T-Mobile: Sometimes People Strategy is Zigging When Everyone Else Is Zagging...

This blog is generally about HR.  One thing about HR though - the best HR leaders generally help their clients (internal leaders of business units and functional areas) think differently about business problems.  Since the solution to most business problems generally involve workforce alignment and OD issues, it stands to reason that HR people could have something valuable to say.

But a lot of us allow the status quo to go on even if we think there's a better way.  We're busy. We've got shit to do.  How they approach business problems is their job - let them do it, right? Tmobile

That's fine until you go back to the central theme in the first paragraph - that the solution to most problems involves people.  And if you don't have opinions and hot takes about that, then you/we deserve the administrative tag that so many put on us.

Let me give you a great business solution that could have been the idea of any above-average HR leader in the field.  T-Mobile is a company that is shaking up all kinds of shit in the wireless industry.  They recently made Fortune's 100 Best Places to Work list, but the focus of their profile was as much about business solutions as it was about perks and ping-pong.  Which is another way to say that how you approach business can drive your culture as much as anything.

More from Fortune on one such strategy at T-Mobile:

T-Mobile is doubling down on “do what they tell you” under an effort called “Team of Experts,” which has given call-center employees unprecedented authority. Under the plan, which launched last year, T-Mobile divided its customers into blocks of about 120,000, who are each assigned to a specific group of a few dozen employees at a specific call center. When customers call for support, they are routed to their assigned team, instead of being assigned to a random rep at the least busy center in the country, as is typical in the industry. There’s no transferring of calls elsewhere in a frustrating ducking of accountability. Reps are held responsible for the outcomes of their customer group, measured by metrics such as how frequently customers defect to another carrier or how often they call support, and reps and their managers are empowered to hand out service credits or alter bills.

“People in the industry told us we were crazy to do non-randomized routing,” says Callie Field, T-Mobile’s executive vice president in charge of customer care. But T-Mobile’s cost to serve customers has dropped by 9% overall since it was implemented, while customer satisfaction scores increased by 20 percentage points, Field says. Legere says that the customer-care team’s new responsibilities give them even more data they can use to assess how promotions are going or whether customers understand new plans. “These people talk to 20 customers a day; that’s your gold mine.”

How many HR leaders have looked at the dehumanized, cattle call, big box call centers and thought "there has to be a better way"?  Not only for your people, but for the business?

I think a lot of us could have come up with that solution.  Putting people in the right type of role to do their best work leads to great business results, and culturally, it's more sustainable than almost anything else we can do to build great company culture.

Few of us would naturally go against the grain against something like big box, next globally available rep call centers.  But it's where the biggest impact for HR is.

What is your company doing that's incredibly stupid in your business when it comes to people? If you want a big win in 2018, be a proponent of a business change involving people that gets business results.

Do that, and you'll get your culture thing.

HR CAPITALIST DEFINITIONS: "Edge City" (with notes on Amazon Moving to ATL)...

With all the competition for Amazon's second headquarters (dubbed HQ2) and with Atlanta (home of Kinetix, the company I own part of) being in the mix, I thought I'd share one of my favorite books of all time and give you a Capitalist definition while we are at it.

Edge City is the term.  I picked up the book by the same name over 20 years ago at a bookstore when heading to the beach for a vacation.  The book became one of my all time ATLfavorites, and the definition changed how I viewed the business world forever.  Here's a description of the term, as well as details about the concept.  Take a look and we'll talk about Atlanta/Amazon after the jump.

"Edge city" is an American term for a concentration of business, shopping, and entertainment outside a traditional downtown (or central business district) in what had previously been a residential or rural area. The term was popularized by the 1991 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier by Joel Garreau, who established its current meaning while working as a reporter for the Washington Post. Garreau argues that the edge city has become the standard form of urban growth worldwide, representing a 20th-century urban form unlike that of the 19th-century central downtown. Other terms for these areas include suburban activity centers, megacenters, and suburban business districts.

In 1991, Garreau established five rules for a place to be considered an edge city:

  • Has five million or more square feet (465,000 m²) of leasable office space.
  • Has 600,000 square feet (56,000 m²) or more of leasable retail space.
  • Has more jobs than bedrooms.
  • Is perceived by the population as one place.
  • Was nothing like a "city" as recently as 30 years ago. Then it was just bedrooms, if not cow pastures."

