STEAL THESE SLIDES: I'm Making PPT Decks on HR/Recruiting With No Formatting For You to Use (as your own)...

STSEMailArt

Admit it – you loved the Netflix Culture deck back in the day, right? The simplicity, the great ideas, the black and white slides. But you don’t have enough time to spend on presentation decks. You have other stuff to do.

That’s why I created the Steal These Slides series!  Hit this link to get the first deck!

Every time we do a roadmap, a tool kit, or a whitepaper at Kinetix, we're going to create a simple deck for you to use in any way you see fit, delivered in the black and white spirit of the Netflix Culture Deck.

No Kinetix logo (after the title slide, just delete that one), but plenty of Kinetix thoughts. Start with our deck, add your own thoughts, delete what you don’t like or need, add art and presto! You’ve got a great deck to help you be the talent expert you are.

Our first set of slides in this series is How to Ramp Your Recruiting in a Post-COVID World. If you need the bigger white paper this deck is based on for background, click here to download. Otherwise, just click the button below and you'll be taken to the page with the slides.

Hit this link to get the first deck!

Keep being awesome. 


Amazon Employees (BHM1) Crush Union - 10 Things You Need to Know...

I’ll start this post with what should be obvious. Twitter’s not the real world, and neither is today’s version of the news. There are extremes on both sides of the news industry and what you read is likely to be more Op/Ed than true reporting. It takes real work to find true reporting these days.

A related issue is the unwillingness of normal people to share their thoughts and beliefs on any news topic of relevance in the world for fear of one side—generally the left these days—looking to shame the source for any thought not believed to be progressive enough.

It starts with dialog on race (hard topic coming off of 2020) but has spread like wildfire to other areas.

Simply put, the world needs all of us to be vocal when we can add value.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. Amazon

For months now, we’ve heard about organized labor (known as unions to the layperson) bringing justice and representation to Amazon workers at an Amazon Distribution Facility in Bessemer (Birmingham), AL. (In the case of the Amazon vote, the union in question was the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which I’ll simply refer to as the “union” from this point forward.)

 Last week, employees at that Amazon Distribution Facility voted “no” to that union representing them. 

But they didn’t just say “no”. Based on the numbers and the circumstances, the employees actually said, “HELL NO” (all caps to express the sentiment).

What’s been represented by the mainstream media over the past 4-5 months related to this union campaign is very different than the outcome. Due to that, I wanted to share some things that I want my HR, Recruiting, Talent and Business leader friends, who haven’t had much experience with organized labor, to know about the Amazon union drive in Bessemer/Birmingham and about organizing activity in general.

Before we get it into it, let me say this: every employee deserves an opportunity to earn a great living based on their performance. They deserve a safe environment that respects all people and provides maximum opportunity to all, regardless of race, gender, orientation and any other identifier.

If a union is the best option for a group of employees (because the company has failed), so be it. 

But a union wasn’t the best option for workers at the Amazon DC in Bessemer, AL, regardless of the pounding on the topic that happened from politicians and the media.

Let’s dig in and understand why something we were told was great (employees saying “yes” to a union at Amazon) was met with such strong opposition by an incredibly diverse set of Amazon employees in the Birmingham area. 

Buckle up, friends—this is a long one but an important one.

HERE ARE THE 10 THINGS I WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE UNION ORGANIZING PROCESS AT AMAZON (BESSEMER DISTIRUBTION CENTER):

1—Let’s start with the basic of how union organizing works, shall we?

The process of organizing generally works like this: a limited number of employees at any company are dissatisfied and reach out to a union organization wondering about representation. A process is followed, and if there’s enough interest, an election is held asking employees at the location/unit inside the company if they want the union to represent them.

If employees vote no, things remain as is. If the employees vote yes (simple majority is all that is needed), collective bargaining (negotiation) starts between the company and the union to create an agreement on all employment stipulations. There are 100 more things experts could tell you about this process, but let’s keep this high-level to make sure you’ve got the base.

Got it? Great.

2—The Union Organizing process at the Amazon DC had a lot of friends on the left, including POTUS, most mainstream media, Hollywood and more. 

Most of the people listed above assumed what they wanted to happen (employees vote “yes” to bring in the union) would happen based on the narrative they were building. It didn’t.

Article after article has covered the Amazon union vote as a watershed moment for workers, the left, and for organized labor. Most coverage cited hard working conditions in an Amazon DC as being unfair to workers. Is that true? You’ll have to dig in to the results to understand what the workers thought. But the media coverage was unrelenting over the past couple of months and was easily a 90/10 split—90% of articles talking in glowing terms about the union movement, etc. and only 10% actually doing reporting.

To increase the pressure, the POTUS was active, making the following statement.

"Today and over the next few days and weeks workers in Alabama - and all across America - are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. This is vitally important - a vitally important choice," he said.

"There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda. No supervisor should confront employees about their preferences."

More to come on that statement, because, as it turns out, unions and the employees who are pro-union have all the opportunity in the world to do exactly what Biden is talking about—pressure and coerce employees—as part of the process. We never hear about that.

And, of course, others weighed in. Bernie Sanders came to Birmingham (Bessemer is in the Birmingham, AL metro) to show solidarity with the workers and apply pressure. Entertainment stars piped in with their support, and some even came to Birmingham to support the union.

3—It’s probably warranted to talk a bit more about the organizing process that a union follows to get to an employee vote to give you more context.

I told you earlier that a union organizing process starts with a limited number of employees at any company being dissatisfied and reaching out to a union organization to ask about representation. Let’s keep adding to those notes.

My experience—and I hold it to be true—is that it’s never the high performers in any company who initiate inquiries about unions. High performers are almost always comfortable with a meritocracy and aren’t open to paying a % of their compensation in union dues. To be fair though, inquiries about unions can begin from departments inside companies with horrific managers. In addition, companies with high performance quotas like Amazon can sometimes incite some normal to high performers to consider union representation as well.

Once the call comes into the union, meetings are held away from work between that small group of employees and union organizers to discuss the issues. If the union sees opportunity, they will seek to invite more people to meetings to continue the evaluation process.

Once the union decides the opportunity is strong enough to warrant the additional effort, something called authorization cards are introduced, which ask employees to sign saying that they are interested in the union representing them. In order for a union to have enough cards to present to the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) and get a union election inside the company, they have to have at least 30% of employees within the “unit” in question sign the card.

4—Most unions want 50-70% of employees to sign authorization cards before presenting to the NLRB, because they understand many of the cards will be signed under duress and employees will flip back to the company side.

Here’s how asking for a card works in many circumstances. A pro-union employee will approach their colleagues and friends, give a little elevator speech about the unfairness on the company side and ask the person in front of them to sign the card as a signal that “you’re with us/me.”

At that point, the person being solicited has a choice: they can sign the card or not. As you might expect, many sign the card to avoid conflict with the pro-union person in front of them. Sounds awesome, right? When Joe Biden said workers should be able to make their decision about union representation without interference from the company, he fails to mention this form of coercion on the union side. That’s really weak.

5—The reason most organizing campaigns never get to a vote is because employees who don’t care for union representation get wind of the secret card signings going on and report it to the company in question.

Names for these employees reporting the presence of cards in the workplace range from “fink” to “hero” depending on your side of this. But once it’s reported that there are authorization cards in the workplace, most companies ramp up their training on what unions are and begin other union avoidance activities. More to follow on this in a bit.

6—Let’s talk about the result at this point.  The union got absolutely crushed in this thing. CRUSHED.

A union needs a simple majority of voting employees in order to win an election and earn the right to represent the employees unit. 50% plus one vote.

