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March 2015

Employee Surveys Now Uncovering Horrible Bosses at the FBI...

Some of you that are seasoned HR Pros know the cautionary tale when it comes to employee surveys.  Rely on them too much or send the wrong signals to your workforce related to how they can be used, and they can become witch hunts toward capable managers with difficult workgroups.  
 
Ordinarily, you'd think that old school industries that value authority and chain of command would shy away from using employee survey results to decide which leaders need to be "reassigned", right?
 
Sure you would.  So, you'd like be surprised to find that the FBI is using rollup results by city to figure out where they have leadership issues.  Look at the data provided through the picture below (email subscribers enable pictures or click through for graphic), secured through a freedom of information act request by the Washington Post:
 
Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 3.37.23 PM
 
Green means good.  Yellow means get it together.  Red means you've been reassigned to the mall detail.
 
But seriously, more from The Post:
 

"As FBI Director James B. Comey focuses the country’s premier law enforcement agency on terrorism and cyberthreats, he is leaning heavily on a little-known corporate tool to deal with a critical part of getting the job done: climate surveys.

Comey is using the surveys to help determine who should be running the most important jobs at the bureau. And in the process, he says, he wants to create a leadership factory.

In an e-mail last year, Comey let all of the bureau’s nearly 35,000 employees know just how seriously he takes the results. “For those leaders whose surveys are covered in red, we need to quickly find a path to improvement, or we need to get them out of the role,” he wrote.

Comey calls the surveys “smoke detectors.”  “Red is dead,” as current and former FBI officials like to say."

 
The message is clear.  If your survey results are in the toilet, you have to get it fixed.  How much time so you get?  What about factors that show you have a generally cranky workforce of g-men?  The answer at the FBI is the same as it is in your company.  It depends...
 
Trending upward on employee sentiment scores is important. Even for FBI lifers...

SLIDES: 4 Ways to Measure Potential in Employees...

We did a webinar over at Fistful of Talent last week, talking about the difference between Performance and Potential (sponsored by my friends at Halogen Software).  Here's a small portion of the slide deck, talking about ways that you can measure potential in your employees.  

Enjoy - be the lookout for our next webinar when we talk about ways you can bootstrap your training function. (email subscribers, click through the post title to see embedded slide deck)


March Madness Star From Xavier Also Uber Driver...

Need a workplace connection to the NCAA Tourney/March Madness?  Look no further than Xavier's Matt Stainbrook, who also moonlights as a Uber driver.  

Cool story, bro.  More from ESPN

"Since he started in September, Matt has chauffeured students in the wee hours leaving bars, and older couples heading out to a quiet dinner. Some know who he is -- "The best comment I ever got was, 'Good driver, better hook shot'" -- and some do and pretend they don't, surreptitiously trying to take pictures from the backseat; some have no idea; and some ask because he's 6-foot-10 and 270 pounds.

Matt is more than happy to chat. He is naturally inquisitive -- in one evening driving around town, Matt discussed how to doctor quinoa to make it taste good, whether college athletes ought to be paid, what the restaurant he hopes to run someday will serve and whether the Browns should start Johnny Manziel (yes, he argued) -- and is honestly interested in what people have to say."

His shifts include picking up the recently terminated:

"She came out of the office building just as people do in the movies after they've been fired -- toting a cardboard box stuffed with her possessions.

And the thing is, Matt Stainbrook knew what had happened. When he arrived for the pickup, some superior came out and told him, "OK, we're terminating her right now."

"I'm going to play it off like I don't know she just got fired," Stainbrook says. "That's my good idea. My bad idea is, I don't know what to say. So I fumble and I say, 'Hey, how's your day going?' Yeah. She goes, 'Good' ... and it was silence for the whole ride."

There is "Taxicab Confessions," there is "Cash Cab," and then there is Stainbrook's gig, the true reality show that happens when an inexperienced, 22-year-old basketball player turns his car into an Uber taxi."

Click through for the full story, which recounts how he got into Uber - as a means to make money when he gave his scholarship to his walk on brother at Xavier.

