Tesla: Now the Most Interesting Workplace Culture in The World...

Forget Google, Apple and if you're into pain, Uber.

Tesla is now the most interesting workplace culture in the world.  Here's 4 reasons why, my friends:

1--For starters, they've got a founder who is brilliant and unreasonable all at the same time. 

You've heard of Elon Musk, so he really doesn't need an introduction.  From a unauthorized biography I just read on him....

"When Musk came into the meeting room where I'd been waiting, I noted how impressive it was for so many people to be at work on a Saturday.  Must saw the sitaution in a different light, complaining that fewer and fewer people had been working weekends of late, 'We've grown f***ing soft", Musk replied, 
'I was just going to send out an email - we're f***ing soft'"

Founders.  Always a fun time.  There's 100 examples of this stuff in the book.

2--Tesla's under immense pressure to get production of it's newest car model, the Model 3, up to scale. And they are behind.  More from Bloomberg:

"Tesla said it built just 260 Model 3 sedans during the third quarter, less than a fifth of its 1,500-unit forecast. The company has offered scant detail about the problems it’s having producing the car. The vehicle’s entry price starts at $35,000, roughly half the cost of Tesla’s least-expensive Model S sedan.

A delayed ramp-up risks the ire of some of the almost half million reservation holders who started paying $1,000 deposits early last year." 

3--Tesla's at the intersection of manufacturing and automation with the ramp up of the Model 3 - here's an Instagram post shared by Musk late last week to respond to people reporting that there was limited automation at this point on the Model 3 line (email subscribers click through if you don't see the post below.  It's good):

4--Embedded in the founder driven culture is... wait for it.... people being fired after lackluster performance reviews!  And the company is saying that's the reason!  More from Bloomberg:

Tesla Inc. has fired an undetermined number of employees following a series of performance evaluations after the company significantly boosted its workforce with the purchase of solar panel maker SolarCity Corp.

 The departures are part of an annual review, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in an email, without providing a number of people affected. The maker of the Model S this week dismissed between 400 and 700 employees, including engineers, managers and factory workers, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Oct. 13, citing unidentified current and former workers.
 
“As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures,” the company said in the statement. “Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”
 
An interesting founder still running things.  Big innovation.  Production delays.  Saying you're trimming the bottom performers aka Jack Welch and stacked ranking.
 
Tesla is the most interesting workplace culture in America right now.  It's not even close.

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach...

I saw this one last weekend.  I think you'll enjoy it.  Here's your set up.

Alabama's football team is coached by Nick Saban - did a post early this week after what a control freak he is.  The thing is, if your system gets great results, you have the ability to be a complete control freak.  If you're not a world class leader, you can't be a micromanaging control freak, because people you manage won't take it - they'll revolt.

Most of us aren't good enough at what we do to be complete control freaks.  Nike Saban, however, is good enough.

Here's a new thought to add to that post earlier this week:

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach

Video clip below (click through if you don't see the clip).  Talk about what to look for after the jump. 

Alabama is playing at Texas A&M.  The outcome was never in doubt, BUT... Texas A&M scores and is kicking off, and IF they recover an onside kick, they could throw a hail mary with 5 seconds left to tie it, etc.

So the onside kick is cleanly fielded by one of Alabama's best players - in a roster full of 5 star recruits - Minkah Fitzpatrick.  

Here's where it gets interesting.  Average players field that onside kick and collapse like they've been shot. Minkah Fitzpatrick. is not average, so he fields it cleanly and runs it back.  That's what stars do, right?

Ultimately, he gets pushed out of bounds, celebrates with his teammates and then at the :23 second mark of the video, puts his hands over this face like he's just seen a ghost.  

He saw Nick Saban.

Flash forward to the :27 mark of the video. Minkah Fitzpatrick. comes to the sidelines and takes a tongue lashing from Nick Saban before an assistant grabs him to explain things more calmly as Saban walks off.  The coaching is obviously that if you fumble as you run it back, there's a chance we lose this game.

What's interesting to me with this one is that Micah Fitzpatrick looked over at the sidelines after the celebration and thought, "oh no" - I screwed that up.

He's one of the best players on the best team in the country, and he just made a great play.  But the devil was in the details, and when it saw the sidelines, he realized the coaching that was coming.

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach

Success brings a lot of positives to your organization.  One of the things we don't think about is how open talented people are to coaching.  But ff you're losing as a company, it's harder to coach the great ones.  If you're winning, it's easier.

The more you develop a culture of success, the more open all employees - even the great ones - are to coaching.


