Recruitment is too often, and too easily, seen as simply a role-filling exercise. Someone’s left or you’ve grown to a point where you need a particular role, and away you go to recruit that person. Behind the scenes of that important but tactical exercise is a much more powerful opportunity for organisations – one we find many rarely, if ever, consider – and that’s tying recruitment directly to your business strategy.
If vision is where you want to go, and your strategy is how you’re going to get there, then competencies are the enablers. In essence, if you have a vision (and you should), and you have a strategy (and you really should), then it’s impossible for you to truly resource those without a clear picture of the skills you need in your business to deliver.
Where to start – driving value through competencies
When we’re starting an assignment, we ask clients three key questions about their strategy:
- What is the strategic goal that’s driving the role in question?
- When are you wanting to deliver on that strategy?
- What are the specific competencies you need to get there?
Take the example of a business that wants to launch a new line of services in the next two years. It takes a forward-thinking capability that knows how to identify and open new markets, and build a base of support, potentially against established competition. As a result, that business is not looking for a product, sales or marketing manager per se. They are looking for a very specific suite of competencies that will successfully launch those new services, rather than someone who fits the title but has never launched a new thing in their life.
We recently recruited for an HR role – the first in this client’s history. Linking to strategy became essential because they weren’t needing a transactional HR leader. They had clearly defined two critical priorities of employee engagement and leadership development. They needed a person who understood the impact of rewarded, acknowledged, empowered team members and who would embrace the opportunity to guide the continued maturing of the leadership team. Delving into the strategy and required competencies meant we were able to clearly map the behaviours we wanted to see (and not see) – non-bureaucratic, non-hierarchical, collaborative, culturally-aligned, proven in training and so on.
Where to grow – using a gap analysis for long-term team building
A competency gap analysis becomes a potent roadmap to guide how you build and develop your team. It’s a ‘simple’ three-step process (i.e. easy but takes time):
- Outline the competencies and resulting behaviours you need to achieve your vision through your strategy. Ideally look as far as five years out, through to the upcoming year. Even a broad brush review is a useful start. This then becomes a manifesto of what you need in your business.
- Map these against the competencies and behaviours that already exist in your business to determine where the gaps are. This matrix should then become a living and breathing tool to inform team development.
- Determine whether the competencies you need are ‘missing’. This might need a verification step with your existing team to understand their repeating patterns of behaviour in line with the competencies you’ve identified. If they are missing, then you have the options of developing from within, or recruiting to bring them in.
A gap analysis can be a positive reinforcement that your team is aligned to your strategy and vision, or it can be a wake-up call. It can also identify other potential decisions, such as whether you are carrying team members whose capabilities are no longer required in your business and may need exiting. Whatever insights the process delivers, it is essential for any organisation to know what it has today, and what it needs, to drive the results it seeks. Those that don’t burn untold effort, energy and resources pushing to achieve objectives they simply aren’t equipped to deliver because they missed the critical step of defining and hiring for competencies and behaviours.
Recruitment, when done right, should empower your strategy. It’s worth asking if it is in your organisation.