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May 2018

4 Ways to Determine If a Candidate Has Ambition...

“I’m tough, ambitious and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” 

— Madonna

Ambition. As much as many of us are uncomfortable saying publicly that it’s a value/feeling/potential factor we want in our organization, ambition is needed in your company to get great results.

You know your high-ambition employees. They are the ones that often do great things and occasionally put tire tracks across the back of some teammates in the process. Are you better with or without these people? And if everyone is happy with their current status, who moves the company forward?

I'm up over at Workforce Magazine giving you 4 Ways To Determine if a Candidate has Ambition... Get that whole article by clicking here...


Are Mormons Naturally Trained to Be Great Salespeople?

This is where the politically correct unload on me, right?  "What do you mean that Mormons could be better salespeople that other segments of the population?"  I could be called a lot of things I don't desire to be called in today's world.

But allow me to explain. I happened upon a documentary this weekend and watched some missionary work within the Mormon faith and uttered what has to be a business truth - "those kids look like they're going through the greatest sales training in the world."  Mormon

Missionaries in the Mormon faith get dropped into a part of the world they're unfamiliar with for 1-2 years and proceed to knock on doors for that entire time period to evangelize the faith.  They get paired up with one partner they ride or die with for that time period, and as I understand it, they are limited in the communication devices they have access to (no smartphones) and only can make limited/periodic calls back home.

The lessons and growth - as well as the entertainment - wait for them in 1-2 years of door knocking with limited distractions.

Sounds like sales training to me. 

A quick web search shows that some companies have attempted to build a salesforce using former Mormon missionaries.  More form the New York Times:

Six days a week, in fair weather and foul, two-dozen door-to-door salesmen, all of whom live clustered together in an apartment complex in this suburb west ofChicago, pile into S.U.V.’s and cars and head into the big city, bent on sales of home security systems.  And on Sunday, their one day off, they drive together to the nearest house of worship of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The salesmen are mostly former Mormon missionaries from Utah who cut their teeth — and learned their people-skill chops — cold-calling for their faith. In Chicago and in its suburbs where their employer, Pinnacle Security of Orem, Utah, has shipped them for the summer sales season, they are doing much the same thing, but as a job.

Managers at Pinnacle Security, founded in 2001 by a student at Brigham Young University, the Mormon Church-owned school, say missionaries simply have the right stuff. Many speak foreign languages learned in the mission field. All have thick skins from dealing with the negative responses that a missionary armed with a Book of Mormon and a smile can receive.

Mormon men are expected to serve a two-year mission in their early 20s, and about two-thirds of Pinnacle Security’s 1,800 sales representatives this summer have been through the experience. Former missionaries work for other direct-sales companies, too, though Pinnacle seems to be in a class by itself: It has deployed them in 75 cities nationwide.

“They’re used to knocking on doors, and they’re used to rejection,” said Scott Warner, Pinnacle’s manager of the Chicago sales team

Yes, that example is door to door sales.  But if missionary candidates can survive - and thrive - in the task they undertake in a foreign country, they're probably good enough to deserve a shot on your inside sales team as well, right?

A big part of recruiting is attempting to unlock pools of candidates that are undervalued.  I suspect many companies already use the Mormon missionary pool as a source of early career sales talent, but if you haven't, and you're struggling to fill any type of entry-level sales role, this segment is worth a look.

Note to the haters - I'm not suggesting that we build a salesforce of white guys who love white shirts, black ties and Joseph Smith, Jr.  I am saying that the hit rate recruiting leaders get out of this segment for early careers sales roles should be higher than average.  Your EEOC mix, as always, is your responsibility.

Mormon missionaries have done a sales job that's harder than the one you have peddling software, service contracts or widgets.  There were often angry dogs and heads of the household with guns involved.

There might even be a sales manager out there that was responsible for keeping these missionary flocks engaged and on the straight and narrow in the field. 

I'd give it a look.   

 


Will Algorithms Ultimately Write Coaching Scripts for Managers?

There's a lot of talk about AI, robots and algorithms ultimately replacing people in some, if not all, of the jobs we know and love.  While I believe that's going to happen (it already has and will continue), there's a couple of myths we can dispel about the displacement of people out of jobs.  

