A little more than a year ago I was asked to participate in something I personally had never done before. Help create a sourcing team from scratch. After taking a rather large gulp of my soda I began to think about all of the various things that needed to be done. Can it be done? How long is it going to take? I quickly knew my biggest challenge was gaining credibility as a sourcing team and instilling confidence within the team as well as our peers.

In a market where many sourcing teams were downsizing and in some instances dissolving, Hewitt Associates was, and still is, embarking on building a world class recruiting organization. To do that, the sourcing team had to be world class. Our organization split our full life cycle recruiting model into a three tiered partnership including recruiting, sourcing and operations. I knew I had to get people excited about joining the sourcing team, especially since specializing in sourcing was a bit of a foreign concept to some. Our leadership team laid out a great foundation that recruiting, operations and sourcing were all equal players and one could not be successful without the other. Thus specializing in your "sweet spot" gives people the opportunity to excel in the areas they do best, resulting in a greater whole.

First we had to assemble the sourcing team. As we talked to people about joining the sourcing team it was apparent that those who wanted to be sourcers had common characteristics: Internet savvy, drive to find the unknown and an enthusiasm for gadgets. I may even be so bold as to say only those with a sense of humor need apply.

As our company evolved towards this three prong model, sourcing underwent a radical transformation on how we think, what we do and what we were capable of doing. Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets were a foreign concept not more than a year ago to many on the team. We had to prove, even to ourselves, that you can find candidates through unconventional channels and in many ways out perform the high cost, more traditional channels we are so accustomed to using.

The team calls (and we had many) where you could hear a pin drop needed to quickly pass. After all, have you ever met a quiet sourcer? There was a sense of uneasiness as people took a leap of blind faith to work towards what, at the time, seemed to be a lofty goal of establishing ourselves as an up and coming sourcing team in a years time.

Teambuilding was and still is a key component to developing a world class organization. We set small team goals one of which was becoming 100% CIR certified. This not only built skills, it helped foster a collaborative approach to our work, thus building a sense of team. While continuing teambuilding and skill building, we incorporated some fun along the way. We held a several contests one of which was naming our team. To get to know each other a little better someone suggested we download a theme song that best described one of our fellow team members.

I asked everyone to sign up for twitter. The team didn’t necessarily have to use it, I just asked everyone to get registered. I also asked everyone to connect to each other on Linkedin. Again, just wanting everyone to get accustomed to using the basic tools out there, creating a foundation in which they could build. A few months after everyone was registered we ran a contest to see who could get the most twitter followers in one week. We also demonstrated a new tool every week in our team calls to show people what we were missing out on and what else they could be using in their “toolkit”. Along the way it was integral to show everyone how to integrate the social media sites into their sourcing strategies…connecting the dots and weaving the infrastructure together.

Tools and training were key components to developing our talent in a way that would not only benefit the individual but ultimately the company. Meet people where they are. It is not realistic to think everyone will build their skills at the same pace as their peers. Each person had their own goals set and each person was individually challenged to work on skills they wanted to develop, especially if it was something that put them out of their comfort zone.

Looking back on a very industrious year filled with challenges and excitement I can see the growth from each person on the team. Establishing the right culture, the right tools and of sense of humor, are all key aspects to building and motivating a team. Phase two is upon us and I am eager to see what the next year brings! Stay tuned.

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Comment by Shannon Myers on July 13, 2009 at 12:11pm
Congrats, Cynthia. Keep us updated on yoru progress!
Comment by Mark A. Leon on July 14, 2009 at 6:58am
The evolution and develop of a new team that has maintained steam and stepped up to the challange is an amazing testament to leadership. Congratulations and enjoy the ride ahead.
Comment by Debra Yarnall on July 14, 2009 at 9:24am
What a nicely written article on the trials and tribulations of a successful Sourcing dept. I applaud your bravery in taking on such a momentous task and congratulate you on your success, as well as the success of your team.


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