The HR Capitalist Playbook for Men Avoiding Workplace Harassment Claims...

Harassment claims have been in the news lately, and it's an interesting time for HR leaders.  Whether you're talking about the latest Harvey Weinstein reports or all the crazy stuff that went down at Uber, you've probably never had everyone's attention on the male side of the house like you do today.

What do you do with that attention? Well, it's probably not enough just to email Harvey Weinstein and Uber rundowns to your management team.  While that seems reasonable, a new Cavemanreport from The New York Times shows that all the well-intentioned promises may have resulted in some serious unintended consequences:

"A big chill came across Silicon Valley in the wake of all these stories, and people are hyper-aware and scared of behaving wrongly, so I think they’re drawing all kinds of parameters," an anonymous venture capitalist told the Times.

The anonymous VC told the Times that he's actually cancelled one-on-one meetings with female engineers and potential recruits to protect himself from any "reputational risk."

YEP - THESE ARE ARE MALE MANAGERS.  SIMPLE FOLK.  CAVEMEN.  "SOMEBODY GOT A HARASSMENT CLAIM, SO I'M NOT MEETING ALONE WITH LADIES".

WTF...

As much as I'd like to think this attitude doesn't touch companies like yours and mine, it does.  It's the "let's take our ball and go home" mentality.  Crazy but true.

Lucky for you, I'm here as a guy HR leader to give you my straight up Playbook for Men Avoiding Workplace Harassment Claims.  Here we go:

1--Don't have designs on sleeping with someone at work.  Whether you're single or married, don't do it.  I'm not the morality police, but if you target someone for romance at work, you get what you get.  It's just problematic.  Don't do it.  And for the ladies in my family life who read my blog, I should mention this (morality alert!), if you're a guy who's married, don't be a sleaze.  Honor the commitment.  But if you're incapable of that, stay out of the workplace, Jack.

2--When on the road, don't do stupid stuff.  I'm on the road a lot, and things like having a lady hold your bag in her room is just problematic.  Check your bag and handle small stuff on the road without treating a female co-worker like your wife/girlfriend.

3--Be personable in conversation without probing.  Look, it's OK to make small talk about life with your female co-workers, and every once in awhile, it goes to a place of personal information.  It's not uncommon for that to happen, what matters is what happens next.  Don't probe for more, get out and take the conversation back to something rivaling a mundane USA Today article.

4--Hold your one-on-one meetings with females in public or somewhat public places.  The more private the room is, the more you really don't need to be there.  If you meet on the road in a hotel room with a female, you're a moron.

BONUS - and I call this the Harvey Weinstein rule - don't answer the door on the road in a robe.  Who the #### uses a robe in hotel room?

That's what I got.  What do you have to add?


Nick Saban Is a Steve Jobs-Type Control Freak: Exhibit 63

The sports world follows the business world in a lot of ways.  There's talent considerations, managing performance and more.

Oh yeah - the best leaders in sports, just like in business, are a little bit crazy.  They are crazy control freaks with a detailed plan on how domination is going to be achieved.  Think Steve Jobs.  Think the Uber guy before he came crashing down.  

In sports, consider Alabama football coach Nick Saban. IMG_0202

For the uninitiated, Saban is the head football coach at the University of Alabama, who has built a dominating machine in college football. Click on the link to learn more if needed/interested.  Today, I'm here give you one example from the book of Saban:

The last three games, I've noticed a trend.  Check out the picture to the right in this post (click through it you don't see the photo).  Saban has a guy who has the sole job to have a cup of water ready for him when he's thirsty/ready.  The guy is always positioned behind Saban in the manner pictured to the right.

I used to be around college athletics as a player and a coach.  When a guy like Saban dictates that level of control, there's no doubt in my mind that the following happened:

1.  Saban works hard and wants a drink every once in a awhile.  At some point in the past, he got tired of finding said drink and instructed his operations team to have someone around with water for him.  He delegated that and allowed his staff to figure it out.

2.  It went OK for awhile, then one time Saban wanted a drink - in practice or in a game - and the solution that got put in place failed.  The person responsible for being in the general area got called away or lost attention to the task at hand, which was hydrating Saban.

3.  Saban went absolutely ####ing bananas.  To the point where he couldn't be reasoned with.  

4.  Being the control freak many great leaders are, he came up with his own solution.  From the that point forward, an entire FTE of the athletic department will have one job - to be behind Saban with an available cup of water at all times.  I don't know how long this has has been going on, but it's been there for the last 3 games.

