Understanding Your Audience Is the Key to Great Onboarding...

I'm up over at CareerBuilder talking about how understanding your audience is the key to great onboarding, with some generational twists.  Here's a taste:

As with anything talent-related, generational differences should be considered as you are building your onboarding platform at your company. Here’s what you need to know about generations as it relates to onboarding:

  • Millennials/Z – Hopeful that you don’t absolutely suck as an employer, but actively scanning for signs that you do suck. This group is most likely to make a quick change if their BS meter goes off and their needs aren’t met. For best results, you need to automate the transactional (signing paperwork) part of your onboarding process (they won’t respect you if you’re analog) and consider having follow up sessions that are delivered on-demand. Those two things will go a long way with this segment (as will goal setting and mentoring programs), but you won’t maximize your street cred with this group without talking about corporate social responsibility. Knowing your company cares about something other than itself is huge toward this group sticking with you when the path becomes rough at work.

Head over to CareerBuilder by clicking this link to get the whole article!  Including notes about Boomers and Gen X, which is clearly the best workplace generation that exists today... 


McKinsey Report: Managing Others and Influence Safe From Next Wave of AI/Automation...

McKinsey has a pretty good report out about where machines/AI can replace humans, and where they can't. I'd encourage all in the talent space to take a look - here's the link.

What you learn from the report is that AI and other forms of automation aren't new related to their ability to destroy jobs and cause dramatic restructuring of workforces as we know them.  A recent HBR article shows that between 1900 and 1990, the population of farmers in the United States went from 30 million to 3 million all while the country’s population more than tripled. In other words, 97% of the farmers disappeared, 3% of the jobs were kept but changed dramatically, the cause: automation.  

Smaller examples - the large-scale deployment of bar-code scanners and associated point-of-sale systems in the United States in the 1980s reduced labor costs per store by an estimated 4.5 percent and the cost of the groceries consumers bought by 1.4 percent.  Huh...  Check out kiosks don't work now because humans are generally helpless to learn new things on the fly - once we can scan you walking out the door without you finding a bar code, we won't have check out counters. 

So automation is a fact of life.  The decision you have to help your kids (as well as grown relatives and friends) make is what careers will be viable in the next wave of automation.

If you look at the McKinsey report, you have to be careful when it comes to Skilled Trades.  We'll have those for the foreseeable future, but there will be pressure on these areas for sure. Look at the chart below from the report and we'll talk about it after the jump (email subscribers, click through if you can't see the picture):

McKinsey Work Automation Chart

What the chart says is this - the more predictable the physical work, the more jobs stand to be eliminated by automation.

Self-driving car technology is going to replace truckers.  Low-end recruiters are gong to be replaced by AI technology.

What's safe for right now?  Any position that manages others or requires influence (stakeholder interactions and applying expertise).

Managing others and influence have a lot of overlap.  They're also among the hardest things to get good at in Corporate America.  Unpredictable physical work is much less likely to be automated that predictable physical work.  It stands to reason that predictable work using your brain is much more likely to be automated than unpredictable work using your brain.

You know what's unpredictable work using your brain?  Dealing with those pesky people. 

Which tells me the HR generalist (jack of all trades, master of some - across all career levels) is going to be around for awhile.


Does a Full Email or Voice Mail Inbox = Low Engagement?

You've dealt with it too many times to count.

You want to leave an email or a voice mail for someone, and your wish is denied.  Their inbox is full. Emailbox

And you start judging them.

"get your #### together"

"that is one of busiest people on earth"

"organizational skills?  Probably not"

"they've reorged to the point where this is happening at this company"

"he has ceased...caring"

If you notice those hypothetical reactions you could have to a full email or voice mail inbox, you'll notice they are part accusation and part empathy.  

The reality is the same - a full inbox can mean a variety of things.  The person with a full inbox can be overwhelmed - a white flag if you will that no person could reasonably be expected to deal with the volume and demands they're under.  Combine that situation with an aggressive IT policy related to the size of email and voice mail storage, and you'll see the white flag early and often.

Of course, there's a harsher reality at times as well.  A consistently full email or voice mail box can mean someone has checked out - part of the issue may be workload, but another part of the issue may be general engagement levels.