If you believed the media reports in the two months leading up to the Amazon DC union election, you either thought it was going to be a close election or it was a foregone conclusion the union would win.

The union got absolutely CRUSHED in this election by Amazon employees in the Bessemer DC.

Here are the results:

  • Total eligible voters – 5,876
  • Voided ballots – 76
  • Number of votes cast for the Union (RWDSU) – 738
  • Number of votes cast against Union – 1798
  • Number of challenged ballots – 505 (roughly 300 challenged by Amazon, 200 by the union)
  • Number of employees not casting a ballot – 2,759

Amazon’s statement on the vote pointed out that only 16% of employees at the Bessemer DC voted “yes” to the union. Amazon also correctly positioned the result: it wasn’t a win for Amazon (although it was); it was an overwhelming decision made by real employees with real jobs—and probably very few active Twitter accounts.

It should be noted that almost half of the employees in the defined unit (in this case, that’s the entire distribution center) did not vote in the election. Not voting in this election is in all practical purposes a “No” vote.

The union and organized labor got crushed by this outcome.

7—Amazon was helped by expanding the number of voters in the election. This is called defining and expanding the “unit” in any union election.

Here’s another thing to know about the Amazon outcome. When unions get the initial call from a disgruntled employee, they only want work units that maximize their chances of winning an election. This reality means that unions want to keep scope small. Better to keep the group small and win an election than expand the size and lose is the practical thinking.

A common employer strategy is to expand the size of the group voting on whether to be represented by the union. It’s counterintuitive to think employers would want to put more people at risk of being organized, but the bigger the group, the harder it is for pro-union pockets to have influence.

The NLRB hears arguments on this topic and provides rulings on the appropriate scope of a unit for any organizing process/election. For the most part, common locations or work units are the most frequent rationale in expanding the size of the unit that will vote yes/no on whether they want to be represented by the union in question.

One of the things I’ve read in the media was that when the union presented the authorization cards to the NLRB, they assumed the size of the workforce was 1,500 workers. Amazon responded that it was 5,000+, which meant the union had to go out and get more cards to get to 30%. It’s never a good sign when the union in question isn’t aware of the employee count at a facility.

A lot of workers are going to sign the cards under the “you’re with us, right?” peer pressure. Let’s assume the union needed 1,800 cards (30% of 5,876) to get to 30% (after they incorrectly assumed the facility size was 1,500 employees). They ended up with 738 votes in the election. Ponder that. Then add the fact that this whole union vote was conducted over a two- month period via mail-in ballot.

That means that 1,800 employees signed a card when someone rolled up on them and asked them to, but only 58% of them (I added the 300 votes Amazon challenged to the 738 for this math) followed through and mailed in their ballot.

Let all that that sink in. Then think about the pressure the union side puts on an employee to get an authorization card signed based on those numbers. But sure, employers are the only problem in this equation. LOL.

8—It’s obvious that the employees at the Amazon DC voted in a way that suggests for many that working for Amazon is one of the best jobs they’ve had related to pay, benefits, etc.

Only 16% of employees at the Amazon Distribution Center in Bessemer voted “yes” to union representation. The other 84% voted “No” or couldn’t be bothered to vote in such an election.

Why did 84% vote “No” or abstain in supporting a union? There are multiple reasons for this. First up, employees voting “No” or abstaining from voting indicates that they didn’t believe union representation to be in their best interest. They voted for a direct relationship with their supervision and Amazon over union representation.

Another reason for the blowout win is that the jobs in question are pretty good jobs. Consider the following rundown from Yellowhammer:

“On top of Amazon’s $15 minimum wage, the company offers industry-leading benefits to full-time employees, which include comprehensive health care from day one, 401(k) with 50% match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave and Amazon’s innovative Career Choice program, which pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields. Since the program’s launch four years ago, more than 25,000 employees have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, just to name a few.”

Add base wages, OT, benefits and more, and you’re suddenly looking at a job worth 45-50K+ that grows over time. Amazon is already one of the best-paying jobs a non-skilled laborer can get in Alabama.

A diverse employee base at the Amazon Distribution Center trusted that more than they trusted the union in question.

9—After this result, the Biden administration and the media will push the narrative that employees were influenced in an unethical way by Amazon and will use that as a narrative to push through new laws and NLRB rules. Don’t believe it, remember “FOE”

Scan the news and you already see this: complaints about interference from Amazon in the union election process are widespread. For the uninitiated, the law and NLRB rules and regulations protect the employer’s right to be proactive in telling their side of the story to employees during a time period known as the “campaign period.”

During this period, employers can hold mandatory/captive meetings where they can share their thoughts on why voting “Yes” for union representation is a bad thing. Simply put, employers can provide “FOE” (Facts, Opinions and Experiences) but cannot engage in “TIPS” activity (Threaten, Interrogate, Pressure or Surveil).

The Biden administration will use the Amazon outcome as a proxy for why employers should be limited in telling their FOE-based perspectives and will attempt to change the law and NLRB rules and regulations as a result.

Don’t believe it? Remember that unions conduct their initial activities in secret and routinely use pro-union employees to pressure peers to sign authorization cards (no secret ballot in that!) that lead to elections.

Amazon said in a statement that “the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true.”

“Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us,” the company said. “And Amazon didn’t win — our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union.”

The union got blown out in this one. Companies should be able to tell their story on such an important topic before the employee base votes.

10—To really blow your mind, consider the fact that this election was held 100% by mail-in voting due to COVID. Let’s dig in on what opportunity that provides for a union attempting to organize.

My friends, consider this. NLRB-sanctioned union votes are generally held in similar fashion to pre-COVID federal and state elections. Employees go to a polling place run by the NLRB and vote in secret-ballot fashion. It’s on lockdown.

The union vote for the Amazon Distribution Center in Bessemer was held over a two-month period via mail-in voting. Let that sink in—a distribution center where the work is 100% on site (no remote employees) was allowed to do 100% mail-in voting for a union vote. Amazon protested this (rightfully so) and lost its challenge.

What does mail-in voting mean? It means the union in question had the opportunity (if they opted to or asked pro-union employees to act as proxies) to approach employees, ask them to complete their mail in votes (pro-union of course) and offer to drop the ballots in the mail for the employee. It basically offered the same opportunity for influence, pressure and more in the voting process that I described earlier when pro-union employees approach their peers for a signed authorization card in the stage before a vote.

Still, only 16% of employees voted for the union. Crazy.

THE BIG FINISH

I know about 100 people who know more than I do about unions, organizing efforts by unions and strategies to remain union-free on the company side.

But none of those people feel like they can share their expertise publicly. Why?

Because all of them fear being attacked by the digital mob.

That’s where we’re at in America in 2021. Good people with great knowledge and a perspective the world needs to hear won’t share their expertise on a variety of topics for fear of being cancelled, shamed or—God forbid—being called a Republican.

The Amazon union vote is a great reminder that the vast majority of America isn’t aligned with the extremes—on either the right or the left. They’re simply looking for opportunity that they didn’t have last year, and when someone treats them fairly—even if the work is really hard—most Americans are going to be very skeptical of someone telling them it’s a bad thing.

As for me, I’m going to try to be less fearful of the digital mob moving forward. I’m going to try and write and have conversations that respect how the vast majority of America thinks.

To the Amazon employees in the Bessemer Distribution Center: congratulations on the outcome that left no doubt on what the vast majority of you value, and thanks for the reminder that at the end of the day, we all need to be less afraid of speaking the truth on a day-to-day basis.


