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March 2011

#FACT: Great Talent Runs Freaking Hot - Deal With It...

Here's the big thought for a Monday:  If you really want to save your business, sometimes you're going to have to hire talent that comes with some baggage.   When you really need a change agent, sometimes they come with.... issues...

Translation:  Great talent runs hot.  There are going to be some broken eggs.  Please put on your helmet, because while they're engaged in saving your #$$, the same passion that drives them to run your business makes them make incredibly poor decisions elsewhere. Kevin o'neill

Case in point.  USC basketball coach Kevin O'Neill.  O'Neill was brought in after USC went through the NCAA wringer with the OJ Mayo/Tim Floyd issues.  USC needed a change agent and a big talent to prevent them from falling into obscurity.  They hired O'Neill.  

He runs hot and stuff happens as a result.  Here's more on what happened at the Pac-10 Conference Tourney last weekend from pointguardu:

"Kevin O'Neill went on a drunken tirade along with his wife after beating Cal yesterday. In fact, he didn't even change his suit and went straight to the JW Marriott lobby bar.

O'Neill and his wife were in a hotel lobby of the JW Marriott and visibly intoxicated when they exchanged words with a group of Arizona fans. O'Neill reportedly threatened the fan that USC was going to “beat the hell out of Arizona.” Words were exchanged and our sources say that O'Neill's wife struck one of the Arizona fans. O'Neill and his wife were escorted out of the hotel, and Arizona fans were left wondering what just happened. 

The fan was UA booster Paul Weitman and they ran into each other at the elevators. KO believes Weitman is responsible for his firing at the UA (O'Neill used to coach at Arizona) and obviously still holds a heavy grudge. Mind you Weitman is 70+ years old. 

Apparently KO's wife, Roberta, started the melee by roughing up Wetiman with one of her rings. KO then got involved and when hotel security intervened the things got even uglier."

O'Neill is known as a great coach.  He's also known to be a hot head.  See the picture to the right above for all you need to know about great talent running hot.  That's a picture at the hotel before the incident.  Check out the drink.  Check out the position of the shirt related to the suit belt line.

Great talent runs hot.  If your business has to be saved, what type of downside risk are you willing to take?

That, my friends, is the question.

Jim Tressel Would Make a Crappy HR Director...

For those of you who haven't heard, Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel has been fined $250K and suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season.  The reason?  He had knowledge that some of his players were selling autographed program gear to a local tattoo shop for money - or tattoos.

Here's the HR connection.  Tressel got an email from a legitimate contact way ahead of the curve saying Tressel it was going on.  He told the contact he would get on it "ASAP".  When the story broke, he said he wasn't aware.  Whoops.

HR pros know better than anyone.  Where there's smoke, there's usually fire.  You have to walk down the hall and confront.  You have to get in front of the issue.

You get notified of bad stuff.  The clock's ticking.  What are you going to do?

HR pros get paid to knock out the investigation.  It starts by reacting quickly and not letting days and weeks - even months - slide by.  The issue's not going anywhere, and it's going to rise up and eat you if you don't deal with it.

It's fun to talk about the sexy parts of the job.  The recruiting. The technology you can deploy.

All of it means nothing as an HR Pro if you can't block and tackle the investigation involving bad stuff.

Jim Tressel knows that better than anyone.  He won't be applying for your HR Director spot.  He can recruit, but he'd kill you in other ways.

Checking Your Ego When Attendance is Low: All It Takes Is One...

Here's a story from the front lines of the software biz.  See if you see your life in this.

Company does cool marketing stuff to drive traffic to an event (webinar, seminar, etc.).  Company is disappointed by the response rate to the email marketing campaign and, as a result, questions whether marketing events that requireLow_attendance_090912_mn attendance are really worth the time, effort and expense.  After all, if a good response rate is 1% and half the people that sign up for the webinar don't actually attend, what's the point, right?

Then a funny thing happens.  One of 4 attendees to the webinar buys the product, and the sales cycle is a skinny 3 weeks.

The lesson?  Life is full of activities that require you to fill the top of the funnel with a lot of raw prospects/data, and the number of those prospects that will actually listen is pretty humbling.  Humbling enough to make you quit.  It happens in sales, recruiting and a thousand other activities in life - including finding a job.  Prospecting is a slog, and if you let it get you down, you can actually talk yourself into believing that the 3 people out of a thousand who show up to listen to you isn't a big enough group - which will affect your performance in front of the three people who show up.

Don't believe the hype.  Life's a stage, and when 3 people show up when you expect 100, you still need to perform.  You can choose to go through the motions because you're de-motivated, or you can choose to make the connection much more intimate as a result. 

If you choose the former, you're a victim.  If you choose the latter, you probably make the sale, get the job or make the connection that lands you 3 sales in the next year - or your next two jobs. 

All because you cared enough to perform your best in front of a small group.

The SHRM Members for Transparency Group: When Gerry Crispin Talks, We Probably Should Listen...

