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TA is at a moment of transition. While the market is tough, it’s never been more clear that talent is the secret weapon for driving organizational success. But recruiters need to step up and lead this charge. They must assert their knowledge and align themselves with the business, rather than becoming simple order-takers. However, it requires a marked change in how TA is led to unlock this potential and create an engaged team.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with Charlotte Cantu, Head of Global Talent Acquisition at Tokio Marine HCC, on our podcast to pick her brains on this matter. Together with Johnny Campbell, they spoke about the best methods to organize, develop, and motivate a TA to drive maximum business impact.
In this episode:
- How to motivate TA teams
- The difference between a recruiter and a Talent Advisor
- Getting hiring manager buy-in
- How TA can impact the business at large
1. The business case for Talent Advisors
The need for recruiters to evolve into Talent Advisors is clear. But it’s not always so straight-forward putting the case together to effectively demonstrate to the business why there should be alignment, and why TA have a responsibility to be part of these important conversations. According to Charlotte, leaders must encourage their recruiting teams to have these consulting skills, to be able and comfortable to challenge and present clear data to support overall talent recommendations. It’s about getting the organization to see things a little differently, and enabling teams to rise to the occasion – and this is done through action. Charlotte regularly gets her people to build business cases together or do SWOT analyses to start talking with the wider company and flex these muscles.
2. How to encourage hiring manager buy-in
The role of the hiring manager is important in this. It requires a behavioral shift, moving from a scenario where they are used to delivering the orders in an intake meeting, to one of partnership and strategy. But there can often be a disconnect in the middle, where hiring managers are stuck in tradition and may be defensive about change. For Charlotte, resolution lies in setting the stage and being transparent. It requires conversation to say: “We’re looking to support the business in better ways, and support you and your needs. Going forward you will see specific changes in your interactions with your recruitment partner, and here’s what that might look like.” You want to define roles and responsibilities, and show your hiring managers the data and experience your TA team can bring to the table.
3. The importance of building structure into the hiring team
Structure is so important when it comes to maximizing the potential of your recruiting team, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model and it completely depends on what the business needs. For Charlotte, it’s about empowering the team to help each other and be resources to build a subculture of support within the TA function. It’s bout cheerleading, celebrating successes, sharing best practices, and having very intentional time together. Her biggest tip, however, is around over-communicating: “Over-communicating is a gift because it takes away the opportunity to have that hump or that question at the end.”
Our guest’s final piece of advice:
“Be patient with yourself as a leader, and with your team. And be empathetic.“
- [1.47] Introduction
- [2.48] Skills within the insurance industry
- [4.55] What have you learned about motivating TA teams?
- [6.29] History of the phrase ‘talent advisor’
- [8.46] The key elements of a talent advisor
- [12.32] How TA can use business insight for talent attraction
- [18.50] The business case for TA
- [20.38] How to develop a talent advisor approach
- [24.30] Hiring manager buy-in
- [27.16] The importance of structure in TA
- [31.41] Can culture make it easier or more difficult?
- [34.31] Being present and the ROI
You’re very welcome. I’m Johnny Campbell. I’m the host of the podcast and also CEO and co-founder of SocialTalent. And on today’s show we’re going to be talking about elevating talent acquisition and how to unlock your team’s potential to drive maximum impact, a big thing for a lot of teams right now, where the spotlight’s being focused on them to drive productivity, to drive maximum impact, when we’re, I guess not just seen as a call center.
So in this episode we’re going to explore this topic. How do you unlock potential in a talent acquisition or recruiting team? How do you enable them to continually add value to the business more broadly and drive the best results? I wasn’t here last week for our podcast. We skipped a show because I was in Charlotte, North Carolina, and also in Texas. And joining us this week from Texas is Charlotte. Charlotte Cantu is the head of global talent acquisition at Tokio Marine HCC. Charlotte, you’re very welcome to the show. Apart from my corny intro, I was wondering perhaps if you might tell our audience a little bit more about you, your career, and also a bit about TMHCC.
Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here. So I’m Charlotte Cantu. I have been a leader in the talent acquisition space for a number of years. This is truly a passion of mine. I’ve worked in a lot of different industries in the past, everything from public accounting to funeral and cemetery services, to taxes and environmental services. And I joined Tokio Marine HCC about seven and a half months ago as the head of global talent acquisition, so really now learning more about the specialty insurance space.
