Friday, February 2, 2007

HR Innovation: The Story So Far

I've written about some of the issues with HR/recruitment this week. How can we do a better job connecting people with their passion? I've seen a couple of innovative approaches to the solution, which I'll mention here. These approaches are not standardized or wide-spread, but at least it's an acknowledgment of the issue.
  • Align incentives ( The folks at took the referral model and extended it. The idea behind referrals is good - your current employees are a good gauge of what it takes to be successful. If they refer people like themselves (and we almost always do this) then odds are those people will also be successful. However, some people better embody the ideal characteristics of success than others, so Amazon recognized and rewarded those people who not only referred people, but referred people who went on to perform well at the company. In other words, if I referred person X, and person X went on to be successful at the company, I was recognized as having brought on a star performer. This created the right incentives, and in fact often led to mentoring relationships.
  • Statistical analysis (Google): If there is an algorithmic solution to this problem, we would expect Google to solve it! And in fact, that's exactly what they are trying to do. According to an article in the New York Times a few weeks ago, Google has recognized the shortcomings of the current approach to recruiting and is trying to change their recruiting practices to set up a deeper match between job and job seeker. They found that a factor they considered essential to success at the company - GPA - was actually not a good predictor of performance.
  • Psychological profiling (McKinsey). Anyone who has worked at a large consulting firm or dealt in group dynamics is familiar with psychological testing tools. The best-known example of this is the Myers-Briggs test. The test essentially tries to figure out how you express yourself (extrovert vs introvert), how you reason (analytical vs intuition) and how you organize yourself (planned vs improvised). There's no "good" or "bad" result on the test - just a better sense of you as a person. At McKinsey, employees generally take this test for the purpose of group dynamics - to ensure that a project team is well balanced. I've not come across any company using this in the recruiting process. Have you?
There have been so many innovations in technology and sociology that can be applied to the art and science of recruiting. It's time they were!