TRANSLATION: Somebody f***ed this up, and Nick Saban f***ing fixed it.  Note that this only works if you're a leader who gets unbelievable results.  If you get average results as a leader and try and flex this level of control, you'll be on the way out, because the people you lead will revolt.  If you're Steve Jobs or Nick Saban, it's accepted because you're the best in the world at what you do.  And psycho-level control is a big part of how you built the machine.

BONUS - I know the guy holding the cup of water is black.  I don't think it matters in this case, because my bet is that Nick picked the person who was going to hold the cup of water for him, and he picked the person he trusted the most.  While it's poor optics for the politically correct crowd, my gut tells me whoever got selected from the ops staff - white or black - to hold Saban's cup of water treats as a compliment they were selected.  Hell, this might even be an associate/assistant AD at Alabama, because that's how much power Nick Saban has.

You're playing checkers. Nick Saban is playing chess. And on the Nick Saban chess board, there's no detail to small for control.  

Somebody f***ed this up, and Nick Saban f***ing fixed it.


Kid Rock, Innovation and Resistance to Change...

Show love to those who come real with it
Life's a b**ch , but I deal with it
I'm in it to win it like Yzerman
Can drink about fifteen Heinekins
I'm not born again but if I was
I'd ask to come back with a little more love
Puffin the Winston, drinkin' a four-oh
Kid Rock and I'm a let you know...

Wasting Time --Kid Rock

----------------------------------

We’re all a little bit scared of change, aren’t we?

The year is 1998.  I turn on the MTV music awards and a see a white guy with long hair, a funky hat and a red suede sweatsuit jumping around stage, rapping and screaming.  The scene around him is surreal – there’s Kid rock a midget bouncing around on stage with him, the music behind him is 90% provided by a rock band with a bassist and lead guitarist who look like bikers and a middle-age black woman on drums. 

My conclusion.  This sucks.  It will never last.  Why are they on the MTV music awards.  WTF?

Well, it turns out that dirty white hippie was Kid Rock.  The world had it right early, I had it wrong.  I became a fan over time.  I was late to the game.

Love him or hate him, Kid Rock arrived.  Some of you never liked him.  Most of the world eventually did. 

We see things that interrupt our pattern, and our first instinct is to protect what we know – even if the new thing is better.  Need another example?

Messaging.  If you’re Gen X like me, texting came online at a time when I didn’t need another way to communicate.  Like a lot of people in their 30’s at the time, I WAS KILLING IN IT CORPORATE AMERICA VIA EMAIL.  I didn’t want or need texting.  My kids were young and without phones – I didn’t see what the big deal was. DID I MENTION MY EMAIL GAME WAS SICK?

Turns out, I missed a channel of immediacy with those I most wanted to communicate with.  Now I can’t think of life without the immediacy of text – although that responsiveness will go down over time.

You’ve got your own stories about how you resisted change in your life and now look back and feel stupid, right?  Hit me with those stories in the comments.

The point?  We are resistant to change, so we often are slow to see the benefits of new innovations that appear before us.  To be sure, not all new things are going to break through like texting – or like Kid Rock.

But it really doesn't matter.  Most of us are resistant enough to all change that we’re slow on everything – including the ones that really matter. 

That has to spill over into your ability to innovate at work, right?

If we’re slow to adopt changes that obviously improve the status quo, how could we possibly be expected to innovate on our own at work?

Oh, I GET IT – YOU’RE QUICK ON PROVIDING INNOVATION AT WORK BUT JUST A LITTLE BIT SLOW IN YOUR RESPONSE TO ADOPTING QUALITY INNOVATIONS PROVIDED BY OTHERS.

Sure you are, Sparky.  Sure your are.

 


Subscription-Based Org Charts Are an Interesting Recruiting Tool...

If you're a consumer of news, one of the things you've seen in the past is that there's a trend towards the best news outlets creating paywalls and trying to get you to pay for a digital subscription.  The game plan at the Washington Post, New York Times and other outlets is to give you something like 10 free articles a month on your phone, then stop access and make you pay.

Have you paid the fee?  Me either, but I'm always doing the math in my head if I should.  If the content is good enough (and maybe more importantly if the SEO moves the source to the Information top repeatedly), I'm always inclined to consider paying.  Another trend in digital journalism is to create a deep, deep coverage level of a small niche and then ask the readers with hyper interest in that niche to pay for the coverage.  That's the plan at a source called "The Information".  Here's a description of that news outlet:

Jessica Lessin, a 33-year-old former Wall Street Journal reporter, has created a tech news site, The Information, which could become a new digital model at a time when ad-supported Web news is in need of an economic lifeline. 

