Must Listen Interview: Robert Hohman of Glassdoor...

You hate Glassdoor. Check.

You can't get your good employees to rate you on Glassdoor. Understood.

Are you done? Can I move on?  Ok, finish your tweet - I'll wait.

Look, I know Glassdoor is a sticky issue. But it's a reality in our world.  You might as well seek to understand it.

That's why this interview with Robert Hohman, co-founder and CEO of Glassdoor, is a great listen.  Hohman appeared on Recode/Decode, a podcast hosted by Kara Swisher, one of the strongest female figures in Silicon Valley and the business world.

One to the things you'll learn in the podcast is that Hohman was part of the early team at Expedia, and the goal of that team was to bring more transparency to the travel industry.  After the team gradually left that company after being purchased by Hotwire, Hohman and people on that team looked for other industries that needed more transparency. 

Guess what came up on that list? Careers and a look inside companies - and Glassdoor was born.

Other team members found similar opportunities elsewhere - a Expedia teammate of Hohman's disrupted real estate and founded Zillow.

Regardless of how you feel about Glassdoor, throw this podcast on on the drive home. Hohman is engaging, educational about the thought process behind Glassdoor and insightful about the research the company has on our workplaces.  (email subscribers click through if you don't see the player below)


Mindfulness and Meditation Might Be Bad For Your Company...

There's a great scene in the movie The Matrix i'll use as the intro to talking about mindfulness.  It goes something like this - one of the machines (Agent Smith) has captured the leader of the human resistance, and he can't help but taunt his prisoner (Morpheus) about how stupid the human race is.  The quote is as follows:

"Did you know that the first Matrix (editors note - this is the software program the human minds are plugged into as prisoners) was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that as a species that human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this, the peak of your civilization. I say "your civilization" because as soon as we started thinking for you, it really became our civilization which is, of course what this is all about."

Translation - there can be a lot of unintended consequences to what seems like the right thing to do. Smith

So let's talk about mindfulness and meditation. I haven't been bitten by the bug, but I've actually been at conferences where someone asked the question if they could force people to use the meditation rooms at her company.

I'm not joking. 

Mindfulness and meditation are hot topics/trends in the cutting edge of corporate America.  There are a lot of people experimenting with this.  We accept through research that this is good for our employees (I'm assuming, I don't have research to quote), but we've never really asked if it's good for the company or even the employee's career.  Hmm.

A new study digs into that question. More from the BBC:

"Meditation has long shed its Buddhist roots to become a secular answer to all of our ills in the West, with numerous studies finding benefits like reduced stress and better concentration.

Some of the world’s biggest firms, including Google and Nike, have embraced the practice, using meditation programmes as a way of tackling stress, staff turnover and absenteeism.

Meditation is also used as a tool to motivate workers, partly thanks to research on the relationship between wellbeing and productivity. But a new study suggests that mindfulness meditation, a popular type of meditation that practises being aware in the present, may not be the best way to increase your motivation at work."

That's the level set for the research.  Here's what the study found about mindfulness meditation, which is a flavor you''ll encounter on your journey if you explore the sector of meditation:

“Meditation is about accepting the present, which is the opposite to being motivated to do something, where the present moment isn’t acceptable, so meditation is inconsistent with being motivated to achieving a goal,” argues Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study.  

Vohs enlisted hundreds of participants to test her theory across five studies. In the first, 109 participants were given audio instructions in common mindfulness meditation techniques by a meditation coach. A comparison group were asked to simply let their minds wander.

After one 15-minute session, all participants were asked to tackle some simple tasks including doing an anagram puzzle and editing a cover letter. They were then asked how motivated they felt to carry on with the task.

Vohs, and her co-author Andrew Hafenbrack from the Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics in Portugal, found that the self-reported motivation levels of those who had meditated were lower than the control group, though their performance of the task wasn’t affected. The meditators also had fewer thoughts about the future, which the researchers said could interrupt the behavioural processes that contribute to achieving goals.

