Uber, Harassment and HR Business Partner Coverage - Let's Look at the Numbers...

By now, you've heard about this post accusing Uber of creating a hostile, harassing environment for women.  Rather than rehash the claim, I'm going to go to the numbers in this post.  See this post by Tim Sackett for analysis of the situation and see my commentary on Uber's former HR Leader leaving the company before all this stuff broke by clicking here.

Let's run some numbers.  Most of the allegations claim that Uber was focused on recruiting above and beyond all else.  But this post on HR at Uber from Recode gives us some interesting numbers to think about related to HR staffing:

"It’s most glaring overall problems seems to center on how the human resources role was conceived at Uber by its brash and commanding leader Kalanick. UberThe issue: He felt the function of HR at Uber was largely to recruit talent and also efficiently let go of personnel when needed, according to sources.

During the first half of 2016, sources said, the company had fewer than 10 representatives — called human resources business partners — who served to train managers or handle things like sexual harassment for its close to 6,000 employees.

Leadership coaching or training is especially important at Uber and other tech companies, where many of the department heads or top execs are often younger staffers who would work their way up at the company. According to sources, Atwood spent considerable time defending the need for more HR business partners.

But, according to one source, there was one HR business partner handling the entire Asia Pacific region; two handling Europe, the Middle East and Africa; three in corporate functions handling engineering, finance and marketing; and only three working in operations and with city teams.

Uber disputed this and says the company had around 20 people dedicated to that role at the time. Today, the company has 35 and plans to add between 30 and 40 more under Hornsey."

Credit to Recode for being sharp enough to think about employee count vs HR staffing as a potential source of the problem.  

Unfortunately, the numbers don't tell us enough.

10 HRBPs for 6,000 employees.  Is that a heavy workload or just right?  You know the answer if you're an HR leader - it depends what their role is and what other HR resources are available.

If you've got specialists working recruiting, benefits, admin and more, it's possible for HRBPs to be effective with a 600/1 count.

If these same HRBPs are responsible for recruiting and more in addition to employee relations, they are screwed from a workload perspective.

Add the flavor of Kalanick prioritizing recruiting over everything else, and the status of the HRBP doing it all with a 600/1 ratio moves from "screwed" to "total screwed".  Qualifying questions like "did he say he liked your blouse alone or the way it made your body look?" become rationalizations for not digging deeper because the HRBP didn't have time and the organization didn't want to hear about it anyway.

600/1 for an HRBP?  It all comes down to what's behind that HRBP in terms of specialized support to determine if that ration is fair.  

Going to be an interesting investigation.

 

 


Twitter's New VP of HR (formerly at Uber) Departs in a Hurry...

In the hiring/candidate business, it's called a miss.  Interesting stuff from the interwebs a couple of weeks ago, as Twitter announced its Head of Diversity was leaving the company.  Of course, for me that wasn't really the news, as Twitter also used the announcement to state that a recent CHRO hire had left the company at some point before the announcement.

More from Techcrunch:

Twitter’s VP of diversity and inclusion Jeffrey Siminoff is leaving the company at the end of the month and its chief human resources officer Renee Atwood has already left, TechCrunch has confirmed.

“Renee has left the company for personal reasons,” a Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We thank her for her contributions during her time at Twitter and wish her all the best in the future.”

Twitter's departed HR Leader, Renee Atwood joined Twitter in August 2016 from Uber, where she was global head of people and places. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sent a note around the company letting employees know about Siminoff’s upcoming exit, one source familiar with the situation told me. The internal messaging around Siminoff was that he is leaving on his own accord, the source said.

Twitter hired Siminoff from Apple, where he was the director of worldwide inclusion and diversity, in December 2015 to replace Janet Van Huysse as vice president of diversity and inclusion. At the time of the announcement, some people were skeptical of the fact that Twitter hired a white man to lead its diversity and inclusion efforts.

These exits come shortly after Twitter unveiled its 2016 diversity report, which showed Twitter was making some progress around the hiring of underrepresented minorities. It’s not clear if Siminoff and Atwood’s departures are related, but the timing is interesting, to say the least. Update: A Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch that the departures are unrelated.

I wrote a piece a few months back about Atwood leaving Uber and the value of knowing what you're best at, where you fit and when in a company's lifecycle it might be time for you leave as an HR leader.

While I have no info about Atwood's departure from Twitter, I'm not sure it means anything for her as a candidate for future HR Leadership roles.  She's been an HR leader in some of the most interesting companies of our time, and let's face it - sometimes you just miss as a candidate.  The job wasn't what you expected, you were told things that weren't true or to no one's fault - you just got to the new company and found you weren't really a fit.

What's more interesting to me is that Twitter didn't announce the departure until they told the world a VP of Diversity of was leaving.  Have we come to the point where a diversity leader leaving mandates a press release, but the CHRO does not?

