Google for Jobs: A Stat That Will Make Go Hmmmmm...

First, a quick definition - in 2017, Google launched Google for Jobs, a service dedicated to making Google a primary job search source for all.  It works like this - Google scrapes all the jobs from career sites across the world, and by coding your jobs/career sites in a certain way, you can do your best to ensure the jobs at your company perform well when candidates search for jobs (think, "Financial Analyst") in the geographical area they are interested in.

The big news in 2017 and beyond that Google was getting into job search/job postings.  Since so many candidates start searching for jobs with search engine query, the reality of what Google was doing - putting a big listing of jobs from G4J at the top of search results on anything resembling job search - was thought to be a threat to all who market and sell job postings.  This obviously impacts the future business results of Indeed, LinkedIn and the traditional job boards.

Early results show that the change, i.e. the potential to put other companies out of the job posting business (or hurt their financial results), has been slower than expected to materialize. 

But to really understand the potential impact, you simply need to look at other industries.  Here's a stat that should make us think it's only a matter of time before Google for Jobs is completely dominant:

On mobile devices, 62% of searches never leave Google. Google’s desktop dominance is also growing: Between 2016 and today, desktop searches that never leave Google have risen from 9% to 35%.

You may have noticed that in a lot of Google searches you do, Google provides enough information in a dialog box, and you don't have to leave Google to get to another site.  That's by design - Google’s goal is to provide info directly, without having to refer users to other websites.  The stat above tells you how good they are getting at providing enough info/value so you don't have to click and go somewhere else.

The latest news covering this trend  - song lyric site Genius.com has accused Google of scraping its site.  More from Mashable:

"Lyrics annotation service Genius.com has accused Google of scraping its site and stealing its content, the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend. However, a lyrics data provider at the center of the controversy claimed on Monday that those allegations were without merit.

The Journal reported that Genius had been complaining to Google about the alleged theft for some time, with Google consistently denying the allegations. To prove its point, Genius proceeded to alter lyrics hosted on its site with a variety of different apostrophes.

The company alternated between apostrophe styles in a frequency that allowed it to embed a secret morse code message into the text. The message in question: “Red handed.” Soon after, the modified lyrics, complete with the hidden message, showed up on Google.com, according to Genius."

Why the drama about song lyrics? Genius.com says its traffic is dropping because, for the past several years, Google has been publishing lyrics on its own platform, with some of them lifted directly from the music site.

In other words, when Google provides its own data rather than referring web searches to other sites, life gets hard.

The fact that Google does that in 35% of all web searches today - with an eye to take a lot more market share - should make everyone who relies on referral traffic really nervous.

Google for Jobs hasn't put anyone out of business in the job posting industry  - yet.  But, it feels like we're in the first quarter of this game.

Diversification of business model seems like a smart play for those in the crosshairs.

 

 


So You're a Tough Interviewer, Eh? How's that Working Out For You?

Let's talk about the myth of being a tough interviewer.
 
So you're a tough interviewer. You automatically go on the offensive in any interview setting, some would even call your style "on the attack."  You are confrontational, basically calling bulls**t on the candidate you have in front of you.  Are they sure they really belong in front of you with this background? What's missing?  You routinely attack what's missing in the first 10 minutes of the interviewer, satisfied you're doing your job of preventing people (who don't really have what it takes) to join your company.
 
The tough interviewer could also be called the negative or confrontational interviewer. It's most common tenured employees who don't feel any risk of alienating candidates. If this interviewing style is you, you don't build a lot of dialog with the candidate. You just go negative and watch them squirm.
 
How's being a negative interviewer working out for you?
 
Great, you say.
 
The people around you probably beg to differ.  
 
You see, your hard interviewing style is costing your company candidates. In a peak economy, good to great candidates have a lot choices in where their next job comes from.  It's likely that if a candidate made it all the way to you that they are good or great. They're in front of you because they have already been vetted and someone believes they might be a hire for your company.
 
And you bomb them with negative and hard vibes.  Damn.
 
The path for the most effective interviewers is simple - selling your company and yourself as an leader or peer while getting what you need to evaluate the candidate.  Are you an effective interviewer by this definition?
 
--No. You’re hard on candidates. No one wants to work with you or for you.
 
--Maybe. You’re neutral enough not to hurt your company. But that's probably not good enough in today's competitive hiring landscape.
 
--Yes, Absolutely. You get great stuff to evaluate the candidate, asking tough questions but framing that dialog in a way that makes them think you're on their side and rooting for them.
 
If you've ever prided yourself for being a "hard" interviewer, time for a little self-evaluation. If candidates leave your interview thinking that the session went awful or worse yet - they wouldn't want to work for you or with you, you've got a problem. You're net negative to the employment brand.
 
You're better than that. You can still ask the hard questions, but cadence, taking the time to build positive dialog and demeanor means everything.
 
You can do this. Help us out. 

