Red Tape Recruitment – Getting Cool Sh*t Done The Hard Way

Imagine this … you’re reading an article about some fancy recruitment tech stack and how it’s made the lives easier for Joe Blogs and his funky tech recruitment team at <insert fun, cool company name here> and you’re thinking … “That’s so cool, I wish I could relate but I don’t because my workplace is large and complex and full of red tape”. Then this article is for you.

I interviewed 4 of my talent friends working in large organisations on how they navigate the red tape so that they can still get some funky stuff done to improve their recruitment functions. Let me bless you with their wisdom – welcome to Red Tape Recruitment!

  1. How do you get your immediate team onboard with your idea when they have “always done things this way”?

I think it’s really important to understand WHY they’re resistant to change”, says one state government employee. “Often they’re low in confidence or have had ideas knocked back before. If this is the case it’s so important to show empathy and really work together on the changes so they’re included and can help guide and build the solution. To help with their motivation I’d recommend starting with one of their pain points – a problem they understand well and are really invested to solve it. Help break it into smaller chunks, and hopefully those small wins will help build their confidence and motivation to keep up the changes.”

Key takeaway: I feel this is relevant to all organisations, big or small. Communication and understanding is the key to progress.

  1. How do you pitch your idea to a management team who have “always done things this way”.

“CALL IT A PILOT!” states the same government employee. “It makes it much less risky for senior people to try and fail as it gives them an out. If it works, nobody will ever want to go back to an inferior process or way of doing it. Also, choose your allies in the business wisely – go slowly with those that are more risk averse, whilst piloting your new initiatives with a more open minded ally.”

Key takeaway: ‘Just call it a pilot’ is my new life motto.

  1. How do you fight for the budget you need when funds are scarce.

“The key is having a strong business case that isn’t just about people’s feelings”, says another state government employee. “For example – I once tried to put up a business case to hire a new staff member for my team, and I focused on the workload and how the current team were feeling deflated, exhausted and burnt out. It got rejected by the executive team. So I reframed it and focused instead on the actual projects that this new person would be doing, and how if this new person didn’t come onboard the projects and recruitment activity  wouldn’t get completed. I also detailed the associated financial burden/loss – it got approved!”

“If you’re pitching to exec, you have to speak their language. Unfortunately, most of the time that means cash money. Money talks. So focus on how much money you will save them, and how much money they could lose if it’s not approved. Guaranteed to work everytime!”

Key takeaway: money talks – but it doesn’t always mean tangible dollars. Money is also time and energy. Wasting time and energy is wasting money.

  1. How do you get the Comms team onside when you want to produce your own content without their approval everytime.

“If your organisation is anything like mine’, states a TA manager in the construction industry, “its riddled with red tape, extensive processes and teams with their own agenda sometimes making it extremely difficult to get your great initiative off the ground.”

“I’m sure like a lot of other talent acquisition professionals out there, recruitment marketing is a prime example of a strategic objective that always comes with its own unique challenges, particularly when you have a large communications team looking to run the show. In fairness to comms, it’s probably valid. These teams are tasked with objectives like building social media presence, improving the company internet page and even at times delivering an EVP so it’s a valid argument for both camps to believe recruitment marketing is well within their remit.”

“Thankfully, this doesn’t need to be an us vs them approach and if you can create the right strategic alignment between communications and talent acquisition, you’ll find teams pulling in the same direction shifting away from individual function agendas to best for business strategic outcomes. Instead of focusing purely on what talent acquisition needs to achieve, take the time to understand what communications need to achieve and how you can work together to achieve a ‘best for business result’. It will do wonders for the relationship and you’ll find a genuine internal partnership is far more conducive to success than trying to go at it alone.”

Key takeaway: it’s not “us vs. them” – we often have the same end goal, so why not work together?

  1. What do you do if you get pushback from a key stakeholder.

“It sounds strange, but I often see pushback as a positive as it means the stakeholder has a level of interest or care from the outset. This provides the opportunity to take some time to better understand their perspective on a project, then perhaps make small adjustments that satisfy their needs or outline how you will overcome their concerns. Just the act of understanding their point of view often creates the space for a conversation, where there is opportunity to influence their opinion. Another approach is to gain alignment from other stakeholders – so the view point is not just from one person or team and that influencing is multi-directional.”

Key takeaway: using pushback as an opportunity to start a discussion – love this!

I think it’s safe to say that while red tape is not fun, it’s an inevitable part of working for any business so it helps to have some tools to help you navigate it. We will be running a Red Tape Recruitment round table event at the ATC2021 Digital this year, so for more tips on how to handle the red tape we all know and love – get a ticket today and come along for a chin wag with ME and other red tape recruiters!

Cover image: Shutterstock

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