Maybe in the Bay area we have.  Strange times indeed.

 

 


Uber: The Right HR Leader Depends On Your Company's Maturity...

This post previously appeared at my other site - Fistful of Talent.  I thought it was important enough to share here as well.

If there's one thing that's true in HR, it's that today's HR leader right for a company may not be right for the same company 3 years from now.  Things change. New leaders come in, new strategies are developed and deployed. And if you're really lucky, your company experiences exponential growth that causes you to need a different type of HR leader. Uber fits that example, and they just had a trade out - an early CHRO has left, and a new one - dramatically different - has entered.  Here's the rundown of the changeout I ran across on the web:

Uber is bringing in Liane Hornsey, a longtime VP at Google and current operating partner at SoftBank, to be its new Chief HR Officer.

The move gives Uber a seasoned executive with public company experience to help manage the $66 billion ride-hailing service's rapidly swelling ranks and to guide it through the various challenges facing startups as they evolve into giant businesses.

Travis Kalanick announced the hiring in an email to Uber employees on Friday, calling her "one of the most sought-after 'people people' in the world," according to a source inside the ride-hailing company.

Uber confirmed Hornsey's hire to Business Insider, but declined further comment. SoftBank and Hornsey didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The opening at Uber, one of the fastest-growing companies in tech, became available in July when its former head of HR Renee Atwood left to join Twitter. Atwood had been at the company from when it was 605 employees to more than 5,000. 

Hornsey's LinkedIn shows she had spent nine years at Google as its Vice President of Global People Operations before she moved to being a VP on the sales side, reporting to Nikesh Arora. 

She followed Arora to SoftBank International in September 2015 to be its Chief Administrative Officer and operating partner, helping other startups with their HR needs. Arora left his position in June 2016, and now Hornsey's departure follows nearly six months after. Hornsey will start at Uber in January.

Couple of things come to mind here from an HR leadership perspective:

  1. If you go look at the profile of Renee Atwood (former CHRO at Uber, now at Twitter), you'll see a pretty good background.  Now go look at the background of Liane Hornsey.  They're different.  Neither one is right or wrong - they are just different. One's growth and the other one is more mature from a career perspective, focused on things that a 5,000 person company focuses on.
  2. Atwood joined Uber when it had 500 employees and left at the time it had grown to 5,000 (both FTE numbers do not count driving contractors).  Anyone in HR would tell you that those are two dramatically different companies as evidenced by the size and the fact that it's Uber only adds an exponential factor to that difference.
  3. Uber's a unicorn and increased market cap from $13B to $70B during Atwood's tenure.  Atwood chose to leave for a cool company in Twitter, albeit one that doesn't have a clear path moving forward.

I think Atwood's background is very strong.  Former client group leader at Citi and Google, got a great opportunity at Uber - I really like that progression. But Uber's issues today are dramatically different today than they were in 2014.  The fact they changed out the CHRO - a seemingly voluntary move by Atwood - is evidence pointing to the fact that the HR pro you have today may not be right for you tomorrow.

If you're a CEO out there, looking at your HR leader (and determining whether you still have a fit as you grow) should be as important as looking at your CFO fit for the stage your company is in.


We Continue to Miss the Texting Opportunity In HR...

HR’s never been accused of being on the bleeding edge, and any type of social media or communications usually finds HR pros trailing the pack.

Take social media as an example.  Lots of potholes.  Full of traps.  No wonder you didn’t try harder to get in the game and use it for communications, engagement, recruiting and more.  Of course, all the challenges can be overcome by using a smart approach to social media, but I’ll give you a pass.

So what’s your excuse for not looking to incorporate texting into you HR practice?  What’s everyone’s excuse?  After all, you’ve probably sent more texts today than you have emails.

And that’s the thing – more people are immediately accessible using text today than email, and certainly the phone.  In addition, use of texting in new applications not only draws people in, but they’re less likely to leave once you get them using your thing – HR – via text.  More from Flurry via Business Insider:

Facebook dropped $19 billion on WhatsApp, Snapchat is valued at $15 billion, and even the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak, despite being a little over a year old, is already valued between $300 million and $400 million. Messaging apps are big business, and here’s why.

Based on new data from mobile analytics firm Flurry charted for us by BI Intelligence, messaging apps retained nearly six times as many users they attracted in their first months compared to the average user retention across all applications. The average retention rate for all apps was 32% in the first month, and fell to 11% by the 12th month. In contrast, messaging apps held onto 68% of their new users after the first month, and slipped just a little bit, down to 62%, by the 12th month.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.31.26 AM

You have to fish where the fish are.  I’m willing to bet you could go into a conference room today and brainstorm 5 unbelievable opportunities for people to engage with the business of HR via text, and you could bootstrap a lot of the solutions as well internally – you don’t have have to wait on the vendors to do something.

