Once upon a time when the use of email was in its infancy in the workplace and electronic workflow was still an elusive dream for many, I managed the Employment function for a very large and complex organization. With a multitude of hiring managers, an astonishing number of open requisitions and thousands of resumes/applications (paper, naturally) our days were filled. The form that drove everything was called the PAR – Personnel Acquisition Request and hundreds of them passed through my hands every week. This carbon form with 3 attachments (white, pink and yellow) held all the necessary pieces of information and approval signatures for any employment-related action and there was a well-defined process:
1. The Hiring Manager (or, more often, an administrative staff member) completed Section A which included details for the requisition – title, location, pay grade, existing/new position, reason for req, and the like. They attached the most current version of the job description or, in the case of a new position, the proposed job description.
2. The Hiring Manager completed Section B which further listed budget information; source of funding for the position, GL code(s), and the requested hiring range which had to be double checked to ensure it was within the position’s pay grade – and was not always the case as you can imagine.
3. The Department kept the yellow copy.
4. The form was then routed to the Finance/Accounting Department where funding/budget was verified. If budgeted funds were not available, the form was routed back to the Hiring Manager. If, however, dollars and FTE/position were in the budget then an Accounting Manager and Accounting Director signed the form and forwarded it on to the Employment Department.
5. Accounting kept the pink copy.
6. Once the PAR arrived in the Employment Department a flurry of activity commenced. Job Descriptions were reviewed and verified and, in the case of newly created positions, the Compensation Department entered the mix in order to evaluate the position and determine pay grade - this consultation with the Hiring Manager could add several weeks to the process. The staff in the Employment Department verified all the details on the PAR one final time and upon my final signature began our own process including posting the job (weekly paper jobs bulletin routed throughout the company!), talking to the Hiring Manager to determine the recruitment process/timeline, placing job description in the multiple binders at the applicant stations (job seekers physically came into the office to complete applications….remember?). We even placed the job openings on the company website and encouraged applicants to email their resumes although this rarely happened as most seemed to derive comfort from using the US Postal Service (I know, right?).
7. And then, when the position was filled (which resulted in another PAR Form being sent along the same route with the new hire information) the staff in the Employment Department worked the process in reverse; removing paper, scrubbing the position from paper reports, cleaning out folders and files and moving PAR PED-13-48776 to the “closed” file cabinet alongside PAR PED-13-48775.
It got the job done.
I got to thinking about this yesterday after having a discussion about process design and improvement. As I journeyed back into my own personal mists of time and remembered how we ran this process at this particular organization I was amazed at our ability to deliver pretty flawlessly. There were a lot of steps, a lot of hands and multiple points along the way where things could have been lost. As cumbersome as it was, we regularly assessed the process and made improvements with an aim to understand the impact on the system as a whole.
As the years went on, and well after I moved on from that company, the PAR process underwent quite a bit of transformation. The paper forms are long gone and electronic workflow ensures tracking and approvals occur upon a keystroke or two. Efficiency went up and use of paper went way down. I’m quite certain there is continuous planning, doing, studying and acting.
After all, while hitting PAR for the course may be acceptable…ending the round under PAR is even better.