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September 2016

Great Quotes in HR: Here's Paul Hebert on Engagement...

"Most engagement problems exist in the three feet of air between an employee and their manager."

--Paul Hebert, noted engagement guru (that's right, I'm calling him a guru.  Unlike Tony Robbins, who says he's not your guru).

Go see this great post by Paul related to the difference between identifying an engagement problem and fixing it... and use the quote the next time someone tries to say (or imply) HR is solely responsible for engagement...

YES: It's Only a Matter of Time Before Someone Gets Their ### Kicked at Your Company for Wearing Snapchat Spectacles

Of course, I can't call it Snapchat anymore.  Snapchat's renamed their company to "Snap", since they will be moving to things other than the expected "snapchats".

You know, like taking video in public that might get you assaulted.

Confused?  Snap(chat) has launched the next version of Google Glass (remember that?) called Snap Spectacles, which help you shoot video of the world you're seeing via a camera installed on Snap sunglasses. More from the Verge:

"The company formerly known as Snapchat surprised the world last night by unveiling Spectacles, its first hardware product. The sunglasses, which record videos in 10-second increments, are expected to be available for sale sometime "soon." Snap Inc., as the company is now called, says it will be producing the glasses in small quantities. 

They're connected sunglasses that record video snippets that get saved to your Snapchat Memories. Its camera has a 115-degree lens meant to more closely approximate how humans see. The glasses will cost $130, come in one size, and be available in three colors: black, teal, and coral.

Tap the button on the top left-hand corner of the sunglasses to begin recording a snap. It will automatically stop recording after 10 seconds — but if you want additional recording time, you can tap again to add another 10-second increment."

Translation.  Someone's going to get there ### kicked at a company near you soon.  Especially if you order Coral.

One of the joys of Google Glass was that Google did a very soft release, only giving the product to absolute trendsetters and digerati.  That meant the limited number of geeks took them into restaurants and bars, and, you guessed it - found themselves in dustups as the non-digerati (as I affectionately call those without Google Glass) as they expressed their displeasure with the threat of being recorded.

Shapchat?  Even though the company will do a limited release, the reality is that this product will likely get deeper in society than Google Glass.  2nd generation products always do, and Snapchat is viewed as fun, innovative and they next big thing.

Which means one thing.  You'll see more dustups in the workplace related to Snap Spectacles than you ever did with Google Glass.

PS - homeboy in the picture looks like the biggest geek you can think of in your company, or Max Headroom, depending on how old you are.

The Process For Creating Potential Factors (Rather Than Company Values) At Your Company

One of the things I've always been a fan of is having potential factors as an alternative to company values.
Background: At Kinetix, we have potential factors instead of values.  They're designed to identify what we value most in talent and as such, should be our guides in how we hire, promote and reward, and at times, fire.

You can find all of our potential factors in an online document/handbook we call The Kinetix Code.


If you want to rethink your company values and think about subbing them out for potential factors, here's your process:
1. You meet with your leadership team.  There’s a lot of fancy ways to frame this, but it really comes down to answering the following question:
“Let’s think about the stars at our company. What is it about them, regardless of position, that makes them successful at our company?  Give me single words that serve as adjectives to describe what our stars have behaviorally cognitively (no skills!) that other people don’t, and any word you give me has to be descriptive of the group of stars in your opinion – no words that apply to one or some and not the others.”
2. Do that, and you’ll end up with a brainstorming session about words they think are descriptive of the highest performers in your company.  You’ll get as many as 70 words out of this process.
3. You take the raw list of words and start combining things that mean the same thing, or close to the same thing.  For example, initiative and drive are closely related.  When you find words that mean the same thing, your job is to put them on the same line and then decide what word best describes the behavior in your culture.
4. Once you do that offline and knock down the number, you’ll have a list of 20-25 words to choose your initial potential factors from.  There are a lot of ways to pick the ones you want. Your CEO can look at it and tell you what he/she wants, you can pick and tell the team, or preferably, you can have a working session to discuss, maybe cull it down to a list of 10 factors the team generally believes are the best – then figure out how you’re going to cut it to ones you want to launch.  I’m big on a shielded vote for those, which still allows you and your CEO/ops leader veto power without doing that in a public setting.
What's the right number of potential factors to have?  Same number as values.  5-6 seems to be the sweet spot, do more that and you'll lose the capability to position themselves as important.
Good luck if you undertake this process - it's worth the time to take a look at.


CHANGE: Insurmountable Positions Get Leapfrogged By New Access Points...

When you think about big companies going down over the last couple of decades, it's really about corporations thinking their positions are insurmountable and being slow to try to develop new technologies and approaches that would replace the cash cow they found themselves with.