Most edge cities develop at or near existing or planned freeway intersections, and are especially likely to develop near major airports. They rarely include heavy industry. They often are not separate legal entities but are governed as part of surrounding counties (this is more often the case in the East than in the Midwest, South, or West). They are numerous—almost 200 in the United States, compared to 45 downtowns of comparable size—and are large geographically because they are built at automobile scale.

The book is organized by chapters that dig into various Edge Cities in America, including Tyson's Corner, Houston's Galleria area and more.  Because the book came out in 1991 - you can preview the whole book on Amazon (irony) without buying.

What's the big deal about Edge Cities for HR?  The biggest impact they have is what I call "recruiting center of gravity" - my term, not in the book.

Commute preferences change in metro areas as Edge Cities come online and continue to grow.  In Atlanta - home of Kinetix - Edge Cities like Buckhead, Perimeter and Galleria have pushed the employment center of gravity north, to the point where a study I did in 2009 showed that the location preferred by the greatest number of candidates across Atlanta was the Perimeter, located at 12 o'clock on I-285, the perimeter loop that surrounds downtown Atlanta.

But back to Amazon.  You might expect that given the northbound trend of Edge Cities in Atlanta, Amazon would be looking for a location in the north suburbs.  You'd be wrong, primarily because the airport is south of downtown.  As a result, the patch of land proposed for Amazon is connected to downtown near the old Georgia Dome location in an area called The Gulch.

Edge Cities apply to everyone but Amazon - because 50,000 jobs has its own gravity that transcends the Edge City formula.

Quick math - if the average office space formula calls for 170 feet of office space per employee/worker, the HQ2 project would stand at 8.5 million feet of leasable/owned real estate to support 50,000 employees.

You know - the equivalent of 14 Edge Cities described by Garreau.

As they said in Jaws - we're going to need a bigger boat.

Warren Buffett’s #2 Would Hire HR Generalists Over HR Specialists...

Let's start out with a definition of what an HR Generalist is from my viewpoint:

HR Generalist - a HR pro at any level who is in charge of a client group of employees - M_Awesome-Tee-For-Hr-Generalistmeaning they provide HR services to a location, a business unit, a functional area or geographical area.  As part of this role, they provide counsel, service and insight across the HR Body of Knowledge - comp, benefits, recruiting, employee relations, legal, etc.

An HR Generalist can exist at the individual contributor level or manage people, as well as exist at the HR Rep, HR Manager, Director, VP and CHRO level.

Some people define an HR Generalist as a early career HR title.  Don't be fooled.  An HR generalist is more about mindset and world-view than it is about a title.  If you serve a client group and they come to you seeking counsel on every item under the sun, you're probably a generalist.

Good news - The guy behind Warren Buffet thinks you're the valuable type of talent that exists inside an organization.  More from The Hustle:

Behind every lauded genius, there tends to be a No. 2: A Pippen to Michael, a Woz to Jobs, and, dare we say, a Munger to Buffett.

For 40 years, Charlie Munger has served behind the scenes as Warren Buffett’s most trusted business partner.

He’s played a pivotal role in managing Berkshire Hathaway’s $178B stock market portfolio (Q3 of last year), advising him to invest in electric vehicle powerhouse BYD back in 2008, and many others.

While Munger has worked tirelessly over his 70-year career, there is one thing (or, technically many things) he contributes to his success.

Knowing a little about everything

According to Munger, his theory on work ethic, AKA ‘expert-generalism’ goes somewhat against the ever-popular 10,000 hour rule.  

According to Quartz, rather than “lasering” in only on investment theory, his strategy is to study “widely and deeply” in many fields that he could one day apply as an investor.

Bill Gates once said, “[Munger] is truly the broadest thinker I’ve ever encountered… Our longest correspondence was a detailed discussion on the mating habits of naked mole rats and what humans might learn from them.”

You can be an expert-generalist too

Orit Gadiesh, the Bain & Co. chairman who coined the term, describes expert-generalism as “the ability and curiosity to master and collect expertise in many different disciplines.”

Research shows EG’s have:

Hmm, sounds like the world could use a few more EG’s.

If you're an HR generalist at any level, be proud.  You're a trusted advisor that understands that the world is gray, and you also know how important you are in helping those in your client group navigate all the complexity and chaos that comes with managing a workforce.