“The Western world, Americans in particular, love a panacea,” she says. “If mindfulness meditation came in a pill form, we’d all be on top of it. It’s calorie-free, portable, it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s capitalised onto you sitting down and doing nothing. To think the antidote to what ails you is to ‘just be’ is probably a welcome message, but it’s pure speculation.”

Meditation is a fast-growing industry – in 2018 meditation services are expected to generate $1.15bn for the US economy, according to IBISWorld’s Alternative Healthcare Providers in the US industry report – and Vohs’ message is an unusual one amid a generally positive tide.

Another study from Germany and the Netherlands that looked at mindfulness in the workplace, meanwhile, found participants reported improved wellbeing and lower stress levels, but didn’t look at motivation. 

So, the picture is mixed and, according to Desbordes, compounded by confusion over what mindfulness actually is. Some mindfulness teachers, she says, teach the importance of putting your daily suffering aside to achieve a new level of consciousness, whereas others advocate gaining insight into these challenges and how to improve them; two very conflicting approaches."

Look, I'm just a kid from the Midwest who lived in a blue collar household growing up.  

Am I skeptical of meditation and mindfulness?  Yes.  Am I open to learning more? Yes - and I have an app on my phone as proof I know I should be exploring this more.

But the article referenced above is a cautionary tale to me.  Agent Smith had to make the Matrix less than perfect to get the results the machines wanted.  Mindfulness Meditation might put your employees so much as ease that they're more mellow than you'd like them to be about goals.

The truth and the right solution is out there somewhere - but you're going to have to invest a lot of time to find it - and to ensure you don't get unintended consequences from your meditation program.

(h/t to Jenny Briggs for the article referenced, she's one of the best Human Capital pros I know!!)

 


When Employees Challenge Others to Step Up or Get Out...

The Cleveland Browns (pro football) are bad.  HBO has a show called "Hard Knocks", which embeds cameras at a training camp of one team each year.  This year, they are on campus with the Browns.

The hope, of course, is that the organizational dumpster fire that is the Cleveland Browns will provide notable moments.

Look, kids!  The Browns are doing it to themselves!  Those lovable losers!! Jarvis

Good news - Hard Knocks at the Browns started us off with a notable human capital moment.  More from the Ringer:

"After a particularly disappointing practice where Jarvis Landry and Hue Jackson were visibly frustrated with the effort of Cleveland’s pass catchers, Jarvis Landry asked whether he could address the receivers room.

“Fellas, I don’t know what the f**k is going on here, and I don’t know why it’s been going on here,” Landry says, “But if you not hurt, like your hamstring ain’t falling off the f**king bone, or your leg ain’t broke, I don’t even know, you should be f**king practicing. Straight up. That sh*t is weakness, and that shit is contagious as f**k. And that sh*t ain’t gonna be in this room, bruh. That sh*t been here in the past and that’s why the past has been like it is. That sh*t is over with here.”

The words land because Landry, who the team acquired in a trade this offseason and signed to a five-year extension with $47 million guaranteed, spends the episode walking the walk. His workouts include catching medicine balls one-handed while balancing on a Bosu ball with one foot, which explains why his dazzling one-handed catches look so effortless. In practice, Landry’s aggressive work ethic routinely rises above the other players on the field. Every catch he makes is inevitably punctuated by “bless you,” which he delivers with a sincerity that is more effective than actual trash-talking."

Sorry about the language.  But it's notable in that Landry is coming into an organization as an employee, knows what he's walking into isn't world class, and is trying to change the culture.

If my career managing people has taught me anything, it's that change agents are needed.  Some thoughts about change agents who come into organizations with statements and challenges like Landry - and what has to be present for them to be successful:

1--Change Agents who are highly verbal and challenging must perform at a high level.

2--The same change agents must mentor others, rather than simply dressing people down verbally.

3--In order for the change agent to be successful, managers and the company must support those efforts and embrace the cause, removing people who don't get on the bus of change.

In short, Jarvis better perform, should use the development of others in positive terms as a leader for an equally powerful statement as a change agent, and the organization (the Browns) should be ready to move people out - if they believe that Jarvis Landry represents their view of what the future is.

