"You're In HR, Everybody Hates You"
Words of wisdom from Steve Harvey on a Friday. Running time two minutes, worth your time (Email subscribers, click through for video):
"You're In HR, Everybody Hates You"
Words of wisdom from Steve Harvey on a Friday. Running time two minutes, worth your time (Email subscribers, click through for video):
In case you missed it - I was up at FOT earlier this week with the following post “He’s a Good Guy, Except For The Jihad”… (The Burden of Action in HR)", which weaves things that organizations like the FBI hear with the crazy things people drop on HR all the time.
You hear something crazy - do you investigate or discount as an HR pro? Drop over to my FOT post and we'll discuss.
Click the link to get the story - “He’s a Good Guy, Except For The Jihad”… (The Burden of Action in HR)".
The Empire in the Star Wars series had it wrong. You don't need to fight the rebels. You just need to pull out the checkbook and buy the rebel who is most representative of the cause.
In Star Wars, that was Luke Skywalker. Hell, you could also make the case that at one point it was Anakin Skywalker, but the empire didn't need to buy Anakin - they just needed healthcare technology that the rebel movement/jedi couldn't provide.
Translation - Marcus Buckingham just sold his company to ADP. Here's the standard yadda/yadda from the press release, we'll talk about what it really means after the jump:
ADP has acquired The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC), an innovator in human capital management (HCM), to bring to ADP clients a more scientific approach to employee engagement and performance. TMBC, and its founder Marcus Buckingham, are pioneers in using data and research to drive talent management practices that help managers build engagement and increase performance in their teams. Their unique approach empowers managers to coach employees based on their strengths and custom-design teams based on those strengths.
TMBC's cloud-based performance and talent management solution, StandOut, couples applications with coaching and education to give team leaders the tools, insights and data needed to turn talent into better employee performance. Built on decades of groundbreaking research that has uncovered the factors that differentiate high-performing teams, this solution will now be offered as ADP StandOut. TMBC has a global client roster that spans a broad range of industries from professional services to hospitality and includes many companies in the Fortune 100.
That's a lot of words. Buzzwords. Strategery!
Here's the most valuable thing that ADP just bought. The concept of StrengthFinders from Marcus Buckingham.
I know, I know. TMBC (which sounds like a liberal news channel, by the way) is much more than StrengthFinders. I got it. But let's be real, there's nothing that turns HR pros into gooey mush quicker than the concept of StrengthFinders as presented by Buckingham. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Marcus is younger and better looking than Dave Ulrich and our profession is 70% female.
StrengthFinders is the conversation starter that most HR Pros can't resist. It's THE FORCE, and the ADP (the Empire) just cornered the market.
Terms of the deal were undisclosed. Did ADP pay too much? Could the Evil Empire in Star Wars have paid too much for Luke Skywalker?
No. No they could not.
ADP just bought THE irresistible conversation starter for every rep in the ADP Salesforce. Observe:
--You're Enterprise HR? "Let me tell you about TMBC. No - not the channel that has Morning Joe. The Human Capital innovation company... Nevermind... Every heard of StrengthFinders? (bell rings in everyone's ears)"
--You're SMB HR? "StengthFinders" (rep says one word - SMB HR proceeds to disclose entire budgetary spend).
It's hard not to like the acquisition for ADP. As for anyone who's critical of Buckingham for selling out - you can still get your Marcus keynote fix - you'll just need to attend a large-scale ADP customer conference to do it.
Final note. I'm not an expert on TMBC, I'm assuming all rights to StrengthFinders is included. If it is, ADP got value for their money. If it is not included, a future post will have Buckingham's head photoshopped on Robin Hood or a Somalian pirate's head.
UPDATE - A capable PR professional reached out to me with the following update - "StrengthsFinder is a Gallup product, and ADP did not acquire the rights to it. Rather, ADP did acquire a product from TMBC called the Strengths Assessment. ADP did acquire all rights and research underlying and supporting the Strengths Assessment product." So that's the reality. My take really remains the same, the real intellectual capital across all HR people with Buckingham lies in that original book he did with the StrengthFinders title. So ADP has the rights to "Strengths Assessment". Got it. Still feel the same, and if they have "Strengths Assessment" and Buckingham for a period of time, I like the deal. No photoshopped picture of Buckingham's head on a Somalian pirate will be forthcoming.
