With industry adoption rates rising, more and more companies are implementing an RPO solution for the very first time. This is a highly strategic and high impact decision for a Talent Acquisition executive whose program (and own career) hinge on its success. With so much at stake, RPO providers need to consciously and deliberately shift their approach with first-time clients.
Just like with any rather big life change (e.g. first job, first marriage, first baby), it’s a new situation where there is often little to no practical preparation or experiential depth heading into it. If this transition stage isn’t managed well, buyers can develop fear, skepticism and indecision which can ultimately slow down and hinder the success of the new TA program. However, there are most certainly things that a first time RPO buyer and their new provider can focus on together immediately in those first 90 days to help successfully launch the new solution. The following communication best practices are all key in getting the new RPO engagement aligned from the very start and preparing leadership on both sides to take on the challenges of the impending change ahead:
- Start with The End in Mind: Much of the first 90 days will naturally be focused on the operational plan to (re)build the TA strategy. But, it’s vital that RPO account leaders step up and out of “Talent Acquisition” and engage client stakeholders early on regarding the business outcomes tied to the TA strategy. Understanding the goals of the organization overall, or more specifically by department, is critical to get a sense of their ultimate vision of success and the actual context of the new hires in scope. This focus on the horizon will deepen the bond between RPO and TA leadership and elevate the RPO team’s motives to get them off to a strong start in delivering services.
- Unify the Definitions: The buyer has existed for years with an established Talent Acquisition vernacular amongst hiring managers and internal TA. The “dictionary” of the new RPO engagement should be discussed and clarified upfront. This should include all process terms - both formal and informal - to fully understand how talent acquisition is defined. Providers must take the time to go through this thoroughly during transition and understand exactly how this client speaks and translates recruitment process outsourcing outcomes internally. While some new terms or updated definitions of existing terms may need to be introduced, it’s important that the client keeps as much of their language as possible to help maintain familiarity during this time of significant change.
- Over-communicate Action Plans: It’s a mistake to assume what the other side may already understand and decide that certain things are not necessary to reiterate. This is often done to be efficient and cut out what’s deemed as unnecessary communication. During the important first few months of the engagement, RPO providers should communicate above and beyond with a high level of frequency and depth of detail (yes… even repetitive detail) and then taper this logically as the account matures. A strong transition outreach strategy should not only cover the “what” (action to occur), but also the “why” (motives behind and benefits of the action). This “hand-holding” approach to fully educating and selling the new strategy results in much better adoption rates than by merely providing new process direction only. It’s no easy task to mobilize a large group of people to change their processes and habits. Taking the extra steps to communicate more fully and sensitively ensures better mobilization of the change and also builds a heightened sense of partnership and good will with all constituents.
- Adopt a “We” Mentality: TA and RPO leaders on a newly launched account can sometimes receive complaints about the other side (e.g. Hiring managers are not being responsive or RPO Recruiters are not meeting expectations). This is especially true during the highly transitional stage of implementation as expectations are high and the evidence and confirmation of outcomes is still pending. Leaders on either side need to remain empathetic and neutral in their response to help their respective teams appreciate the natural process of acclimation. The simple use of the pronoun “we” is an important communication tool to help reinforce the “one team” mindset and function between internal stakeholders and RPO resources. Honest communication is the basis foundation of this “we” approach. This needs to be established quickly in the first 90 days with both sides volunteering their thoughts and concerns openly to set up for a strong preventative culture that keeps the TA program on top of and ahead of obstacles.
Doing anything for the first time is a challenge, but moving to a new Recruitment Process Outsourcing engagement can be exponentially challenging given the size and scale of the program, different stakeholders involved and rapidly varying conditions at play. Luckily, this change management can be managed well with a simple approach of honest, organized and meaningful communication to speed up trust levels and reliance within the new engagement.