The same thing applies to your company - except your change agents can't get that many F-bombs in.

 


Administrative Leave Means You're Already Gone - Urban Meyer Edition...

Well, I heard some people talkin' just the other day
And they said you were gonna put me on a shelf
But let me tell you I got some news for you
And you'll soon find out it's true...

-"Already Gone" by the Eagles

------------------------------------

I think I've written about people being put on administrative leave before - but I'm reminded of it on the news that Ohio State put football coach Urban Meyer on Paid Administrative Leave this week.  Meyer is currently looking at the kitchen walls at home as his phone blows up, based the school announcing it is investigating Courtney Smith's claims that several people close to Meyer knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against her ex-husband, former Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July.

This post isn't about college football.  It's about the use of Administrative Leave, usually of the paid variety.

Paid Administrative Leave means the following things:

1--Whatever you're accused of is too damn hot to allow you to remain in the workplace.

2--Your employer believes that you likely did enough (or didn't do enough for leadership positions) on the issue in question to warrant your eventual termination.

3--Administrative Leave is a form of action your employer can point to as taking action while they actually investigate what happened on the issue in question.

4--YOU ARE UNLIKELY TO COME BACK FROM ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE.

Got it? Great.  Let's dig into #4 above a bit.  It's a tough pill to swallow for some.

YOU ARE UNLIKELY TO COME BACK FROM ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE.

Your employer put you out because they believed there was a high probability your investigation would end in a termination.

But for every day you are out, your career expertise and power, as well as your ability to return to your job, decreases in a dramatic way.  That stinks. It's like a game of Fortnite where you have a power level for an individual.  You're getting whacked hard every day you are out, and the players in the game all see your power level after a week of being out and determine it's only a matter of time before you're out of the game.  This perception makes it hard for you to survive and come back off of paid administrative leave.

That stinks because sometimes you're innocent.  The good news for most people who will read this is that their process would be nowhere near as public as Urban Meyer.

If you're confronted with an allegation, do what you can to avoid being placed on leave.  Offer to take vacation, personal days and generally get out of the way.  Avoid the tag of Administrative Leave if you can.

Oh yeah, be sure to take action on people who do bad things and shouldn't be part of the company.  Don't protect people you like who do stupid things.  Don't do stupid things.  These are all viable options to avoid administrative leave.


Quit or Be Quiet: Examining Employee Behavior Using DiCaprio's "The Beach"...

We all know that any company isn't a match for everyone.  What's always been interesting to me is the power of the flock - your employees - being the best stewards of who fits and who doesn't.  When someone isn't a match for what's going on (across all factors) at your company, the most talented opt out and gone.  They come in, check it out and say, "this is not for me."  Then they get another job.  Simple as that.  No harm, no foul, they say a couple of things about having a great opportunity they couldn't pass up and everyone moves on.

It's the people who aren't a fit without many options that are often the bigger issue.  Because they fall lower on the talent spectrum, they have fewer options, and don't leave as quickly.  And if others around them are happy, they can serve initially to be a bit of a cancer but before long, the teammates around them just kind of get sick of their BS.  It's what happens next that is the key.

I was reminded of this dynamic in Shea Serrono's description of "The Beach" (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) as he relayed the feelings of San Antonio Spurs fans related to the Kawhi Leonard trade demands and ultimate trade this week.  More from the Ringer:


"Have you seen the movie The Beach? It came out in 2000. It starred Leonardo DiCaprio. He played a character named Richard, a young American kid out exploring culture in Bangkok. One day, he hears a tale of some pristine beach on some pristine island and so, using a rough map given to him by someone who says he’s been there, he heads out after it, eventually finding not only the beach but also a colony of people living there as a mostly self-sufficient community of beach bums. The_beach

The movie ends up being something like 85 percent fun and 15 percent terrible. (It was one of those movies where it felt like they got to where the end was supposed to be and just went, “Umm … what the f**k do we do now?”) But there’s this part in it that serves as a good analogy for this whole Spurs-Kawhi debacle.

