Leadership Signals Week: Steph Curry Says "Bye" to an Unlikable Peer...

Capitalist Note: It's "Leadership Signals Week" here at the HR Capitalist, where I talk about things I've seen leaders communicate over the last couple of weeks that speak volumes about what they want their followers to think.

Communication matters if you're a leader. It's the most visible sign of what you believe, and it drives the intensity and beliefs of those that choose to follow you. Don't be fooled into thinking all communication is part of a formal plan. Some leadership signals are purposeful, others just happen organically.

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Next up on Leadership Signals Week - Pro Basketball (NBA) star Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors).

This isn't a sports post. It's a post about the signals that leaders send when important team members Curry (unpopular to some or all in your company) decide to leave the company.

The history of the Golden State Warriors has a dramatic arc over the last 5 years. Led by the always likable and role-model worthy Curry, the Warriors won the 2015 NBA Championship, then reached the finals in 2016 - but lost to the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. Along the way, Steph Curry was the NBA season MVP in 2015 and 2016.

Great success to be sure. But after the 2016 Finals loss, Golden State did the unthinkable, picking up another top five player in free agency - Kevin Durant. The roster addition of Durant resulted in two more titles in 2017 and 2018, before injuries resulted in a loss in the finals last summer (2019).

But along the way there was drama. Durant was known to be moody, petulant and hard to please. While the addition of top talent in Durant made the healthy version of the Warriors all but unbeatable, the work product wasn't the same as in 2015 and 2016.  Less sharing, less collaboration and less fun.  The business version? We're stronger than we've ever been as a company, but man, the old days were the glory days - and that executive sure is grumpy as hell.

Flash forward to late last summer, and Durant chose to leave the Warriors in free agency. This combined with other injuries and competitive pressures means the Warriors aren't the team they used to be.

But leadership signals are still important - so in the Warriors first preseason game (and first game without the moody Durant) in a new arena, Steph Curry sent the following message (email subscribers click through if you don't see the video below or click this link to get the video on Twitter):

The message? "The person that brought everyone down isn't here anymore. I'm in charge and work is about to become a lot more fun for you."

Curry's quote after the game: “That was choreographed since, like, yesterday. I was just going to shoot it. Christen Chase Center the right way. Obviously it went airball, but obviously I thought it was fitting to take a wild shot like that and get everybody excited.”

What Curry doesn't say is that there's zero chance he takes that shot if Durant is still a part of the team. Curry had a long history of trying to keep Durant engaged by deferring to him and making sure he felt like a leader the team needed. It wasn't enough - Durant was moody and difficult as a teammate.

Things that could happen in your company when a leader with low approval levels decides (or is asked) to leave:

--The old leader didn't like any music at any company function. First all-hands meeting, the leaders that take over blast Van Halen from the speakers.

--The old leader had a parking spot upfront. The leaders that take over turn that into an "employee of the week" parking spot.

--The old leader didn't like to participate in recognition activities. The leaders that take over do a recognition event within the first week. With music.

You get the vibe. When grumpy, unlikable leaders leave, a celebration of sorts might be in order.  

Steph Curry sent a leadership signal with his first shot that win or lose, this season was going to be fun. Buckle up! Ding-Dong, the grumpy witch is dead took another job on the East Coast!


LEADERSHIP SIGNALS WEEK: Elizabeth Warren Sends a Signal on Values...

Capitalist Note: It's "Leadership Signals Week" here at the HR Capitalist, where I talk about things I've seen leaders communicate over the last couple of weeks that speak volumes about what they want their followers to think.

Communication matters if you're a leader. It's the most visible sign of what you believe, and it drives the intensity and beliefs of those that choose to follow you. Don't be fooled into thinking all communication is part of a formal plan. Some leadership signals are purposeful, others just happen organically.

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First up for Leadership Signals Week, I present democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

This isn's a political post (I'm a moderate Republican for the record, in many ways an independent), but an analysis of a recent leadership signal by Warren.

So what leadership signal did Elizabeth Warren send to the world recently? She signaled that anyone that doesn't share her values will be ejected from her Warrenorganization and the reason will be openly discussed. Before you cheer or jeer, let's analyze the signal and we'll discuss it length after this excerpt from Politico:

"Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign has fired its national organizing director, Rich McDaniel, after an investigation into allegations of what it called “inappropriate behavior.”

“Over the past two weeks, senior campaign leadership received multiple complaints regarding inappropriate behavior by Rich McDaniel,” campaign spokesperson Kristen Orthman said in a statement after an inquiry from POLITICO Friday morning. “Over the same time period, the campaign retained outside counsel to conduct an investigation. Based on the results of the investigation, the campaign determined that his reported conduct was inconsistent with its values and that he could not be a part of the campaign moving forward.”

In a statement, McDaniel said, "I have separated from the campaign and am no longer serving as National Organizing Director. I have tremendous respect for my colleagues despite any disagreements we may have had and believe departing at this time is in the best interest of both parties.

"I would never intentionally engage in any behavior inconsistent with the campaign or my own values. If others feel that I have, I understand it is important to listen even when you disagree. I wish the campaign and my colleagues well."