So I mentioned before we went live, the last time I sourced and recruited for any sort of roles, and it’s going back maybe 10 years at this point, was in the insurance sector. I was doing reinsurance recruiting, looking for actuaries, underwriters, specialists, catastrophe reinsurance folks, and lots of different things like that. So I know this space because I got into this space, but talk to me about the type of skills you hire for as an organization and what the industry’s like and is it abundant with skills? Are you hiring junior people, senior people? For those on the podcast that don’t really understand much about the insurance industry, talk to me about the skills involved there.
Yeah, absolutely. So insurance is fascinating to me. There are a lot of skills that need to come together to combine for someone to be, I think, really ingrained and successful in what they’re doing. Certainly a financial background helps. When we look at our early career folks, we are looking at those that are truly looking for a career in data analytics and have an accounting or a finance background, who may have even already chosen an insurance track or are interested in learning about that. But those who are really very analytical, I think, do well in this space. So we have a lot of activity going on in the early career space right now, building pipelines across all the different specialty areas. We’ve also not even begun. This has certainly been an emerging skillset, I think, for some time in insurance, but really on the technical side of the house. So looking at skills with data science and engineers and modelers. Those that really can look at varied specific scenarios and do risk analysis. All those things can be very niche skillsets and it can make it challenging for the recruiting team.
Yeah, I remember those challenges, but the beauty of it was that, as a third party recruiter, which I was at the time, there was a big demand for talent. And if you could find those communities of folks, then they were gold dust, and they are very specialists, which at the time lent themselves, I thought, well to being sourced online, because there were very particular unique words to search for groups and professional bodies they’d be members of, limited probably number of companies they’d likely worked for. So perfect for that. So my motivation certainly was very much about trying to find the impossible. Of course I enjoyed the salaries, but when I worked for myself, I earned very little, when I first delivered, but it was really the hunt, trying to find these hen’s teeth candidates out there, and I got great satisfaction. But that was my motivation. What have you learned about motivating talent acquisition teams in your career, Charlotte?
Yeah, that’s a great question, and I think for those that truly do have a passion in recruiting, there is that intrinsic value and that motivation to get to the end of the challenge, the extension of that offer, to have someone say yes. And I’ve heard a lot of recruiters over the years say even just changing people’s lives by giving them that opportunity. I think that’s awesome. I think there’s a lot of competitiveness in recruiting professionals. I think they really do truly like to rise the challenge and say, “Give me something hard, give me something that really is difficult to find and let me prove myself.”
I think as the profession itself has continued to mature and evolve, I also think there is this emergence of a business acumen that has really, I think, developed well within the recruitment space, because it has allowed recruiters to really be more of that partner and to consult and be an advisor internally, and then those that work in partnership with corporations from an external perspective, and I think there’s just this level of value now that has and will, I think, continue to be recognized within the business.
So when we talk about that talent advisor phrase, many of us have heard it, some of the industry might be cynical to think it’s just another word or phrase for a recruiter, but walk me through, if you don’t mind, or walk our audience through what you shared with me before we went online, which is the history of the phrase and how you have used it, how you’ve seen it develop over the years, et cetera. That was a great story.
Yeah, absolutely. So I was sharing earlier the term talent advisor, which I believe is synonymous with the version in recruiting of being a strategic business partner, which by the way is a very specific initiative for our HR function at TMHCC. Again, going back to recruiting as that talent advisor, the talent advisor term is not new. It’s been around since 2004. I remember reading about it in a Corporate Leadership Council report all tucked away in this nice big blue book that I have probably somewhere sitting on my shelf. And I remember thinking to myself, this is how we should be operating. This is really the questions we should be asking. This is how a conversation should be held. This is how we should be using data to tell a story.
But we, and I say collectively we, talent acquisition, we weren’t ready for it. And I don’t think it was until probably a good 10 years later that we started to see really more of a trend in job titles changing from recruiter to talent advisor, to seeing job descriptions start to really talk about what does it really mean? How does it look to be a talent advisor? Started to see articles emerge on comparisons between what a recruiter does and then what a talent advisor does, how that job is being performed.