Amazon, People Practices and Cancel Culture . . .

Read the news and it's easy to fall into the trap of what I like to call "Amazon is Bad" and the close cousin, "The Amazon Mob."

Where can you find such news? Simple! Examples: "Amazon is Bad" for having the gall to actually defend itself against union organizing attempts at the company's Bessemer, AL distribution facility. Shocking! How dare they! Amazon is also bad for being led by one of the richest people on the planet—a crime that leads to a small mob at one of his houses with a guillotine in his driveway. Amazon

It's trendy to hate the establishment these days. Unfortunately, not enough people are speaking up to challenge BS when they see it, for fear of some form of being cancelled.

So I'll say it related to Amazon. Just because there was a subset of employees in Alabama interested in a union doesn't mean the company can't defend itself.  The law allows Amazon to tell its side of the story and respond with FOE - Facts, Opinions and Examples.

As far as the guillotine, if you're down with that demonstration in the driveway of any human being, good luck to you and yours. You'll soon have to find another mob to keep the hate alive.

But wait, there's more! And it's HR related:

Business Insider recently published an article entitled "Inside Amazon's Employee Review System, Where Workers Feel in the Dark and Managers expect to give 5% of Direct Reports Bad Reviews." Sounds ugly, right?

Well, Business Insider talked to a dozen employees. We've lost our minds with the narrative- building in reports like this. It works, or they wouldn't keep doing it. You click, I click. Turns out, they talked to only twelve people, probably a few disgruntled folks who were organized by a single person.

Articles like this one get posted, and the narrative—left largely unchecked—is that Amazon is a bad place to work and how they review employees is a big part of the negativity.

The journalists talked to 12 employees, my friends.  Amazon is a company with 575,000 employees!  

But if the Business Insider did anything positive with this article, it did provide some access to 2021 Performance Management design at Amazon. So, while we're here, let's take a look at a couple of items cited as performance management practices at Amazon and analyze them.  Here are a couple that jumped out as relevant:

From BI Article: "One new policy introduces a performance rating metric, with managers telling their direct reports where they rank on a scale from "needs improvement" to "achieves" to "exceeds." The new directive adds a dose of clarity to Amazon's secretive performance review system that left employees guessing about their performance review ratings, as Insider previously reported."

KD analysis: Amazon is making the move many have already made, simplifying rating scales to a 3-point rating scale. Regardless of wording, this is the "Does Not Meet/Meets/Exceeds" 3-point scale many use. It is popular and works because managers have to take a stand, and the 3-point scale forces managers to give real ratings and real feedback. This is a good thing.

From BI Article: "Amazon managers use a secret rating tied to compensation to grade on a curve, according to employees and internal documents, placing those at the bottom on a performance improvement plan, called PIP at Amazon. One document viewed by Insider shows company leaders "expect 20% of Amazonians" to receive the highest rating and 5% to receive the lowest for the current review cycle."

KD Analysis: Guidance on how many employees can get the top rating is expected, otherwise you'd have rating inflation 100% of the time. For fans of the bell curve, you automatically understand that asking for 5% of employees to be identified as low performers is kind, not harsh. Amazon is asking for very little here; still, it's vilified by the media. Weak journalism but representative of the media's treatment of anything real world these days.

From the BI Article: "According to employees, the more important performance measure is what Amazon calls "Overall Value (OV)" ratings because they have a bigger influence on compensation. An internal document seen by Insider said OV ratings were used as an "input into the annual compensation planning process.

Under OV ratings, Amazon managers group their employees in three broad buckets of performance grades — top tier (TT), highly valued (HV), and least effective (LE). Starting this year, Amazon expanded the "HV" rating with "HV1," "HV2," and "HV3" to add depth to each evaluation, Amazon's spokesperson confirmed in an email to Insider.

An internal document provided to managers said: "We expect 20% of Amazonians are TT," 15% are HV3 (the highest of the HV ratings), 25% are HV2, 35% are HV1, and 5% are LE. Another document showed how these OV ratings corresponded to pay. Amazon employees are each put in a pay band with a range for their total compensation, made up of base pay and stock options. The OV ratings are one of the key factors used to determine what percentage of the pay band an employee will get. One internal document said those placed in the top-performing group could reach 100% of their pay target, while those on the HV1 grade got zero upside.

The documents also showed that while managers could disclose where an employee ranked from "needs improvement" to "exceeds," they couldn't share the "input scale" number from 1 to 7 on which those ratings are based. So while an employee might know that they ranked as "achieves," they wouldn't be told specifically if they landed at the high or low end of the score range necessary to obtain that ranking."

KD Analysis: Yeah, that’s called the merit matrix. It’s not a new concept, and if Amazon wants to give its highest performers in the “Meets/Achieves” band more money, that’s a good thing. Do they owe their employees 7 different points on the rating scale to back that up? No, they do not, because that gets in the way of clear and direct feedback on how the employee is doing: bad/good/great. Also, further segmentation can also be used to determine things like succession planning. Simply put, do great work and you’ll be rewarded. It's not that hard.

Summary: I love how a news organization can talk to 12 people and put a headline up that says “Amazon workers feel left in the dark.”

Everything doesn't have to be a conspiracy, especially if you only talk to 12 out of 575,000 employees.

Be better, media.


How To Ramp Your Recruiting in a Post-Covid World (an HR Capitalist Whitepaper/Roadmap)

BookArt_Banner-02

 

I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that vaccines are in play, winter is ending, and leadership teams like the one you support are in recovery mode and starting to ramp hiring in 2021.

The bad news is recruiting in a post-COVID world takes different skills. That’s why my team at Kinetix is giving you Ramp Your Recruiting (in a Post-COVID World) where we provide the following goodies:

  • How to Hire Recruiters that perform post-pandemic
  • Keys to Tweak your 2021 Recruiting Process for results
  • How Company Values & EVP positions have changed post-lockdown
  • Why the right Assessment Tool = Better Matches in 2021
  • Keys to update your Employment Brand for a post-COVID world

As an HR or recruiting leader, you know it’s time to get serious about hiring in a post-COVID world. Download our roadmap at Kinetix to make sure your recruiting efforts match the new world!

Enjoy it and let me know if you have questions.


GOAL SETTING: A Question on OKRs/KPIs/SMART Goals from a KD Client...

CAPITALIST NOTE: The email below is a summary I sent to a client last weekend. For background, the client is a technology company with 500 employees, and they've made a real run at goal setting in 2021. They rolled out training on SMART goals with my BOSS Leadership series, have really stayed with it post training, and the CEO has gone through her own key area +KPI (Key Performance Indicators) process to establish some "big rocks" designed to measure progress apart from the SMART goal activity that's going on at the grass roots level.

Investors in the company have introduced the concept of OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) to my leader in the last two weeks, and she asked me for my take on how OKRs, KPIs and SMART goals can play together. Below is the rundown I sent over. I thought it was a meaningful question, and my response reinforces that terminology/methodology can often get in the way of just getting stuff started and done. Enjoy!

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

Jill -

Good connecting with you on Friday.  I spent some time this weekend thinking about your question on OKR/Smart Goals. I think they can go together 100% from my perspective. Okr

I could write up something from my research and claim it as my own, but here’s the best rundown I could find, which directionally sets up what I would have told you on Friday if I was on a call with the consultant in question and forced to take a position.

https://www.perdoo.com/resources/okr-vs-smart-goals/

Simply put, I think you can have both. I think your process at the top—where you are focused on KPIs—is similar in my eyes to OKRs.  With your KPIs, you’re identifying a broad area, then you're setting a measurable goal (the KPI). I think any adjustment to looking at OKRs should probably first address the question: What additional work do we need to do on these KPIs to modify them and evolve them into OKRs? I feel like you’ve already done a good bit of this work at the company level.

