Everyone I talk to tells me that there are good signs of growth in the economy. And managers in large firms are talking about the positive signs they see that new positions will be… although, not just yet. The resistance to hiring is dropping, but it’s still difficult to get approval for new hires. There are a lot of potential hires in the system, all waiting for approval. Still, if this recovery is like other recoveries, there may still be some hurdles to overcome. Typically, when there is a turn around and business is rising, there are a lot of false starts before approvals are finalized. It can be frustrating, but it does help to remind ourselves that a convoluted approval process is a lot better than a very straightforward “NO!”
Do expect to have important hires “sort of approved”, followed by “just about approved”, and then finally the approved positions put in for a round of additional approval even when you’ve passed all the approvals you thought were needed. It always seems to be like this. Be careful in informing the hire about start dates, because you may run into unexpected barriers and paperwork. Do keep in touch with the candidate, even more than you usually would. If this process seems frustrating for you, it can be agonizing for someone waiting for their start date. If you spend a little more time keeping in touch now, and you will build an extra buffer if the candidate suddenly is left in limbo because no one is sure what process comes next.
The mystery approval process is not just confined to full-time employees. If you are about to start an outsourcing pilot, your contract may be going through the same meandering approval process as new staff. If this is atype of work that you haven’t previously outsourced (or haven’t outsourced to this location), there can be a lot of confusion over the rate for the service. Because there are so many permutations of rates, services and locations, it’s very difficult for your procurement department to be sure that the billing rate is reasonable. It often takes a very long time to gather and verify this data. You may want to consider the following approach when you meet with your procurement department. Emphasize the opportunity cost. Whatever the outsourced cost, it is probably lower than the current cost (since price is often a primary driver for outsourcing). Therefore, every day where you aren’t moving forward with outsourcing is a day where you pay for more expensive labor. You might develop a presentation that discussed the 30, 90 and 180 day cost of a delay. Procurement (and other departments) may also be concerned that once you start working with a vendor they will lose all negotiating leverage, since you will be dependent on the outsourcer’s service. You can strengthen your argument by agreeing that once the pilot is sucessfully concluded you will pause the pilot until cost negotiations are completed and a new rate is in place. So, start with a higher price (make SURE that the outsourcer has the revenue to hire the right staff; eliminate any possibility of pilot failure due to inadequate or inappropriate staff). This process will work best with very specific and/or generic services, such as: transcription, basic data entry or simple electronic data filing that require little or no knowledge transfer.
The summer will be here soon and we’ll all be in the gym swearing to drop that extra 10 pounds we packed on over the winter. While we’r tehre we may as well work out our flabby authorizing muscles. All together now: reach, Reach REACH for that new hire paperwork, lift… Lift… LIFT that telephone and call a candidate… raise, Raise, RAISE your budget… Whoops! Did that a little too fast did we? That’s going to hurt in the morning! Maybe we should have warmed up first? In any case, that’s my Niccolls worth for today.