Collaborisation – you heard it here first

I have been reading and experiencing quite a bit around collaborative hiring, or as I prefer to refer to it, ‘Collaborisation Hiring’. Feel free to borrow and plagiarise this phrase as your own idea. I think Collaborative Hiring takes two forms, and both are quite potent, limited, and take a bit of effort.

I was with a senior manager last month and she said the following to me about a candidate; she was bringing him back for a 3rd interview just to make sure he wasn’t right. Errr.. I think I get that. I suggested to her that she should maybe get a second opinion. She said that the Head of HR had spent a few minutes and shared her concerns but she thought he could “do a job” for them. Not really a perfect process and the right way to bring someone in.

I think the first form of collaborative hiring looks a bit like this: a line manager has a hire to make, they work with their immediate boss to agree a process, specification and debate around what’s needed. The budget for the hire may lie elsewhere, let’s say Finance. This bit I quite like… the Head of Finance quizzes and challenges around the need for the hire often from a cost perspective, they are removed and not emotive about this hire and create some objective challenge.

Then a hiring manager will work with HR or an Internal Recruitment Partner to execute the process. They may be involved in the interview process but often these days only come in at the second stage. The hiring manager’s boss may be involved at 2nd or 3rd stage.

The new vogue idea of Collaborative Hiring is about a team of individuals generally at different levels running the rule over a candidate. It was brilliantly illustrated in the BBC show ‘Who’s the Boss’ where the true cost of hiring was debated. The cost of re-hire and down-time of not having someone in a post I think equates to an annual salary, annual marketing spend, or annual sales target, and then I would probably double it. So upfront time and cost investment in interviewing, assessment and evaluation in a structured way, will reduce churn and bring in better quality candidates who contribute earlier and more accurately.

When I worked at a large recruiter they deployed an early form of Collaborative Hiring, but with one subtle difference – the director made the decision. So you were really there to spot problems rather than assess. I remember one Friday afternoon we had finished with a graduate candidate who had met 5 colleagues including me. My director did the final goodbyes and waved her off the premises. He popped back in the meeting room and gained all our feedback which was mixed, but I thought pretty good. He asked my opinion which I gave, I can’t remember what it was but it was a balanced NO. He said ok but I have just offered her on the spot, she had other opportunities and I wanted to gain first mover advantage. This made me feel that our approach to collaborative assessment added zero value.

I think the other big benefit of collaborative hiring has to be for the candidates who will meet and speak to a wider range of people, and are therefore more likely to see the real personality of a business. The process is robust, measurable, simple (but takes effort and co-ordination) and repeatable, but with a degree of flexibility when done right.

When Mark and I started Grovelands at the end of 2009 a candidate fedback that she wasn’t interested in joining us because whilst she liked Mark and I, she hadn’t seen many females in the team or in the interview process. We have over time transformed the way we do our internal hiring, and if you popped into Grovelands Towers today you would see 90 or so staff who represent the wider world in every which way imaginable.

The downsides such as confidentiality, people being away from their day job, managers worried what their team will say, are quickly outweighed by the positives  – Reduction in people churn, increase your chances of landing the best talent, giving your employees an extra dimension to their job, and the value that comes with that. If they are better they should get up to speed quicker and produce better and faster.

Go forward and become a Collaborisationer! You can quote me on that too.

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