There might be an opportunity to create departmental KPI/OKRs at the next level down in your company, but candidly, I feel like you’ve done that with your work at the company level.

I think the SMART goal process still works. As the referred link mentions, it gives your people a consumable process that’s easy to understand with goal setting. That’s a good thing. Also you’ll see in the referred link that they say SMART goals exist in isolation. I think that’s true but necessary. You want the manager and employee to work on goals together and figure out what the most important things are to create goals within the employee’s area.

But the link between OKR/KPIs that we had talked about—going out and collecting SMART goals that contribute to individual OKR/KPIs—still stands. In this way, you can create a OKR/KPI and track it, and talk openly about the “big goal” but reward linkage that happens with the SMART goal process.

As I mentioned on the call, execution is still the key. The hard work of your managers working through the goal setting process with their people is where the true magic happens in my eyes.

To summarize from my view:

  • Your KPIs are close to OKRs.
  • You’ve already done a lot of the work if you want to move to OKRs.
  • The SMART goal process is still a great way to make goal setting accessible for the masses and get some traction.
  • The hard work is still at the manager/employee level to use goal setting to get better results and velocity at the ground level.

Does this help? Ping me back with questions or we can jump on a call.

--KD


COVID Life: On Schools and Not Missing Opportunities

Let's get some level-setting items out of the way first, shall we? Here's some bio info about me and my family during COVID-19:

--We were in hard lockdown mode for the spring and summer of 2020.

--My family consists of me, my wife, a sophomore son in college and a junior son in high school. IMG_4944

--We wear masks everywhere we go where there are people.

--I live in Birmingham, AL.

--I identify as a moderate Republican.

--I never voted for Trump, but I'll automatically tune out anyone who throws all who did into a bucket labeled "evil". Life's not that simple, my friends. Not by a long shot.

--As it turns out, the point that appears above this one is important, because the rest of this post is about how the extremes of our system dominate these days and rob 90% of our citizens the chance to live their best lives.

I think COVID is a serious thing. I hate the fact that so many lives have been lost, and I'm supportive of President Biden flying the flag at half-mast as the death count passes 500K.

But let's do some real talk about how the issue has been treated politically. The USA's success rate in dealing with COVID is like most of the free world. If you go to resources like Statistica, you'll see a death rate per capita that looks a lot like our peers globally, with the USA better than the UK and Italy, a lot like Spain, and countries like Canada, Germany and Israel coping much better than the rest of the free world peer group. You can say that the USA sucks, but I'll point to the fact that the rest of the free world is struggling at various levels, and the USA isn't immune to that.

In addition, a quick glance at immunization rates globally is pretty fascinating. The previous administration was widely criticized for their vaccine roll out and generally not having a plan with COVID. Using a great tool called Our World in Data, I checked vaccination rates on 1/19/21 (the day before Biden took office) and the last available data as I wrote this post, 3/5/21.

I found that the truth about vaccinations is more complicated than the media would have us believe, as on 1/19/21, the USA was 4th in the free world in COVID vaccine roll out (as measured by COVID vaccinations administered per 100 people), trailing Israel, United Arab Emirates and the UK. On March 5th, guess where we are at? 4th! Still ahead and trailing the same countries by the same margins. The European Union has about 1/3 of the vaccination rate of the USA, both on 1/9 and today. Use this map to run your own data. My gut tells me we'll still be fourth at the time herd immunity is reached under a new president.

The point—and there is one—is that when it comes to COVID, we look like much of the rest of the free world. Maybe it's not about political platforms, maybe it's about trying to deal with COVID and still have a chance to live your best life. My take is that a pandemic is a challenge that impacts most of the free world in similar ways.

And that brings me to the topic of having kids in schools.

I'm fortunate to live in a state that got a lot of things right during COVID related to school and kids. Here's what's gone down in Alabama:

--Most Alabama schools opened up in Fall 2020 for 100% live instruction.

--As Alabama schools dealt with spikes, they turned to a blended option, where you could send your kid to school or take the virtual option. This pivot allowed them to serve parents who wanted kids in schools while reducing the live student population, which in turn limited risk.

--Just as importantly, most of Alabama went 100% live with all extracurricular activities from August 2020 on. Whether it's sports, band, show choir or something else, kids had the chance to do the things they love with appropriate mask and social distancing mandates.

That last part (sports and other activities) looked dicey as hell in August of 2020. But in the high school district in which I live (1600 students), it went off without a hitch. Kids did these activities masked up as appropriate and coaches had plans for social distancing during practice. As a result, if a kid tested positive for COVID, we didn't shut the programs down. Contact tracing in a reasonable form was conducted, and kids got quarantined from time to time, but widespread shutdowns didn't happen. It was a reasonable and pragmatic approach that's missing elsewhere.

Alabama got it right on every account.  My son is a basketball player. As a result of this responsible and pragmatic approach, his team played all 32 games on their schedule and won the 7A (largest school classification) State Basketball Title. He never would have gotten this chance in Illinois, California, and many other states. These are lifetime memories and life experiences that can't be replaced.

It's easy to make jokes about Alabama. But look around, and you'll see our state got it right during COVID. We found the middle ground and reasonable approach during the pandemic, kids are in school and getting life lessons in the activities they seek to participate in. 

COVID is awful, but the entire free world has struggled in similar regard.  We really aren't different from our aggregate peer group when you look objectively at the data.

The fear mongering and politicization of COVID is a shameful thing. Kids not having the option to be in school and do the things they love to do is the most shameful part of it all. Crushing small businesses takes runner-up position in the shame Hall of Fame.

I'm not an expert on any of this, but I'm thankful to live in a state that got it right. On a side note, as other states were lifting mask mandates recently, our governor announced it would be a month before the mask mandate in our state ended, which is a brilliant hedge—announcing the end, but having the unstated right to come back to the podium and keep the mask mandate going if the situation turns.

Just another way Alabama is getting it right. Welcome to Alabama—where free (and responsible) men/women live and thrive.


My Conversation with Stephanie Lilak, CHRO at Dunkin' Brands....

In Episode 27 of BEST HIRE EVERKris Dunn talks with the amazing Stephanie Lilak (CHRO of Dunkin' Brands) on variety of topics, including her favorite interview questions, how she works to make sure Dunkin' gets the talent it needs, what she learned in her first year as a CHRO (that nobody told her) and more.

Steph and Kris share their favorite HR phrases and Steph shares the common characteristics of the people she considers her BEST HIRES EVER.  A great episode!

Please subscribe, rate and review (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Click here if you don't see the player below!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

Steph and KD hit some rapid fire items:

4:00 - Stephanie shares her favorite interview question - "6 words that describe you" and "6 words others use to describe you" and interviews KD live. KD does...sort of OK.

5:50 - Stephanie shares what she's after when she asks those questions (speed, attention to detail, views of others about you) and shares where at times, it goes a bit dark if candidates struggle.  

8:17 - Stephanie shares he "go-to" drink at Dunkin'.

9:03 - KD asks Stephanie for her favorite movie that reminds you how crazy her life in HR can be.

10:10 - KD asks Stephanie for the stage in the recruiting funnel in her career that always seems to need attention (apply, source, screen, hiring manager interview, make a selection, offer, hire).   

12:49 - SL names the Boston sports team she's adopted since she's moved from General Mills in the Midwest… Spoiler alert - it's not the Patriots.  KD talks about his love for the movie, "The Town"... 

