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How to survive the war for talent

Kiddy & Partners

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If you’re feeling that the 2022 war for talent is tougher than ever, you’re not alone.

I recently chatted with James Taylor, CEO of Recruitment & Retention firm Macildowie, who said: “In my 25 years in the recruitment industry, this is the most acute war for talent we’ve ever experienced.” Similarly, a HR Director at a recent Kiddy & t-three client roundtable event asked “Where did all the talent go?!”, a question which resonated with everyone.

Contrary to headlines about ‘The Great Resignation’ from across the pond, at senior levels there has been little churn in the UK. People have stayed put. Why? In James’ view, a driving factor is that execs who were thinking about retiring or changing roles prior to the pandemic held on to see their organisations through the storm, and then had a second re-assessment of their career aspirations when they realised that they quite liked the greater flexibility of hybrid working. Plus, he adds, many received bumper pay increases having navigated the pandemic successfully to generate strong business results.  So, anticipated turnover at the top hasn’t happened yet, although James predicts an easing on candidate flow in coming months.

In the meantime, this situation has driven wage growth at a level rarely seen since 2008. The combination of candidate shortages and high salary costs means that getting an appointment decision wrong is more costly than ever.

So how do HR teams ensure they get appointment decisions right?

Make people decisions based on objective data and evidence

Ask any HR specialist and they will tell you how critical it is to make people decisions based on objective data and evidence rather than simplistic measures, or worse, subjective opinions. We’ve all heard horror stories of leaders being appointed based on a loose conversation with a hiring manager or a contact who’s worked with the person before. Forget opinions, it’s evidence of a behavioural capability in areas deemed essential for the job that’s needed to provide any confidence in your appointment decisions.

Clarify the key competencies required for role moving forwards

Have you reviewed and updated your competency frameworks?  The world of work has changed dramatically over the past year or two, as have what it takes to be an effective leader in this context. Ensure that you’ve outlined the key competencies required for success in this role moving forwards.  Download our Future of Leadership eBook for more on what it takes to be an effective leader now.

Use reliable and valid ways of assessing capability

An in-depth assessment should comprise multiple sources of data such as 360, psychometrics, and an in-depth psychological interview, with feedback.  In addition, simulation assessments can be very insightful, incorporating activities that stretch participants beyond their current operating levels, to assess their suitability for specific roles. Simulations can allow you to examine performance in areas in which a person does not have a large amount of previous experience but nevertheless may have the potential to succeed.  This overcomes the issue of relying too heavily on past performance, which unfairly disadvantages those who haven’t had the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in a professional context. By only considering people who have past experience in a particular area, we perpetuate systematic biases which have favoured certain groups or populations over others. So simulations can help to level the playing field.

Ensure there’s a tailored onboarding and development plan

All participants should receive 1:1 feedback after an assessment, and successful candidates can then use the assessment to build a development plan for their new role. We provide specific recommendations to individuals and hiring managers, including a definitive recommendation regarding appointment, and with guidance on how and how long it’s likely to take to close any development gaps identified. No-one is born a leader, and there’s no such thing as a finished article when it comes to leadership capability.

Whether it’s for internal appointments or external recruitment, the cost of getting it wrong is high. Not only does data-driven decision-making help to de-risk appointments, but assessment insights can inform targeted onboarding processes and personalised development plans to short-cut the time it takes for people to be performing at their best in new roles.