Project management advice for hiring managers

In last week’s article, I’d written how frequently managed, virtually identical projects can eventually be treated as operational processes.

Let’s consider a different scenario – the process to fill a staffing vacancy appears to be a well understood operational process to most human resources (HR) staff. However, in some companies, they might not have dedicated HR staff or their HR staff might focus on dealing with unique or challenging situations and people managers might have responsibility for the full hiring process.

In such cases, even though there might guidance provided by the HR department, unless the hiring manager is frequently hiring, the act of filling a vacancy resembles a project more than it does a well defined, repeatable and predictable process.

So why might this be important to us?

So that we can benefit by applying appropriate project management tools and techniques to achieving the best possible outcome.

Vision & scope definition

Yes, you probably have a job description.

However, as most job descriptions look like a requirements specification, why not take a step back and think about defining project scope first? Or better yet, envision the desired outcome. What does success look like? Does it look the same to our boss as it does to us? We usually find a lot of inclusions in most job descriptions but how about scope exclusions? Shouldn’t we think about including some deal breakers in there to avoid wasting our time and a candidate’s time if they aren’t the right fit?

Constraint prioritization

What is our most important constraint?

Are we going to spend as much as it takes and take as long as it requires to find the perfect candidate meeting all of our requirements (i.e. scope is #1)? Or, do we have a deadline to fill a role, and hence are we willing to trade off cost or scope to meet that deadline?

Stakeholder management & governance

Are you comfortable that everyone who will directly interact with the new hire is aware of their impending arrival? From an impact/influence perspective, do you need to gain their buy-in before you fill the role?

Are you sure you’ve confirmed who needs to sign off on the decision to make an offer? I’ve witnessed more than one situation where a hiring manager’s decision came back to haunt him or her at a later date because they hadn’t apprised the right people of the hiring decision.

Scope decomposition

Both with the hiring process as well as the onboarding of the new hire, there are going to be many activities involving some dependencies which have to be identified, planned & managed. Without this, you could end up having the person spend their first few days twiddling their thumbs as they wait for access to critical systems or their laptop to show up.

Risk management

Hiring someone is fraught with uncertainty.

Aside from the obvious issue of hiring the wrong candidate, there are a number of other problems which could occur including extensive delays in finding candidates, being priced out of the market based on high demand, or suddenly having your hiring approval pulled because of a change in policy. Spend a bit of time to identify not only the threats but also the opportunities which could be exploited. For example, if one of your competitors announces impending layoffs, do you have a network in place to woo potential candidates?

While it might not make sense to create a project charter, Gantt chart or RAID log, there are some project management practices which will help in the hiring process. To expand on Robert Half’s quote, Time spent on (project managing) hiring is time well spent






Categories: Process Peeves, Project Management | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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