Hard not to root for this guy, right? 

(email subscribers click through for video below) 


NICE: Double Space in Docs Now Being Used for Age Discrimination

Didn't see this late last year - maybe you did.  More from Career Counselor Marc Miller, via Lifehacker:

"I am going to go out a limb and declare that putting two spaces after a period is obsolete. It is how most of us were taught to type on a typewriter. Therefore, most of us who do this (I have taught myself to stop putting two spaces after a period and it was hard) are over 50 years of age.

Over the years, I have heard that this has been used as a method of screening out older candidates."

I'm into my 40's, and it's a natural thing for me to do two spaces.  Some grammar/spacing nazis have pointed out that I shouldn't do that.

Me?  I've never made the adjustment.  Rather than focusing on the spacing and use of the King's English of others, I just try to write everyday and let the market/readers decide what to do with me.

I've never understood the fascination with attempting to correct others use of grammar or spacing, especially when the issues involved appear to be opinion, not fact.  But age discrimination?  That's something that should get your attention - do with that what you will.

If any part of you writes for a living - and we all do to some extent in any white collar job - I'm going to go out on a limb and say anyone who would eliminate you for using a double space after a sentence is someone you probably don't want to work for. 

The leading ways to determine someone's age for discrimination purposes are still the following:

1. Year you graduated on your resume

2. The fact you don't put the year you graduated on your resume (you must be old)

3. Your pictures on social profiles.

4. You list "Different Strokes" as your favorite TV show.

Should you change that double space?  Meh.  Even the commenters on the above post can't agree on that, as it shows 30-year olds saying they do it and that's the way they were taught.

Do what you will.  But how's the quality of your writing?      I would focus on that. (that 5-spacer was for you, copy nazis)

 


Why LinkedIn and Trivia Crack Tell You All You Need to Know About Gamification in HR...

I had the pleasure of being a gamification panelist on a Meridian Global (a great Learning Management System, check them out) L&D Hangout.  Had a good time, take a view/listen below (email subscribers, click through to the site if you can't see the video below).

Gamification and HR?  Learn all the lessons you need to know from LinkedIn and Trivia Crack.  Take a listen and we'll tell you why on this Google Hangout!


Great Moments In Interviewing As a Candidate: The +1 Strategy..

I'm on record as saying that you should let the person interviewing you for a job talk as much as they want.

Basically, it works like this- the more your interviewer talks, the more she's going to feel LIKE IT WENT ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC.   Sure, she talked 90% of the time.  You did the head nod and appeared pliable.  That's the sign of a great hire for most managers!!  Whether they know it or not...

Let them talk if they want to talk - PS, hiring managers- you job is to get your airtime down to 20% of the interview - do more than that and you're just waxing poetic instead of extracting Google+1-buttoninformation.

I'm got another one for the candidates who want to be loved in any interview process - I'll call it the "+1" strategy, and it's designed to take advantage of anything the hiring manager says in the interview.

Your interview is full of opinions and insights coming from the interviewer.  They're trying to build flow.  Your job as a candidate is to use that and build even more momentum.  Here's how you do it:

You hear the interviewer/hiring manager share an opinion or experience they appear to view as positive.  You automatically grab something from your past that shows you've had a similar experience.  That's a +1 strategy.

Non work-related example - Hiring Manager complaining about DMV.  You share your worst DMV experience.  Shared misery +1.

Politics example - Hiring manager complains about Obama.  You're a democrat, so you do what most democrats do - leave Obama alone and go after Hillary (her own email server?  The gall...).  Politics +1, and you hit your own party in a way you can live with.  +1

Work-Related example.  Hiring manager is proud of his Mac, talks trash about IT.  You've never owned a Mac in your life and trust one as much as you trust the French, but you know what to do - ask whether he's getting the iWatch (+1), then move with his answer - if he likes it, you say you're intrigued by it, if he doesn't, talk about lack of functionality, etc.  Another +1.

Common sense?  Sure, but you'd be surprised how many candidates are too uptight to pull it off.

