New post on my @ERE_net blog.
Why do you think staffing agencies are not finding much success with off-shore sourcing teams?
It is neither the time difference nor the perceived language barrier (there are more English speakers in India than the US) that hinders your success in using off-shore resources. It is the fact that we do not celebrate sourcing as the most important task in the staffing process flow.
I believe that the size of one’s staffing database, is irrelevant. A good recruiter can staff up any opportunity, if she has the aptitude and tenacity to know what and where to look. I am sure you also have numerous examples of your own recruiting success because your sourcing strategy was better than the internal and external competition’s. Sourcing is everything that stands in your way of putting the right person on project and generating billing dollars.
My two step recommendati0n to underscore the importance of sourcing for you is to:
Accept that sourcing is the most important task in the staffing workflow
Find tenacious people and train and retrain them in sourcing strategies
Recruiting success begins with your acknowledgment that sourcing is the most important task in the staffing workflow. Make no mistake, it is absolutely the most important task in the staffing workflow. Sourcing is what separates the wheat from the chaff. Good sourcing relies on an individual’s tenacity and aptitude, which are excellent skills for any person to possess. Such an individual is also a hard-worker with a focus on results. So finding someone that can demonstrate good sourcing skills, will help you find top notch recruiters, even if you are hiring from outside our industry.
Acceptance of “the sourcing mantra” starts with:
Acknowleding that sourcing is an “intelligence function”, not grunt work
Spending more time and effort on identifying the right sourcers
Setting and rewarding a good source-to-deal ratio (example – 20:1)
- Prefering sourcers with a Master’s degree and some staffing experience
- Reviewing every resume submitted to your recruiters
- Meeting weekly to discuss performance issues
I believe that staffing success begins with both the acceptance of the importance of sourcing and being dedicated to (re)training sourcers regularly. Sourcing is not grunt work, even if it feels like the heavy lifting you don’t want to do. While it sounds great if you or your team came to work in the morning and had a nice list of 10 people per requisition to call on, it is a simplistic view that dilutes the importance of having the correct 10 candidates on that list.
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I plan to echo over there, what I will be writing here related to staffing.
I was recently referred the book The Ultimate Question by a senior executive at my employer and found myself completely reprogrammed about customer service. That coupled with a few searches on Zappos.com and Tony Hseih made it clear that the ideal path to profit is through happiness.
Of course, there are other ways that may lead to bigger personal and corporate profits, as evidenced by the fat cats on Wall Street, but you know that I have already rejected that notion, at least for myself. The author of this book calls such profits as “Bad Profits”. He also states that one cannot distinguish between good and bad profits on a balance sheet, but that bad ones look great in the short-term and erode customer happiness and referrals in the medium to long term. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) helps one identify which profit is which and reduce the bad while increasing the good.
Ask yourself – how do you feel about the revenue that the airlines have raked in from every checked-in bag and other fees? Now think of how you feel about Southwest where you can check-in up to 2 bags per person for free! Is Southwest losing profit? SURE! But they are only losing “bad” profits. Delta is looking great now, but think of how many people love and recommend Southwest and how many love and recommend Delta?
By the way, two companies that I LOVE and always RECOMMEND are Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Valvoline. They reside in two highly commoditized worlds and their front-line employees are not exactly high-powered and highly-paid executives with a lot on the line! Will you believe me if I said I have never had even one bad interaction with either company over the past 8 years?
Accomplishing that level of customer happines is hard to do and takes a lot of discipline. But a large part of the challenge of implenting this idea is getting employees on the same page.
Richard Owen, CEO of Satmetrix – the company that built tools for the management of NPS - recently wrote about the reality of persevering with this strategy. He had a great quote on his post by Philip Dick (“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away”) when talking about the resistance in understanding customer happiness because it is in the boggy world of “culture management”. Salespeople are especially resistant because either they don’t want to face reality because they’re optimists, or they do not care/want to understand this metric.
Zappos.com has been wildly successful (enough to be bought by Amazon for $1.2b) with this metric in mind. I don’t know if they use it formally, but one look at their “core values” tells you that they really, really care about customer happiness. In my world of contingent staffing, I do not know if any agency out there thinks about customer happines in such a way, but it appears so far that none seem to care. Like every other industry, staffing is about chasing the next sale or the next deal. Agencies are so sales focused that it is easy to see why NPS implementation will be a challenge.
This is not to say that one agency will sweep the market by going the NPS way. But it would certainly mean that customers that work with that agency would love doing business. It would make their lives more meaningful and happy. Isn’t that enough for a staffing agency to build a great book of business?
Staffing companies pride themselves in their “database”.
Ask ANY sales person that works in the industry and it will most definitely be one of the main selling points that they will make to you. They will shill for their vast database of resumes (1m, or 5m or whatever) giving you the impression that they know so many people that they can find you any skill set for any project or need that you have. Period.
I take a different approach.
I believe that owing a large database is highly overrated. When I started in this business, it was with a startup with barely any database. In fact, the founders has a set of 5,000 some names, none of which were ever used in my knowledge, at least by me. That company then went on to becoming one of the 500 fastest growing private companies in America in 2008, as ranked by Inc Magazine. So I came to the conclusion that owning a large database, or any database is highly overrated. There is one exception to this statement – a database is highly relevant in niche skill sets. At the same company, I have seen this in play. My constertation is with a generic across-the-board staffing agency sales person pounding the desk claiming to have a large database that includes tons of resumes across tons of skill sets.
