« May 2011 | Main | July 2011 »

June 2011

Here's How HR Would Look If It Was Owned By "The Ladders"...

Some of you know who The Ladders is, some of you don't...

For the uninitiated, The Ladders is a job board/portal/service for companies who are trying to fill 100K+ The-ladders-commercials-more-attractive-500x282 jobs and the candidates seeking those jobs.  They charge both sides - the company for posting jobs and the candidate for subscribing to the service (appx. $35 monthly).  Lots of people in the HR industry don't like the Ladders.  The haters (I know -  affectionate term - but it's descriptive, right?) don't like the fact that the Ladders charges the job seeker, and there's been lots of questions about whether all their jobs are 100K+, whether they scrape jobs from employer sites without their permission, etc.

With all that in mind, here's one thing that's undeniable about The Ladders:  They never stand still, and they're never satisfied with the status quo.  Case in point - they just launched a premium service that guarantees a 100K+ job for $2,400, or the job seeker gets their money back.  This is more of the same from the Ladders, as they've had at least 3 major product offering launches in the last year.  You can read more about what we've written on The Ladders at the HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent here and here.  Be sure to read the comments, because the detractors are there.

But all the activity from The Ladders in the last year has made me ask an important question:

What would HR look like if it was run by The Ladders?  Here's how the HR function would change if The Ladders was running the shop:

1.  HR would hire a bunch of smart people and then figure out what they were going to produce once they were in the door.  Go to The Ladders HQ, and it's obvious they've attracted a bunch of smart people, and I'm not sure they knew what the strategy was when they hired them. But they figured it out.

2. HR would focus on product, not process.  The focus would be on the following word:  Ship. The Ladders does 3 or more product launches a year.  Let's just say if The Ladders were running the HR shop, there would be new product being rolled out quarterly - a new leadership development tool, a different way to look at career pathing, etc. - it would be heavily branded and launched, or you and I wouldn't be there.

3. HR would market itself and not apologize for it. The Ladders could safely be called the PT Barnum of the Human Capital space, with apologies to SuccessFactors CEO Lars, who seems to have quieted down in the past couple of years.  If the Ladders ran HR, HR would forego one HR Director position in the budget and hire a Director of HR Marketing.

4. The marketing of HR product would be heavily branded and aggressively marketed to both the managers HR supports and Employees/Candidates Like The Ladders, HR would use that marketing position and market to both sides of the table - the company managers and employee/candidates.  Solutions would be marketed in different ways depending on who you were.

5.  HR would think more about owning eyeballs and how to monetize those eyeballs. The mantra wouldn't be "we should really do something with a managerial development track", HR would see the opportunity, cook the product, sign employees up and then come to managers with leverage - "I've got 83 of your 200 employees signed up for this program.  Want to speak to them?  What?  You didn't know we were doing that?  That's what you rely on us for, so we just did it..."

6.  People would still hate HR if The Ladders ran the function, but for different reasons. Lots of people hate HR now, and they still would under The Ladders - but for different reasons.  People dislike HR now because they think it's too administrative, it blocks them from doing things, it's lame, etc.  If The Ladders ran HR, some people would still hate us, but they'd hate us because we were doing lots of stuff - without asking for permission, without patting folks on the head and most importantly, because we were marketing our product across the organization and to the outside world better than the Marketing department could.

That's what would happen if The Ladders ran HR.  I don't know if that kind of HR is what you want, but there's no question it would be different.

Oh yeah - if The Ladders was running HR, there would be about 50% annual turnover in everyone's HR department for about 3 years until it settled in at 20-25%.  

Is that good or bad?  I'll let you decide.

The New CEO of SHRM... 2011 Version...

In a sure sign of how I'm feeling these days, I was going to offer no comments related to the new CEO of SHRM.  There were a few things that stuck out to me, sure, but it seemed kind of pointless to wax poetic about the shortcomings of the search and the ultimate candidate who landed in the job.

I changed my mind, mainly due to the group called the SHRM Members for Transparency putting out a press release on their view.

For those of you unaware, Hank Jackson, CPA, is your new SHRM CEO.

Don't care?  I get it.

Come back when you have something interesting to talk about, Kris?  Will do.

