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March 2014

Another Example of How High Performers Can Do Whatever They Want (and HR Can't Touch Them)...

I'm starting this post with an animated GIF below.  Email subscribers need to click through to see it.  Do that now if you need to, because this post is based off the visual, and it's worth it.

Watch the GIF as it loops over and over. It's from Friday night in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, with Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie turning from an after game interview, seeing his team behind him and giving a playful slap with at least some level of intensity to a Freshman on his team.

Watch it closely.  It's classic.  Then watch the reaction of the team.

Some people are horrified by it.  To me, it underscores a component of leadership mixed with results/success that is the following reality:

Succeed at a high level and you can lead whatever way you want to lead.  Not because you're above the law (although you are), but because you probably got that way with a leadership style your team understands and values. If any action is consistent with that style, you're probably good to go.

It doesn't matter that the player got a slap on national TV.  Ollie is the leader.  The team reaction says it all.  "Oh no, he didn't..." They know Ollie.  The team's just succeeded on the biggest stage. It's no doubt in line with the behavior they see from Ollie on a daily basis. It's expected, and at the moment of their greatest success with this leader, it's embraced.

Results trump whatever we define as acceptable behavior.  Maybe some year Kevin Ollie will be struggling and will do something with poor judgment to a player and he'll pay a price.

2014 is not that year.  2014 is another great year in UCONN hoops.

You think that was over the line?  You can't touch Kevin Ollie right now for that.

The leaders who succeed on the biggest stage can do what they want for the most part.  Until the success isn't there, at which point we'll treat them different.  

The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #79 is Crash Davis: "Strikeouts are Fascist" (Bull Durham)

New series at the Capitalist: The Top 100 Movie Quotes of all time for HR Pros.  In no special order, I break down the 100 movie quotes that resonate most for me as a career HR pro.  Some will be funny, some will be serious... Some will tug at your heart like when the Fox voice-over guy said, "Tonight - a very special episode of 90210"... You get the vibe... I'll do it countdown-style like they're ranked, but let's face it - they're ALL special..

"Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic..."

--Crash Davis, Bull Durham

It's baseball season, and that means it's time to get Bull Durham back in your talent vocabulary.  We've all had young stars around that wanted to do it all by themselves, take all the credit and generally alienate the team around them.  

Enter the legend of Crash Davis in Bull Durham.  The next time you have a young star who just doesn't understand that getting the rest of the team is important, channel Crash Davis and tell them strikeouts (or any solo performance activity) are boring and borderline fascist (look it up here).  

They should throw some ground balls - it's more democratic and lets others participate.

Crash Davis - mentor and coach.  Clip below...(click here if you can't see it)

MONEYBALL: Is the Talent World's Most Undervalued Asset Old People?

Moneyball - A term describing baseball operations in which a team endeavors to analyze the market for baseball players and buy what is undervalued and sell what is overvalued. Unlike a common misconception, it is not about OBP, but whatever is undervalued at that time. It is most commonly used to refer to the strategy used by the front office of the Oakland Athletics. It derives its name from a Michael Lewis book of the same name.

That's the sports definition of Moneyball.  The more important application of the Moneyball concept is that in any talent economy - the one your company competes in for example - there's always undervalued assets to be recruited and acquired on the cheap.

The point of Moneyball is this - if you can recruit the undervalued asset at 60% of the cost but get 80% of the production the higher priced asset gives you, you're going to win as a company. Aarp photo

Which brings me to the point of the post.  What's the undervalued asset in today's talent economy?  Is it any of the following?

Ivy League grads?  No, too competitive and the price gets driven up quickly.

Young college grads? Probably not - not enough experience and they're probably valued correctly, even at their low salaries - for their skills and experience.

Generation X?  I think not.  Now in late 30's and 40's, they're in their peak earning years.  You may love the experience and energy combo, but this segment is not undervalued.  

Here's another thought.  If you're going to follow the Moneyball approach and invest in the undervalued asset that no one wants, let's face it - it's old people in the workforce.

That's right - I said old people.  Shock and awe. Some people consider me to be old in my 40's.  Bastards - I'm Gen X, which doesn't qualify as old.  Unless you're a punk kid, but you really don't have the experience to judge me - OK youngsters?

