Thursday, December 22, 2016

The OD Quest: Part 2 – ‘Doing Recruitment in the OD way’!?

"I don’t have an opening in my OD team now. But, you can join our recruitment team and do recruitment in the OD way”, I heard the Senior HR Leader telling a candidate who was hell-bent on joining the OD team. This was my fifth ‘encounter’ with this gentleman (See 'Passion for work and anasakti ‘, 'Appropriate metaphors for organizational commitment ‘ ,‘To name or not to name, that is the question’ and ‘A Mathematical approach to HR’ for the outcomes of my previous interactions with him). I was a bit taken aback by what I just heard. I knew that often these kind of ‘solutions’ will end in tears or worse. However, similar to what had happened during my previous encounters with him, this interaction forced me to think a bit more deeply about the underlying issue - the application of OD(Organization Development) to the various functional areas in HR (Human Resource Management). That, in turn, has prompted me to write this series of posts on 'The OD Quest' where we will look at the possibilities  that arise when OD ventures into other parts of the people management terrain. 

In the first post in this series (see The OD Quest: Part 1- Mapping the terrain) we did a cartography of the Human Resources (HR) and Organization Development (OD) domains to map out the current world (the terrain) inhabited by HR and OD and also the evolving worldviews in HR and OD (ways of looking at the terrain). Now, let us come back to the statement made by our Senior HR Leader – about ‘doing recruitment in the OD way’.  

Prima facie, OD and Recruitment appear to be ‘strange bedfellows’. Aren’t they at the opposite ends of the spectrum of HR activities in terms of their nature? Isn’t OD supposed to be much more strategic and evolved as compared to Recruitment? Aren’t the skillsets required for OD and Recruitment dramatically different?  However, when I thought about underlying issues a bit more quite a few possibilities started to emerge in addition to paradoxes! The crux of the issue here is ‘What is meant by the OD way?’.  

While OD is typically defined as a planned effort to increase organization effectiveness using behavioral-science knowledge, the domains that are typically associated with OD are Culture, Vision, Mission Values, Employee Engagement, Coaching, Collaboration, Diversity and Inclusion, dealing with hidden issues  and biases etc. Also the traditional OD approach has been that of action research (the process of systematically collecting data about an ongoing system relative to some need of that system, feeding thee data back into the system, taking action by altering selected variables within the system and evaluating the results of actions). Similarly, while recruitment can be defined as the process of bringing the right talent into the organization, the domains that are typically associated with recruitment are Attracting/sourcing talent, Selection, Offer, Joining and Onboarding.

Based on the above descriptions, it can be seen that OD can help in increasing the effectiveness of recruitment in many aspects including the following:

·    Increasing the person-organization fit (culture fit) during the selection process by mapping and evaluating fit on the relevant cultural and personality dimensions. Culture can be considered to be the personality of the organization and the fit of the personality of the candidate with that of the organization is something that is better addressed at the hiring stage as personalities (both individual and organizational) tend to be relatively stable (resistant to change)
·    Facilitating enculturation during the onboarding process (enhancing alignment with the organization values, vision and mission)
·    Ensuring  greater shared understanding of ‘what good looks like’ and hence avoiding unpleasant surprises

·    Helping in the formation and effective management of the psychological contract during the  recruitment process (see ‘Of salary negotiationsand psychological contact : before joining’  for more details)

·    Solving problems related to the recruitment process like early attrition  (through the action research process mentioned above and by enabling ‘sense making’)

·     Dealing with hidden biases in recruitment and thereby building a more diverse and inclusive organization.

·   Crystallizing the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that embodies the essence of the organization to attract the right candidates and repel the wrong candidates.

·   Driving ‘bottom up culture change’ by identifying talent with the right ‘cultural DNA’ to be hired into the organization

Now, it can be argued that all these are integral parts of any good recruitment process. May be, that is exactly the point. OD is essentially a helping profession that enables individuals and groups to become more effective. At a fundamental level, OD is essentially about ‘process consulting’  - helping a client system to diagnose and solve their own problems. May be, we can just say that the application of OD makes recruitment better just like ‘sugar sweetens milk’ in the famous story* about Parsis.

Let’s come back to our Senior HR professional. What he was really advocating was to look at recruitment through the OD lens. There is a lot of merit in this. However, the danger in this situation was that the candidate might have interpreted it as a back-door entry into OD or might have inferred that there is a mandate to do a major overhaul of the recruitment process.  

So, where does this leave us? Can Recruitment be done in the OD way?  Yes, and that is just enlightened recruitment using what is considered to be the OD lens and OD skills! With Recruitment moving from 'being more like Procurement' to 'being more like Sales' to 'being more like Marketing', the relevance of the OD lens and the OD skills in Recruitment has definitely increased!

*The story goes something like this.: Parsis came to India fleeing from persecution in their Motherland Iran and landed in Gujarat. There they approached the local king Jadi Rana and requested asylum. Jadi Rana motioned to a vessel of milk filled to the very brim to signify that his kingdom was already full and could not accept refugees. In response, one of the Parsi priests added a pinch of sugar to the milk, thus indicating that they would not bring the vessel to overflowing and indeed make the lives of the citizens sweeter. Jadi Rana gave shelter to the emigrants and permitted them to practice their religion and traditions freely. Parsis are still adding “sugar” to our lives!

Any comments/thoughts?!


Amrita Singh said...

Great example of doing Recruitment the OD way. The more I read about the evolving role of recruitment the more I feel that recruitment - does not need to be "done" in the OD way, but is a critical part of building Organisational Effectiveness. Companies like Google take it as the most important factor for ensuring the organisational success. Whether it is about using all the tools that you mentioned (EVP, fighting Unconscious Bias, attracting the right talent, spotting early attrition, culture fit) or getting each internal customer to take ownership for this process with shared diligence, I believe that Recruitment is beginning of OD in any organisation.

Prasad Oommen Kurian said...

Thank you Amrita. Great to hear from you. Yes, recruitment is the first moment of truth, the beginning of psychological contracting and a golden opportunity to drive culture change in the organization. Also some aspects are better addressed at the hiring stage as opposed to the development (including organization development) stage!