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February 2015

Reference Checks: Neutral is the New Negative, and Getting Negative Info is Gold...

Got a webinar going today related to making your Talent/Recruiting metrics more strategic, and candidates knocked out by reference checks is one of many topics.  So it felt right to re-run this post... Join us on the webinar at 2pm EST if you have time by clicking here...

You know this, right?

When someone calls you up for a reference check and you do anything short of saying they're unbelievable (they provided your name after all), it's not being borderline neutral.

Neutral is the new negative with reference checks.  And it's been that way for awhile.

Think about that when someone calls you, and you say you can only give name, rank and serial number on a candidate who used you for a reference.   

PS - A reference checker's ability to get any type of true negative information out of a reference is gold.  Try my favorite reference checking question below to get a negative view:

"What job in your organization would you not put this person into under any circumstances?  Why?"

It's up with people day here at the Capitalist.  Go extract some negative info when checking references - just for the contrast and actually learning something you didn't know about the candidate.  

A New Euro Working Trend: The Hoffice...

Stop me when you've had enough.  

DATELINE: Stockholm.  You've got multiple people working out of a house.  You might think these are The Hoffjust connected professionals getting together because they're bored.  But no!  It's a new working revolution!

It's called Hoffice.  What's Hoffice, you ask?  I've got what you need.  More from BusinessWeek:

"In a Stockholm apartment, two people sit at a blond wood dining table, tapping away at their laptops. Two more sit at a similar table in the kitchen. One man reclines with his laptop in a chair, his feet resting on a small ottoman. The atmosphere is cozy, with a cluttered bookshelf and a fresh pot of coffee. It looks like an Ikea catalog, but it’s not, and none of these people live in the apartment. They’re just using it as their office as part of a co-working movement called Hoffice.

Hoffice—home, office, get it?—is the creation of Christofer Franzen, 35, a Swedish psychologist who studies how people can work more efficiently. Last year, after finishing his master’s thesis, “he was tired of working in cafes and had this idea: What if my friends and I got together to work?” says Gosta Tingstrom, 52, a friend of Franzen’s who works as a business consultant. Neither has an office, so they gathered some other friends and started working out of one another’s homes—for free."

Now, I'd be prepared to call BS on calling this a movement.  Then they actually do something interesting from an OD perspective:

"The co-founders teach every Hoffice the same set of productivity principles. Members, of which there are no more than 10 or so at a time, divide their 9-to-5 workday into 45-minute increments, with 15-minute communal breaks to play games or run around outside. Several studies, most notably a 1993 American Psychological Association survey of violinists, have found that people get more done when they work in short bursts.

Before each 45-minute session, Hoffice workers tell the room what they hope to accomplish—finish a spreadsheet, say, or track down a client. Later they reveal whether they succeeded. “We believe that makes you more committed to do what you want to do,” Tingstrom says. “It also holds you accountable—if a goal seems too lofty, Hoffice workers help the person come up with something realistic.” Halfway through, they all take an hour-plus lunch break. The host is reimbursed for groceries, which is the only part that currently costs money."

I was prepared to call these people commies, because I'm a big old, American winning machine.  Then they turned their excuse for a commune into an interesting micro-goal setting mechanism.

Long live the Hoffice for that reason.  No word yet whether David Hassellhoff is coming in for the brand equity/naming convention connection.

Framing the Recruiting Work You Do For Hiring Managers In a Single Sentence...

It's easy to get in the weeds on recruiting.  Do we have enough candidate flow?  Are we getting the right candidates?  Do we have compensation issues?  Why does it take so long?  Why does that hiring manager want to see more candidates?

If your recruiting/talent metrics do anything, they should provide line of sight to how things are going. When you're reporting on your own recruiting shop's effectiveness, there are a lot of ways to do metrics.  Many of the metrics that people want to report on take you deep into the weeds.

Need an overview/executive summary metric that makes sense?  Here's a metric you can provide that's part metric, part statement and part "please look at the big picture."  I call it "The Screen/Show/Hire Statement", and it's designed to take all the noise out of your recruiting metrics.  Here's a real life example of how that plays out at Kinetix (my recruiting company):

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 3.17.43 PM

So that's the recruiting funnel for a single department in an RPO relationship, and it could also be an annual report overall for a smaller RPO engagement.

There's a lot of info in that picture, but the lead is what you see in box at top - "We screen 49 candidates, show you 7 to 8, you hire 1."