Those myths include the following:

  1. The revolution will happen fast and we'll all be out of jobs.  I've got good news and bad news.  The bad news first - you're all going to be impacted by the move to automation and AI.  The good news? Mr robot This stuff happens in waves, which means that generations have time to retrain and refocus where the jobs are moving to - for people.
  2. The art of managing people will never be lost to automation, because machines and AI can't manage emotions.  Actually, the art of managing people will be stripped away gradually in waves, just like everything else.  Sorry Mr./Mrs. Manager - you're not special in this regard.

Need proof related to both of those myths and what reality is? My friend Steve Boese shared the following snippet from the Financial Times, which is interesting and shows the current wave of management being stripped away and - I think - offers up a snapshot of what will be stripped away next:

The next frontier for algorithmic management is the traditional service sector, tackling retailers and restaurants.

Percolata is one of the Silicon Valley companies trying to make this happen. The technology business has about 40 retail chains as clients, including Uniqlo and 7-Eleven. It installs sensors in shops that measure the volume and type of customers flowing in and out, combines that with data on the amount of sales per employee, and calculates what it describes as the “true productivity” of a shop worker: a measure it calls “shopper yield”, or sales divided by traffic.

Percolata provides management with a list of employees ranked from lowest to highest by shopper yield. Its algorithm builds profiles on each employee — when do they perform well? When do they perform badly? It learns whether some people do better when paired with certain colleagues, and worse when paired with others. It uses weather, online traffic and other signals to forecast customer footfall in advance. Then it creates a schedule with the optimal mix of workers to maximise sales for every 15-minute slot of the day. Managers press a button and the schedule publishes to employees’ personal smartphones. People with the highest shopper yields are usually given more hours. Some store managers print out the leaderboard and post it in the break room. “It creates this competitive spirit — if I want more hours, I need to step it up a bit,” explains Greg Tanaka, Percolata’s 42-year-old founder.

The company runs “twin study” tests where it takes two very similar stores and only implements the system in one of them. The data so far suggest the algorithm can boost sales by 10-30 per cent, Tanaka says. “What’s ironic is we’re not automating the sales associates’ jobs per se, but we’re automating the manager’s job, and [our algorithm] can actually do it better than them.”

What this snippet shows is that the more data points available, the more current algorithms can replace the need for managers to evaluate performance.

Here's what could be next - it's hard right now to imagine a machine/algorithm providing coaching to the middle range or low performing employee.  After all they can't connect emotionally, right?

Of course, what that algorithm could do is provide a coaching script for the manager to follow based on what the data says that's impossible to mess up.

In the past, I've offered up this gold standard for a manager to use when writing performance review items . If an employee is "meeting" expectations in any area of performance, you use this basic formula:

    [<Statement +2> + <1 Stretch> = Gold] The Only Formula You Need

    That’s it. This formula is all you need when you’re writing any type of written performance- review item. Let’s break down what each part of this formula means:

  • Starting with Statement +2: Once you've arrived at a rating, you're going to make a statement that describes why you're giving the rating in question.  Then, you're going to back up the statement/rating with two specific performance/behavioral examples that you can cite from the review period.  The specific examples you give should be representative of the trend you see, and should help you illustrate why someone is at the rating you’re giving and not the next highest point on the rating scale.

After reading what's happening with sales performance in places like 7-Eleven, it's clear that AI and algorithms are cutting into the role of management at companies with access to data.  

It's not a big jump to think that those same algorithms and AI could create performance statements via the formula I provided above.  At some point, either humans aren't in the jobs or the tech advances to the place where AI can deliver the coaching via that formula to the human talent.  After all, you avoided it, right?

That's how it goes, right?  One day you love technology because it's making your job easier.  The next day the tech advances and suddenly, you're not needed.  

Brave new world...

 


Here's 3 Things You Can Do With Talent Claiming "Disruptor" Status...

If you're in the business of thinking about management and leadership, you'll get this post.

We love to celebrate the disruptors, right?  Big ideas, crazy results, etc. Rainman

Of course, the dirty little secret is that we only love the disruptors that don't get capped at the knees by the cultures they are trying to change.  The disruptors who don't make it?  We hate them.

We only celebrate the disruptors who make it.  The ones who don't are freaks/abnormals/cancers.  To tell the difference, you probably need to focus on the ideas rather than the behavior.