Anyway, I'm moved to write about this today because, as a SHRM member, I should care about who the next CEO is.  When I saw the news and explored the background of Jackson, I had some concerns, most of which are outlined in a couple of the memo points I received from SHRM Members for Transparancy:

1. Since last July, SHRM’s website has made reference to the SHRM CEO search being conducted by Korn-Ferry, a major executive search firm.  What does this say about our Society when the Board and Korn-Ferry cannot find a human resource professional to serve as CEO out of one-quarter million SHRM members?

2. However, the most serious concern expressed by many members is that for the first time in the Society’s history, the Chief Executive Staff Officer will not be a human resource management professional.

Those would be my two big questions.  Jackson was the SHRM CFO and is obviously a Finance professional.  What the...

So, start with that, and then ask yourself the next question.  You hired a CFO as the leader of SHRM, and paid Korn-Ferry a retainer to find the next great SHRM leader and you came up with your own CFO...who was already in your organization..  Interesting.

Here's a tip for the kids.  Before you pay a retainer, look around the table and say, "Is there anyone here we might hire before we elect to engage a high-end retained search firm?".  Might save the org 100K.

I've reported directly to a CFO in my career and it worked well for me as a VP of HR, so I get there's value in a good CFO.  But to run the premiere HR membership organization in America?

Hello?  Wouldn't you have gotten all those services from him if he remained CFO and you... wait for it... went and found a dynamic HR Leader to come in to lead the profession you're servicing with your non-profit HR organization?

I get it.  No one cares.  We now return you to regularly scheduled programming.

From SHRM member 453***...

A Test to See If Anyone Actually Reads Your Employee Handbook...

Of course, no one does, right?  Like all the various software agreements we sign online as consumers, your employees simply click "OK" (or more likely, sign the acknowledgement page), and they're done.  

They have no clue what's included in the document.  Maybe that's the way you want it.  After all, if they knew everything that was in it, at a minimum you'd have a lot more questions related to what's going on and what stuff means from new hires.  Who needs that? Employee handbook

Some consumer companies are having fun with the "Terms and Agreement" section that customers have to sign online before using web products.  Maybe you could do the same thing with your employee handbook to see if anyone is reading it.  More from The Street:

"GameStation, a video game retailer based in the U.K. had some similar fun with its online terms of service, giving it "a nontransferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul."

Anyone who called them out on the demand got a coupon that knocked a few bucks off their next purchase. The company later relented and decided against harvesting any of the more than 7,500 souls to which it was entitled.

A survey by Stanford University found that 97% of users automatically hit "agree" when faced with a user agreement. A similar study by Carnegie Mellon University in 2009, published in I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, found that actually reading through every word of all that fine print would be very time-consuming—in the course of a year it could add up to as much as eight days of non-stop reading for the average user."

What's the employee handbook equivalent to check and see if anyone is reading?  How about a clause that says if the employee quits within 3 months of hire, he has to wash the HR Director's car weekly for a six-month period after leaving your company?

I know, I know.  You think that will void the whole thing.  Think up something you can live with, embed it in the handbook and then communicate to the company that the detail-oriented new hire that found it won an iPad.  Then communicate that story to new hires from that point forward.  That ought to get people a little more interested in a document that you love, but everyone else thinks sucks.


Monday Morning Quarterback: Would You Fire this Southwest Pilot?

Most of you probably missed this one last week.  Southwest had a pilot who went on a NSFW rant about the attractiveness and orientation of the flight attendant crews he was assigned to - seems like the rant was caught over the air traffic control system, then of course grabbed and made viral by someone in the ATC.

Result - many videos and viral distribution of the pilot's rant via the interwebs.

Your task - should you choose to accept it - is to listen to the Pilot's rant and tell me whether he should be fired or not.  Take a listen (warning - if you're sensitive, don't listen to it, be careful on speakers at work - earbuds are the best approach) and let me know what you think.  My comments after the jump. 

The Huffington Post is reporting the pilot has been reinstated after undergoing diversity training.

There are unions involved, blah, blah, blah.  I think Southwest deserves the benefit of the doubt based on their track record on the people side, but don't you have to term this guy?  Lots of crazy comments about fellow associates that would allow most of us with a sensible Professional Conduct policy to squeeze the trigger.