Here's why older workers are on my mind as the undervalued asset a moneyball talent approach would follow.   New Republic recently published an article on the Brutal Ageism of Tech in Silicon Valley, and the part that interested me the most was a counter-intuitive, Moneyball approach to older entrepreneurs by a outcast VC/angel investor:

"Midway through my first encounter with Dan Scheinman, he warned me that he was weird. He wasn’t wrong. Once, while he was fielding a pitch from two entrepreneurs, I watched him tear apart a bagel with his teeth like a flesh-eating predator. Later, I noticed him absently fingering poppy seeds from a napkin into his mouth.

Though he had ascended to head of acquisitions at Cisco during his 18-year run there, he always felt as if his quirkiness kept him from rising higher. His ideas were unconventional. His rhetorical skills were far from slick. “I’m a crappy presenter,” he told me. “There are people in a room whose talent is to win the first minute. Mine is to win the thirtieth or the sixtieth.” Back in the early 2000s, he proposed that Cisco buy a software company called VMware. It did not go over well. “Cisco is a hardware company,” the suits informed him. Why mess around with software?

Not that this shook his confidence. Scheinman simply concluded that he would have better luck if he made investments without clearing them through a bureaucracy. VMware, after all, became a $50-billion success. And yet, when Scheinman left Cisco in 2011 to become a venture capitalist (V.C.), he attracted not the slightest bit of interest from the established firms on Sand Hill Road."

That made Scheinman a lot like the Oakland A's when it came to talent he could attract on his own.  So he naturally zigged while others zagged:

"The only question was what to invest in. “I could see the reality was I had two choices,” Scheinman told me. “One, I could do what everyone else was doing, which is a losing strategy unless you have the most capital.” The alternative was to try to identify a niche that was somehow perceived as less desirable and was therefore less competitive. Finally, during a meeting with two bratty Zuckerberg wannabes, it hit him: Older entrepreneurs were “the mother of all undervalued opportunities. "Indeed, of all the ways that V.C.s could be misled, the allure of youth ranked highest. “The cutoff in investors’ heads is 32,” Graham told The New York Times in 2013. “After 32, they start to be a little skeptical.”

Naturally, Scheinman decided to lurch in the opposite direction. He became an angel investor, meaning he typically provides the cash the founders tap once they’ve exhausted their family members and credit cards. If the angel’s bet is sound and the company continues to grow, it will frequently need an “A round” of funding from a V.C. later on, usually between $2 and $10 million. Scheinman’s hypothesis was that, with enough money to pay their bills for a year or two, the older entrepreneurs could rig up a product that was sufficiently impressive to overcome the V.C.s’ prejudice. He could force them to wonder if maybe, just maybe, they were staring at a billion-dollar business."

Our natural instinct is to do what others do. Reach for the energy of the young person. Be skeptical whether the professional in his 50s has what it takes to climb the mountain again.

You might have reasons to really believe that.  But, if you also believe in the Moneyball approach - that assets ultimately get undervalued as the pack chases what's hot - it's clear what the undervalued asset is.

The undervalued asset is old people.  Or should i say <throat clearing sound> - deeply experienced workers.

Zig when others Zag.  The only thing you have to figure out is which 20% of deeply experienced workers are super talented and simply got caught in pack mentality that older workers don't have what it takes to compete in today's economy. 

MUST HAVE CAREER SKILL: Fake It Until You Make It...

On the interviewing track in a big way at Kinetix, and one thing keeps emerging...

We don't interview enough for adaptability on the fly.  Winging it with intelligence and confidence. Saturday_night_live_cast_season_one_image__1_

Faking it until you make it....

Now I know what you're saying.  Kris, faking it is bad.  People need to know what they're doing.  They need to be trained. We owe that to our people.  We can't ask them to fake competency that they don't have.

Here's the problem with that stance. Your talent - my talent - is faced with at least 5 conversations a day if not more) they don't have experience in.  Training for all the things that require adaptability on the fly is not possible.  

