting space, I have learned that there is one topic that routinely incites the masses: ethics in recruiting. The recent “Ethics in Recruiting” panel at the ER Expo in San Diego was an enlightening experience that will set the stage for years of discussion and debate in our industry. The Players The first panel on ethics in recruiting at ERE consisted of:
- David Gebler, a noted and respected ethics expert and president of Working Values.
We all get so caught up in our own perspectives, careers, and day-to-day activities that we often don’t see alternatives to problem we face. Instead, we continue to follow traditional approaches, even when they are obviously inadequate. Almost everyone involved with talent acquisition is squirming under pressure from hiring managers to find more qualified candidates. Recruiters are quick to grasp at any solution that offers hope of giving them access to better people. Hence the rapid rise of niche job boards and referral and networking tools and the greatly renewed interest in Internet searching and “poaching” candidates. At the same time, recruiters face pressure to source in ways that may be legal, but not exactly ethical.
The recent discussions about ethics on ERE and on other various blogs are not encouraging. I do not believe in or advocate many of the practices that are being offered. All is not fair in war, as the Geneva Convention, the Nuremburg trails, and the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague demonstrate. It is easy to mark patently dishonest and deceitful practices as unethical; the real test comes in the “gray” areas. These are the areas where it is not clear if certain practices — such as willfully discrediting a company to make an employee feel that it would be best to move on — are wrong, and where our ethical thinking is tested.
Recruiters who use methods they know are deceitful or dishonest do no one a favor. They harm their employer’s reputation and sully their own. Recruiters who are not sure if a practice is wrong or not might do well to put themselves in the shoes of the candidate or the manager on the other side. They might also look at all the options they have and ask which of them does more good than harm. Good ethical practices treat all the parties concerned with dignity and respect and advance the values of the organization. In the long run, it is not important whether you “win” the candidate but whether you have done so with integrity and fairness.
So assuming you practice ethical recruiting, how can your organization meet its needs for talent? Conventional thinking about careers and a lack of imagination on the part of HR and recruiters is probably contributing to the perception that there is a growing lack of skilled talent available in the workforce. There are many alternatives to unethical recruiting and to filling talent shortages.
Larger organizations have many talented, culturally aligned, and productive employees who would welcome an opportunity to do something different. Leading-edge firms, such as Dell and Schlumberger, have developed internal systems that allow recruiters to locate people with specific skills within the organization. The systems capture employees’ skills, performance history, educational background, and interests. These employees are usually passive; they’re not looking for an internal move and not aware of the opportunity. Yet they are often eager to take a look at that opportunity once they are approached. These systems also allow actively looking employees to add personal information or to apply directly for posted positions. When there is a need to fill very highly specialized positions, internal people are frequently the best qualified to do so with the least amount of training.
Short-term Training and Coaching
Many times employees can be given skills more quickly than we think. Cisco, IBM, and countless other organizations have put together short-term, intensive training programs that enable employees to gain new skills and become productive in a matter of weeks. This is often no longer than it takes to source, screen, interview, and hire a candidate from outside who, after being hired, still needs time to become productive and learn the new culture. E-learning, mentoring, and coaching are all ways that employees can be given skills they need quickly while being productive.
Sometimes it is a good practice to let people rotate through several jobs so that they acquire at least some skills in many areas. This way they can be moved to fill gaps very quickly and with a minimum of additional education. Rotations can be done frequently but on a short-term basis so that the impact on the employee’s current position is minimal. It just takes some creative thinking to make this work without much bother. Often they can be squeezed into slower times or offered when work tends to be less than normal.
Corporate universities are being established at a record pace to provide more formal education to current employees either to meet future anticipated needs or to strengthen employee skills to better meet current needs. There are organizations with internal corporate training functions designed to provide employees for highly skilled or specialized jobs or for management and leadership positions. General Electric, IBM, HP, and Intel are leaders in making this a cornerstone of their people strategy.
Educating Hiring Managers
Times are changing, and with this comes the need for managers to better understand the talent marketplace. It will be harder and harder to find qualified people over the next decade. For some jobs — including certain finance positions, nursing, and pharmacy jobs, as well as management positions — there will be a crisis. Even aggressive stealing and blatantly unethical practices will probably not meet the needs. Managers must have a better understanding of these issues, and you as recruiters need to make the business case for managers approaching talent acquisition from a variety of ways, rather than simply going outside to meet every need. Talent acquisition is getting more complicated and requires recruiters, as I wrote last week, who are strategic talent advisors more than just “order takers.” The best recruiters do not need to use unethical practices because they have learned more options and have sold those internally.