Deeper Dives:

17:30 - Change – what a career at General Mills, then the move to Dunkin'. What did Stephanie learn about herself the first year in as a CHRO?   Anything she had to relearn since she had the great career at one company for so long?  Deep thoughts here - it's lonely being a CHRO, and Stephanie didn't fully realize that until she was in the seat.

24:38 - KD asks Stephanie to comment on the key to making sure a company like DD gets its fair share of talent in the recruiting world? Lots of discussion about  employment brand here - how does it contribute to the recruiting success, the "activation of employment brand" at Dunkin', both internally and externally by the tagline "Fueled by You."

30:55 - KD and Stephanie talk about COVID, company culture and the workplace. What are some things that are on her mind mind related to how her HR function and the company itself will morph as we (hopefully) get to the post-COVID period?  We discuss the saying, "Life is a Bell Curve", at length here!

39:07 - Close:  Who is Stephanie Lilak's BEST HIRE EVER and why?  There's been twelve of them (!!), and she has a list that defines what it takes to reach that designation. Smart.

SHOW NOTES AND RESOURCES:

---------Stephanie Lilak

Stephanie Lilak on LinkedIn

------------Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

Kinetix

Kris Dunn on Twitter

Kris Dunn on Instagram


 

Work From Home: What Happens When COVID Fades in 2021?

REVOLUTION. Wait, maybe not.

If there's one overhyped thing about COVID, it's probably the revolution that's happening in workplaces and more importantly, the "location" of work. Read enough of Fast Company, Inc.com or whatever your flavor of progressive workplace trends is, and you'll swear that we'll soon have vacant office buildings everywhere.

That prediction is wrong for the following reasons:

1--Many jobs - including 100% professional grade positions - can't or won't be performed from a home office. These jobs are everywhere, and they include great careers in many professions (healthcare, retail, etc.)

2--Many companies and leaders value the impact of a team being together. That means that once the COVID fear has lifted, teams are getting back together in person more than you might think - as you put down that highlighted copy of Esquire about the 2020 revolution of work.

So what's the reality? How many jobs actually went from the office to home during the pandemic, and once this thing fades, are those jobs actually staying at home?

PRO TIP: If you want to get in the weeds about what happened and what's going to happen with Work from Home arrangements, cut through all the BS and start thinking about your total workforce and define the following - Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days.

Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days is your macro economic stat as an HR leader to measure this. Measuring it can be simple and hard at the same time. You basically need reporting or at the very least, estimates from across your workforce about who's working from home. Add it all up and apply your HR magic to it, and you get Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days.

I've been estimating work from home this way for awhile and it works. It takes you out of the anecdotal and into what's real. Rather than be caught in your bubble related to the professional grade positions around you as a leader, it forces you to think globally.

Now that we have a metric, what's actually going on out there in America related to work from home?  The Atlanta Fed does a great recurring piece of research called the Survey of Business Uncertainty (SBU) in conjunction with the University of Chicago and Stanford University. As a small part of this survey, they polled their business leaders and looked back at pre-COVID data and found the the following trends and realities about work from home across the USA (email subscribers, click through if you don't see the graph below:

Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 9.06.32 AM

To summarize the chart and findings:

--During Covid, the total number of Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days multiplied by a factor of 4X+, moving from 5.5% to 23.7%. That's killer, right? But that still seems low to some of you reading this. 

--More importantly, the SBU finds that while Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days won't be going back to the pre-COVID level of 5.5%, with respondents estimating that Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days will settle back to 13.6% after the COVID pandemic ends.

To summarize - WFH days across organizations of all sizes multiplied by x4 during the pandemic, but the SBU estimates that we'll see WFH days be cut by 40% post-COVID.  Still, a gain of 2.5x from pre-COVID levels.

So significant gains for WFH, but not the revolution many expected or the sustained level of WFH we thought we would see.  Here's a chart from the SBU related to the numbers by industry. Note that it's easy to view your corporate office numbers in the Business Services segment, where Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days currently sits at 40%, but it is estimated to be going to 28% post pandemic. Feels about right.

Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 9.07.02 AM

Most of this is common sense, but if you want to have a great post-COVID stat to add to your Talent Metrics Deck, Paid Working Days at Home as a % of all Working Days makes a lot of sense to show your Leadership Team you're on top of the trend and the workforce planning conversation related to COVID.


What Sales Rep Title Will Generate the Most Traffic to Your Job Posting?

Great research and post over at OnGig related to which Sales Titles generate the most traffic to job postings.

You can click on the image to the right to blow up the pie charts to a more readable view. Sales titles

To summarize what OnGig found, here's some numbers on the most prevalent sales job titles and the traffic they generated.  Take a look and we'll talk about it after the jump:

Sales Associate:

# of Google Searches per month:  37,900

# of Results on Indeed.com: 148,582

Sales Representative:

# of Google Searches per month:  15,800

# of Results on Indeed.com: 42,775

Account Executive:

# of Google Searches per month: 13,300

# of Results on Indeed.com: 16,312

Business Development Manager (BDM):

# of Google Searches per month: 8,000

# of Results on Indeed.com: 4,638

Salesperson:

# of Google Searches per month: 6,700

# of Results on Indeed.com: 5,229

What's it all mean? Go read the OnGig post for greater depth, as they have quality insights into the trends into the sales world. Here's my thoughts:

--Sales Associate is going to net you people who want to work in retail. If that's not you, don't use the title.

--When comparing Sales Representative vs Account Executive, I would tell you that the higher end the sales position, the more it leans to "account executive".  My experience is that the AE title delivers more white collar sales pros who are "hunters" vs "farmers" in sales world.  Also notable is that while there's almost 3X as many Sales Rep positions as there are AEs, the search traffic is the same - meaning there's no penalty for using the AE title if a hunter is what you're after.

--Business Development Manager (BDM) - if your intent is to find an independent sales pro, be careful with manager titles in the posting. Better to use Sales Rep or AE to clarify what you're looking for, then give them whatever title you need to in your company's convention of titles once they are hired and in the door.

--Not listed here but a problem - the use of Account Manager as a title. If you're looking for a hunting sales rep and post using the AM title, you're inviting relationship people who aren't used to hunting to apply for your role. You'll either tell all of them no or make an ineffective hire - either way you lose, so stay away from that title if closed new business is your goal.

As with all job postings, title matters. So does a clean, effective job posting that allows people to see what's most important to you, and most importantly - opt out without applying if they aren't a fit.

Be clean on title and what's most important to you early in the posting, and your false positive hires will go down.

Happy Hunting!


Your Company's Sharepoint Game Sucks, Right? The Microsoft VIVA Announcement...

If I've said it before, I've said it a million times:

The GREATEST thing about America is that anyone with $5,000 and a hoodie has a chance to start a great tech company.

The WORST thing about America is that anyone with $5,000 and a hoodie has a chance to start a great tech company. Technology

Confused? Don't be. The fact that anyone with 5K and a hoodie has a chance to disrupt our world is the best and worst of us - all at the same time.

That's why proclamations that Microsoft VIVA will dominate the marketplace are..well...it's a bit early declare Microsoft VIVA a pure winner.

Let's start with last week's announcement from Redmond so you know what the hell VIVA is (I'm pulling these from joshbersin.com, who's done a nice job in this post of helping us get our head around it):

Microsoft introduced an offering that is likely to transform the market for enterprise software: Microsoft Viva, a digital platform built on Microsoft 365 designed for the Employee Experience. Developed over several years and integrated with Microsoft Teams, Viva is an Employee Experience Platform carefully architected to leverage a company’s investment in existing systems and Microsoft technology.