And then ultimately you started to see leaders emerge to say, “Okay, it’s my job as the leader of a recruiting team,” and maybe a very conservative traditional operating recruiting team to make that shift and really put them on a journey to say, “Okay, we’re going down this road and it should be super exciting.” So there’s a choice here. You can say, “This is the role of the future and I’m excited to learn and grow and develop into that,” or there’s this decision to say, “You know what, it’s not really where I want to go,” and we’ve seen people exit the profession because of it.
Yeah, the difference I’ve heard described over the years as be the difference between an order taker and someone who’s consultative. What’s your experience of the before, so to speak, and how would you characterize the before recruiter, and what are the key elements? I know you’ve touched some of them so far already, but what are the key elements do you think that are critical in this new talent advisor? So what’s the before and what does the after look like? What’s the difference?
Yeah, I truly do think… I think order taking is a good analogy. So it’s kind of everything from being able to go through a list of questions. What is the title of the role? What are those skills that you need? What’s the budget that you’re looking for? Who’s the interviewer? Who are the interviewers? What is the scheduling going to look like? I mean really just getting everything from the hiring manager and/or their respective teams and not really pushing into the why. So why is the position open? What’s created movement within the team? So this is what a talent advisor potentially would be asking. And it wouldn’t necessarily be at what we’ve traditionally called an intake meeting. This would be knowledge that should have already been gleaned from just ongoing conversations with that leader and in partnership with their HR partner. Our model here at TMHCC is such that we have HR business partners who own the relationship with the business leaders, with our clients internally, and we have centers of expertise, which talent acquisition is one of those.
So those that have a TA, a talent advisor hat would be essentially linking elbows with that HR business partner and should really have a very good understanding of what’s going on in that business, both by leader and then overall from the business itself, and then linking all the way up to overall strategic goals. When that is understood, it’s a little easier and sometimes a lot easier to be able to challenge and push back and bring data to the table that says, “I know that you asked for this, but have you considered these emerging or adjacent skill sets because what you’re asking for maybe isn’t out there anymore.” Or, “The trend that we’re seeing in competitors is X.” Or, “By the way, we have new competitors emerging and you may never have thought we were competing with X, Y, and Z companies, but we are now.” So there’s a different level of value that talent advisors, I think again, intentionally becoming that model of being a business partner, can bring, versus, I think, again, a more conservative traditional recruiting.
I remember one of the first clear examples of this I came across on scale was when we were working with Flex, who used to be called Flextronics many, many years ago, and their head of TA was sharing with me how her team worked hand in hand with the commercial side of the business, and Flex being an OEM contract manufacturer for some of the big tech companies, they would pitch to outsource the manufacturing for a whole lot of companies back in the day. And key to that was the ability to set up a factory quickly at a certain cost base in a location to deliver for that client. And she explained to me that her talent advisors, as they were becoming, did a lot of work mapping talent, mapping salaries, availability, and then fed that information to the commercial team so they can better pitch and quote for work.
I thought this was fascinating. This is a business, this is a TA team that don’t just deliver talent. They are helping the business win bids. I thought that was fascinating, the extension of what a true talent advisor can do, the real potential beyond just delivering talent. So what examples have you seen over the years as you’ve worked with recruiters who’ve become talent advisors? What kind of examples have you seen where that business insight, whether it’s the research, the consultant behavior, has genuinely changed, whether it’s one hiring manager’s approach to a job or a team’s approach to talent in a business?
Yeah, that’s a great question and I think it’s one of the things that we should all be asking ourselves as leaders, because if we’re not, I think there’s a missed opportunity there. There are so many recruiting tools available to recruiters and leaders today that we don’t have an excuse not to use them and not to be very proactive. So again, I didn’t touch on that and I should have, which a talent advisor tends to lead with that proactive lens versus that reactive, “Oh, something’s happening to us and now we need to fix it or fill a gap,” versus let’s understand what our long-term goal is and again, what that short, mid and long-term milestone might be on that goal path and then being able to work together to achieve that.
