Q: When is a tough recruiting problem not a recruiting problem?

A: Most of the time.

I recently wrote a post about different kinds of recruiting problems. But the more I thought about it, I realized that the extreme end of each issue was not a recruiting issue at all.

Retention problems: If you have a bad manager who drives all your people away, so you are always short-staffed and constantly hiring–while it may look like a recruiting problem, it’s really a management problem that is causing the retention problem. Fix the management problem and the other problems fade away.

Hiring profile problems: When managers have a really hard time defining what they are looking for in a new hire, you don’t have a recruiting problem, but you probably do have a business strategy problem. Once your business strategy is clear, and your performance expectations spelled out, you will know exactly what kind of people you are looking for.

Sourcing problem: Everyone wants to hire top performers, but not everyone can attract them. If your business plan requires that you hire the very top echelon of people, but your salary budget can’t support that, or if your job is simply not attractive to the top echelon–you don’t have a sourcing problem, you have a flaw in your business model. Similarly, if only geniuses can deliver your service, or make sales for you–you have a business strategy problem, not a recruiting problem.

For all the bad rap that internal HR departments get, I still see a lot of organizational problems flowing downhill into the HR department being called “recruiting problems.” Ann Bares follows this same line of reasoning in her recent post “Why Can’t HR Solve the Performance Management Puzzle?” Don’t miss it.