I heard that you are advocating the application of Kaizen and Lean principles in the human resource function. Can you tell me how it works, for example in processing the application of job applicants? How should it benefit company management? — Yellow Submarine.
A story is told about a zoo that has a unique proposition to attract visitors. In one part of the zoo, a cage was labeled “Coexistence.” Visitors were amazed to see a lion and some meek lambs living side-by-side with one another inside the cage. The zookeeper explained that there was nothing extraordinary about it, but just the same, he admitted: “All we have to do every now and then is to check what’s missing and replace it with another lamb.”
Just like a meek lamb, the HR department is often portrayed as “the weakest group within an organization,” according to Cheryl Jekiel, author of “Lean Human Resources” (2011). More than that, critics say that HR is a cost center and there’s nothing much it do but to perpetuate itself as a glorified custodian of employee files.
I feel hurt by this baseless generalization as I have lived and worked my whole life doing HR work since 1981 when I started my career as a Personnel Supervisor at a telecommunications company. Since then, we have progressed a lot with the digital age but HR people still clings to their old style.
In 1995, management guru Dave Ulrich started advocating that HR professionals adopt a four-role model: employee champion, administrative expert, change agent and business partner — all rolled into one. So where does Lean HR comes in? If you still don’t understand it, let me tell you that Lean HR is the actual implementation of the Ulrich model.
It’s all about making HR relevant by actively identifying and eliminating waste or non-value added things in its operations, including the hiring process. It’s all about Kaizen and Lean or the continuous elimination of waste in HR operations. There are so many things to do. And to answer your question, allow me to introduce the three stages in the lean hiring process, which is carelessly ignored by some irresponsible HR managers. Let’s count the ways:
First Stage. Do the digital screening of applicants’ curriculum vitae. Ask all job applicants to send the PDF copy of their CVs to the company’s email address. There is no need to secure the print copy of their CVs and other documents like transcript of records, diploma, birth certificate, police clearance and all. Not at this early stage. There is no need to seek more documents other than the CV. More than that is unnecessary and superfluous.
That’s because you don’t want your office to become a warehouse containing mountains of file folders as it is with government offices that unwittingly display their inefficiency. Furthermore, you don’t want to be responsible for keeping all the personal information private, thereby risking data privacy violations. Be aware that there are some rejected applicants who play games by asking you to return their documents even if the ones submitted are photocopied.
Now, if you’re convinced that an applicant has passed the paper screening, the next step is to conduct the initial interview via Skype or other similar means. If he passes, schedule him for the IQ or psychological written examination, if necessary. Take advantage of digital screening and you’ll save a lot of time, money and effort for you and the applicants.
Second Stage. Conduct a face-to-face interview to validate applicant claims. If you’re convinced there is potential that certain applicants will get the job, then proceed with a series of interviews. Depending on the nature of each vacant job, do the interview without using those ho-hum questions and their suggested answers you can find on the Internet. It’s better for you to be creative by asking situational questions designed to test one’s aptitude and potential on the job.
Level up the interview process by having a panel or conduct a stress interview with the help of other department managers. They must have a uniform set of killer situational questions for consistency and fairness because you don’t want to ask different questions to different applicants. If necessary, arrange for IQ and psychological testing for entry positions.
At this point, proceed to ask for a copy of essential documents of the applicant’s transcript of records or proof of passing a government examination. Those are the only documents you need to evaluate the competence of an applicant. Don’t ask for original copies as you may lose them in the process and rejected job applicants may pester you to return them.
When you seek a copy of the documents, require the concerned applicant to sign in the space with a rubber stamp that says: “I certify that this copy is a faithful reproduction of the original and I vouch for its authenticity. If proven otherwise, I respect the right of my employer to terminate my employment.”
Last Stage. Finalize your short list of the top three job candidates. Make an offer to your number one choice and require him to undergo the pre-employment physical and medical examination while alerting him to be ready with all pertinent documents. Don’t accept any original copy as you don’t want to be disturbed by applicants asking for its return, should they change their mind or if they fail to pass.
Follow the requirements in Stage Two about certifying authenticity.
On the pre-employment documents, notice that you have not asked all job applicants, except from your number one applicant. This is an important element of Lean Hiring. After all, why bother securing those documents from all applicants where you’re not sure whom to hire among them? Why do you need for the applicants’ SSS and Pag-Ibig ID? Would that help HR to assess the competence of people?
Also, what’s the value of a clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation or other government agency during the first and second stage? The same question can be asked in the case of the birth certificate and marriage certificate. Would a correct name or marital status help you predict excellent work performance? You should have understood Lean Hiring by now.
If everything is in order, the successful applicant must sign a contract that includes the pay and perks package, terms and conditions of employment and adherence to the basic management policies, including those found in the Code of Conduct. Then, proceed to do background checks within the first two months of employment date.
Easy does it with less hassle. Now, do you still wonder about the value of securing all those documents from all applicants in the first step of the hiring process?
ELBONOMICS: The art of being wise lies in the science of being simple.