The Information has gained notice for its contrarian, old-school approach to digital news, which includes a no-joke $399 paywall, relatively scant attention to social media (at least when compared to other digital-first news sites), and a newsroom ethos that encourages reporters to write fewer, deeper stories, as opposed to a constant drip of quick, often thinly reported hits. The Information’s sweet spot is the serious pursuit of business news: Snap Inc.’s IPO plans, the boardroom travails at Uber, an investigation into the founder of Nest Lab.

I'm interested in The Information because there's a lot of interesting HR and recruiting stories in the valley.  In addition, one of the recurring features they have is basically underground reporting of the top 2-3 levels in any company, which is a bit of a an org chart on HGH - below is a picture of how they teased the org chart of the people who matter the most at self-driving car company, Waymo (click through if you don't see the image below):

TheInformationOrgChartDive

If you're a recruiter in a niche industry, my sense is that you would pay $399 a year for the an org chart like this every two weeks alone - to say nothing of the other features and deep reporting on an industry you're trying to rip talent from.

The question is whether sources like The Information can survive in a world of free.  See the box top left - $400 per month across 10,000 subscribers = 4M in revenue.


Candidates Who Try To Cheat the Behavioral Interview Are Actually Doing You a Favor...

A week or two back I penned a post wondering out loud if the Behavioral Interview was dead.  Of course, I don't think it is, and a big part of my thought process is that it remains a tool that we just haven't spent enough time training on. 

So it's easy to say that it doesn't work.  Of course, our managers for the most part aren't great at interviewing and we haven't really tried to train them on interviewing skills across corporate Assumptions-ahead-signAmerica. 

Finally, there are people rationalizing that just because there are thousands of returns in Google providing advice to candidate to "beat the behavioral interview" - we should abandon it as a meaningful tool in the interview process.

Candidates are trying to cheat the behavioral interview?  Sounds like the perfect candidate to me.  My readers agree - from the comments section of the HRC:

From a reader named Kimberlee:

Yeah, it bothers me that so many people (still?) think that interviewing is a gotcha game or a power play or a thing a person can "pass" or "fail." It's a pernicious perception on the part of both employers and candidates. Interviews should serve purely as a way to talk out whether the candidate is right for the role and right for the company. If candidates are preparing better for those conversations than they were in the past, that's perfect. That's ideal. Anything that will help me take the scared spitter-of-canned-responses candidate in front of me and turn them into someone who can just tell me about themselves, what they've done, and what they hope to do is great in my book.

More from a psychologist named Gary:

Wow, thanks for pointing out this rather alarming trend with respect to how behavioral interviewing is being perceived. As a Business Psychologist, I can say that behavioral interviewing is still an effective tool that is a staple of my candidate assessment/selection process (along with other measures, like personality and cognitive assessments). It's almost as if people believe that the "list of behavioral interview answers" has been released on the internet, while professionals know that there are no "right" or "canned" responses that will "pass" the interview - it just doesn't work like that. And, in agreement with another comment on this article, I also believe that candidates preparing for behavioral interviews by thinking through their best work examples is a win-win for both the candidate and the interviewer. So, in my view, behavioral interviewing is "alive and well", and will be considered best practice for a long time to come.

And a guy named Matt from California (via Mississippi) broke it down in 15 seconds of typing:

So candidates know about behavioral interviewing so they spend some time thinking about various scenarios they have encountered so they are more prepared and can effectively relate them to the interviewer... Win/Win! Maybe I have oversimplified.

Yep - these are my readers!  Way to smart to take the bait on bad advice.

 


BHAGs: You're Afraid. Elon Musk is Not...

BHAGs are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are positioned toward by a large group (rather than individuals) and they typically span a large amount of time than any of our other goals. They’re huge.

BHAGs can come in several flavors. Most are focused on one of four broad categories: reaching a defined target or metric, competition, organizational change, or reputation. Here are a few examples from some companies Elon-musk-mars you’ve probably never heard of…

-Reaching a defined target

“Attain 1 billion customers worldwide” – Citicorp, 1990s

-Competition

“Crush Adidas” – Nike, 1960s

-Organizational Change

“Transform this company from a chemical manufacturer into one of preeminent drug-making companies in the world.” –Merck, 1930s

-Reputation

“Become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” – Sony, 1950s

Wait - Nike wasn't always the leader? Japanese products were once considered low quality before Japan was kicking our ass in the 80's?

