Jan 19, 2010

Recruit for a Cause Not a Role



This conversation unfolded over Twitter, where I tweeted that most commonly people got disengaged between the time of getting their offer letter and actually joining. And that is because they are most "orphaned" then. Some HR people recognise this - but the vast majority don't.

Then Kirti tweeted back, what about the people who get an offer and then "shop around"? How does one deal with them?

My first response was to reply that if HR kept them engaged in this crucial time - maybe they wouldn't have gone shopping.

My second thought was - If people are shopping maybe the firm is not paying the market rate

My third response was - thank goodness you were spared a mercenary.

That got me thinking.. most people are not mercenaries - and yet during the recruiting time most turn into one. Why does that happen?

There are various reasons... but here's my hypothesis:

  1. Most HR people are too busy trying to match skills and competencies - that they fail to connect the purpose of a role and the candidate's desire to be meaningful
If you work in organizations I can picture you shaking your head and saying:

"Dude, Gautam, you finally have gone senile. Higher purpose? In today's organizations? Heck I don't even know if I'm going to keep my job day after tomorrow and you want me to connect the cause or purpose of a role? Wake up and smell the coffee, you naive fool. I'm not sure my organization has a cause beyond making money"

And I'd say you're right.

The vast majority of organizations don't think about the desire of an individual to make a difference and meaning to others. And unless you can connect with that innately human desire - you will continue to judge a person by their current and future salary levels and they in turn will treat you as a mercenary would.

A friend of mine who was recruited by Google said that during his recruiting process he and other prospective recruits were given a presentation - and he remembered just one bullet point from that - it said something on the lines of "Whatever the job you do, remember you are going to play a part in changing the world"

Similarly and more famously when Steve Jobs recruited John Sculley from Pepsi he asked him:
Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?

So are you trying to recruit people into a cause or trying to recruit mercenaries?