So what's the leadership signal sent here?  The real signal isn't a termination due to something that certainly seems harassment-related (most of us get that and would likely do the same if evidence warranted)- the real signal is the fact that Warren put the reason for the term openly and aggressively on display for the outside world.

I've written before about your options related to communicating reasons for terms to the rest of your organization.  Most of us aren't presidential candidates, but we still term people from time to time, and if we communicate that someone is no longer with the company, we generally just throw out a note of "separation" indicating that John Doe is no longer with the company, etc.

Under normal circumstances, the lack of detail that the employee is leaving for another opportunity signals the fact that the term was for some type of cause. But, if you fired the person for a good reason and the company is better off without them, communicating in this type of fashion is a bit of a missed opportunity.

By putting the detail for the term out to the media, Elizabeth Warren sending an extreme signal.  The signal here is not just that "those who don't match my values won't be allowed to work in this organization", but that "I will aggressive eject and tell the team why I made this call in clear terms".

Of course, the cynics will say that this termination/ejection is good for her campaign. Maybe. You never want to term someone for the reasons stated, but doing so and communicating the reason with such clarity does send signals to her voter base.

But we all have a decision to make when terming folks who fall short (in a variety of ways) of our value structure. How do we communicate? Making the decision to fire fast when you see a values gap is a good leadership signal. Many in your organization will understand without you saying more.

Communicating the reason for the term in more specific fashion to your base (for most of us, that's not voters, it's employees) is going hard in the paint.

It's either genius or incredible tone deaf - I waffle. But it's a clear leadership signal, and that's what this series is about.

"Results may vary".


Chick-fil-A: Observations from the Road About Talent and Culture...

I travel a lot for work. Over the last nine years, that's meant a bit of travel fatigue and recent attempts to reduce my total number of nights in hotel rooms.

Reducing nights in hotel rooms generally means getting up as early as needed and hitting the road for mid morning meetings - rather than going in the night before.  Being up early means a need for coffee and food somewhere along the way - especially on trips where I drive into the meeting in question.

Enter Chick-fil-A

Most people know Chick-fil-A for specific reasons:

--Kick Ass chicken sandwiches (you're weak, @Popeyes. Don't @ me).

--Great service at the counter.

--You say thanks, they say, "My pleasure".  You can say thanks 5 times, they're always going to come back and say that phrase.  You could say, "I appreciate how you're going with the company line to such extremes, you robo-cop of chicken sandwich love" - you know what they're going to say?  "My pleasure".

But I'm here today not to applaud Chick-fil-A for the normal things you associate them with.  Instead, let's talk about subtle signs of how they treat people.

I generally walk into Chick-fil-A's in the morning because the restrooms are always clean, etc. I'm around about 4 or 5 Chick-fil-A locations during my normal power commutes of 3 hour trips in the car, and you know what I always see?

I ALWAYS SEE GROUPS OF ANYWHERE FROM 3-6 CHICK-FIL-A EMPLOYEES IN THE SIDE SECTION OF THE SEATING OF THE  RESTAURANT, EATING TOGETHER AND GENERALLY TALKING TO ONE ANOTHER.

I don't want to go off on too much of a rant here, but when's the last time you consistently saw that at a fast food location? 

Try never.  And I see it all the time at the Chick-fil-A locations I'm around.

I've never seen it at another fast food franchise.  It's haunted me a bit, because like any HR geek, I want to know the people practices behind what I'm seeing. I thought about asking the employees but paused due to the jeepers/creepers factor, and have thought about asking to speak with a managers and then I saw this in a social post (email subscribers, click through if you don't see the photo below):

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Makes sense - free food every shift.  Taking care of people, and a meaningful perk for many they employ.

I'm sure other chains offer that as well but DAMN - I always see these Chick-fil-A employees eating with each other and they're actually engaged with each other. It's staggering and meaningful from a cultural perspective.

It all comes down to how they hire. If you know anything about the company, you know franchise are owned by individual operators who are highly vetted. A living wage doesn't hurt. They're offering family discounts as well as free food and you don't have to work Sundays.  All of those things add up to provide a place as an employer of choice, one you see in the service you experience vs other chains (airport locations excluded).

You love the chicken sandwich. I say "screw the chicken sandwich, did you see what's happening on the side?"  They have people engaging each other on THEIR OWN TIME.

Staggering. Well played, Chick-fil-A.  I see you.


Feedback Notes on KD From the Speaker's Circuit: If Everyone's Happy, You Didn't Do Your Job...

My friend Jennifer McClure is a speaker and loves to share actual feedback that's been gathered by organizations that bring her into speak. Overall ratings that are numbers-driven are appropriate and you have to have them for overall measurement.

But the real gold? It's in what I'll call the "verbatim" comments, where people can say anything they want.  Jennifer is known for sharing chippy comments from attendees about her outfit - dress, shoes, etc. Good stuff.

You'll never please everyone in the room when you put yourself out there to speak. It's one of the first things you learn as a speaker, and over a decade ago (when I first started speaking at conferences) it was a hard lesson to learn.  But it's probably also a lesson for anyone who's going to share a strong point of view (POV) inside their company as well.