Well, before the world as we know it at Nike and Sony became the reality, leaders at those companies created a BHAG as a single unified vision for their people to rally around.

You know who else is good at BHAGs?  Elon Musk.  Musk basically BHAG'd his way into Tesla and Space X becoming great companies.  

Electric Car with quality and luxury?  BHAG.

Reusable rockets with segments that can land back on earth on pads?  B-freaking-HAG.

Well, here comes Musk again, probably the most adept user of BHAGs in the world.  The topic is Mars - more from The Guardian:

Elon Musk has unveiled plans for a new spacecraft that he says would allow his company SpaceX to colonise Mars, build a base on the moon, and allow commercial travel to anywhere on Earth in under an hour. The spacecraft is currently still codenamed the BFR (Big Fucking Rocket). Musk says the company hopes to have the first launch by 2022, and then have four flying to Mars by 2024.

Last year Musk proposed an earlier plan for the spacecraft, but at the time had not developed a way of funding the project. Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide Australia on Friday, Musk said the company had figured out a way to pay for the project.

The key, he said, was to “cannibalise” all of SpaceX’s other products. Instead of operating a number of smaller spacecrafts to deliver satellites into orbit and supply the International Space Station, Musk said the BFR would eventually be used to complete all of its missions. “If we can do that then all the resources that are used for Falcon9, Dragon and Heavy can by applied to this system,” he said.

BFR.  Musk isn't messing around.  The BHAG is set.

If history tells us nothing else, it tells us that Musk will probably make it happen.  Maybe not by 2024, but you can't have a BHAG without making it seem impossible.


What I Hate About SharkTank...and How to Deal With It...

And as you might suspect, it's linked to leadership and talent.

I love SharkTank as a show - when I'm not sure what to watch, especially with my teenage sons around, SharkTank is the go- Shark-tank-to.  It's entertaining, educational and conversation-provoking with my sons able to think about deals, negotiation, etc.

But there's one thing that drives me crazy:

I absolutely hate it when a shark makes and offer and tells the target he/she has to decide RIGHT NOW!!!  Without entertaining other offers...

I know what you're thinking.  "That's why they call it SharkTank, KD."  "Grow up, KD."  "Sucks to be them, KD."

You're right.  BUT - the very things people like Mark Cuban value most in a partner are the things they're trying to bully them out of.  Standing up for yourself - keeping deals/offers afloat why you shop for something better, etc.

The sharks in SharkTank would never be bullied like that.  But, they have people in front of them that value their involvement, want to go away with a deal, etc.  I'd say over half the time the strategy works.  The other half of the time the entrepreneur fails to deal with the expiring offer/bullying tactic in an effective way.

That's why it's about time for the pitching entrepreneurs to wise up and have a strategy to deal with the bully.  Here's the strategy they should use whenever a Shark makes them an offer and tells them it goes away unless they accept immediately without hearing other offers:

1--Thank them for the offer.

2--Remind them of the type of partner they want. "Mr. Wonderful, I know you're going to expect me to negotiate for you/us if we become partners, so please allow me to hear any other offers.  Since you were first, I'lll guarantee I'll come back to you and give you the right of counteroffer/first refusal if someone else makes an offer that's better than yours."

3--Proceed.  If they go away, they go away.

4--If you proceed and there aren't any other offers or you want the original offer, come back to the Shark who tried to use the bullying tactic and say, "Mr. Wonderful, your offer expired and I told you why I wanted to do what I did.  I'd love it if you came back in with that offer.  While I didn't heed your ultimatum, you now know I'm a partner that can seek the best deal for our business if I'm in a environment that requires negotiation."

I'm shocked more people aren't prepared for this tactic when they appear on SharkTank.   

The only time entrepreneurs who appear shouldn't use this talk track is when the Shark gives them 100% of what they asked for, or when 3 or more Sharks are already out.  That's common sense. 

But if a Shark gives you a lower than expected offer (as the first or second one in) and tries to bully you to accept right then and there, have some spine people.  Be prepared and use the talking track above in your own words.  It effectively turns the energy against the Shark and forces them to publicly confront what they want in a partner.

Oh, and never take an offer from Mr. Wonderful. 


Social Loafing - Do People Give Less Effort When You Add More Resources To a Team?

Social Loafing -the phenomenon of a person exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone.

Hmmmm....

----------------------------

From a book I'm reading...