Cool?  Let's keep going:

Viva, which is built on Microsoft 365 and delivered in Teams, is a place to pull this all together. While the four core Viva apps are new, they cover many of the employee needs for companies and Viva becomes an integration platform for everything else. Out of the box, Viva covers a wide array of application areas, and the company will offer Glint, LinkedIn Learning, and content from Headspace, Skillsoft, and dozens of others in the experience. I’m sure third-party vendors will line up to join the parade as soon as this is launched.

So Viva, in addition to a suite of applications, is a vastly functional “integration platform” that lets IT and HR departments standardize their EX strategy.

OK - that's some overview stuff - let's dig into the details. The 4 Viva apps (read more about them at the link to Bersin above) are:

--Viva Connections - System that brings Sharepoint and other portal systems together to provide a single place for the employee portal and employee comms! (note, the ! is written as if I'm promoting this as a Microsoft team member)

--Viva Learning - Get your LinkedIn Learning and other tools connected to Teams!

--Viva Insights - Productivity Analysis and Workplace Analytics. Danger, privacy geeks!

--Viva Topics - Crawls through documents and emails to find "topic experts". Interesting!

It's all cool, right?  Before I shoot holes in the whole, "game over, man" thing we do when any of the heavyweights pulls together pieces to make our lives easier, let me say this - Microsoft is making the right move and they are the 800 pound gorilla that can take this swing for the fences.

Our continued reliance on MS Office and the move to Office 365 to take advantage of the cloud means we are more connected than we've ever been. Microsoft has also been helped by the pandemic, as Teams became the Avis to Zoom's Hertz related to video conferencing, which led to great adoption of the Teams collaboration suite.  

It's all good, and Microsoft is important.  But it's early to say this dominates the corporate world, especially for small to mid size companies, but even for large companies. Here's a few reasons why:

1--Implementation is hard. So you say you've got a portal for me, and I can revolve my EX world about the portal. Cool. Do I just install it? No, turns out to really make this work, you're going to have to think, do some stuff and execute. If Sharepoint has taught us anything through the years, it's that the big tools are cool, but the devil is in the details. Shout out to my corporate homies who are on their 4th cleanup of their Sharepoint portal. Godspeed friends - you're almost there - I think.

2--Adoption is hard. You built it. Will they come? Maybe, maybe not. There's a lot of things vying for their attention. Are you sure the boomers and Gen-Xers are using 365 or is all their work local? Yes, you can force that if their work is not 100% on the network. Are you ready to pick that fight? To achieve the promise of VIVA, there can only be one tool set and everything has to be in the cloud. Confounding variable - Google Drive adoption among your employees you don't even know about.

3--People still love their "best in breed tools" and the edges of VIVA will still be nibbled at by the peeps in hoodies. Related to adoption, people love their Zoom, Ring Central, Slack and about 500 other workplace productivity tools. They think many of these tools are better than Microsoft. Depending on the adoption of Office 365 and Sharepoint, to really ramp the promise of VIVA, you're going to have to mandate that people FULLY COMMIT TO THE USE OF OFFICE 365 AND ANY EXPANSION OF THAT DOMAIN, including VIVA. Will competitors (Salesforce, anyone?) allow that messaging to go unchecked? <HELL NO>. Cue the Fight Night music, and watch your adoption linger in the 50% range when you sum up all the productivity tools that are being used across your company.

4--Privacy will continue to rise in importance. Hey! We have some suggestions for how you might be more productive, and we've also listed you in the expert category for "Most Barstool Videos Watched at Work". I kid - but the more you get into productivity analysis and try to make suggestions, the more people are going want to get off the Matrix.

5--Development of strategy (and at times content for the machine) isn't automated.  Really related to #1.  True Strategy and Implementation takes work. You're going to need a bigger boat.

6--The small and mid-cap company world places this initiative and all that is listed above as the 26th most important thing on their list. They'd love to get the goodies - but they're attempting to survive. Thus, the revolution will be slightly delayed.

In short, I think Microsoft VIVA is important and potentially transformational for companies with incredibly large market caps. For everyone else, it's complicated.  Those kids in the hoodies in the HR tech space? They're the snipers in this scenario, and they'll keep taking their shots with micro-solutions that make sense.

Buckle up, VIVA team. What you are doing is cool, but the revolution is going to take longer than you think.  In fact, everyone who's working to compete with you thinks you are "The Man" and THEY are the revolution.

--KD out.


Does That Job Posting Make You Look Like a Misogynist?

There's a whole class of new tools designed to help you take various bias out of your job descriptions and job postings. While there are many benefits to these tools, there are some challenges.

How are your job descriptions these days?  They suck, right? Well, let's start this conversation with a couple of definitions:

--Job Descriptions: These are the common everyday items that drive a bunch of stuff in your HR back office. They are a legal document, meant to establish the bonafide job qualifications you need in a role, and the basis for how you match jobs in compensation surveys. They also probably do 100 other things, but I started with what I know best.

--Job Postings: Oh! Now I remember! You also use your job descriptions in all their legal, boring state as your job postings in your recruiting process. You actually just upload these and use them in your ATS, in all of their "must be able to lift 45 pounds" glory. Complicated

It's OK to have boring job descriptions. It's not OK to have boring job postings, at least not if you want to compete for talent vs the competitors in the marketplace who are a lot like you. Job postings matter, and if you get them right, a funny things happens:

Good Job Postings in the recruiting process attract the people who can be successful in your company and the role in question.

AND NOW WE COME TO THE CATCH.

You should stop using racist and sexist and other "ist" labels in your recruiting toolbox, including your job postings. The new anti-bias tools for job postings help you do that. Hard to argue with the intent of this. Many of you have thoughts on this. That's OK, stay with me. 

Let me say it plainly for the folks who want to jump on this hard: I'm for any tool that decreases direct or indirect bias. Cool? That's me. So let's dig in on the rest of what these tools do and the challenges beyond identifying racial and gender bias - because there are some.

Long before George Floyd in May/June of 2020 and the social unrest that followed, there were a variety of tools for Talent Acquisition that claim to use artificial intelligence, data analytics, and industry benchmarks to analyze potential bias in job descriptions/postings. These tools (I'm linking a broad Google search here) scan your job postings and give you suggestions to reduce the following concerns:

Gender Bias – whether the job is going to attract a disproportionate amount of male or female applicants

Racial Bias – assumptions due to name or location 

Insensitive Words – opportunity limiting words

Readability – ease of consumption 

Sentiment – the tone (positive, neutral, or negative) 

Word Count – is your job description too long for your industry standard? 

THIS JOB IS HARD, CAN I TELL THEM HOW HARD IT IS?

That's kind of the point of this post and my concerns about these tools.  You can't really tell someone about the challenges of working for you, according to these tools, if you take all their suggestions that are listed above. Don't go hard in the paint related to a realistic job preview, because that's going to run afoul of the following items in the types of job posting/job description graders I described above - sentiment, insensitive vibe, the words and readability.

Kind of like ALL CAPS headers in the article you're reading. 

Level of difficulty and what the applicant has to do to perform at a high level in the job is going to come across as aggressive, at times insensitive, and might run a little bit long. The job description Artificial Intelligence grader is going to HATE IT.

I'm 100% supportive of eliminating gender, racial and every other type of bias. Let's do that in our recruiting collateral. However:

WORK IS HARD. IT'S EVEN HARDER WHEN YOU'RE NOT TRUTHFUL ABOUT WHAT'S UP.