I've spoken 4 times in the last two months - audiences range from 800 to 70 attendees.  To underscore the reality you can't please everyone with your POV, I thought I'd offer up an overall rating and some verbatim comments from the speakers trail.  Enjoy and scroll to the bottom for analysis and the soul crushing, hard criticism:

Date - sometime in the last 2 months.

Audience size and type:  200 attendees,

Overall Ratings: 

"The content was valuable to me" - 8.90 out of 10

"The Speaker was knowledgeable and engaging" - 9.38 out of 10.

Verbatim Comments:

Very entertaining speaker. Love this event.

The pictures used on the slides!

The speaker

Recruiters are sales people. Period.

Timely reminder of how employers SHOULD relate and deal with all candidates.

Valuable insights on making for TA experience human, the power of story telling, using assessments throughout the employment lifecycle.

What's up KD!! Speaker was great. (editor's note - I do a group exercise to get people comfortable referring to me as "KD", which is what my friends call me)

Good mix of data with tips to take back to the office.

Q&A session & some of the content

Actionable takeaways

The delivery was intentional and he told a story vs. a lot of words on a slide. He made the session relevant.

The speaker used compelling numbers and gave solid advice!

Learning valuable information and networking with my peers.

Engaging speaker

Wealth of knowledge of the speaker and the valuable insights provided during the presentation.

Conversation about finding low rules and highly organized individuals. Also Text Recruiting and the implementation of it.

The welcoming environment at my table. The relevant/timely presentation.

Value of story-telling in recruitment (company's TA website)

Kris' succinct style of communicating a complex message, real genuine info that is implementable

 

App length, Real people, 3:1 job posting, Text recruiting

Sell, not screen. Focus on differentiators in culture. Make it easy to apply.

Always Be Hustlin :-)

Dynamic presenter on a very relevant topic

Everything

Designing the career website so it's real and memorable.

How to manage effective recruiting processes

Company branding and culture tips

 

The application process should take no more than 5 minutes, assessments should be used to find people that fit the company, and should be used post hire as well.

Memorable in a bad way. Usually, I find the speakers interesting and informative so this was an exception. It felt like an infomercial. The advice was simplistic and often not evidence-based. At least at my table, his comments about the unattractive people on the Amazon website prompted groans and comments such as "is he for real." He might consider more humility. At least acknowledge that "sometimes" these strategies might work.

How difficult it is to confirm your company’s culture and how important it is to share and explain the culture during recruiting.

The critical importance of having the website to be mobile ready.

Engaging and practical

The helpful advice and key takeaways from the speaker

The dynamics of the speaker

Good presentation

Presentation mode - pictures and main thought.

The number of relate-able business scenarios the speaker talked about.

Kris' engaging personality and being a SME in the areas of culture, recruitment & retention.

Discussion on ATS and attracting employees though branding.

Great speaker and program!

I absolutely loved the presentation

KD would be good to have along with a panel of others to conduct a half/full day of talent acquisition/retention.

 

SHRM member.

Favorite speaker this year!

 

Great meeting!!!!

Offer some meetings around lunchtime as opposed to always in the morning

Great session quality and impact! Let's bring him back  :-).

Fantastic program! Would love to be back!

Glad to be a member of the local chapter.

Dynamic speaker

2nd program I've attended. First was Dec '17 or '18. Found program inspired. Now I'll return!

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OK, so in the big scheme of things, that's pretty good feedback.  I had a great time at this session and the audience is a hidden gem in the speaking world, engaged and responsive. While I probably had something to do with that, the reality is that some audiences are just better than others. This was a great crowd!

But just like my friend Jennifer McClure knows, there's a lump of coal ready for anyone with a point of view willing to share in an authentic way on the speaker's circuit.  Usually there's more than one lump of coal, but in this case really just one.

Did you see it?  Here it is:

"Memorable in a bad way. Usually, I find the speakers interesting and informative so this was an exception. It felt like an infomercial. The advice was simplistic and often not evidence-based. At least at my table, his comments about the unattractive people on the Amazon website prompted groans and comments such as "is he for real." He might consider more humility. At least acknowledge that "sometimes" these strategies might work."

My favorite part?  "He might consider more humility."  Also, "memorable in a bad way." Translation: KD seems like a bastard.

Now that's not a chippy comment about shoes or dress that Jennifer gets at times.  Men don't get a lot of dress/look comments, which is good for me and another post. BTW, the Amazon thing was a crowd exercise where I ask the crowd to rate the attractiveness of some employees featured on Amazon's career site.  The crowd was unified, they're a bunch of 6's.  The point? You need to share real people, not pretty people in stock art as a part of a drive toward authenticity on your career site.

But the overall comment underscores a reality about anyone in the professional world with a POV.  If you're going to have passion about something, you just need to know that when you share, a certain percentage of the world thinks you're a complete *** and should step back into the crowd. While this audience was a great one, I'd generally put presentation audiences in a bell curve of sorts - 20% of going to be supporters, 20% are going to be detractors - related to your content, your style, etc.  It's what you do with the 60% in the middle that matters. You want to convert them, because the more you convert them, the more muted the detractors become.

