One of the things I've always been a fan of is having potential factors as an alternative to company values.
Background: At Kinetix, we have potential factors instead of values. They're designed to identify what we value most in talent and as such, should be our guides in how we hire, promote and reward, and at times, fire.
You can find all of our potential factors in an online document/handbook we call The Kinetix Code.
If you want to rethink your company values and think about subbing them out for potential factors, here's your process:
1. You meet with your leadership team. There’s a lot of fancy ways to frame this, but it really comes down to answering the following question:
“Let’s think about the stars at our company. What is it about them, regardless of position, that makes them successful at our company? Give me single words that serve as adjectives to describe what our stars have behaviorally cognitively (no skills!) that other people don’t, and any word you give me has to be descriptive of the group of stars in your opinion – no words that apply to one or some and not the others.”
2. Do that, and you’ll end up with a brainstorming session about words they think are descriptive of the highest performers in your company. You’ll get as many as 70 words out of this process.
3. You take the raw list of words and start combining things that mean the same thing, or close to the same thing. For example, initiative and drive are closely related. When you find words that mean the same thing, your job is to put them on the same line and then decide what word best describes the behavior in your culture.
4. Once you do that offline and knock down the number, you’ll have a list of 20-25 words to choose your initial potential factors from. There are a lot of ways to pick the ones you want. Your CEO can look at it and tell you what he/she wants, you can pick and tell the team, or preferably, you can have a working session to discuss, maybe cull it down to a list of 10 factors the team generally believes are the best – then figure out how you’re going to cut it to ones you want to launch. I’m big on a shielded vote for those, which still allows you and your CEO/ops leader veto power without doing that in a public setting.
What's the right number of potential factors to have? Same number as values. 5-6 seems to be the sweet spot, do more that and you'll lose the capability to position themselves as important.
Good luck if you undertake this process - it's worth the time to take a look at.
"Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin's increasingly autocratic and illiberal rule. But there's quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men."
In addition to countless mentions of Putin by Trump, there's also the not so little matter of Russia engaging in espionage to discredit the DNC and Hillary Clinton through leaks that happened after the democratic convention.
Before your eyes get sleepy, let's go back to my theory, allow me to explain and then we'll end this post.
Putin is the hiring influence that doesn't want your functional area to be strong, so they over-involve themselves in the feedback loop of a key leadership hire you're trying to make.
When you think about key leadership hires at your company, a couple of things are true:
1. Let's say your CEO or Divisional Head is trying to make a key hire on his/her leadership team. There's always going to be a process where that leader allows the other members of the leadership team to interview candidates to be their peer on that team.
2. The process almost always involves round robin interviews by those leadership team peers for the position in question.
3. At the end of that process, feedback is gathered. Do we want to hire the person? What's your recommendation? Yes or no?
4. Leadership team members have been known to play games. If they see a potential rival coming in that they think will negatively impact them, there's a chance they may be negative to push the CEO not to make the hire they believe would hurt their positioning.
5. The lengths they'll go to sabotage that process? Depends on the person.
I think Putin is getting involved for all the reasons people have stated. He's trying to influence the election, and it's interesting to me.
Why is it interesting? Because I've seen leadership team members go to great lengths to ensure they discredit a candidate any way they can.
In this scenario, Putin is a member of the leadership team of Earth.com. There's a search going on for a peer position on the leadership team. No CEO though.
Putin's threatened by a candidate that's coming in to be part of the leadership team. So he's going to do what leadership team members do that are threatened by a peer coming in. He's going to spin, discredit, etc - anything that will keep the candidate he doesn't want to see in that seat.
The big question? Which candidate is he trying to discredit? All signs point to Clinton. But with a Russian leader actively supporting an American candidate (Trump), it could actually be Trump he doesn't want to see in the seat. He is, after all, former KGB.
I saw this on the web recently and thought it had a lot of application beyond the way Apple and Google ideate and develop products:
"I’ve said before that Apple’s approach is about a dumb cloud enabling rich apps while Google’s is about dumb devices are endpoints of cloud services. That’s going to lead to rather different experiences, and to ever more complex discussions within companies as to what sort of features they create across the two platforms and where they place their priorities. It also changes somewhat the character of the narrative that the generic shift of computing from local devices to the cloud is a structural problem for Apple, since what we mean, exactly, when we say ‘cloud’ on smartphones needs to be unpicked rather more."
So, there's a lot there, but it basically means that Apple envisions great products and a dumb cloud, and Google dreams about dumb/basic products and smart cloud.
For me, I automatically thought about how we acquire talent, and in a competitive marketplace having a strategy about how you view the world.
Think about it this way - the device is the employee, and the cloud is your philosophy on developing that employee - what's available for them to plug into to make them better once they join you.