If you're responsible for leading a team through change, you ultimately need ideas about what you should do given challenges your company or team are going through.
That means you're going to ask for ideas - usually in the space most often described as brainstorming.
Of course, that's wrong. Often times, most of the ideas aren't great, and a few suck.
Which begs the question:
"How do you lead a team through brainstorming and keep your ability to tell people their idea IS NOT A GOOD ONE?"
That's hard, right? Here's my list of 3 ways to do this:
You don't have to be the bad guy/gal when it comes to telling someone their idea is average at best. Define the problem deeper (most of us aren't good at this), make the brainstorming process visual (most of us do this part), then use a Cost/Value chart to guide the team in a conversation to identify the best ideas.
Brainstorming on problems is good. You being Darth Vader and killing the ideas/hope of someone on your team alone is bad. Broaden your approach and make your stormtroopers evaluate the ideas of their peers.
May the force be with you, my dark prince/princess.
Capitalist Note - Rerun for MLK day. Topic: White Guys engaging on their beliefs related to diversity in the world of work. Hashtag: #complicated...
Full disclosure - I'm a white guy.
There's lots of angry white guys out there who feel that all "this diversity talk" has made them a protected class. I'm not one of those, but I'm interested in the dialog.
First, let's take a look at the video below of Matt Damon attempting to tell a diverse group what diversity is and is not (email subscribers click through for the video):
Here's the money quote from Jason Bourne: "When we talk about diversity — you do it in the casting of the movie, not in the casting of the show," he said, insisting that the selection of directors must be based on merit.
With that in mind, here's my 5 Rules for White Guys Talking About Diversity:
1. Never talk about what diversity is or is not. You have good intent, I know. Nobody cares.
2. Never talk about the need for raw talent to supersede the need for diversity. This happens without you pointing it out. All the times you think a quota hire robbed someone of a job they deserved are blown away by the numbers on the other side - when someone hires a person they're comfortable with. You know, the one who looks like them.
3. Never say the words token or quota when referring to a hire. Doesn't matter the intent, these words will be viewed as code for what's really going on in your mind. You're deeper than that.
4. Don't brag about the diverse hire you made. Let people figure it out. You get less credit if you talk about it. Be bigger than that.
5. Don't talk about diverse candidates in special terms to the influencers in your process who are interviewing. You think you're helping, but you're actually not.
Actions, not words is probably the appropriate wrap up of this post.
Oh, and stop telling people you have Drake in your Pandora rotation. If you're a Nirvana guy, just own it.
How was your 2016 work-wise? Mine was good - not great, but when you really stop and look back at the accomplishments, there's a lot to be proud of. I'm sure you're in the same boat - the world moves so fast it's easy to feel overwhelmed and small.
One of the things I got done was the creation of a Change Management training module for managers of people. It's called Change Agile, and weaves traditional change management theory with Agile software development principles to create an approach to change that allows managers to engage their teams to brainstorm and come up with ideas on the best path forward given a challenge or problem.
Why is change on my mind?
As part of that course, we have a factoid on Google - who seemingly has an insurmountable lead in the search business, right? Well, change happens and smart people in great market positions are paid to be paranoid. Here's what former Google CEO Eric Schmidt had to say about potential threats to Google's search business in 2014:
"But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon. People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon . . .
If you are looking to buy something, perhaps a tent for camping, you might go to Google or Bing or Yahoo or Qwant, the new French search engine. But more likely you’ll go directly to Zalando or Amazon . . . last year almost a third of people looking to buy something started on Amazon — that’s more than twice the number who went straight to Google."
That was part of a speech in Germany, and undoubtedly was PR based as Google has had a lot of problems with European regulators in the past couple of years.
