Leading successful teams with resource constraints
- September 1, 2023
- Posted by: Chris Stanzione
- Categories: Insights, People Ops, Recruiting
In today’s challenging work environment, many of us are part of lean teams with limited resources. As talent leaders, we often find ourselves stretched thin and facing various constraints. The recent economic downturn has further exacerbated these challenges, with many talent acquisition (TA) teams losing central resources as hiring volumes decrease.
While resource constraints can be frustrating, they can also present opportunities for innovation. When faced with limited resources, we are forced to streamline processes, prioritize high ROI work, automate administrative tasks, and experiment with new strategies and approaches. Constraints push us to try new tools, form new alliances, and think outside the box. This applies to all functions, from finance to HR to engineering.
Looking back at my own career, I realize that some of my proudest achievements would not have been possible if I had all the resources I needed. It was precisely because of these constraints that I was able to build an offshore sourcing team and streamline how our firm handled the balance between temporary and full-time hiring. Constraints can be a driving force for innovation.
Consider the example of how we used to send paper offer letters via courier or FedEx to candidates. Now, most of us use some sort of electronic signature system. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of video-based interviews. In challenging labor markets, we are likely to see increased use of AI. Limited HR budgets will shape our expectations of people managers. Constraints drive us to find new ways of doing things.
As leaders of people functions, we may struggle to drive change. We may have great ideas but struggle to gain buy-in and drive adoption across our organizations. However, resource constraints can actually work in our favor. Startups, for instance, often achieve more with limited resources because they cannot afford to waste time or hire external firms. They find a way to get things done.
Pain and constraints can be great motivators for change. As an effective leader, you can use these constraints to your advantage. Highlight the pain points and show that the ideal option may not be feasible given the lack of resources. This makes it easier to sell alternative options and drive change.
Let’s look at some real-life examples of how scrappy teams have used constraints to launch new approaches. One company wanted to recruit from universities but lacked the resources for traditional campus events and intern programs. They got creative by directly sourcing upcoming grads from their competitors’ intern programs and leveraging alumni referrals. They also hosted events and tours at their headquarters for local university clubs. They couldn’t do large-scale recruiting, but they found a way to attract talent.
In my own experience, I faced challenges with interview capacity. We didn’t have enough interviewers to meet hiring manager demands. Instead of relying on a req-based model, we shifted to a pipeline model with batch interview days. This improved scheduling efficiency, allowed for better calibration of interviewers, and increased our interview-to-offer ratio. However, I couldn’t sell this idea until we faced serious interviewer capacity constraints.
Sometimes, simple changes can have a significant impact. In one division I worked for, we moved from scheduling debrief meetings for interviewers days after the candidate’s onsite interview to same-day debriefs. This was driven by lean resources and scheduling constraints. It created a culture of same-day hiring decisions and eventually led to same-day offers at scale.
Now is the time to reflect on what you hope to change in your organization. Can you benefit from the constraints you face? Don’t miss the opportunity to show the business how change can solve their talent pain and pave the way forward. Embrace your constraints and use them as a catalyst for innovation and improvement.
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