De L’audace, Encore de L’audace, et Toujours de L’audace*

*Audacity, more audacity and always audacity

bdtotpMany thanks to the fine folks at ERE for putting on another great conference. I always feel that I learn so much at these events, and this one did not disappoint, it excelled.

The overarching theme was “A bold approach to talent acquisition management and leadership,” and much of the agenda focused on bold actions being taken by bold TA leaders around the world to really up their game, and deliver results for their organizations.

I did sense a disconnect though, when it came to many of my peers in the crowd.

It seems that the majority of leaders in TA know that things have to change, they really really want things to change, but they are not effectively driving that change. For some reason I felt that many folks in leadership roles still become paralyzed with fear when it comes to bold initiatives. I want to help, I want our industry to excel because we audaciously add value, and the best way to I can help is by showing you that change is easy. Easy if you are willing to be bold, that is.

First, let’s address the fear. If you have advanced to a leadership position in TA, I would like to assume it is because you have knowledge and skills that make you suitable to be a leader. As a smart, capable leader, what is it that you fear? When I ask peers that question, the answer I most often get is “losing my job.”

But the demand for leading edge TA leadership has never been greater. You are in the driver’s seat. If you chose to implement a bold intelligent plan of action, you can write your own ticket. However, and I apologize for the football analogy, if you are timid and insist on running a protective prevent defense, you will almost always lose.

Now here’s the part where I put it out there. I’m not a theoretician, I’m a leader, as I’ve been sharing Spectrum Health’s journey to Best Large TA Team, allow me to illustrate an actual example of how a bold plan came to be a reality.

When I started, I assessed our current state, and with the help of stakeholders developed a desired future state. This was not complicated. First and foremost, everyone: my team, hiring manager, candidates, HR, system leadership, etc. wanted better outcomes. As a TA leader finding the gaps/areas of improvement was second nature, and knowing how to close/improve on them was also right in my wheelhouse.

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Where I took a bold stand was in how fast we were going to get this done. Looking at the workload, training, communication, and putting it all into a project plan, I saw that the minimum amount of time to implement was 60 days. The new structure we needed to implement was the right thing to do, not only for the business and my team, but also for our patients, members, and their families. When it comes to doing what’s right, there is never an excuse for delay. Heck, we all know the biggest difference between a hero and zero isn’t just one letter, it’s the fact that a hero does what’s right, right away, without hesitation.

So I set the time line and began to motivate my leadership, the team, and our organization for the impending changes. I have to give a huge shout out to my team, the managers and recruiters, I asked them to follow me into chaos. I led with eyes forward and never once doubted that they were right behind me!

It was honest work, with a lot of moving parts, and a tight timeline … a timeline I boldly announced we were going to hit and hit right, come heck or high water, because if you want to boldly ensure you are going to get something done, don’t leave yourself an escape route. Everyone, my team, customers, leadership, etc., got behind the goal. There is something exciting about a race with a clear goal, and a tight timeline. People naturally want to be a part of it, when they see others are running hard to something big, it’s in our nature to support each other.

It was exciting, it was invigorating, and after 60 days, it was delivered, a wholly reorganized team, recruitment process, candidate and customer experience, metrics and data analytics.  Not minor tweeks mind you, but a whole new function and processes. A year and half later the results speak for themselves, and we are continually seeking bold ways to improve on them.

I’m a huge believer in supporting my brothers and sisters in TA, as I know many of my peers are. My door is always open, we have folks from all over come in and learn from our team, and my phone and email are always on. So if you are having trouble taking the first step to a bold new future (Q: What’s the best way to eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time.) reach out, borrow some audacity, and when you succeed, TA succeeds!

Jim D'Amico is a globally recognized TA Leader, specializing in building best in class TA functions for global organizations. He is an in demand speaker, author, and mentor, with an intense passion for all things talent acquisition. Jim currently leads Global Talent Acquisition for Celanese, a Fortune 500 Chemical Innovation company based in Dallas, TX, and is a proud Board Member of the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals.

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