While spearfishing one day, two people get attacked by a shark. The shark bites a large chunk out of one of the guys’ thighs and also bites him across his torso, killing him. The second guy lives but is severely wounded (he was bitten on his shin). And so now he’s there at the beach, screaming and miserable and in an unfathomable amount of pain. And he refuses to leave by boat to get medical help because he’s too afraid of the water now, but the leader of the beach community (a woman named Sal) (played by Tilda Swinton) won’t allow for anybody to come to the beach to help him for fear of the beach eventually getting turned into a tourist trap. So the guy, that poor bastard, suffers through it for a few days, just lying there with his leg bitten too far open to ever heal. And after a bit, everyone else on the island gets fed up with him, and the sadness they felt for him turns to frustration and anger.

Leo, narrating the scene, explains the setting, saying, “You see, in a shark attack — or any other major tragedy, I guess — the important thing is to get eaten and die, in which case there’s a funeral and somebody makes a speech and everybody says what a good guy you were. Or get better, in which case everybody can forget about it.”

Then the scene cuts away and we see a group of the people carrying the guy on a gurney into the forest.

“Get better or die,” says Leo, narrating again. “It’s the hanging around in between that really pisses people off.”

Then we see them set the gurney down on the ground, and the guy has a blanket and a tent they’ve set up for him, plus a few supplies. Then they turn around and leave him there to die. The camera cuts away again and we see everyone on the beach playing volleyball and smiling and laughing and having a very good time, same as they were before the shark attack. 


The Beach is your normally functioning company - not perfect, but not bad either.  They guy who died immediately from the shark bite is the employee who decides they're not a fit and gets out.  The guy with bad wounds that's impacting everyone else is the person that's not happy but won't leave.

The people around person #2 is your relatively happy employee base.  

“Get better or die,” says Leo, narrating again. “It’s the hanging around in between that really pisses people off.”

Your employee base can't carry person #2 into the forest.  That part is up to you.

It's knowing when it's time and having the guts to make a call that's the hard part, right?


My Week at the NBA Summer League In Las Vegas, Part 1 (Featuring Lessons on Talent)

Went to Vegas this week with a few bloggers of note - Steve Boese,  Tim Sackett and Matt Stollak. Our destination had a nerd quality to it  - The NBA Summer League, where professional basketball hopefuls convene to prove they have what it takes to be one of 450 players who play in the best hoops league in the world.

Now - you should know that only about 20% of the players who attend and play in the Vegas Summer League are actual NBA players - the rest are draft choices and free agents who are scrapping and doing whatever it takes to impress the teams. 

Why go to this event? First, we like hoops.  More importantly, I go because there's a huge morality play on talent going on at the Summer League.  If NBA veterans are the best 450 players in the world, what we saw is 451-1500, and the differences are pretty small between spots 350 to 450 in the NBA and the better players in the summer league.  Who decides? What makes the difference between making a NBA roster and going to Turdistan to play next winter?  

As it turns out, a lot of the NBA is probably no better at evaluating talent than the rest of us - and there's a lesson in that.   Here's Part 1 of the story of the weekend as told through my Instagram account (enable pictures if you viewing this in email or just click through - captions and comments included with the picture).

 

From the NBA Summer League: Meet a Summer League matchup that matters. Colin Sexton vs Aaron Holiday. Sexton was a one and done from Bama, drafted 8th overall by the Cavs with the pic that the Cavs protected for when Lebron left. Holliday is a 3-year guy from UCLA drafted 23rd overall by the pacers. Which asset is the most valuable? It depends how close the gap is. Sexton won the scoring battle 19-12, but the gap was closer than that. At the end of the day, Sexton will get lots of minutes in a post apocalyptic Cleveland and Holliday will go to the bench behind veteran guards on a good Indiana team and remain an affordable asset. Result from the Summer League: Indiana is very happy, Cleveland is hopeful. Sexton 7th in top 100 in class of 2017. Holiday 88th in class of 2015. Margins are thin in the show.