But OMG - was he right about Amazon being Google's biggest threat to the company's search business. Check out these stats from Business Insider:
"According to a survey by the financial services firm Raymond James, more than half of people start their search for online shopping on Amazon now, while only 26% use search engines like Google as the starting point.
Perhaps what's more concerning is that the search engine's share has been cut in half compared to 2014, while Amazon's share has significantly increased over the past two years."
Wow. Here's a chart that shows the decline over a 3-year period:
And since most of the money from search comes from ads on the side of your search results, this would seem to be problem.
If you're an HR leader, being progressive about threats and change needed to deal with the threats - even when you don't know the answer - is a great way to look like the leader you are.
If it can happen to Google, it will happen to you.
I'm historically an Atlanta Hawks fan (pro basketball). And being a Hawks fan is...well...difficult some times.
The Atlanta Hawks have a recent history that touches on numerous HR, organizational and talent issues. This history resulted in the NBA franchise being sold to a new owner a couple of
years ago, triggered by the racially charged events that basically go like this:
--A past General Manager for the Hawks (Danny Ferry) was reading a scouting report on an internal conference call on a potential free agent and ready aloud that the free agent in question, "had a little African in him", a reference apparently intended to conflate something about the free agent with African merchants who sell counterfeit goods.
--Minority partner/owner Michael Gearon Jr. taped the call, called for an internal investigation and wrote a letter pressuring majority owner Bruce Levenson “to ask for Ferry’s resignation, and if he refuses, to terminate him for cause.”
-Levenson announced his intention to sell his stake in the Hawks in September of 2014 following his realization that internal investigation would include the revelation of an email he’d written two years earlier to then-GM Ferry in which he theorized that “the black crowd [at Philips Arena] scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant [enough] season ticket base” to support the team.
That's a lot, right? if you're interested in the drama, go read this long form piece from ESPN that describes the dysfunction in the Hawks former ownership group.
In April of 2015, a group led by businessman Tony Ressler agreed to buy the franchise for $850 million. Two months later, following an internal investigation that “cleared Ferry of racial animus” in connection with his relating of the remarks in the Deng scouting report, the Hawks agreed to terms on a buyout of the final two years of his contract. He returned to the NBA this season as a special advisor for the New Orleans Pelicans, reporting to general manager Dell Demps, who is black.
Under the new ownership, the Hawks have done a pretty good job of connecting themselves to the entire Atlanta community and attempting to move past the past drama that was racially charged. They've also patted themselves on the back a good bit for their progress, taking a few victory laps via interviews to talk about the differences between past management and current management.
That's what makes a recent revelation so interesting from an organizational perspective. Wes Wilcox, Danny Ferry's replacement, recently opened mouth and inserted foot. Observe and be amazed via Yahoo Sports:
"The joke in question came during a Dec. 7 “chalk talk” event during which a crowd of about 200 season-ticket holders and team “members” had the chance to ask Wilcox about a variety of topics related to the Hawks’ on-court product, according to Deadspin’s Patrick Redford, who has the scoop:
Season ticket holder Clarenton Crawford, by his account, made his displeasure with coach Mike Budenholzer known, and offered to renew for two more seasons if the organization hired Mark Jackson instead. Another fan spoke about the need for a veteran point guard. And at one point, a member asked Wilcox why the Hawks’ best players were playing fewer minutes than they were at the start of the year. According to Crawford and another source who was present, Wilcox, who is white, tried to diffuse the tension with a joke:
“I know you guys may be angry with me, but I’m used to it because I have a black wife and three mixed kids, so I’m used to people being angry and argumentative.”
Crawford told Deadspin that he and his wife Deborah, who was also in attendance, were “livid” at Wilcox’s remarks, especially in the context of the Hawks’ recent past of racial turmoil.
I present this not to be PC, not to wag my finger and make more/less of this than it should be. I'm literally just fascinated by how the organization handles this.
Your previous GM was white and read a racial comment off a scouting report during a private conference call. He got caught up in a tidal wave of events and was labeled a racist, as is currently being rehabbed by a black executive in the industry who obviously didn't agree with the assessment of Ferry.