PODCAST: This is HR (Pilot Covering Sephora D&I Training, Ford OD and more)

(Email subscribers, if you don't see the podcast player, click here to see the podcast)

In the pilot of THIS IS HR, Jessica Lee (VP of Brand Talent, Marriott) is joined by Tim Sackett (President of HRU) and Kris Dunn (CHRO at Kinetix) for a discussion of industry news that only true HR pros could love.

The gang covers:

--research from the Lean In organization indicating 60% of male managers are afraid to have a 1-1 with female direct reports (5:45)

--recent layoffs at Ford Motor Company including a kinder, gentler approach allowing downsized employees to hang out for a few days after getting the news (14:06)

--D&I training rolled out by Sephora after recording artist SZA reported being profiled (22:15)

KD closes it out by reaching in the mailbag and pulling out a gem from a HR pro who is trying to tackle inclusion within an office full of straight people (30:18)

BONUS: Disclosures that one of the gang’s HR job includes Yachts (as opposed to Yacht Rock), kids with MTV internship stories and references to a guy named “Puck” from one of the first Real World seasons from MTV.  Shout out, Gen X… we haven't forgotten you.

What could go wrong?  Take a listen!


But Will They Stay? (Weak Things HR and Business Leaders Say)

Ever hear managers, executives and even HR say some weak things?

Of course you have. For me, there's one thing that rises to epic level when it coms to weak: Kawhi

"I like them as a candidate. I'm just worried they won't stay."

This mindset values retention over talent, performance and more. The candidate is strong and wants to come. Yet, there's something about the work history (too heavy), the comp (we can't provide as much as we would like) and a myriad of other factors that make your hiring manger wring their hands about offering a job to the candidate in question.

As I write this, the Toronto Raptors are set to clinch the NBA championship tonight over the dynastic Golden State Warriors. The Raptors are up 3 games to 1, and their success is driven by the acquisition of Kawhi Leonard, for whom the Raptors traded another all star for, even though Leonard only had one year remaining when the deal was made.

That means contractually the Raptors traded for an employee who would open up their recruiting process one year later, and faced a heavy chance they wouldn't retain him.

"I'm just worried they won't stay."

The older I get, the more I'm convinced that if you can keep great talent in your company for a stint of 2-3 years, you're better off for having had them, reaping the contributions they make - than never having them at all.

This obviously refers to the top 10% - the most talented among us.

The Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard and knew that it was highly likely they would have him for a year. They did it anyway. Now, they're about to win a title.

Unwillingness to bring in top talent - long term retention risk be damned - can say a few things about your organization:

1--I don't think we're very good and I'm sure they won't stay.

2--We're OK, I know we can get better, but I'm not sure we'll improve quick enough to retain them.

3--We're not going to be able to comp this person they way they'll need to be comped to retain them.

4--I'm personally threatened by hiring someone this good. I'd prefer to have village idiots around me.

But what if you put any and all of those fears aside and hired the best person available, then got the **** out of the way and let them do their job?

They might be gone in a year. But that year might have been a hell of run.

Just ask the citizens of Toronto.


Men Who Are Uncomfortable Mentoring Women: I'd Guess You're Doing This...

Is the number of men who are afraid to mentor women really on the rise in the #metoo era? As crazy as it seems, a new report from Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn Organization says this is the case. Here’s what the report says, we'll discuss after the rundown:

--Female employees are now facing a new threat to their careers in the post #metoo era. Me too

--Their male bosses are avoiding 1:1 time with them, for fear of how being alone with a woman will look.

--This is based on new research released by Sheryl Sandberg's LeanIn organization which finds that "60% of male managers in the United States are afraid to do a one-on-one activity, and that the number of men that feel that way is on the rise since last year.

--Sandberg says senior male managers are also hesitating when it comes to business travel with their female employees as well as 1:1 dinners and that this number is on the rise since last year, up 33%.

--The obvious concern is already low mentoring rates when it comes to senior male managers mentoring women - and those rates dropping even further.

--This SurveyMonkey/Lean In online poll was conducted February 22-March 1, 2019, among a national sample of 5,182 adults in the U.S. ages eighteen and older. The modeled error estimate is +/- 2 percentage points. Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are from the February 22-March 1, 2019 SurveyMonkey poll. Data for all surveys have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age eighteen and over.

How do you feel about that?  I'm a guy, which means I should be careful, but I'm probably part of the problem if I'm afraid to share my opinion.

My advice to the men who aren't comfortable mentoring women is pretty simple. That vibe you're feeling in the #metoo era doesn't have much to do with the movement - it has everything to do with you.

If you've noticed women acting differently, being skeptical of you, etc.- it's probably time to take a hard look at your tendencies in meetings that include both male and female colleagues, direct reports and underlings.