How do you tell the difference?  My take is that you can usually tell once you have the opportunity to talk with the person - 1-on-1.

The disengaged person isn't going to have much passion or sense of urgency about what they're doing.  The simply overwhelmed person, on the other hand, is going to have plenty of passion and still show the spark for what they do for a living.  But they're in obvious need of help - the type of help may differ by situation.

Full email and voice mail inboxes always mean something.  You just have to talk to the person to confirm what the reality is.


Here's The Video I Send Team Members When I Think People Are Stupid...

If there's anything I've tried to live up to in my professional life, it's the need to communicate things to the lowest common denominator in any organization.  After all, life moves pretty fast, and if you don't stop to look around and consider whether all the people you are communicating to understand what you're saying, you're destined for failure.

So we (you and me) work to communicate to that lowest common denominator.  But sometimes you find yourself putting out a training guide on how to mute a call on the iPhone - because someone told you that was needed.

I've had that type of moment in the last month.  It was surreal, and I was part of putting out a guide so remedial that I could hear this Talking Heads song playing in the background.  

How did I get here?  The days go by...

Do some people need a guide for how to mute calls on an iPhone? (not the real situation, but work with me...)

No. No they don't.  We create these types of guides 10% of the time because people aren't intelligent enough to figure out what's in front of them.  The other 90% of the time?  We create these guides in response to people not using a technology/process because they're too lazy. 

So of course - we MUST create a training guide to take that excuse off the table.  

Then they don't use the tech/process moving forward and the managers in question never address it in performance.  Because you know, that's hard.

When all this goes down, I have a simple video I send the people I care about who are impacted by doing the aforementioned work that will be ignored.  It's called "Spelling Bee" from a comedian named Brian Regan (rare clean comedian) and the set is Regan making fun of how dumb he was in school.  Play the video below (email subscribers click through for video) to hear about his challenges in Spelling Bees and Science Fairs.  It's gold.

Soon you'll be sharing this with your own team and saying "IT'S A CUP...OF...DIRT.  I CALL IT CUP OF DIRT"....

Enjoy. 


JUST STOP: Attachments in Meeting Invites and Nowhere Else...

Nails on the chalkboard...
Atlanta traffic...
Other people's snoring...
YouTube ads...
Waiting in a line more than 4 people deep...

These things?  All things that reasonable people agree we can hate. You don't like those things. Neither do I.

Let's add something to that list from corporate America. Something we all should hate and agree it must be stomped out - like the pox on society it is.

File Attachments in Meeting Invites and Nowhere Else...

Look, I don't know what type of Euro/Pan-Pacific/West Coast technology game you're playing. I don't know if you're someone that Tropic-thunder-les-grossmangot the dummies book on how to search your laptop by keyword and find what you're looking for in Outlook. Maybe you're running some type of Gmail game as your primary email address and love to show your flex by searching email instead of doing what the rest of the world does - use folders.

All I know is this - when I ask where the resume (or any other file attachment I would need) is and you say, "It's on the Meeting Request", I want to fire you.  If I can't fire you, it's like you have a heavy cold complete with a chronic cough and you just reached over and took a drag off my Gatorade bottle and then looked at me and said, "um, good."

I mean, where is the sensitivity related to how normal people operate?

At least if I ask the question during the time we're working on something related to said attachments I have a chance to recover. The reality is that 9 times of of 10 when you're running your "attachments only in the meeting request" tyranny, I don't necessary have high awareness of the fact that you're running your little game.

Then two months go by and I need the attachments for reference. I never got the chance to dump them into a folder, because you didn't send them via email.

But it's always been about you, hasn't it?

You're a model of efficiency. Why send the attachments to the players via email if you're sending a meeting request?

Because we're going to accept that meeting request and for most of us, it goes away forever.  Into the vapor, like Keyser Soze slipping away disguised as Verbal Kent, never to be found.

Want your work and contributions to society to live forever, like the statue of Michael Jordan in front of the United Center?

Then treat your work like the historical event it is.  Document it by sending your attachments via email.

Winners write the history books. And you can't be a winner if I can't go back to the file and realize your greatness - or lack thereof.

THAT IS ALL.


