A CHRO Reader Sounds Off: Have HR Vendors Lost Their Ever-Loving Minds?

If you choose to click through and read this, you have experienced a large uptick in the volume and aggressiveness level of pitches from HR vendors.  I could say more to introduce this post, but the best path is just to allow a CHRO friend of mine tell you how he feels.

"Dan" is a CHRO for a large employer in the US with thousands and thousands of employees.  He's a good Sales memesand talented guy is not moved to overreaction.  He sent me and a few other friends this note last Friday to say WTF related to what he's experiencing related to outreach from HR vendors... I changed the names to protect the source and the vendor, see his note and enjoy:

Fellow “Really Cool” HR Friends,

Well, you may object to my sneaky inclusion of myself amongst the hipsters, but I digress . . .

So, my Friday RANT which has been building for years . . . the NUMBER OF ACTUAL SALES (or even sales visits) TO ME THAT HAVE RESULTED FROM INITIAL “MARKETING” like you see below?  Free craft beer if you guess correctly . . .

ZERO.

Who are these people?  I guess they’re at least getting a sniff or two from maybe a .001% population who just cannot say no to a “live” sales call when they read the Oh-So-Compelling email.  But it still bewilders (read: angers) me that the most likely millennial group of sales types have deluded themselves into thinking that with a carpet bomber email blast – from an email list that the “receiver” DID NOT approve – will endear them to the prospect.

Besides, I know who’s behind the “keyboard” on sales emails like John from Schwing below, which now forces me to hit the delete button nigh on 25 times a day, or if I’m feeling Catholic guilt, spend 30 seconds (it adds up) replying “no thanks” politely.  It’s a lovable millennial, who hit send on the mass marketing email from his smartphone while he’s on break at the violent Berkeley protests against free speech (if said speech happens to be lean right).

I have a new personal rule . . . if you prospect me with inane “first approaches” like the below email (and his Co, Schwing, I’m sure is just swell), I will permanently black list you from ever being granted a live audience with me or my team.

Harsh?  No.  Short-sighted?  Probably, but the B.S. marketing has gone too far.  You want bi’ness?  Hold a happy hour in our fair city, and pony up to our SHRM chapter for access.  Let us confirm that you’re not a Watson computer “marketing” to us.  That you actually drink beer or wine. 

And the folks who sell the contact lists should be publicaly hanged in the the park here on our campus so that there’s a good view until the bodies decompose.

Oh, by the way, HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!  And get off of my lawn.

That's an epic rant.  And correct.  His frustration is felt by most of you, who note an uptick in the number of emails, but also in the number and brazenness of the follow ups.  My favorite follow ups to the cited initial emails and calls include:

  1. Did you get my note?  
  2. Did I make you mad?
  3. Please choose one of the following related to why you haven't responded (always includes a playful or fun answer.  Schwing!)
  4. PHONE Only - "This is John, I'm calling you back on the message you left me.  Call me back at XXX.XXX.XXXX".

What I love about America is this - anyone can start their own company.  That includes the HR Space.

What I hate about America is this - anyone can start their own company.  That includes the HR Space.

Honk if you feel Dan's pain.  HR vendors, take note. If you're part of the problem, it's probably time to pivot on your approach.

BONUS - including one of my 100 Best All Time Movie Clips for HR - pitch scene from Boiler Room included below (email subscribers click through for the video):


The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #69 is Walter Sobchak: "Smokey This is Not 'Nam, This Is Bowling. There are Rules"...

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..

"Smokey This is Not 'Nam, This Is Bowling. There are Rules"

--Walter Sobchak in "The Big Lewbowski 

 People. They're hard to deal with sometimes. You know what causes the biggest disagreements and lack of respect for others in the workplace?

Rules orientation. High rules people hate those who make their own realities and ignore the tribal customs.  Low rules people snicker at high rules people as being bean counters who add little true value.

Which one are you?  I'm low rules.  I'm Smokey in the video below. (put it down, dude)  I've known people like Walter who would gladly draw a gun on me (if socially acceptable) as I ignored a policy for the 13th time.

What saved me?  How about that workplace violence policy?  That's the tricky part for high rules people - if they want to put me in my place, there's usually a rule against that.