Examples that I have seen where talent advisors have been successful in putting that hat on are in especially the last, I’d say, two to three employers that I’ve had the opportunity to work with, they’ve both been very acquisitive in nature by model, so grow by acquisition, and a lot of times there is the people side, the labor side that can tend to be very gray when there is a feasibility study being done as to whether an acquisition makes sense for a business. So unless our business leaders understand the implications of how easy is it or will it be to find talent in that particular area, and I’m going to give this scenario in kind of a pre-pandemic scenario, because again, things have changed for us globally in that regard, but it really is important to know where our people will be physically.
And then being able to say, in order for us to be sustainable in our business in this particular market, country, area, et cetera, this is what the talent pool looks like. This is either a shallow talent pool or a deep talent pool, and it’s saturated with competition or not. It helps to be partnered, obviously, with a lot of different functions within HR, including our compensation partners, to understand how much will we need to buy talent. So there’s a lot of data that, again, this is not new, this is not something that’s 2023 in my opinion. This is something that was probably 2003, but maybe we’re talking about it more two decades later.
So in highly acquisitive models, I think talent advisors can be rock stars as far as the data they can provide before decisions are made, and then as emerging technologies continue, and they will continue to come on the scene, those skills are going to be in high demand. And again, competition lines, they go blurry. So now industry lines, it doesn’t matter if we’re in specialty insurance, we’re competing with the behemoths of retail or environmental or sustainability or any other technology driven company, which in today’s age, who isn’t? So we have to understand then what are those adjacent skills and be able to influence hiring leaders to say, “If you’re going to have your list of preferreds, let’s get you 80% of the way, and then also work internally with our learning and development teams to bridge that gap.” I think that’s really, really important.
Yeah, two stories come to mind from that, Charlotte. My neighbor, his eldest kid, who did a work placement for us when he was 15 back in SocialTalent a few years ago, he was going into university and he was talking to me about his courses and his options, and he chose actuarial science. And I was like, “Well, brilliant, you’re going to work in insurance.” And he said, “No.” He goes, “Actuaries work in so many different industries these days.” And he told me about actuaries working in gaming companies and big tech companies. And again, I traditionally would’ve thought, well, actuarial studies is purely insurance, but to your point, the lines are more blurred, the skill sets are spread across different industries. You’re competing for that, maybe years ago insurers only only employer of actuaries, now there’s many. So you got to compete with all those.
And similarly, you’re competing for talent that other companies are hiring for, that maybe 10, 20 years ago an insurer wouldn’t have gone for. And the other then that brings to mind about the timeframe of this. I remember about eight years ago, nine years ago, it could have been, a friend of mine, Alka Jordans, who was running TA for Microsoft internationally outside North America at the time, she got up and did a presentation in Berlin and she opened the presentation by saying, “I want to introduce you to my TA team,” and she had an org chart, a picture of them. And she said, “This team has doubled the share price of Microsoft the last year.” And the whole audience laughed. And she said, “No, seriously, they have.” And she explained why.
Satya had come into the business, had a big focus on Azure and cloud computing, and said, “We need to expand our sales team for cloud computing because we built this technology out.” So the TA team were tasked with double the amount of vacancies in cloud. And she gave an example on screen of Portugal. She said, “For example, we were asked to hire, let’s say, 200 sales professionals in Portugal.” And she said, “We mapped the market based on the requirement given to us, and there were 189 people in Portugal that did the job, including people we already employed and who worked for all our competitors. That was it. That data was like… Literally we took everybody in the whole country, we still wouldn’t have enough people.”
And then they showed that if they removed the requirement for Portuguese fluency, which might seem weird because they’re hiring in Portugal, but it turns out these folks were largely selling in English to English speaking companies, and they said the talent pool opened 4 X and they could fix it. And they used this approach to influence the business to change its requirements, which led to the hiring of all the roles, which then led to the success of the product, which led to the doubling of their share price, and extension how TA doubled the share price of Microsoft. But I don’t think that’s a tenuous connection. I think that’s the kind of stuff we do. Would you agree?