You might be a brotastic mess. We get it, you're a guy. But if you're in meetings and all your small talk is with the other guys, that probably naturally flows into the work conversations when the meeting actually starts and work conversations are being executed. How often do you ask a woman in those meetings the subject matter expert over a man? How often do you make sure that a woman who's quiet and not participating gets a professional, clean shot at being a part of the conversation?

The answer is that a some of you don't do that. As a result, woman are likely to be a bit distant professionally from you. You feel that, and make the assumption that the distance is related to #metoo. Which leads you to report that you're really not comfortable with the whole 1/1 thing in the #metoo era.

Which is weak.

The answer is more engagement with the women on your team during the normal course of business. You're responsible for the distance you feel. Being comfortable in a 1/1 is easy - just go out of your way to engage with the women on your team during the normal course of business, and 1/1's will feel like an extension of that.

I'm far from perfect, but I know this. If you're afraid to do a 1/1, I can look at your meetings, conversations and more in public space and see subtle differences in how you engage men vs. women.

I'm just a guy. But if you defer shooting the sh*t with me in preference of engaging with our female co-workers before our meeting starts, you'll be well on your way to becoming comfortable with 1/1's with female.

Stop being creepy in your assumed stance of avoiding being creepy.


Bro-tastic vs. We Care: A Quick Review of Uber's Current and Past Corporate Values...

I'm always fascinated by the choices that companies and leadership teams make when they create company values.  

The challenge, of course, is to cut through the noise and get to what's real for the employees who work for your organization. To me, values can be aspirational, but are always best served by words that describe what makes the high performers in your organization different/successful, regardless of position.

In that way, company values can be incredibly powerful. But too often they're mostly aspirational and don't tell you anything about the top talent in Uberyour organization.

Of course, it can go the other way as well.  Leadership teams can do a great job of making company values actionable and representative of culture, but the words can mean too much - at times justifying negative behaviors.  

It's a slippery slope. You want to find the sweet spot in the middle - actionable words that don't create rationalization for behaviors that seem counter to accepted people practices.

Need an example? I thought you would never ask... Let's take a look at the company values of Uber, both back in the old days under CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick, and then look at the current values under leadership of Dara Khosrowshahi, who was brought in to provide adult leadership when the company was spiraling in multiple controversies brought on by cultural failings of the earlier leadership.

First, the Uber company values under Kalanick:

Customer obsession (Start with what is best for the customer.)

Make magic (Seek breakthroughs that will stand the test of time.)

Big bold bets (Take risks and plant seeds that are five to ten years out.)

Inside out (Find the gap between popular perception and reality.)

Champion’s mind-set (Put everything you have on the field to overcome adversity and get Uber over the finish line.)

Optimistic leadership (Be inspiring.)

Superpumped (Ryan Graves’s original Twitter proclamation after Kalanick  replaced him as CEO; the world is a puzzle to be solved with enthusiasm.)

Be an owner, not a renter (Revolutions are won by true believers.)

Meritocracy and toe-stepping (The best idea always wins. Don’t sacrifice truth for social cohesion and don’t hesitate to challenge the boss.)

Let builders build (People must be empowered to build things.)

Always be hustlin’ (Get more done with less, working longer, harder, and smarter, not   just two out of three.)

Celebrate cities (Everything  we do is to make cities better.)

Be yourself (Each of us should be authentic.)

Principled confrontation (Sometimes the world and institutions need to change in order for the future to be ushered in.)

Damn. I love values that show what it takes to be successful at a company, but you can kind of see where it could go off the rails. More on that in a second.

Next, the current Uber company values under the all-grown up Khosrowshahi:

We build globally, we live locallyWe harness the power and scale of our global operations to deeply connect with the cities, communities, drivers and riders that we serve, every day.

We are customer obsessed. We work tirelessly to earn our customers’ trust and business by solving their problems, maximizing their earnings or lowering their costs. We surprise and delight them. We make short-term sacrifices for a lifetime of loyalty.

We celebrate differences. We stand apart from the average. We ensure people of diverse backgrounds feel welcome. We encourage different opinions and approaches to be heard, and then we come together and build.

We do the right thing. Period.

We act like owners. We seek out problems and we solve them. We help each other and those who matter to us. We have a bias for action and accountability. We finish what we start and we build Uber to last. And when we make mistakes, we’ll own up to them.

We persevere. We believe in the power of grit. We don’t seek the easy path. We look for the toughest challenges and we push. Our collective resilience is our secret weapon.

We value ideas over hierarchy. We believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere, both inside and outside our company. Our job is to seek out those ideas, to shape and improve them through candid debate, and to take them from concept to action.

We make big bold bets. Sometimes we fail, but failure makes us smarter. We get back up, we make the next bet, and we go!

See the difference? Wow.

