A Little-known Fortune 100 Company Is Trying to Become a ‘Talent Factory’

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May 11, 2016
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

A not-well-known company that’s nonetheless one of the U.S.’s largest, operating in 160 countries with about $47 billion in revenue, is trying to “transform the organization into a talent factory,” according to the talent-acquisition leader.

Ingram Micro is a electronics/IT distributor with about 200,000 customers. A Chinese group called HNA has announced an interest in acquiring it for $6 billion, but if you look at similar purchases in the past, Ingram may stay a wholly owned subsidiary. (Ingram Micro itself has done its own acquisitions, adding about 30 companies in 10 years.)

Anyhow, at Ingram, each region of the world had been pretty much doing its own thing when it came to the hiring process. The talent department restructured in 2015, a new HR leader came in, and centers of excellence were carved out: compensation, technology, talent acquisition, for example.

The questions put on the table by global HR leaders were these: What is our common philosophy around talent? How do we evaluate talent? What is our process? What is our methodology?

“Frankly,” says talent-acquisition director Greg Hauser, “I couldn’t give them a defined answer.” It varied from the U.S. to Canada to beyond. And that, he says, “was the underlying problem.”

Ingram Micro set out to evaluate talent in a more standardized way — and to keep that way nice and simple.

ingram micro by-the-numbersHR leaders went to the company’s senior management to get buy-in for a new, global hiring process. They brought with them information on the amount and the cost of turnover, as well as information from throughout the global company on how people were currently being hired. In a nutshell: they showed inconsistencies.

The executives agreed with the need for a change.

Now getting later into 2015, Ingram Micro mapped its company competencies to a hiring process, with help from a vendor it had selected in the process: Korn/Ferry. So if, for example, it’s important to be a “change agent,” Ingram can assess what exactly that means and how to evaluate for it.

The goal, Hauser says, is that whenever and wherever you’re hired, you’ll experience the same interview and hiring process, and the same, strong candidate experience. (At the bottom of this post, I’ve embedded the one-pager Ingram Micro gives to job candidates who come in for an interview.)

If that candidate does not receive an offer, they’ll become a fan of Ingram Micro, refer others, and perhaps be a candidate for a job the next time one’s open.

At the end of January of this year, HR leaders from around the globe came to Irvine, California, at the Ingram Micro headquarters, for a three-day explanation of this new program, now called “Hire Great.” Then, in March, chief executives from worldwide Ingram locations were trained in a four-hour session, part of a larger two-day meeting.

All in all, Ingram Micro trained more than 145 people, from global leaders in HR to company presidents, in two months.

The train-the-trainer part under its belt, Ingram Micro is now spreading the word in 38 countries by having the human resources teams in each company teach people who hire how to, well, Hire Great.

14-routing_conveyorsystem_lores_090707Hiring managers are learning the costs of a bad hire; conducting structured, behavior-based interviews; what to look for in candidates; how to close; deciding who to hire; debriefing; and how to provide a positive candidate experience. The program is done using local languages, and, says Hauser, “distribution, warehouse, executive — the same questions are being asked for everyone.”

Ultimately, he says, “we were able to take a very experienced organization, a mature organization, and get down to the foundation of how we evaluate talent. How do we look across the table and determine that a candidate is great?”

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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