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From the NBA Summer League in Vegas, v3.0: Danny Ainge, GM and President of the Boston Celtics plopped down next to us during the game after the Celtics played on Monday like he was a tourist from Des Moines who decided to pop over to the gym after growing tired of the games on the strip. I first saw Ainge at the Summer League two summers ago in 2016, when he was courtside in the small gym checking out that years 3rd overall pick - Jaylen Brown play in the Summer League. I'll never forget how hard he rode the officials that day, like he was Jaylen's dad. Brown struggled that Summer League and had a uneven ride his first year, but the results are clear - that pick was gold. Add the Jason Tatum heist to the mix, and you get why people are likely scared to make a trade with him these days. Danny's known as an talented trader as a GM, someone who naturally understands talent and the value of a having a talent plan. I sent this picture back home and my wife commented, "that is a possessed look on Ainge's face". That's the best description of Ainge at the Summer League I can provide. When watching a game, he's constantly taking a longer, intense look at players who make a play, almost like he's running what he saw through his own algorithm and determining whether what he saw was worth noting for the future. He does this, btw, when other people are trying to talk to him, a clear sign that he's more interested in evaluating talent than talking to people who want something from him. He didn't really have a reason or need to be watching a non-Celtic game at the Summer League from the stands, but there he was. Taking it in and watching guys who made a play run down the court with this look on his face. Last time I saw someone so notable take the time to evaluate players at the Summer League with next to no shot make the league, it was Danny Ferry, the former Duke star and GM of the Hawks. Ferry built the 60 win Hawks from scratch, which now seems like 50 years ago instead of 2014. Whether it's basketball or corporate America, great evaluators of talent don't stop evaluating - it's in their blood. #nba #summerleague

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Part Two on your way on Friday!


When Great Places to Work Outsource Jobs That Are... You Guessed It, Not Great...

Part of the game of building a great place to work is that you never let down your guard.

--Never admit that things are less than perfect...

--Never agree with someone that suggests things are less than perfect...

--Keep adding benefits or features of your culture that are cool but few people will actually use...

And today, I'm adding one.  Here's how it goes:

--When faced with a job that is so objectionable it will burn people out in 7 months, deem it "non-core", outsource it to another company and transfer the cultural liability. Social network

That's what Facebook has traditional done with the people they need to review flagged posts.  A job reviewing flagged posts exposes the worker responsible to all types of objectionable humanity, and let's face it, after a year in that job, you hate life and hate people.  That doesn't transfer well to the employee survey scores or other ways to measure cultural health, so high-end companies make the obvious choice to outsource it.

Problem is, the job is still ruining someone's life and you're still responsible.  More on the "reviewing flagged posts" job at Facebook:

"A former Facebook moderator said the pressure to churn through a never-ending pile of disturbing material eventually made her desensitized to child pornography and bestiality.

Sarah Katz, 27, worked as a content reviewer at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, through a third-party contractor, Vertisystem, for eight months in 2016. Her job was simple: figure out whether posts reported to Facebook violated the company's detailed community standards.

Practically, this meant eyeballing new and potentially horrific material every 10 seconds and making a snap decision about whether it needed to be ditched. Posts that needed reviewing were called "tickets," and there were about 8,000 every day.

To deal with this onslaught, Facebook had 4,500 moderators like Katz on its books last year, and in May 2017 it announced plans to hire another 3,000 to help it in the fight against the darkest corners of its user output. Facebook is also investing in artificial intelligence to help police posts that break its rules."

Any guesses whether those 3000 additional hires will be contractors or full-time employees?

They're going to be contractors.  To be fair to Facebook, you can't hire that many people in this type of role without help.  BUT - you can bet a lot of them - if not all - will stay contractors because Facebook will consider this to be a non-core part of their people business.  

The dirty side of maintaining a great place to work is how you define a Great Place to Work.  But contracting in the toughest, lowest level jobs, you're playing with definitions - to your benefit.

I'm not saying I wouldn't do the same thing.  But related to the culture you have, when you outside dirty/shitty jobs, people are getting an incomplete view of happiness and engagement at your company.

The real win for Facebook is when AI can do it all and humans don't have to touch this stuff.  That will be awesome - until the machines take over, off course.

