The Power of Process

The Power of Process

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about whether internal TA remains relevant given technology and the growth of RPO. Each time I am asked to review a recruiting function, I find that their processes are a bigger problem than the technology or the skill of the recruiters. The major reason internal TA is endangered is not because of technology, budget or leadership. Rather it is because it has done a poor job pf improving those step-by-step actions that lead to a hire.

Right after World War II, Toyota, strapped for money and technology, realized that to compete with the United States in making cars it would have to find a better way to manufacture them. They then pioneered and invented the principles of lean manufacturing. These principles propelled them to success and most organizations today use them to produce the high-quality products and services we enjoy.

The good news is that these principles can be used to improve our recruitment processes and make automation more successful. The entire cycle of recruiting from attracting a candidate until we make an offer, including the many sub-processes within that, can all be improved by applying some of Toyota’s lessons.

One of the major concepts in lean is to make sure that every step in a process adds value. Value is defined as any step that meet three requirements: Care, Change, Correct.

-Care means that whatever you do shows care about the candidate and how they are being treated. This means understanding their needs, making things easy for them and ensuring good communication.

-Change means that each step must change or move the process forward. If a step is, for example, an approval, it most likely does not change the process or move it forward in a meaningful way. Therefore, it is not needed and is called waste in the lean principles. Every step that does not add value should be eliminated because waste is one of the worst sins of lean.

-Correct means that each step is done correctly every time. It means that if a step is frequently not done well, every effort should be made to learn why and fix it. Errors are also one of the worst sins of lean.

To add value means that all three of these apply to each step.

The lean process itself consists of these 5 steps.

#1. Identify Value

The first step is to identify what the customer, if our case the candidate, wants to get from the process. What are their goals and needs? What are they looking for? Recruiting has generally designed the career site and our processes for our convenience without thinking much about the candidate and how they might use or react to the requirements and process flow we create.

By using the concepts of design thinking to discover what a candidate values and how they would like to experience the process we can make major improvements. The most important metrics for a recruitment function are measuring candidate satisfaction, the time it takes to respond to a candidate, and the speed of decisions.

#2. Map the Value Stream

The second lean principle is to map the value stream. A value stream is the complete recruitment cycle from identifying a need to the arrival of the new hire.

This step requires you to map out the entire recruiting process step-by-step and ask why you are doing that step. Is it adding value, does it move the process forward in a positive way, does it help speed up the process?

You need to identify areas where there is duplication, an unnecessary handoff, or a bottleneck. Anything that does not directly facilitate the process is considered waste and should be eliminated.

#3. Ensure Flow

The third lean principle is flow. Efficient recruiting will examine every part of the recruiting cycle to make sure that each step is smooth, efficient, and pleases the candidate. This could mean, for example, implementing a chatbot that provides immediate feedback on a candidate’s qualifications for a position, or helps the candidate make a decision on whether the position is appropriate for him or her. Any bottleneck must be identified and removed. Where there is a bottleneck every effort should be made to remove it by applying technology or simplifying it.

#4. Involve and Empower Employees

The fourth step is to get employees involved as much as possible. Leverage their collective knowledge, create networks, ask for referrals, be open to feedback from employees and new hires on ways to continuously improve the process. Use employees to help validate the requirements in a job description and let employees take part in hiring decisions.

#5. Continuous Improvement

Kaizen is the Japanese term for continuously making small, incremental changes to the process. It involves every worker or recruiter and requires them to suggest improvements. By listening to these suggestions and by implementing small changes continuously the process will be more productive and efficient.

By using lean principles, most recruiting functions could be far more effective, faster, and better serve both the hiring managers and the candidate.

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