If you're a white collar professional in America who wants to rise, your career rides on your POV being perceived as value-added and/or innovative.  You can't communicate that POV without detractors.  Don't stop sharing your POV if you believe in what you do. Detractors will always be there.

Oh, and could you be a little bit more humble when you share your opinion in the next staff meeting, please?  That would be great.


@Google: Stop Talking About Your Opinion and Get Back to Work...

Without question, candidates with options in the job marketplace are looking for companies with a purpose behind their business.  That's why you see the rise in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) as a topic and companies like Unilever not only revamping their corporate values, but also mandating that every brand in the portfolio have a mission/purpose that people can get behind.

Funny thing about all this mission talk - It's OK for companies to dictate what the purpose-drive reason is for their corporate existence, but once employees start dictating what the purpose should be, it all goes straight to hell. Atn

That's because we live in America. We can't talk about most topics of meaning and generate a better than 60/40 split in agree/disagree.

Welcome to the difference between "purpose-driven mission" and "employee activism".  One wants to save the planet. The other?  Let's just say it's bound to be divisive.

So divisive that Google - the standard for employee voice and the company who's primary value for years was "don't be evil" - recently placed limits on what employees can say in the workplace related to their views.  

More from Recode:

"Google announced new rules on Thursday about what employees are allowed to say in the workplace — including restrictions on political expression and guidelines on internal debates about company activity.

The new rules come as Google faces increasing scrutiny from politicians, the public, and its employees on a number of issues. Republicans, including President Donald Trump, continue to make unfounded accusations that the company’s products display a bias against conservatives. Employees on both sides of the political aisle have accused Google of retaliating against workers on the basis of their ethical and political beliefs. And internal debates over controversial projects, like a censored search engine for China, and company decisions, like how to moderate abusive content on YouTube, have created a growing rift between employees and leadership.

In an email sent to employees Thursday evening, Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained the company’s revised community guidelines, which now explicitly discourage workers from discussing politics on Google’s thousands of internal mailing lists and forums, several of which are devoted exclusively to discussing politics and related topics.

“While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build community, disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story does not,” the guidelines state. They warn employees that their primary responsibility is to “do the work” that they’ve been hired to do — “not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics.”

The new rules are a radical departure from how the historically open company has always functioned, and they demonstrate how seriously Google is confronting its ongoing struggle with internal dissent among its rank and file and external accusations of political bias.

Hidden in the announcement and spin from Recode - activist employees don't speak for the employee base as a whole. Whether the topic is politics or a strong opinion about providing products and services to the US government, activist employees represent the polar extreme of a viewpoint.  Many of our employees have differing views, and the majority are moderate and exist somewhere in the middle of the spectrum on any issue.

Google has chosen to address the activist employee voices and get everyone back to work and doing what they're paid to do - create great products and services.

When it comes to purpose-driven work, the new rules at Google provide clarity on a reality - defining purpose is the domain of the corporation/organization - not the employee.


BUILDING CULTURE THROUGH RECRUITING #4: Building Your Employment Brand...

Capitalist Note: This post is part of a series on Building/Reinforcing Company Culture Through Great Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Practices. 

Let's face it people, "company culture" is a loaded phrase. Some of it is real, some of it is aspirational, but one thing on my mind recently is that as we try to build the culture we want at our companies, we forget about the messages we send in our recruiting process.

So you're proud of your culture - cool!  Let's dig in and see if you're reinforcing that culture in all the gritty details of your talent acquisition/recruiting process. Remember - if your TA/Recruiting process doesn't match and promote your culture, you're not going to get the fit/matches you need in the candidate marketplace.

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It's fitting that I waited until the 4th post in a 5-post series on recruiting and culture to talk about Employment Branding

Building an impactful Employment Brand to signal cultural norms to candidates, encouraging opt-in/opt out in the recruiting process (including your career site, KinetixSR social, ATS messaging, job postings and more) is an important topic.

But the position of your employment brand is not the most important thing when it comes to linking your recruiting practices with your culture.  The posts that came before this one - building your recruiting team and core practices, values/potential factors positioning and use of assessments - are requirements before you turn you attention to brand.  You have to know who you are and how to measure that in candidates before you can accurately tell the world that story.

Still, Employment Brand matters - a lot. There's a lot of buzz about Employment Branding these days, and as a result, a lot of smoke and mirrors related to what you need. To put our view in the simplest terms - you don't need a lot of fancy tools to ensure your employment brand supports the culture you're trying to build. That's the good news.

The bad news - or challenge if you will - is that great Employment Brands require an initial and ongoing effort to support from a recruiting ops perspective. At times, you'll wonder whether the work is worth the effort, but our collaboration at Kinetix with many, many clients suggests that companies who follow a specific plan related to Employment Brand always win in the candidate marketplace.  

Here's our list of the most important things to remember and work on as you develop a great Employment Brand to match the culture you're building at your company:

1—Revamp your career site with an eye towards authenticity, your biggest recruiting challenges and cultural themes.