That's why the best hires are the ones that aren't afraid to jump on a call or in a meeting where they have limited subject matter expertise and wing it. 

Winging it - and faking it until you make it - is street code for facilitation.  

People who can facilitate and participate in conversations where they have limited subject matter expertise - and become more knowledgeable by the minute while that conversation is going on - are the ones worth their weight in gold.

Hire someone with the ability to fake it until they make it.  It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to think about some improv activities as part of what you do to develop people with that in mind.

HR Dictionary: "Sheeple"

This one's easy.  Today's word is "Sheeple", here's the entry from Urban Dictionary, I think it fits:

Sheeple (ryhmes with and used as a replacement for "people") - People unable to think for themselves. Followers. Lemmings. Those with no cognitive ablilities of their own. Sheeple

Example - All the teens were wearing bell-bottoms because they were sheeple.

I hadn't heard this used until I caught it in the Showtime series House of Lies (recommended), used by Consulting shop owner Marty Kahn (played by Don Cheadle) as he talked to a founder of a company.  Here's how it went:

Are you kidding me, Robert? F***ing sheeple? Come on - Americans, f***ing Everywhere-icans -  They're gonna go for the lowest common denominator every time.  You know that.

Why do you need it in your HR Dictionary?  Because you make hundreds of decisions a year that are based on how people are going to react as a group.  And people are generally of a pack mentality, and they usually go for the lowest common denominator.

Want them to not go for the lowest common denominator?  You better do something different as an HR leader.


Why You're Going to Hate Future Technology That's Coming to the Office (and home office)...

If there's one thing people like to hate on, it's the introduction of new technology that appears to be the slightest bit invasive.  

Think NSA.  Then think Google Glass.  Haters going to hate.  More on the backlash on Google Glass from Techcrunch:

"But as much as many hate Google Glass at the moment, Google needs to remember that consumers tend to hate everything when it first comes out. Davidyeetweet

Almost everybody is reluctant to change almost everything. Whatever you learned as a kid you want to keep always,” Dean Kamen told SXSW attendee Ron Miller who then explained this phenomenon in this post. Kamen, the inventor of the Segway and other things, should understand quite well this early-adopter hate.

On some levels the Google Glass Explorer program is as interesting as Google Glass. Never before has a company put the fate of a totally novel product in the hands of consumers. Google invited interested users to buy this completely beta device and essentially market it for them.

Recent anti-Glass legislation and social gaffes show this strategy has largely failed to the point that Google has started social campaigns to revive Glass’s image."

Google glass is an interesting case-study on technology backlash, especially when it comes to privacy issues.  But let's face it, the combination of mobile devices issued and paid for by your company, geo-location and algorithms designed to calculate your productivity in ways we can't even imagine are going to give us great advances in workforce management.

The revolution will not be televised.  But hell, it might be on your wrist.  Consider this seemingly innocent piece of technology that tracks your hoops shooting efficiency:

"Playing basketball is fun, but I am bad at it. I might be less bad if I used the Hoop Tracker smartwatch, which is designed very specifically for basketball, unlike most wearables that aim at a more general audience. The new Kickstarter project promises instant analysis and tracking of your shots, including three-point, free throw and field goal percentage, as well as more standard stuff like time spent on court and calories burned."

Consumer tech like this is the simple version of the bigger trend towards technology equals analytics - in professional hoops, all arenas now have a series of cameras that track all movements of every player on the court.  That means the cameras ultimately tell you when and what circumstances Kevin Durant is most effective in when playing with the second string point guard.  Turns out, he's better with that guy when that guy starts the offense by passing to the 2-guard.  On the left side of the court.

Work is going to be the same.  It's going to end up being a mash of data (email, phone calls, geo-location) that feeds in to an algorithm that tells us you're more productive when Sally doesn't email you at all.  So we'll fix the glitch - Sally won't be able to email you.  Turns out because you're such as ass to Sally, she's more productive when she doesn't ask you for things.  We might even transfer you to another team based on that data.

Your privacy isn't going to mean a damn thing.  Companies that get to the next stage on this stuff will be able to buy your approval through higher salaries, a subsidized cafeteria, and yes, a free Google Glas for all new hires.

