3 Ways To Break Deadlocks on Your TeamThere are times when business leaders I’m working with settle in face to face with their peers, arms crossed and accusations flying. I’ve found it helps to view myself as a referee on the grammar school playground during lunch break. Holding the image in my mind certainly helps me calm the disputes and get everyone refocused on the elements that have broken down and led to the finger pointing. I put on my ref’s cap this week with one of a CEO client and her heads of HR and Finance. For over six months the Finance department has had two critical positions open. In that time, fewer than ten candidates have walked through the door to interview for the positions. The source of the deadlock and finger pointing? Well, the Finance Department head is aggravated at HR taking months to find appropriate candidates. They’re frustrated that each of the candidates they interviewed, liked and had staff interview didn’t pass the background checks. And they know their staff is wondering why the candidates they speak with keep disappearing rather than being hired. HR is offended that the department heads don’t appreciate that the positions are hard to fill. The organization has a unique mission and wants people who share the same values in the management ranks. That mission pre-screens out many candidates who have the skill and experience to do the work. Everyone knows all of this. So why the pent up frustration? The breakdowns are actually a result of very different factors. 1 – There’s no shared sense of urgency 2 – The scope of the issue isn’t understood 3 – There’s no formal process 4 – There’s no systematic communication With the seats still unfilled after 7 months, I expect you could understand that the Finance folks feel insulted. They sure don’t feel like they’re valued clients of the HR staff. HR has hired hundreds (well probably thousands) of staff members. Every year the organization’s technical staff has turn over that need to be replaced. And they post the positions and sort the resumes and in short order the position is filled. The person in charge of searches knows exactly what to do for those typical seats. However, this time the Finance department positions are more complex. The HR staff tried the traditional sites for posting the positions. And found no takers. Weeks stretched into months. Two, then three, then five. The Finance managers kept looking at their calendars, and their empty IN baskets. No resumes arrived. No interviews were set. No word at all from the HR department. So the Finance managers started calling HR once every couple of weeks to ask what was going on. The HR staff then reported that the Finance staff were harassing them. Were the Finance managers actually being rude? Probably not. The underlying element in all of this is that the HR staff were unfamiliar and inexperienced with filling these high level roles. The Finance managers had never had to recruit and fill such high level positions before. Everyone’s embarrassment over ‘not knowing quite what to do’ lead to lots of doing nothing. You can see how it all deteriorated. And for all of those months, the Finance managers have been working double over time because key positions are sitting empty. So clearly a solution needed to be found. One that got everyone working at the same pace, with clear communication, and shared expectations being met. The first step – Put a shared system in place Regular discussions on the open positions between the HR staff and Finance managers now take place weekly; recruitment strategy and actions, interview appointment deadlines. Now HR’s client knows that actual recruiting activity is being observed and tracked. Within two weeks there were resumes available to be sorted. Clearly the urgency was at last being matched by both sides. The second step – Formalize the process so that it can be used again With the second open position, face to face weekly meetings are now being held to report on the recruitment activity. The Finance staff no longer has to debate whether to call and ask – every Tuesday they are told specifically exactly what activity is taking place. The third step – Institute customer satisfaction surveys of the internal customers The information being obtained from the survey is reinforcing the processes, and reminding the HR staff that the entire organization is their customer, even if positions come up infrequently in many departments. Knowing they are being tracked has accelerated the HR staff’s follow through in the recruiting process. It’s a new start and a new relationship between the departments that will get the job done to everyone’s satisfaction.

by Linda Feinholz · 0 comments

© 2008 Linda Feinholz.

There are times when business leaders I’m working with settle in face to face with their peers, arms crossed and accusations flying. I’ve found it helps to view myself as a referee on the grammar school playground during lunch break. Holding the image in my mind certainly helps me calm the disputes and get everyone refocused on the elements that have broken down and led to the finger pointing.

I put on my ref’s cap this week with one of a CEO client and her heads of HR and Finance.

For over six months the Finance department has had two critical positions open. In that time, fewer than ten candidates have walked through the door to interview for the positions.

The source of the deadlock and finger pointing?

Well, the Finance Department head is aggravated at HR taking months to find appropriate candidates. They’re frustrated that each of the candidates they interviewed, liked and had staff interview didn’t pass the background checks. And they know their staff is wondering why the candidates they speak with keep disappearing rather than being hired.

HR is offended that the department heads don’t appreciate that the positions are hard to fill. The organization has a unique mission and wants people who share the same values in the management ranks. That mission pre-screens out many candidates who have the skill and experience to do the work.

Everyone knows all of this. So why the pent up frustration? The breakdowns are actually a result of

1 – There’s no shared sense of urgency
2 – The scope of the issue isn’t understood
3 – There’s no formal process
4 – There’s no systematic communication

With the seats still unfilled after 7 months, I expect you could understand that the Finance folks feel insulted. They sure don’t feel like they’re valued clients of the HR staff.

HR has hired hundreds (well probably thousands) of staff members. Every year the organization’s technical staff has turn over that need to be replaced. And they post the positions and sort the resumes and in short order the position is filled.

The person in charge of searches knows exactly what to do for those typical seats. However, this time the Finance department positions are more complex. The HR staff tried the traditional sites for posting the positions. And found no takers.

Weeks stretched into months. Two, then three, then five. The Finance managers kept looking at their calendars, and their empty IN baskets. No resumes arrived. No interviews were set. No word at all from the HR department.

So the Finance managers started calling HR once every couple of weeks to ask what was going on. The HR staff then reported that the Finance staff were harassing them.

Were the Finance managers actually being rude? Probably not. The underlying element in all of this is that the HR staff were unfamiliar and inexperienced with filling these high level roles. The Finance managers had never had to recruit and fill such high level positions before. Everyone’s embarrassment over ‘not knowing quite what to do’ lead to lots of doing nothing.

You can see how it all deteriorated. And for all of those months, the Finance managers have been working double over time because key positions are sitting empty.

So clearly a solution needed to be found. One that got everyone working at the same pace, with clear communication, and shared expectations being met.

The first step – Put a shared system in place

Regular discussions on the open positions between the HR staff and Finance managers now take place weekly; recruitment strategy and actions, interview appointment deadlines. Now HR’s client knows that actual recruiting activity is being observed and tracked.

Within two weeks there were resumes available to be sorted. Clearly the urgency was at last being matched by both sides.

The second step – Formalize the process so that it can be used again
With the second open position, face to face weekly meetings are now being held to report on the recruitment activity. The Finance staff no longer has to debate whether to call and ask – every Tuesday they are told specifically exactly what activity is taking place.

The third step – Institute customer satisfaction surveys of the internal customers
The information being obtained from the survey is reinforcing the processes, and reminding the HR staff that the entire organization is their customer, even if positions come up infrequently in many departments. Knowing they are being tracked has accelerated the HR staff’s follow through in the recruiting process.

It’s a new start and a new relationship between the departments that will get the job done to everyone’s satisfaction.

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