Let me be the first to say that I've got a track record of being impatient with SHRM National.  As the national association of record for HR pros, I don't really want them to be everything to everyone.  I want them to be uniquely focused on serving what I think is most important to me.  LOL.  That's human nature, and it reinforces the reality that you have to take SHRM-bashing with a grain of salt when it comes from people like me.

I've floated in and out of active involvement with SHRM, both at local, state and national levels.  I'm a member.  I'm certified with the SPHR.  But I float in and out.  Like Meatloaf said, "2 out of 3 ain't bad"... Take my rants for what they are, because they may not have anything to do with your reality.

BUT - and there is a big but - when you see people with decades of experience serving in the SHRM infrastructure having issues with the national organization that is SHRM, you probably should investigate.

With that in mind, I offer you the voice of Gerry Crispin.  Let me tell you what I know about Gerry Crispin - he's an incredibly talented guy who runs an unbelievable shop called CareerXroads (along with Mark Mehler), which is a staffing strategy firm with their finger on the pulse of everything under the sun in the recruiting world.  Gerry's also a giver - he's one of the nicest people I've ever met in the business, willing to be honest and approachable all the time with anyone in our line of work.  He's also a huge believer historically in SHRM, and would probably tell anyone who rants against the organization that the best way to change SHRM is to get actively involved.

When people like Gerry have concerns over the direction of SHRM, it should mean a lot to you.  Gerry recently did a post over at CareerXroads outlining his involvement in a group called SHRM Members for Transparency (SMFT), a movement that was reported first and with high quality by John Hollon at TLNT.  Here's a rundown of the issues that SMFT outlines on their website:

Board Compensation

Board Perks

Dues Linked to CPI

Lack of HRCI Priorities

CEO Job Specifications

Board Election Issues

Reversed Policies

Hit the SMFT website for more detail on these areas of concern, and to learn more why people with 20+ years of high-level volunteer work with SHRM are concerned about the direction of the organization, and why frustration seems to be building that SHRM is unwilling to listen and unwilling to be truly transparent with its membership.  For the SHRM employees who are reading this, you're a talented group - lots of killer HR professionals (as well as other disciplines) work at SHRM, which is another reason why the voice of Crispin and the other members of SHRM Members for Transparency should matter to every SHRM member.

Be informed. Take a read.  

Would You Hire OJ?

That's a trick question... The real question is whether your interviewing process is so weak that you're actually evaluating candidates in roughly the same way Chris Darden decided to prove to the world that OJ did it - by having him try on a crusty, half-frozen glove that was bound to prove nothing either way....

--Look!  The glove fits!  It was him! (Interview equivalent - the hiring manager asked the candidate some questions.  She sounded good, looked the part.  Let's hire her!!) Would You Hire OJ- small tile

--Whoops.. The glove didn't fit.  Can we blame it on the LAPD? (Interview equivalent:  Hiring manager: "I just didn't like her".  You: "Why not?"  Hiring manager: "I just didn't get the sense that she'd be a fit for the team"...)

Gut feel and fit in your hiring process.  It's like asking the candidate to try on a glove.  Whether it fits or not, you really have no clue whether the candidate can do the job in question, because the hiring process at your company likely falls into one of three scenarios:

Scenario #1: The Wild, Wild West.  If your company is in this camp, you locate some candidates who look like they fit what you need, then forward them on to hiring managers who haven’t been extensively trained to interview. The hiring managers interview whoever they want, ask whatever questions they want, then make the call on whom to hire.  Good luck and God bless.

Scenario #2:  The Good Intentioned Train Wreck.  This scenario has great intentions, but poor execution.  You’ve spent time training managers on how to interview with a great system like behavioral interviewing or Topgrading, maybe even provided some standardized questions for them to use, but the training was a one-time event.  There’s not enough time or resources in your organization for you to reengage your managers periodically to ensure they’re effective at using the tools you’ve given them.  You feel better about what you’ve done, but late at night, you still assume many hiring decisions are a train wreck.  You’re probably right.

Scenario #3: Command and Control. Your company understands the risk that scenarios #1 and #2 present and has moved to minimize that risk by introducing common assessments like the DISC or Myers-Briggs and requiring multiple interviewers compare notes on candidates before a hiring decision is made.  As a result of the due diligence, you make fewer mistakes, but the interviewing and hiring process is still far from scientific.  You still miss.

So what can you do?  I've never been a huge fan of assessments, but I got exposed to one in the last six months that I really, really like.  We're rebranding it at my current company (Kinetix) and calling it Talent DNA.  It's got some cool stuff, measuring capabilites of candidates in some interesting areas like cognitive processing speed, rules orientation and a faking good index, then matching the capabilities of a candidate next to what's required in the role in question.

We did a related whitepaper on the tool at Kinetix called... wait for it....Would you Hire OJ?  It's interesting stuff, so if you want to read more, go get the whitepaper here (registration required).  Not a sales pitch, just interesting reading related to a blind spot almost every company in the world has.  I wrote it, so if you like what you get here, you'll like the whitepaper...

