Avoid This Common Recruiting Mistake — and Forward This to Your Management Team

Jan 25, 2012

While talking about customer service on a radio program, I shared a customer service nightmare story last week that also happens to be a perfect analogy for the mistake so many employers make. More specifically, the way the business allocated resources to advertising vs. customer service mirrored the costly mistake employers make when it comes to recruiting, employer branding, and onboarding.

It’s a mistake you want to ask yourself if you’re making.

The story speaks to how often employers waste time, money, and creative horsepower when it comes to attracting and retaining talent because they put their attention in the wrong place.

So here’s the story … 

Years ago a friend of mine was telling me how much he loved his Audi. In the same “I love my Audi” story, he mentioned that he will never buy another one again … ever. Before I could ask how Statement A leads to Statement B, he told me that the one and only Audi dealer in the area was a nightmare to deal with. The car-buying experience felt sleazy and the service experience after the sale continued to be a horror show.

He then went on to tell me about another customer of he had met. That customer had brought his car to a dealership out of state for the very same reason my friend disliked this particular dealership.

I knew the name of the dealership, but never had an opinion of them prior to his story.

Fast forward two weeks.

I hear this dealership’s ad on the radio. It is incredibly creative and clever.

When it’s over, I think:

“Isn’t this classic. They spend all this money and creativity coming up with clever ways to get people through the door, only to drive them back out the door by the experience they deliver.”

Since I love analogies and tend to see them everywhere, I then found myself thinking:

“Isn’t this a perfect analogy for what employers do? They spend all kinds of time and money trying to get the best and brightest through their doors, only to drive them back out — or drive them crazy — by the frustrating, disrespectful, and spirit-crushing work experience they deliver.”

Wouldn’t it make sense to invest just as much time, money, and creative horsepower delivering the work experience you promise as you do making a compelling promise to job prospects?

Doesn’t it make sense to invest as much in making sure talent stays once they come through the door, rather than creating a revolving door experience?

Doesn’t it make sense to create a work experience that makes your employees not only happy to stay, but also want to tell their talented friends: “This is an awesome place to work. When there’s an opening, I’ll let you know”?

Think of how much money you could help your employer save in recruiting costs if you helped them create a work experience that turned your employees into a volunteer recruiting firm.

If all this makes sense to you, here’s what you can do about it.

Share this article with your leadership team and suggest that you, as a team, examine:

  • Whether you truly deliver the work experience your recruiting campaign promises.
  • Whether you really know what kind of work experience you deliver.
  • Whether you truly understand the key components of an inspiring, commitment-generating work experience … and how to deliver them.
  • Whether your managers know how to manage in ways that inspire loyalty, passion, and pride.
  • How much you are investing in telling the world you are a great place to work, and how much you are investing in actually being a great place to work.
  • If you are doing the things Todd described in the comment here that are the things that make a workplace a good workplace: appreciation, interesting work, the chance to make a difference, opportunities for new skills, work/life balance, recognition, flexibility, health and retirement benefits, nice co-workers, smart co-workers, good managers but not micromanagers, training, a good location, money, promotions, and raises.

Share this article with your employees as a conversation starter. Find out from them whether they would recommend you as an employer, and why … or why not. Don’t just do this as a survey. I have found over the years that interviews and focus groups provide much richer, more actionable information. I don’t recommend replacing surveys with them, but combining the two.

Invest in helping your managers learn:

  • What key practices create an inspiring work experience where employees feel not only valued and respected, but they also have the resources, support, and training to do great work.
  • What key human needs drive employee performance and engagement, and how to create a work experience that satisfies these human needs. Here are just a few: the need for meaning and purpose, the need to learn and grow, and the need to feel a sense of control over one’s experience.
  • How to become more mindful of critical Managerial Moments of Truth that affect employee engagement and morale. Examples of such critical Managerial Moments of Truth include: 1) Onboarding a new employee, and whether it’s a “sink or swim” experience or new hires get the message: “We’re glad you’re here, here’s how we are going to help you succeed”; 2) Giving employees feedback and doing performance reviews; 3) Communicating to employees about major changes; 4) How you ask employees for input, and what you do with that input.
  • The critical communication skills that make it comfortable for people with less power — i.e. their direct reports — to speak honestly and openly about difficult issues.
  • The myriad of other skills and the managerial practices that bring out the best in employees.

If you are serious about not just getting talent “through the door,” but also keeping them and bringing out the best in them, forward this article to your management team and your direct reports, and get the process rolling.

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