Sure. Yeah, absolutely. I think what you described is what we would traditionally be looking at is building our business case. So a lot of times the last page of a business case deck, I think many of you listening can relate to, is your options page. Here’s option one, keep doing what we’re doing, stay the same, here’s what we can expect. Here’s option two, meet in the middle. Maybe we may have to spend a little bit more money to get option two. And then option three may be the other side of the spectrum. But it’s important to be able, from a TA perspective, have those consulting skills, be able to ask questions, be comfortable enough and challenging, and then be able to present and communicate extremely clearly with data, not surmises or assumptions, although those can come into play. I mean I think recruiters do have very valid anecdotal feedback that’s important, but data can support overall recommendations and they should.
So I think that, again, it’s that business case model. So in the past, what I’ve liked to do with my team as far as development activities is to walk them through things like let’s build a business case together, let’s do a SWOT analysis to start us talking with the business. So there are things that we can do as leaders to help our teams, I think, rise to that occasion, but also feel comfortable in doing things a little differently than maybe they have in the past to get to those results what you just described.
So as an educational provider in this area, I’d love to say that all they need to do is watch training on SocialTalent and they will become talent advisors overnight. I’m not saying that’s not part of it. You need education, you need to understand the skills. But there’s more to it than that. I’d be naive to think otherwise. So tell me, what do you need to do to develop that talent advisory approach? Because it is more than just education to the recruiters. What are some other obstacles and what have you found that’s worked?
I’ll tell you a quick story about a member of a team that I had probably about 10 years ago. I had joined an organization as a leader in TA and I was getting to know my new team and just watching and observing how they behaved and started to shadow them as they went and had different meetings with their hiring leaders. And there was one individual that I shadowed for a couple of times and I noticed right away that he was always very, very informed about what was going on with that opening, as I would expect him to be. He knew so much about what that talent pool looked like, what candidates were wanting that maybe we weren’t completely aligned with. He had all the right pieces to it, but when he was put in front of the hiring manager, there was this confidence that just didn’t come out in the conversation.
And as I was listening to this and we debriefed on the back end of that, he asked me, “I just can’t seem to get anywhere with this manager.” And he said, “What should I do?” And I said, “I think you already know what to do, so tell me what’s in your head.” And his response back to me was exactly what I would’ve guided him to say in that space. I said, “You got this, you already knew the answer. So let’s come back, we’ll present this back as a recommendation, and by the way, it’s your recommendation.” And came back with him, supported him in that meeting. So as the leader, I was able to show him that, hey, this makes a lot of sense.
And at the back end of that conversation, I remember him coming back into my office and saying, “You know I really appreciate that approach that you had with me. I hadn’t had anybody do that.” He said, “I really just needed that extra bit of confidence, that extra bit of pat on the back.” And I say that because it sounds so, so, so simple, but what I have learned over the years is that if you care enough about people and what they’re going through and what might be going through in their heads when they’re in the middle of those conversations, that sometimes can be really, really hard, it makes a huge difference. So caring for the team and really looking through, that’s the potential. He had so much potential and he has now gone on and is a leader in another organization here in Texas.
So we aren’t the only people, as in recruiters, involved here. So we’ve got the whole hiring population, the hiring manager population that we have to try and bring along with us. I remember doing a session several years ago with the team of recruiters and I asked them, “What are all the problems with the hiring managers?” They had a big long list. “Oh, they’re terrible because of this, that and the other.” I said, “How do we fix this?” They said, “Well, they need to change.” And they just described all the things hiring managers need to do differently. And I kind of challenged them by saying, “I don’t think they’re going to change. Why should they change? They’re just going to keep doing what they’re going to do and you’re going to keep complaining. So what can you do to change them?”
And there was a bunch of stuff about influencing and so on and so forth. But the role of the hiring manager is important in this. It does probably require a behavioral shift from hiring managers who are used to delivering the orders in the, and I’ll use air quotes for those who are watching, but they’re used to spitting out the orders, delivering the orders in an intake meeting, and we’re trying to say, “No, we’re advisors in a strategy meeting and I don’t work for you. We both work for the company. We have the same goal and we’re going to work together to achieve the same goal.” How do you get the hiring manager population to buy into that? Or what’s your experience there?
Yeah, I think it’s being so transparent. I am such a fan of transparency, and I think that over the years I’ve seen a shift in how… I mean, this is generally speaking, how people can communicate, but in a hiring manager and a talent advisor relationship, where a hiring manager may have done things for the same way for a very, very long time and is comfortable in that way and doesn’t really see why they should change, and then you have this talent advisor who may be gung ho and saying, “I want to do what I’m being asked to do differently and it makes sense to me,” but then there’s that disconnect in the middle. It’s being able to set the stage, and I think the leaders can help with this.