Your new GM? He's white and made a public comment in response to the anger of a black season ticket holder that alludes to the demographic in question as being angry and argumentative.
You can't make this stuff up. What will the Hawks, who are generally pleased with themselves from a community/relationship perspective in the aftermath of the Ferry/Levinson situation, do with Wilcox?
Early returns are they will do nothing. Is that right or wrong?
I don't know, but I bet Danny Ferry wishes he got the grace of context, a review of his life's work and more when a minority owner decided to tape a conference call.
Capitalist Note - I finally got around to binge-watching the former AMC hit Breaking Bad on Netflix, which follows high school chemistry teacher Walter White's journey through a lung cancer diagnosis and his subsequent turn to becoming a world-class meth producer. This series (The Heisenberg Rules) represents what I was reminded of as a HR leader by Breaking Bad. If you haven't seen the series, you can view a synopsis by clicking here. Spoilers abound in this series.
Rule #1 in the Heisenberg Rules is ACKNOWLEDGE HIGH PERFORMANCE:
The biggest transformation you'll find in Breaking Bad is the growing confidence of Walter White (WW). Once a high school chemistry teacher working a second job where he's routinely berated by a car wash owner with a unibrow and 3 fewer degrees that what he holds, Walt's transformation into a capable meth producer delivers one important outcome - he's now good at something the world values and will pay for - even if it's highly illegal.
As WW explores how to best make meth, the following things occur in a pretty rapid fashion:
--He learns that his background in chemistry makes him uniquely qualified to produce the product, including a purity level unmatched by any other producers.
--The world displays that it will pay large amounts of money for his product.
--He learns that the people who know about his talent treat him with a form of respect that has rarely felt since college. Of course, they're criminals, but that respect has been something that's been missing in WW's life for years.
Breaking Bad goes to great lengths early in the series to show Walter White as an emasculated man. He doesn't earn a great living, his family takes him for granted and a key relationship - his DEA brother-in-law "Hank" - is cast as an alpha male to show the contrast.
As a result of WW's emergence as an expert, his confidence grows, but so does his frustration. His new identity is hidden from his family for much of the show, which results in him having to do things like provide a cover for how he pays for his top grade cancer treatment - relying on a lie that former college friends (now rich) are paying the bills rather than disclosing that his earnings from meth production are the source of payment.
Through it all, Walter White smolders at the continuing emasculation. He's treated as a bit player by his own family and an object of pity as he earns hundreds of thousands of dollars - in secret.
Eventually, Walter's wife becomes aware of his new life as America's top meth producer. While that's a story arc of its own, it's an important contributor to WW's frustration.
Skyler (Walter's wife) is rightfully fearful of what's going on. But she never really turns the corner to acknowledge what's in front of her - that the emasculated man that's been the object of pity actually has skills that will result in a ultimate stockpile of 10 million dollars.
What's the tie in to the world of HR and talent? It's pretty simple. We routinely error in our companies by failing to do the following:
--recognize what individuals are best at and what makes them unique from a performance perspective.
--use references to what people are best at when we are coaching them on things they need to improve on.
--understanding the need for recognition - about true high performance, however small it may be in some cases - provides a deep connection that will deliver many managers through difficult circumstances with the employees who report to them.
I was reminded by Breaking Bad that failing to stop and acknowledge when someone really kicks ass (not in a public way, but 1-on-1) is a missed opportunity and is probably at the core of a lot of relationship dysfunction in the workplace.
I'll leave you with a final thought. Let's say you have a problematic employee you're coaching in a lot of areas. The one thing she's good at is being aggressive towards people who aren't getting things done and forcing them to act. She's a bit of a bully, but damn - she get get results in that circumstance.
Of course, what makes her great there serves as a relationship noose everywhere else. She's a one-trick pony, trying to bully everyone all the time.
Why not acknowledge her super skill in getting people to get things done (only using in limited circumstances) while coaching her on her crass, abrasive personality everywhere else?