Sucks to be them. Find a good behavioral assessment, and I can make a case that the biggest thing you can learn about your team is where they fall in Rules Orientation.

The Dude? He's somewhere mid-range in rules.  Understanding the need, but wondering if taking a stand on Smokey's toe on the bowling foul line is really a good use of our time.

(email subscribers click through for video below)


The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #70 is Jared from Silicon Valley: "Are We to Understand That You Did Not Crush It In 2012?"...

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)


The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #71 is Jeffrey Lebowski: "Yeah, Well That's Just Like Your Opinion, Man"...

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..

Data and analytics - they're everywhere, right? 

What I love is when some dufus comes directly at you as an HR Pro, explaining to you that he has a unique understanding of the talent game - with the implication that you are nothing more than a transactional, payroll coordinator.

If you're a transactional HR person, you might have to take that.  If you're more than a transactional HR pro, you CAN'T take that. You've got to go back at that guy.

Option #1 is obviously to break some human capital knowledge right over his freaking head.  

Options #2 is today's quote:

Quote #71 is from The Big Lebowski: "Yeah, Well That's Just Like Your Opinion, Man"...

When you don't have anything to say, the right move is always to challenge the validity of the argument.  In today's world, that means pointing out that there's nothing analytical about what the person in front of you said.  It's just their opinion, man.

Use this quote when you don't have anything to say. You'll get bonus points from the part of the crowd that has sampled The Big Lebowski.

And yes, that rug really did tie the room together.

(video clips below, email subscribers click through to view)

And for the graduate students, below is the full Jesus clip from the movie - caution, NSFW...


The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #72 is Bob Sugar: "I'm Here to Fire You, Jerry"...

Recurring 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..

"I'm here to fire you, Jerry. It's real -You should say something"...

--Bob Sugar in Jerry Maguire

Ah yes, the offsite meeting.  Here's some rules/guidelines about what offsite meetings mean in your culture:

--If offsite meetings happen often and informally in your company, they mean nothing more than your normal meeting request received via outlook for Conference Room #5 on the second floor.

--If the person requesting the offsite meeting is clear about the purpose, either through what they proactively explain or give you upon request, you're good.  Play on.

--If the person says they just want to run through some things when you ask them for the offsite topic of conversation, it's probably a gripe session about someone other than you.  That's better than what's coming next.

--If the person won't really tell you what the offsite is about upon request or goes dark on you when you request the topic, beware.  The Bob Sugar approach might be just around the corner.

Bob Sugar is a sleazy, but hilarious, sports agent type in the movie Jerry Maguire.  The movie starts with Jerry having an epiphany at a conference that he's tired of the way his company does business, so he writes a manifesto and distributes it to all the partners/owners of the firm.  He then gets fired, with Bob Sugar sent by the company to do the dirty deed.

Clip appears below (email subscribers click through for video).  My favorite part?  After firing Jerry at the offsite location, Sugar breaks the silence by saying, "It's real -You should say something".  Classic lack of bedside manner when firing someone.

I also like the following quote -"What about me? You know what I went through? Knowing I was going to have to fire my mentor?"  Classic turn the tables!

Bob Sugar for president. Hit the clip below and read offsite meeting requests accordingly!


The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #73 is Owen Wilson: "Scariest Environment Imaginable. Thanks - That's all you gotta say"...

Recurring 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..

"Scariest Environment Imaginable. Thanks -That's all you gotta say. Scariest Environment Imaginable"

--Owen Wilson in Armageddon

As HR pros, we'll often interview people to find out how bad a situation is.  Think an imploding employee relations situation, or an intake call on the recruiting side to figure out what we'll be sending a candidate into.

The clip below says it all.  When the person we're asking for information opens up and tells us it's awful, we need a response.  Owen Wilson gives us the quote - "Scariest Environment Imaginable. Thanks -That's all you gotta say. Scariest Environment Imaginable"... 

It's bad, we get it.  Let's move on.  (email subscribers click through for video clip below)...


The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #75 is Harvey Dent ("You Either Die a Hero, or You Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become the Villain")...

Recurring 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..

"You Either Die a Hero, or You Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become the Villain"

--Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight

Today's quote is all about not overstaying your welcome.  It's about the shelf life of talent.