 


AT WORK IN THE WORLD CUP: If You Have More Than One Name, You Must Suck...

Was watching the first weekend of the World Cup and because I happened upon Brazil's first match with the Swiss team, I had two workplace talent observations:

1--Asking Brazilians to complete I-9's would be full of problems, and 

2--If you're a soccer player from Brazil and have more than one name, you must suck.

The observations, of course, are due to the trend of Brazilian players to go by one name.  No first name/last name, just one name.  And because they are from Brazil, the names sound cooler than what most American/England/Swiss players would go by.  Here are the lineups for that Brazil/Swiss game, Brazil's on top.  Note the lack of first initials (email subscribers click through if you don't see the image below), analysis of the names after the jump:

Brazil

I figured their was something cultural behind the naming conventions, so I did a little research and found the cleanest description over at USA Today.  More on the Brazilian naming conventions:

“Brazilian football is an international advert for the cordiality of Brazilian life because of its players’ names,” British journalist Alex Bellos wrote in his book, Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life. “Calling someone by their first name is a demonstration of intimacy — calling someone by their nickname more so.”

Formerly a colony of Portugal, Brazil largely uses Portuguese naming conventions, which often gives people four names: their given name - which is often two to include a saint's name and/or a preposition (da, das, do, dos or de); the mother’s last name; and then the father’s last name.

"We don't use the last names," said Lyris Wiedemann, a native of Porto Alegre and currently the coordinator of the Portuguese Language Program at Stanford. "It reflects a trait in the culture that's more personalized. We care about the person, and the person is not the family name. It's who they are."

BUT WAIT.  There can be some ego or pop culture involved after all.  The article continues:

Other times, it’s simply a nickname that sticks.

Brazilian soccer player Givanildo Vieira de Sousa – known as Hulk – says he enjoyed comic books as a kid and his father began to call him “Hulk.”

As the youngest in his family and group of friends, basketball player Maybyner Rodney Hilário was called "Nene" as a child, Portuguese for "baby." He legally changed his name to Nene in 2003.

Another soccer player, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, is believed to have gotten his nickname “Kaka” because it was as close as his brother could get to saying “Ricardo.”

So be sensitive to the cultural realities when you make fun of the Brazilian players for single names, but feel free to question whether Kaka or Hulk are real names in the 4-word naming convention.

And Kaka, if you ever come to work at my company, you're going to have to produce some ID for the I-9.  

As far as my leanings in the USA-free World Cup, viva El Tri.


Asians FTW: The 2018 Google Diversity Report...

The latest Google Diversity report is out.  The baseline is this - female, black and latino numbers still struggling, both in the overall workforce and in management ranks.

But Asians?  Doing just fine, thank you very much.

For context, I thought I'd start with how the overall numbers match up from 2014 to 2018 (email subscribers, click through to site for charts, you'll want to see these):

Here's the 2014 chart:

Google2014

Here's the 2018 chart:

2018

The downside - little progress overall in black, latino and women representation at the company.

But the upside - and if you're going to knock them for the downside you have to note this - is that Google is significantly less white than it was 4 years ago.

It just so happens that Asians took the majority of those gains.  So while work still needs to happen in the aforementioned classes, I'm always a little shocked that companies like Google don't get more props for their workforce representation of Asians.

If I react to anything in those numbers, it's this.  Daaaaaaaamn - Asians are kicking some ass.  For real.  If careers at Google are what you want for your kids, we probably need to take a look at the various nationalities that comprise the Asian category (a very broad catagory that includes Indian Continent as well as Pacific Rim) and figure out what they are doing right - even in American schools - to prep their kids for this type of work.  My kids are smart and actually decent at Math and Science, in advanced classes, but there's a couple of Asian kids that are the Michael Jordan and Larry Bird (threw in a white guy for balance - did you catch that?) of math at their school.

My kid was on the college bowl team for the stuff that didn't involve Math.  When a math question came up, all the other kids took their hand off the buzzer and just looked at the Asian kid I'll call "MJ" - as to say, "you've got this one MJ - we'll be over here reading TMZ if you need us to sharpen your pencil."