The values from Kalanick's time that I've highlighted note fairly aggressive values that champion assertiveness, machismo and the confrontation that was really the genesis for Uber getting off the ground. Let us not forget the amount of confrontation Uber was taking on with almost every city as they launched their service. They truly begged forgiveness and were the barbarians at the gate. It's only natural that this spilled over into the values and into the culture. Of course, that was a choice - they effectively hard coded that macho vibe into the culture, and as we saw later it became a shitshow of harassment suits, bullying, etc. 

Could they have pivoted on the values once they saw the negative behaviors inside the company? Of course they could have. But that type of pivot means you can't have a founder-driven cult of personality.

Exit Kalanick, enter Khosrowshahi. The second set of values are from a grown up company. The words are softer. They're reflective of a pivot in values for a company that lost it's way, but also reflective of a company where the tough founder-driven stuff has already been done.

Could Khosrowshahi have grown Uber from scratch with this cultural DNA?  Nope.  Should Kalanick pivoted his culture once market share had been obtained and his values began to be a liability? Yep.

Welcome to the goody room of "words matter".  Nothing is easy when it comes to using values to drive culture.  


Better Marketing For Corrective Action in HR...

I recently dropped a post titled "Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?", which explored the fact that all too often, corrective action/progressive discipline is the beginning of the end. When an employee gets that document, all too often they have the opinion they can't save their job.
 
Of course, it doesn't have to be that way. What if we entered into the corrective action world actually
expecting that the employee could make it? That's the way it should be in my eyes. Of course, that The planmeans a couple of different things:
 
1--Our companies have to go into any type of corrective action plan thinking the employee can make it, with the right type of support.
 
2--The employee in question has to want to raise their performance to meet the requirements of your plan - not always the case.
 
3--No one can act surprised if the employee makes it.
 
Which brings us to the garden variety corrective action/progressive discipline plan.  Here's a couple of things to think about:
 
--It's not over just because you "wrote them up".  Identifying what the performance is and why it's not great is only half the battle.
 
--The other half of the battle? Actually telling them what they need to do to get off the plan.
 
What's acceptable performance look like?  Too often corrective action/progressive discipline documents don't describe what performance that meets expectations looks like.  That's a miss.
 
So if you're going to do corrective action/progressive discipline the right way, you have to provide a path where they are off the plan. Most of us don't do that. We're just taking a "step".
 
If you're different than that, you probably should consider renaming what you call corrective action/progressive discipline at your company. I know what you're thinking - just because I call it something else doesn't mean anything has changed - and you're right.
 
I'm only telling you to change what you call it if you're actually open to someone getting their performance together and coming "off'" the plan. By all means, if you're just taking steps, keep doing what your doing. I hope the corrective action/progressive discipline process goes well for you.
 
But, if you're doing it differently and providing the aforementioned path, you should rename it.  Here's some real options, all with elements of truth in them:
 
Real Options/Recommendations
 
--Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) - Frequently used by sales teams with hard numbers to back it up, the ole' PIP means what it says. Do this, and you're good.  Don't do this, and we probably can't keep you.
 
--Back on Track Plan - This name for the plan does what it says it's going to do. You're off track. We need you on track. Here's the plan to do it.
 
--Individual Development Plan (IDP) - I know, I know. This is usually centered around true employee development in the L&D space. But if you don't currently have IDPs as part of your human capital stack, this name is available to you for to use for performance situations.
 
If you had the exact right culture, you could also use naming conventions like the "Get Them Off Your Back Plan", which is 100% honest but likely way too cheeky for the seriousness of what's in front of you.
 
The bottom line is this - if you don't have corrective action that shows the path to get off the plan, you're signaling a lot of bad things. I understand those bad things are likely to happen in a lot of circumstances, but aren't we better than that?
 
Change the name if you're willing to work on it and provide clarity in feedback to those that are struggling in your organization.  Keep it as is if you're not - don't destroy the opportunity for others.

Venice Cruise Ship Fiasco: Create a Workplace-Related Caption for This Rough Landing Video......

In case you missed it, 65,o00 ton cruise ship MSC Opera recently crashed into a Venice dock, taking out a smaller ship and injuring a few people to boot.

On June 2, the 2100 passenger/13 story cruise ship laid on its horn as it came crashing into a busy dock, the Washington Post reports. Take a look at the video and then give me a workplace/HR caption that fits what you see below (email subscribers, click through for video):

I actually own a boat, and landing it was and is one of the most humbling things you can do.  Of course, my boat is 25 ft long and I bought it used as hell because I knew it was going to be a complete sh**show at times, and who needs to worry about hurting the value of your vessel when you're a complete newbie?  For that reason, I captioned it as the following in some of my group texts:

"Me landing it at the Marina on a windy day"

My group texts, littered with HR and talent pros, came back with the following gems:

"Me giving a presentation with no prep"

"My LinkedIn rep proposing to triple the cost of my annual contract"

"My CEO talking about his boat in an all-hands employee meeting"

"My Sales Leader changing his team's commission plan via email over the weekend with no warning"

You get the vibe. Give me your workplace related caption to this "rough" landing.


