How to Apply the Agile LEAN Meeting Format to Improve Your Hiring Process

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Evaluating and improving your hiring, interview and selection process can be a daunting task! This is especially true when you're not sure where to start. Having collaborative, open-ended discussions with your team can help make this process less cumbersome!


Earlier this year, I attended my first 'LEAN Agile Coffee Meeting' through a local PMI chapter. LEAN Agile coffee meetings employ an approach that promotes collaborative ideas, brainstorming, etc. During these meetings, you pick a few open-ended and broad discussion questions for the team to think through. Then you divide up a white board or wall into columns/sections for each of those questions. You give each team member sticky notes, explain each question, and then provide a period of time (maybe 5-10 minutes) for them to fill out a sticky note for each major pain point, thought, idea, etc. they have related to that topic/question. They put the notes on the board, which then guides a team discussion.

It is an amazing tactic to ensure each team member is doing some self-reflection, and then contributing their thoughts in a semi-anonymous manner, which also can help increase honesty and transparency! I recently did a LEAN Agile coffee meeting with my team to determine these 3 things:

  • What do you like/love about your job and/or working here?
  • What's one challenge/pain point/frustration you have?
  • What's one or more idea(s) you have for making our job, team, environment, etc. better?

It was an extremely productive discussion that resulted in identifying several concerns we were able to resolve, as well as 3-4 ideas the team all liked for making work better, including a 1-hour Lunch n Learn training session every 6-8 weeks and a small financial allotment they could expense for "beautifying" or "improving" their immediate surroundings (i.e. cube)!

As a Manager, you can utilize this approach for learning ways to improve your hiring processes. Customize these categories and questions however works best for your team, but here are 5 categories/columns you can use to guide discussion with the end goal of generating several easy-to-implement ideas for enhancing the overall hiring experience, both for you, your team members and candidates!

LEAN Meeting Categories for Improving Hiring Practices

lean meeting categories and hiring practices
Next Steps

If you believe your hiring process could improve, take action immediately; don't just wait until your next opening! Here is an action plan:

  • Plan a 45-60 minute team meeting on everyone's calendar during a time of day when people are the most fresh/creative (typically mornings).
  • Send an email or make an announcement to set the precedent on what the meeting will be about, the major goals, how it will be structured, and how important it is for people to come to the meeting prepared to be completely transparent around the "current state" of the hiring/interview/selection processes.
  • Prior to the meeting, choose the major categories/topics and 1-2 open-ended questions within each topic that will be used for discussion (you can use the topics and questions in above example if you like).
  • Bring sticky notes to the meeting (same color preferred, to help with feeling of anonymity), and divide a wall or white board into the number of columns that you have discussion categories for.
  • Once the team arrives, verbally stress the "why" behind this team activity, and that the goal is to have as honest and as productive a conversation as possible to uncover any roadblocks of current processes, as well as to identify improvement opportunities moving forward.
  • Provide instructions on the exercise, i.e. "the goal is to fill out at least 2 sticky notes for each of these categories. Here are some discussion questions to help trigger your thought process and ideas."
  • Provide at least 10-15 minutes, perhaps more depending on how you assess they're doing, for them to write out their thoughts on sticky notes and then stick to the right column on the board (you can provide candy/snacks and/or play music if you'd like during this time).
  • Spend a few minutes consolidating shared thoughts and ideas.
  • Talk through the major success criteria/issues/ideas and see if anyone has additional thoughts they'd like to share. Also, discuss possible solutions for any roadblocks.
  • Compile top trends and ideas per category/column and determine "Execution Strategy" for implementation into current hiring process.

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Erica Woods Erica Woods has nearly a decade in the IT staffing world, an MBA, and is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

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