OD Chatter: I Need What I Need


Dear OD Chatter,

I am the owner of a company and have a question: I will soon need to add a senior leader to my company but I want to get a jump on time by allowing a top candidate access to my company’s internal communication systems that contain details that describe how each job process in the company is completed – to the granular level.

The problem is this recruit can’t be seen or appear to have an electronic footprint in my organization just yet and maybe never…. The reason is because that some of my employees manage accounts with this prospective recruit’s company. I need to insure that her company does not know about the future possibility of her jumping ship because I need to protect that relationship for my company and for her career.

On the other hand by allowing her access to my information systems she and I can start getting up to speed so that if and when she does join my firm she can hit the ground running. I need that & I’m ok with the minor risk to my intellectual property.

My HR tells me that this is not possible because they see it as an unfair practice since I don’t do this for every position, and I’m not going to start. Now, you’re an HR expert, what say you?

Signed, Resilient, I need what I need

Allentown, PA

Dear I need what I need,

If I understand you correctly you want to use your systems as a way to (1) begin training your potential new person and in so doing (2) create a deeper more real-work conversation and (3) do so as a mode of interviewing so you can reduce the potential of a bad hire.

On that premises I will start by saying that under normal conditions your HR team has given you good information. Ideally all recruits should be treated the same. If you think there is a ‘but’ coming, you are right.

You can treat recruits differently according to the position and the management level they are applying. Meaning you can administer a welding test for a welding job but you wouldn’t administer a welding test to an administrative assistant.

When recruiting members onto your senior leadership team, it is very wise to test the recruit’s thinking and problem solving skills in advance and in the areas where they will actually be working.

Most companies use hypothetical information for testing recruits but real information testing is always better. Just be aware of the risk you take in sharing some of the keys to your kingdom. People can’t unlearn what you exposed them to.

Here are two suggestions and the first carries more risk than the second:

First option: Most information systems have a test platform that runs identical to your main systems. The primary use is to test new processes, updates, or anything that you want to make sure is working properly before you install it onto your main system. This does not leave the normal footprint.

The caution here, and the reason I don’t highly recommend it, is because things can be accidently changed, causing problems. It can be daunting to find and fix the problem, costing you time and money. More importantly it might expose your new recruit to security levels that they should not have access.

I can think of reasons why you would select this option but without knowing more details about your business, your HRIS, and your general IT hosting type and systems I am very cautious. To answer your question fully, I need to include this option.

The second and better option would be to have your systems administrator establish a generic set of access credentials for your recruit. The credentials would be the user name and password for each system that you want to allow access.

Select something generic like “HR Testing” as the user name. This will leave a footprint but that footprint will belong to “HR Testing” not to the name of your potential recruit.

This is the preferred method because the footprint shows you what they have done, and often allows you to schedule tasks – such as training modules or the review of certain sections.

Under internal scrutiny employees will see the user name, in this case ‘HR Testing’ which will not raise suspicions. Under external scrutiny the same footprint will be seen during an audit but it’s completely natural for HR to have a testing ID.

If you are using software that requires a fee per user then there will be a cost associated with this strategy.

When you are finished with your interviewing process, you can easily lock your recruit out of all systems the same way you do when someone leaves the company. You either change the password (recommended) or close the account.

Before I end let me circle back to the advice you received from your HR team. You do need to be consistent. I recommend that you do this with each recruit at this level and who make it to this stage of your recruiting process for a seat on your senior leadership team.

Thanks for sending us your workplace question!

OD Chatter


Debra Dee Bradford

OD Chatter is written by Debra Dee Bradford, CHRO of ODL Business Partners, Inc. (www.odlbp.com) an HR consulting firm specializing in organizational development and leadership training. She can be reached at dbradford@odlbp.com. Or, send your workplace related questions to OD Chatter at marlenab@odlbp.com.


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