Acknowledge high performance where you can, even if some view it as negative. It's the bridge to coach the same person where it really matters.
I ordered a Google Home a few months ago. It's an interesting if not life-changing first step into the intersection of AI and digital assistants. I'm a big user of the Google suite of products, and I smiled when I found out that I had to say "OK Google" or "Hey Google" to activate the digital assistant. Google has a nice way of making a lot of their products softer than they have to be.
That softness makes them less threatening when you realize Google has a lot of your information. Like when I got into my car a few weeks ago to drive 2.5 hours to Atlanta, and Google told me what the traffic on my route would be - before I told it where I was going.
But back to that implied soft side - which makes Google products seem "nice". Johna Paolino recently wrote a piece on Medium where she compared Google Home vs the Amazon Echo, specifically on how each drove a different type of vibe/interaction with her and her boyfriend:
As the year progressed, the wow factor faded quickly.
The product features continued working to their full effect, but I felt very unsettled. I found myself constantly agitated as I observed my boyfriend bark commands at this black cylinder.
Alexa, turn off the lights. Alexa, set my alarm for 8am.
This declarative speech was so incongruous with how he interacts with me, with how he interacts with any human.
Was it how he was asking?
Was it that she was female?
Was I jealous?
Paolino goes on to describe her reaction is driven by two factors - the name of the Amazon product and conversational triggers. The echo is driven by a female name, and Paolino was taken aback by hearing her boyfriend bark orders at a female voice. Commenters on her post rightfully let her know that you can change the trigger to the name Amazon or Echo. That problem can be solved.
But the use of conversational triggers is interesting to me. Using "OK" and "Hey" as softening factors is meaningful. It means that people are going to approach communication with Google Home in a softer fashion than they will with the Echo, and that's an important factor when the technology is far from perfect.
That same conversation tone transitions to the messaging we use in HR. If you're an HR leader and have allowed your teams to use the default messaging that was provided with your ATS and/or Performance Management system, you've missed an opportunity to sound human. We're rolling out a system right now and the stock messages sound like a mix between Mussolini and the worst HR Manager you've every encountered wrote the default messaging.
If Google Home tells us anything, it's that it's pretty easy to put a human side on your brand. If you're not perfect, it probably matters more than you think that people like you in HR and are willing to cut you some slack when you mess up.
Try making HR communications sound like normal people talk.
The economy is hot and the 2008/2009 recession feels distant, right?
That means now is a pretty good time to review the types of unemployment rates that are available out there for consumption. As it turns out, the one we usually hear about is an incomplete picture. Here's a primer on unemployment rates that are available from the government and a chart that shows where we've been since 1995:
U3 is the official unemployment rate.
U5 adds on discouraged workers and all other marginally attached workers. These people are still unemployed, but not in the market for a variety of reasons.
U6 adds on those workers who are part-time purely for economic reasons.
The U6 unemployment rate counts not only people without work seeking full-time employment (the more familiar U-3 rate), but also counts "marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons." Note that some of these part-time workers counted as employed by U-3 could be working as little as an hour a week, but they prefer full-time employment but haven't landed it yet. And the "marginally attached workers" include those who have gotten discouraged and stopped looking, but still want to work. The age considered for this calculation is 16 years and over
The current U6 unemployment rate as of December 2016 is 9.20, almost double from what's normally reported as the official U3 rate. See historical chart below:
If you consider U6 "real" unemployment, it reached almost 18% post recession in 2009-10. Damn.
I'd expect the gap between what's reported (U3) and the U6 rate to grow in the future, as the gig economy forces people to become part-time in an increasing variety of ways.
Peeps - I'm rerunning this as I told my 2014 Atlanta Snowpocalypse multiple times over the past couple of days as reported snow and ice is bearing down on the South, where of course, schools made the call to close 48 hours in advance. While temps where in the 50s...
Dateline: Atlanta, January 2014
How hard is it to be a manager of people at McDonalds? Hard. Like riding a bike on the freeway hard.