Old Town Road, Lil Nas X, and Your Creativity...

External reading/case study time today at the Capitalist.  If you haven't heard of Lil Nas X, you should ask your kids.

His short cut "Old Town Road" is a streaming sensation. This video of him surprising an elementary school in Ohio went viral this week. Lil-nas

But the real lesson is in how he put this cut together.  Rolling Stone dropped a piece related to the emerging scene of sites offering musical tracks on the cheap:

"No one saw Lil Nas X coming. His race to ubiquity came impossibly quickly, and it’s a rare instance of an artist’s industry story — the making-of chronicle of an underdog star — becoming to wide audiences as compelling as his music. Ever since the 20-year-old rapper rose into the public eye a few months ago, first on the madcap video platform TikTok and then in headlines amid controversy over country-music charts, fans and executives alike have been scrambling to work out the method behind his one-song success.

Of the dissections of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which has sat at the top of music charts for eight weeks now, neither the treatises on its roots as a social-media meme nor the examinations of the charming sonic wackiness of its melody have paid much attention to one crucial aspect of the story: how and why the song’s underlying beat — the source of its all-important Nine Inch Nails banjo sample — only cost the rapper $30. That Lil Nas X was able to put together a chart-smashing song for less than the price of a tank of gas is a perfect testament that the traditional structure of the music business has blown apart.

“I don’t know if I’m living in some type of simulation at this point,” Lil Nas X recently told Rolling Stone. His smash hit only started taking shape in June 2018, when a Dutch teenager named Kiowa Roukema, a.k.a. Young Kio, tossed a trap beat under a banjo loop pulled from the Nine Inch Nails song “34 Ghosts IV,” which he’d found on a whim while browsing YouTube’s recommended section. He uploaded it as “Future type beat” (though it doesn’t really sound like a Future type beat) to a website called BeatStars. In November, it caught the attention of Montero Hill, a.k.a. Lil Nas, who had only been making music for a few months “out of boredom” from his sister’s home in Atlanta, Georgia. Nas recorded a song to the beat, and by the close of the year, the pair’s work was all over the internet, without the two ever meeting.

BeatStars is a digital marketplace where producers and artists are able to link up without ever getting into a studio together. Artists can pay a bargain-rate fee to download a beat, leaving it open to other artists to use as well, as Lil Nas X did. If they shell out a little more, they can get an exclusive license. The website is the brainchild of Abe Batshon, a musician-entrepreneur who only found out that “Old Town Road” came out of a BeatStars deal after the track blew up on music charts and he checked his records. “I don’t think Young Kio even knew about the song until it started having legs and trending on TikTok,”

The Rolling Stone article is worth reading in it's entirety.

The lesson here is pretty simple. Creativity matters, but there's creativity with a capital "C" and creativity with a lower case "c".

Lil Nas X is somewhere in between.  Old Town Road likely wouldn't have been made if he had to be the original source of all of it's elements. But sampling ideas from others (in this case a trap beat) and mixing them into something greater matters just as much as truly original ideas.

If you want to be valued, you've got to do more than make the trains run on time.

The Lil Nas X story shows that intellectual property rights are shifting faster than ever. People say their are no new ideas. I'd say that the true value of workplace creativity is being a mix artist, combining old ideas into new cuts/solutions.

Lil Nas X was sitting in ATL doing nothing less than a year ago.  But he was curious.

What's your excuse again for not creating new things in your job in 2019?  Mmm hmm.  Good luck with not adding additional value. I hope that works out.


Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?

Short post today about an important topic.  

Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?

First, definitions for some of my readers who aren't HR pros.  Corrective Action is a formal process where you tell an employee, usually in a written document that is delivered in a formal Kick in the meeting with a witness - that their performance is below standards and unless they improve, they likely will be removed from the company in time.

Corrective Action is usually a three to four step process in most companies.  It's designed to reduce legal liability in firing someone, even in "at-will" employment environments.

Back to the question - Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?

Well, that depends Sparky - what type of manager are you anyway?

Here's what corrective action means to the players involved:

The Company - "the employee in question isn't going to make it."

The Employee him/herself - "I need to look for another job."

Who's missing?  Oh yeah... The manager.  What corrective action means to the manager depends on what type of manager you are:

The manager as coach - to this type of manager, corrective action is just a escalated tool to show an employee they've been coaching that things are esclating.

The manager as bureaucrat - this type of manager isn't a coach and may in fact be a bit of a coward.  He/she hasn't really coached the employee from the heart, so when they show up with a formal corrective action document, the employee feels like he needs a lawyer.  Of course, they don't have that right.

Again, back to the question - Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?

Corrective Action is never a death sentence to the manager who's an effective coach.  That manager is going to keep coaching for improvement and wants the employee to recover.  They've used corrective action to show the urgency and hope is turns around.  Unfortunately, to all other types of managers, corrective action IS a death sentence - because if you aren't actively coaching, your struggling employee has no shot at turning it around.

