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February 2012

DOWNLOAD: The Area Code Hiring System (Getting Feedback on Candidates That Matters in Your Hiring Process)

Stop me if you've heard this one before as you tried to get real info related to how an interviewer felt about a candidate:

You: “What did you think about Billy, the candidate from today, Mike?” Kinetix_areacode

Mike (the interviewer/hiring manager): “I liked her a lot.”

You: “Cool, what did you specifically like?”

Mike: “She just was real....likable!”

You're a real scientist, aren't you, Mike?  

Of course, you've been there - that's why I did a whitepaper at Kinetix called Area Code Hiring - A Tool to Make Better Hiring Decisions (registration required).  What's Area Code Hiring you ask?

Area Code Hiring is a system for use when it's time to break down candidates related to three things:

1.  Do they have the knowledge, skill and ability to do the job the way you need it done?

2.  Can they fit the culture that's in play within your company, hiring manager and the team in question?

3.  After reviewing those two big buckets, what's your recommendation?  Hire or don't hire?  No fence-setters allowed.

Area Code Hiring is designed to help you - the HR/Recruiting/Talent Pro - facilitate a post-interview feedback session with one or multiple interviewers designed to box people in and get to a credible, actionable decision on whether to hire the candidate or not, and dive deep into the reasons why.

Here are some statements that Area Code Hiring helps you avoid:  "I just didn't feel it."  "I just don't think she'd be a fit."  "My gut tells me we need to keep looking"  When you hear these statements, Area Code Hiring helps you dive in to the "why" behind these statements and get to what's real.

Where's the area code come in?  In your breakdown session, every person that interviews gives the candidate an area code.  First number is ability to do the job, third number is fit for culture/company/hiring manager/team, and middle number is one (hire) or zero (don't hire). (Note - the deeper dive into this system was inspired by a post Laurie R. did over at Punk Rock HR - check history of that on this link.)

Sounds interesting? I'm currently using the system and it's money - Go get it - Download Area Code Hiring - A Tool to Make Better Hiring Decisions today (registration required).  Included in the packet are actual tools - including a sheet to explain the system to managers/interviewers, a worksheet for them to use in the interview and a facilitator's guide for you to get your game on while you're rolling out the system in your company.

You'll never look at the Raliegh area code (919) the same way.


SPEAKING GIG TODAY: Social Media and HR (About You, Not the Tools)

Today finds me speaking at a customer conference for Ultimate Software, where I'll be waxing poetic about the uptake factor (or lack thereof) for HR pros in using social media in innovative ways.

I used to talk about social media tools themselves, but it was driving me insane.  200 people in the crowd, and you knew when you were talking that only 5 people in the crowd were going to make an attempt to experiment with the tools after the session.

Weak.  So now I don't talk about the tools, I talk about profiles of HR people related to how they view the tools and change.  Here's the session description:

The Five Faces of HR Pros in Social Media

You’ve been told you need to figure out social media as an HR Pro. You don’t know where to start and are pretty sure you don’t have time. Sounds like a problem, right? In this session, Kris Dunn looks out on the social media landscape and defines the five faces of HR pros in Social Media today, complete with comparisons to Hollywood, the United Nations, and the NFL. Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?  Kris takes the time to outline why each of the five HR/social media “types” do what they do, what the ROI for each is from a business and career perspective, and what the macro-trends are driving the behavior. 

Translation:  Being busy isn't an excuse not to try to innovate.  If you don't want to innovate, it's probably related more to your worldview than it is to you being busy.  Innovators are busy too, people.

The only thing I'll say is that when you look over the landscape of HR pros, individual contributors in the HRsphere have a greater ability to experiment with innovation through tools like social media than those with big (generalist) client groups they have to serve.

Yet those busy generalists (some of them) still innovate.  It's about your worldview more than it is you being busy.  It's like Andy Dufresne once said, "Get busy living, or get busy dying".