One of the first scientists to explore the dynamics of group effort was a guy named Maximilien Ringelmann.  In 1913, Ringelmann conducted an experiment in which he asked Social loafingstudents to pull on a rope, both individually and in groups, while he measured the force they exerted.  The conventional view was that people in a group would have more power collectively than they did alone - in other words, adding people to the pulling group would have a multiplying effect on the force.

But the results were surprising - While the force applied did grow with every new person added, the average force applied by each by each person fell.  Rather than amplifying the power of individuals, the act of pulling as a team caused each person to pull less hard than they had while pulling alone.  Later researchers coined a name to the phenomenon.  They called it social loafing.

A later Fordham study decided to look at whether social loafing could be overcome.  They wanted to see whether one person giving a maximum effort could incite other to improve their performances. The scientists grouped their shouters in pairs and, before they began shouting, told them that their partner was a high effort performer. In these situations, something interesting happened. The pairs screamed just as hard together as they had alone. The knowledge that a teammate was giving it their all was enough to prompt people to give more themselves.

Is social loafing real in the workplace? I'd say 100% it is.  While high performing teams can do amazing things, the question is what does it take to be a high performing team?

You know some of the answers, right?  Goal setting, consistent feedback, task and role clarity within the team, etc.  Read deeper on social loafing and you'll find that the lack of clarity related to individual expectations causes many team members to assume/rationalize that other team members will do certain activities - so there's no need for them to act.

The impact of a reported high performer in the Fordham study is interesting as well.  Let's say you're at your company (ACME) and while you're a talented gal, you've had it on cruise control for awhile - the work is mundane, the people are mundane and even though some of your work teams aren't producing stellar results, you're still considered a high performer.

Why work harder? You're in a rut. 

Suddenly, a new hire shows up and you're told they're from a progressive company and are considered a key hire.  They're inserted into 2 of the 4 work groups you participate in at ACME and damn, they start trying to shake things up and get more done - even if it means doing more themselves than others are doing.

What do you do in those circumstances?  Deadbeats who are already long gone from an effort perspective might let them do it.  But anyone who still has ambition and a desire to be a high performer is forced to step up their game.

Social loafing exists in your company until you create some type of competition to wake people up.  

What type of competition is required?  Depends on your culture and your team.  Could be a key new hire, could be a project chart showing what people are working on or an overall scoreboard that puts the team in direct competition with others - or simply with themselves.

If you want to stop social loafing, introduce competition.  Competition is not a dirty word.  Don't let a sleepy culture at your company tell you otherwise.

 

 


The New Amazon HQ - Is the Key to Your City Winning The Competition Eliminating Non-Competes?

In case you missed it, Amazon announced in early September that it is planning to open another headquarters called Amazon HQ2 in US city TBD.

Amazon HQ2 will cost $5 billion and eventually house up to 50,000 Amazon staff, and the company has said it wants HQ2 to be in a metropolitan area with a "stable and business friendly environment" and more than 1 million people. The company also wants HQ2 to be within 45 minutes of an international airport and in a location where there is potential to attract strong technical talent.

Simply put, it's the biggest single economic development item that will happen for an American city in the next century.  While many cities will bid, it stands to reason that there's only a handful - including my homer call for the Amazon hqATL - that have a realistic shot at landing the new Amazon HQ.

Competition will be fierce.  Is it reasonable to assume that cities will pull out all the stops to attract Amazon?  Of course it is.  That's why a recent Op/Ed piece from University of Chicago Law School professor Omri Ben-Shahar calling for Chicago to outlaw Non-Competes as a means of attracting Amazon was so interesting to me.  More from the Chicago Tribune:

But there is an additional strategy to entice Amazon, one that does not cost a penny and that could make Chicago all the more attractive. Ban the noncompete agreements in employment contracts. Open the job market for competitive mobility, allowing Amazon to poach the best workers for its new hub. Gov. Bruce Rauner has recently put forth such a proposal to ban noncompete clauses, and it is time for Illinois legislators to write it into the law.

The workers Amazon plans to hire in its HQ2 will not arrive by trains from Seattle to their new city. They will mostly be hired locally. With so many new jobs to fill, a major reshuffling of employment will occur in the hosting city. But only if workers are free to leave their existing employers and take new jobs with competitors. The problem is that many are not free, locked into their present workplaces by the notorious noncompete agreements they signed when originally hired. A statewide ban of such noncompete lock-ins will release a major barrier to economic growth, and make Chicago more competitive in bringing in out-of-state tech companies.