From a talent perspective, if you buy experienced, top dollar talent and don't have to train, you're more like Apple. If your strategy is to buy early career talent that's not as developed, but you're committed to plugging them into development resources, you're more like Google.
Both approaches can be killer. The biggest mistake you can make is to not have a philosophy.
New series at the Capitalist: The Top 100 Movie Quotes of all time for HR Pros. In no special order, I break down the 100 movie quotes that resonate most for me as a career HR pro. Some will be funny, some will be serious... Some will tug at your heart like when the Fox voice-over guy said, "Tonight - a very special episode of 90210"... You get the vibe... I'll do it countdown-style like they're ranked, but let's face it - they're ALL special..
HR Pros. Always with the politeness thing.
Example - you're interviewing a candidate. The candidate is obviously crazy and not a fit for your company or the position in question. But you're trained you can't end the interview too quickly, which BTW - is a good rule of thumb. Don't listen to anyone that tell you that you can end an interview after 10 minutes - that's a good way to take a lawsuit.
So you plow on in that interview. You do your thing and maybe - just maybe - you try and plant a seed with the candidate about why he's not going to be hired through your line of questioning.
Which brings us to today's quote. Let's say you're talking to a candidate who claims to be a high performer and is talking around an obvious gap in employment. You could take a page from Jared (HBO's Silicon Valley) and rip off the following quote:
Quote #70 is Jared from Silicon Valley: "Are We to Understand That You Did Not Crush It In 2012?'...
Jared would make a great HR pro. Sees the gap and hears the candidate talking and boom - addresses the gap.
Of course, he got a medical/mental condition thrown back at him as a result, but that's just details.
(video clip below, email subscribers click through to view)
Who's to blame? Like most of the stuff we deal with in HR, the truth is somewhere in the middle. And it's messy.
There's one thing that's certain, however. Whatever happened, we're dealing with the equivalent of a log cog employee/candidate when it comes to the response of the primary swimmer in question. I'm going to refrain from naming names, because some of the stuff that follows could be viewed as unkind. Let's call the swimmer at the middle of the firestorm "Bryan Rochte".
Bryan is responding to the controversy in a way consistent with the low cog employee/candidate. Let's break it down.
First up, what do we mean by "low cog?" Low Cog means Low Cognitive. If you're into testing candidates before you hire them, most of you will do behavioral assessments and as a part of that, some of you will measure cognitive skills.
High Cognitive candidates can take in large amounts of information and make quick accurate decisions. Low cog candidates aren't comfortable making choices that quickly - they need some soak time to arrive at the best possible decision. Cognitive tests most often require a candidate to complete X number of problems in a limited period of time - often making the candidate feel it's impossible to complete all the items in the time given.
Flash back to "Bryan" first responding to the reports that he had been robbed at gunpoint. However that story got started, he had a chance to set the record straight when Matt Lauer showed up to interview him the first time. Instead, he went with the story he shared earlier. That's consistent with a low cog candidate in an interview, or a low cog employee under pressure at your company.
What you say next will set up multiple dominos in the next couple of days. You've got 5 minutes to figure it out because Matt Lauer is coming up the elevator. Go!
Instead of backing off, he doubled down. Couldn't make the right decision in a restricted timeframe under pressure. Make the right decision - tell the whole truth about you ripping down a sign and in response to that, guns being drawn - and you're OK. A little black mark on your history but you likely keep the endorsements for no other reason than.... guns being drawn on you and everything that implies.
Low cog makes poor decisions under pressure. It's not about being dumb. It's more about processing speed and having the ability to make quick, accurate decisions under pressure.
But wait, there's more. Bryan the low cog swimmer had another chance when the story broke bad. During the "mea culpa" interview where he apologized, it was a great time to get some of the facts out that related to what happened while still taking full responsibility. To the contrary, low cog can't see the game and what's possible with the second interview, instead simply apologizing rather than doing a combo apology/let me tell you all the details session.
Low cog employees and candidates don't perform well under pressure. They need time to soak in the details and talk through options, hopefully arriving at the right decision/course of action after unlimited soak time.
You can hire people like Bryan - they can be good employees. But you should never put them in a spot where they have to deliver on demand.
And for the record, I'd like to know whether the security officers in Rio kept the money or if it made it back to the store owner.
Some of this comes down to whether you view the world as an HR person or a recruiter. I've always had to be both.
If you're a recruiter serving a client, you get paid for a higher level of service. The expectations aren't the same as your internal recruiting group, who are more conservative and risk adverse as a rule.
Say you have 3 candidates with different sets of experience and different abilities to impact the business. Assume for now - and I know it's hard for a lot of you - that protected class has nothing to do with it.