"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the Villain."

New employees and new managers can have great starts in your company.  At some point, their effectiveness starts to wane.  Conditions change.  They're not the star any longer.

At that point, they've got a choice to make:

1. Get the hell out.

2. Reinvent themselves and stay.

3. Stay and do nothing to increase their waning effectiveness. 

Should you stay or should you go?  If you stay, you better do something to reinvent yourself, because if you don't, the pack is going to turn on you.

Your game becomes old.  Either die a hero (that means you leave) or get ready to see yourself become the Villian (you stayed but refused to start the clock ticking over via some type of reinvention.

Which one is it going to be?  (if you want to go right to the quote on the clip below, go to the 1:10 mark - email subscribers click through for the video clip...)


The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #76 is Tony Mareno ("You Know How Many Times Someone Told Me I Did Good?")...

Recurring 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..

"You Know How Many Times Someone Told Me I Did Good?  Two..."

--Tony Mareno in Saturday Night Fever

I finished up a module in BOSS - Leadership Skills for the Modern Manager (our manager training series at Kinetix) last weekend and found this gem on compensation and Performance Management.

Pay increases. A topic that causes more dissatisfaction per capita than any other workplace conversation surrounding compensation.  

If you’re like most managers, you don’t have an unlimited “kitty” of funds to give people raises with. The dirty little secret to compensation is that employees generally get paid at the time they join the company—their negotiating power is never higher—and only true stars can command above-average increases year over year.

Of course, the term “above average” is a loaded phrase. One man’s “above average” is another woman’s “insult.” And while we can’t agree on what constitutes “above average,” we damn sure can’t agree on who’s actually performing at a high level, which would seem to be a necessity to do pay increases effectively.

Tony Mareno got a raise in the video clip above. He was thrilled. Then his dad took a giant crap on his psychological state by telling him the raise meant nothing.

Now Tony’s not thrilled anymore. So goes your life when it comes to pay increases.  Take a look at the clip.  Solid negotiation on the part of his manager at the start of the conversation.  Ping me if you want to talk manager training - we've got a cool thing started at Kinetix.


The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #77 is Danny Ocean ("How Did You Get By The Laser Field?")..

"How did you get by the laser field in the Great Hall?"

-George Clooney as Danny Ocean in "Ocean's 12"

There's a great scene in Ocean's 12 where Danny Ocean is talking with "The Night Fox", his European competition in the high end theft game.  He's going through things the Fox has accomplished that seem beyond the realm of possibility to him.  At one point, he says, "How did you get by the laser field in the Great Hall?", at which point the footage breaks away to show the Fox working on his strength and flexibility, which made beating the lasers possilbe through what I'll call interpretive dance.

After the breakaway clip, the footage comes back to Ocean, who simply says "oh".

He just realized that someone on his team isn't good enough for "the show", which means the highest level of competition.

On Ocean's team, the guy who handles breaking safe and secruity systems is Don Cheadle as Basher Tarr, but the when Ocean asks the question about hte laser field and says "oh" in response, he realizes he's limited.  He's probably also wondering if the Amazing Yen, the acrobat on his team, can come close to handling that as well.

Tarr blows things up and tunnels into them.  He doesn't dance.  Ocean has figured out what he has isn't good enough.  It's called a talent upgrade in the HR game.  

The next time I'm talking to someone about the need to upgrade, I'm going to say "how are you going to get by the laser field in the Great Hall?" 

They'll be confused, but I'll be entertained.  (email subscribers click through for videos below) 


The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #78 is Vince Vaughn on Goal Setting...

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..

“I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don't have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell ya, it feels phenomenal.

--Vince Vaughn as Peter La Fleur in Dodgeball

And that, my friends, is why goal setting is such a freaking mess in your organizations.  It's human nature to avoid goals because they create that nasty little thing called accountability.

Your managers avoid them for the same reason.  Plus, they don't like looking like hacks who are simply building lists of things to do.

So we avoid goals and just kind of slink along, right?

We all deserve better.  Figure out a way to make goal setting real in your company - you know, the type of process that actually feels like humans run it.

(email subscribers, click through to see video of Vince Vaughn in Dodgeball below)