Let's start with a basic thought - if you're careers site isn't highly visual, you lose. To build on that thought, your site must include art (images and video) that shows real employees doing work - no stock art. Authenticity is built by weaving these real people into stories (more on that to follow) that precisely provide the narratives you want the world to hear.  Limited real estate on any career site means you must be a bit selfish related to the stories you tell - focused on your biggest recruiting job group needs and the behavioral traits/competencies you believe define your culture.

2—Storytelling is king – a great careers/employment brand presence must include deep profiles of people actually doing the work.

In the competitive world for talent, static people sites aren't enough—you've got to show candidates fresh content regularly. A cornerstone of your approach should be storytelling - written articles showcasing your awesome employees and culture. This written content is fundamental to the your employer brand and creates content across multiple specialties and career paths. This storytelling should focus on the work - the good bad and ugly about doing a job at your company, with limited bad and ugly messaging (think 10% of the story) building authenticity and creditability.

While written content is key for SEO, the world expects video to be part of your employment brand. By creating quick-hitting videos showcasing your culture and specific departments/functional areas, candidates feel as if they’ve received an insider’s view to what it’s like to work at your company.

3—Your careers site is the destination, social is a means of distribution (as well as engagement).

Most of your competitors have a weak careers social media strategy, simply posting jobs. To be best-in-class, you'll need to create careers-focused social media channels rich with focused content, curation, responsiveness, and more.  There's synergy in the storytelling approach we're recommending for your careers site, since every employee profile you create (written and video) becomes content from which you can create social media posting schedules that support your employment brand beyond simply posting jobs.  For best results, create broad schedules of social content across the major social channels (we recommend you start with Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram), focused on your storytelling, as well as curation from other sources at your company and the outside world that support the culture you're trying to communicate and the jobs you're trying to fill.

4—The right employment brand content unlocks candidate engagement strategies most companies can’t consider.

By now, you probably get the strategy of linking candidates to your culture through employment branding efforts. Build a great career site showing real people doing the work, tell the stories of great employees in a way that's linked to your culture and your toughest recruiting challenges, then share those stories through your careers-based social strategy. Rinse and repeat for best results. But ongoing discipline to storytelling unlocks true competitive advantage

Follow our advice related to authentic storytelling, and you'll have the ability to execute on multiple employment branding initiatives in a way your competitors can't touch. Targeted email marketing is a great way to distribute content to talent communities and interested candidates, driving engagement and keeping candidates interested in the opportunities available at your company. At Kinetix, we see a 40-50% open rate across our clients on these types of email campaigns focused on talent pools. As you continue to tell stories about your culture and specific job groups, your career site can build into micro-sites based on cultural competencies or job specialty - which can be used by recruiters in direct communications with prime candidates.

Your competitors will say they're building talent pools. You'll do it and actually have something to say once the talent pool grows.  Advantage: You.

Storytelling wins when it comes to building an Employment Brand and linking it to your culture.

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Views expressed are the product of the school of hard knocks, which includes watching my team at Kinetix represent great companies and brands on the RPO recruiting trail. Reach out if you ever need recruiting help while you build something great.


BUILDING CULTURE THROUGH RECRUITING #3: Assessment Platforms in Selection...

Capitalist Note: This post is part of a series on Building/Reinforcing Company Culture Through Great Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Practices. 

Let's face it people, "company culture" is a loaded phrase. Some of it is real, some of it is aspirational, but one thing on my mind recently is that as we try to build the culture we want at our companies, we forget about the messages we send in our recruiting process.

So you're proud of your culture - cool!  Let's dig in and see if you're reinforcing that culture in all the gritty details of your talent acquisition/recruiting process. Remember - if your TA/Recruiting process doesn't match and promote your culture, you're not going to get the fit/matches you need in the candidate marketplace.

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HR and recruiting leaders love assessment platforms. There's a good reason for that - it's incredibly hard to hire the right person for a specific job/company, and the right assessment platform can neutralize challenges in the interviewing skills of hiring managers and help you make the right selection decision. In addition, assessment platforms unlock the talent geek in all of us - we're fascinated by the science and validity of these tools.

Properly used, the right assessment platform can also help you build/reinforce company culture. But Rookietoo often we onboard assessment tools that are poor fits for our company culture or send candidates mixed messages about what's most important to our company. The result is we miss on top talent because we're focused on the wrong things.

Good news - there's a simple roadmap to follow if you want to use assessment platforms to identify top talent and drive culture, all while ensuring your organization has the diversity necessary to meet business challenges.  

1--When selecting a Behavioral Assessment platform to use in your recruiting process, size matters. It's easy to get lost in the science of behavioral assessments and want it all. With hundreds of providers competing for your attention, the result is bloat, as measured by how long it takes a candidate to complete the assessment (too long) and the size of the output report back to your recruiters/hiring managers (too many pages). 

Select an assessment platform that's light in both of these measurements. Simple things get used, complex things don't. An assessment platform that takes more than 20-25 minutes to complete is net negative to how a candidate views your culture, and any assessment report that can't be summarize a candidate to a hiring manager in a single page is unlikely to be used in a meaningful way.

Size matters. Be OK picking an assessment platform that provides 90% of the value in 50% of the time. 

2--Assessment platforms using pass/fail designations rob your company of behavioral/situational diversity.

