In RPO the launch of a new customer is always different, no matter how much planning and organizing we do, things are still changing on a minute to minute basis in the first few months of a new customer launch. Here are some issues I have had to deal with during a new launch and how I make it through implementation without too much blood, sweat and tears shed.
Building relationships with managers and people who are important to your team’s success on the project. Knowing who your trusted partners are when you are in launch mode is so important. These are the people you can rely on and go to for clarification when you are uncertain or learning. Connecting on social media, is a great place to start, see where they have worked in the past, review their career progressions – see if you have something in common. This will help to make yourself relatable to your customer and their needs. Create an org chart of your new contacts and add interesting things that you are learning about them that will insure you are hiring to their needs and preferences. And lastly set reminders for yourself to follow up with your new contacts on a weekly or biweekly basis. I always want my customer to know they are important and that they are being heard. Once you are in a good groove with your customer create an agenda for these calls and review with them; this will insure you are on target and have a plan to keep yourself and team on track for the weeks to come.
Manage your time line and set realistic expectations, don’t just tell the customer what they want to hear! Tell them what they need to hear, that’s why they hired you. Often when an RPO is brought in to assist in the hiring process it’s because a company is extremely understaffed and in desperate need to add to headcount yesterday! However, that doesn’t mean you can get the work done in a week. Giving a timeline that is well organized and thought out will help set the expectation with the customer and help them understand the work that is being done on your end behind the scenes. If you need to make adjustments to the time line be upfront about it and make the changes as soon as you can. Don’t wait until you miss a deadline to talk about why it was missed or what needs to be changed to insure you can stick to the time line. Sometimes a missed deadline is out of your control and unexpected. Below is an example I ran into recently.
- Me: I will have candidates for you to interview in 10 days.
- Customer: Great
- Me: Day 9 I have attached a list of candidates for your review please let me know who you would like to interview.
- Customer: Out of office. Sorry I missed you, I am out of the office on PTO for the next week.
- Me: WHATTTTTTTT!
I guess it’s time to change that timeline. And communicate to everyone effect by the change.
Expect to have problems and to make mistakes in the beginning – just make sure you learn from them. This is a big one for me, I never like to make mistakes, but it happens. I remember years ago I sent out a rejection email to a candidate using an ATS that didn’t populate the candidate’s name and it made the email completely impersonal. It was an honest mistake and I was a new user in the system, but it was a mistake nonetheless. I had no idea this was happening and kept sending those emails. It took about 5 days but the customer got wind of what happened. I was mortified! I ensured the customer that I would talk to every person that got that email to correct my mistake. It took about a three days, but I called every candidate I sent a rejection letter to and apologized to them over the phone. That was a really tough three days, but the customer appreciated my commitment to fixing the problem and it’s a mistake I have never made again. Now when I’m unsure about something I ask before I take action. And when I make a mistake, as hard as it is, I bring it to my customer’s attention with a plan on how I am going to fix it. That willingness to take responsibility and fix a mistake has really worked for myself and teams over the years.
Provide data on the work that’s being done. Recruiting has evolved so much in that last decade and technology has made it a lot easier to provide real time data. Use it – that’s why it’s there. Like my boss always says … “numbers don’t lie, emotions do” … and she is right! Find out what data your customer would like to see upfront and start tracking it right away. If you have data to support your recruiting efforts then you can always talk about what you and your teams have done. The great thing about tracking data and reporting on recruiting is being able to use the data to give examples or recommendations of things that will make your recruiting efforts more effective.
New customer implementation is never easy, and the stress can get to you! I find that sticking to a plan helps me feel balanced and gives me something that is consistent to fall back on. Hopefully some of my tricks will help some of you with your next new customer implementation.
By Lindsey Roundtree | People Science CSM