That's The Screen/Show/Hire Statement, and it's designed to show you how healthy a search process is.  Those numbers mean for this client we would make 7 submittals, and out of those 7 submittals, the hiring manager would make 1 hire.  

The Screen/Show/Hire Statement is more of a headline than a metric, but it belongs in the metric family because I haven't seen it.  It's designed to report the number and say, "how do you feel about that?"

The client above felt great about it.

If you want to learn more about recruiting/talent metrics and get some fresh ideas, join me for a webinar I'm doing this week entitled, Six Ways to Make Your Recruiting/Talent Metrics More Strategic – And Make Managers Own Their New Hires on Thursday, February 26th at 2pm EST (click the link to register).  Hang out with us and we'll show you how to create recruiting/talent metrics that get the attention of your organization. 

NARCISSIST: Why the Best Candidates Don't Always Become Leaders At Your Company...

There are a lot of assumptions out there that Narcissists make the best leaders in your company.  Turns out, narcissists are more likely to become leaders at your company, but not because they are the best fit.  A study last year by University of Nebraska professor Peter Harms had some interesting things to say about Narcissists becoming leaders.

According to the study, notes on which can be found here, Narcissists are more likely to become heads of companies for two reasons:

-They self nominate and self identify more than the average person.  People who aren't extreme narcissists don't raise their hands as much.

The study also says that though narcissists were more likely to attain leadership positions, there was no direct relationship between narcissism and leaders' success.

The research also discovered a nonlinear relationship between narcissism and leader effectiveness using previously un-analyzed data from Hogan Assessment Systems. Specifically, the study found, bosses with either extremely high or extremely low levels of narcissism were poorer leaders.

All things in moderation.  

Seems like a call for quality succession planning that checks over the top ambition when filling leadership positions.  Just because you want it doesn't mean you can have it.

DON'T DO IT: Sending Post-Interview Notes Explaining Nervous Interview Performance...

I know how you feel.

You're a great candidate.  The right knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job.  You like the opportunity - the company, the people - everything.  It's a great fit.

Then something funny happens on the way to a perfect match.  You felt liked you bombed the last round of interviews, the final conversations before you expected an offer to come from the company in question.  As you arrived home, you had that sinking feeling in your stomach.  You blew it.

So you naturally start thinking about what you can do to make it right.  Then you have a great idea:

"I'm going to drop them a thank you note, and apologize for not being my best in the interview process.  I'll acknowledge it and explain it to them.  It's better to get in front of this to maximize my potential of getting this job."

Except it's not.  You're your own worst critic.  It's never in your best interest to hit a company with a follow up note explaining poor performance in an interview.  Consider the following:

1.  You're probably harder on yourself then they are.  Odds are that some of the people who interviewed you still consider you viable.

2.  Detailed notes explaining poor interview performance don't really help you, but they can always hurt you.  From the company - "I thought there was something, and now I'm sure of it - let's move on."

3.  You have no idea who you are being compared against.  Even if you blew it, you might be the most attractive candidate.

4.  The longer the note, the less attractive you look as a candidate.  Thank you note became 3 big paragraphs with a lot of explaining nebulous things?  Check please...

Did you blow the interview?  By your standards, yes.  But let's talk about them (the company) - what did they think?

You don't know. 

But if you tell them you didn't do well, odds are they're going to be happy to agree with you.

Send a graceful thank you note expressing optimism for the future.  Maybe a witty observation if you have a low risk one available.  Get in and out with a length that you could send in 3 twitter posts.

And leave the analysis of your interview performance to another day.

--Signed, Uncle KD



Ash Wednesday: Terrible Moments in HR Relationships...

Ash Wednesday, people.  Time to give something up for Lent.  Or the heart of Mardi Gras season - I guess it depends on your disposition.

I've seen one epic fail related to Ash Wednesday and the workplace in my time as an HR pro.  The year is something like 2003 and I'm a VP of HR at a big telecom.  We had a great peer group of HR leaders nationally and we were in St. Louis for a quarterly meeting.

Brain trust time.  Bonding.  And one of the meeting days fell on Ash Wednesday. Ash

10 HR leaders across the country for a Fortune 500 telecom, and there were 2 guys and 8 gals.  As you might expect, the gals were more in tune with fashion and personal appearance, especially as it related to each other.  Me?  Blue shirt, black slacks.  Check.  The Caucasian male uniform.  