Many assessment platforms sell the ability to give you a pass/fail, hire/don't hire answer on candidate selection. While this feature of certain assessment platforms is attractive, resist the urge to deploy this type of solution. The reality of selection in your company is much more nuanced than a hire/don't hire assessment solution can provide.

Deploying an assessment platform to assist in building/reinforcing culture is more complex. The reality is that hire/don't hire recommendations will only be available for specific jobs, and to truly use assessments for building/reinforcing culture, you'll want to use them for every job in your company. In addition, pass/fail designations rob your company of candidates who provide behavioral and situational diversity, whereas viewing each candidate profile across a variety of dimensions allows you to make tradeoffs and hire candidates who might have been rejected - with the expectation they'll need to be coached in certain areas

If you're building a great culture, it's likely you'll be committed to building a culture of coaching and feedback. There's no better example of this than looking at a team of 8-10 people across the assessment dimensions you use (recommend no more than 8 dimensions for simplicity) and seeing differences as well as similarities. Behavioral diversity matters, and you can't accomplish it with platforms that sell pass/fail.

3--The modern world of work mandates some behavioral categories are more important than others.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

That iconic quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off underscores what everyone reading this understands - in today's business world, speed matters. There are few environments left where change doesn't occur on a daily basis. 5-year strategic plans have been replaced with a quarterly, if not monthly, focus.

As a result, some behavioral dimensions are more important than others to provide cultural and business fit.  To find cultural fit in the world of change that likely exists in your company, we recommend use of a solution that includes a cognitive element (helps you measure the ability to take in large amounts of data and make quick, accurate decisions) as well as rules orientation (measures comfort in unstructured, chaotic environments).

Add in dimensions like Detail Orientation and Sensitivity (both help measure ability to execute), and you've got a playbook for a candidate who can thrive in a culture of high change.  

4--Post-hire use of your behavioral assessment platform is key in developing a culture focused on employee development.

To truly unlock the ability to use assessment platforms to build and reinforce culture, you'll need to ensure that they're used after you've made your hiring decision. This requires partnership and collaboration between Talent Acquisition/Recruiting and the rest of the HR function.

First up - repurpose your assessment used in selection as an onboarding tool. Train your managers on how to run a session to share the assessment results with each new employee, describing what each dimension means and where the onboarding employee falls in those dimensions. Turn this 1/1 session into an introduction to coaching in your company culture by having the manager share "two strengths" (dimensions that will help the employee do great things) and "two opportunities" (dimensions that might trip up the employee from time to time if awareness is not high).

This 1/1 session sets the stage for future coaching and unlocks the potential of the recruiting assessment to maximize the company culture you're building moving forward.  

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Views expressed are the product of the school of hard knocks, which includes watching my team at Kinetix represent great companies and brands on the RPO recruiting trail. Reach out if you ever need recruiting help while you build something great.


BUILDING CULTURE THROUGH RECRUITING #2: The Impact of Values, Potential Factors and Competencies...

Capitalist Note: This post is part of a series on Building/Reinforcing Company Culture Through Great Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Practices. 

Let's face it people, "company culture" is a loaded phrase. Some of it is real, some of it is aspirational, but one thing on my mind recently is that as we try to build the culture we want at our companies, we forget about the messages we send in our recruiting process.

So you're proud of your culture - cool!  Let's dig in and see if you're reinforcing that culture in all the gritty details of your talent acquisition/recruiting process. Remember - if your TA/Recruiting process doesn't match and promote your culture, you're not going to get the fit/matches you need in the candidate marketplace.

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Do you have a mission statement or company values? (which we'll combine and simply call "values" or "company values" from here on out)

More importantly, do you have values that can actually be a net positive in your recruiting Netflixprocess?  With the job market hotter than ever, lame values won't cut it - candidates can smell phony or inactive company values that aren't real a mile away.  

Why have candidates become so adept at calling bullshit on our aspirational value statements? It's because so many companies claim items like "integrity" and "communication" to be part of their value structure.  Those are great values to have (and the need for them is real), but when everyone is claiming the same broad set of values, it's hard to stand out.

So how do you create company values that reinforce the culture you have and make candidates view you as an employer of choice? Here's 4 keys from our experience with our many recruiting clients at Kinetix: 

1--Make sure your company values invoke a sense of broader purpose and reflect the current challenges/mission you have. Candidates are increasingly seeking a sense of purpose in their work, so it makes sense to embed purpose in your values through connection to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) themes.  Companies like Unilever have gone all in on this approach and even mandated executives assign a purpose to every product in the company's portfolio. An examination of how Uber's company values changed after a period of turmoil show a transition from focusing on winning to working with others, serving community and valuing differences. Intent of your messaging matters.

2--Consider Potential Factors as an alternative to values when communicating culture. Some companies have made the decision to replace or supplement company values with Potential Factors. Potential Factors (and their related cousin, competencies) are designed to identify what a company values most in talent and as such, serve as a guide in how that company hires, promotes, rewards, and at times, fires. Your process for determining Potential Factors at your company revolves around what makes high performers at your company (regardless of position) successful.  