Simply put, HR Generalists are the most important cog in the HR world.  Be proud, because you are irreplaceable.  


VIDEO HANGOUT THURSDAY - The Psychology of Recruitment: Brain Hacking to Get Agreement...

If you’re a client or follower of Jobvite, you know the Recruiter Nation Live series.  It started with the Recruiter Nation Live Conference in San Francisco last June, and continued with the Recruiter Nation Live Roadshow that brought real recruiter talk to 9 cities in North America over the last three months of 2017. 
The feedback was great – you loved it, so we’re back with the latest in the series – the Recruiter Nation Live Hangout Series, hosted by Fistful of Talent and me.  Once a month, FOT will host a live Hangout designed to keep the conversation among HR pros and recruiters going – focused on things you can use, like the best-kept secrets of today’s smartest and most efficient recruiters, Jedi-mind tricks proven to make you more persuasive/get great candidate response and strategies to hold your hiring managers accountable for their choices–so everyone wins.


Our next hangout is at 1pm ET on January 25th (Thursday!).  It's an informal thing - we fire up the video and a few slides (emphasis on "few") and run through a few things in 20-25 minutes...




The Psychology of Recruitment: Brain Hacking to Get Agreement
While technology continues to have greater importance in our day-to-day lives and jobs, knowing the things that make us uniquely human is just as critical. How you use social psychology, and our decision biases to help connect, engage and influence a job candidates is where you can make a huge difference. 

Join Paul Hebert and Dawn Burke of FOT for this 25 minute video hangout as they riff on:

1--How you can use aversion to your advantage - even when the person doesn't have a job to lose.

2--Understanding how getting small commitments can drive even bigger ones.

3--Leveraging "framing" when you talk to candidates to help you lock in salary and other things you might normally have difficulty discussing with candidates

It will be fun and fast. You'll want to join us because it will turn your recruiting game up to 11.  Or if it's already an 11, it will turn it up to 12.

(Hint - one of the weirdest influence techniques is included in this session. Listen in and Paul will explain it.)


Let's Hangout and Talk - Getting Ready to Staff Up at the Start of 2018...

If you’re a client or follower of Jobvite, you know the Recruiter Nation Live series.  It started with the Recruiter Nation Live Conference in San Francisco last June, and continued with the Recruiter Nation Live Roadshow that brought real recruiter talk to 9 cities in North America over the last three months. 
The feedback was great – you loved it, so we’re back with the latest in the series – the Recruiter Nation Live Hangout Series, hosted by Fistful of Talent and me.  Once a month, FOT will host a live Hangout designed to keep the conversation among recruiters going – focused on things you can use, like the best-kept secrets of today’s smartest and most efficient recruiters, Jedi-mind tricks proven to make you more persuasive/get great candidate response and strategies to hold your hiring managers accountable for their choices–so everyone wins.


Our next hangout is at 1pm ET on December 14th (this Thursday!).  It's an informal thing - we fire up the video and a few slides (emphasis on "few") and run through a few things in 20-25 minutes...



--How to build your internal and external recruiting “posse” for 2018. 

--What year-end “house-cleaning” (especially within your technology platforms/ATS) must be done to start 2018 with a clean slate. 

--How to partner with your executives and hiring managers to get great results - together. 

--What reporting would help you manage expectations and influence your internal clients to recognize the great work you're doing?



VIDEO: Using BHAGs as a Goal Setting Technique for High Performers...

Big, hairy, audacious goals, or BHAGs, are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They traditional differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are usually 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.

Even though BHAGs are generally goals for companies and collective groups, smart managers are increasingly using them for individuals as well. I explain the merits of using BHAGs in this fashion in the following episode of TalentTalks from Saba Software.

Take a listen (email subscribers click through for video below) and hit me in the comments with a BHAG that's been useful in your career or managing a talented direct report!!! 

Sit Down Old People - I'd Hire You, But You're Not "Digitally Native"....

Thoughts from the road.