And in multiple instances where I’ve been a part of leading recruiters to talent advisors, that journey, if you will, is really setting the expectations with hiring managers at my level to say, “We’re constantly working to support the business in better ways and looking for ways to improve our ability to support you and your needs. Going forward you may see or you will see specific changes and differences in your interactions with your recruitment partner. Below are some examples of what that might look like.” So I think setting the stage to say, “We would like to discuss having…” I hate to use the word service level agreements within an internal space because I think it can unintentionally create that defensiveness, perhaps. But I think it is important to manage expectations on what a reasonable turnaround time is for any part of a process.
So it’s really defining the roles and responsibilities. And even if that has been mapped out in the past, it’s revisiting those to say, “We want to take a look at our process again and hiring manager, this is your role, this is my role, this is what you can expect from me. This is data that I want to be able to provide to you.” I mean, there’s a whole conversation that just looks and sounds differently, and I think it’s setting the stage so that you’re not blind sighting the hiring manager. It’s one thing to have a conversation with a recruiter one day, and the very next time that you see them, they now have the TA hat on, the talent advisor hat on, and you’re like, “Wait a second, what happened here?” That doesn’t feel good for any party. So I do think the leader has a responsibility for themselves to set the stage for it and then support that journey. This is not an option. This is the direction that we’re going.
How important is structure? I’ll explain that question. I’ve talked to several leaders, and they go all in on the enablement, just teach people how to do this and this team will be better. And often time when I look at the structure, let’s say you’ve got a hundred recruiters and they’re going teach them all to be talent advisors, or teach them all to be sourcers, oftentimes [inaudible 00:27:35] I push back and go, “That’s not the answer, you know, could probably get a huge benefit, you’ll unlock a lot of potential by just reorganizing the way work is done in this team and then enable them, once you’ve reorganized it.” What weight do you put on having the right structure? And I know there’s not one structure that suits every organization, but what have you looked done in the past or how do you think about structure and organizing the way that work is done between different folks in the recruiting team?
Yeah, so there’s definitely different models out there for recruiters. Now, again, as you mentioned, there’s not one right model and structure. It really depends on what the business needs. For example, at TMHCC, we are a very highly decentralized organization, so we have a lot of different businesses that operate very independent of one another, and the recruiting talent that we have at TMHCC, again, because they… In many instances we have a dedicated person who truly has a recruiter hat on, and in other instances it’s part of a dual role or a hybrid role of an HR business partner who has recruiting responsibilities. In both of those cases, they report up through the business, so they don’t have a direct line except for a couple of them, just a small team to me in the COE capacity.
So it adds a level of complexity when you might have, for example, a matrixed organization, and then you throw in things like being a global organization where there’s lots of different nuances that can come into play with just even the process. So that’s just what it is. I mean, that’s the structure of the business and what it is. As it relates to the structure of the team, I think that the more you can really empower the team to help each other and be resources for each other and build that subculture within the talent acquisition function of support, that’s when I start to see magic happen. In teams that I’ve managed in the past where there have been the innate cheerleaders of each other, the celebration of successes, having a very intentional time together to talk about what’s coming and the tools that we have and who’s using it this way, and sharing those best practices.
Again, folks, this is not new. These aren’t things that we haven’t done or that you haven’t tried, but it is very, very much being intentional about it. There’s about six things that I try to always think about as being a TA leader, and making sure that the team is gelling well, that we’re supporting each other, and that we’re fluid, because to your point, earlier, Johnny, that structure, that can actually change fairly often depending on what the needs are. But making sure that we over communicate versus under. Over communicating, I think, is a gift because it takes away the opportunity to have that hump or that question at the end. I try to not assume that my team knows what to do. So for an example, if I tell a team member, “Hey, I need you to go back and build a sourcing strategy for this role,” maybe they’ve only been in recruiting for a few years and they just may not know what to do. Or it’s a new group they’re supporting and they just may not know what to do. I don’t want to make that assumption.