It is never the database but the data mining tools and data mining strategies that are much more important. Oracle probably recognizes this through its various acquisitions. The database company is now almost ubiquitous in many other unrelated areas of software development and delivery. The art of mining for candidates is the true differentiator between one agency and another. More specifically, the abilities of individual recruiters and their tenacity in finding the right person for the open job outranks a database, in my humble opinion, by a million times to one.
Update: Added link to founder of the Summit’s website.
According to a video posted by Barry Posner, Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University, for the Leadership Summit, everyone is a contributor whether they know or not. Video available at: Leadership and Influence Summit, hosted by Daniel Decker. Keeping that in mind, I embarked on a brief thought experiment.
I spent a few days thinking about the one thing I brought to the table at work. I realized that it is neither my communication ability nor job motivation or interpersonal skills. It was Urgency. I call this the STOP – Supreme Trait Of Performance. On a Value/Performance chart, this trait is in the first quadrant.
For me, making a decision now or getting things done immediately outranks ever other task. My Urgency STOP has enabled me to become comfortable with ambiguity and to multi-task. If there was a top 10 list of people with a sense of Urgency, then I would numero uno.
This led me to consider the STOP for the individuals on my team. I wanted to identify the one Trait that each brought to the table. That same Trait powered their reason for professional existence as well performance. Some STOPs that emerged were Detection, Clarity and Repetition.
Detection: a detail oriented individual that covers every base imaginable while processing a transaction.
Clarity: a non-communicative person that works out solutions internally and understands the end goal well.
Repetition: a task oriented person that bangs away at a problem through sheer amount of work.
You may recognize these STOPs as either your own or as in someone you know at work. I realized that if you took everything else away from them, then they would still bring that Trait to work. It is part of their personality. I am quick to jump to conclusions or decisions, which may not always be a good idea. My Urgency STOP rules my head and heart, and if you took everything else I know or my other traits, then I will still continue to retain this one.
Communicating with people of different STOPs is complicated. When someone gives me a task, I am already executing on it in my mind and cannot wait to get to it. A Clarity STOP person may not know how to solve the problem right away, but they would be very clear about the end goal but just won’t tell you that.
As I continue building this construct, I would love to hear from your individual experience as you experiment with it.
When I rebranded by blog many months ago, I did not realize that I was infact trending towards Tim Sander’s POV. The New Global We I now believe, is an expression of what connects us, all the way from India, China, to Uruguay, France and the United States.
I believed for so long that only the cut-throat survive, and that not being one of them blows. What compounded that thought was the fact that I am not one of them and never will be. Hailing from a country like India where brawn still many-a-times overrules the brain, I figured that my game was over.
Then I read Love is the killer app. Ah, the power of books, and especially the ones recommended by people you admire and love. The concept is not new, but the description is refreshing. You always knew the subject, but you did not know how to implement it and Tim tells you what to do.
There are days where I absolutely *hate* someone, and there are the months where I carry over such hatred. While it is certainly satisfying, to be seething under the surface about this-or-that wrong, it is pointless. If this was 1000 A.D, it would be worthwhile because I’d walk over and mete out justice the old fashioned way. Obviously that is not going to turn out well for me. I’m not a powerful overlord that can kill a cut-throat’s career with one bad recommendation (really, who can do that these days?) or voodoo their good luck away.
What I can do, is love them. The New Global We is as much collective love as collective consciousness. It is also pointless if we’re connected through global networks with people, if we don’t like or love them. What collective love can do for misfits like me, is carve a path through the world of business and life. The worst that can happen to me is you rejecting my love and friendship, which is OK by me.
In business, the word love is cliched and “inappropriate”. You’re not supposed to love your colleagues, vendors, clients or boss(es)! This myth is spread by the cut-throats that are threatened by a loving person’s meteoric rise in stature and importance. Cut-throats also know they can’t influence bizlovers through their usual strategies. They believe lovers are weak and they are probably right under certain circumstances. Lovers also tend to give others more chances, more opportunities to try again. Lovers will listen to your sob stories for much longer, even if it includes some grapevine material inserted on purpose. At that very point in time, the cut-throats will be laughing their way to the bank when the lover is listening to you and not making money for himself/herself.
Love as a killer app works for me because cut-throats and lovers are all terminal and cannot take anything with them when checking out. Being terminal is the Great Leveler of humanity. When you think like that, the hate you feel after every argument or against someone that has wronged you, just evaporates. Really, what else can you do? I choose to be a lover and I am glad I am not a cut-throat. The only response I have to cut-throats these days in any case, is love.
Hate doesn’t give you solutions. There is one simple take away from Tim’s book. If you forgot everything else you read in it, then this is it – replace the word “hate” with “love”. For example: “I hate it when my computer slows down” or “I hate it when clients ask for one thing and then change their mind”. Rephrase it like so: “I’d love it if my computer worked faster” or “I’d love it if they figured out what they want and then asked for it”.
The word “hate” ends conversation and “love” (re)starts it.