Knowing the salary that it's going to take to land each of those candidates means opportunity for a candidate. Let's say you're an up-and-comer and there are some things we like, but you don't have all the things we need. You needing 70K in salary instead of 95K can make a difference in you getting the job. And no, you won't add the same value that the more experienced candidate will provide in most circumstances. You're not as deep.
But if my client likes the potential and can save money to deploy elsewhere on their staff, that's a viable option.
For a recruiter worth their salt who has to plow through the market, having salary info specific to the candidate isn't about screwing someone. It's about making the best match possible.
The workaround is obvious. I'm going to tell them what my client can pay for their experience. Then I'm going to ask them if they'll accept the offer at that level if we get to the end of the process and they're my candidate.
And yes, males get the same treatment. Every time.
Great recruiters are like stock traders - we help clients understand whether someone's a buy or a sell based on their price.
"Today Randstad Holdings, an Amsterdam-based human resources and recruitment specialist, announced that it would acquire job hunting portal Monster Worldwide, for $429 million in cash. The deal works out to $3.40 per share in cash and is a premium on Monster’s share price at closing on Monday of $262 million."
But before you label it a good deal, consider the following:
"It is a far cry from the heady days of 2000 — when Monster, which had gone public soon after being founded in 1999 (itself the result of a merger of two early job startups), had a share price of over $91 and a market cap of nearly $8 billion. Even in 2007, when its stock was around $51, Monster was valued as high as $5.5 billion."
To really get your head around that, consider the following chart of Monster's stock (email subscribers click through, you'll want to see this one):
Let's think about that chart a little bit and try to learn from it as HR leaders. The older we get, the more we discover that nothing is forever.
Monster is the HR version of Blockbuster.
There were two very fat phases of Monster's existence - namely 2001 and 2007. At any point, Monster could have broken off some R&D funds and, in addition to pumping you for as big of a job board buy as possible, could have been thinking what the future held for them.
The future ultimately arrived in the form of Indeed, the power of SEO in directing traffic to a careers site, LinkedIn, social and a thousand niche job boards.
Monster was late to the game on a bunch of trends. I like to think of the downfall of Monster in this way - over time, Indeed redefined the job posting with their SEO model and the subsequent sponsored listings. LinkedIn obviously owned the database and even fringe players like Glassdoor made inroads by owning company reputation.
Monster protected the cash cow. To be fair, it's happened to so many companies you can't blame Monster.
But from an OD perspective? How do you not only emphasize funding R&D when times are good, but how can you make sure that R&D spend is focused on eventually killing the cash cow of your company?
Those are hard questions, but the example - near and dear to the heart of HR that Monster provides - is too good not to share.
Massachusetts has lost its mind. In a prime example of lawmakers not understanding business, the state has outlawed employers from asking interviewees about their salary history. Here's a quick rundown from Forbes:
"Massachusetts has just passed the most comprehensive law regarding the subject of equal pay.
"The law was signed by Republican Governor Charlie Baker on Monday, making Massachusetts the first state to pass a law that prohibits employers from asking interviewees about their salary history, keeping them from basing someone’s pay on what they previously made, though anyone can volunteer that information if they so choose.
Think Progress writes that proponents of the law argue that the practice of requiring potential hires to divulge their earlier salaries places women in a cycle of low pay—if a female worker made less than her male counterpart at her last job, she’s more likely to make less in her next role as well.
The bill also prohibits companies from penalizing employees who discuss their salaries with their peers, or “salary secrecy,” a practice that has been outlawed in California and New York as well. Additionally, it requires that both men and women be paid equally for “comparable” work, a provision that was also included in the California law."
Before you slay me for being anti-pay equity, stop. California and New York have laws that address pay equity on the books, which I support. What they don't have is over-reaching laws that hurts companies from making matches.
Here's a laundry list of bad things that can happen to businesses (and candidates!) if our recruiters can't talk salary history:
We can waste everyone's time, investing a lot of cycles in the interview process and then come with an offer that doesn't meet the candidate's expectations. That can happen with experienced and inexperienced candidates from both genders.
We'll do less exploratory interviews with candidates who might be "stretch" candidates based on their experience. If we can't understand their comp for limited experience, we're less likely to invest the time.
Companies and recruiters who aren't great negotiators will become even less skilled in the practice of making correct matches.
That last one should scare you as an HR or recruiting leader.
I'm pro-equal pay. Let the legal action fly for people who have been wronged in this manner in true "apple to apple" comparisons.
But you're going to limit my recruiter's ability to ask what someone makes? Lame.
What should you do if you face this law? You've got to work around it, which means your recruiters have to assess the resume, understand what their client can pay, then use what I call "salary framing", which as a negotiation technique looks like this:
“Hey Sally, based on where you’re at in your career, if you end up being the right candidate for this job, the offer’s likely to come in somewhere in the 70-75K range. If we get to the end of the process, will that type of offer work for you?”