For example:

--Internet Explorer got overtaken by Chrome

--Blockbuster got overtaken by Netflix, and at the retail level even by RedBox

--<insert your own example here - there are many>

What's interesting to me about this aspect of change is that insurmountable positions aren't always replaced by better products per se.  Instead, those strong competitive positions often get leapfrogged by competitors creating new access points.

Example - Microsoft was fat and happy with IE, but Chrome leapfrogged it as the operating system became less important and less central to the user experience.  Of course, Chrome was a Amazon-echobetter product as well.

Another Example - Blockbuster loved it's retail approach, but Netflix started eating into it's market share as much by the mail order DVD access point as it's pricing model.  Once broadband showed up, it was done.

That's why an interview a few years ago with then Google CEO Eric Schmidt uncovered that fact that Google views Amazon - not others routinely associated with search - as the biggest threat to its search business.


With the emergence of the voice controlled Echo from Amazon, it would seem the future is now on that front. More on Amazon's threat to Google via Techcrunch:

We all suspected the Echo’s purpose was – at least in part – to drive more Amazon sales. And that’s exactly what’s happening, according to a new study by NPD Group. The research company found that owners of the Echo spent around 10 percent more after they bought the voice-powered smart speaker than they did before.

Data for the study came from Echo’s full term of availability, which surprisingly actually spans two years (it feels like it’s been a lot less time to me). NPD also found that about half of the online spending done by Echo owners happens at Amazon.com once they pick up a device.

It’s not a huge deal for other retailers yet because of Echo’s somewhat limited reach thus far – NPD says it estimates around 1.6 million have sold thus far. But it’s a trend that could be very good for Amazon long-term, especially as it brings the Echo Dot back to market at a new, more affordable price point.
Voice search.  That's a different access point that the way we've traditionally thought about search, and Amazon was first to the mass market with the Echo.  The Echo  is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and other real time information.
You know, the stuff you use Google and your smartphone for. It can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation hub.
To Google's credit, they've never been slow to experiment.  They're doing what they can to get Google Home (their competitive answer to the Echo) launched, but it's still not here.
New access points create change that eliminate dominant positions.  Will Google always be dominant in search?  History tells us no.


VIDEO: Giving Interns Real Experience Is Really The Most Important Thing...

If you came because of that title looking for a serious post on intern programs, think again.

I was in Auburn Saturday night for LSU/Auburn and Auburn has a kicker that kicks it out of the end zone... every.single.time.

After an Auburn FG in the first half, Auburn did what it always does - it kicked it out of the end zone.  But an enterprising young girl who works in the Auburn video/photo department and was a former ESPN intern thought she could shuffle from her position on the ground in the end zone and make the catch of the dead ball - from her knees.

The result was priceless.  Email subscribers, click through for the video.  Of special note is that she actually calls "I got it" before she takes it to the face.  Good news is that she was fine.  Obviously caught it on the cheek rather than in the nose.

I'd show this to your intern classes.  If you're doing it right, the normal work equivalent of this is at least part of the experience they should get with your company. 

TRUMPED: Putin Is The Hiring Influence That Wants Your Team To Be Weak...

One of the things that's kind of front and center in the current presidential race is the relationship and bromance of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, leader of Russia.

Here's my theory, and of course, it has an HR/Recruiting link:

Putin is the hiring influence that doesn't want your functional area to be strong, so they over-involve themselves in the feedback loop of a key leadership hire you're trying to make.

Stay with me on this.  First, a bit of a warm up from the Talking Points Memo:

"Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin's increasingly autocratic and illiberal Putinrule. But there's quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men."
In addition to countless mentions of Putin by Trump, there's also the not so little matter of Russia engaging in espionage to discredit the DNC and Hillary Clinton through leaks that happened after the democratic convention.
Before your eyes get sleepy, let's go back to my theory, allow me to explain and then we'll end this post.
Putin is the hiring influence that doesn't want your functional area to be strong, so they over-involve themselves in the feedback loop of a key leadership hire you're trying to make.
When you think about key leadership hires at your company, a couple of things are true:
1. Let's say your CEO or Divisional Head is trying to make a key hire on his/her leadership team.  There's always going to be a process where that leader allows the other members of the leadership team to interview candidates to be their peer on that team.
2. The process almost always involves round robin interviews by those leadership team peers for the position in question.
3. At the end of that process, feedback is gathered.  Do we want to hire the person?  What's your recommendation? Yes or no?
4. Leadership team members have been known to play games.  If they see a potential rival coming in that they think will negatively impact them, there's a chance they may be negative to push the CEO not to make the hire they believe would hurt their positioning.
5. The lengths they'll go to sabotage that process?  Depends on the person.
I think Putin is getting involved for all the reasons people have stated.  He's trying to influence the election, and it's interesting to me.
Why is it interesting? Because I've seen leadership team members go to great lengths to ensure they discredit a candidate any way they can.
In this scenario, Putin is a member of the leadership team of Earth.com.  There's a search going on for a peer position on the leadership team.  No CEO though.
Putin's threatened by a candidate that's coming in to be part of the leadership team.  So he's going to do what leadership team members do that are threatened by a peer coming in.  He's going to spin, discredit, etc - anything that will keep the candidate he doesn't want to see in that seat.
The big question?  Which candidate is he trying to discredit?  All signs point to Clinton.  But with a Russian leader actively supporting an American candidate (Trump), it could actually be Trump he doesn't want to see in the seat.  He is, after all, former KGB.
Think about it.  Leadership team games...

