Standard talent sourcing processes are often unstructured, inconsistent, and wasteful, across stakeholders and systems alike. They don’t allow for streamlined, coherent workflows that would create a positive experience for both candidates and recruiters.

In the most recent episode of Talent Talks, Jenn Terry (VP of Strategic Initiatives, Joveo) and Dwane Lay (Global Head of Customer Success, Joveo) discussed how to leverage Lean and Six Sigma philosophies to work toward the goal of time, resource, and cost-optimized recruitment.

Dwane also touched on his book LEAN HR – a go-to manual for organizations looking to improve their HR processes by using Lean and Six Sigma approaches.

Watch the video, or check out some of the highlights in the transcript below!

LEAN HR by Dwane Lay

Jenn: Hello and welcome to another edition of Talent Talks! Today with me, I have Dwane Lay, who is our new Global Head of Customer Success at Joveo. So before we get started, would you mind telling the audience a little bit about your background, and specifically about your book?

Dwane: So, I grew up as an IT nerd; I’m still recovering from that. But I’ve spent a lot of years working in HR, running departments, rebuilding departments. I’m a six Sigma black belt, so I’m fundamentally broken and have a full-on case of OCD that comes with that. I love process maps and drawing things out. I’ve lived in the Customer Success world for almost nine years with other HR tech companies, and I’m really excited about the opportunity to come in and really have an impact for not just Joveo, but for our clients and for the space.

The book, LEAN HR, was a labor of love built around introducing Lean and Six Sigma processes to HR practitioners, and giving them simple ways to go in and learn how to do root cause analysis and problem solving, and putting a structured approach to what is very often unstructured thinking when we’re in a service line.

Six Sigma is a way of thinking

Jenn: I got some Six Sigma certification early in my career and really felt like it made a difference to how I approached not only technical setups and “processes,” but also just how it organized my thinking.

Can you just talk a little bit about recruitment processes today, and how those principles might be helpful?

Dwane: So a lot of it is, the comparison I go back to is playing golf, which I am also really bad at.

But one of the things I learned is that your swing never gets better until it’s the same every time. So Lean and Six Sigma is really about reducing variation and then reducing waste. So you have to make sure you’re doing it the same way each time before you really get better at it and expect it to stick.

I’ve always been a little jealous of TA (talent acquisition) because TA has had all the data. There’s so many great data elements available to TA practitioners to be able to lock things down, as in, “This is our process. This is how things happen each time.” 

And once you have that, you can see where those bottlenecks are, and it becomes a lot easier to improve it. So the idea behind the book – and frankly, the book isn’t one that I ever thought somebody would want to read cover to cover – is really a collection of tools. 

So there’s a lot in there around how to build a portfolio, how to identify the problems, and how to stack them to make sure you’re working on the right things.

Value is determined by the CUSTOMER

Jenn: So can we just spend a minute talking about things to consider in a lean, and really dialed-in process, from both the candidate experience and from the recruiter experience standpoint? Where should we start? 

Dwane: I got to sit on the candidate experience board for a couple of years and listen to some of those stories. One of the foundational principles of Lean is that value is determined by the customer. And in that process, we have a couple of customers to look at. One of them from an internal side is your hiring manager – your stakeholders. But you also have your external customers – your candidates, their families, their stakeholders. There’s a really large audience we have to think about, as to who is defining value in this process.

So what I found fascinating was listening to the stories about how excited people were that they had the ability to do automated messaging. That they’re making sure they’re keeping people warm on a regular basis. 

If you’ve ever been on the candidate’s side, you know how frustrating it is to send messages into a black hole and not know if it was received, not know if it’s been looked at, and then even worse, three months later, getting a note saying, “Hey! We got your resume. We’ve closed that job, but thanks.”

If you want to have that talent available to you, understanding what they’re looking for, understanding how to communicate with them, and understanding how to keep them informed and engaged, is really important. I don’t think that can completely be done through automation. But you can hit the mere, bare minimum that way.