The Best Places to Work will have the least privacy.  And the sheeple will be fine with it. 


CAPITALIST WEBINAR: Happy Hour Job Search, or How Mobile Recruiting is Morphing Candidate Behavior....

I love it (I know you do too...) when companies start talking about how they block specific types of websites to prevent employees from doing certain things.  One of the types of sites companies love to block is career sites.  ”You’re not going to look for a job while you’re working.

You’re right, boss.  We won’t look for a job on your laptop while we’re working for “the man.” But we’ll absolutely wear it out on breaks, lunch and as soon as we leave work with our mobile device.  Heck - we'll probably do Mobile it at work from our mobile device as well.

That reality means you should probably figure out what’s going on with mobile recruiting, right?  That’s why the latest installment of the FOT webinar series is all about candidate behavior on mobile.  Join Ed Newman from iMomentous and me on Tuesday, April 1st from 3-4pm EST for Happy Hour Job Search: Driving the Behavior of Mobile Job Seekersand we’ll hit you with the following:

A complete breakdown of the basic demographics and behaviors of mobile job seekers, with strategies on how to use that data to influence candidate behavior.

Inside information about power users of mobile career sites, including the level of education they’ve achieved, years of work experience and most prevalent zodiac sign (we’re kidding about the last one–but it would be cool if Capricorns were the most mobile savvy, right?).

What behavior and life patterns surrounding mobile use cause employers to see spikes at particular hours of the day from mobile, and how that impacts your mobile recruiting strategy.

The impact of mobile friendly career sites and email campaigns to click through rates from mobile candidates.

- Then, we’ll show you how all the factors listed above make providing highly relevant content and calls to action the key to success with mobile candidates.

A winning recruiting strategy starts with understanding the candidate you’re seeking. Where is your candidate sitting at the moment they choose to hit “apply?” What are they doing 10 seconds before they land on your site?

Odds are they're on a mobile device.

Remember how your parents thought the Internet was a fad? Don’t fall into the same trap with mobile recruiting.  Join Ed Newman and me on Tuesday, April 1st from 3-4pm EST for Happy Hour Job Search: Driving the Behavior of Mobile Job Seekers, and we’ll hit you with the best strategies to get the most out your mobile recruiting strategy in 2014 and beyond.

DATA & MONEY: Run a Vasectomy/March Madness Promo at Your Company Next January....

Heads Up - This is not your normal March Madness post about lost productivity.  Your employees don't need tourney brackets to screw you out of an honest day's pay - they're waaaaaay more creative than that.

Nope - this post is about how you combine March Madness, economic, medical coverage and bedroom issues that interest your employees into one big "marketing meets HR" extravaganza. March-madness

You need to mark your Calendars for January 5th, 2015, at which point you'll launch a "Vasectomy/March Madness" special.

I'd like to think I'm a leader in this area.  Once we had the second kid, it was time to decide if we were done or not.  We were done.  I went to a urologist to explore the male side of family planning.

My urologist was a immigrant from South America.  As part of his vasectomy package, he actually told us he had to talk with us as a couple.  Then he unleashes this (imagine Columbian accent):

South American Urologist - "Now Mr. Dunn, are you sure you want to do this?  I have to ask, because I see more and more men in their early 50's coming back with a young second or third wife who expects children.  At that point, they're looking to reverse the vasectomy.  I don't want you to be caught in those circumstances."

Me - "I'm sure, doc. Have you met Mrs. Dunn?  She's sitting right here."

What an ass. But the deal got done.  It also coincided with the purchase of our first big screen TV and conference tournament weekend in college basketball, when there's like 100 high-end games on in a single weekend.  I was a leader in this area.  It's now a trend - from CNN:

"A major clinic in Ohio reports it performs 40 or 50 more vasectomies a month before and during the 68-team basketball tourney. We do have (in March) typically about 50% more vasectomies than in other months," said Dr. Ed Sabanegh, chairman of the Department of Urology at the Cleveland Clinic.  A lot of patients come in and say, 'I have to have this during March Madness, you have to talk to my wife about it. Tell her what my limitations are and that I need to be on the couch."