Amazon's Getting Ready to Crush Another Industry Near You (aka Call Center Services Killer)

When you think about how the business world is changing and how those changes affect the workforce and talent issues, a good place to look first is Amazon.

First, the great marketplace in the sky made shopping online easy.  Then, it made shopping online preferable for many to shopping locally in a store through it's bundle of value called Amazon Prime. Amazon_one1

In the background, it's a been a hub of innovation through it's rollout of corporate services (look up Amazon Web Services to see how it's crushing cloud competitors) and consumer products alike (Kindle, Alexa).  It's so into investing for the future and innovation that it basically keeps it's profitability at zero by reinvesting all earnings into forward-looking ventures (click that link to see the chart).

Sometimes we forget that the advances cause big shifts in the workforce.  The giant sucking sound you hear is the slow implosion of the retail sector, with a lot of jobs going with it.

Next up after retail?  How about Amazon rolling up the call center industry?  More from GeekWire:

"Amazon Web Services is developing a suite of cloud-based tools to sell to enterprises that would help them manage their call centers, based on technology the online commerce giant developed for its own retail call centers, according to a report from The Information. 

According to the report, citing a person briefed on the plans, the programs will incorporate Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa to answer some questions on the phone as well as via text message. The report claims the service will also employ Lex, a chatbot building service that uses the same deep-learning technology as Alexa, and text-to-speech program Polly. All these aspects together paint the picture of a suite of tools that allows customers to build their own customer service programs using bots and voice control with the ability to learn and adapt to specific industries.

The Information reports that the new products could be announced as soon as mid-March and could jolt the call center software industry. It’s a market that features many players such as Seattle-based Spoken, as well as other companies like Cisco Systems, Avaya and Genesys.

Amazon Web Services has been in the news a lot lately for new products that it has announced and others it is considering. Amazon’s cloud service arm is reportedly considering bundling its email, file storage, and video conferencing apps into a productivity suite that would compete with Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365."

If there's any good news in this for current call center outsourcers, it's that Amazon seems intent on owning the technology part of the call center business model rather than owning actual call centers.  Of course, at one time it didn't have any interest in the shipping business either, and it's now getting ready to ramp up it's own fleet of planes and hub.  

Thanks for the memories, Fed Ex and UPS.  I'm sure Amazon will name a conference room after you to commemorate what you meant to each other at one time.

The good news for HR?  Amazon doesn't seem to have any interest in rolling up the HR industry.

#yet

 


The Uber Thing: Now Is Your Chance to Get Funding for Leadership Training...

By now you've heard the news coming out of Uber. We always knew that this startup darling had a rough and tumble culture, and let's face it - sometimes that's needed to spark innovation. But reasonable people know you can have a performance-based culture without creating an environment full of bad stuff - including harassment.  

If you've always wanted to get budget for manager/leadership training, now is the right time to ask. Share this recent quote from Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick in the next week with the right person: India-uber

"My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud," he wrote. "That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away. This is the first time I've been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it."

 Sound like any talented manager/leader in your organization? Of course it does.  Kalanick sounds like Jimmy Swaggert admitting his sins back in the day.  Look it up Gen Z, that's even before my time.

So share the Uber news and quotes with your boss and have a recommendation for what you can do to get your managers trained up.  Be sure to make my passion project a part of those conversations - the Boss Leadership Training Series from Kinetix.  It's pretty good and you can laugh with your managers as they get to watch clips like Vince Vaughn from Dodgeball talking about goal setting. Our series is a nice alternative to other capable solutions you'll see from people like DDI - we like to have a little more fun than the traditional approach.

Need more fodder to have that conversation about funding than just the harassment stories at Uber and the above quote from the CEO? Watch this video, which is a conversation between Kalanick and an Uber employee that started out OK and went horribly wrong.  Caught on camera - ugh.  The best manager training should give your managers/leaders a simple roadmap to following without resorting to closing in a way that places blame on the employee.  

Go get that budget and get something done.  Even if the Boss series I shared with you above is too much for the man.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, the numbers don't tell us enough.

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

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

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

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

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

Going to be an interesting investigation.

 

 


Trump's First Labor Nominee: Burgers, Bikinis and Mocking Low Wage Workers...