3--Consider swinging for the fence by activating audacious goals/themes across your mission, value statements and cultural collateral. Nothing activates candidate interest like big goals that stand out from the crowd called BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals). What are you chasing that's big? Are you brave enough to say it? Nike used a BHAG in the 1960's when their cultural goal was to "crush Adidas".  Elon Musk is using BHAGs at SpaceX today by pledging to put humans on Mars by 2024. For a more subtle approach, revisit the Netflix Culture Deck, which states that the goal of the streaming giant is to build a team that resembles a pro sports team rather than a traditional workforce.  

4--For true cultural activation, your values should appear across the recruit/perform/succession continuum. When it comes to communicating values, potential factors and BHAGs, most companies develop company values, print some posters, add pages to the intranet and call it a day. While developing an attractive set of values can help you on the recruiting trail if communicated properly, to truly unlock the cultural potential of values, companies must ensure values appear across the recruit/perform/succession continuum. That means once you develop values, you have to measure your people on their effectiveness in displaying those stated values to get results (regardless of their job) and ensure they impact promotion/succession decisions as well. 

If your values and other cultural tools aren't a part of your performance/succession process, you've got some work to do, either by incorporating what you have in those tools or starting your values/potential factors process from scratch.

Ideas matter when it comes to getting your share of great talent. Of course, you have to back that up with operational excellence in your people practice once you onboard candidates.

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Views expressed are the product of the school of hard knocks, which includes watching my team at Kinetix represent great companies and brands on the RPO recruiting trail. Reach out if you ever need recruiting help while you build something great.


BUILDING CULTURE THROUGH RECRUITING #1: Your Team and Process Matters More Than You Think

Capitalist Note: This post is part of a series on Building/Reinforcing Company Culture Through Great Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Practices. 

Let's face it people, "company culture" is a loaded phrase. Some of it is real, some of it is aspirational, but one thing on my mind recently is that as we try to build the culture we want at our companies, we forget about the messages we send in our recruiting process.

So you're proud of your culture - cool!  Let's dig in and see if you're reinforcing that culture in all the gritty details of your talent acquisition/recruiting process. Remember - if your TA/Recruiting process doesn't match and promote your culture, you're not going to get the fit/matches you need in the candidate marketplace.

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Every wonder if you have the right team and recruiting processes to support the communication of the culture have or are in the process of building – across the recruiting/TA team, interviewing approaches with hiring managers, application processes and more?

It's a loaded question. K1

You can have a culture that's one of the best in your industry - Googly even! - and if your recruiting team and the TA process don't support that culture, you're going to miss on the talent you need.

Conversely, if you're currently building your culture to a desired future state, getting some of the aforementioned factors right can help you get talent you might not yet deserve in the food chain of how candidates rank companies in their minds.

Here's some key areas to look at if you want your recruiting team and processes to support the communication of the culture you have (or are in the process of building):

1--Look to build a team of recruiters who look and sound like salespeople.

Say it with me - Recruiting is sales. If you have low energy recruiters who are transactional in nature and can't/won't sell the value proposition of your company, you're never going to get your fair share of the top talent you need to drive business results.  Notice I said top talent. Recruiters who don't want to sell can get you average talent, but only those who are willing to sell will help you get talent beyond what your brand and market position deserve.

The best way to spot a recruiter who is a sales person is to use a behavioral assessment with a cognitive component.  Markers of a salesperson look like this:

--High Cognitive
--High Assertiveness
--Low Rules
--Low to Mid Sensitivity
--Mid to High Extroversion
--Low Team (means they want an individual scoreboard that resets monthly, not that they are a bad teammate)

Find this profile with recruiting experience and you've got someone who will routinely sell your culture with the right tools and motivation from your leadership.

2. Match the length and intensity of your "apply for an open job" process with your culture.

Who are you? Are you the uber-serious company that requires a top secret clearance to make a hire, or are you pitching progressive workplace policies and a chill atmosphere? Somewhere in between perhaps?

How long it takes for a candidate to apply for a job should match your cultural intention. It's all about expectations. You can't have a 30-minute apply process and expect to exude an "it's all about the people" cultural vibe.  

There's no mandate you have to have an apply process that takes 2 minutes. You do you - but  remember you're signaling who you are as a company and what it's like to work for you.  Keep in mind your design in this area is a choice - and generally not mandated in a legal way. Items like "definition of an applicant" are more subjective and open to your positioning than you realize - even if your lawyers are telling you something different.

3. Post-Apply Messaging to candidates matters a lot.

You work hard to attract interest to your company's employment brand. You spend money to drive traffic to your career site/job openings and convert that traffic to applicant flow. 

Then something magical happens. Candidates who applied for a job at your company get an automated message from you, and that's the moment of truth.

"Thank you for your interest in Acme Industrial Products. Your credentials will be reviewed and we will contact you if there is an appropriate match with an open position. Due to the quantity of responses received for each job posting, a personal response to each candidate with further status updates will not be available. Your resume will be maintained in our files for one year and your qualifications will be considered for any future openings.

Gross.

Does that initial response to the candidate match the culture you're trying to build? Of course not. Most ATS messaging can be customized, so there's no reason NOT to sound like a human who is actually interested in the candidate who's taken the time to apply when these automated messages go out.