This week found me for almost 2 days at Exit 11 off I-20 in Georgia, stranded because of the South's Snowpocalypse, which was caused because when you don't own a snowplow, salt or sand, 3 inches of snow and ice in hard freeze temperatures can screw things up.
So I got the last room at a Microtel (no lobby restaurant) and bunkered up. Next door was a McDonald's, and since the wifi at the hotel didn't work, that was my place of residence any time they were open - which is the story here.
1. When I got there, it was just the manager and someone working the grill. Skeleton staff to be sure.
2. Most of the rest of the team had called out and said they couldn't get there. That is, if they called at all, which was a topic of discussion.
3. As it turns out, Wednesday was payday. The checks had been shipped to this location (day before for sure) and most of them looked to be live checks.
4. Even thought the roads were enough to keep most people from work, at least 12 employees (I'm guessing that location has 30-35 people on the payroll?) came in to get their checks.
5. When they came in to get their checks, the manager did everything in his power to ask them to stay and help them. He asked. He begged. He complemented them. He said he would take what ever time they could give him.
6. Guess how many people out of the twelve I saw said yes? One. 1!!!
Think about that for a moment. You need your check and you go through hell on the roads to come get your check, even though the banks are closed - so you really didn't think that through. Then, when you're asked to help out, you say no.
I know some of these folks had kids at home, etc. But 1 out of 12? Shows you how hard it is to be a manager of people at McDonalds. If I ever saw my kids in their early adult life and they went to pick up a check on a day where they could do nothing else, were asked to pitch in (in a nice way) and said no to the person who manages them, I do believe I would kick their ###.
Kudos to the 40-ish lady that came in with her 20 year old son and said yes. I watched her interactions with customers for a couple of hours, and she was money - very good at what she did. If you're reading this, you are all class.
McDonalds just needs more like you. Hell, after spending some time watching the interactions, I'm guessing America needs a lot more like you.
I know some emails back to me will say, "but Kris, those jobs use people for low wages and they're disposable jobs, etc."
Guess how you get out of that job? You act like the lady who said yes.
In a post-Trump world where AI is increasingly eliminating jobs that aren't coming back to the states - or to earth for that matter - it's a good exercise to think about workforce development/retraining alternatives that are out there.
Let's look at one of those alternatives that has been especially hot. Coding bootcamps, which are 12- or 14-week programs that teach software engineering - are increasingly seen as failures by those who hire software developers here in the states. Here's the backdrop from a Bloomberg article:
"When they first became prevalent a few years ago, coding schools were heralded as the answer to the technology industry’s prayers. “We can’t get enough engineers because the field is growing so rapidly,” said Tony Fadell, the former head of Google’s Nest smart thermostat company, in a recent promotional video for a nonprofit coding school, 42. Companies complained they couldn’t hire programmers fast enough, and meanwhile, many jobseekers said they couldn’t find employment. Just give those people an engineering crash course, the reasoning went, and voila, problem solved.
But the great promise of these schools training a new generation of skilled engineers has largely fallen flat. Coding House’s spectacular fall is an extreme case, but interviews with more than a dozen coding school graduates reveal that when they do land a job, often their engineering education doesn’t cut it. Many admit they lack the big-picture skills that employers say they want. Training them often requires hours of hand-holding by more experienced staff, employers say. The same holds true for graduates holding computer science degrees, but those employees generally have a better grasp of broader concepts and algorithms, recruiters said.
Mark Dinan, a recruiter who works with Bay Area technology companies like Salesforce, said many companies have told him they automatically disqualify coding school grads. “These tech bootcamps are a freaking joke,” he said. “My clients are looking for a solid CS [computer science] degree from a reputable university or relevant work experience.” Startups can be more flexible than established companies, he said."
The article goes on to report that 91 full-time coding bootcamps exist in the U.S. and Canada, with almost 18,000 people set to graduate from them this year. That’s up from 43 schools two years ago, and about 6,000 graduates. Tuition averages over $11,000 at non-degree granting programs that generally last around three months, but it can go as high as $21,000. Some schools take a cut of future salary instead of tuition.