The reality is not everyone can be successful at your company, and you don't want everyone to work there. 

I think you should tell the truth: Work at your company is hard. If fact, it's a bit of a freak show at times, full of chaos, moments where you don't have all the tools you need, and occasionally, creative conflict.

Job description/job posting graders that scrub your text for the items above are useful. But keep in mind they have no clue what it's like to work in your company. You'll pay the money for the insight, then their robot/text scrapers/hot word lists are on to the next client.

You? You're left to find top talent with job postings that are something akin to the flavor of an unsalted cracker. 

I've worked with a lot of powerful women and talented people who aren't white. The common denominator? They all are more than capable of performing as well (or better) than me in tough environments.

The right person—regardless of gender, race or orientation—can kick a** in a tough job. Let's not pretend that they don't deserve the truth, told at times in a way that might sound aggressive or negative to the most critical eye or technology.

It's called real talk. If you're fancy, it's called differentiation. 

IN CLOSING: BE WARY OF PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT TELLING THE HARD TRUTH IN A JOB POSTING IS BAD

If you listen to the experts/bots/AI layers in the area I'm covering above, they'll encourage you to serve up a flurry of careers content that's vanilla (ironic). What you really want is more flavor and color in that content than a stocked freezer at Baskin Robbins. 

Don't be racist or a misogynist. Don't discriminate. Have a plan for DEI, and go get candidates who don't look, think or sound like you. Use the parts of the tools that help you check your traditional materials.

But don't be boring in your career collateral. Tell the hard truth, and the people who can do the job (across all Title VII identifiers) will be drawn to you.

KD Out.


RESKILLING: A Good Idea That's Usually a Big Lie...

Let's have some real talk about a daring concept of the media, thought leaders and a bunch of other people who aren't on the ground level of running a business or an HR function.

Let's talk about Reskilling. First a definition:

Reskilling: The process of learning new skills so you can do a different job or of training people to do a different job. Drake

That description of reskilling works. We want people to be trained to do a different job as needed (if their current skills are obsolete), and there's basically two choices. We can rely on individuals to go get what they need, or we can create a program to give larger groups of people the training they need, which seems like an efficient way to get the right skills, to the people, who need them at the right time.

The concept and the intent are great instincts and it's a noble thought. Too bad that's where the practicality of reskilling ends.

Reskilling is hard—like riding a bike on the freeway hard, which is a favorite go-to line of my college basketball coach.

Why is reskilling a good idea on paper yet so hard to execute in real life?  Let's list the reasons:

1--Companies are the best option to reskill workers, but when it comes to the expense required, most companies can't/won't invest. Here's a test: The next time someone at your company wonders if reskilling is an option, ask them if they are willing to increase the training budget from $300 per FTE to $6,000 per FTE, with no guarantee of ROI. The consultants will say, "absolutely", at which point you need to invite them to give a presentation on this need and the cost to your C-suite—where they will either be shredded or treated politely but only to be ghosted after the meeting harder than a first date gone horribly bad.

No one denies reskilling is a great idea. But few with shareholder return responsibilities in the Corporate world can greenlight the cost associated with reskilling. The only company types that can/will realistically embark on a reskilling journey are the mega companies like Amazon that are facing a dramatic talent shortage in a specific area.  

For those types of companies, reskilling might work. But it rarely gets past its capable cost competitors vying for the chance to fill a skill gap—robots, automation, A.I. and offshoring.

2--Talent is mobile and there's no guarantee your reskilling will be rewarded with long-term retention.  Let's say you pull it off. You saw the need in your company and invested heavily in getting a cross-section of employees reskilled with relevant skills and get them the experience they need to be productive in the targeted roles in your company.

Congrats. You made it. You navigated significant execution risk and created a reskilling program that creates real results. It's wasn't easy, and you started from the bottom, and now you're here

On Tuesday of next week, you'll receive the award for innovation at your company.

On Thursday of next week, some smart recruiter outside your company makes a couple of calls and learns there's a class of 20 reskilled employees at your company with a hard-to-find skill she's been searching for without much success. Two months later, you've lost 6 of your original 20 Reskilled U. graduates who gave themselves a 30% pay increase by answering the recruiter's calls. Another 20% will be out the door in the next two months.

You've become an organ donor for the rich. Damn, didn't see that coming.

Always get payback agreements for inclusion in reskilling training, my friends.

3--Reskilling as an adult is hard, and it's hard to find willing participants for these types of programs.  The scenario that I would analyze reskilling to is the Tuition Aid Programs. As business leaders, we love to offer up Tuition Aid programs as a clear signal that we are fully invested in the career development of the people who work for us.

This just in; we can offer up to the max reimbursement allowed by the IRS for Tuition Aid Programs, because we know that only a small percentage of employees will take advantage of that benefit. Turns out, it's really hard to go back to school once you are past 25 years old because you are doing all that adulting stuff—starting families, hitting the gym after work, binging that C-level series on Amazon Prime Video, etc.

Oh yeah, the coursework is a giant pain in the ass too. 

Our experience with Tuition Aid tells us that the only way to make reskilling work is to not only cover the expense but to pay people to be a part of it as well which brings us back to point #1.

By the way, the sweet spot of reskilling probably exists in community colleges across the country, right?  Access to local folks who need to upskill to be relevant in the economy, a grass roots approach, etc. Community college reskilling programs seems like the perfect fit for our government getting involved in reskilling, but to maximize availability, they can't pay people for their time, they can only provide grants to cover the cost of the course. Thus the similarity to Tuition Aid. People have to keep working which makes reskilling hard to make time for. Only the most motivated and those in the perfect situation will be able to be focused on reskilling.

4--Add it all up, and it's easier to get better at recruiting and increase wages for roles with candidate shortages rather than reskill.  I hate to say it, but my advice to any well-meaning business leader interested in reskilling AND success/profitability is to focus on getting better at talent acquisition rather than reskilling.

When it comes to reskilling, you'll read a lot of things from high end sources—HBR, The New York Times and more—that suggest we must reskill for the future.

I don't disagree with the thought. But the people writing the features on reskilling don't work in the trenches, and they don't run companies. Out here in flyover country, it's a hard-knock life and we tend to work hard to remain profitable and not go out of business. Turns out, it's complicated.

KD out.

 


Capital Riots: Considerations for Great HR Leaders...

Welcome to 2021 friends! Had a couple of publications reach out to me for comments on employee situations related to the Capital Riots, so I thought I would share the responses I gave to one of them. 

Any time you're starting your response with the phrase, "In a world" in a classic movie trailer guy voice, you know that reality has officially jumped the shark. I can only assume I'll be answering questions about the best way to onboard Alien employees in 2022. Politics

Onto the questions I answered about whether we should term employees wearing Trump stocking caps only, versus those carrying the speaker of the house podium while wearing said hat:

-Beyond legal questions, what kind of ethical and cultural considerations do HR leaders need to think about if they learn an employee participated in the Capitol riots?  

I'm going to start my answer sounding like the movie trailer guy with the great voice that always starts each trailer with "In a world..."   In a world where almost every election of note is a 50/50 split, HR leaders thinking about the Capital riots are going to have to dig deep and do what they normally do related to showing judgement with employment decisions. That includes logic, judgment and common sense rarely seen in social media, and at times in the media cycle.

Great HR leaders will start with the obvious - for the employee in question, what did they actually do? If they were in the Capital on the day of the riots, did they a) participate in some low level demonstrations somewhere around the mall, b) attend the Trump rally at the White House, c) march with the crowd to the capital, d) protest outside the capital and/or e) enter the capital (and if so, did they cause damage)?