Text provides immediacy, and per the Flurry report, people don’t leave apps once they start using them via text.  That’s called adoption – you want people to try and then incorporate the new app into their day to day lives - then never leave.

The new app you’re introducing?  It’s called HR. 

Get with it.


2 Things That Great HR Organizations Have In Common...

Pretty Simple.  They have more people than average to bad HR organizations with the following characteristics - 

1.  A low tolerance for Rules.  High rules people, which traditional HR is full of, look for the operations manual and if your situation doesn't fit the pre-packaged solution, don't hesitate to tell you no.  Low rules people can't stand the operations manual and love the chaos.  They want to come up with their own solution, which BTW, happens to be customized for the person they're trying to help.

2. They say "yes" more than their traditional HR counterparts.  A willingness to say yes, or provide a conditional yes, is probably a result of the low rules pentration I've described up top.  Finding a way to say yes/find a path again leads to more custom solutions, which results in actual innovation (shocking!) from an HR Pro.

The HR orgs who have more HR pros with these two things will win.  Degrees, certifications and all the other BS is nice and valuable on some level, but without more people with these two things, your department will be average.

Go find some low rules people who know HR.  Soon.


NSFW HR: "But Kris, That's the Way We've Always Done It!"...

This is a re-run spurred by recent conversations about empty calorie background checks.  Ask these questions for real background info - if you dare...

Here's a blast from my past.  Topic: Lame reference checks. Dateline: Birmingham.

Me: "Hey gang, I know you dig into references, but candidly, we've never rejected anyone based on information we've uncovered through those reference checks.  So I think we need to discontinue doing that and either a) use a commodity vendor who can do the basics so we say we have done it, or b) get someone who really specializes in getting us quality info so we get better data."

Team: <paraphrased>.  "That's bull****, Kris.  Doing those is core to our team and part of our cultural check.  It's who we are."

Me: "When's the last time you rejected someone based off of your calls?" 

Them: <crickets>

Me: "If you want to keep it, we need to institutionalize our ability and willingness to go after negative information in reference checks.  For example, I'd start with a pretty simple question:  "What type of environment would you never put this person into and why?  What type of manager would you never put this person working with and why?"

Them: <crickets>

This was a great team.  But they were so caught up in how they had always done it that they were emotional about giving up their process.  Plus, they didn't want the confrontation needed to add value.

Good team.  But in this case, it was NSFW HR.  No tough questions, no confrontation and valuing activity over smart activity that yields results. We're all better than that, including this team of mine in the past.


What I'm Working On: VP of HR in the ATL....#HRjobs #trenchhr

Hey Kids - here's a job I'm currently working on for a CEO in Atlanta - the industry is hospitality, the challenges are many and whoever I put in the job gets to build a pretty cool shop from the ground up in a company with 10,000+ associates.

The right candidate will provide equal parts HR strategy and leadership, HR execution and personal assertiveness, which is required to tell the CEO when he’s crazy. Seriously. That’s what the CEO we’re working for wants. We think it’s healthy, and in an odd turn of events, it practically ensures the CEO is not crazy. Ironic.

Word.  

Friends of who we ultimately hire will say the rockstar can do the following better than anyone else:

• Recruit Like the U.S. Army at a NASCAR Event. Our client is in the hospitality industry on a national scale. They’d like to upgrade their approach to recruiting, and in order to do that you’ll need to think big. How can you drive the raw numbers/quality/performance/retention, in that order, as you build the recruiting arm of this company? Join our client and you’ll get the biggest talent sandbox of your career (tens of thousands associates hired annually).

• Play Defense. Our client’s business means you’ll have to drive compliance strategies related to immigration, worker’s comp and every other area with a thick legal mandate. If you’re intrigued and know what that entails, you’re still a candidate. If you’re appalled, you’re probably not a fit.

• Play Offense. To this point, we’ve talked a lot about challenges related to the field organization at our client company. If all we needed was enforcement, this would be an easy spot to fill. Happily, we’re also looking for someone who can drive the people strategy in all the areas you would expect in addition to recruiting – performance management, training and development, onboarding, engagement and retention, etc. Sound like you? Have a portfolio ready to showcase your upstream skills in these areas.

• Be Bad Cop/Good Cop. Having thousands of hourly associates means you’ll need to put on your investigative hat once in awhile and get to the bottom of bad stuff that happens whenever 2 or more people work together. Can you take a call on the Batphone related to a “situation” and immediately break down what needs to happen to get the bottom of the issue, protect associates and limit liability to the company in a Union-Free environment? Yes? Have you ever called your phone the “Batphone”? Nice! Read on…

Interested?  Not your career level, but know someone who would rock in the role?  Hit the job posting here and apply or forward the job to a friend who's looking for a new challenge at the VP/SVP level.

Think of me as your personal Ari Gold.  Let's hug it out.