The Uncharted Organization

HR Outsourcing

Five trends set to impact recruiting and leadership in 2018.

By Jamie Hoobanoff

Businesses of all sizes and in all sectors are entering uncharted territory as they face an unprecedented rate of economic, technological, and societal change. While industries have gone through disruptions in the past, the forces at work in more recent years are rapidly shifting, calling for companies to be even more adaptive and innovative in their approach to recruitment and hiring.

According to the recent online survey Future-Proof Your Business by the Business Development Bank of Canada, more than half of the respondents strongly agreed that recruiting skilled staff is crucial for business success. The typical organizational chart no longer works in today’s business environment. Hierarchal leadership and longevity are no longer givens, with the average tenure of a leader lasting only two years. Organizations are becoming flatter, leaner, and more nimble, and unpredictability in the workplace—and the world at large—has become the norm.

On the technology front, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are driving more disruption than ever. Even business models have undergone significant changes, with companies shifting focus from branding and net sales to customer experience and retention.

It is also becoming increasingly difficult for senior-level executives to identify which leadership skills will ensure future success. Recruitment is no longer confined to the four walls of an organization’s competitive landscape. HR now needs to look beyond those confines to fill their C-suites, whether it’s to another industry, a completely new skill set, or new recruitment processes.

With this changing HR landscape, there are five trends that will have a dramatic impact on leadership and recruitment in 2018.

  1. Companies will scale at an unprecedented rate. Organizations are no longer maturing at the standard pace that goes from product development, to local acquisition, to customer retention. Now that these steps are blended together and the process is accelerated, companies will be forced to keep up or get left behind.
    One only needs to look at the direction investment is going to realize that the competitive landscape is gaining momentum. In 2016, League raised $25 million in financing, one of the largest Series A venture capital funding rounds in Canadian tech history. This year, that was easily eclipsed by the $102 million funding announcement from Element AI in Montreal. This increasing pace will have a significant impact on how organizations manage their recruitment and hiring practices.
  2. Disruption will reign supreme. Hiring and recruiting will not be immune to the disruptive power of technologies such as big data analytics, customer relationship management, and AI, to name a few. Newly evolving sectors such as edtech, fintech, and restaurant tech will also continue to change the landscape, demanding new leadership skills that are not always readily available.
  3. Competition for leadership talent will be fierce and furious. The war for talent is an undeniable reality today— even more so for start-ups and smaller companies having to compete with the likes of Google and Amazon for attracting talent. Talent acquisition has graduated from the confines of the HR department and has become an integral part of corporate strategic planning discussions.
    The demographic shift is a key factor in this fight for talent. Statistics Canada reports that 50 percent of the workforce will consist of millennials and Gen Z by 2030. As this group transitions to the next generation of leaders, organizations must understand the best way to recruit, train, and support them in their career path.
    This requires a different mindset. Millennials are typically far more concerned about knowing the big picture and vision of what the company—and the CEO—stand for. They want to be connected to work they really believe in, and if a company can’t give them that, they won’t stay.
    The organizations that will succeed in the modern workplace are those that articulate their vision, starting with job descriptions/postings. This is especially important in the business-to-business space, where companies often go unnoticed. For example, few applicants would know about eCompliance, an EHS management software company, but their recruitment focuses on the problems their service solves in the market, and how it improves safety and saves lives. It’s a very compelling story that has been very effective in attracting talent.
    Simply put, designing and communicating a roadmap will get millennials to sit up and take notice. The same holds true for training and support. And once that picture is made clear, a key step is empowering senior staff to master the part they own.
  4. The C-Suite will be transformed. The C-Suite is rapidly changing as companies adapt to a tech-savvy, hypercompetitive economy. Ten years ago, the COO was the new kid on the block. As markets shifted, the CTO/CIO and CMO became noteworthy additions to the C-Suite. Now it’s the chief revenue officer who will become a much more prominent figure as the focus shifts to a customer service-centric model, while the chief sales officer will become less important.
    The role of chief talent officer or chief people officer will also play a key part in boardroom discussions. In some instances, these roles will encompass other functions, such as operations.
    These new leaders will bring different skill sets to the boardroom table and will need to possess the necessary acumen, the tools, and the progressive thinking to succeed. They will require the ability to see through the disruption and complexity to understand when to take risks and when to hold back.
  5. Diversity in hiring approaches will be key. The use of solely traditional recruitment methods will quickly place companies out of the running when attracting leadership talent. Organizations need to rethink their tried and true leadership recruitment strategies and consider alternative approaches. Hiring from competitors is no longer the go-to approach, and will often make for a bad hire. Instead, companies should seek hires with valuable skills such as entrepreneurship, technology innovation, and customer relationship management in outside industries.

A New Approach to Recruitment

With the introduction of new technologies, there are many new talent acquisition tools now available. Companies are no longer bound by departmental boundaries. Rather, tools such as machine learning can play a key role in supporting recruitment functions and streamlining hiring processes. However, it is essential that organizations clearly define their goals and objectives in order to choose these tools wisely.

If they have not already begun, businesses must take the necessary steps toward viewing recruitment as a strategic objective, rather than a reactive process. An important distinction to keep in mind is that strategic recruitment is ongoing. It’s a dial that can be turned up or down, but never turned off.

An important component in achieving that is including senior stakeholders in the process. There isn’t a line of business that does not align with another in some way. The senior leadership team is going to interact, so it is essential to create a cohesive team environment.

Another crucial aspect of an effective recruitment strategy is being able to leverage a company’s brand or CEO to strengthen recruiting efforts. For example, when Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK appeared on Oprah and Dr. Phil, recruiters evangelized that more than the PR and marketing teams—with resounding success. He became a person people wanted to work for.

As organizations begin to navigate new and uncharted paths, success will hinge on having the flexibility and insight to champion the leaders of tomorrow. In order to achieve that, today’s leaders must be equipped to handle rapid change. Most importantly, they must be chameleons who are willing to embrace that change without fear or hesitation.

Jamie Hoobanoff is the founder and CEO of The Leadership Agency.

Posted December 19, 2017 in Talent Acquisition

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