Knowing How to WIN

Everyone wants to win. But not everyone knows how to win.

It starts first with a definition. What are you trying to win? Defining success so that actions and energy can be quantified and measured towards the end goal – the win – is step one.

In an organization like Sevenstep, where we not only consult with clients to help them improve their talent acquisition effectiveness, but we actually perform that work on their behalf, the metrics are very clearly defined. Reducing the time to fill positions; improving the quality of candidates presented to hiring managers; reducing staffing agency spend – these are all clear goals that can be measured and easily reported on.

It can sometimes be tempting to measure less – because, let’s face it, it’s difficult to admit losses and setbacks, and easier instead to abstractly say, “we’re doing really well at this.” Metrics often cast a harsh light, while less tangible measures can paper over cracks in performance, at least temporarily. We see this happen a lot with recruiters and hiring managers. Imprecision, or a lack of measuring altogether, defeats the ability to determine whether a talent acquisition strategy is succeeding or failing. Recruiters and hiring managers will each have their own ways of measuring success, but ultimately this should boil down to a set of mutually agreed upon results – and wins.

Here are some key traits to winning results – not just in talent acquisition, but in any business program:

You can meticulously plan everything from A-Z and develop all kinds of processes and templates – and you should. But as soon as you get started, you need to continuously measure those mutually agreed upon results; you will need to constantly adapt to what is working and what is not.

To win, it’s important not to try to run through the same wall over and over again. You need to adapt and sometimes find an alternate way – go under, over, or around the wall altogether. And once you’re beyond that wall, be prepared to adapt once again, because no two obstacles will ever be exactly the same. And, of course, you won’t know when to pivot if you don’t have a measuring stick for quantifying wins and losses. Measure, modify, adapt, and win.

Understanding what you can and cannot control is a vital ‘winning’ quality. Once you identify controllable elements, you can direct your efforts towards those things you have the ability to change.

In talent acquisition, a couple of the things we know we can control are:

  • The quality of candidate being presented for an open job. We can’t completely control hiring manager response time to those quality candidates, but we can control whose resumes they see – and, high-quality candidates can inspire them to respond more quickly.
  • The message candidates are shown. In a tight talent market especially, it’s important to nail the employer value proposition perfectly so candidates considering an open position are inspired by the prospect of working for your organization. This messaging is critical, and it’s something we can directly influence through social media, the job description itself, and in the conversations we have with candidates. (Of course, it has to be authentic too – few things can turn off and de-motivate a new employee than joining a company that doesn’t turn out to be what they were promised.)

In our business of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), anything that doesn’t contravene compliance or the terms of a contract can be controlled or changed in some way. And this is where the real winning can happen. By positively impacting the areas of influence you can control, results will be greater and frustrations will be lower.

Plus, why focus on something you cannot directly impact? My advice: Don’t.

Winners never give up. There are classic examples, like Thomas Edison’s 1,000 attempts to invent the light bulb before he finally succeeded; Charles Darwin, who didn’t formulate The Origin of Species until he was 50; Henry Ford, who didn’t create the Model T until he was 45; heck, even Colonel Sanders was 62 when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken. All of these wins took years, failed attempts, misdirection, wrong turns, but above all, tenacity before becoming success stories.

Continuous, dogged pursuits are what lead to wins – and this is something we know firsthand at Sevenstep. We are relentless. People don’t always see the hard work that goes into what we do, but it’s the behind-the-scenes determination where the win is built.

In the talent acquisition world, it’s crucial to be proactive, follow-up, and drive the process. For example, recruiters should never sit back and wait for hiring managers to send feedback on interviews. That could take days or even weeks if left without firm deadlines and management – and in the meantime, the perfect candidate may slip through the cracks. Tenacity, resilience and persistence are all about pushing through.

The ability to identify risk is perfected over time. Experience is what creates expertise.  Instincts become more refined and we’re able to better anticipate situations – potential wins and losses – based on what we’re experienced in and what we’ve learned in the past. Seeing these situations before they trip us up helps us adapt and win.

For example, if a recruiter knows retention for a particular department has been an issue, it’s important to get out in front of whatever could be contributing to the high turnover rate. Perhaps it’s the working hours or the types of managers and team members that are drawn to the particular department. Maybe it’s related to compensation or perceptions (right or wrong) about career trajectory. Whatever the problem is, get to the bottom of it and address the issues before the fallout becomes a crisis.

Together, We Win

Nothing in the business world feels better than winning. For an RPO company, a win can be anything from dramatically reducing a client’s hiring costs to snagging a purple squirrel candidate.

When you have those wins – big and small – it’s important to share them with your team.

Here are some of the ways we celebrate wins at Sevenstep:

We win LOUD.

When you get a win, share your passion about what that means for you, your team, and your company. Ring the bell (literally – we ring a bell in our office when we meet a tough goal). Go for an after-work drink to celebrate with your team. Rallying people behind wins helps drive them towards their next one.

Set and reset the bar.

Your aim should never be to “do as well as last time.” When you win, it’s important to set a new goal for what the next win will look like. Elevating expectations is how the best get better. Never settle.

Show them how.

You teach people how to win by showing them how to win. Showing versus telling, in our company anyway, is how it’s done. Take people along for the ride and show them firsthand. Winning this way is done together, and success is mutually shared.

If you’re looking to join a winning culture, Sevenstep is hiring. Apply to our open positions here.