Every year, Talent Acquisition leaders and teams begin the year planning for the year ahead. One quick glance through the recruiting posts on LinkedIn and you’ll find a multitude of articles, white papers and webinars offering the latest data to help you craft the perfect strategy for 2021. I guess I don’t want to be left out of the trend so here is my planning hack on how to work with your recruiting team to create a 2021 recruiting strategy.
I am a little old school in my approach to this yearly habit. Let me correct that, maybe I’m a little weird in how I approach the yearly planning routine. Typically, leaders will look to the previous year(s) to analyze trends and sift through mountains of data for golden nuggets to help them foresee the future. Others may meet with senior leaders to create hiring plans which consists mostly of number of projected hires by month. Neither of these tactics are wrong, but it’s just not what has worked best for me in the past couple of years.
The Obstacles to Overcome using Traditional Planning Methods
One of the key pieces to any successful recruiting strategy is recruiter engagement. I know I have been the victim of top-down strategies handed to me to execute. I had little to no voice in the development of the strategies or the opportunity to offer ideas on what could work. After all, I was the one closest to the changes in the industry and knew of opportunities and/or challenges in the candidate market. When I was given the directives by senior management, I had the habit of shutting down and becoming disengaged. I did the work, but worked more like a robot and less like a highly engaged brand ambassador.
The other issue with the traditional planning methods is the lack of transformational change needed to combat the constantly changing market. Spending so much time looking backward can lead you to only push the team five or ten percent out of their comfort zone. The lack of inspiration commonly associated with transformational change can leave the high performers on your team disengaged or worse, BORED!
My Hack for creating your 2021 Strategy
Developing any strategy is easier when you begin with the end in mind. My process is fairly simple:
- Gather the business goals for the year along with the hiring plan associated with them.
- Evaluate strategies to meet the needs of the client, aligning your priorities to the business.
- Using the AGILE Methodology, break the major targets into epics along a sprint timeline.
Once I have completed these three steps, it’s time to get the team involved. This is where my hack comes into play. Some leaders will create the strategy and simply give it to their teams to execute which isn’t the best way to engage your team. What I like to do is have the team go through a “Press Release” activity. (I stole the idea from Amazon and Agile.)
The Amazon press release approach helps the team create a vision and strategy by working backwards from success. The goal is to begin imagining you’ve successfully hit the hiring goals and you’re writing a make-believe Press Release to trumpet your success to your executives. You may get some eye-rolls when you first introduce the activity but by the end of the exercise, I find most of the team is really into it. They’re proud of their press releases and they present them with a touch of flare.
The reason I like this activity is the benefits that it produces:
- It builds a shared understanding of your objectives
- The activity draws out any different viewpoints from the team, making the strategy even stronger
- The team begins focusing on the strategy’s benefits for your hiring managers and company
- It creates a sense of excitement and ownership in what the strategy will look like in the real world
- It’s aligned to the business needs first and helps you work backwards from the successful end result
You’ll need to be creative and set the scene for the team. At Amazon, this is a crucial step and helps the team start the creative engines and gets the energy levels up. If you have a large team, you may want to divide them into smaller groups. I’ve found a group of 4-6 people is ideal.
Once you have the teams ready, provide them a large pad of paper, markers and anything else you can garner from the creative closet at the office. If you’re virtual, have the teams use a program like PowerPoint or Adobe to create their press release board. The team will need to follow a press release format to include:
- Heading: This is an attention-grabbing statement to set the theme of the release. Should be no more than a simple phrase. “The Company TA Team develops a new AI Recruiter” or “The TA Team helps Company A blow away profits through…”
- Introduction: Outline some of the key benefits of the strategy without giving too much away. It should be no more than four lines so make them count.
- Problem statement: What problems or business needs will this strategy address? What are you trying to solve with the strategy?
- Solution: Describe the strategy in detail, much like a news article. Don’t go too deep but try to give enough information to outline how the strategy will address the key needs in your company’s talent strategy.
- Company/Client Quote: Imagine your company spokesperson was asked to provide a quote on the success of your solution. What would they say?
- Graphic: This is optional but it’s always a fun way to get the team’s creativity going. You want them to draw or depict what the strategy or solution would look like fully implemented.
What to do with your Press Releases
After each team has presented their press release, take some time to discuss what you’ve learned. Ask everyone if they noticed any:
- common themes
- new opportunities or potential features.
It’s a great time to work together to use these insights to begin building your 2021 Talent Strategy. Plan for the obstacles, discuss how you will roll out the strategy, work together to set the targets and let the creativity continue. You’ll find your team highly engaged in this process because it’s something they helped create.
Two years ago, our team worked on a press release for a methodology we were testing. The Sprint Recruiting press release chartered our course and helped us set goals to evaluate our success during our first year implementing the new recruiting method. After the year passed, we went back to the release and celebrated the accomplishments we had made as a team. It’s one of the reasons why I think this is a great hack for creating a 2021 recruiting strategy.
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