Which one are you?

 

 


The All-Too Human Condition of Hating a Candidate Due to the Referral Source...

Referrals - We love them in the talent world.

Ideally, referrals are made by employees/team members who understand the culture we've created at our company, and only refer the best in their network to us. That's generally true, and even if there's a few referral spammers in your company, we're better off with referrals than without them.

You know what types of referrals we hate and are suspicious of?

THE REFERRAL FROM SOMEONE IN OUR ORGANIZATION WE DON'T LIKE.

If you've got enough experience in the recruiting/team building game, you've been there before.  You've got an open spot on your team, and you're doing your normal recruiting game.  Then it happens.

Rick, a guy you detest, sends you a referral and vouches for the candidate.

Damn. That's the last thing you needed. But the intensity of your discomfort is directed by the following determination:

--The candidate isn't good. AH HAH!  Rick is clueless. Order has been restored to the universe.

--The candidate is really, really good.  Whoops!  Shit just got complicated.

Why does the candidate being good make it problematic? Well, you hate Rick. That means the following things are in play:

1--If you don't interview a great candidate, you're the problem, not Rick.  That's never been a part of the narrative you had related to your relationship with Rick.

2--If you interview the great referral from Rick and don't hire them, it gives Rick an avenue to criticize the selection you do make. 

3--If you interview the candidate and hire them, have you just hired someone sympathetic to Rick when he's kind of been your nemesis during your tenure at ACME.com.  That seems like it might be problematic.

All of these things go through our mind when we get a referral from someone in our organization we don't like. The blind spot is simply to ignore the referral, because you won't engage with a person you don't respect and trust. But if you do that, you're playing small. You're better than that.

The real talent magnets understand that quality internal referrals from sworn enemies or simply people you don't like are GIFTS.  You should absolutely interview them and hire them if they're the best person for the job.

Whether you simply interview or actually hire the quality referral from a known enemy inside your company, you're playing chess - not checkers - with your engagement with this type of candidate.

Mine the candidate for info about Rick. You may learn they don't know Rick as well as you thought they did.  But if they do, be sure and drop some details to Rick about your conversation.  It's fun to watch Rick be a little bit uncomfortable.

Can you hire this candidate?  That really depends how good you are at your job.  If you're great at your job, they're going to enjoy being part of your team and Rick's not a threat.  Rick may actually end up hating the fact that he gave you a great referral, which is a gift in itself.

Great referrals from sources you hate are an opportunity. Play chess, not checkers.


5 Questions: Should Amazon Employees Take the Company Offer (10K, 3 Months Pay) to Quit?

I’ll give you $10,000 and 3 months of pay if you quit today and do something else. 

Who’s interested? Everyone!

Who takes me up on my offer? Well, that’s where it gets interesting. Amazon van

If the whole “we’ll pay you to quit” sounds familiar, it was the rarified air of the HR culture darling, Zappos.com.  We loved Zappos back in the day for a variety of things, including their offer to pay new hires to quit early in their tenure.  Here’s how the thinking went – if you’re not sure this is for you, we’ll pay you to eliminate the cultural misfit and just go.

The Zappos offer to pay you to quit was child’s play. Amazon saw that offer and said, “Hold my beer.”

In case you missed it, Amazon was in the news again late last week with a Godfather offer (you can’t refuse) to employees designed to create momentum to build the delivery capability needed to meet its future needs. The offer was this - 10K and 3 month’s pay for any employee who will quit and start a franchised delivery business under the Amazon partnership umbrella.  Here’s the details of the announcement:

The company announced they will pay two to three months salary and $10,000 in startup costs if an employee will quit their post and start a package delivery service. The company wants to make good on its promise to Prime members to cut delivery time in half from two days to one.

The offer is open to most part-time and full-time Amazon employees, including warehouse workers who pack and ship orders. The employee still has to be accepted into this program, and the company did not share how many people they think will apply and be accepted.

Newly anointed entrepreneurs can lease blue vans with the Amazon smile logo on it. The company estimates someone who owns 20 to 40 delivery vans can potentially earn $300,000 a year.

You have to admit, that’s kind of cool.  But it’s a trap for many of the Amazon employees who hear the offer and think being their own boss is a path that’s for them.

That’s because the business those employees would be entering under the Amazon partnership umbrella isn’t a delivery business, it’s actually a people management business.  CBS news did the math last year and reported that to make low six figure as an owner of this business, you’d need to employ at least 20 full-time equivalents per year.

Danger!! (Siren sound in the background)

Not sure whether the offer is for you, Amazon employees?  Fear not, because I’m here with an uber-simple 5-item questionnaire designed to help you understand whether you should quit your Amazon job and start a delivery business once you’ve been accepted into the Amazon “lease some vans and start a business” incubator. 