Let's talk about old people.  No BS, no talking around it, let's just talk about old people in the workplace.
I'm coming off some leadership training with a client. Great people, and when I do that type of training I'm always reminded how most people who obtain any type of leadership position with a company (first-level managers and up) are talented and want to do great things.  
Here's another observation. The older managers in my group this week were great.  They were engaged, thoughtful, talented - and among the people I would trust the most to try and put the conversation techniques we we teaching in play at their company.
So why don't more companies want to employ older workers?  I'm convinced that this is probably THE undervalued sector in the employment marketplace right now. The-bucket-list
Why is this on my mind?  Mainly due to this article I spotted on the road from Inc, detailing the new codewords tech companies are putting into job descriptions to try and eliminate older workers from consideration.  Take a look at this bull#### (Inc reporting is solid, so I'm talking about the subjects of the reporting):

People would be rightly shocked if a job description for a high-tech position said: "whites and South Asians only" or "women need not apply." They'd be shocked not because racism and sexism aren't rampant in these firms, but because the company would be explicitly acknowledging that the racism and the sexism exists.

However, whilst they're sensitive about being outwardly racist and sexist, high tech firms are total fine with discriminating against one type of job candidate: anyone born before 1985. To express this, high-tech firms use the dog-whistle "digital native" which basically means "nobody older than 36 need apply." Here's an example from the Mountain View-based TapInfluence:

"As an Influencer Marketing Accounts Coordinator, you are an eager and ambitious can-do-er. You are bright, creative and won't stop until both you and your customers (marketers and influencers) are successful. You are a digital native who loves everything about social media and who keeps up with all the rising social trends." (Emphasis mine.)

The term "digital native" comes from a 2001 article suggesting that "children raised in a digital, media-saturated world require a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention." Over time, this highly-questionable notion that millennials are particularly prone to ADD and ADHD has morphed into the even-more-questionable notion that millennials are better adapted to the digital world.

Digital native.  Nice. New buzzword for old.  It used to be "energy", but everybody's probably on to that, so we changed it. Everyone take a bite of the turd sandwich that phrase is. Also, the article points out that Facebook diversity statement includes consideration for every protected group under the sun except - you guessed it - old people:

High tech firms, though, have so thoroughly embraced this "digital native" junk science that many don't even feel it necessary mention age in their pro-forma diversity statements. Like Facebook, for instance:

"As part of our dedication to the diversity of our workforce, Facebook is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion."

So that quote is the diversity footer on Facebook's posts on LinkedIn.  I'm not a big "let's be politically correct" person, so I really don't want to shame post on Facebook.
But **** it - shame on you Facebook.  You'll include every other protected class but the old folks?  Damn.
Old folks use tech products.  Old folks also trend more politically conservative, so If I was Fox News, I'd do a segment claiming that political leaning is the real reason you don't keep age top of mind as a protected class.  
But I'm not Fox News.  So I'll assume the reason you don't want old people is because you think they can't hang.  A lot of times, you might be right.
But older workers are a value play in the talent marketplace right now.  If you're looking for great talent, you might want to figure out a way to sort the player/non-player thing out across older workers.  I'd hire all of the older people I saw this week - without hesitation.  
Are they "digital native"?  I don't know.  But if you're discounting the whole class due to that factor, I've only got one thing to say:
Up yours. 
You're wrong.  Run a ####ing algorithm to figure out which of the older folks can hang.  That's what you do, right?  Use data to make smarter decisions?  Try that with older people and hire a few of them - the talented ones - and see what happens. 
I bet it's positive.

Tesla: Now the Most Interesting Workplace Culture in The World...

Forget Google, Apple and if you're into pain, Uber.

Tesla is now the most interesting workplace culture in the world.  Here's 4 reasons why, my friends:

1--For starters, they've got a founder who is brilliant and unreasonable all at the same time. 

You've heard of Elon Musk, so he really doesn't need an introduction.  From a unauthorized biography I just read on him....

"When Musk came into the meeting room where I'd been waiting, I noted how impressive it was for so many people to be at work on a Saturday.  Must saw the sitaution in a different light, complaining that fewer and fewer people had been working weekends of late, 'We've grown f***ing soft", Musk replied, 
'I was just going to send out an email - we're f***ing soft'"

Founders.  Always a fun time.  There's 100 examples of this stuff in the book.

2--Tesla's under immense pressure to get production of it's newest car model, the Model 3, up to scale. And they are behind.  More from Bloomberg:

"Tesla said it built just 260 Model 3 sedans during the third quarter, less than a fifth of its 1,500-unit forecast. The company has offered scant detail about the problems it’s having producing the car. The vehicle’s entry price starts at $35,000, roughly half the cost of Tesla’s least-expensive Model S sedan.