MJ's going to work at Google.  His family doesn't need Google to do anything to get him there.

I'm looking at the Google diversity numbers and resisting the urge to wag the finger.  Keep on crushing product and eroding overall privacy, G-town.  I'll give you a golf clap for the good faith efforts to build more diverse math and science pipeline, but then give a knowing nod to the people who are really crushing it in those numbers - the many nationalities that comprise the fictional, yet powerful, EEO category of "Asian".

 


Does Your Company Have an "Unconscious Bias" Problem?

Do you believe that "Unconscious Bias" exists?  Let's start with some definitions:

Psychologists tell us that our unconscious biases are simply our natural people preferences. Biologically we are hard-wired to prefer people who look like us, sound like us and share our interests. Social psychologists call this phenomenon "social categorization‟ whereby we routinely and rapidly sort people into groups. 

This preference bypasses our normal, rational and logical thinking. We use these processes very effectively (we call it intuition) but the categories we use to sort people are not logical, modern or perhaps even legal. Put simply, our neurology takes us to the very brink of bias and poor decision making.

Neuropsychologists tell us unconscious bias is built into the very structure of the brain's neurons. Our unconscious brain processes and sifts vast amounts of information looking for patterns (200,000 times more information than the conscious mind).  Bias

The problem with unconscious bias is it happens in the background.  You don't get to choose, it's part of who you are.

Most modern companies have done a decent job of talking about what's legal as well as "right" when it comes to bias vs all types of people.  The problem is that people can still have unconscious bias and make decisions without being aware.

That's why a company called TalVista is attempting to provide tools to help control the power of unconscious bias inside your company.  Here's more about the product that TalVista created when it comes to controlling for unconscious bias:

TalVista focuses on mitigating unconscious bias through the use of automated and sophisticated algorithms to ensure job descriptions are appealing to all candidates rather than having them self-select out of a less inviting job description. According to Scot Sessions, CEO, TalVista, the core of its offering is helping hiring managers stay focused on key job skills and core competencies needed to perform the job without regard for race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation. “As humans we have inherent bias,” said Sessions. “While we can see bias in others, we have a difficult time seeing it in ourselves, which is known as ‘unconscious bias.’ With the right tools, recruiters and hiring managers will excel at their hiring duties while staying focused on the experience and traits each candidate may possess and is required to do the job.”

TalVista will continue to expand on the development of the platform, including enhancements to:
1- Job Description Analysis with further optimization
2 - Blind Resume Review with additional redactions
3 - Structured Interviews with interview scripts

I think most of us agree that unconscious bias is real.  When I look at the solution that TalVista has created, here's my reaction:

1- Job Description Analysis with further optimization - It's interesting to note that the team at TalVista fully believes (supported by research) that your job postings are full of things that turn diverse candidates away - they see your job description and even though they're a fit, they don't apply based on some discrete problems with the language and wording of the posting.  TalVista believes it can identify those problems and give you guidance on how to improve them.  I think this is very interesting.

2 - Blind Resume Review with additional redactions - This is what you would expect.  TalVista can connect with your ATS and redact parts of resumes that cause unconscious bias to activate, leading to more qualified, diverse candidates to make it deeper in the recruiting funnel process.  If you're going to attack unconscious bias at your company, this is a tool that is a must.

3 - Structured Interviews with interview scripts - TalVista can provide interview guides for managers designed to mute unconscious bias from the interview experience.

TalVista describes itself as hosted in the Cloud as a SaaS offering with an unlimited annual subscription best suited for Fortune 1000 companies.

My take on this product is pretty simple - reasonable people agree that unconscious bias is a real thing, so if your company is looking to address it as part of your talent plan, Talvista is a great place to start.

I expected the resume review redaction with integration to your ATS, and was pleasantly surprised by the job posting analysis and improvement tool.  The interview guides are a nice touch, but let's be honest - adoption to get your managers to use those is more difficult that getting the full impact of the first two features.

I suspect we will hear more and more about unconscious bias in the future.  Take a look at a post I did awhile back related to bias in AI and machine learning by clicking here.