Answer the following questions “yes” or “no”:

  1. Have you ever thought your manager was a complete dipshit related to business savvy?
  2. Do you actively avoid dealing with some people at work?
  3. Have you ever been asked to be part of an interview process for open positions and thought, “I’m too busy” or “that’s not my job”?
  4. Do you ever vent to your spouse for long periods of time about co-workers?
  5. Have you ever had a co-worker vent to you and refused to get involved in whatever issue they had, either directly (telling them you didn’t want to get involved) or indirectly (waiting for them to finish their rant and excusing yourself as softly as you could)?

Score your answers in the following way:

--0-1“yes” answers: This Amazon offer might be for you.

--2-3 “yes” answers: You shouldn’t quit your day job. You’ll likely start well in your Amazon delivery franchise, only to grow disenchanted, look back and see year one was by far the best year of your delivery business.

--4-5 “yes” answers: Run away. You’re going to burn the f###ing trucks by month six, end up in jail for arson, insurance fraud and divorced.

The Amazon deliver business is a “people” business. Don’t be fooled by the vans, the cool scanners and the Amazon tech stack.  If you don’t enjoy (or can’t tolerate) the people side of business, you have NO SHOT at employing/retaining 20-40 full-time drivers in 2019, with America at peak economic cycle, hourly employees employed at their next job 3-7 days after quitting on you, and the 200 ways people will disappoint you in a given day and force you to engage them directly.

I hope Amazon will evaluate you for inclusion into the program with this in mind. 

But you might just have decent credit and be able to float a note for 20 leased vans.

Unless you passed my 5-question quiz with flying colors, stay on the Amazon payroll. As hard as life is there, it’s safer for you.


Should We Really Trust IBM as an Expert in the World of HR?

It's a fair question. Does IBM deserve to be an expert in the world of HR?

When you think of IBM today, you probably think of Watson, the supercomputer that resides at the intersection of processing power and artificial intelligence.

One of the latest science/research pushes IBM is promoting is that they're the experts in predicting turnoverWatson

IBM HR has a patent for its “predictive attrition program” which was developed with Watson to predict employee flight risk and prescribe actions for managers to engage employees. IBM's CEO Ginni Rometty has been on the PR push for this program this month and stopped short of explaining “the secret sauce” that allowed the AI to work so effectively in identifying workers about to jump (officially, IBM said the predictions are now in the 95 percent accuracy “range”). Rometty would only say that its success comes through analyzing many data points. Rometty claims the AI has so far saved IBM nearly $300 million in retention costs.

The AI retention tool is part of a suite of IBM products that are designed to upend the traditional approach to human resources management. 

I think AI should always be considered as a way to make our profession better.  I'm just not sure that IBM deserves to be the expert in HR.  

You know the first reason I'm skeptical.  Most of my readers could predict turnover with 100% accuracy if they have access to the right information. The right information in turnover prediction is full of privacy issues - involving deep email, social, web and phone indexing and analysis.  Simply put, if you had access to the right information, you could make a pretty good call on who's at risk.  That's nothing new and the fact IBM doesn't disclose what information is needed to get to 95% accuracy is 100% problematic.  

So you're great at turnover prediction, but you fail to say you need to big brother information access to fine tune the model.  Most of us would say no to the cultural ramifications of getting all the data necessary.

But my biggest issue with IBM coming in hard to HR for business development is much simpler.  They've been awful to their own workforce.

Big companies are going to have some people issues, I get it.  But do a couple of web searches and you'll see how IBM has treated it's workforce, discarding strong, older professionals for cheaper labor.  It's a systematic play they've been a part of, and it includes normal playbook items like layoffs and more creative items like requiring long-term IBM team members to report to a centralized office location or lose their job.  

Translation: We've got a lot of high earners and it's killing us. Time to retrench and get a cheaper cost basis on labor.  Let's say no to remote work!

Watson is cool, and IBM is OK. But I'm not sure they deserve to be labeled as an expert in the world of HR.

IBM is a data company.  You're the HR expert.  

Watson told me so.


People Don't Choose Netflix For Content - Or Your Company for Ping-Pong...

One of the things I'm fascinated by in the business world is how the media/content business consistently changes. Newspapers - gone.  Magazines - hard to find in print these days unless you're in an airport. Broadcast networks - Still around but not in a dominant spots. 

One of the biggest lies the devil every told us (or made us feel) is that the way things are today is how they're going to be in the future. You think Facebook will be around forever, but history tells us that they're toast in 15-20 years.  Maybe 10.  Just look back at MySpace, AOL and Prodigy for primers on this reality.

One interesting case study going on today in media/content is Netflix.  Netflix dominates a lot of screen time in households across the world, but the recent announcement that Disney had launched a $6.99 per month streaming video service called Disney+ has a lot of people signaling this is the beginning of the end for Netflix - since Disney content will no longer appear on the Netflix platform.

