Change management is one of the key skill sets of any leader. Talent leaders have been forced to change at an alarming rate since 2020 to remain competitive. If you find yourself in the midst of charging toward a major change, be prepared. Members of your team may become the biggest opponent you face.
Netflix is known for adjusting quickly to market and demographic shifts. In the book, “No Rules Rule” by Reid Hoffman (CEO of Netflix), readers learn the inner workings of some of the major shifts the company made over the last several years. Most familiar with the first round of layoffs after the dot com bubble would be surprised how Reed Hastings and the team determined who would stay and who would go.
“If you have a team of five stunning employees and two adequate ones, the adequate ones will sap managers’ energy, so they have less time for the top performers, reduce the quality of group discussions, lowering the team’s overall IQ, force others to develop ways to work around them, reducing efficiency, drive staff who seek excellence to quit, and show the team you accept mediocrity, thus multiplying the problem.” Reed Hastings, No Rules Rule
Netflix introduced a test to decide which employees to keep within their team. They had to lay off one-third of their 120-person staff. They encouraged leaders to ask themselves which employees they would fight hardest for. Managers were forced to rank their employees according to the salary budget they were left to spend.
After reading the book, I worked with my leadership team to begin reviewing our team by assessing the team into one of three categories based on if the employee came to us with an offer from another company:
- Fight hard, counter offer
- Depends, is their workload transferable? Could we upskill the role by finding someone better?
- Wish them luck and thank them for their service
It sounds cold but it is an effective exercise. We had honest discussions about the contributions, acumen and abilities of each team member before answering the question: How hard would we fight to keep them? Ironically, this was months before the pandemic hit in 2020.
Once the pandemic slowed recruiting, other functions of HR needed help to maintain service to our clients and be a source of help for our employees. The ranking system helped us assess who on the team we would be willing to let work in other areas while keeping those on our team who provided the highest levels of recruiting. The battle we were facing was on two fronts, but we were quickly able to identify which team member should fight on which front.
Our 1s and 2s remained with the recruiting team during this time. Although recruiting had slowed by 50%, we still had critical roles to fill for the organization.
Recruiting during this time was no easy feat. Many candidate channels had all but dried up, qualified applicants may have decided to stay at home while COVID continued to morph into new variations, creating fear in returning to the workforce. This was not a typical market so we had to have our best soldiers on the front ready to charge up the hill. The members of our “1s” group were vital to keeping the organization running with the talent it needed.
Our 3s were retailed to work the COVID helpline, established to aid employees and managers with questions and policies during the pandemic. We had roughly 45% of the team reassigned to this workgroup. Their departure from the recruiting function had minimal impact on the recruiting function for the bank. Partly because the number of positions decreased but more importantly, they were no longer a drag on our process, especially during such a tough recruiting time.
Our 2s were our reserves for both battlefields. They initially helped with recruiting for open positions but when the call came for more reserves to help with non-recruiting functions within HR, we chose from the group of 2s.
It is a good measure to have your teams assessed quarterly using this ranking. Again, it sounds cold but when the decision needs to be made, it’s better to do it quickly.
and Sprint Recruiting
I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive.
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