On my mind today related to this great post on LinkedIn by Bob Lyons (read it all, but here's a snippet):

"The legend of Steve Jobs is immortal. There have been countless articles, books and movies made about him and the way he founded and ran Apple. He was such a hard ass, he got fired from his own company in 1985. The establishment people he personally hired and surrounded himself with said they wanted him out. These were not strangers he inherited. How bad did it have to be for that to happen? In 1997 , on the verge of bankruptcy, Apple acquired the company Jobs created and made him CEO once again. Shortly after, products like the iPod, and iPhone started to hit the market. Apple even created a phenomenal customer centric experience through its Apple Stores unlike any consumers had experienced before (and some say since). Jobs certainly goes down as one of the great disruptors of our time, but going through it during its formative years was considered "hell on earth."

Bob's got some other great examples in his post so go check it out.

I'll leave you with this from my notebook after thinking about Bob's post:

Shit stirrer + no good ideas = fire immediately.

Shit stirrer + good ideas = incubate from rest of company and find mentor to round the corners.  Fire later if experiment fails in epic fashion.

Shit stirrer + good ideas + ability to execute through others = execute employment contract and find handler similar to Tom Cruise handling Dustin Hoffman in Rainman.

KD out.


Leadership and The Power of Doing the Work...

From my drive time this week, I got two very different takes on a public figure in the business world - a guy named Gary Vaynerchuk.  Here's a description of Gary that I pulled from Inc.com so I didn't have to think about how to describe him:

If you’re an Inc reader, you’re probably familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s the entrepreneur who grew his father’s business from a humble liquor store into a wine empire through a combination of social media and content marketing. Today he’s a media mogul, bestselling author, and aspiring New York Jets owner. Clouds and dirt

The man is a massive success, and he’s certainly no dummy.

That said, unless you’re a certain type of person in a very specific set of circumstances, following his "Jab, Jab, Crush It" model could likely sabotage your shot at success. Before you call me crazy, let me tell you why.

He relies on brute force.

Gary V. talks a lot about how hard he works. He regularly stays up until three in the morning, sending and responding to emails to cement connections. He tweets in every spare minute he has--in cabs, in-between meetings, during commercials. And when he’s not doing all that, he’s creating content and running his company.

Believe me when I say I admire the guy. But the fact remains that his approach to building a following is all about brute force. It relies on huge sacrifices of rest, free time, and deep concentration.

If you want a taste of Gary V, go here and here.

He's a polarizing figure.  One great friend of mine saw him speak recently and is all in. Another great friend of mine wouldn't slow down if Gary crossed the road in front of her SUV - she'd actually speed up.

But even if you hate Gary V, one thing you can't deny in his message is the power of doing the work.  It's something all of us forget as we move into leadership roles and start managing others.  Are you still doing the work on a daily basis?

Are you sure?  Or are you managing others doing the work?  Not the same thing.

Gary V has a new theme in his act - it's called "Clouds and Dirt".  The meaning of that theme is pretty simple -the clouds—the high-end philosophy of what you believe and also you being a dictator of strategy—and the dirt—the low-down subject matter expertise that allows you to execute against it. Gary V thinks you should forget about everything else.

He believes in Clouds and Dirt so much that he has a new Kswiss shoe - I'm not making this shit up - coming out in a few months.  That shoe is called "Clouds and Dirt."  Blue stripes for clouds, brown stripes for dirt.  Really. Kswiss shoes have 5 stripes for the uninitiated.

Behind the hype, Gary V is right about one thing:

Your strength as a leader comes from never losing your roots as a practitioner. Can you do the stuff you talk about?  The longer you and I are in leadership positions, the less we do the work.

Even if you do one thing a day that is actually "the work", do that one thing.

Be a practitioner.  Get grimy with some stuff in your shop.  It will make you a better leader and build empathy for your team and industry at the same time.

 


Is It Better to Be Feared or Loved in Corporate America?

I know, I know.  The cliche is that it's better to be feared, right?  Would you believe that an expert along the lines of Machiavelli disagrees at times?  Here's what Machiavelli has to say about protection against conspiracies in the Prince, which are plots to hurt someone on some level and reduce their power.

Being feared, Machiavelli says, is an important protection against a conspiracy.  But the ultimate protection, he says, is to be well liked.  Not simply because people who love you are less likely to take you down, but because they are less likely to tolerate anyone else trying to take you down. If a prince guards himself against that hatred, Machiavelli writes, "simple particular offenses will make trouble for him...because if they were even of spirit and had the power to do it, they are held back by the universal benevolence that they see the prince has." The prince

The problem with power on any level in an organization is that you have to make tough decisions.  Tough decisions ultimately hurt someone and cause enemies to be made.  In that circumstance, having the vast majority love you does seem to offer some protection against those who would want to harm you career-wise.