I get that stuff happens.  You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.  I'd vote term.

What say you?  Just another thing you get paid to do in your career as a Human Resources, employment law, talent pool and workforce planning expert...

Channel Your VP of Sales and Do a Win/Loss When the Candidate Tells You No...

Good sales teams accept losing a deal with class and dignity.

Then - they circle back around to do what's known as a win/loss analysis, which is designed to find out why the prospect said no.  Was it price?  Features?  Support?  Trust in the Sales Pro?  Responsiveness from Sales Pro?

You can do the same thing in HR, doing a win/loss with candidates who reject offers.

Couple of things to keep in mind if you experiment with this:

1.  You can't do it on the same phone call where the candidate has told you no.  They're just trying to get off the phone and will tell you anything to get away.

2.  The person who's making the offer can't do the win/loss interview.  What if they're the problem?  Has to be someone else.

Wondering what a win/loss call would include?  Check out this resource from the product/sales side at Pragmatic Marketing and let your imagination run wild when it comes to altering it for HR.

You think you know the answers, but you probably don't.  Find a strong HR pro with interview chops and follow up on every rejected offer.  There's likely some broken S**T going on that you really need to know about.  

Should You Tell An Employee That They Are Part of a Talent Pool For Succession?

Only if you feel like retaining them, which is an honest, if somewhat ironic answer.

 You should also tell them you like their teeth better than the others as well.

On a serious note, I think you need to tell talent they’re included in the succession plan if you have one. One of the big benefits to succession planning is retention if people know they’re on the list. Imagine the following conversation:

You: Rick just resigned.

Your CEO: Wasn’t he the next up for the controller role?

You: Yes.

CEO: Why did he leave if he knew he was up next and Pirkle (current controller) is getting ready for the stretch role in strategy?

You: Well, because we wanted to be fair and ensure that people who aren’t a part of the succession plan feel OK about themselves, we decided not to tell people who are a part of the succession plan that they are on the list.

CEO: What if I didn’t tell you you’re in danger of being fired? Would that be fair?

So, here’s the bottom line. I know there are lots of employee relations issues related to telling talent they’re a part of the succession plan, but you have to do it. You have the plan (at least partly) for them. So tell them.  It's Talent Management, Human Resources and Human Capital 101.

Don't overthink it, HR Pro...

Moneyball the Movie: How Can You Miss with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill? (Video Trailer)

Question to HR pros:  Have you read the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis?  If not, stop and order it Moneyball-1022176 now.

I know.  KD talks too much about sports.  HR pros, especially the women in our industry, don't connect with you when you talk sports, KD.   Blah, blah, blah...

Couple of things on that front.  The majority of my readers are women in Talent Management, Human Resources and Human Capital, and as it turns out, a lot of them get offended when people say that they don't like sports.  Additionally, Moneyball is required reading even if you don't like sports.

Why is Moneyball required reading?  Because it's about thinking differently related to valuing talent.  It's a compensation, culture and recruiting story with a limited sports backdrop.  Talent acquisition, background check and talent sourcing at it's finest.

Plus, the movie that comes out later this year based on the book stars Brad Pitt.  Interested now ladies?  Trailer appears below (email subscribers may need to click through), take a look and let's break it down after the break.

Moneyball fans - what did you think?

Here's my thoughts - I love Pitt in the role and Jonah Hill is easy to like in anything after seeing him for the first time in Superbad.  I like the vibe of the first minute of the trailer and then the movie takes a left turn...

...into doing the whole Billy Beane (character played by Pitt) is going to get fired thing... You've got Jonah Hill in the #2 role and Pitt's got a history of doing understated comedy very well - why make it a drama?  I'm not asking for the Oakland A's version of Major League, but don't get serious with this cast in place.

Your thoughts?  I'll be going to see it later this year even with those reservations in mind....

Situational Fluency - If You Can't See Yourself In This Picture, You Can't Be An Authority

Snl picture

Can you see yourself in the picture above?  If not, you probably can't do what it takes to be an authority in Talent Management, Human Capital, Human Resources Management or whatever the hell we're calling it these days.