Puzder

In case you missed it, Donald Trump's original pick to become Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, dropped out last week citing he was tired of the abuse that such a nomination brings.

At the heart of some of the resistance to Puzder's nomination was a domestic abuse allegation from an ex-wife and some immigration concerns related to an undocumented housekeeper.

Puzder pulling out hurt the timing of this post - I was planning to write about him in the context of his ability to lead Labor - but from the perspective of how he viewed labor, not personal events/issues.

Let's explore that topic anyway - as a moderate Republican, I would tell you this pick didn't work for me to lead Labor.  I feel like you can be anti-Union as lead Labor in a GOP administration, but you've got to be progressive about the workforce you're supporting in America - all the workforce, not just part of the workforce.

The best illustration I've found of the challenges Puzder had in that area is a recent BusinessWeek article titled "Trump's Labor Pick Loves Burgers, Bikinis and Free Markets." Let's explore some of the content and I'll give you color commentary as we flow though it related to Puzder as a potential Secretary of Labor:

“What’s more American,” the Carl’s Jr. narrator asks in a 2015 advertisement for the Most American Thickburger, “than a girl [swimsuit model Samantha Hoopes, biting into a potato-chip-stuffed cheeseburger that’s topped with a grilled hot dog] in a bikini [camera zooms out to reveal she’s wearing a stars-and-stripes string bikini] in a hot tub [covered with stars and stripes] in a truck [a Crew Cab pickup with an American flag paint job] on an aircraft carrier [with fighter planes taking off] underneath the Statue of Liberty?” Final shot: Hoopes biting into the huge burger, then #mostAmerican.

This commercial is the marketing vision of Andrew Puzder, the chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants, owner of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, and now President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor. Puzder’s appeal to
“young, hungry guys” and their version of what makes America great helped two struggling fast-food chains become, if not top contenders, at least contenders. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American,” Puzder, who’s 66, said of that ad to Entrepreneur magazine. “I used to hear, ‘brands take on the personality of the CEO.’ And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality.”

Capitalist color commentary - It's OK if Puzder likes the Carl's Jr. campaign that showcases models in bikini's eating a big a## burger.  It is, as the commercial describes, America. But if you routinely produce content that potentially alienates women and openly say it takes on your personality, it's kind of hard to picture you running Labor.  Can you be a capitalist? Sure, as long as the market supports the approach. Can you lead Labor?  Probably not.  There's no question had he got to confirmation hearings the ads play in those hearings, right?

"In the late 1990s the company bought Hardee’s, a struggling chain of about 3,000 restaurants located mostly in the South and Midwest, where Carl’s Jr. hadn’t established itself. The acquisition strained the company’s finances, though, and Karcher was forced out. In 2000, Puzder was appointed CEO. “Well, I think they really just said, ‘Let’s see if the cocky lawyer can fix it,’ ” he recalled in a 2009 oral history of the company conducted by California State University at Fullerton.

The first memo Puzder wrote to Hardee’s managers was direct: “No more people behind the counter unless they have all their teeth.” He closed some restaurants and directed the franchisees, who owned about half of all Hardee’s, to remodel, but that wasn’t enough to revive the brand. “You go into a store, and there’s a guy with a dirty shirt who is rude, and then you remodel the store, but the customers still go in and find a guy with a dirty shirt who is rude,” he later recounted to a trade publication. Slowly, Hardee’s came around. Sales in established restaurants increased in 2004 for the first time in years. Still, Puzder’s estimation of the workforce remained low. Hardee’s was “hiring the best of the worst. It’s kind of the bottom of the pool,” he said in a 2011 speech CNN recently dug up."

Capitalist color commentary - "I grew up in an area of Missouri with a lot of Hardee's.  It is the dregs of fast-food for sure, with brands like Wendy's and McDonalds looking like Tavern On The Green in comparison.  I also spend a lot of time these days on the road, and when I duck into any fast food place I suddenly realize that whether I'm a 1% or not, I'm incredibly blessed and there's a whole section of America that should view me as an aristocrat. Some of those people don't have all their teeth.  You can long as a CEO of a company like Carl's to upgrade your workforce, but the focus of someone to lead Labor should be less about mocking that section of society and more about how to help them improve their circumstances through work. 

