Overcoming Resistance to Faster Hiring

People often resist change, especially when you try to change a longstanding way of doing something. This is certainly true in recruiting and hiring. Speeding up the process can be met with intense resistance. Case in point …

At a meeting of the leadership team of a health insurance company, Paul thought the idea of fast hiring was “repulsive.” As we discussed how to plan the process, Paul started making passive-aggressive comments. After he said, “What’s next? We’re going to replace our employees with robots, like in that Will Smith movie?” I knew our discussion wasn’t addressing all of his concerns. I asked Paul to explain.

“People aren’t products,” he said angrily. “I can’t believe we’re even discussing such a dehumanizing approach. Picking the right people takes time. Interviews, even if they last all day, are a good investment of our time. We must make sure we’re picking the best people. Besides, good candidates won’t want to be rushed through the process. I’m finding this whole conversation repulsive. I’m sure my team will feel the same way.”

Instead of trying to convince Paul to change his mind, I decided to let him change it himself.

“Paul, thanks for your honesty. I bet you’re not the only one with concerns about a faster approach.” Two other leaders nodded their heads in agreement. “What would you need to determine if this could work for the company?”

Paul thoughtfully paused before responding, “I’d need to see proof. Absolute proof that this will work for us.”

That led to a conversation about rolling out a faster hiring process on a limited basis to start. Two leaders, who didn’t share Paul’s concerns, agreed to test the process. Choosing a job common to both of their departments, we designed a plan and timeline that could be implemented without interrupting day-to-day business. Two other leaders, including Paul, were designated as auditors — outside observers who would monitor and document the pros and cons as the process was rolled out.

I met again with the leadership team after the beginning of the rollout. The two managers testing the process gave updates, sharing mostly positive news. They had made a few missteps along the way; however, both were upbeat. Both had filled two open jobs and lined up several additional candidates in their pipelines as potential future hires.

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During their updates, I watched Paul out of the corner of my eye. He spent the entire time looking down at his notes. He appeared angry, even angrier than when he shared his concerns in our first meeting. When it was Paul’s turn to share pros and cons as an auditor of the test, I learned why.

“I hate being wrong,” he said. “But, there it is. I was flat out wrong. There was nothing dehumanizing about a faster approach. If anything, it enabled interviewers to focus on people, not process. This shorter, simpler process allowed them to get to know each other better. Our new hires told me they loved our efficient process, and that it was a factor in choosing to work here.”

When recruiting and hiring, speed and accuracy are not mutually exclusive. Nor are speed and intimacy. A well-designed, well-executed hiring process allows people to be fully present and have conversations that matter. These interactions build trust as candidates learn they are dealing with confident professionals, and hiring managers discover which candidates are ready to make a job change. This trust becomes the foundation for the employment relationship, one built on a professionally intimate hiring experience.

To help navigate through resistance as you work to speed up hiring in your organization, do one or more the following:

  • Support people in changing their own mind
    Trying to convince someone to see things differently is hard, sometimes impossible. Instead, let him or her do the heavy lifting. Ask a question like I did of Paul: What would you need to determine if faster hiring could work for your company? Integrate the responses into additional questions until you understand the root of the resistance and what will make it go away.
  • Suggest a limited approach
    Resistance isn’t always about the change itself. There are times when people want to change but are fearful that it’ll be overwhelming. A limited scope can help. Start with one role. Run a short-term test; bring in outside help to lighten the load. By working together, you can drive forward a faster hiring process without driving people crazy with overwhelm and fear.
  • Find a different path
    Sometimes the path of least resistance is another person. Seek out an early adopter in your organization, someone who’s known for being first in line to implement new ideas. Work together to plan and execute the rollout. Make adjustments as you learn what works and what does not. Once the speedier process is in place and producing positive results, ask your early adopter to share their experience with others. Nothing enrolls doubters faster than proof positive.

Resistance is futile (yes, for you Star Trek fans, that was intentional), especially when you’re the one trying to overcome it. Don’t go it alone and avoid doing all the heavy lifting. Effective hiring is a team sport. Speeding up hiring requires a team effort.

As president of the Wintrip Consulting Group, Scott Wintrip has helped thousands of companies improve their ability to hire talent on demand. He helped these organizations to grow faster, increase revenues, improve profitability, and expand market share. In the process of advising, educating, and coaching his clients, he has created more than $1.3 billion in positive economic impact for them. An astute strategist, he is respected for his strong leadership and practical advice. He is also the author of High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant (McGraw-Hill, April 2017). You can learn more about him and his services at WintripConsultingGroup.com.

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