Best Tips for the first 100 days of HR Leadership

If you’ve landed a leading role in the Talent Acquisition function at a new organization, you’ll want to make sure you’ve checked off these 5 best pieces of advice from fellow TA leaders. Whether your role is regional, national or global, and whether you are a first-time or veteran director, here are a few basic practices that top TA leaders employ in their first 100 days to ensure their organizations and teams are set up for long term success.

1. Focus on the “old” before seeking out the “new”.

Every organization has its own squeaky wheel, i.e., the technology that everyone loves to hate for its inefficiencies and inconveniences. Common enemies include the ever-unpopular Applicant Tracking System (no matter the vendor), the background check system, and the under-utilized CRM & Talent Community. As a new leader, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and kick-off replacement processes to eliminate the source of discomfort.

Before kicking off a full-fledged RFP, consider attempting to optimize your relationship with your existing technology. Schedule meetings with your vendor/account manager to discuss your team’s feedback and create an action plan for achieving higher ROI and adoption, including training sessions and unlocking additional system capabilities. You can also reach out to their other clients who are willing to share their best practices for achieving its full ROI, including attending Regional User Groups or conferences.

Share the optimization plan with your organization and consider appointing a strategic champion for the tool to help achieve better performance and review progress regularly. To gain buy-in, be sure to discuss risks and costs associated with switching, including change management and complex integrations, and the shortcomings of the alternatives.

2. Be wary of reinstalling your former organization.

New leaders often intend to legitimize their expertise by referring to activities that worked well in their previous organization.  “At Company X, we did it this way and it worked well.”  It’s certainly okay to replicate processes that worked well in your previous companies; that’s likely part of the reason you were hired to begin with.  That said, you are in a new organization, and your new stakeholders want you to have thought through how a solution works best for their teams and clients.

As you get up to speed, leverage your new team members to learn about your new organization’s culture, values, and processes. You’ll learn the most by listening 90% and speaking 10%. As you seek to solve issues, ask for their input and recommendations. At the very worst, you will evaluate a different method, but your team member will feel heard.  At the very best, you might find a great alternative and a champion to help in the heavy lifting, who feels empowered and trusted.

3. Seek out a mentor who doubles as a translator.

Moving to a new organization is similar to relocating to a foreign country – a place you’ve never been and where you don’t speak the language fluently. I moved to Madrid after graduating from college and I was grateful that one of my American roommates dated a local who had lived in Madrid for several years. He showed us the best ‘off the beaten path’ restaurants, suggested fun activities and corrected our broken Spanish with a sense of humor.

A mentor is great for development, and the best mentor can also help speed-up your assimilation into your new organization.  Mentors can be formal or informal – attend all the Meet & Greets you can, even with different divisions.  In one of the organizations I joined, the first person I met was our Executive Recruiting lead.  She was incredibly generous in sharing her organizational knowledge and insights from her regular interactions with the C-suite.  While our work didn’t overlap, I found myself reaching out to her frequently to seek her feedback with great results.

4. Leverage the expertise of potential vendor partners.

In the Talent Acquisition world, technology is changing at lightning speed.  While nothing can fill your inbox faster than the outreach you start receiving when you update LinkedIn with your new title, there are certainly vendors who are worthy of your time.  While it’s tempting to hold off accepting any sales outreach until you’re clear on your needs and budget, some really impressive tech exists that may influence your approach.  Most good salespeople will be happy to have your ear for a 15 or 30-minute demo, especially if you give them feedback on the relevance of new product lines or features. The best potential partners will be happy to provide insights on other products in their space and generously share their well informed perspective on your TA challenges.

5. Form your own opinions, irrespective of other’s judgments.

As TA leaders, we understand better than most how chemistry and a company’s unique organizational preferences influence candidate selections. A candidate who is a top performer in one organization may struggle to gain traction at another.  Different leaders will also gain different results and unlock or prohibit the potential of the same group of direct reports.

In talent reviews of your new team members, keep in mind that what you hear is based on the leadership of a different individual. This is not to say you should entirely dismiss all feedback; on the contrary, it’s important to understand how each team member is perceived by others, including peers and past leaders. However, starting a new role is a great opportunity to build your own relationship and perception of each person’s unique capabilities and skills.

In conclusion, after your first 100 days in your new leadership role, your time will have been wisely spent getting to know your team, its stakeholders and your new organization.  Your newfound awareness of the strengths, weaknesses, processes and technology, along with the growing trust you are building with your team by listening to them, will facilitate your ability to build a better organization and have a long lasting impact.

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