Organizations and organizational leaders tout transparency but in my experience, they are reluctant to be fully transparent.
One client I had “got” how important transparency is in the hiring process. They were looking for a nurse to work a particularly difficult shift caring for unruly patients in a wing undergoing renovation. While the renovation would eventually end, the patient population would likely continue.
They took prospective candidates on a tour and pointed out every single challenge that the candidate might face. The bad, the ugly, and whatever good was there. They found the perfect candidate, and they quickly eliminated those who would struggle.
The new nurse thrived in a challenging environment and soon had the unit humming, with patients and family his biggest fans.
That’s transparency at work.
Now, here’s an even better example of transparency. The Humane Society in Aurora, IL posted a bio of Chowder, an English Bulldog up for adoption and written by his foster mom. Here is the narrative that caught my attention and prompted me to write the article:
He’s actually pretty awesome and freaking hysterical. Just sounds terrible on paper.
Breed: English Bulldog x
Foster Location: Aurora, IL. No out-of-state applicants, please.
Cats: Unknown. But let’s go with no. No seems like a solid plan.
Home Recommendation: Single Family. Fenced yard. He’s a loud barker and needs leash work.
Kids: Yes. But how tough are your kids? He is a stumpy-legged, thick-bodied, giant-headed, wrecking ball. No human, big nor small gets treated differently by Chowder.
A fur-ever family will read this and know that Chowder will be perfect for them, and Chowder will have a loving home into which he fits beautifully.
Others will read it, chuckle, and say, “Okay, not the right dog for us.”
It’s all about “fit”
So why are we tempted to avoid telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to job applicants?
Organizations hire people every day. Individuals bank their livelihood and career on the job. Is there transparency in that process? In my experience, not so much.
Too often, I have seen hiring managers who told the good, but conveniently left out the bad and the ugly and then wondered why the employee washed out in the first few months.
Organizations spend beaucoup bucks on human resources processes to predict “fit.” But should it be singularly the privilege of the organization to determine “fit?”
Shouldn’t the candidate also have an opportunity to see if the job and the organization provide an environment as a match to their own experience and temperament?
Will they spend their day at a desk with a clock counting the minutes on break?
Will they have to use outdated equipment to do their job?
Will their manager be flexible when they have a childcare issue?
In a salaried position, are they expected to put in be available to their phone 24/7/365?
Tell it like it is, or change it
Some of those “transparencies” will turn off just about every candidate, and they should. If 2020 taught us anything, it taught us that work/life balance is even more critical than we realized.
If you itemize the bad and the ugly and realize that it isn’t a matter of fit, but a matter of a poorly constructed job or a poor organizational culture, that’s a different story and a bigger problem than your hiring process.
But if the bad and ugly are inevitable, put it out there. At least the candidate can make a fully informed decision, which can be the basis for a tough-love talk if they complain later. Or, just maybe they have ideas that can improve the situation.
Someone was looking out for Chowder
The Humane Society was looking out for Chowder, to make sure he had a say in whether he “fit” his fur-ever family.
Give your job applicants that same opportunity by being transparent about what they will really encounter if offered the job.
Featured image courtesy of Humane America Animal Foundation