The Game: Accounts Payable

There's a manual on how to play the game in every department in your company.  

Take for example - Accounts Payable.  Let's take a look at some of the things that AP says to calm your nerves and make you feel like the check is in the mail (and the question you should ask as a follow up):

-"Yes - Your invoice has been processed" (When are you actually going to pay it.  When will I have the payment in my hand? I'd like it now.)

-"I show that check was printed on February 11th" (When was it mailed? There's a difference.)

-"We mailed that check on February 11th"  (Why wouldn't I have it now?  Did you "process" it or mail it then?)

You're going to call.  They're going to try and put your mind at ease while they manage cash flow.  You can accept the generalities or dig deeper.

It's a game.  You've probably got some to add - hit me in the comments.


"Reverse Engineering" Your "Gut Instinct" In Hiring...

Some people will tell you gut instinct in hiring is a dangerous thing - you and I both know that it's a reality, and we're right more often than not.  It's the other people who have instinct issues, right?

Our latest podcast is up at Fistful of Talent today, and it deals with the concept of "Implicit Bias", which Hate-me-large-600x320
is bias you don't know that you have.  Best example of implicit bias is that you make a decision based on gut instinct, and you think you're doing it for all the right reasons.  Maybe you say "it's my gut", or maybe you're more specific.  Implicit bias means that you don't even know you're biased in some way.  The danger is that the rest of the world clearly see bias in your hiring decision.

Hmm.  Ugh.  Double Ugh.  Want to know if you have bias you're not aware of - take a look at this index of tests from Harvard.  Schedule a nap for after, because it's going to crash your brain.   

Take a listen to the podcast - I'd be interested to know what you think about the concept of implicit bias.

How do you deal with potential bias you're not even aware of if you use your gut instinct in hiring?  Reverse engineer your hiring decision.  Ask "why" you don't think the person would be effective in the role.  Make your gut more operational.  Come up with some concrete things you don't think the person would be good at, then ask yourself what it was about the person that indicated they wouldn't be as effective as another candidate.

Have trouble coming up with reverse engineered data on what a candidate wouldn't be effective at?  

Better look in the mirror a bit.  You may have a little Archie Bunker in you.  Or maybe you're just shallow or intellectually lazy.

Me?  My instincts are perfect.  I think.


Guys On HGTV's House Hunters: Just Like Your Over-Educated New Manager Who's Never Managed...

How many of you have watched House Hunters on HGTV?  That's what I thought, nearly everyone.  As a guy, I can guess that if you're married to a gal that you own real estate with, the TV stops on House Hunters often.  Or your wife is DVR-ing House Hunters - because let's face it, seeing what that first time home buyer with 200K in Toronto is going to do is pretty important in the big scheme of things, right?

But I digress - I gladly play along with Ms. Dunn when the remote stops on House Hunters.  It's all good.  There's just this one little thing that is driving me crazy about the show. HouseHunters2

Here's the profile that's driving me insane.  Couple is a first time homebuyer, and the GUY proceeds to whine about what he can't get for his money in EVERY home they go in.  They've got 200K to spend in Toronto, and he's bitching about the fact that he can't have a completely renovated kitchen with stainless steel applicances.  He doesn't like the "flow" from the kitchen to the living room.  You get the drift.  His wife is the practical one, wearing the... wait for it... big boy pants in the family.  He's a first time homebuyer and everything he learned, he learned from....wait for it again - House Hunters.

Dude, you've got 200K to spend in Toronto.  You're lucky you're not living in a trailer on the lake.

Here's your connection to human capital.  That House Hunter guy is exactly like the overeducated, over-read new manager at your company.  Maybe that person is part of a manager training program, maybe they were a high performer in an individual contributor role and you just promoted them to be a manager of people.

