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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. 

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!


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. 

Good HR Leader/Bad HR Leader....

Ben Horowitz - one of the former primaries at Netscape and now a founding partner at the aptly-named Andreessen Horowitz - once wrote a brief paper called, "Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager".  It's become a bible for product managers in the software business and it's worth your time.  Find the whole thing by clicking here.

Why is a paper on product management worth your time as an HR pro?  Because you could easily substitute "HR Leader" for "Product Manager" and most of it still applies.  Some examples:

Good product managers take written positions on important issues (competitive silver bullets, tough architectural choices, tough product decisions, markets to attack or yield).

Bad product managers voice their opinion verbally and lament that the "powers that be" won't let it happen. Once bad product managers fail, they point out that they predicted they would fail.

Good product managers focus the team on revenue and customers.

Bad product managers focus team on how many features Microsoft is building.

Good product managers define good products that can be executed with a strong effort.

Bad product managers define good products that can't be executed or let engineering build whatever they want (i.e. solve the hardest problem).

Good product managers act like and are viewed as the CEO of the product.

Bad product managers see themselves as resources. Just replace "product manager" with "HR Leader".

Go get the whole thing and enjoy. Share with the marketing and technology people you respect most.  It will confirm to them that you are one of them.

The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #70 is Jared from Silicon Valley: "Are We to Understand That You Did Not Crush It In 2012?"...

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..

HR Pros. Always with the politeness thing.

Example - you're interviewing a candidate.  The candidate is obviously crazy and not a fit for your company or the position in question.  But you're trained you can't end the interview too quickly, which BTW - is a good rule of thumb.  Don't listen to anyone that tell you that you can end an interview after 10 minutes - that's a good way to take a lawsuit.

So you plow on in that interview.  You do your thing and maybe - just maybe - you try and plant a seed with the candidate about why he's not going to be hired through your line of questioning.

Which brings us to today's quote.  Let's say you're talking to a candidate who claims to be a high performer and is talking around an obvious gap in employment.  You could take a page from Jared (HBO's Silicon Valley) and rip off the following quote:

Quote #70 is Jared from Silicon Valley: "Are We to Understand That You Did Not Crush It In 2012?'...

Jared would make a great HR pro.  Sees the gap and hears the candidate talking and boom - addresses the gap.

Of course, he got a medical/mental condition thrown back at him as a result, but that's just details.

(video clip below, email subscribers click through to view)