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September 2017

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.


5 Ways To Determine If You'll Be Leading an HR Function in 2022...

The world is changing, and the people paying the bills want different things from HR.  Here's five things to look inward at and determine if you've got what it takes to lead an HR team and be a viable partner to the business leaders who will hire you in 2022. Remember, I'm talking about leading HR, not participating in running it:

1. You've got a mack daddy processor upstairs.  Meaning you can take large amounts of information in and make quick, accurate decisions.  Not IQ.  Speed with accuracy. 

2. You're as assertive as the salespeople in your organization.  Great HR people have always needed to be assertive, but the need for comfort with confrontation continues to escalate.  Bonus points if you can sell.

3. A comfort with no rules at all.  HR people have always been good at creating structure, but HR leaders are being asked to value structure less as we get further into this century.  You might hire people to do that for the function, but valuing structure over figuring stuff out on the fly for future HR leaders?  Things change too rapidly these days for the old status quo to stick.  High challenge, slightly ADHD HR leaders are on the rise.

4. You are organized enough at the leadership level to execute.  You'd think low rules means low details.  Actually, low rules with mid to high level detail orientation is in vogue.  It's called the ability dream AND to execute, baby.

5. You've got skin like a fat, old rhino (low sensitivity).  When you receive bad news or the rare glimmer of negative feedback, you're down for about 30 seconds and then you're moving on.  Companies are increasingly looking for HR leaders who aren't afraid to fail.  Failure is a necessary byproduct of attempting to add value.  Safe sucks increasingly these days.

Want an easy way to to score it?  Say yes or no to whether you really deliver each of 5 features, add up the yes votes and use this key:

+5 - Welcome to the club.  If you are who you say you are, I'd like your resume for my clients, even if you're 28 freaking years old.

+4 - Yes, please.  You missed on one thing - you're still a player.

+3 - I'm going to call you an HR "citizen".  Good enough to get what the business line owners are talking about. Missing a DNA strand or two, but servicalble.

+2 - The world needs ditch-diggers too.  There's still something for you to do in most HR departments with any size, but it's not leading the function.

+1 - Darwin called. He said the kids these days are growing the HR equivalent of opposable thumbs, and I don't see any thumb buds on the sides of your hand stumps.  Too bad.

That's my list of the behavioral traits I see in play as we move toward the middle of the decade.  Will there still be +1 and +2 HR leaders?  Yes.  

Will the replacements for those leaders look like their predecessors?  My intel says no way.  


Does Apologizing Make You Look Weak as an HR Pro?

I'm sorry to tell you this, but yes.

See what I did there?  I apologized in advance for telling you that you apologize too much as an HR pro.  THAT'S A PRO MOVE, PEOPLE. Apologize

But I digress.  Here's the deal - as HR pros, we're hard-wired to do things automatically that no one else wants to do - tell people nice job, recognize people for their contributions, listen to someone vent when no one else will, etc.

Because we do all those people friendly things, a lot of us apologize more than we should.

A candidate is late for an interview. The turnover numbers are bad. An employee is having a hard time with a challenging manager.

Because we are in the people business, a lot of us find ourselves apologizing for things out of habit - we are simply too nice.

I'm here to tell you to apologize less for the things outside of your control.  You're conditioning people to think that you're not a player - and you most certainly are.

In addition, you shouldn't apologize for things that are in your control if outside factors conspired to make what you delivered less than stellar.

Explain why?  Yes.

Talk about what you're adjusting?  Yes.

Apologize? No.

Stop being weak. The next time you feel like you're going to say, "I'm sorry" in a business setting, catch yourself and explain why it is what it is - and where you/we/they go from there.  

Image from Jessica Hagy at Fortune: