This week, I was intrigued by a LinkedIn article on what Ford Motor Company was doing with pregnancy suits. The article highlighted Ford’s approach to better understand their customers and empathize with them through a unique empathy training program. In this program, new engineers went through a simulated experience of being pregnant by wearing a pregnancy belly suit or a “third age suit” to simulate challenges faced by our elderly population. Wearing the suits, they navigated in and out of vehicles to gain awareness of the challenges and needs of different age groups, populations and users. They cited this as a powerful program that has improved car design features for Ford’s consumers.
I see a lot of parallels and value of this program with understanding and empathizing with our primary customer – the hiring manager.
To perform at an elite level in recruitment requires understanding the needs, challenges and expectations of your hiring managers beyond a quick call to verify the minimum requirements of the job.
If you think about of how Ford teaches empathy to their engineers who design cars, reflect on your own soft skills and how you deliver service and find talent.
- How well do you know your Hiring Leaders, and do you have empathy for them as your primary customer?
- How motivated are you to deliver that top candidate?
- Do you understand their goals and strategic initiatives, and how a vacancy impacts their ability to deliver outcomes they are accountable for?
Many years ago I recruited for surgical technicians. I had a good relationship with the manager and was confident I understood their needs – until I shadowed a surgical tech in the operating room. This was an eye-opening opportunity to watch the technician prep and handle surgical instruments, and collaborate in harmony with the RNs and surgeon in a way that I could not experience from the job description I was initially provided when I began recruiting for surgical techs.
Afterwards, I debriefed with the manager and the technician to learn about their expansion initiatives, new technology, and patient outcomes data, and I shared recruitment strategies and challenges with sourcing in that market. That experience and knowledge gained connected the dots for me, and I was able to empathize with my customer in a way I had not previously. My performance with respect to how quickly I fill positions and the quality of the candidates I was sending to hiring managers improved as a result of that experience.
If you are not doing so today, I encourage you to implement the following strategies for key critical-to-fill positions in your organization:
- Attend departmental meetings to understand their business.
- Share performance metrics and market data.
- Be visible – visit quarterly to conduct rounding meetings.
- Conduct quality intake meetings asking investigative questions when a new position opens.
- Ask if you can shadow someone presently the role you are recruiting for.
If we can truly understand and empathize with our hiring leaders, we can perform at an elite level and as a consultative business partner. To learn more techniques behind these strategies and additional best practices, explore the Recruiter Academy training program.
Have a great day!