Everyone Wants To Be Wanted
I get so deeply involved in TEOCO’s recruitment process that my colleagues sometimes ask if I have nothing better to do. Actually, I don’t! Hiring good people is vitally important. I believe that a few good people can catapult a company to spectacular success, while a few bad hires can lead to disaster.
People often make the mistake of assuming that the recruiting process is relatively simple: you advertise, screen applicants, interview, make an offer, and then onboard your new hire. While this process might work reasonably well if you are focused on candidates fresh out of college, it is an entirely different ballgame when bringing on experienced hires. In this scenario, I believe there are two rules for success:
The first rule: You need a sense of urgency. Good people don’t grow on trees. So, when a promising candidate appears on the radar, you must move fast. Set up the first appointment quickly, even if it means meeting during the weekend. Stay connected with emails and phone calls. Read between the lines – especially the long pauses during a phone call – and be prepared to press the ‘Go’ button hard when you are close to a deal – or find a different way to engage if the signal turns cold.
The second rule: This one is more subtle. Make sure the prospective candidate feels wanted. Admire their success with sincerity, explain the value they will bring to the company and discuss the likely impact of their work.
The question then becomes, do you lose or gain negotiating leverage by taking this approach? In my assessment, it is a net gain to let a new hire know how much you want them. After all, people are motivated by more than money. I view compensation as consisting of many elements – money being the most visible part. The feeling of being wanted is also an important form of compensation.
About four months ago, we were looking for a person based in Kolkata, India to lead our recruiting function for that region. We narrowed it down to two candidates. I remember speaking to both within a day of each other. I liked the second candidate. He had a solid ten-year stint with his current employer, appeared to be very hands-on in addition to being a team leader, and he was looking for a growth opportunity. I felt positive chemistry with him, and I liked the emotional balance that he brought to dealing with conflict and adversity. We made him an offer within 48 hours, and he accepted. He joined after a 3-month notice period that felt like a lifetime, but I feel confident that he will strengthen our team. What was the critical factor in his decision? I don’t know for sure, but our connection and his feeling of being wanted surely played an important role in the process.
I have seen this happen over and over again. By treating recruiting as a critical function, we gain an advantage over many other companies where senior executives don’t take an active role in finding, evaluating, and attracting candidates. It is just like when you are trying to close a deal with a customer. Involvement from senior executives can make a huge difference in winning the business. In fact, if you hire a great employee, the profit from their recurring contributions over the years may well be the best deal you’ve ever closed!
With special thanks to Srinivas Bhogle for his support and contribution to this project.