I have observed a lot during the past 25 years in human service industries, and 20 years running foster care programs. When an agency is failing you usually hear the following from the staff: blaming, excuses and the overall tone of being a victim of the universe.
An Understanding Gap
Great agencies have operated for many years and have a clear plan on how to recruit. Those who are failing generally suffer from one problem: a lack of understanding on how to recruit.
In my experience, this lack of understanding produces three reasons that contribute to recruiting failure.
Misdiagnosis or Missing Diagnosis
The first reason is: Failing agencies do not have a real data or metrics that they track to tell them what is going on in the area recruiting potential families. You can’t move to a better place if you don’t know where you are right now. This diagnosis may be hard to swallow, but the opportunity to change and become more effective starts at the doorway of honest analysis.
Needing a bit More Courage
The second reason for recruiting failure is: The lack of willingness to do what they need to do. Sometimes this unwillingness is tied to someone’s ego. No one can question their recruiting system without opening the door to major drama. It is common for agencies to settle into the belief that there is one particular way of recruiting and that is what they are going to do. Until they butcher and Bar-be-Que some of those sacred cows, they will be stuck.
The third reason for recruitment failure is: The lack of attention to processes. Processes are what move actions forward and in this case that action is about moving people from interested, to engaged, to application, to approved. Watching your processes allows you to measure how each step is going, and a way to hold people accountable for the timeliness of their actions and the effectiveness of their results.
Agencies that are successful understand how recruitment works. They are willing to make the hard choices and do what they need to do. They are attentive to the processes involved in each phase of recruitment and they give the right amount of energy and focus to track them.