Managing Change in an RPO Partnership

by Steven Dashiell

Managing change in an RPO relationship

Unlike a typical staffing solution, recruitment process outsourcing is a strategic partnership that can result in great improvements to internal hiring practices. These changes need to be managed well in order for the relationship to succeed –a big lesson, Lumina Foods learned, when bringing RPO company Newton Talent onboard to help them solve their complex recruiting problems.

One value-added service that RPO offers that many organizations are surprised to learn – as Lumina Foods was – is training for recruiting members of your organization. The type of training provided depends on your organization's needs and the specialties of the RPO, but here are a few ways recruitment process outsourcing vendors can help.

Change Doesn’t Come Easy

Organizational and process changes at work are often a volatile time for an organization with many experiencing pushback from employees. Management consulting company McKinsey estimates that 70 percent of change programs ultimately fail to achieve their goals, mostly due to employee resistance. Top down change models can feel negligent to the employees it affects, or even oppressive.

In an article for Forbes, Carsten Tams, founder and CEO of Emagence, a business consulting firm in New York City, lists a few problems with the top-down change model that lead many organizations to fail when using the approach:

  • In the top-down model, top-management is often viewed as the originator of change ideas, while employees are relegated to afterthoughts in the process.
  • Concerns or resistance to the change model from employees can earn them the ire of top-managers, who may disregard further input from the employee.
  • Top-down models often emphasize moving forward “in the face of adversity,” which insulates the change plan from feedback or iterative improvements.
  • Employee motivation for participating in change using this model typically relies on incentives, or the “carrot-and-stick,” rather than emphasizing the long-term value achievable through change.

Pushback during an outsourced partnership such as an RPO should be expected. As Lumina Foods found out, an experienced RPO such as Newton Talent will provide your hiring managers, recruiting employees, and other “top-management” the change management training that lets them fully understand their role in the change process.

Newton Talent came into Lumina in a way that no other vendor has done, says Mandy McPherson, Vice President, Human Resources at Lumina Foods. Newton Talent was present for all new process training, same as the Lumina Foods employees. That presentation as “part of the team,” helped set the tone for the partnership, McPherson says.

“We told our hiring managers, ‘you won’t see anything different, candidates won’t see anything different, and from your perspective, service should improve not decline,” recalls McPherson. “We’re not washing our hands of it, we’re not giving it to somebody else, and we’re not losing control.”

“It ended with a result that was our process but better – not the Newton process dictated to us. It felt like a true partnership from the beginning,” says McPherson.

Once hiring managers saw that Newton Talent was good on their word, it was smooth sailing from there, says McPherson. This trust allowed Newton Talent to easily continue to introduce new techniques into the Lumina Foods process, says Patty Silbert, President at Newton Talent. One of these techniques was something Lumina Foods had tried before but abandoned: behavioral interview training.

A New Interview Tool

job interview

Behavioral interviewing allows an employer to get a sense of how a candidate would react in a given situation based on prior experiences. This is usually performed as a completely separate interview from the “job” interview and was part of the reason why Lumina Foods gave up implementation of this technique in the past.

“When I look back on it, I think the biggest fear from the managers was candidates would freak out about having to go through a behavioral interview and they would be scared away,” explains McPherson. “They would have done anything to not scare that person away.”

Newton Talent helped Lumina Foods create a pre-interview guide that helped both hiring managers and potential candidates understand what to expect during a behavioral interview, what it was for, how it was different from a regular interview, and how to best prepare.

“Having those tools made it very well structured and communicated,” says McPherson. “It gives both of them a sense of calm to know what to expect – it helps them know that it’s okay to come in to that interview.”

Involving the candidate in the interview preparation makes a world of difference for the candidate experience, a crucial aspect to a notable and trustworthy brand. Next time we’ll look at how an RPO helps break down and improve your candidate experience, leaving them with a lasting impression that can expand your customer and candidate base.

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