On the internal side, it’s about setting your stakeholders up front and making sure your hiring managers have visibility, so they know where you’re at in the process. And you’ve got good communication flow. We’ve got tools in the TA world now to do those things for us. It’s just a matter of getting the discipline to use them, and understanding that if it’s happening outside the system, that’s not visibility – you’re kind of cheating both your candidates and your teammates of being able to be part of that process too.

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Documentation goes a long way in achieving simplicity

Jenn: In a lot of cases, a hiring manager may hire once every year, or twice a year, three times a year – but really, like in my old world, half of our hiring managers probably hired once every five years. How do we make it palatable, maybe even awesome, for people that aren’t really going to do this on a recurring or repetitive basis? 

Dwane: Make sure that you’ve got really well-documented processes with screenshots that are easy for someone to pull up and follow. Especially if you’re building it off of the back of a system, you know, making those links really easy to find, making the questions really easy to answer, pulling data out of the system as much as you can from the previous person – so that they have to do the absolute bare minimum. 

So, you know, just making sure that it’s really easy to find those directions, it’s really simple to get in, put in what you need, and move forward. And the TA side can pull that data and pull the other information to support their job. That’s probably the biggest thing.

Jenn: If they’re only in it once every five years, you can’t expect them to be experts, so you need to design for simplicity. And if they’re in there every day, it’s a core part of their job, and you need to design for simplicity, right? No matter how you slice it, keep it simple.

People don’t fail, systems fail people

Jenn: Can you just talk a little bit more about how you’ve seen Lean or Six Sigma practices in place in HR, and some of the benefits of that?

Dwane: One of the things that I think is a baseline is that we don’t want to ever have to write something down twice. So when we talk about Lean, we talk about the classic eight ways – there’s an anagram, TIM WOOD, and it’s like transportation, inventory, work in progress, overproduction, over processing, etc. Making sure that you’re handing the right amount of information to the hiring manager as they need it.

How do we make sure that we’re providing exactly what the hiring manager is going to need with the least amount of input from them possible? If we’ve got an existing job, we’ve got a system somewhere that tells us what that job should be paid, what the range is, where they’re located, and what’s available.

I’m a really big believer in the concept that people don’t fail, systems fail people. 

For example, one of the most common things I see in TA is, we’ll build out a job req, we’ll send it to “compensation” to be blessed for the job category or the ranges, we’ll come back, we’re ready to make an offer. We build an offer, we send it back over to compensation to be looked at and blessed again – even though they’ve already told us once what the range is, what they’re allowing for it – so we have to go back and look through it twice, as opposed to: “This is the range, and you can’t go outside of it” in the system.

Programmatic job advertising is a great way to do LEAN talent sourcing

Jenn: If I think about the beginning of the process, it’s really where the applicant funnel starts and things come in, and today, you may have a dispersed model where you have some agreements with some duration-based or slot-based publishers, you might be dabbling into programmatic. So would I be remiss here to say using a technology like Joveo to consolidate and put that in a standard workflow, is one of those practices that might be helpful in streamlining your process?

Dwane: There’s absolutely something to be said for leveraging the technology platforms you have available to yourself, and then simplifying it. In my past lives, when I’ve talked about different vendors, I don’t want to have 15 vendors I work with. I want to have somebody I trust that’s an actual partner in what I’m trying to accomplish.

And that really goes to my philosophies around customer success. Our job is to be proactive and make sure that our customers are the heroes internally. And that’s more than just being reactive and solving problems when they come up; it’s being consultative and helping them find opportunities upfront.

Programmatic is such a great tool to make sure that you’re spending properly, that you’re getting all of the value for your dollars as you possibly can. I think not leveraging something like that is a huge miss for our TA partners. 

Other things I look at – being able to understand how to generate and classify projects, how to value them so you know, if I’m going to spend 20% my time working on outside projects, then I better get the right projects to work on, because that’s a lot of time and effort and it can have a huge impact. 

Jenn: I think that’s awesome. And I feel like this is a really good first look into Lean HR practices, and designing your processes for the right people.