If you find registration for content personally appalling, I don't even know who you are anymore.... Just kidding, just email me or hit me in the comments if you're hiding from the authorities and are naturally suspicious, and I'll send you the PDF...

FAIL - Here's Why Nobody is Talking About Mandatory Arbitration Anymore..

Remember the big push for you to have mandatory arbitration agreements with all your employees?  How it was going to save you from all that unjustified expense related to bogus legal claims?

Um.... Yeah.... Turns out, it was just another way to let the meter run...

I presented and then moderated a panel for an organization named Core24 in Dallas yesterday.  We had a great group of panelists, and here's one thing that I heard that shocked me.

The average cost of arbitration to an employer covering all costs - $40,000....

That's right - $40,000... When the whole mandatory arbitration movement was in full swing, my employers (as well as my own) reaction was..."meh".... I just never really caught the wave, therefore I never dug in.

Sounds like it was a good idea that I never dug in.  $40,000 to arbitrate each claim/allegation on average.  The number I heard in the panel is backed up by this, so it's directionally true.

Just more evidence that when the legal meter runs, there's one clear winner - the legal system, complete with retired judges as arbitrators earning $400 per hour....


Kris Dunn Just Scored a 47 on the Wonderlic Test!!

Not really, but wouldn't it be cool if that were the case?  47 out of 50!  You'd know I was really, really smart.  Savant-like really. Wonderlic scores

Of course, you'd have no clue whether I could actually perform any job in your organization to a satisfactory level...

For those of you who don't know, the Wonderlic is a cognitive ability test, and it's always heavily publicized this time of year due to its use at the NFL combine.  Greg McElroy scored a 48 and is really smart.   Vince Young scored a 6 and we wonder why he struggles.

Overreactions ensue.  Overreacting to any single measurement when evaluating talent is a sucker's play.

I'd say McElroy's success in the NFL will have more to do with whether he has the arm stregth to throw a 20 yard out against NFL cornerbacks.  Vince Young seems to have struggled in the NFL due to emotional reactions and meltdowns when things go wrong.

Both unrelated to the Wonderlic.  Don't fall in love or get divorced from talent over one metric.

Your momma told you to shop around.  Good advice when viewing talent from the perspective of a single measurement.

Your New HR Director - Charlie Sheen - Will Now Take Your Questions...

OK - this post is half serious, half just because I wanted to re-broadcast the following quotes from the Charlie Sheen interview with ABC News:

“I’m not bi-polar, I’m bi-winning. I win here and I win there.” Charlie-sheen-jail_0

“It’s been a tsunami of media and I’ve been riding it on a mercury surfboard.”

“The only thing I’m addicted to right now is winning.”

“I’m tired of pretending I’m not special. I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.”

“People can’t figure me out, they can’t process me, I don’t expect them to. You can’t process me with the normal brain.”

“I’m an F-18, bro, and I will destroy you in the air and deploy my ordnance to the ground.”

Now for the serious part. Charlie Sheen is crazy.  You and I both know that.  However, the shock and awe nature and quotability of these and other comments provide something for the rock star HR pro to ponder.  Consider if you revamped a few of these statements as follows:

“It’s been a tsunami of poor performance and I’ve been riding it on a mercury surfboard.” (You're helping managers deal with poor performers)

“I’m tired of pretending you're not special. I’m tired of pretending you're not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.” (You're giving tough love to a HiPo who's not living up to their promise)

"The only thing I'm addicted to right now is results" (You're incredibly focused on the business.  Everything else is #2, including process, administration and forms)

“He's an F-18, bro, and he will destroy you in the air and deploy his ordnance to the ground.” (You're coaching someone on the wisdom of taking on someone with a lot of power in your organization)

Get the vibe?  You can learn something from everything and everyone.  Charlie Sheen is a quote machine.  You can learn from him in that regard.

Be a quote machine as an HR pro.  Be memorable and quotable to those around you as you help them navigate the tricky terrain that is talent, performance and human nature inside a business.  Being quotable is part of marketing, part of getting stuff done when you talk to people.

Just be sure to remove all the drug references.  Those tend to kill your credibility.

One Simple Step to Make Sure Your Recruiting Pitch Doesn't Suck...

My buddy Steve Boese has a nice post up today related to how bad cold calling recruiters suck.  From the HR Technology Blog:

"Recruiter - So tell me, what are you doing these days? Are you working full-time? Are you contracting or consulting?

Steve - Well, I sort of do a number of things, I'm keeping very busy. 

At this point I am basically stalling, because I genuinely want to know if the Recruiter really doesn’t know what I am doing, or they are using Recruiter jedi mind-trick #7 and attempting to see if what I say matches what they ought to know about me, (that's assuming that since they are calling me about an opportunity, they should know something about me)."

The moral of the story:  There are a lot of bad recruiters out there.  Want to stand out? 

Have a take.  Tell the candidate what you liked in their background that you think makes them a potential fit for the search you're leading.  You don't need a research assistant to do that.  You just have to give a @#$%.

Always be selling, people.  It's lame when you don't sell - everyone is uncomfortable except you.