But Machiavelli is a bit of a thick read and contradicts himself from time to time, including this additional passage on the being feared vs being hated:

Here a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved. . . . Love endures by a bond which men, being scoundrels, may break whenever it serves their advantage to do so; but fear is supported by the dread of pain, which is ever present.

I'd add to this and say that if it's power you want to hold in an organization - it's better to be in the extremes - you either want to be feared or loved.  The middle isn't going to do you much good.

Which brings us to who you are behaviorally, right?  If it is power you have and it's easier for you to be hated than loved, than you should go with it.   Nice guy or gal? Let your benevolence shine through like the flashlight on your iPhone.

Do you want to be loved or hated?  Do you and don't be someone you're not.

 


THE WORLD'S SALARY CAP: Labor's Share of GDP Across the Globe...

Here's some deep thoughts for today.

If you're a professional sports fan, you know all about the concept of a salary cap, which is defined by Wikipedia as follows in sports:

In professional sports, a salary cap (or wage cap) is an agreement or rule that places a limit on the amount of money that a team can spend on players' salaries. It exists as a per-player limit or a total limit for the team's roster, or both. Several sports leagues have implemented salary caps, using it to keep overall costs down, and also to maintain a competitive balance by restricting richer clubs from entrenching dominance by signing many more top players than their rivals. Salary caps can be a major issue in negotiations between league management and players' unions, and have been the focal point of several strikes by players and lockouts by owners and administrators.

So what? The concept of a salary cap can be transferred to the business world in a couple of different ways:

1--Your company has a salary cap.  It's called the headcount budget, and the cap is all the budgeted money in that headcount budget.

2--Countries across the world don't have a salary cap, but they have something close - it's called Labor's Share of GDP.

What is Labor's Share of GDP?  It's defined as the following:

The wage share can be defined in various ways, but empirically it is usually defined as total labor compensation or labor costs over nominal GDP or gross value added.

The wage share is countercyclical; that is, it tends to fall when output increases and rise when output decreases. Despite fluctuating over the business cycle, the wage share was once thought to be stable, which Keynes described as "one of the most surprising, yet best-established facts in the whole range of economic statistics." However, the wage share has declined in most developed countries since the 1980s.

So add up all the compensation to labor, compare it to Gross Domestic Product (a measure of a country's economy), and you've got Wage Share/Labor's Share of GDP.  Which also serves as a floating salary cap of sorts for your country.

It's interesting to note that Wage Share/Labor's Share of GDP goes up and down and has been falling since the 80's in developed countries.  Take a look at these graphs from France, the UK and the USA from a paper on Labor Share in the G20:

Labor share

If you look at those graphs, you'll see the history of Labor share in those 3 countries, which also gives you some history to which national economies have endured the most change, which economies have a bigger safety net for labor in the midst of global change, etc.  France started at an 80% labor share of GDP and after a brief dip, is right back there.  The UK and the USA started a similar places, but safety nets in the UK have held the line lately at a 70%+ labor share, while the USA is in a bit of a free fall towards a 60% labor share.

Is that healthy for the USA?  Gordon Gekko would say yes, but rational, normal people would have to say no.  Thinking about all the changes that have occurred in our economy - global outsourcing, offshoring, tech deployment in place of human capital - and it's clear that we've been one of the most aggressive developed countries in those areas, and that's left our labor force with a much smaller share of our GDP, and likely has widened the gap between the "haves" and "have nots".

Note - I'm a moderate republican.  I'm not hating on the fact that America has less regulation than other countries - but - this type of change related to Labor Share of GDP has consequences for any economy/society over time.  You can't ignore that and it's worth being educated about the differences.

So America has a salary cap of sorts - call Labor's Share of GDP.  It's not a hard cap, it's been falling for a time and when you think about it from a sports perspective, it basically means this - in America, a higher percentage of the money in the economy goes to owners of capital rather than employees.

By the way, if you're wondering what labor's share of revenue (salary cap) is for American professional sports, a quick scan shows 47% in the NFL and 53% in the NBA.  Major League Baseball doesn't have a salary cap.

Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys - or unskilled labor.


