Using Data to Manage Perceptions

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Tracey Friend, Vice President Direct Solutions 

As a recruiter, it is important to be aware of how your efforts are perceived throughout your organization. Some departments herald you as heroes, conquering their open positions by delivering great candidates in record time. Other departments, however, see you as an obstacle standing between them and the employees they need. Perception is a fickle master, ruled by emotion and often irrational.

Your best defense in the perception war is a calm one. By focusing on facts that are based on data, you can put out fires, redirect attention to successes, and tell an accurate story of your efforts. The importance of managing perceptions is critical, since it can directly impact our ability to make change, allocate resources, and be effective. Here are two common recruiting scenarios where sharing data can have a critical impact.

Challenge #1: Wide Range of Opinions on Recruiting Performance

Perception: Customer service thinks recruiting did a fantastic job. They saw lots of resumes and hired employees that turned out to be a great fit. IT is frustrated and feels like it took recruiting a long time to provide them with too few resumes. Leadership is hearing two different stories and isn’t sure what to believe.

Reality: Overall time-to-fill (TTF) has been reduced by 10 percent, surpassing industry averages. IT positions took longer than average to fill, but new strategies have been put in place to improve these numbers.

Strategy: Diffuse with data. Be proactive about sharing relevant data with leadership to get out ahead of perceptions. Send an email recapping the relevant data to appropriate colleagues and make sure your team understands the data and the message you are trying to convey.

Challenge #2: Company Values Are Not Clear

Perception: Recruiters are seen as valuable based on their likeability rather than on measurable results.

Reality: Recruiters have goals to hit and failure to meet these goals has a negative effect on the entire team.

Strategy: Data is a good way to find out what your company REALLY values. By presenting recruiter data that includes hard as well as soft numbers, you can determine how important these skills are to leadership. For example: Recruiter A is loved by everyone but has lower than average performance statistics. Recruiter B consistently hits her recruiting targets but is the bottom-ranking team member in terms of likability. Discovering which qualities are valued by leadership will allow you to adjust your activities to meet their expectations.

Solution: Communication is Everything

Whatever your perception challenge, how you communicate the facts will determine your outcome. Emails, formal presentations, talking points, or however you communicate, here are six guidelines for steering the conversation from emotional to data driven.

1. Stick to the Facts: Restrict the impulse to speak from your opinion of things; let the facts do the talking, but control the story they tell.

2. Create a Communication Plan: Crafting a communication plan takes time, but is well worth the effort. Click here for some communication plan templates that will help you manage the details of your communication strategy so that all stakeholders are apprised of your results.

3. Pick up the Phone: Don’t let issues fester. Be proactive in picking up the phone, or planning a face to face meeting, to address concerns or misperceptions. Pick up a copy of the book, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, by Kerry Patterson. It is filled with great tools that will help you take emotion out of a discussion.

4. Develop a RACI Chart: RACI charts help define roles and responsibilities. They identify each person’s level of involvement as either responsible, accountable, consulted or informed. This will not only help you to determine what data you are going to collect but will also help you manage expectations. Click here for some samples of RACI charts.

5. Create Visuals: Recruiting can be intangible, but visuals (sourcing plans, recruitment marketing designs, email campaigns, charts and data) can bring your activities to life.

6. Risk Assessment: Don’t just celebrate successes. Make sure to use data to articulate risks and communicate how they can be mitigated. The ASQ (American Society for Quality) provides a series of free tools and education to assist with risk management. Click here to get started.

Don’t leave your image to chance. By using data to take control of how your department is perceived, you can garner the support of leadership and the rest of your organization. Need some help presenting data to tell your story? Contact one of our RPO experts today.