A Training Plan Before the Offer Letter

Today, we can obtain insight into where new hires are likely to shine and where they will need training and development, and all of this is happening before we answer the question, “Should we hire this person or not?”

When I was 15 years old, my stepdad finally took me out in his 1985 Toyota pickup to teach me how to drive. I thought the day would never come. After going through the basics of how a standard transmission functioned, we slowly started to drive around the empty parking lot. As a typical male teenager, I was quickly convinced of my own invincibility, and started to relax a bit and pick up speed. That is, until my stepdad reminded me to pay attention to my surroundings (including behind me).

I turned my head to look and see what was happening behind me (as I thought he was suggesting) and in doing so, I turned the wheel in the same direction. Thankfully, he had good reflexes and jerked the wheel back in the other direction, narrowly avoiding the light pole that was inches away from being embedded within the bumper. I learned a valuable lesson that day, which is arguably applicable in my professional life today as an HR practitioner: Spending too much time looking at the past (and not paying attention to what is coming in the near and distant future) frequently will lead to missed opportunities (and occasional collisions).


Unfortunately, this backward-facing orientation has been the modus operandi of HR for decades —we simply react to questions and requests that are frequently a result of not paying attention to the light pole we just ran over. But those days are gone.

Unlike our predecessors, we now have access to vast amounts of information that can help us not only avoid the light poles, but get to our destination faster and more efficiently—and it all starts with a focus on personalization.

This concept of personalization certainly isn’t novel. Organizations now allow us to personalize everything from our phone color to prescription drugs that reflect our unique genomic profile. So why aren’t we taking the same approach when it comes to personalizing each employee’s experience in our organization? After all, according to consultant Josh Bersin, today’s employees “don’t want careers… they want experiences”—and all of this starts well before you hire anyone.

More Science, Less Intuition

Think about the traditional way most organizations have recruited new employees for the last few decades. I like to refer to it as the Pious Age of Recruiting, when we would post positions (originally in newspapers and eventually online) and then pray that someone would respond. We would interview a few seemingly qualified candidates (after all, they had a degree and several years of experience in the field) and then we would pick one that “felt” like the best option.

I remember that early in my career, I worked for a staffing agency that would send temporary employees to organizations. At the time, I considered myself a pretty good judge of character. In fact, I vividly recall one guy in particular—I was so impressed with him during the interview that I immediately called one of my clients who needed someone the next day, and suggested I had the perfect match. I bragged to the client that “this guy has serious potential to move into a permanent leadership role within your organization.” You can imagine my embarrassment when the guy didn’t even show up the next day.

Relying on intuition is one of the main reasons HR has not made the same progress as other functional areas of the business such as finance, supply chain, and even sales and marketing. All of these areas can plainly communicate their operational models (such as targeted marketing campaigns) and the tangible results (number of leads generated). The time has come for HR to do the same.

Training and Development Plans… Before You Are Hired

Today we have new tools that help us move beyond validating education and experience to better understand the cognitive and behavioral characteristics needed to be successful based on the cultural elements of your organization, and the needs of particular roles within it. In fact, by using these tools, we get a glimpse of what the future would look like if we hired that seemingly perfect candidate. We obtain insight into where they are likely to shine and where they will need training and development, and all of this is happening before we answer the question, “Should we hire this person or not?”

For example, let’s say Brad is an applicant for a position within your organization. Through the use of new assessment tools, he has been identified as someone who needs constant direction and instruction in order to operate well. You know that your organization’s culture is one that tends to favor independence and autonomy, which may prove to be challenging for him. However, Brad may still possess enough compelling behavioral characteristics that make him worth overlooking this trait.

That is the key—we shouldn’t simply overlook this trait, but instead we should be proactively thinking about the resources and training opportunities Brad will have available to him in order to function and eventually thrive in this type of culture. This need to adapt to an autonomous environment can be something that is formally part of Brad’s onboarding and ongoing development plan from day one, instead of looking in the rearview mirror six months after you hired him and wondering, “Was this a mistake?”

Let’s face it, we are all on a journey, both as individuals and as organizations. Looking in the rearview mirror every once in a while is fine, but most of our focus should be on where we are headed (and who we need alongside of us in order to get there).

Marcus Mossberger is the director of HR Strategy at Infor, where he is responsible for working with customers to identify opportunities to align their largest people-related challenges with new and existing Infor solutions and services, including core Human Resource Management, Talent Management, Talent Science, Workforce Management, Learning Management, and HR Service Delivery. He brings more than 10 years of expertise in the Human Capital Management (HCM) industry to the Infor team.