POWERPOINT MBA: Font Sizes In Your Presentations

Let's face it - Some of you suck at PowerPoint.  Heck, I've come to realize that being a good presenter and being good at PowerPoint at times are related and at times are not.

Case in point - you can be a great presenter and use PowerPoint in a very minimalistic way.  Great presenters tell stories, and the best way to use PP in that regard is often slides that have nothing but pictures.  

In that arena, you can be an artist.  But 99% of the population struggles to do PowerPoint in that way - because they can't READ the slides as a presenter. Pp

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your presentations have to serve as leave-behinds or informational/educational vehicles within your company after you present on the topic of choice, pictures suck in that regard.  The leave-behind means nothing. You gave a great presentation and dazzled some people with your art, but nobody knows what the #### you are talking about if they fire up your deck without you there.

Not doing what's expected is a quick way to get beheaded in the corporate world.  So you need some words - but how many words?

A blast from the past - Guy Kawasaki - had a 10/20/30 rule. A presentation should be no longer than 10 slides, should last no more than 20 minutes, and the font size should be at least 30.  He's covering a lot of ground there, including deck size, presentation length and how big the font is.  Feels right for presentations in your company where people already have directional ideas and understanding of the business issues at hand.

Kawasaki also has another formula for the optimal font size: The age of the oldest person in the room, divided by 2. Which means you can go smaller than a 30 font - and put more on the slides - if you don't have a 55-60 year old in the room.

Is that right?  I'm not sure.  It's clever, but in this case clever doesn't mean right.

For best results, I recommend the following:

1--If you're presenting outside your company, do more slides with pictures only and tell a story.  If you can't go all pictures, make every second slide "picture only" - which means in between you'll have some word slides to lean on.

2 -Beware of your culture if you're doing an internal presentation.  We know you saw a Ted Talk.  You're not a Harvard PhD talking about a cute topic to support your book.  You're here to tell us about the new accounting software.  We don't need the picture from the Matrix (even though I would love that), just put your implementation plan on some slides (no less than 30 font!) and let's slog through this.

For every presentation, there's a reality.  Let your strategy follow that.  Let your freak flag fly when appropriate and most importantly, don't get fired.  Or have someone make a mental note to fire you down the road if they have a chance.


The Art of Rejecting/Approval: Automatic Action Means You're a Complete ##$ - Or a Robot...

The problem with tech, machine learning and A.I. is that we can at times do things too fast.

This seems like a good problem to have in a world where most candidates for jobs go into black holes and never get feedback, right? Delete

Never getting action on something important to you is a HUMAN problem.

Getting action within 1-5 minutes on something important to you is a TECH/A.I problem.

Need some examples? Here you go:

1--I wrote a review on Amazon for Tim Sackett's book last week.  It may have been the first review I ever completed on Amazon.  What was interesting about what happened when I clicked "submit" was the speed at which approval moved.  I was surprised to get a landing page and a follow up email from Amazon telling me that my review was pending approval.  After all, this is Amazon - can't they figure out that I'm not a evil-doer by a systems/computer/IP scan of my review?  My surprise was soon muted when 5-7 minutes after I submitted the review, it was approved.  Think about that for a second.

2--I was speaking at a Jobvite function in Atlanta last week to a room full of recruiters, and I asked the following question - "how do candidates judge you as a recruiter?"  One quick answer that was provided was "speed".  My audience said what you already know - that candidates expect speed from recruiters.  But one voice was quick to point out that in the art of rejection, too much speed could be harsher than never hearing your status at all.  Example - recruiter has manageable workload and is committed to keep her ATS workflow clean.  Candidate comes in that is obviously under-qualified and not right for the job.  You see the application 4 minutes after the candidate pushed send.  Do you reject them that soon?  My audience said no, you needed to wait to spare the candidate's feeling. I agree.

In both circumstances, world-class speed to the next action was available.  Amazon's tech obviously approved my review - there's too many reviews flowing through the system for it to be handled any other way.  But someone decided that auto-approving my review didn't show the proper level of consideration.  Same thing with the recruiter - rejection within 5 minutes was too harsh.

Someday soon, your ATS will scan a resume and tell you whether it's good or not, much like Amazon did to my review.  You won't have to decide on whether to reject each candidate individually, but you will have to decide on how much time passes before rejection feels like you gave a resume proper consideration.

What's proper consideration mean time-wise before you reject a candidate?  I'm thinking 4 hours minimum.

What do you think?