Here's your opportunity HR - you launch a special next January and focus on your long term employees that look to be about done having kids and remind them of the possibilities.  The women probably wish the husband would take care of it.  The husbands are worried their macho level - or maybe the third wife in 13 years.  You bring them together by reminding them of the possibilities of the vasectomy/March Madness combo.  Maybe you throw in additional PTO and a platter from Chick-fil-A.

The wife wins because it's handled.  The guy wins because he gets to watch hoops. You win because you're creative, and let's face it, your medical plan doesn't need more covered dependents or pregnancies.

That's win/win/win where I come from.


Likeable Employees - How Long Do You Hang On To Them Without Performance To Back It Up?

I'm on the record as a moderate republican, and while I'm not foaming at the mouth like many of my ultra-conservative friends about the performance of President Obama, I saw a clip from his recent "Between Two Ferns" video spoof and it hit me.

Obama's similar to a really likeable employee.  Probably more likeable for a lot of America that most Presidents. But that also begs the question - at which point is being likeable not enough for an employee? Two ferns  How long does being likeable mask a lack of performance for that type of employee?

We've all hired likable employees in the past, only to have them fall down on the performance front.  I'm like the influencer in the interview process when it comes to Obama - I thought you should have gone a different direction, but I have to admit - the guy you hired sure seems like a good guy.  In addition to the Two Ferns video, there's also countless appearances on show like Jimmy Kimmel, and then there's even his family, which has seen Michelle Obama fake dunking on Dwyane Wade and Miami Heat coach Erik Spolstra in the Oval Office.

Fun. Likeable. But at what point is likeability not enough for an employee who's not producing?

But wait!  There's also a chance that being likeable generates performance and opportunity you're not considering.  More on the Two Ferns video from Tech Crunch:

President Obama’s hilarious “Between Two Ferns” cameo is on its way to becoming one of the most viral videos in Funny or Die history. It spiked visits to Healthcare.gov an impressive 40%, compared to the day before. Unfortunately, this latest political touchdown was made in the 4th quarter and the White House is still way short of its goal.

Of course, not matter how much unique opportunity like that the rare skills of the likeable employee can generate, there's still performance metrics that rule the day:

"They are still about 2.8 million enrollees short of their original goal of 7 million for the March 31st enrollment deadline. So, how many more viral videos a day does the Administration need to meet its goals? Let’s get nerdy with the numbers.

So, if all of the 40% more Funny or Die visitors had the same propensity to buy health insurance, we would have about 42,000 enrollees a day, for every day the administration released a viral video.

If the administration needs 1 million more signups, it still needs about 24 more viral videos (1M divided by 42K). Or, two videos a day for the next 12 days. (to meet its goal)"

Likeable employees.  Like fun sales pros, you love them.  But there's still the matter of performance and quota.

Sell Me This Pen...

The sweet spot of interviewing is between being boring and stupid.

Take the old sales interview exercise, "Sell me this pen."  Has there ever been an exercise that is more ignorant?  I know what you're going to say - "Kris, it's really all about probing for needs, selling features and asking for the close."

You're a moron.  Unless you're a subscriber to the blog, then you're simply misinformed. Sell me this pen

Let's flip it around.  Have you ever heard anyone that was interviewing an HR Manager candidate bring someone on the HR team in and say, "Fire this person"?

No? Because it doesn't work.  There's too much context you don't have to fire the person in front of you.  Now I can judge you on style, acting ability and moxie related to how you fired the fake employee, but it's really just acting. It doesn't tell me squat about how you'll perform in real life.

"Sell me this pen" is the stupid side of interviewing.  Trickery. 

Of course, I still give the "sell me this pen" crowd credit for mixing it up.  It's stupid, but not boring. And god knows there are many boring interviewers out there for sure.  

Play it straight. Don't take chances. 

What's the middle ground?  If you want to get into simulations, do a simulation.  Get an inbox exercise going where someone has to create work product for you and present it. Pay them for their time.  Give them 2-3 hours to produce work product that's meaningful, then have them present.

That's the sweet spot between boring and stupid when it comes to your selection process.