We often have a guest at my monthly CEO Institute syndicate meeting. There has been an interesting array of speakers talking about their challenges and achievements, with guests providing unique insights into how they have handled situations. Often what they discuss can be applied to the interactions and everyday challenges we face, even if this sometimes seems insignificant when compared to what our guests have dealt with. Issues have included extreme scale-ups when a major order has been won, dealing with difficult and challenging mergers and takeovers and occasionally seeing the darker side with deceitful behaviour and theft from trusted employees. These people talk quite unassumingly about what they have accomplished despite adversity, the lessons learned and the twists and turns that have occurred in getting to certain outcomes. These are the sort of people I find inspirational in what they have achieved and the positive impacts they have made.

One such guest recently was Don Taylor. Don grew up as a grazier’s son on a property near Goodiwindi with no power! From tough beginnings he went on to boarding school and then joined the former accounting giant Arthur Andersen, working from offices in Brisbane, Sydney and then Singapore. Don returned to the land but found himself stepping back into Non-Executive and Chairman roles with organisations such as Carrington Cotton, Grainco and GrainCorp. Some of the situations he dealt with made for an enthralling story particularly with the difficult rebuilding process he went through with one organisation and a complex international sale process with another.

Think Straight – Talk Straight

In his early days at Arthur Andersen, Don had the organisations motto of Think Straight – Talk Straight embedded in him. This simple saying reinforced the importance of always being clear and direct in your thinking and the way you deliver your message. This was for external as well as internal communication and was something he carried with him through the rest of his career. It is something he described falling back on many times when dealing with difficult and complex issues. Don gave us examples of how he regularly used this to realign himself with what he had to do and how he was going to articulate his action to stakeholders. This became one of his guiding principles in business and private dealings.

This got me thinking about some of the mottos I have encountered in my life. I certainly cannot lay claim to one motto becoming a guiding principle, however, there is one I remember from school which seems very relevant to the current recruitment climate. This is pertinent when people ghost, when they change their mind, or when they seem incapable of making clear decisions in relation to career choices, goals and aspirations. The motto emblazoned across the front of the school building “To thine own self be true”.

To me this means you need to understand what you want to achieve – your values, goals and objectives Know what values and aspirations you seek in an organisational culture. You will then only pursue what aligns with your values. You will not be wasting your own time by chasing after something that does not align with what you.

The Great Change of Mind

In a recent recruitment exercise we had a final candidate who displayed the right attributes for a senior Operations Management role. This candidate had a great range of skills, transferable from another industry which, in itself, is a great story. The person was looking for a change and demonstrated experience in building productive teams of skilled and semi-skilled people on the factory floor.

The candidate was a good fit with the organisation and the culture and the style of management particularly appealed. The remuneration aspirations were a match, and the offer was made. The candidate met with the Managing Director, signed the employment agreement and confirmed a start date. However, a routine follow-up prior to the new role beginning resulted in three voices messages being unanswered. This was out of character. Then an email landed in my inbox. The candidate had decided not to join the organisation.

Unfortunately, this sort of behaviour seems to be happening far too often at the moment with both direct recruits and those being hired through a consultancy. The rigour, process and understanding we at Carroll Consulting go through to make sure both parties are matched should not leave any doubt. This could have been due to a counter-offer, change of mind, other circumstances – unfortunately I don’t know because there is still a lack of reciprocal communication – all I say is “To thine own self be true”.

Every interaction is a step closer to finding the best fit

Although this is a difficult and disappointing situation it is a better outcome than the candidate leaving 3 months into the appointment which can be very disruptive to the working environment. In any recruitment process make sure you maintain communication with any other candidate that impressed you but wasn’t your number 1 choice. You never know when an opportunity may arise to offer them a role. And if you do have to run another campaign, remember you are not starting from scratch. You have already gained considerable market and candidate knowledge you can put to good use from work already done.

Happy recruiting!

Ian Hamilton

Photo by Romain V on Unsplash