But our female HR leaders had more diversity in their appearance, and as any group that works together well would do, they talked to each other about clothes, etc.

Then it happened on Ash Wednesday.  One female HR leader of the Catholic faith made her way out to church during lunch and came back with the mark of the cross from ashes on her forehead.

Enter her Baptist teammate, whom I'll call "Tonya".  Tonya was one of the best HR leaders I have ever known, but on that day, she would take two steps back as a teammate to her Catholic friend, known here as "Susan".

Susan had the mark of the cross on her forehead after lunch, and it must have been a pastor with fat thumbs, because it didn't look like a cross - it looked like a thumbprint.  But wear it with pride she did, back into the national HR meetings.

Tonya didn't know much about Ash Wednesday, and subsequently I learned that many Baptists don't practice Lent, so Ash Wednesday goes down in significance on their calendar as well.  Read more about that here.

Anyway, Susan turned the corner back into the meeting room with the smudge on her forehead, and Tonya beat a quick path to her to be helpful, uttering the following words:

"Susan - You've got a smudge on your forehead (motions to forehead).  Let me help you."  

And she started trying to remove the smudge from Susan's forehead.

Astonishment, borderline anger and general confusion ensued.  It was one of the more surreal religious workplace interactions I've seen in the workplace, and there was not a Muslim or Hindu to be found at the scene.

The lesson? Be careful with smudges on co-workers today after lunch.

CAPITALIST WEBINAR! Six Ways to Make Your Recruiting/Talent Metrics More Strategic

You know what really gets under my skin?  When HR/recruiting/talent pros work hard, do great work and then get left holding the bag of dog #### for things outside of their control.  And while I'm off on a rant, let's be honest - sometimes we do it to ourselves, right?

Case in point - the numbers we report to the rest of the organization. Sure, you tried to roll out the Fot webinar basics---time to hire, cost per hire---but all that did was put the focus on your HR/Recruiting function, not the people who actually make the final hiring decision.  Flash forward 12 months since the launch of those basic recruiting metrics, and you're bored... heck, everyone's bored. Never fear! The FOT webinar makes it's 2015 debut with Six Ways to Make Your Recruiting/Talent Metrics More Strategic – And Make Managers Own Their New Hires (click to register). Join Dawn Burke and I (that's me, KD) for this webinar (sponsored by Chequed.com) on Thursday, February 26th at 2pm EST (11am Pacific) and we'll hit you the following goodies:

A review of the traditional talent selection/recruiting metrics.  We'll give you a rundown of those metrics like Time To Fill and Cost Per Hire, what the standard benchmarks are for each and then explain why only using these traditional metrics is a lost cause/suckers play.

An explanation of the Holy Grail of reporting Recruiting Effectiveness and why it changes the conversation from "Did we fill the position?" to "Did we make the right hire and what happened once we filled the position?". We call this metric Hiring Manager Batting Average (HMBA for those of you that need an acronym), and it's the cleanest, most all-encompassing metric you can have to make your internal recruiting conversation strategic---not transactional---and actually make it tie in to your overall talent strategy, not just Talent Acquisition.

How to change the dialog of organizational turnover from being an HR problem to being everyone's problem.  Admit it, you report on turnover all the time. We'll show you how to link turnover to your selection process in a way that spreads the wealth related to turnover responsibility---and actually sets you up to be more consultative and less reactive related to employee churn.

We'll give you 5 additional metrics to show how your recruiting/staffing process actually reduces risk of bad hires and prepares for future searches.  You need to get out of the trap of only reporting cost and time.  We've got the metrics to show you how to do that.

Things that are hard:  Riding a bike on a freeway. Getting your kids to eat peas. Getting managers to own the bad hires they make and be interested in getting better at selection.  Join us for Six Ways to Make Your Recruiting/Talent Metrics More Strategic – And Make Managers Own Their New Hires on Thursday, February 26th at 2pm EST (click the link to register), and we'll show you how to create recruiting/talent metrics that get the attention of your organization.  You're on your own with the other two.

Do These Smartphone Stats Make Me Look Fat?

If smartphones do anything, they can give you some perspective on how you live your life.

Me?  I'm on the road a lot and working remotely about half the time.  It stands to reason my smartphone is going to run a little hot.