Now they're complaining about the tools you have in place to manage people.  They don't think you're doing enough from a training investment perspective for them or the people they manage.  They just forwarded you that article from the Harvard Business Review about developing competency maps for the organization as part of the human capital strategy.  They're vocal about what they need, and more to the point, what you don't provide.

Meanwhile, they've managed people for about 2 months.  They are the organizational equivalent of the whiny first time home buyer with 200K in Toronto.  Like Jed Clampett used to say, they've got a lot of "book learnin".  Unfortunately, they're focused on what's not present related to what they've learned in theoretical environments rather than being intent to learn everything they can by engaging their team on a day to day basis.

The best way to deal with the House Hunter guy and that new manager?  Hand the House Hunter guy a hammer and a map to Home Depot.  Redirect the new manager to what he's doing with his team with the tools and resources he has rather that worrying about macro-strategies.

And for the love of Jeremy Lin, please stop talking out loud about the "flow" of the second floor of a house, House Hunter guy.  Compare and contrast.  Make a decision and shut up about what you can't have for your money.

Man up.


THE 8-MAN ROTATION: E-Book From The HR Capitalist and Friends

Bonnie and Clyde.  Cleveland and Lebron. Peanut Butter and Chocolate.  Jay-Z and Rick Rubin.  Shaq and Kobe.  Chris Bosh and a box of tissues.

Some great combinations that just seem to belong together.  If you know me, you know that I think Sports and HR/Talent Management belong together in the same way. Screen-shot-2012-02-20-at-5.26.41-PM-150x300

I know you feel the same way. You're a Sicko.  That's why some HR Blogging superfriends of mine (Steve Boese, Matt StollakTim Sackett and Lance Haun) and I have teamed up to do our second e-book called the 8-Man Rotation. You can download it now (PDF).   Version 2 - Electric Boogaloo.  Go get it and share your favorite post from the book with someone who feels the same way you do about sports and HR/Recruiting.

If the Knicks had a copy of this book, they wouldn't be so worried about bringing back Carmello to play with Jeremy Lin.  Merging diva talent in with young, underpaid high performers?  Check - it's in the book, I'm sure of it.  That and about 5,000 Jeff Van Gundy references from Steve Boese.

If you're still not sure you want to download it, note that two professors are a part of the deal - Stollack and Boese.  Sackett and I would be the kids that don't show up to class.  Haun is the guy who's friendly with everyone at the school.  Special thanks to Matt Stollak for all the work in getting this out.

Download the 8-Man Rotation e-book today! (PDF)


S**T STEVE JOBS SAID, V3: Enticing People to Come Work For Him...

So I'm reading the book that Walter Isaacson released right at the time of Steve Job's death, and it's taking me awhile.  Lucky for you that means that I can space out some unbelievable quotes from Jobs over time.

All the quotes prove one thing:  Many great leaders 1) have their own style, 2) are unbelievably bold, and 3) most decidedly don't care about how you feel as they're forging the direction and strategy of the company.

Either get on board or get the hell off the bus.  Consider the two following Jobs gems from around page 100 of Steve Jobs by Isaacson:

"Everything you've every done in your life is shit," Jobs said, "so why don't you come work for me?" (offering someone at a lame competitor a job).

"Raskin had one problem:  Jobs regarded him as an insufferable theorist or, to use Jobs's own more precise terminology, "a shithead who sucks" (referring to a vendor partner who was trying to convince Jobs to take a look at some new technology).

Not exactly from the SHRM bookstore, but that's OK.  I'll be back with more in the coming weeks and months.  


Everything I Need to Know About Your Bias in Two Words: ANKLE BOOTS

We taped our eight version of The CYA Report on Thursday, which is the Fistful of Talent podcast on all things talent.  It'll be out next Thursday - so make sure you check it out.

Our topic for the taping was implicit bias, which is the bias you don't know that you have, but the rest of the world instantly recognizes when you do something stupid like love someone's resume, love them on the Boots phone but then say "something just didn't click" when you meet them in person.