Puzder’s business experience has been largely in a low-wage, low-margin industry built on a franchise model that tends to shift profits upward and responsibility downward. He claims 75,000 people as employees in the U.S. when presenting his qualifications for a cabinet position. But, like other fast-food executives, he tends to deflect blame for their treatment by franchisees when workers complain.And many complain. About 60 percent of the U.S. Department of Labor’s investigations into CKE restaurants turned up at least one violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to data compiled by Bloomberg BNA. Most other fast-food chains were even worse.

Capitalist color commentary - "Hard one here. There's going to be a lot of claims in a business like this. If you had a Secretary of Labor from this type of business, you'd still see claims, but you'd want to see some type of progressive workforce planning that would reduce claims over time."

 
Closing - Puzder is out, and Acosta is in as the Labor nominee.  The fact that Puzder made it to the nomination stage shows how tone deaf the Trump administration is at times.  The GOP won the election, so it's rightfully going to stock the cabinet with - you guessed it - Republicans.
 
How about we find some Republicans that don't alienate women and aren't flippant about low-end labor, many of whom voted from Trump?

The Real Workplace/Economic Issue at the Core of the Trump Presidency...

Lots of polarizing stuff going on across both sides of the political aisle right now.  As always, I'm drawn to views that ponder the center - and to the ones that are all about the workforce we have in the United States.

With that in mind, I offer up the following from Joe Klein of Time (who conservatives view as a dangerous liberal and liberals don't seem to fully own - which makes him someone I'd like to listen more to).  In the February 6, 2017 issue, Klein painted Trump economic policy as a test to long held free market ideas in the following way:

"In addition to a loaded slogan--"America First"--and a questionable demeanor, it is now apparent that President Donald J. Trump actually has a governing ideology. His Inaugural Address, the strongest and most coherent speech he's ever delivered, was a clear statement of that Wal mart
philosophy. It may change the shape of domestic politics. It may overturn the international order that has existed for 70 years. It certainly deserves more than the "divisive" dismissal it received from liberals--and more than the puerile crowd-size diversion that its perpetrator stumbled into during the days after he delivered it.

The traditional argument against free trade is myopic and simple: American jobs are going to Mexico and China. The traditional counterargument is more abstract: the price of children's clothing at Walmart is much lower now that shirts are made in south China instead of South Carolina. Free trade, it is convincingly argued, has been a financial net plus for the U.S. But there has been a spiritual cost in a demoralized middle class, which leads to an existential question: Is the self-esteem inherent in manufacturing jobs long considered obsolete--think of those grand old steel mills--more important than the lower prices that the global market provides? Have we tilted too far toward market efficiency and too far away from social cohesion? Is there a middle ground? Trump's insistence on changing the equation brings a long-neglected issue to the center of our political debate. He may be wrong, but the alienation that seems like a by-product of globalization needs to be addressed. A happier people may be worth the cost of higher prices."

When you really start to think about it, having goods made in America - and they higher costs that would be passed along to consumers - is really just another tax.  With that in mind, I've written before that I'd love to see America's willingness to pay more for good made here tested in the marketplace.  Of course, I wrote that at a time before we had a president that seemed hell-bent of penalizing and tariffing goods made elsewhere.

As Stein asks, is the self-esteem inherent in manufacturing jobs long considered obsolete--think of those grand old steel mills--more important than the lower prices that the global market provides?  To me, that's a crazy interesting question that I don't know the answer to.  To hear a liberal ask it and note that the time has probably come to at least test whether the ultra free-trade is the best path probably gives a lot of conservatives pause.

Hmm.

And yes, Alice, I'm aware that robots are replacing people in factories all around the world. But accounting, engineering and countless other professions are increasingly being shipped to talent bases willing to work at fraction of the cost.

I have to agree with the liberal Klein.  We really don't know the answer related to free-trade vs higher cost American goods, and it sure seems like Trump is hell bent on providing the environment to test those ideas for the first time in 70 years. 

As Klein states at the end of his column: "These are crucial questions, without clear answers. It is good that Trump has raised them. It is unfortunate, however, that he is such a defective messenger."

Truer words were never spoken.