Me & Chuck Muncie

If the name “Chuck Muncie” means anything to you at all, it probably indicates one of two things:

  • You’re old.
  • You’re a passionate fan of the NFL and it’s history of characters.

I have the advantage of being both. But that still isn’t the reason “Chuck” has a significant role in my professional history. Nope, for me, that name still resonates loudly for another reason.

Because I WAS Chuck Muncie (cue the flashback effects.)

My first gig out of school was working for Gallo Wines. Basically an extended fraternity for guys like me, coming out of college with little idea regarding what to do professionally. So, we “sold” wine – basically convincing grocery stores to display our product prominently on end-caps. It was not, as they say, my life’s ambition, and was at times menial work. Stacking boxes, cutting boxes (before box-cutters became a lethal weapon), dusting wine bottles, and anything else we could do to curry favor from store management.

Let’s just say that my effort level was less than ideal. But I managed to get by…for a while. I had a manager, we’ll call him “Joe” (mainly because his name is Joe), and he wasn’t having it. Joe and I were completing a sales call and loading back up into the company wagon when he decided the time was right to offer some curbside feedback. I’ll never forget it.

"...meh."
“…meh.”

“Whit, you know who you remind me of? Chuck Muncie. You know Chuck Muncie?” Yep, and I knew this wasn’t going to be a Hallmark card. 

“Yeah, Chuck was an all-world talent. The guy was amazing. Could have been an all-time great, but he half-assed it, got into some bad habits, flamed out way before his time.” Chuck’s “bad habits” included a nasty cocaine addiction, so we did not share that particular affliction, but point taken. 

“You can’t coach that kind of player, unless – that player makes a conscious decision to take accountability and fix it.” 

So I was Chuck-freaking-MUNCIE???? I was embarrassed…and completely humbled. I knew Joe as a great guy, a straight-shooter, and a fair manager. His opinion of me was obviously much different, and that hurt. But it was brilliant feedback – like I said, I never forgot it.

Whenever I’m in the position of giving feedback now, I still think back to my experience that day in the Safeway parking lot, and it sets the bar for what is to come – it takes courage to give honest feedback. Joe decided to treat me like an adult and give it to me straight. No soft-sell, no manager-speak, no email after the fact; this was face-to-face, relevant (Joe and I shared a passion for football), timely, honest, and meaningful.

Prologue: Me and Chuck had a few parallels in our career paths. There were some spikes of brilliant performance followed by returns to past mediocrity. It wasn’t until I found my “place” in HR that I began to flourish. As for Chuck, he had a rough go of it – at one point landing in Federal prison for selling drugs.

There is a happy ending, however…while in prison, Chuck found his calling, as he used his life experience as a message to kids who may consider the same path; in 1997, the Chuck Muncie Youth Foundation was founded. He passed away in 2013, but impacted a generation of kids in a way he could not do on the gridiron.

So, all in all, being Chuck Muncie wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

The Waiting is The Hardest Part

How many sources of input does it take to make a decision? In the rapid-paced profession of talent acquisition, the answer is almost certainly “TOO many.” As the pressure to fill seats intensifies, the challenges in clearing that final hurdle continues to pad the cherished “time to fill” metrics valued so much by top brass.

CEB just released their annual report on “Top Insights for World’s Leading Executives” and it proves a good (if lengthy) read. And it offers a few revealing trends that may surprise you. [*Spoiler Alert:] The job of putting butts in seats is getting slowerHow much slower? According to this study, it’s over 60% slower than it was just five years agoHow in the…..???

"I got NEXT!"
“I got NEXT!”

We know the influx of resumés has increased steadily. We know that the ATS and the use of mobile recruiting offers additional channels for applicants. Maybe it’s because some internal recruiting teams are still operating with recession-level headcount. Maybe it’s additional Financial oversight in the requisition approval process that slows the pace. But, come on…does that explain 62% slower?

No. It doesn’t. So what else could it be?

How about consensus?

The ambitious and well-intended goal of “agreement” as it pertains to the hiring decision is blowing the tires off the recruiting vehicle. How much? “If an interview process expands from including three people to five [people], the length of time-to-fill doubles.”- CEB

 If you consider the hiring manager as one of the “three,” that means the inclusion of only two more colleagues in the selection process can actually double the time-to-fill. How does that stack up to your current interview gauntlet? I’ve worked for companies with 50 TOTAL employees and had candidates interview with 10 different people before a decision was made, so I’m familiar with how the process can be thoroughly confounding. Remembering all the while that “time-to-fill” includes this dynamic that is completely out of control of the recruiter.

Why is this happening?

  • Perceived Value – We (Talent Acquisition) are partly to blame for this. There’s no shortage of metrics quantifying the cost of a “bad hire,” so one unintended consequence is to offload some of the accountability for the decision.
  • Technology – Why do we do it? Because we CAN! Hey, let’s add Mike in Wisconsin via Skype; let’s get the Nashville group on via teleconference, or better yet arrange a Google Hangout. It’s fun! Not for the candidate, I assure you.
  • Can We All Get Along? – Human Resources, as we know, are the cobbler’s children, so we tend to take the additional step of including internal clients or even potential team members in the selection process. In theory, that looks like a completely rational decision, but in practice? A few reasons that could bite you (besides the time suck):
    • Potential Team Members could see the candidate as a threat to their own professional advancement. Why would they want a superstar joining the competition?
    • Internal Clients are important and valued, but do we want them making our hires? I don’t necessarily want a perceived co-ownership of my direct report; sometimes that muddies the waters, yes?

Ultimately, it also boils down to this – what is measured is what matters. If your focus is on expediency (instead of, say, quality) of the hiring process, you may be sacrificing that quality for expediency. But if you want time-to-fill to be the most important metric for recruiting, caveat emptor m’friend.

First rule about asking for opinions…be careful – you just might get them.