Consistently ask questions. I tell my team this often, I’m not a mind reader. I want to know what questions that you have so that we can continue to have that front and center. And then asking questions to each other. And then along that same front is making sure that we’re cultivating this healthy level of curiosity, so they’re asking the right questions and they’re challenging each other. And I think that a support structure can help with that. And I’ve seen it a lot of different ways, but making sure that the engagement is there as a sub-team I think is highly important.
You mentioned international a couple of times in terms of your team are international, you hire internationally, some of the international teams. Do you think culture can play a role in making this easier or more difficult? And I ask that in the context of a client who shared with me last week that their organization just recently merged with an Israeli company, and they have… The company who I was speaking to have a very met meritocratic kind of culture and very west US coast influence kind of culture, and their take on the business that they’re merging with was they have much more of a command and control culture.
And we talked about talent advisory and in that particular instance, they suspect there could be a clash where it might be very difficult to bring new colleagues on board to this journey of being a talent advisor because culturally they felt it’s just not as done a thing. Your parent company is Japanese. That has to bear on these things. There are cultural differences between the US, the UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, all these things. Does that add some nuance to the whole piece of how do you get there? How do you become better talent advisors?
Sure. I think we’d both be remiss if we say that it doesn’t. I think it’s the right thing to recognize the challenges and the differences in culture, both culturally as well as just organizationally cetera. What I will say is that at TMHCC the binder, the binding common thread is our good company values. So no matter where we’re operating, no matter where our talent is and who they’re supporting, our good company values have been in place for over a hundred years. So that is the one thing that no matter what your role is in the organization, you can align to it. And I think that’s important. I went blank for a second, so I want to make sure I’m still there.
That’s all right. That’s all right. We’ve got a comment here from Josh Rock. Josh, great to have you listening. Josh just is adding to your comments earlier on, when signing projects, he makes sure to ask what support the team need. I think we forget the value of such things. Thanks, that contribution, Josh. It’s not rocket science, but I imagine a lot of folks don’t do that. They might give you the all bells and whistles LinkedIn account and lots of tools and technology and send you off, but forget to ask you, “Are you okay? Do you need more support?” Forget to do the things, the encouragement, the coaching that you gave to the colleague that you gave the example of earlier on. Those soft things are, it’s called soft skills and soft elements. They’re just critical, aren’t they, to really motivating any team, I guess.
They are, and I think Josh understands that. I mean, it’s one thing to be able, like you said, to just say, “Here’s all the different tools that we’ve paid for. Go and learn them do well and come back and share stories.” It’s another thing to be able to listen to what’s really happening every day. We have a lot of hats we wear as leaders, coaching and coaches, mentors, champions. And that’s one thing, too, that I think is really important for anyone listening that has a leadership hat on. Make it your goal this year to champion your teams. No one else is going to do that for you. Be very intentional about highlighting those wins that your talent advisors or your recruiters do on a daily basis. Give those little snippets of what it’s like to be a recruiter.
I recall something that I did, gosh, seven, eight years ago at my prior organization through an app and I don’t mind saying it, because I think it’s a cool app, it’s called 1 Second Everyday, and literally gave my team a challenge of, over a two week timeframe I wanted them to take one second snippets of what they did every day as a recruiter. So as everything from them coming in the office… Actually it started with somebody turning their alarm clock on or off, to coming in the office, being behind a wheel maybe on a long commute, flying on a plane to a career fair, having a conversation with the hiring manager, extending an offer on the phone, entering requisitions on a computer station. I mean it was all over the place. To them enjoying their daughter’s softball game at the end of the day because it blended, it’s like what we do.
And then this particular app, and there’s others out there, pulls it all together, and I showed it at our talent acquisition summit that year. And the reason I did that is because I really wanted there to be this realization, this understanding of how incredibly busy and crazy and awesome that our team is, and this is something I think that transcends across all TA functions is we just have one of those jobs that if we do not as leaders take the time to have that peek behind the curtain, that’s a lost opportunity. And to this day I have team members from that activity reaching out and saying, “Hey, remember when we did this? It was such a great feeling,” and we show that even to an external audience and it was a really good experience.