You need +1's - If you didn't come out of the interview with at least 4-5 +1's, you didn't have a good day as a candidate.

FYI - don't try this with me.  You bring that weak stuff with me in an interview, I'll take you down a path of follow up questions designed to "out" you as a +1er.

For everyone else - it's a great strategy.  


50% of Employee Engagement Is Not Overshooting Your Recruiting Target....

Quick thought today: If part of employee engagement is your employee feeling like they're in a perfect job for where they're at in their career, then...

One of the most important things you can do with any open position is to NOT overshoot your target.

EagerHere's what that means.  In a knowledge/skills/abilities world, it's easy to go down the checklist and make sure the candidate has what they need to be productive in the role in question. 

One question we never seem to ask: Do we think the candidate is happy to have this job?  Do they think they're fortunate to be working in the job, for the company, the manager?

In my experience, it's probably better to hire someone who's a 80% match for the job but has demonstrated ability to be a quick learner.  Why?  I want someone who knows they might be in a slightly bigger job than they deserve from a KSA perspective, and is thankful for the opportunity.  But close enough of a match that they can survive and close the gap quickly. 

Do you get that thankfulness from someone who's slightly overqualified or simply a good fit for the job in question?  Maybe. But I think that afterglow quickly fades.

Give me the almost qualified candidate any time.  I'm pretty sure you get longer periods of initial engagement from that type of hire than someone who's basically overqualified for the role.

Don't overshoot your talent target in recruiting if you want longer periods of engagement on average.  There are 99 things that impact engagement - this is one.


Believe This? Poor Performing Employees Use Internet Explorer...

It's a mantra that's right up there with "Choosy Mothers Choose JIF".

Except it sounds like this: "Poor Performing Employees Use Internet Explorer".  

I know what you're thinking.  This is complete BS.  YOU, after all use IE, even though you've spiffed up and are now on IE4.  And yes, we know your IT function has you on complete lockdown.  So many objections, so little focus on performance.  

Would you believe an HR vendor actually has data to back this up?  Come on in here, Cornerstone On Demand, and DEFEND YOURSELF. More from The Atlantic: Ie

Cornerstone OnDemand, a company that sells software that helps employers recruit and retain workers, analyzed data on about 50,000 people who took its 45-minute online job assessment (which is like a thorough personality test) and then were successfully hired at a firm using its software. These candidates ended up working customer-service and sales jobs for companies in industries such as telecommunications, retail, and hospitality.

Cornerstone’s researchers found that people who took the test on a non-default browser, such as Firefox or Chrome, ended up staying at their jobs about 15 percent longer than those who stuck with Safari or Internet Explorer. They performed better on the job as well. (These statistics were roughly the same for both Mac and PC users.)

Michael Housman, the chief analytics officer at Cornerstone, said that while the company’s research hasn’t identified anything to suggest causality, he does have a theory as to why this correlation exists. “I think that the fact that you took the time to install Firefox on your computer shows us something about you. It shows that you’re someone who is an informed consumer,” he told Freakonomics Radio. “You’ve made an active choice to do something that wasn’t default.”

Let the tomato throwing begin in the comments from all the IE loving HR Pros.  

But if you stop thinking about yourself, there's probably some real truth in these findings.  First, Cornerstone took the data from job seekers, not actual employees, so the sample size is limited to that.  Hopefully that gets you off the ledge.  But more importantly is Housman's comment that "I think that the fact that you took the time to install Firefox on your computer shows us something about you. You’ve made an active choice to do something that wasn’t default.”

That's a pretty powerful statement, and while the study stops WAY short of connecting a correlation, I think he's hit the nail on the head.

To take something other than the browser default means you're naturally curious.  You're looking for a better way of doing things.  I'm not surprised there's a bit more retention with this group, because I think they (overall, individual exceptions will occur) will stay engaged for longer periods of time than a normal employee.  They don't need you to engage them - they're already curious enough to be engaged without whatever you're selling.  

