Article main image
Aug 21, 2020

A couple of recent articles here on got my attention: “Let’s Stop Pretending That All Jobs Are Equally Valuable” and “Can You Identify the Critical Roles in Your Organization?Not because differentiating the value of roles is a new or clever concept but because for the last 10 years I’ve seen, documented, and published here on ERE the impact the strategy can have on an organization. Hell, it’s probably the main driver of my team being named Best Large Recruiting Organization by ERE in 2015! (I could not resist the plug!)

Having participated in a workshop with Mark Huselid, one of the lead authors of The Differentiated Workforce, when we were implementing this model of differentiating roles at a former employer, and having it inform my own recruiting model for the past decade, I’m here so share three things that will cause any attempt to differentiate the values of roles to catastrophically implode.

1. Inability to Dissociate People From Roles

This is the most common issue that faces companies trying to implement this model. You have a great employee, they are a top performer, adored by all, so the assumption is that the role must be strategic. 

Is it though? 

Sure, you want to have all of your strategic roles occupied by top performers, but not all top performers will be in strategic roles. When looking at the relative value of a role, focus on:

  • The level of impact the role has compared to other jobs throughout the company
  • The amount of autonomy and the risk of not having a top performer in the role 

Which brings us to our second struggle…

2. Inability to Quantify Top Performance

As you progress through levels of jobs based on their value to the organization, the level of people’s performance becomes more consequential.

Here’s an example I often use from my days in health care. The performance difference between having a good and a great cook in the cafeteria is negligible when it comes to patient outcomes. But the difference between a good and a great brain surgeon can have a very direct impact on patient outcomes. 

So as a consumer of healthcare, would you rather the health system spend more effort recruiting and identifying great brain surgeons, or spend that effort on identifying great cooks? 

Which leads us to a final caveat…

3. Inability to Align Your Talent Management and Talent Acquisition

Perhaps you recognize that different roles have different values. Perhaps your talent management team has done the work to redesign its practices to focus on top performers in the most valuable roles. But now, you risk destroying all that by not also redesigning the recruiting process to support this new model. This might be because  

  1. You think that the recruiting process is a one-size-fits-all model.
  2. You still have your team aligned by specific function or location and not more holistically. 

If it’s “A,” my apologies; you have a lot of work ahead of you. If it’s “B,” then 1995 wants it’s recruiting model back!

Either way, it’s important to align your talent acquisition with your talent management philosophy. It is also infinitely more efficient to align recruiters to a single process than to have multiple “customers,” each with their own processes to manage. 

Don’t believe me? Take a moment to read “Lean Talent Acquisition: One Team’s Journey of Improvement” in the October 2015 issue of Strategic HR Review (if you want more than the abstract, shoot me a note and I’ll send the whole article). You’ll be able to read about quantifiable improvements after implementing this model. 

Oh, and those improvements materialized almost immediately.

Get articles like this
in your inbox
The longest running and most trusted source of information serving talent acquisition professionals.