“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use, do the work you want to see done.” Austin Kleon
For those of you who oversee people strategy in your business you’ve probably felt a change in the air. The recruitment industry has been uberfied people and it’s about time too. I don’t know about you guys but we have been a recruiter-free company for some time after some terrible experiences. So I’m all for it, but it does come with some new challenges. There’s two dynamics which have totally disrupted the people scene:
a) Greater transparency and communication access between job hunter and hirers
The good news is that I can now go onto LinkedIn and I can search for people who are looking for a new gig in say sales, I can advertise to them and I can even stalk people not looking for a job in sales and woo them with my witty emails and promises of a better working life . The bad news is that my competitors can do the same.
b) Most people think about themselves as free agents
Everybody wants to become an entrepreneur. What was once the domain of the boom bust brave personality types has now become de rigeur. Just like we once all thought we had a great book inside us and let’s face it, few of us rarely do. [People want to read the memoirs of someone with an ordinary life about as much as they want to hear about the dream you had last night. Which is to say, not at all] but every Tom, Dick and Barry wants to start a business.
When you ask people ‘what is it that you really want?’ often many can’t articulate what it is – it’s not a particular idea or gap in the industry or even flexible working hours although that is no doubt a big plus. I think it’s the pride and sense of ownership over having produced or created something that is yours to show or to offer. In fact, I’ve seen staff leave for less money and more stress because the desire to create something of their own, present something of their self, is so strong. And I get it.
So as an employer, where does that leave us?
Sadly I don’t have a bunch of recruitment hacks to share with you. It’s a little bit like marketing where content marketing and social strategy are not a direct replacement for print ads or billboards. It’s a lot more work, there’s a lot more opportunity to present yourself personally and develop real and meaningful relationships with your consumers, but it’s not a straight swap like chicken-for-fish or converse-for-nike.
The answer is staring us straight in the face but like content marketing, we have to work for it. The answer is that we have to be better companies. We have to provide better working conditions, more opportunity for learning and progression. We have to find ways of sharing ownership not just of the company but of creations within the company and involving people at every level.
If we look after and nurture the people we have in our company, if we make them the top priority then the recruitment will take care of itself because when we contact people on Linkedin, they’ll want to work for us. And when my competitors contact my staff on Linkedin and try and poach them for jobs, my staff will turn the other way. Unless they’re really annoyed and having a bad day and then crap, I’m in trouble.
So we’re about to start drafting a whole new people strategy in our business; one that stops just looking for superstars on Linkedin [although all superstars are welcome!!] and starts treating everyone in the business like a superstar.
I feel like the role of our learning and people function [which is a hat passed between a few of us to be honest] is to provide an environment where people have the knowledge, tools and motivation to do the best job they possibly can. And then we just need to get out of their way.
So as we get further down this people track, I’ll post some more. In the meantime, here’s a video I love from Dan Pink who talks on the surprising truth about people’s motivations. It’s worth watching.