On the performance front?  Doing something rather than default is an example of the holy grail - DISCRETIONARY EFFORT.  That's the most powerful thing you can have from a performance perspective, and if this group does it in their own life, you can bet they're going to do it elsewhere.

Use IE and are happy?  It doesn't mean you're a poor performer.  It's not always about you.

Well, yes it is.  Interesting study anyway.  Let it soak in.  There's truth there.

RELATED: My own research shows candidates who own Toyota SUVs, drink Blonde Venti Red Eyes and have a BMI of 22.5 make the highest performing employees.  Of course, that's based on a smaller sample size that what Cornerstone has above...

--Sent from my Google Chrome Browser


Negotiation Technique 236: "I'm Not Going to Tolerate a Lot of Negotiation"

I'm on the record as saying that HR pros need to be better negotiators.  And effective negotiation comes with some common features, deployed as situations warrant, including the following:
 
-Bluster
-Fake astonishment
-Walking away and hoping they stop you
-Coming back after walking away with a Colombo move one day later
-Getting your number out first
-Knowing when the next person to speak loses
-etc, etc.
 
The biggest skill HR pros who know how to negotiate have is knowing which skill to use when.  But knowing what techniques are available is important as well, so I'm going to use this post to add a technique to your game.
 
I call it the "I'm not going to tolerate a lot of negotiation" framing of a an offer.
 
Deploying this technique, which I'll call the "don't try to counter me" strategy, is pretty simple.
 
You make an offer.  Hopefully that offer is fair and you have something that the other person wants, like employment.  So you make an offer of employment and tell the candidate that you're leading with your best offer, and that you're "not really looking to negotiate".
 
It's part bluster and part hardball.  You're telling the candidate the offer is fair and there's a risk that you might walk away and say no to any counter, effectively ending the negotiation.
 
Will you negotiate?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Only the shadow knows.
 
The interesting part about this technique is that if the role in question requires negotiation, you actually should want the person receiving the offer to counter you.  You still might be aggravated by that, but maybe you shouldn't hire someone who fades away and says, "thank you for the strong offer, Ma'am."
 
How's the Groucho Marx quote go?  "I wouldn't belong to a club that would have me as a member."
 
Well, Groucho, I wouldn't want to hire you if you would accept this offer.
 
Deep.

The Right Contingency Recruiting Fee is Still 20%...

You know the dance when it comes to negotiating contingency recruiting fees:

Recruiter: "We're a retained search firm, and our normal fee is 25 to 30%."

Company: "We can't pay a dime over 15%.  And I need you to take it on contingency".

Recruiter:  "Wow.  I can't do 15%.  Let me check on what I can do and get back to you."

<a day of silence>

Recruiter: "I pushed for an exception.  Can you do 20% contingency?"

Company: "Done.  20% it is."

I've been on the record for more than 8 years saying that this consistent dance of negotiation in the recruiting world proves the right fee is 20%.  I've observed that as a VP of HR, and now as a leader at a recruiting firm (Kinetix).  If you get more as a recruiter, congrats.  If you paid more as a company, I hope you got great value.

The 20% sweet spot was recently confirmed by Bounty Jobs, who conducts an analysis of all the searches that go through their ecosystem (more than $60 million in headhunter fees). More from Bounty Jobs:

Record agency results were driven by strong fees, and even stronger salaries, in 2014. The average dollar agency fee collected in 2014 was $22,113, 6.3% higher than the average fee in 2013 ($20,793) and 29% higher than average fees during the depth of the recession in 2008. Agency fees as a percentage, however, stayed relatively flat at 21.2% of first year salary, as compared to 21.0% in 2013. After a brief stumble in 2008 (when fees declined from 20.2% in 2007 to 19.7%), fees as a percentage have steadily risen every year. Fees as a dollar amount, however, surged in 2013 and 2014, reflecting the strength in salaries offered.

21%.  Of course, you don't negotiate in single percentages, so my conversation outline above holds true.  You do 20% and occasionally give in and do something larger for that "special position".

Good luck with the negotiation!