Background of two events I participated in last week that got me thinking along those lines:

1. Presentation and Workshop in Omaha: I did a presentation and workshop in Omaha this week entitled, "How to Raise Your HR Game By Thinking Like a Money-Hungry VP of Sales".  The concept was that HR pros can learn a lot from Sales pros.  When we were starting the workshop, I purposefully was animated in pulling chairs from the audience and setting them up on stage.  The workshop audience knew what that meant - Someone was going up on stage to display the skills we were going to cover.  You would have thought I was asking them to come up and beat a dog.  

2. Plateau Software panel on Authority on Talent:  I participated in a panel that asked the question, should and can HR ever be the "Authority on Talent"?

My take at the intersection of my experience in these two events this week:  Unless an HR pro can go up on a stage in front of their peers and display a skill that's in their wheelhouse, they won't be able to perform the skill and deliver the knowledge in a pressure-packed situation that's real.  At least not to the level that everyone expects when they talk about "great HR".

Translation:  Most won't be the authority they want to be if they're unwilling to stretch themselves from a "performance on command" perspective.  Life's a stage, and if you really don't want to do a simple role play on stuff in your knowledge area, you won't perform up to par when the ammo is real and people have high expectations.

My friend Ed Newman called this "Situational Fluency" on our panel on Thursday.  When Ed was building his last business and looking for consultants, he looked for people he thought could display the ability to go into any situation without knowing what was coming and not only survive, but thrive.

That takes command.  That takes presence.  It also takes situational fluency, which is basically going into a professional form of improv and knowing that you can thrive - with a combination of technical knowledge, confidence and yes, acting skills.

Life is improv.  So's HR.  Get on the stage if you want to be an authority to people outside of HR.

I'm Here to Fire You, Jerry...

Recognize that quote?  It's from Jerry Maguire, specifically the scene where Jerry's peer, a sleazy agent named Bob Sugar, takes him to lunch with the express purpose of telling Jerry that the firm is letting him go.

Bob Sugar is written in a way that you recognize he's a sleazeball.  But Bob Sugar got one thing very right inStraight_talk_banner his conversation with Jerry Maguire that any manager can learn from and emulate.

He led with a clear statement of the bad news he had to deliver.  In the first 5 seconds of the conversation.

"I'm here to fire you, Jerry".

When you're delivering bad, life changing news, clarity is your friend.  The confusion related to small talk is your enemy.

Too many managers try to deliver really bad news with small talk in front of it.  While I'm always a fan of relationship building in the workplace, small talk in front of bad news confuses the message at worst, and at best it's going to seem disingenuous to the recipient upon reflection.

Whatever the bad news is, you should attempt to say it in 10 words or less. That prevents you from making your language too nice, which can prevent the recipient from even understanding what the news is.

Just give it to them straight in the first five seconds.  Then be empathetic and figure out how you can help them after you deliver the news.  Let them vent, but be firm about the decision related to the bad news.  You're an agent of the company, so you have to be firm about the bad news.  Getting the bad news out in the first five seconds in a clear, concise manner puts you in a position where you can be firm.

Summary: When delivering bad news, you're a headline writer and you lead with the headline - 10 words or less in the first 5 seconds.  Then, you're a friend, peer/boss and counselor, who knows no time limit.

CAPITALIST WEBCAST: Should HR Strive to be the Authority on Talent?

Thursday at 12:00 noon eastern time, Steve BoeseEd Newman and I will be sitting in on a panel sponsored by Plateau Software: HR as the Authority on Talent. 

Here's the concept related to Talent Management:

An authority is defined as the undisputed expert in a particular field. And, just as the CFO is the authority on finance and CIO the authority on IT, HR leaders are emerging as the authority on their organization’s greatest variable expense—its people.

Our discussion will be guided by the following questions:

  • What do HR leaders need to establish this authority?
  • What’s different now from previous “seat at the table” moments for HR?
  • What role does technology play?

Register for the webcast and join us to hear the rest of the dialogue.  With Ed Newman and Steve Boese on the line, I can assure you it will be worth the time and interesting.

Should HR strive to be the authority on talent?  I could argue either side, but I know this - if you're too lazy to strive to be an authority on something, you're dead weight.  I'm looking forward to mixing it up with Ed and Steve.

If you want to follow along on Twitter, the hashtag for the discussion will be #TalentAuthority.

Join us - register now...