So let's say you're a former production line worker in Michigan with the right makeup for software development. You voted for Obama in 2012 and went Trump in 2016, but you're not waiting around for anyone to save you. You financed your tuition, took on debt and learned lots from a coding camp. But now you can't get a job.
You've got reason to be pissed, right?
Well, no you don't. The rise and fall of coding camps is just another chapter in book about career change. Career changers who have had success pivoting in how they provide for themselves and their families are all similar in one important way:
Career changers never believe education will deliver a new career to them. They understand that passion and the display of work in the new field of choice - often for free - are required to get employers to take a chance on them and provide the additional investment needed to complete their transition.
Think about what I wrote above. If you or someone you love wants/needs a career change, I'm here to tell you - don't plan on that happening if you aren't willing to do free work. The work doesn't have to be extensive, and it doesn't have to be particularly excellent - it just needs to show that you've got some passion about making the transition you indicatied you're serious about. You know - the transition you indicated when you applied for a job that you're not qualified to do in any way.
I mean, damn - wake up. The world doesn't care that you got 3 months worth of education - or 4 years for that matter.
It needs to understand that you're serious about the transition you want to make and you're not some old dude that's going to crush everyone's mellow from the first day you hit the cube farm.
If you or someone you love is retraining themselves, try to help them understand that they need a simple portfolio of work they've done in their transition field of interest in addition to a coding bootcamp certificate. See my posts on portfolios here.
BONUS - listen to my friend Tim Sackett's interview of Nate Ollestad (director of recruiting at Duo Security) as they dig into coding camps and the types of candidates they produce compared to top-name schools. The question, they find, is less about what type of degree a candidate has, and more about what they're doing with it. Click the link above to hear that interview or just use the player that appears below.
Professional awesomeness. You've got it. The world needs to know about it.
I've mentioned in the past that you need a plan if you want real career traction. Some of my rants have focused on the reality that you have to be willing to tell the world about everything you've accomplished. If you don't do it, no one else will.
Now here's the tricky part - you have to share your awesomeness without looking like a jerk, or someone without any redeeming social skills. How do you do that? By setting the broadcast of your awesomeness in a cloak of humility.
Awesomeness in a cloak of humility. You think I'm joking with you. I can assure you I'm not joking with you. There's a path you can travel where people will get to view your accomplishments and won't think of you as a Dale Carnegie/Eddie Haskel blowhard/suck-up.
Put your helmet on - the first two methods/tools are the toughest one to get your head around.
Here's the Five Most Important Things To Do To Show The World You're Freaking Awesome at What Your Do:
1. You must actively mock yourself in every public profile you set up so the world knows you're not a stiff/dork/moron. Seriously, drop the formality and take it the other way. If you look at my LinkedIn profile, I'm citing the crossover dribble as a skill and using "BOOM!" to reflect the totality of my first paragraph. What's that mean? I have no idea, but I do know that people routinely tell me my profile is refreshing and different, which automatically gives me more license to talk about what I do, as long as it's not inconsistent with that context. You don't have to be me, but be you. Write like you talk and stop being corporate.
2. You have to be willing to provide portfolio items as templates to help others in need - for free. I've talked a lot in the past about portfolio development. Here's the dirty little secret - no one is going to give you max credit for the work you've done and are highlighting unless you're willing to be a resource for others. You're giving me screenshots and refusing to give me enough details to put your work into context? You're a poser - simply there for yourself. You publicly state you'll share what you did to help get others started? You're now a thought leader, and helping people inside and outside your company in this way has the obvious affect of making you more attractive as an indiviudal talent in the marketplace.
3. You have to make your LinkedIn profile not suck. I'll do a complete post on this later, but for now, you can download a whitepaper from my company by clicking here. Download it and do what it says - it's my gift to you. Make. It. Be. Less. Lame.