How hot you ask?  My total talk time last billing period was 3200 minutes.  For those of you bad at math, that's 53 hours of talk time.  And that's WITH me being on the midline between introvert and extrovert. That doesn't include significant time in Go To Meeting or Microsoft Lync.  That's a normal month for me - Am I a freak?  Like pictures?  Here's your graph (I'm the one in blue).

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 1.32.25 PM

How about data you ask?  I came in at a robust 8 gigs last month.  That seems like a lot until I see my 14-year old outpaced me. He's got first world problems for sure.  Is reading fundamental to his generation?  Only if it's on a device, and potentially on Reddit.  Here's the data chart (He's green):

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 1.43.51 PM

Finally, we come to the real change in my life.  I'm texting a lot more and emailing less.  That's part me warming up to text and part me fishing where the fish are - if you want immediacy, you've got to hit people on text....Here's your chart, which brings me in at my new baseline - 1400 texts per month, up from an average of 200 at the same time last year.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 1.44.30 PM

Do these smartphone stats make me look fat?  Hit me in the comments if you feel like judging me.

LUNCH & INTERVIEWS: How to Act When Lunch Is Included In a 4-Hour Interview Block...

It's a trap, people.

Nobody really wants to feed you when they have you in for a 4-hour interview block from 10-2pm.  They're not interested in your nourishment, your freaky need from protein or providing you with a nice social opportunity over rubber chicken.

The real reason they're offering you lunch?  They feel guilty that you're there for so long and feel... well, that it's the right thing to do. Lunch

But it's a trap.  They don't mean it to be a trap, but it is.

You need to have a plan.  Here's what you need to know when eating lunch as part of an interview process:

1.  If you're not hungry after lunch is complete, you ate too much.  See the rest of these notes for why.  Glad you got the big meal in and strapped on the food bags.  Prepare to interview with more companies, because you're not getting this job.

2.  You never order anything but salad for an interview lunch.  It's pretty risk free.  Graze.  Be hungry at the end.  Only eat the small pieces of lettuce, not the ones that could start flapping and fly away.

3.  You only eat when it apparent your interviewer is about to wax poetic about something he/she is passionate about.  Don't get caught with food in your mouth when you're expected to talk.  Wait until they're off on a rant.

4.  Never go sandwich.  It involves you contorting to get it in your mouth, and has some similarities to the Seinfeld episode where Jerry sees someone in a state of undress opening an jar of pickles.  Related - no one wants to see you jam a sandwich into your mouth.  You're not handsome or pretty when you are doing that.  

5.  Eat the minimum possible without being accused of not eating.  You have to eat, because it's expected.  Get to the minimal level of participation and don't go further.  You don't get credit for doing more, but you will be punished and penalized if you go that route.

Lunch provided during your interview process?  Be alert. Don't fall into the trap of eating like a normal person.  They haven't invited you into the club yet.

Once they invite you, you can recommend the Golden Corral for lunch.  Whatever - for now, during your interview, keep it classy. 


SPORTS AND HR: The 8 Man Rotation - The 2014 Season (Ebook)

For those of you not down with the whole comparing our corporate talent lives to the world of sports thing...

As Eddie Vedder once said, this is not for you...

However, if you see sports news, signings, roster decisions and more through your lens of HR, Talent and/or Recruiting, then do we have an eBook for you...

It's the next installment of the world-famous free Ebook on Sports and HR - The 8 Man Rotation - The 2014 Season.

What is The 8 Man Rotation?

It is a group of my HR pals (and me), Lance HaunTim SackettSteve Boese, and Matt Stollak (me is Kris Dunn) who make it a habit throughout the year serving up the HR/Talent version of the 'hot sports take', helping you to see and then exploit what happens in the sports world in your HR shop.

Compiled and edited by mighty Matt 'akaBruno' Stollak, the 2014 Season is the best yet of all the 8 Man Rotation editions, coming in at a ridiculous 161 pages, all about the intersection of HR, Talent Management, Recruiting, Leadership and sports. And in 2014, we have a great introduction from Talent Pro Paul Hebert as well.

Of course you don't have to read all 161 pages (you should), you can bounce from topic to topic, and article to article, as Matt did a great job organizing a year's worth of sports takes into a coherent volume.

So please check out The 8 Man Rotation - The 2013 Season here - it's worth it! (embedded ebook appears below - click through if you can't see it)