WEBINAR: Your How-To Guide to Weaving Assessment Data into Onboarding and 1-on-1 Coaching Sessions...

If you’re the HR Pro I know you are, you’ve seen the same thing I have. You buy access to a great behavioral assessment platform to be more scientific with your hiring process and selection, then your company forgets about the tool once you make your decision on who to hire.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. That’s why RJ Morris and my FOT crew are back with our latest version of the FOT Webinar, brought to you by our friends at OutMatch. Join us on September 29th at 2pm EDT (1pm FOT-webinar

Central,11am Pacific) for Free Agent Nation - Using Talent Assessments to Build Your Superteam
 and we’ll give you the following goodies:

—Better Onboarding – We’ll serve up a template you can give your managers to cover the results of their behavioral assessment with each new hire, making them feel great about their strengths and aware of some the weaknesses they need to minimize to maximize their success in your organization.  

—Improved 1-on-1 Sessions - We’ll also provide some great talking tracks your manager can use to incorporate each employee’s behavioral strengths and weaknesses into ongoing coaching sessions. If you are trying to make your performance management system stronger through the use of more frequent 1-on–1’s, you won’t want to miss this.

In addition to these great resources, RJ and my team at FOT will also cover how to research/implement assessments (and avoid getting sued) and sell the concept of leveraging external assessments to the company bigwigs if you're thinking about bringing an assessment into your company.  

Join us on September 29th at 2pm EDT (1pm Central, 11am Pacific) for Free Agent Nation - Using Talent Assessments to Build Your Superteam and we’ll give you the plan to get started or do more with the assessments you already have!


AGEISM: Sharing This Article Only Adds To Age Bias, My Old, Misguided Friends...

OK, my over 40 friends, it's call out time.  Remember that I'm over 40, so I send this message out of love, not hate.  

Some of you are gainfully employed, but tired - I get that.  You see an article that suggests you shouldn't The intern
have to grind as hard as you do, and you love it and automatically want to share it.

I'm here to tell you that I understand. But I'm also here to tell you that you're acting like a complete fool.  It's subtle, but it's fool behavior that's a sucker's play by any stretch of the imagination.

My background on this starts with the title of the article, then what the article said.  The sketchy title was as follows - People Over 40 Should Only Work 3 Days a Week from some site called EatWorkGlow (some of the content appears below):

"Recent research by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research found that, whilst working up to 30 hours a week is good for cognitive function in the over 40s, any more than that causes performance to deteriorate.

In fact, those who worked 55 hours a week or more showed worse cognitive impairment than those who were retired or unemployed and didn’t work at all.

The study looked at 3500 women and 3000 men aged 40 and over, and made them complete cognitive function tests whilst their performance at work was monitored.

As most people have to go on working after 40, or even return to work after a break to have a family or for other personal reasons, taking care of your health, maximizing your down time and taking restful holidays becomes more important. Professor McKenzie says that, “Working full time – over 40 hours a week –  is still better than no work in terms of maintaining cognitive function, but it is not maximizing the potential effects of work.”

I looked at the entire article a couple of times. Nowhere in the body of the text could I find a statement from the researchers that suggested that People Over 40 Should Only Work 3 Days a Week.  That was a clickbait title put together by someone that wanted you to read the article and wanted to maximize social sharing.

You loved it. I know you did because about 15 people in my network shared the article. You ate it up like a kid eats an oreo when he missed lunch.  You also took the bait and shared it with the world.

And that's where the problem starts.  Here's what you did:

  1. You tried to celebrate the fact that experts believe you're at your best when you work less. You're over 40. You're tired of grinding because let's face it, this whole thing we do is exhausting.  You're also gainfully employed if you shared it, because no over 40 person out of work would dare share this title.  
  2. You hurt the over 40 crowd that's looking for work when you shared this. No one over 40 AND out of work would share this.  Because they already feel like people pass on them for jobs they're qualified for because of age bias.  What's that bias based on?  There are many angles, but one is definitely the fact that older workers just can't go as long or as hard as their younger comrades.  
  3. You hurt a future version of yourself (likely one with less energy than you have today) that will be over 40 or over 50 and looking for a job.  Let's face it, you'll have to plan on the fact that you're going to be impacted by a layoff or something similar in the future and be in the job market.  When you share a clickbait title that has a research element like People Over 40 Should Only Work 3 Days a Week, you're just making things harder on the version of you that's going to need a break 10 years from now.

