Using Data-Driven Leadership and Recruiting Strategies To Build High-Performance Teams 

with Tim Sackett, President of HRU Technical Resources


Interview by Dr. Jim, Host of the HR Impact Show podcast.

Interview Key Takeaways

  • Building capacity around the middle performers, not the outliers, is crucial for success in talent acquisition.

  • Data-driven leadership should focus on development, not micromanagement.

  • Days to fill is a health metric, not a performance metric. Being faster doesn't necessarily mean better.

  • Stop looking for unicorns and focus on finding candidates who have the potential to succeed in the role.

  • Measure data that correlates to good performance and use it to improve processes and develop recruiters.

Today, we have a special guest who will guide us through the intricacies of building a high-performance team without resorting to outdated methods. Joining us is Tim Sackett, a seasoned talent acquisition expert and chief storyteller at the Fistful of Talent blog and President of HRU Technical Resources. With his extensive experience in both corporate and agency recruitment, Tim brings a unique perspective to the table. So, let's dive in and discover why data-driven leadership doesn't mean relying solely on outdated practices.


The Importance of Understanding Capacity

One of the key insights Tim gained during his career was the lack of data-driven decision-making in talent acquisition. Many organizations fail to measure their recruiting efforts effectively, leading to inefficiencies and missed opportunities. Tim emphasizes the need for recruiters to understand their capacity and set realistic expectations with executives. By analyzing their funnel, recruiters can determine their capacity and have meaningful conversations about hiring plans. Tim explains, "You better build in and understand what your capacity is as a function so that when those executives come to you and say, 'Hey, we need to increase our hiring plan,' you can actually have a really great business conversation."


Shifting from Administering to Recruiting

Another critical realization Tim had was that many talent acquisition teams were merely administering recruiting rather than actively engaging in the process. He observed that recruiters were often focused on posting jobs and waiting for candidates to apply, rather than proactively seeking out top talent. Tim believes that recruiters should take a more proactive approach and actively recruit candidates, rather than passively waiting for them to come to them. He states, "We have an opening. There are people out there. We need to go get them."


The Pitfalls of Metrics as a Hammer

While Tim advocates for data-driven leadership, he cautions against using metrics as a hammer to micromanage recruiters. He believes that metrics should be used for development and improvement, rather than as a tool to beat up employees. Tim explains, "Don't ever compare your funnel or build your capacity to your best performers. You build it to your mid-performers, your B players. That's the vast majority of your team." By focusing on the middle performers and using data to identify areas for improvement, leaders can foster a culture of growth and development.


Stop Looking for Unicorns

One common pitfall in talent acquisition is the search for the perfect candidate, often referred to as a unicorn. Tim argues that this mindset is flawed and leads to missed opportunities. Instead, he encourages recruiters and hiring managers to focus on finding candidates who possess the necessary skills and potential for growth. Tim advises, "There's just a lot of great candidates, some of which have what you need, and some might not. But the vast majority are going to have pieces of what you need, and you're going to make a decision, can I work with this person or not?"


Building from the Middle Out

When it comes to building a high-performance team, Tim suggests a different approach. Rather than building around top performers, he recommends building from the middle out. By setting realistic expectations based on the performance of the majority of the team, leaders can create a more inclusive and supportive environment. Tim asserts, "Build everything around your capacity around the middle, not around the outliers. That's probably the biggest issue – stop trying to build to your A players, build to your B players, and know that's going to be enough."


The Power of Realistic Goals and Effective Communication

To build a high-performance team, leaders must establish realistic goals and communicate them effectively across the organization. Tim emphasizes the importance of data-driven decision-making and using clean, objective data to measure performance. By setting clear expectations and providing ongoing feedback, leaders can foster a culture of continuous improvement. Tim advises, "Get data that actually speaks to performance, measure that data, be maniacal about tracking and gathering that data, and then don't use the data to beat up your people. Use the data to actually develop and get better."


Implications and Future Outlook

The implications of data-driven leadership in talent acquisition are significant. By embracing a data-driven approach, organizations can improve their hiring processes, increase efficiency, and ultimately attract and retain top talent. However, this shift requires a cultural change and a commitment to ongoing development and improvement. Leaders must be willing to challenge traditional practices and embrace new strategies that prioritize data and performance. The future of talent acquisition lies in the hands of those who are willing to adapt and leverage the power of data-driven leadership.

In conclusion, building a high-performance team requires a shift in mindset and a commitment to data-driven leadership. By understanding capacity, shifting from administering to recruiting, and focusing on the middle performers, leaders can create a culture of growth and development. Metrics should be used as a tool for improvement, not as a means to micromanage employees. By setting realistic goals, communicating effectively, and leveraging clean, objective data, organizations can transform their talent acquisition processes and achieve long-term success. The future of talent acquisition belongs to those who embrace data-driven leadership and continuously strive for improvement.


"Get data that actually speaks to performance, measure that data, be maniacal about tracking and gathering that data."

Tim Sackett



Note: This article is based on a conversation with Tim Sackett. All quotes are verbatim from the transcript of the conversation.



Tim Sackett

President of HRU Technical Resources


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Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, has 20 years of combined Executive HR and Talent Acquisition experience, working for Fortune 500 companies in healthcare, retail, dining and technology. He writes for Fistful of Talent and his popular HR blog The Tim Sackett Project. He has written more than 2,000 blog posts, articles, webinars, and white papers on the topic of HR and Talent Acquisition execution and has developed a passionate audience around the world.

Connect with Tim on LinkedIn



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