The one with a quality measure

“I went to TRULondon and all I got was this lousy blog post”

Trying to summarise a 45 minute multi-person conversation (for that read bun fight) into a blog post is something I find very difficult but here goes…

Yesterday I attended #TRULondon5 and having taken Bill Boorman up on his invite to run a track about 20 people were assembled to have a conversation about measuring quality of hire.

I started by setting the scene (which I’d also done in a post you can read here) and giving some clarity on keeping the conversation on track and no veering off to what was seemingly everyone’s favourite topic social recruiting. I think I may have enforced that a little strongly at times so if I did trample on anyone I’m sorry!

Rather than try and summarise the narrative here are some of the points that arose:

  • Are we trying to define quality or value? Some believe the difference to be semantic and what we are really trying to define is contribution.
  • Some thought value was the intangible and quality the hard measures. Others (mostly me) thought value is the tangible and quality was akin to value plus cultural fit.
  • Understanding the expectation of the role is key. Very different for entry level to senior management and an organisation doesn’t want/need everyone to be high flying innovators etc
  • There was a conversation about understanding ‘what good looks like’ with particular reference to a basketball player called Jeremy Lin (who I had never heard of). There’s a great post about him here from Hung Lee. It lead to discussions about the circumstances under which people succeed and what it takes to make talent flourish.
  • Length of service or tenure was asserted as ‘the one true measure’ which met with some agreement and some disagreement. Given the rising cost of employment it was a means to deliver a return on investment for the costs of recruiting/inducting/training etc
  • Given the rising role of contingent workers (not just temps but contractors, interims & consultants) some discussion arose about how that would impact any measure of tenure and also the disconnect between clarity of expectation on a contingent worker versus a permanent worker
  • Tying quality to performance was discussed at length. With objections raised about the subjectivity of performance measures, how performance expectation isn’t understood at recruitment stage and how difficult it is for recruiters to influence hire once the individual is in role.
  • Measuring assessment scores of new hires versus those of current employees was discussed as was of course the need for objective assessment and clear data. This of course would challenge some organisations on their current hiring practices and also requires a significant wealth of data to already exist.
  • An interesting point was raised around measuring an individual’s value as a social recruiting asset – so how many referrals they give the organisation which resonated with the concept of net promoter scores. We didn’t discuss this at length but it was certainly different.
  • The concept of following up with hiring managers and asking them structured questions was raised after the track but quickly shot down as requiring too much time and would be yet another thing that would end up being chased for

And then, as all the air seemed to have left the balloon, the fabulous Laurie Ruettimann interjected with a point which took the discussion to a whole different place and it went something like this…

“We need to get people jobs to stop them rioting”

which seemed as good a place as any to end….

Running the track was an interesting experience, they are difficult beasts to tame and I definitely don’t think I heard the silver bullet idea; I did get to understand opinions from different people and hopefully move the conversation on a step. This of course only represents my perceptions of the conversation and hopefully some other participants will comment.

For me, if I were implementing a quality of hire measure it would be a data driven exercise comparing the performance scores of hires against their group (whether that be function, division or whole organisation) to understand where they were in comparison to the whole. I think this would be sustainable and rational but would require the recruitment system and the HR system to interact which could of course lead to the end of the world. And yes performance measures are subjective but they are the subjectivity that gets believed (and actioned in many bonus schemes) so let’s get over that! I may be wrong  (often happens) but let’s at least do SOMETHING…

The importance of this can of course be questioned (‘why do we have to measure everything’) but if I was the CEO/HR Director I want to understand that quality is being brought into my organisation. If I’m the hiring manager likewise. If I was the recruiter I would want something to challenge the hiring managers with (a push back to contingent hiring decisions) but also a measure that empowers me to challenge the cost/time challenges that are ever present…

Having reflected on the experience the one thing that has surprised me is how recruiters perceive themselves in the organisation and how they see their role….but we’ll save that for another day.

In the meantime a few of us took part in a livestream chat after the track which you can see here if you can face more!



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3 responses to “The one with a quality measure

  1. Great summary thanks. Sounds like an interesting debate. Couple of points (opinions) from me: got to question the assumption that organisations don’t need everyone to be high flying innovators etc. The late Steve Jobs would disagree. He worked hard to keep Apple and Pixar free of anyone not considered to be a significant contributor. I have always sort people for my teams that settle for nothing less than their best and have something different about them. How much cost and missed opportunity resides in organisations happy to live with “mr and mrs average performer”?
    My second point is to agree with the proposition that the number of referrals someone offers the organisation is a good one. Significant reductions in time, cost and risk can be gained through managers doing their own hiring at more senior levels (with support from HR). I’ve always considered part of of my job and that of my managers to be actively networked and introducing talent to the organisation.

  2. Pingback: Round-up of #trulondon 5 content |

  3. Pingback: The one with my rose tinted view | Masters or Bust

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