Recruiting Strategically Through Disruptive Change

The current FX environment is marked by rapid changes on multiple levels and across diverse industry segments.

The current FX environment is marked by rapid changes occurring on multiple levels and across diverse industry segments. This is particularly true in the retail sector where developments in new technologies, local regulatory environments, frequent competitor movements/reactions, and proliferations of new third-party vendors and providers—all of which are taking place on an increasingly global scale—are transforming the overall landscape in an accelerated manner.

A number of these changes can be described as “disruptive,” a term connoting shifts in the underlying forces of an entire industry. Disruptive environments tend to be less predictable and less stable. But they also offer unique opportunities for companies who possess the means, resources, and vision to exploit them. That is because disruptive environments are malleable.

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In this type of business environment, it would seem that adaptability–in both the strategic and operational sense—might be considered a new category of competitive advantage, if not merely a basic requirement for growth and survival. This would seem obvious, as business environments, companies within those environments, and individuals driving those businesses are not only factors effecting change; they collectively participate in a unique relationship—a reciprocal assemblage–wherein each element virtually and qualitatively transforms the conditions of the other. The benefit of an adaptive model is that it mirrors the natural state of this transformative relationship; its strategic disposition geared toward proactively scanning the external environment, making necessary adjustments, and executing actions with opportune timing.

If a company decides to take an adaptive stance toward industry changes, something which takes place on the strategic level, its adaptive orientation must be embedded in all of its operations (alignment). This implies not only a re-assessment of functional procedures and priorities, but also a re-assessment of the perception of value in human capital. Among the significant functions to be re-assessed is that of recruitment and hiring.

Aligning Recruitment with Strategy

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In a business environment requiring adaptability, lack of alignment between a company’s strategic direction and its recruitment practices can, at best, result in missed opportunities and, at worst, prove a major disadvantage. New hires = new skills and potential, but only if the filtering process reflects the strategic position of the company and is undertaken with a critical and careful approach. Generally speaking, there are many companies that do not revisit their recruitment practices either in light of current changes in corporate strategy, or simply out of a desire to re-assess and upgrade what works into what can work even better; the potential difference between the former (what works) and latter (what can work better) can be huge.

Re-Examining Role Functions and Skill Sets

Aligning recruitment efforts to an adaptive strategy begins by critically and creatively re-examining the qualitative aspects of each role, function, and required skill set. It’s not a matter of merely thinking “out of the box,” or beyond a given paradigm, rather it is about meticulously experimenting and constructing new “boxes” that might serve the recruitment function more effectively.

As we know, the value of diverse skill sets varies according to a company’s goals and operations. Simply put, certain skill sets either hold some degree of relevance to a job or not. The positionality of skills sets–where they stand in importance relative to one another–depends wholly on a company’s perception. In short, the values of skill sets are not intrinsic attributes, but merely valuation coordinates determined by a company’s strategic and operational disposition.

Skill sets can generally be viewed with regard to the following:

  • Strict adherence to an existing functional model (what exists);
  • Anticipatory or adaptive model (what might exist);
  • An experimental model in which novel capacities are built around skill sets once deemed marginal (what can be created).

When an industry-adaptive stance is taken, implying a need for flexibility and openness in perception and (re-)action, employee capacity and job functions must also be treated with the same level of perceptional fluidity to ensure that human capital is organized in such a manner as to enhance a company’s actions. This means not only revising job functions and descriptions (for vacancies) based on current or anticipated need, but on a meta-level, creatively re-assessing what defines success in current job functions, what other (perhaps marginal) skill sets might hold significance, and whether or not current evaluation and hiring procedures are designed to support a company’s adaptive position.

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