Since you and I deal with human capital issues daily, we know the reality of non-competes - they are easy to write and hard to enforce.  Still, Amazon will undoubtedly have to spend tremendous resources to litigate a bunch of non-compete issues.  Once Amazon announces a city for the new HQ, watch the activity that happens to lock down critical parts of workforces - pay increases, culture enhancement and yes - forced signing of non-competes for those that don't have them in place.  If you're an incumbent employer with a professional, technical product workforce in the city named for the new HQ, you've got to be prepared to go to war - winning hearts and minds as well as doing some nasty stuff to play hardball with the looming Amazon threat.

But it could be that a city that can line up 3-4 incredible items like the elimination of non-competes creates the tipping point necessary for Amazon to grant the new HQ to the city in question.

I'm not sure it matters.  When it comes to legal skirmishes over things like non-competes, the company with the biggest checkbook and raw will usually wins.  And Amazon has a bigger checkbook than anyone.   

More from OBS on the benefits of not having non-competes:

But, surprisingly, researchers have found that greater job mobility improves overall worker training. True, employers may invest less in training workers if their investment is not protected by the noncompete clauses. But there is an even stronger flip side: Workers who are free to switch jobs invest more in self-training. Noncompete agreements reduce, not raise, the overall investment in human capital. Their ban would therefore enhance the quality of the workforce, and firms would benefit.


Is Behavioral Interviewing Dead? The Internet Said So...

Deep thoughts today, people... Deep thoughts.  

Was at a conference last week and heard a keynoter basically proclaim the following (I'm paraphrasing):

"Behavioral interviewing is dead.  Just google the term and you'll find thousands of pages designed to help candidates beat behavioral interviewing."

OK.  Let me break that general thought process down a bit.  There's one word that comes to mind when I hear a thought leader proclaim that behavioral interviewing is dead with that logic as the reason. Rationalize

Rationalization.

People are tying to help candidates beat behavioral interviewing!!  That means it's ineffective as an interviewing technique, right?

Um, no.

When behavioral interviewing doesn't work well, it's because you haven't giving your managers the training they need to be successful.  Actually you might have given them the training.  What you haven't done is given them the gift of failure.

For anything related to manager training, failure=role play as part of your training.  You've got to give them real practice using the skills you're teaching them.  If they don't fail as a part of your training, there's ZERO chance they're going to try and use the skill in the real world.

If you don't force people to fail in your training, they'll never be effective in their real lives as managers.

Is behavioral interviewing the end all/be all?  No.  But it's an effective way to drill down on candidates (no hypotheticals! What did you do specifically in that situation?  Not the team - you!) if you give your managers the training they need.

I'm cool if you don't like behavioral interviewing - shine on, you crazy diamond.  Just don't fail to give managers what they need and then blame it on the Internet.  That's called rationalization not to train.

PS - If you're in the market for cool training your managers will actually like, check out my training series called BOSS - Leadership Skills for the Modern Manager.  It's full of stuff that will engage your managers and give them the skills (and initial failure) they need to get better!  Bonus - below is the first video we show as part of our behavioral interviewing training - featuring Vince Vaughn and Owen Willson (email subscribers click through for the video).


Long Weekend PTO Strategy Guy/Gal - Is Currently Crushing It At Your Company....

There's a person that's currently cheating life at your company.  But it's not who you think.

--It's not the person who's stock options just vested (because the stock could tank);

--It's not the person who just signed the big deal (because you're only as good as your last month); and

--It's not you. Because life if complicated and s##t happens.

No - the person that's currently crushing it is Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal.  Not sure who that is?  Allow me to elaborate. That guy

Most people take weeks of vacation, because let's face it, that's how we're trained.  Gotta get to the beach.  Gotta get to the mountains.  Rentals only happen in week blocks in some of those nice places.  I need a week to really unplug from this place.

Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal knows all of that is a lie.  Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal has hacked life, and only takes PTO in one day increments - and the time requested is always on Friday or Monday.

Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal works 4 day weeks at least 25% of the time, and if life/family doesn't happen to them, they'll soon be running that percentage up to 33% of the weeks in a work year, because with greater seniority comes more PTO.

Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal is kicking your ass.  If you manage Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal, you've admired the strategy.  Some of you may have bristled at the approach.

Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal doesn't care.  They're so locked into the strategy (having experienced all the benefits) they're going to make you change the policy to force them to take a week at a time.  They're daring you, in a game of PTO chicken - because if you invoke that strategy for them, it's going to impact others who occasionally want to package the long weekend.

Most of you won't change your policy, because you'll look like a complete ass to the people who usually take a week but occasionally want to live the Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal lifestyle.

--Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal has fewer Mondays than you do.

--Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal really doesn't have a "hump day"

--Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal is fully committed to their rock and roll lifestyle.

