In the spirit of the Beijing Olympics that have just concluded, I wanted to re-post my article from last June which compares researching to an Olympic relay team – with some added highlights from this year’s most incredible relay moments. Enjoy!
Learning about greatness in research by looking at the makings of an Olympic relay team:
- Swimming: while many people know how to swim, only a few have the discipline to make it to the Olympics, and just a small handful win Olympic medals.
- Just about anyone can call themselves a researcher, but only a small handful have the discipline and skill level to be considered exceptional.
- It takes time to become good enough to swim in the Olympics.
- It takes time to become a great researcher. Success does not happen overnight.
- Track: Training consists of running lap after lap after lap after lap…
- Training in research consists of practicing the basics over and over and over again.
- Members of the relay team all know how to swim, but each contributes to the team effort by swimming a leg of the race in their specialty stroke.
- Great researchers all know the basics of research but each has a niche market in which they specialize.
- An Olympic-caliber swimmer always has a one or two select events in which they excel more than others.
- A great researcher has one, perhaps two (related), industries in which they excel; generalist researchers rarely become great at any of the industries in which they search.
- Olympic-caliber swimmers get better at their best stroke by spending a lot of time working on that stroke, refining and perfecting techniques.
- Great researchers become great within their niche market by spending a lot of time researching associations, networking with industry contacts, and learning everything they possibly can about the industry.
Hat-tips to two memorable USA relay moments of the 2008 games:
- Let your performance do the talking. Talking smack before the event usually results in you getting your you-know-what handed to you. (hint hint, France!)
- In research, let your skills speak for you. Professing to be an expert will oftentimes get you into trouble! The experts are those who let their clients and successes do the talking for them…
- If you aren’t careful, you could muff the pass-off and ruin the whole race, not just for yourself but for the whole team. (2 US track relay teams drop the baton)
- In research, make sure there is clear communication as to where your duties end and the recruiters’ duties start. Otherwise, there will be confusion and time-to-fill will take longer than needed.
All of these research examples can also be applied to recruiting as well.
Being out of the loop a little this week while working from Chicago, I didn’t know that I was recently honored with being #16 in the top 25 of the Talent Management Blog Power Rankings, sponsored by Fistful of Talent and the HR Capitalist. Cool – I didn’t even know the Research Goddess blog was in consideration! So, many thanks for the votes and to all of you who read and comment as it is because of you that my blog was honored.
Check out the rest of the blog rankings here!
A large cruise ship can weigh 70,000 tons or more. To put that into perspective, that is the equivalent of 17,500 adult elephants (4 tons), 1,750 full-capacity 18-wheelers (40 tons), or 389 adult blue whales (180 tons). That’s a lot of weight to be moving through the water! When a cruise ship sets its course, it follows that course closely because to go even a few degrees in the wrong direction would be costly, both in time and money for fuel. If a ship goes off course, the quicker the error is discovered the less time it will take to make up lost ground and the quicker it will be to reach the final destination.
Think of your sourcing team as this cruise ship. Your final destination is the Island of Hires, and your researchers are steering the ship. To get to the Island of Hires in the least amount of time you want to put the ship on a straight path there. To accomplish this, a very thorough overview of the position and the ideal candidate qualifications is needed. The easiest way to put the ship way off course is to provide an inadequate job description/req to the shipmates. Some examples of bad job reqs include:
“I need a sales rep in New York.”
“Find me a software engineer for ABC Consulting Company.”
“I need an OR nurse in the Midwest.”
OK…..and…….? Believe it or not, I know researchers who have received search requests like these!
So, how many years of experience are needed? Is a degree necessary? Any certifications that are desirable? Are there particular companies from which to recruit? Any key skills that need to be present? What are the salary ranges of people who would be suitable for the position? Is relocation an option? Etc., etc., etc…
Each of these unanswered questions is a degree off the established course. The further off course the ship gets, the longer it’s going to take to get to the Island of Hires. The more information provided to your researcher at the beginning of the search, the quicker they will be able to provide you with quality leads.
In addition, it is important to check the course frequently over the duration of the trip. Elements such as tidal shifts and inclement weather can push the ship off the established course. In recruiting terms, these are things such as changes in the requirements provided by the hiring manager, a location change for the job, or the need for a more junior or senior individual. The sooner the sourcing team is made aware of any changes in the req, the less time they will spend looking for the wrong thing.
As well, if your researchers present you with leads that are not quite what is needed, the sooner you let them know what is lacking, the sooner they can adjust their search queries and get back on track. A researcher who is not receiving any feedback on sourced candidates could spend many hours or even days searching for the wrong people, thus leaving you high and dry for prospects to interview.
To reach the end goal of a hire, everyone must commit to working together. Your hiring managers need to understand the importance of providing an adequate and detailed job description. Recruiters need to provide the researchers with specific details of what is needed in an ideal candidate, as well as timely feedback. Researchers must check in frequently with recruiters to quality check their sourced prospects and determine if there have been any changes to the position. With all of these elements present, the trip to the Island of Hires should be fairly quick!