A delayed ramp-up risks the ire of some of the almost half million reservation holders who started paying $1,000 deposits early last year." 

3--Tesla's at the intersection of manufacturing and automation with the ramp up of the Model 3 - here's an Instagram post shared by Musk late last week to respond to people reporting that there was limited automation at this point on the Model 3 line (email subscribers click through if you don't see the post below.  It's good):

4--Embedded in the founder driven culture is... wait for it.... people being fired after lackluster performance reviews!  And the company is saying that's the reason!  More from Bloomberg:

Tesla Inc. has fired an undetermined number of employees following a series of performance evaluations after the company significantly boosted its workforce with the purchase of solar panel maker SolarCity Corp.

 The departures are part of an annual review, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in an email, without providing a number of people affected. The maker of the Model S this week dismissed between 400 and 700 employees, including engineers, managers and factory workers, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Oct. 13, citing unidentified current and former workers.
“As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures,” the company said in the statement. “Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”
An interesting founder still running things.  Big innovation.  Production delays.  Saying you're trimming the bottom performers aka Jack Welch and stacked ranking.
Tesla is the most interesting workplace culture in America right now.  It's not even close.

Kid Rock, Innovation and Resistance to Change...

Show love to those who come real with it
Life's a b**ch , but I deal with it
I'm in it to win it like Yzerman
Can drink about fifteen Heinekins
I'm not born again but if I was
I'd ask to come back with a little more love
Puffin the Winston, drinkin' a four-oh
Kid Rock and I'm a let you know...

Wasting Time --Kid Rock


We’re all a little bit scared of change, aren’t we?

The year is 1998.  I turn on the MTV music awards and a see a white guy with long hair, a funky hat and a red suede sweatsuit jumping around stage, rapping and screaming.  The scene around him is surreal – there’s Kid rock a midget bouncing around on stage with him, the music behind him is 90% provided by a rock band with a bassist and lead guitarist who look like bikers and a middle-age black woman on drums. 

My conclusion.  This sucks.  It will never last.  Why are they on the MTV music awards.  WTF?

Well, it turns out that dirty white hippie was Kid Rock.  The world had it right early, I had it wrong.  I became a fan over time.  I was late to the game.

Love him or hate him, Kid Rock arrived.  Some of you never liked him.  Most of the world eventually did. 

We see things that interrupt our pattern, and our first instinct is to protect what we know – even if the new thing is better.  Need another example?

Messaging.  If you’re Gen X like me, texting came online at a time when I didn’t need another way to communicate.  Like a lot of people in their 30’s at the time, I WAS KILLING IN IT CORPORATE AMERICA VIA EMAIL.  I didn’t want or need texting.  My kids were young and without phones – I didn’t see what the big deal was. DID I MENTION MY EMAIL GAME WAS SICK?

Turns out, I missed a channel of immediacy with those I most wanted to communicate with.  Now I can’t think of life without the immediacy of text – although that responsiveness will go down over time.

You’ve got your own stories about how you resisted change in your life and now look back and feel stupid, right?  Hit me with those stories in the comments.

The point?  We are resistant to change, so we often are slow to see the benefits of new innovations that appear before us.  To be sure, not all new things are going to break through like texting – or like Kid Rock.

But it really doesn't matter.  Most of us are resistant enough to all change that we’re slow on everything – including the ones that really matter. 

That has to spill over into your ability to innovate at work, right?

If we’re slow to adopt changes that obviously improve the status quo, how could we possibly be expected to innovate on our own at work?


Sure you are, Sparky.  Sure your are.


BOOM: Amazon Announces Intent to Build Second HQ in a City Outside of Seattle...



Amazon announced on Thursday 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, Amazon said in a press release.

Amazon 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.

Amazon is inviting city representatives and those working for regional economic development organizations to submit a proposal if they want to host Amazon's second headquarters.

To me, the obvious choice is the ATL.  But I'm biased because that's my second home.  

I'll leave you with this - if you have any doubt of the economic impact of the Amazon HQ2, take a look at the numbers in the chart below related to their presence in Seattle.  This is a much/much/much bigger deal from an economic standpoint that a city landing a sports team.  It's probably the biggest economic development event that will happen in America in the next century.  (email subscribers click through if you don't see the chart below)

Let's go ATL.  Click on the chart below to blow it up and be amazed...


Amazon impact