The US jobs market is increasingly complex. Even as the unemployment rate hovers around 4%, recent numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show the temporary employment lost an average of 9,500 jobs per month in the first quarter of 2019. With many companies still lamenting skills shortages, staffing firms have their work cut out for them in delivering that talent. The question is how do staffing firms improve on their staffing and recruiting?
Improvement ideas for recruiting and hiring can often come from surprising sources. One such source is Winnie the Pooh.
The staying power of Pooh and friends isn’t just because they’re adorable. They’re relatable. Each character is emblematic of the types of people drawn to recruiting and staffing.
So imagine, if you will, these characters as part of a recruiting team. How could each improve their performance? Which of these ideas applies to you?
Winnie the Pooh
Does he really lack smarts?
On several occasions, Pooh refers to himself as a “bear of little brain.” I can imagine Pooh as a recruiter saying things like, “Oh bother, I just don’t have the brains to learn all of this jargon” or “I was not made to make so many calls. I get started and end up all muddled and confused.”
Does Pooh really have little or no brains? Let’s look at some of his assets. He is loving, loyal, a great friend, and ends up on top even through all of the bumbling because he always tries to do the right thing.
One of the biggest obstacles Pooh needs to overcome is his tendency to bury his head in a big pot of honey when things aren’t going well. If a hire starts falling apart, Pooh’s immediate reaction would be to immerse himself in finding a “smackeral” or two of the sweet stuff.
Here are some constructive alternatives to help Pooh (and you Pooh-like recruiters out there) deal with confusion, disorganization, and those times when things start going awry:
- First and foremost, he needs to get organized. A great way to start is by writing out his plan for tomorrow the day before.
- His confusion may indicate a need for additional training and practice. Just like the real world, the 100 Acre Woods offers many options including workshops, books, and articles.
- Pooh needs to identify his destructive patterns, such as overeating or burying his head in a pot of honey. Then, he can replace them with a positive and constructive alternative. For instance, when something goes wrong, Pooh first needs to consider the options. Is there something he can do or is it best to let it go and move on to something else? Sometimes the best option is to let go of a situation, especially if you have done everything within your power to remedy the problem.
- Like many of us in recruiting and staffing, Pooh has great colleagues and friends to turn to for advice and support. In addition to their suggestions and insights, role-plays and practice sessions can help him to improve his skills and discover ways to enhance his recruiting abilities.
Focusing all of that bounciness and energy.
Tigger lacks focus. What he does have are bundles of energy and a positive nature that will carry him far. But his inability to harness that energy in a focused manner trips him up. Tigger also needs to be completely honest with himself. He tends to be so positive that he doesn’t recognize when he needs to regroup and isn’t aware that things may not going as well as he thinks.
Some tips for Tigger:
- A daily action plan would be a great tool for Tigger, just as it is for Pooh (in fact, I have yet to meet anyone who would not benefit from a daily plan). To stay focused in the moment, the more detailed this plan, the better. If Tigger could focus completely on one task before moving to another, the quality of his work would improve almost immediately.
- A strong dose of reality from time to time would do Tigger a lot of good. Bouncing ideas off colleagues, asking for honest feedback from co-workers, and occasionally taking a few moments to assess his own progress would give him clarity about where he is and the next step to take.
Could he be a lost cause?
Things just never seem to go Eeyore’s way. Whether it is falling into a briar patch or losing his tail (again), he seems to find himself in one unpleasant situation after another.
Eeyore reminds me of people I have met in my life that I call the “doom and gloomers.” They believe that bad things are going to happen and inevitably create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Most of us are not at this extreme, but ask yourself, “Am I, like Eeyore, sabotaging myself with negative thoughts?”
Ideas for Eeyore:
- It’s hard to think your way into new behavior. But you can act your way into a new way of thinking. The key is action. Eeyore needs to have a pre-planned list of actions he can take the moment gloom starts to kick in. Immediately getting into action will him feel better about himself instead of spiraling further and further into self-defeating thoughts.
- Negativity breeds negativity. Eeyore needs to look for and remove the negative people, situations, and possible stressors that are around him. By surrounding himself with positive things and people, it will become very natural for him to rise to the level of those around him.
All of those carrots gave him an eye for too many details.
Rabbit takes playing by the rules to an extreme. Can you see him ever coloring outside the lines? Rabbit’s organization skills and intelligence are fantastic, yet they sometimes cause problems because he can’t think outside the box. Rabbit could greatly benefit from lightening up and having more fun.
Here are some tips for Rabbit:
- Rabbit needs to play (all work and no play make Rabbit a dull and stodgy furry critter). He overwhelms himself with responsibility. Rabbit needs to find something that brings out his playful nature such as swinging on playground equipment, playing in a sandbox, driving go-karts, or anything that is all about having fun.
- Just say “no” to the need to be perfect. The best thing Rabbit can do for himself is to accept and be okay with the fact that he is not perfect and mistakes will happen. This is not only okay; it is a part of life!
Mustering the courage to be a great recruiter.
Wouldn’t it have been great if Piglet could have gone to Oz with Dorothy and gotten some courage? One of Piglet’s biggest stumbling blocks is his lack of confidence when communicating with others.
On the plus side, he is extremely honest. What a salesman of job opportunities or candidates he could be if he were to combine his honesty with a strong dose of self-confidence.
Here are some tips for Piglet to build a reserve of confidence in himself:
- Practice the tried and true “act as if” principle. If he practices being confident he will eventually act his way into a confident way of thinking.
- Journaling is a powerful tool for uncovering what is really going on. If Piglet spends time each day journaling in detail his thoughts and feelings, there is a good chance that he will uncover the source of his self-doubt.
Do you see yourself in Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, or Piglet? Just like the recruiters of Honey Pot recruiting team, you have a choice to stay where you are or grow into your potential. Looking beyond what you do to who you are will give you insight into the changes and improvements necessary to increase your success in recruiting.