You didn't ask her for her salary, but you're getting her reaction to what you can pay. That's the right way to deal with this type of law.
Remember people - I'm PRO EQUAL PAY. But I'm anti-stupid law. There's a difference.
It's usually an afterthought with great hires you make.
You found a great person for your open position. You did what you were supposed to do - finding great talent, engaging them, selling them on the opportunity and getting them to sign on the line that is dotted.
You hired a great person. Congrats!
There's just this one little problem. That great hire is going to join a group of incumbents in the same (or related) role who are a LOT less excited than they are about the job. Let's face it, the incumbents have some sh**ty habits, right? You're bringing in the new person to raise the DNA of the group.
Now it would be awesome if the incumbents saw the new talent and decided that they need to raise their game. That was originally part of your plan. Unfortunately, that's not the way it usually works.
Instead, your incumbents are likely to educate your new hire about how things are done, with all the whining, bad habits and baggage you would expect. The danger is obvious - your new hire is going to say, "What the hell have I gotten myself into?"
Here are 3 things you need to do and/or remember to prep the new hire for related to the disgruntled incumbents:
1. Tell the new hire that he/she is part of the future and part of the turnaround. You're prepping them to understand that the people they are going to encounter may or may not be part of that future. You don't have to name names, they'll get it. And you'll prepare them for the mediocrity they're about to encounter.
2. Don't make a big deal about the expectations you have of the new person from a performance perspective to others on the team. You'll just make them a target in the general population. No reason to do that.
3. Try to convert some fence-sitters related to where you want to go by engaging them to help train the new person. People are a lot less likely to be jaded and cynical about the new person if they get to help train them. If you've got a struggling team, find the folks most likely to survive the changes you have in mind and have them help train the newbie. It will help convert them to someone who wants to stay.
Never release new talent to the team without having a plan to help them survive. Every new hire has some type of "what the hell have I done" moment in the first two months in a new job.
Have a plan and prepare them for what they're about to see, and you'll have less quick churn of the people you hire as a result.
It's a dance as old as time itself. Your leadership team has opinions on talent - which is good. They're interested. That's a positive.
But one of the calls a lot of leadership teams make is this:
"In order to be the best, we've got to recruit from the best. We should really focus on elite schools for our key hires - Ivy and maybe a few other schools"
There are a couple of problems with that stance. Let's list them:
Your company may not be an attractive destination to graduates of elite college and university programs.
The graduates of those elite programs may not be equipped or motivated to do the jobs you would place them in.
Other talent, just as capable for the positions you have open, is available for reduced cost, lower retention risk and will perform as well - if not outperform the elite group.
If your leadership team has a focus on recruiting from elite schools and you have concerns, here's some help from a name your leadership team will probably recognize - McKinsey. The July edition of the McKinsey Quarterly has an article entitled "People Analytics Reveals 3 Things HR May Be Getting Wrong".
It's a good read. Here's what the article has to say about elite hiring at one of their clients:
"A bank in Asia had a well-worn plan for hiring: recruit the best and the brightest from the highest-regarded universities. The process was one of many put to the test when the company, which employed more than 8,000 people across 30 branches, began a major organizational restructuring. As part of the effort, the bank turned to data analytics to identify high-potential employees, map new roles, and gain greater insight into key indicators of performance.
Thirty data points aligned with five categories—demographics, branch information, performance, professional history, and tenure—were collected for each employee, using existing sources. Analytics were then applied to identify commonalities among high (and low) performers. This information, in turn, helped create profiles for employees with a higher likelihood of succeeding in particular roles.
Whereas the bank had always thought top talent came from top academic programs, for example, hard analysis revealed that the most effective employees came from a wider variety of institutions, including five specific universities and an additional three certification programs. An observable correlation was evident between certain employees who were regarded as “top performers” and those who had worked in previous roles, indicating that specific positions could serve as feeders for future highfliers. Both of these findings have since been applied in how the bank recruits, measures performance, and matches people to roles.
The results: a 26 percent increase in branch productivity (as measured by the number of full-time employees needed to support revenue) and a rate of conversion of new recruits 80 percent higher than before the changes were put in place. During the same period, net income also rose by 14 percent."
That tells you multiple things - that elite programs generally don't outperform what I'll call "the field", feeder groups into key positions are more important than we realize, and by the way, you're always going to do better recruiting the field (conversion rate) than you'll do at elite schools.
I would have loved to see the relative retention rate of the elite schools vs the field as well, but I'll take what they gave us.
Use this article to help calm down any leaders you have who only want to recruit from elite schools. As it turns out, a lot of gold comes from schools like Kennesaw State or Wisconsin-Milwaukee.