I love that. It’s a great way to probably humanize the recruiter for even the hiring managers or the most resistant hiring managers to go, “This is what we do every day. We’re kind of magic. We do kind of cool stuff. We’re also like you and we have families and we have commutes and we have all this stuff.” I want to take you back to the business case you mentioned earlier on. You were talking about recruiters seeing things as a business case and trying to prepare and look at the slide and the options. When you get to the part of the business case that talks about ROI for becoming a talent advisor, becoming more consultative, what do you look at as being some of the key wins that you’d expect to see from this more consultative approach to recruiting?
Yeah, I think that that’s grown over the years, too. I mean there are so many more goals now, and I’ll say overall just talent or people goals as we should have them internally. More and more organizations now have more diversity and inclusion goals wrapped into their overall people practices, so that obviously starts at the very front of a employee experience when they’re candidates. Is what’s the diversity goals that we have for hiring folks into our organization and understanding where we may be underrepresented in certain areas or levels or functions, et cetera. So that’s very important. That’s an ROI slice right there is to be able to say, “Here’s where we started and then here’s where we may be at a certain point in time,” and tracking our progress against that. But I think that needs to be something that talent advisors are very clear and intentional about communicating back on a regular basis.
Again, with the prior team that I managed, there was an expectation, and it was part of goals and it was part of how the recruiters were bonused at the end of that year on conducting quarterly business reviews back with their hiring managers. So every quarter there was a meeting that was scheduled that our HR business partners attended, and there was a presentation that went back that said, “The last time we spoke, this is what we said from a strategic perspective, from strategy going forward to the next three months that we were going to focus on, and this is against or aligned with whatever goals we established at the beginning.” And every quarter they would report back on the progress that it was being made. So I think that’s one element where ROI can and should be talked about.
The other things, traditional recruitment metrics that still really do help to tell some of the story today, like overall impact of filling a role quick. The time to fill, time to offer type of metrics. Those still play a role in today’s business case of saying here’s the ROI. I think also something that talent advisors can and should also be a part of that conversation is around cost of vacancy. And I think they can start that conversation with hiring managers and say, “What are the implications of this role being open for 30 days or 60 days or 90 days? How do you measure, how would you measure opportunity cost. With a role, for example, in the insurance industry for an underwriter, what’s the opportunity cost that we have for that seat being vacant for 90 days, for six months, et cetera?”
So sometimes that can also help to influence how quickly we want to move. Perhaps it influences a profile of that candidate that we may be looking for. Perhaps it’s a stretch of the budget if that’s an opportunity, et cetera. So I think it’s just understanding how to bring the hiring manager into the conversation, and then being able to, to the extent that we can, because it’s not always easy, to get the metrics to support it.
I love that. Charlotte, thank you so much. I love that, particularly the cost of an empty seat. I’ve always loved that metric and not enough people use it, to really look at the value that we bring to drive business value to the organization. We’ve come to that part of the show where we’ve ripped a load of advice and stories from you, Charlotte, and I think our audience really, really appreciated hearing you share those stories. We’ve got tons of comments coming in as well over the last 30 or 40 minutes on the live feeds, and I’m sure those listening into the podcast afterwards are going to love it as well. But I’m going to ask you for one more piece before you go and that we ask this of every guest. Of course those of you who are regulars to the show know this, but hoping you could leave our audience with one piece of advice, one tip that’s either been passed on to you from others on high or you’ve developed through your own nuance and observation over your career, that you can leave our audience with today.
And this is not something that is a shocking piece of advice and something that I think you can apply to many, many different instances, but I am speaking at it from the perspective and the lens of what we’re talking about today, which is unlocking the potential in your teams. And that is two things, to be patient with yourself as a leader and with your team members, and to be as empathetic as we can. I mean, a lot of times we’ve kind of grown up through the ranks as well and we can understand where everybody is, but to be able to understand how someone’s day and time spent and really giving them the benefit of good intentions always, I think can really help to go a long way with building that trust relationship, and then again, getting to the point that you’re unlocking potential and it’s one by one.
I love that. Some fantastic advice, Charlotte. Thank you so much for joining us from very, very hot Texas here today to not as hot, but still pretty nice Dublin, Ireland where I am. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Can’t wait to meet up again in person soon.
Thank you for having me. I enjoyed it as well.