4. You need to get in the habit of following news/blogs/developments in your industry/profession and sharing what you find valuable. You see where this is going? If you want a great career, you've got to give gifts, because the average people aren't giving gifts. They're hoarding. When you hoard information, I have no idea whether you're great or lame. Since the risk is high that you suck, I'm just not going to take the chance of hiring you. With aggregation tools and social media, it's never been easier to broadcast what you find interesting in your industry/profession.
5. BRAINSTORM and PLOT - Use items #1-#4 to brainstorm about what's next. You set it up so you can broadcast your awesomeness in a cloak of humility - Excellent. The great thing in doing that is you're now helping people and sharing news related to what you do, which if you have any curiosity at all, should lead to you figuring out the next big win at work.
Don't ever apologize for being awesome. But never broadcast your awesomeness like you think you're the S###. Use your portfolio strategy in a way that generates authentic conversations with people inside and outside of your company and one thing is for sure - you're on your way to a great career.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.
I'm back. How was your holiday? Mine was great - caught up on some reading, spent time with the nuclear family (spousal unit +1.8 kid FTEs), decided I now don't care about football, had a life changing experience related to the value of Patagonia in cold weather, etc.
Oh yeah, another thing I did was watch parts of Tropic Thunder on HBO. As a recruiter/HR pro/Talent Agent, I'm obviously partial to Ari Gold of Entourage as the classic agent to emulate (the good parts, not the bad parts), but there's an alternative...
That alternative is Les Grossman, the super-agent played by Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder.
The walking contradiction of Les Grossman is that he does so many things wrong - while doing so many things right.
Take managing remote teams via video, for example. The video embed below is a scene where Les patches in from Hollywood to manage a remote team shooting a SE Asia war movie on site. Take a look at the video below (email subscribers click through for video) and BE WARNED THAT THIS IS TOTALLY NSFW AND NOT RECOMMENDED IF YOU'RE SENSITIVE:
Amazing, right? The movie was released in 2008, so Less was way ahead of his time. Here's what Less did right in managing remote teams via video, even while he was doing so much wrong:
If you aren't afraid of language and inappropriate behavior, this clip works for you. If not, you shouldn't have gone through the warnings.
But you could do worse than the 4 key elements of doing a video call with remote teams displayed by Les Grossman above.
Make 2017 a year of connection. That's a successories poster right there.
It's not show friends, it's show business."
--Bob Sugar in Jerry McGuire
There's an art to submitting candidates to hiring managers. You're an honest sort, and that can and will be held against you in the court of workplace psychology and momentum.
Let's get the obvious on the table. You could be submitting the Lebron James of whatever your search is, but the reality is this - one candidate is not going to be enough for most hiring managers. First, they aren't as good at evaluating talent for specific needs as you are in most cases. Second, why Lebron? Are we sure that Michael Jordan isn't out there? And wouldn't his durability be a better fit for us if we found him and got him interested in the job?
Sadly, that's the spirit of the questions you'll receive. So you need to put your marketing/influence hat on, people.
Here's some thoughts from the desk of KD after 15-20 years of hearing "we need Lebron" when they can only afford Craig Ehlo:
1. Never make your first submittal a single candidate without other candidates to contrast to. You're basically asking for it if you do that.
2. Initial submittal batches are best served in groups of three - the candidate you love, a fallback candidate or two - and of course, a dog with fleas designed to make the targeted candidate look like Jordan. Go to 5 if you must.
3. Ballers use words to compare and contrast the candidates they submit. Forwarding from your ATS without a submittal writeup is the equivalent of a caveman grunt. Mongo like candidate. Mongo want you to talk to candidate.
4. Once you get the submittal pack out, your job is to make the interviews happen in as close of proximity to each other as possible, giving you the best path to a call to action and offer possible.
5. Once you do your initial submittal of 3-5 candidates, you can submit other candidates one at a time. Caution - don't rush to do this before the hiring manager gives you feedback on your first round of submittals. You're just gumming up the works if you do that.
Be more of a marketer with submittals, and you'll get better results. Yes, this puts pressure on you to find at least 3 submittals in a reasonable timeframe. That's what the money is for. Or you can keep being a caveman/mongo and submitting one at a time. How's that working out for you?