This is the world of the HR leader and employment calls. People come to us with a claim, and it's up to us to figure out what actually happened. An employee that was in DC on approved PTO but did not enter the Capital building and wasn't otherwise arrested, etc. isn't a relevant call to term. People will make the case that it is, but assuming the employee is a functioning member of your company and didn't do anything illegal, real HR leaders have to look at the facts. 

That's what the money's for as an HR Leader.  People pay HR leaders to be the grown ups when bad situations happen and calm minds are needed, and the good news is that's exactly what we are.

-What is your advice for HR leaders concerned about action they take looking partisan or political?

Welcome to the world of HR. The more HR leaders have pitched their political beliefs in the past, the less they have the ability to lead in times of crisis where employment calls can be considered politically driven. Note this isn't rationale for HR leaders not to make tough calls, just the reality. The more you've shown you're less than politically neutral in the past, the less you'll be able to make a tough employment call (fire, don't fire) in your company that both sides of the political spectrum will respect and acknowledge as fair. 

-Do you think this event should prompt HR to revisit codes of conduct? If so, what should they look out for or consider including in light of current events?

It's 100% imperative that HR has access to a broad-based "Professional Conduct Policy" that gives them the ability to take employment action across a broad range of unforeseen circumstances. A great Professional Conduct Policy (PCP) not only lists specific things for consideration in the workplace, but includes broad language that suggests conduct and behavior outside the workplace that is inconsistent with the values of the organization may warrant an employment decision by the company, if the company deems the behavior and conduct makes it impossible for the company to more forward with the individual as a member of the team.

Great Professional Conduct Policies provide flexibility for HR leaders, because you can't cover every scenario this crazy world is going to throw at you. 

That said, great HR leaders treat these policies as a last resort for action, only using them if it's apparent the employee can't move forward.

2021 is the best! You know I'm around for the punishing emails. Don't hate me because won't automatically term someone. Great HR Leaders evaluate, consider, then show decisiveness. That's what makes them great.


The Value of a Confidential Search BEFORE You Fire an Incumbent...

We've all been there. There's an incumbent in a key position, and for whatever reason, they're not getting it done.

So you do what you have to do. You make a move (more gracefully known as an organizational change) and you open up the role. If you're lucky, you nail the search, and within 45 days, you've got the new person starting. 

But, of course, sometimes the search in question is a train wreck, or maybe it's just a difficult search. 30 days turns into 60, then to the siren-emoting 90 day mark. In the interim, team members who now have no manager or a weak position interim leader are sending each other videos of famous castaways to note their rudderless floating in your organization.

Which begs the question - should you have done a confidential search and kept the struggling person in their role until you found a replacement?

Confidential searches feel bad - a true d**k/ass**** move in the mind of many. But before you discount this type of search as counter to your organizational ethos/values/integrity, you should probably ask yourself what the true cost of having the spot open for 60-90 days is.

Let's workshop whether a confidential search is right for you. How does the team feel about the person underperforming in the role in question?

--They hate him. OK! Your instincts to term and do a search are on the money. You'll be seen as a liberator, someone who "gets it" and made a move. Victory lap time, maybe even an email that majestically positions you as a liberator. If you are really up for it, hold a F2F meeting after the change with the team!

--They like/love her. DANGER. This team is likely focused on the person, not the performance. You term her, and you're the ass****, and the longer it takes you to fill it, the more chaos there is going to be. THIS SCENARIO IS THE ONE WHERE DOING A CONFIDENTIAL SEARCH MAKES THE MOST SENSE. Protect yourself before you (as Ice Cube so eloquently once put it) wreck yourself.

--They're neutral. There's no love or hate. This is the jump ball, and the big question is whether you feel lucky. Well, do you?  Because if you think you can make the move and get this thing filled in 45 days, you're probably OK. But the longer the spot is open, the shittier people are going to get. This one's on you. Tough call for sure.

For a nice primer on the potential value of the confidential search, I present two scenarios from the world of college football in 2020. Auburn University decided to part ways with Head Coach Gus Malzahn after 8 years, firing him in season and starting a national search. After a reported 7 candidates told them no in a very public way, they finally made a hire. The fan base (parallel to your employees) widely believed the search to be a complete clown show, because it took a long time (which can and will happen to you) and because the misses were so public (less likely to happen to you, except if you decide to make the team part of an interviewing process).

Now contrast that with the University of Texas (UT).  UT also wanted to change their football coach, but chose to talk to candidates in the background (confidential search) and have a deal done before they made a move. As a result, the announcement of the firing of Tom Herman was followed up by the announcement that UT was hiring Alabama Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian within 24 hours of the press release of the firing.

In other words, it was a done deal. They had their candidate via a confidential search and had agreed to terms. 

By the way, Steve Sarkisian was also a candidate for the Auburn job, but told them no in a public way. Cue the water cooler talk of whether management knows what the **** they are doing.

Auburn = Traditional Way Auburn

Texas = Confidential Search

RESULT: Auburn leadership plugged into Clown Memes, Texas leadership viewed as decisive, credible

The need for both searches was the same. Good, but not a great, leader who had not met oversized expectations at the organization they were serving. But one search was public, created organizational disruption that could have been avoided, and resulted in a perception that the organization got its 8th choice for the job in the marketplace - that is the recruiting marketplace we live in. The other search allowed the organization to recruit from a point of leverage, with a coach in place and the signal that we don't have to backfill this position unless we find the right deal for us.

I get it. It still feels itchy-scratchy, doesn't it?

Being more open to confidential searches is hard, because it doesn't feel like we're being 100% honest. But the brutality of what happens when you make a move, then miss a few times and hear the clock ticking sound and organizational float growing more prominent with each passing day, means you should always consider it as a business person.

Confidential searches are a tool for consideration. You should probably be using them more than you are if you're a C-level leader in your company.

Check your feelings at the door.


Thinking About Work in 2021: It's Probably Time To Get Out of the Fetal Position...

It's the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, and for me that means I'm working, but a bit reflective on the year we've just had. That's me every year during this time, but obviously, 2020 makes you reflect even deeper.

As I think about 2020 and what I want for me, my company and the world of work in 2021, one phrase comes to mind: Love what you do

"Let's Get Out of the Fetal Position"

There's a multiple reasons that 2020 put a bunch of incredible people on the defensive about doing their best work:

--Pandemic
--Widespread Social Change
--Political Firestorm
--Cancel Culture, Virtue Signaling and Shaming for anyone who dares to stray from the promoted mainstream media norm on the issues above

Add it all up, and it's fair to say that most of us haven't done our best work in 2020. And that's a shame, because so many of you are kick ass talents at what you do. But there's been risk in 2020, and you did what you had to do.

Congrats, you made it through.

What comes next?

For me, I have to get back to playing offense. That's where I'm at my best, and on most of the issues where I might stray from the promoted mainstream media norm, there's no question in my mind that my views are valid and deserving of a view.

Of course, there's also the value of doing the work the right way. Check out this great video of JJ Watt of the Houston Texans talking about doing the work and why it's important. I watched it and thought about all the excuses that are around us why we shouldn't be at our best at our companies. Are many of those reasons valid in 2020? Sure - but the question is how long does all the change we've experienced in 2020 impact the work you do in a negative way?

The work, as it turns out, deserves the best you. The people around you remember the best you - the pre-2020 version. They believe in that version of you, and you owe it to them, the business and yourself to provide that.

Work matters. But half-assed, scared work matters much less than the best version you can provide.

My biggest resolution for 2021 is to get back to playing offense. 

What about you?