Would you love to work 3 days a week now?  Yes, but you're gainfully employed.

When you shared that article, you made all the people over 40 and out of work throw up in their mouths.  Most of them are concerned about basic things - like providing for their families.

Your comrades over 40 don't give a #### about the number of hours it takes.  They just want a great to solid job.  You hurt them and the future version of yourself when you share things that imply older workers can't give the same level of effort/grind/hustle as someone under 40.

You're better than that.  You're old, but you're not stupid.  

When Employees Bite Back: Prepping for the 1-on-1s That Are Going to Suck...

It's September. Getting near halfway through the year. Might be time for you to actually give some feedback to the people who work for you. Or, if you're an HR pro, to encourage managers of people to give that feedback to the masses. But we wait.  Because the people who most need the feedback don't always take it well. All the training in the world isn't going to help the reality of performance feedback---it would be easy if it weren’t for those pesky employees asking questions, throwing up objections and generally being disagreeable. And that’s one of the biggest rubs in doing performance management/mid-year feedback, isn’t it?

“This session is going to suck because they’re going to ___________ . ”

What do employees who most need your feedback do during performance sessions? If they’re quiet, the session is easy—if somewhat strange. If an employee is quiet, you probably haven’t encouraged them to participate enough or be honest with you. Once you’ve made them comfortable, they’re going to tell you why they can’t give more performance to you, and the reasons will be unique to their personality and performance profile. But some of the objections can be trended, all the way to the point where we can create personas that you should expect to see during your session. The key is to know the people you're talking to, then have a general feel for what your approach is going to be as you walk into the session when you tell them how they are doing for the year. Available starting approaches for you as a manager of people as you walk into a feedback session that's going to be hostile/going to suck:

1. The Flame Thrower - In this approach, you go on the offensive quick since you're dealing with someone who's going to be pretty hostile back to you.  This approach is also used because you're dealing with someone who's going to try to bully you, because the only thing they'll understand is brute force.  So, you hit them hard early and put the pieces together late.  Best used with highly assertive, low-sensitivity employees.

2. The Fraiser Crane - You remember the spin off from Cheers, right?  The tagline he used on his radio show based on personal therapy was, "I'm listening," so it stands to reason that's your approach early with the people who need some therapy before you can get to how they're going to improve.  Best used with low-assertive, high sensitivity types.

3. The Jester - Some people are wired to love the stage banter, so give these people what they want: lots of small talk about company topics interesting to them. You're basically warming them up to be comfortable, then you're going to transition and have better conversation post-warm up. What do you talk about? Any thing that they have opinions on and build momentum for you to agree, because it's going to be hard for them to come after you after that momentum is built. Best used with employees who are extroverted and high on the people scale.  Let them talk, and then try to keep them talking/reacting once you go into feedback mode.

The best stage banter to model yourself after? Paul Stanley from KISS of course (email subscribers click through for video):

4. The Stat Geek - Numbers never lie, and if you're fortunate to have numbers to back up the performance issues you see, you lead with the digits to a certain subsection of your feedback sessions. Be sure to have numbers that clearly define INDIVIDUAL performance with this group and you'll be set.  Best used with employees that have high cognitive scores and are low on the team scale (which means you can best ask for more performance by presenting them with a individual scoreboard).

Bottom line: Your one-on-ones or check-ins matter.  It's about who they are, not who you are.  Play offense early in your session with each employee and you'll have the best shot at success with minimal blowback why you get to what's real.

Self Assessments and 360 Feedback Systems Are A Crutch for Managers...

We love features like self assessments and 360s in our performance solutions.  But they're a crutch.  Here's why:

  1. Self Assessments - your best people are harder on themselves than you are.  Your worst people and even those in between give themselves more credit than they deserve - setting your managers up for something they're not good at - conflict.  Meh.
  2. 360 Reviews - the more I talk to people using these as part of the review process, the more often I hear that the feedback coming in isn't great.  It's either cheerleader type stuff, "Jenn is the best!" or people are very, very cautious in giving negative feedback if they perceive that it will be used directly and more importantly, if the review is tied to pay.  

Managers - Do your job and have a take on whether someone is good or great.  And stop saying everyone is great - they're not.  

HR Pros - I'm not saying you shouldn't use self-assessments or 360s - but you can't let them be a replacement from a manager truly owning whether someone is crushing it or just getting by.

You're better than that.  I know you are.