January is turning out to be a month of both personal and professional milestones. In addition to hitting 90 days with TalentLaunch, it also marks the launch of our national Talent Acquisition Center. We are now positioned to deliver qualified talent across our network from one centralized team; offering a much higher value while being cost competitive . It’s a work in progress and we are leaning into technology to accelerate our efficiencies.

Over my 30 years in staffing, I’ve come across multiple versions of a centralized delivery organization and have designed, initiated, and participated in no less than 8 separate initiatives. Some occurred in the early days of the job boards. Others were designed to support national clients or specialized verticals that had no geography boundaries. All were done without the innovation and reporting that we have within the TalentLaunch Network. What I wouldn’t have given to have these tools available way back then. Thinking back on those days made me realize how much my experience and lessons learned has shaped this major initiative with TalentLaunch.

In our current world, a virtual talent acquisition model may be something your company is contemplating. As with all new projects or new initiatives, making mistakes is inevitable and I certainly have made plenty. The purpose of this article is not to dwell on the past mistakes, but to share the learnings of those setbacks that turn into successes when you fail forward.

One size does not fit all

Consistent processes and repeatable skill sets sound great on a planning document, but this is not how staffing works. Clients will always require some level of specialization which creates a lot of variability and oftentimes, chaos abounds. Be willing to listen to your client facing teams and try and find common ground, but also be willing to flex when a specialized team or process is needed.   

A perfect example of this was when we designed an entire workflow to serve a major banking customer and overlooked a key step for another client. Our error was uncovered during a scorecard review, causing much anxiety and embarrassment for the team. This was indeed a setback, but it also was a fantastic learning opportunity for our teams to not only double and triple check our workflows, but understand that agility and flexibility are needed. This resulted in a much better client experience.

Diverse opinions are golden

Your talent acquisition team should always have a say in the design of a centralized organization, but don’t forget those in sales and business development roles. Long ago, they were probably in those roles and can provide unique (and client-specific) insights. Collaborating with those teams on your design will not only create a better plan, but also achieve the buy-in that you need to drive positive results.

How do you do this? Early in the launch of our centralized delivery team, the On-Site Manager pulled me aside and quietly asked me if she could contribute to the strategy planning sessions. At first, I was hesitant to avoid pulling her away from her client to attend another meeting and risk valuable productivity. In the end, I was so glad we included her as her insight to the day-to-day operations of the client were instrumental in building a successful service delivery function for our clients.

Don’t get too attached

Trust me, nothing feels better than putting a plan into action. And nothing feels worse than when things don’t go according to plan. And when they do, don’t let your emotions enter into the equation. Yes, you may have architected a wonderful game plan that looked great on paper, but didn’t translate into success. You need to let go and let metrics signify if and when it’s time to abandon ship. Also, be willing to make mistakes and be humble enough to admit when you have. Most importantly, don’t wait too long to adjust your sails. Like the wind, our directions can change at the drop of a hat.

It reminds of a past story when 18 months into the launch of a major company initiative to centralize service delivery operations, the key stakeholder of the project left the company and his successor had an entirely different vision. Although we were well down the initial path, we needed to make a change. Instead of wasting our time fighting to maintain our current position, we scrapped our plans and remodeled the center to align with his vision.

Although we are just in the beginning stages of this new launch, I feel confident that by utilizing these priceless learnings, we’ll have a service delivery function that is unmatched in the staffing industry and well-regarded as best-in-class. If you’re in a similar role within your staffing firm, I invite you to craft your own unwritten rules for designing a talent acquisition center. Even if it’s with just a few people, the lessons outlined here can provide you with the necessary compass to delivering a wonderful candidate experience!

I’d love to hear from you on your past successes and challenges so feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.