HR managers are fashion designers

I like the way fashion designers shop. They will not pick the best ready-made cloths (like most of us do), they sometimes shop from streets, they sometimes have very odd selections, sometimes they will buy the costly pearls. It is the variety that is admired but it is the clear vision of a creator that makes them so special.

HR managers are fashion designers

A fashion designer

  • Right team members instead of great individuals. Fashion designers shops the most fitting cloths that can be stitched with other collection for the final product. They look for different qualities of cloth unlike a consumer, who looks at the final rigid product.
  • Source is chosen carefully – Fashion designers will travel miles to get the right cloth. White cotton from one vendor (may be from rural areas) and silk from a branded vendor. They know where they can find the specialized vendors. They will not rely on for all of its recruitment.
  • Constructive destruction (Mentoring): Fashion designers will redefine the individuality to make it a part of the product. Some part of the cloth will be cut short or recolored to fit in better. When they select a cloth they know what part of it is needed and what need a cut. During recruitment the candidate is made aware of such possible cuts and during mentorship it is done in detail.
  • Flexibility – Fashion designers know which cloth will react badly to some alterations. They choose it accordingly, the flexibility is highly checked. A candidate who can’t be mentored or changed may not work out as a good team member.
  • They see before they choose – Fashion designers can see the overall product (team) before choosing different cloths. When you accompany them you will not understand their moves as you can’t see what they can. They ensure the diversification in a team.
  • Specialization is valued – Gold can’t replace diamonds but Gold has its own place in designing. HR managers will always choose the missing specialization for a team with some other compromise to complete the team for an optimal output.
  • Taking risks – Fashion designers job is all about creativity and thus experimentations and thus taking risks. I had selected some team members completely under this scheme and today they are pillars to the team.
  • Ownership – They take ownership in what they do and are highly passionate about the work. I like people when they say my team was great, my company taught me many things. I sometimes ask them, “What all will you miss if you leave your current company?“.
  • Take pride in what they do – They take pride in what they do. Their explanation will reflect the pride.

Summary of the post: As a HR manager, do not look at ready made talents, they are less flexible and sometimes too rigid to be a good team member. Look at following attributes above others:-

  • Learning ability over already learned. (You can give them sometime to read and explain it back)
  • Passion over achievements. (Look at the way they explain things)
  • Flexibility over perceptions. (Debate with them over their strongest areas.)
  • Job/Profile matching over individuality (For some posts you need low ambitious people and for some high, for some posts money is the only motivation so recruit money centric people.).
  • Character over personality. (Let the receptionist take a basic round of surprise interview at entrance, see the reactions. Allow her ask some stupid questions, attitude change is helpful in understanding character. Give them different situations and let them react to it.)

Overall what matters is the team, no one can be better than team. A diversified, self motivated, empowered and independent team can be the best asset a company can have.

11 Replies to “HR managers are fashion designers”

  1. That’s really a nice article.
    However, I have a simple question:
    Taking risks: The HR Executives can experiment and take risks – but what if the whole process fires back! Who would take the responsibility of the new recruit if he or she cannot stand up to the HR’s expectations!
    Don’t forget that the HR Exec. has rehabilitated that person from another organization, self, way of living, pattern etc…

  2. MrDoubts (You have a nice blog)! Thanks for the comment and appreciation.

    >> Who would take the responsibility of the new recruit if he or she cannot stand up to the HR’s expectations!
    Involve mentors while recruiting, say if you are recruiting one programmer, involve one senior programmer in interview. Hire (take risk) only with the approval of mentor (senior programmer in this case). I generally make the person aware that I am taking a risk based on an assumed commitment from candidate’s side. If things doesn’t work out then he might have to leave. Once he is aware of the facts, there is a mutual understanding to achieve the paper impossible. I had one programmer who could not explain or perform upto expectation for almost 3 to 6 months but his commitment made us believe in him and as I said he is one of our strongest pillars and a very loyal employee.

    Many who were impressive during interview could not perform well and were asked to leave. Risk is involved everywhere but at some places you take the risk and the responsibility (and may be one day, the credit and the confidence).

    >> Don’t forget that the HR Exec. has rehabilitated that person from another organization, self, way of living, pattern etc…
    Flexibility to change should be checked during interview. Generally a fresher (or with 3 to 5 years of experience) can be changed. Anyone above 30 is difficult to change.

    As a mentor you need to inspire over instruct to make those changes happen. Also remember, more risk –> more returns. In this era when attrition rate is very high, the HR managers’ needs to take some risk.

  3. Thanks for appreciating my blog. You have a good blog too and thanks for answering.

    “say if you are recruiting one programmer, involve one senior programmer in interview.” – This mostly depends on the job type. For example, if you are hiring a content writer (as this is my profession), it is not easy at all to determine someone’s capacity in a few pages of written “text”.
    Do you really think that the HR executives are eager to know about that writer’s “thinking pattern” – are they ready to make it a decisive parameter! Moreover, is it really possible to determine any such pattern within a 2 hours interview!

    I appreciate that you “involve one senior programmer”, but you can’t find it in many organizations.

    Actually, it is all about being as close as possible to the best available decision. If HR and domain expert makes the team (as in your case), than you MAY reach the closest. But, the HR Exec. must be super-sensitive.

  4. >> Hiring content writers
    I generally do a profile based interview, lets take content writers

    • Understanding of content/information is required: Give them a RC and then let them answer some questions.
    • grammar checks – You can’t teach them this, so you will have to test it carefully. A senior content writer can help you design one.
    • Analytical ability – Based on the RC (to save time), discuss few things.
    • Make the interview useful – I sometimes teach them important things during an interview. Use to teach them the basics of web writing and then ask them to write an article a topic (Something they already know or are interested in). Give them access to internet as well.
    • Ask them to choose 2 forum posts (of their own interest) and answer there, or two blog posts and add a comment there.
    • Then during talks you can understand more about the person.

    >> I appreciate that you “involve one senior programmer”, but you can’t find it in many organizations.
    I don’t involve them during interview as I am a programmer myself and mentor. I involve them in question preparing, interview preparations etc as they keep busy.

    I believe people hire similar people so I involve all good programmer while hiring programmers and all good content writers while hiring one.

    There should be 3 interviews – One HR manager, One Domain Expert and final one with a senior executive. Before the final one there should be a meeting between HR manager, Domain Expert and senior executive. This helps in selecting the better one.

  5. To me, personally, the last point seems more important (during talks you can understand), and you cannot tag it as or within a “process”.

  6. :), and the above points are helping you have high quality talks exposing the personality during interview talks. Interview talks should bring out different needed qualities for a better selection. I had chance to work with some very experienced HRs (30 + years of experience in recruitment for different MNCs), they were so good at selecting people. I was in a panel helping them with mock interviews for my batchmates, they said it so accurate, experience certainly matters in this field.

    HR managers being fashion designers can sometimes help you discover undeveloped talent.

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