Which is code for they were "too old", "too fat", "too ugly", etc.  But you don't see it that way.  You just want to say "it didn't click".  You really believe that.  Everyone else sees it for what it is.  Which is why that hiring manager that did the same thing took that EEOC suit right in the groin.  Of course, sometimes you and I both know that it doesn't click, but don't mess up my post, OK?

The taping reminded me of one of my favorite stories.  I was sourcing/interviewing candidates in a past company of mine, working with a senior leader to find great salespeople.  In walks a guy that had all of the stuff we needed.  Great resume, he did well in the phone and live interview.  Guy crosses his legs during the live interview, and - wait for it - the cuffs on his slacks rise just enough to show what would become a mental block for the manager in question - ankle boots.  

Conservative company, blah, blah, blah.  I've written in the past about the need to nickname candidates to gain emotional connections with hiring executives.

This guy's nickname to that executive became "Boots".  He couldn't get past it.  It wasn't a metaphor for orientation or anything else.  

It was pure fashion bias.  "Boots" became the war cry for that executive to avoid hiring anyone that subscribed to GQ or Esquire.

And there was nothing implicit about it.  

Damn you, Dillards...


Here's Why Performance Management Feels like A Cop is Running It...

You have great ideas.  You're going to decentralize the whole performance management process at your company.  Power to the managers.  Real conversations.  Let them run their business.  The way it ought to be.  The annual review, if it exists, is an afterthought.

Then, a funny thing happens on the way to the forum.  A manager with 10 reports turns in their annual reviews with no ratings separation.  No narratives written to reinforce the behavior.  Or, they have separation related to the ratings they provided, but everyone got a 3% raise.  Or both.

You know why that happens?  Because the manager can't deal with conflict.  Instead of having a tough conversation with the bottom 30% of their team related to their performance and the raise that follows, they make the whole thing generic and lacking "separation".

The goal is to avoid conflict.  The problem with Performance Management isn't HR, it's the manager.

So the cops come in.  They're from HR.  They're here to help.

Good luck with that, HR comrades.  You're not the problem.  Command and control is just the wrong solution.  

You know the right solution.  It's just hard as hell to execute.


Hoops, Race and Workplace Stereotypes: Why I'm Ordering a Jeremy Lin T-Shirt Today...

For those of you who don't follow hoops - a quick primer - Jeremy Lin is a guard for the New York Knicks who's been cut by multiple teams in the NBA and was almost cut by the Knicks 10 days ago - before he was inserted into the Knicks starting lineup due to injuries, etc.

What happened?  The same Jeremy Lin that was almost cut set a NBA record, scoring the most points for any NBA player across his first four starts of his career in the league.  New York, never shy to crank up the hype machine, has exploded with Jeremy Lin coverage and merchandise.  Some people say that's crazy:  "Do it Lin for a year and then anoint him a star", they say.

I'm buying a Jeremy Lin t-shirt today.  Even if his career implodes, here's why I'm a buyer:

Hoops - The Knicks were a mess, with games always slowing down so megastars like Carmello Anthony could hold the ball and then go one-on-one with their teammates watching and standing around.  Those stars were injured on the sidelines when Lin got his chance, and the experiment proves that cool stuff happens when talent shares the spotlight.  It's a great story and reinforces the fact that selfish, me-first play doesn't work as well as team play.  Lessons for any company as well, I think.

Race: Asian players are rare in the NBA.  Even rarer are American-born players of Asian heritage, so the Lin story is a big one from the standpoint of how we make assumptions about what different races can do in America.

Workplace Stereotypes:  Lin also happens to be a Harvard grad.  Did you know that there have been more Harvard Grad presidents (4) than Harvard-grad NBA starters?  Lots of stereotypes about what's possible embedded in this one.

Add it all up, and it matters - even if you don't believe the hype.  I'm a buyer of Jeremy Lin - so much so, the t-shirt order goes in today...