How to Lead a Recruitment Team Through the GDPR Changes

With GDPR bringing in changes to recruitment at lightning speed, your team will be looking to you for guidance more than ever. So what can you do to ensure you’re leading your team positively through the changes that they’ll need to embrace?

Leading from the front and providing a route through the GDPR maze can be an all-consuming challenge: How do we continue to provide solid recruitment training for teams when such fundamental aspects of the business are in flux? Here are a few important things I've learned over the last few months when getting prepped for the legislation changes.

Do: Have a plan – and communicate it

team sailing in boat with leaderPracticing your best ‘I’m not panicking!’ face until things become clearer over time might seem like the best (and least painful) approach right now, but when it comes to legislation, you’ve to get real – and quick!

As I’ve said many times before, the real battle for recruitment businesses when addressing GDPR changes is going to revolve around changing your team’s habits, and to do this effectively you need a solid plan, and one that’s communicated clearly and thoroughly.

So, break down your GDPR action plan into individual tasks and put GDPR updates on your weekly meeting agenda so you can outline and provide updates on the steps directly to your team. This not only reassures them that the business is tackling the changes head-on, but it makes someone (preferably your DPO or whoever you’ve appointed to lead the various GDPR initiatives) accountable to the business each week.

Without an opportunity to centralise queries like this, you’re opening yourself up to a constant flood of individual questions that can waste a lot of time and cause you unnecessary stress. Having a regular GDPR slot gives your team a designated time to ask questions and promote the feeling that everyone’s in it together.

This also helps to quash any misinformation floating around the office so everyone’s on the same page and not wasting time arguing about what the legal time limit is for holding candidate data, for example (spoiler alert: there is no specific time – just “no longer than is necessary for the purpose you obtained it for”).

Do: Stay knowledgeable

At the moment, there seems to be an ongoing game of GDPR Chinese whispers happening within the recruitment industry, and this isn’t surprising given that most of what’s expected of businesses in practice still remains unclear (and will probably remain unclear until well after May 25th). At best, this can leave you paralysed with information overload; at worst, you’re left feeling totally confused not knowing who or what to believe!

My best advice here is to continuously refer back to the official ICO source - if you spend enough time reading and rereading the information and updates directly from the ICO, you’ll eventually gain clarity and be able to answer questions from your team with confidence. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of grey areas to the information they’ve been providing, but it is getting clearer and if you keep checking back for updates, over time you’ll notice it all starting to come together to make sense.

Break the information down into areas you do feel confident in and seek help for the areas that you don’t. Focus on trying to nail down the questions that you don’t have answers to rather than letting the information paralysis seep in – this will only result in you throwing your hands in the air and giving up, and your team will instantly smell the weakness.

Don’t: Be afraid to admit if you get something wrong

Let’s be clear about one thing – in periods of transition, you’re not going to get everything right. But the good news is, no one expects you to either. You’re only human!

All your team will be looking for from you is your leadership through the change, and if you do get something wrong or have to revisit part of your processes, that’s perfectly acceptable. It’s also worth noting that it’s likely a lot of businesses will make errors when trying to put the new legislation into practice, particularly in the first few months after roll-out. The important thing is to ensure you’re transparent and communicate the change (and the reasons for it) with your team.

So, let’s put everything into perspective: yes, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by GDPR and yes, you might be struggling to keep up. But remember the main aim is to show the intent to change and lead the team in the right direction for May 25th. What’s most important is to support your recruiters in putting the changes into practice – without slowing down their billing. Bish, bash, bosh, back to business!

How to use GDPR to your Agency's Advantage

Wendy McDougall

Wendy McDougall is Chief Fish of Firefish Software. In her spare time, you'll find her playing squash or feeding her inner geek with the latest technology!

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