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Dr. HR / Mr. Recruiting
(June 16, 2006) There is nothing more important than having the payroll on time and accurate. Unless your firm is very young and very entrepreneurial, the morale impact of bad payroll processing is an unaffordable option. Profound diligence and precision in this purely administrative challenge is the minimum requirement.
The same is true of benefits administration, vacation scheduling and monitoring, sick leave consumption and a host of other tasks routinely performed by the Human Resources Department. Risk taking is simply not a part of workplace conflict resolution. You don't want entrepreneurial spirits delivering the news of the layoff. Policy manuals require consistency, not innovation.
Meanwhile, the processes required to acquire talent during a shortage demand daring, out of the box thinking. A good recruiter doesn't get permission, she asks for forgiveness. Spot market performance in the labor business looks more like a trader's pit on a commodity exchange than it resembles a staid and reliable procedural office.
The idea that the Recruiting function lives exclusively inside of the HR Department is a slightly skewed version of the truth. The obvious tension between an administrative function and its entrepreneurial sibling has had a series of consequences in organizations over many years. Even in the most rigid organizations, Recruiting is only partly an HR function.
Most Contingency and Executive Search Firms bypass the HR function and its associated recruiters as a matter of course. From the hiring manager's perspective, this sort of Recruiting is clearly separate form the HR operation. Typically speaking, talent acquired from outside sources is accounted for as a material purchase rather than as an HR cost.
In large engineering firms, contract labor is also acquired through the purchasing department. The "temp to hire" construct is a method for bypassing all that HR has to offer except the final approvals. Executive Search, temps and contract labor are all bypasses of the HR Department.
For hiring managers, Recruiting is usually a range of options. Only some of them include the HR Department. The details are often a function of market and industry factors.
In large project environments, for example, (like the defense, security, military and aerospace industries), a large proportion of Recruiting happens as customers become employees. This form of Recruiting is accomplished by senior leaders in Project Management roles. It's simply a mistaken view to suggest that Recruiting is somehow constrained to a prison within the walls of HR.
The variations are regional, professional and industrial. In the federal government (US), the personnel department has far reaching powers. Recruiting is handled through carefully designed structures that prevent nepotism (referral networks?).
In heavily unionized environments, on the other hand, the union itself is the source of a lot of the Recruiting muscle.
Generalizing about HR Departments is a sketchy business (although we really enjoy the sport). In a two by two matrix, they might look like this:
The Horizontal dimension (industry) has Government and Industrial at the ends of the spectrum. The midpoint is the service industry. The vertical dimension (Orientation) is process focused at one end (chemical plants, mines, data extraction) and Product focused at the other. The midpoint is a project orientation.
HR Departments and their relationship to the Recruiting function vary significantly in each of the categories. Size (micro, small, medium, large and huge) is an additional factor.
On Monday, we'll take a look at some other factors influencing the relationship between the core HR operation and its Recruiting ally. Meanwhile, you might want to take a look at our white paper "Roses in the Thornbush". It outlines the similarities and differences between Marketing and Recruiting.
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