I have just experienced recruitment utopia. It came in the form of true partnership with an organisation as I placed a talented Chief Customer Officer into their executive leadership team. I am not talking about the one-way-street commonly cloaked as ‘partnership’ between recruiters and their clients where the client serves up their wish-list and the recruiter responds by ticking the boxes. I’m talking about the version of ‘partnership’ that is a reciprocal relationship characterised by openness, listening, agility, a strategic mindset, solutions architecture and leadership. Thank goodness you walked into my life, Converge International.
Working across a range of industries and supporting more than 1,000 organisations across Australia, Converge International supports the mental fitness and productivity of the workforces they partner with, helping organisations to have engaged, productive, healthy and safe team members through their provision of EAP programs and HR consulting services. Converge International are committed to honesty and transparency in everything they do, and if the way they recruit talent is anything to do by, I can say that they sincerely live and breathe these values.
I knew Converge International was a different type of organisation from the start. Their Executive Director of People, Culture and Learning, Petrina Astbury, provided a brief that emphasised the person more than the skills and experience required. I was riveted by her in-depth discussion of values, behaviours, motivating forces and the leadership traits required. Petrina not only drew me the silhouette of the person she was looking for; she filled it in with the colours and shades required for the successful candidate to effectively face into the challenges and opportunities of the role. Ah, briefing bliss. I knew exactly the type of whole-person I needed to find for them.
Rewind the clock for six months, and I was meeting with John Ballenger to talk about his career plans. Towards the end of our conversation, I posed the ‘utopia’ question. If he lived in utopia, how would he describe his ideal new role? He spoke about seeking a values-driven organisation with a higher purpose that he could connect with, authentic leadership and a place where his broad skills set could be fully utilised as part of growth and transformation. Ah, match-making heaven. Enter, Converge International.
The steps that followed could be considered standard in most executive recruitment processes, in one regard. They involved behavioural interviewing, psychometric testing, and various meetings with Board and ELT members. However, there were some key junctures of magic throughout that set this process and Converge International apart:
- John’s very first meeting was with Converge International’s CEO, Jenny George, and Petrina Astbury, their ED of People. At a coffee shop. How very clever! Everyone was relaxed as they sat around a small table with hot drinks in-hand. We all know what happens when people relax. It was a very effective way to measure the interpersonal dynamics within the group.
- Petrina and Jenny sought John’s feedback on the role fit after each touchpoint in the process. What was different here was that the candidate was given a voice, and they were all ears. As their recruitment partner, I felt valued in the role I played in passing feedback between the two parties. In turn, I could support them to shape the sequence of the process and consult with them regarding the important discussions the needed to take place throughout the recruitment journey.
- In line with Converge International’s value of transparency, John was able to express some key ideas around the role’s structure and content that Jenny and Petrina considered and then acted upon. These were leaders who listened and flexed to secure the right talent for their organisation (another great EVP strategy). These were leaders with a strategic mindset, recruiting for the present needs as well as the future direction of their business.
- The recruitment process could have ended at any point and John would have walked away feeling valued, respected, and speaking highly of Converge International and its leaders. What a fabulous EVP strategy for the external talent market!
The impact of this magic on John’s candidate experience was significant.
“From the moment Nicola from People Equity reached out to me, and right through every day of the process, I felt a real connection to not only Converge but also to all the Converge people whom I was fortunate enough to meet. I always felt there was a genuine care and openness to prioritising what was important to me, and their preparedness to be increasingly flexible and ensure that I felt valued as the conversations progressed, I thought, was a testament to the significance Converge places on its people. Meeting the CEO, Jenny George, in a very ‘personal’ way at my first catch-up showed me the importance placed on finding the ‘right’ person, while also giving me a great up-front understanding of the culture and leadership on the business.”
“In the end, the decision for me was an easy one, and since coming on board, and following such an engaging recruitment process, Converge has proved to be everything that I believed it would be.”
In summary, I believe there are a few leaves we can take from Converge International’s book on how to secure the right executive talent:
- Partnership: Agencies and organisations need to work together and support each other with openness, respect and candour to achieve the right outcomes for everyone.
- Transparency: When everyone knows where everyone stands, honest and productive conversations about role-fit can take place. Everybody’s time is then valued.
- Leadership through listening and agility: Genuinely listen to the ideas that stem from the recruitment process. From there, leadership strength can be demonstrated by moving and shaping things to secure the right talent for the future of the organisation.
Ah, Recruitment Utopia.