Manpower Is Thinking Big and Going Fast

Manpower is No. 136 on the Fortune 500 and is the world’s second-largest temp agency. It’s trying to let people know, however, that it’s more.

Manpower has bought an IT recruiting company, another company doing internal audits, the career-transition company Right Management, and is in the recruitment process outsourcing business. It is rebranding itself as a full-service giant, doing testing, training, and retention work. Most of its sales is overseas.

Allan McKisson, Manpower VP human resources, North America, came over from Whirpool, where he spent 20 years. (Whirpool went through its own branding exercises 10 years ago.)

McKisson is examining what the implications of Manpower’s new direction are to the employment side of the business. Right now, he says, that means two things.

First, the candidate experience. He’s pondering “What should it feel like, what should it look like” for a candidate to apply for a role at a company that wants to be the expert in most everything work-related, not just temp-related. He calls this “Fit, finish, and feel.” “It’s the softer side,” McKisson says. “When people connect with Manpower, what does it feel like?”

Also, he’s looking at assessment criteria. “Our brand is forward-thinking, fresh-thinking, innovative, inclusive, resourceful. How do you translate that into selecting people who fit the culture?” he asks. Industrial-psychology majors on staff are helping out.

McKisson says that as Manpower develops tools to better hire people who fit its culture, it will keep one eye out to the question, “How can we make that into a product to provide for our clients?”

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McKisson has read a lot about branding, and sees it as “[another] one of those HR things of the year. People do it and get all excited.” He says it’s not that complicated: “It’s about, ‘How do we translate our brand into experiences for our candidates and for our people?'”

Meanwhile, McKisson’s spending much of his time on a “talent management system.” Essentially, this is a process to make sure Manpower has the right people with the right skills going forward. The senior management team in North America is all involved one way or another. It’s assessing managers based on such things as their ability to manage change and drive strategy. It’s determining whether it has the people it needs to fill the jobs that will soon come open.

Most of all, Manpower’s asking?managers where they want to go, what they want to do, what they want. It’s starting with 100 director-level employees, and then in the third quarter moving to manager-level. His mantra for the project: “Think big, start small, go fast.”

On May 24, Standard & Poor’s Rating Services upped its outlook on Manpower from stable to positive, “based on improved operating performance, slightly greater business diversity and declining debt leverage.” “It’s a good time to be at Manpower,” McKisson says.

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