That makes sense, right?  Not so fast, my friends.  Fred Wilson at AVC shared this chart on why people use Netflix in a post titled Functionality vs Content.  Take a look and we'll discuss below the chart:

Netflix

The point? People don't necessarily watch Netflix with quality of content as their first priority.  They watch it because they like - and have grown to rely on - the look and feel and the technology. The fact that the top reasons people use Netflix aren't necessarily tied to quality of content means Netflix has time to figure the content side out as Disney pulls it's content.  Of course, this the the very reason Netflix has been running a hard pivot to original content on it's platform.

Will Netflix die the death of all the other platforms before it? Probably, but it won't be because of Disney pulling content and creating Disney+. The functionality of the platform is too strong.

Which got me thinking about the following question - what functionality does your company offer that transcends the work being done in a single job/role or the industry your business is in?  Put another way, what is it about how your company does things that will make someone stick when a new competitor comes along with a great job offer?

If you look at how average companies build culture, you'll see the following answers to that question:

1--Cool work space

2--Ping Pong

3--Kegerator party after hours 2X per week.

Those things are good, but probably not enough to hold someone after they've experienced them for 2 years. Plus, they're easy to copy.

Which begs the question - what is it about your company that would be hard to copy and become the equivalent of the Netflix interface? When you think about how your company is defined and what make it unique, that's really the question.

If you've made it this far, a lot of you can't answer the question, and that's 100% ok.  Simply move from what you have to what you could create that would be irreplaceable, much like the Netflix interface. Examples might include:

1--We don't have meetings. Or we don't have meetings that are more than 15 minutes long.

2--Our email shuts down at 7pm every night. You can send them, but they won't be delivered until 8am.

3--You can send emails to the CEO and you'll get an answer within 4 hours. Or you get a vacation day.

Obviously, these are just examples. But when you free yourself a bit to say, "what should be included in our people business platform", it becomes freeing.

Disney+ isn't going to end Netflix.  What makes your people platform as sticky to employees as Netflix is?

Dream it and do it, and you'll likely protect yourself from regrettable turnover and save your top performers.

(KD's current streaming recommendation - Hanna on Amazon Prime)


The Non-Working, Non-Credible Executive at Your Company...

Let's talk about something that impacts every organization - The perception of whether your executives do anything, and in a related topic, whether they are viewed as credible.

There's 4 buckets every executive at your company falls into: Magic

1--Works hard/does stuff and viewed as credible.

2--Doesn't work hard/do stuff but is viewed as credible.

3--Does stuff/works hard and isn't viewed as credible.

4--Doesn't work hard/do stuff and isn't viewed as credible.

The gold standard is to have execs in #1 - Does stuff/is credible.  Engagement is always easier when this is the case.  For the most cynical of executives, they'd love to be viewed as credible without really trying to dig in and work or understand what's going on 4-5 levels below them.

Entire TV series have been based on the disconnect - Undercover Boss, anyone?  The CEO puts on a stupid wig, goes to the front lines and finds that special person they want to help moving forward - everyone cries and the CEO is now aware of how hard the work is.  Check. Then it's back to the corporate jet and the Ritz.

Why am I posting about this today? I was reminded of the four buckets of Executive perception when Magic Johnson resigned as the President of the Los Angeles Lakers (pro basketball).  For the uninitiated, Magic is a top 5 player all time in pro basketball, and he's royalty when it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers. So the Lakers hired him 2 years ago to return their organization to glory.

There was just one problem. Magic wanted the job, but he didn't want to have to work hard. In addition, the fact he didn't work hard in a job he didn't know how to do destroyed his credibility in his workplace, which for him was the community of other GMs doing work within the NBA.  You can get a good rundown of the Magic Johnson scenario here.

But back to your company.  Evaluating whether an executive works hard and is viewed as credible is tough for the following reasons:

a--It's not necessarily the executive's job to understand what everyone does and how the sausage gets made. They have a job that's different that the first layers of your company, and at times, just as important.

b--Employees love to hate. Just because they don't know what the executive does doesn't mean the exec in question doesn't work hard.  But it might tell you they need to connect more to be credible.

So how do you determine whether an executive works hard and is credible?  My first suggestion is to ask their executive peers who rely on them for services.  If the peers don't feel they work hard or are credible, it's likely you have a problem.  After all, peers at the executive level are aware of the demands of the job.  They're slow to say, "I don't know what he does", because they've heard that before about themselves.

Finally, look for command related to talent management 2 to 3 levels below them. Someone trying to understand the work and add value to the way your company's product or service gets delivered is likely to know who's good and who's not, and base it on tangible items clearly linked to success in the job, not politics or rumors.

There's a lot of people at your company who think your executives don't do anything.  They might be right.

You should try to understand if you're dealing with Jeff Bezos or Magic Johnson and take action accordingly.