Last weekend, my girlfriend and I took a walk around Caumsett Park, one of the great New York State parks sure to be partially shuttered as a result of the California-like financial situation foisted upon residents as a result of bloated, feed-the-hand-that-lobbies-you, I-want-my-14%-raise-too-even-though-I’m-a-crappy-teacher-who-goes-through-the-motions, allow-public-transportation-officials-to-once-again-raise-fees-because-that’s-all-they-know-how-to-do fiscal policies. But it was a beautiful day, sunshine everywhere so with sunshine streaming out of every pore, onward we went.
Even with New York State in the dire grasp of red ink, funds are still provided for important infrastructure and signage: The easy 3 mile or so loop around the park on a paved path is dotted a paracourse as well as regular markers informing patrons how far they’ve walked and how far it is back to the parking lot.
We were coming up on the half-mile-to-the-lot sign (for people coming our way) when we began to hear a woman chatting on her cell phone. Yapping is more like it; from easily 50 yards away. Think spoiled Yorkies.
As we approached we heard this woman exclaim to her friend – having just passed the “.5 Mile to Parking Lot” sign – “I wonder how far it is to the parking lot? How do I get there?” to which in an act of timing that would make military brass proud, a man 10 feet in front of her nonchalantly offered the following wisdom…
“Just follow the big ass in front of you.”
One week later, the incident rings like the state of recruiting today: Lots of followers (or if you prefer, lemmings) who need to be explicitly reminded by others where they need to go.
Social media recruiting needs influencers; Digg needs a new, faster site so its members can tell others what articles they need to view. Both rely on others to decide who or what is worthy of eyeballs; given enough critical mass not necessarily born out of intelligent analysis, both contribute to the narrowing of one’s ability to perceive and receive concepts and contributions outside the walls of influence.
In The Invention of Lying, no one tells a lie; the word isn’t known and people are genetically predisposed to tell the truth – all the time – since everyone believes everyone else tells the truth. So when the protagonist tells a lie, he is rewarded with the attention and rewards that his words bring. He even goes so far as to smooth his dying Mother’s “transition” to a better place by telling her that heaven is…beautiful and people there receive mansions and ice cream (props to Pizza Hut – watch the movie).
Recruiting and HR is very much like this – most believe one thing until something else becomes the best metric, technique, compensation strategy, culture builder, social media platform, ad nauseum.
When many of the early experimenters and adopters of new frontiers and tools in recruiting were, well, younger, there weren’t lists of influencers, only examples of “try doing X” or “have you thought of Y?” When things changed I simply can’t pinpoint but I do know from speaking with many heads of HR friends that they loathed it when Jack Welch would end up on the cover of Forbes or Fortune magazine because they knew the next day their CEO would be knocking on their doors asking – rather demanding – “Why aren’t we doing this here?!?!?”
The biggest problem today is that many are simply walking around a well-traveled path following the ass in front of them.
Are you sure that the ass is leading you to the parking lot?