The only thing that can stop Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal is marriage and the 2.5 kid FTEs that comes with matrimony.  If/when that happens, it gets complicated.  That's the future, though.  Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal will worry about that when it comes.

I see you, Long Weekend PTO strategy Guy/Gal.  Keep hacking life.


ESPN Prez Wades Into Employee Political Identities with Jemele Hill Memo...

If you follow the media game (and in today's political environment where every outlet has a slant, it's hard not to), you might have seen that ESPN's Jemele Hill was out on her personal Twitter account calling the current POTUS a "white supremacist".

Here's the tweet (click through it you don't see it below, email subscribers):

Jemel

Of course, that led to a bunch of posturing, including conservatives wondering why someone like Linda Cohn (another ESPN anchor) was sent home/suspended for merely stating she thought the media outlet should be less focused on politics, while the Hill tweets were largely unaddressed by ESPN.  

From an HR perspective, I'm most interested in the intersection of someone's professional life and personal views, and how an organization navigates that.  Could Jemele Hill have been suspended or even fired?  Sure - but good luck with that with Trump as the target of her controversial comments. 

So ESPN is in a rough spot - highly visible employee makes comments sure to frustrate some of the base, but what can they do?  Well, ESPN did their best to continue to try and get in front of it with an internal memo.  More from the NY Post:

"ESPN president John Skipper sent a memo to all of the company’s employees late Friday afternoon (9/15/17), outlining his wish that ESPN remain an apolitical organization, regardless of outside perception.

“I want to remind everyone about fundamental principles at ESPN. ESPN is about sports. … We show highlights and report scores and tell stories and break down plays.”

“In light of recent events, we need to remind ourselves that we are a journalistic organization and that we should not do anything that undermines that position,” Skipper wrote in a memo obtained by Sports Illustrated. “We also know that ESPN is a special place and that our success is based on you and your colleagues’ work. Let’s not let the public narrative re-write who we are or what we stand for. Let’s not be divided in that pursuit. I will need your support if we are to succeed.”

Translation - your public views, even as a private citizen, can impact our success as a business.  And hey, I'm asking now - maybe next time I don't ask.  #stopplease

It's a well known fact of life that freedom of speech is alive and well - but just because that right is protected constitutionally doesn't mean your employer can't fire you if your stated views cause them problems with their client/customer base.

But as this column from former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons notes (once suspended himself for comments made publicly), the crazier the political environment gets, the harder it is to suspend/fire individuals for comments that might harm the business.

Interesting times.  Hit me in the comments with any craziness from employees you're seeing related to what I'll kindly call "this Trump thing"....


Early Data On Impact of Google for Jobs on Indeed Sponsored Listings...

As most of you are aware, the launch of Google for Jobs a few months back was thought to be a significant blow to Indeed for 2 reasons:

1--Indeed was not listed as a partner that would automatically have its jobs included/indexed in the Google for Jobs product, and

2--The presence of the Google for Jobs interface on search results for jobs pushes the once dominant SEO power of Indeed way below the fold, which means the ROI of Indeed spend should go Indeeddown over time.  Translation - the first thing candidates see won't be Indeed, which is like Uber customers losing access to its app.  In fact, they'll have to scroll a loooooong way down.

What's happening in the field?  At Kinetix, we manage our own Indeed spend as well as the Indeed spend of many of our RPO clients.  Here's what's happening across the Indeed spend we manage:

A--We currently have mixed results.  Some clients experienced a drop in results related to Indeed spend in August, while others did not.

B.  The Indeed spend at Kinetix actually improved (where we spend our own money to sponsor Kinetix jobs, as well as jobs for clients as part of our overall recruitment marketing spend).

Summary on Google for Jobs impact on Indeed - it's too early to tell.  In addition, keep the following in mind even if Indeed spend is impacted over time, which we and others expect:

--Even if Indeed performance goes down, it doesn't mean it's not still worthy of spend.  Taking a look at CPC (cost per click) and the resulting applies/hires, Indeed performance could drop and it's likely to still be worthy of budget compared to other places to spend your money.

--Indeed tactics will evolve over time to deal with the competitive threat.

--Active management of results and adjusting your Indeed strategy is key.  Companies who actively monitor their sponsored results at Indeed and make adjustments/changes are likely to perform better.  

In a twist of "you get what you deserve", the companies who don't monitor/adjust/tweak their Indeed spend are the most likely to wake up 3 years from now and wonder what happened.

We'll keep reporting what we see at Kinetix.