Rewrite the messaging provided by your ATS provider. Sound like a human without overpromising, have some fun and if available, share links to great content on your career site that gives candidates a look into a day in the life at your company.

4. Have a plan when it comes to interview day - and create a high quality experience. 

Momentum is key when it comes to a recruiting process that reinforces your culture, and interview day is a test of sorts. 

A test for your culture as well as the candidate.

To pass this cultural test, you'll need organization and quality. Organization is the easy part, with agendas going out to the candidate before they arrive, warm greetings, tours and most importantly, qualified, empathetic interviewers who can sell your company and the culture you've built.

Qualified interviewers are generally trained and have a methodology (think behavioral interviewing, etc.), as well as empathy during interviewing sessions. That design is all about making the candidate feel like the process is a conversation - even as you get exactly what you need as an interviewer. Natural interviewers can do it all - including selling your company, culture and the opportunity. For everyone else, you're going to need a training plan to get most of your hiring managers and interviewers up to speed.

We send signals on culture with every contact we have candidates (personal and automated). Make sure your messages match the culture you have or the culture you're in the process of building.

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Views expressed are the product of the school of hard knocks, which includes watching my team at Kinetix represent great companies and brands on the RPO recruiting trail. Reach out if you ever need recruiting help while you build something great.


WORKPLACE ARTIFACTS: "Patient Zero" Drives Dress Norms at Your Company...

Ever notice that everyone in your company pretty much dresses the same?

Me too.

Note that you didn't hire with this criteria in mind. Before joining your company, your employees had a much greater degree of diversity in the way they dressed.  Then once they joined your organization, conformity and groupthink became the order of the day, and something called "regression to the mean" occurred.  Examples of groupthink dressing in the workplace include:

--Patagonia vest for hedge fund people

--Dress sneakers for tech company people

--Blue Blazers and specific pants choices for white guys over a certain age EVERYWHERE (click the links for my takedowns on these topics)

--and countless more examples.

It's sociology 101.  Norms, customs, etc.  I was reminded by the consistency of the pack by the following from Esquire:

"I work at Morgan Stanley."

Pause.

"It's a bank."

I fight the imminent eye roll with my entire being, like you'd fight an alarming wave of nausea in public:

"Oh, wow! Cool! Are you, like, a bank teller?"

Unidentified Banker No. 1 and I did not speak again after that. He wasn't a teller. (Of course.) He was an analyst. (Of course.) But not just any old analyst. He was a capital B Banker. He lived and breathed the lifestyle, the attitude. He was a douche bag. And, like any true capital B Banker douche bag, he carried the bag. The Douche Bag.

If you're unfamiliar, the Douche Bag is a small-sized duffel bag (the "good" ones are navy), with straps embroidered with the name of the bank the bag's owner works for. The owner is probably a dude. He's probably an analyst. He definitely peaked in college.

The bag itself has many names. It has been called the "corporate duffel" (by the issuing firm), the "deal bag" (by Bankers), the "banker bag" (by New Yorkers), and the "douche-tastic man purse" (by my fellow misanthrope, Renata Sellitti). And, of course, the Douche Bag. By me.

It is a known quantity: the mark of a first-year associate, and a symbol of belonging to the trade. But it is also a known problem. I am not the first person to rail against the obnoxiousness of the banker bag. I'd even call the argument tired, if it weren't for the fact that nothing thus far has stopped these guys from treating promotional canvas duffels like they're limited-edition Louis Vuitton holdalls.

What gives with the follower/norm/desperation to fit in related to workplace dress? I thought about it for awhile. What causes people to conform and who leads trends in your company when they break?  Here's my thoughts:

1--People follow trends inside companies and conform to norms because existing outside of the norm can introduce risk. If there's one thing that average performers don't want, it's more risk.  

2--The older someone is at your company, the less they want risk.  They've made it this far, have closet full of clothes of the existing uniform, and they really don't care about fashion. Translation - they're not picking up a fad or trend at your company - you guessed it - unless NOT picking up the new trend presents them with risk.

3--Changes in dress trends at your company are usually introduced one of two ways - by overall societal trends or industry specific changes.  Industry specific changes are things like the duffel bag above, the Patagonia vest in hedge fund land, etc.  A trend starts at one company in the industry, then is shared via conferences and other forms of networking and spreads like wildfire.

4--Whether changes in the dress norms at your company are due to broad fashion trends or something industry specific, there always has to be a "Patient Zero" at your firm (aka the first one at your company/location to break ranks and embrace the new fashion).

5--"Patient Zero" - the one who embraces the new trend at your company - must be considered trendy enough for people to follow, but also be viewed as a high enough performer to modify the norms at your company - aka, if he/she did it, no one is going to call BS on them because they produce results.  

When patient zero picks up a new dress trend and 3-4 people quickly follow, you've got change when it comes to dress norms at your company.

The patient zero of dress trends at your company is generally not only a high performer, but a manager of people as well.  After all, there's nothing that will make the lemmings be fast followers quicker than their upwardly mobile manager trending a certain dress direction on a casual Friday.

Look around - odds are you have a Patient Zero at your location. Don't smile the next time you walk by them.