Capital Riots: Considerations for Great HR Leaders...

Welcome to 2021 friends! Had a couple of publications reach out to me for comments on employee situations related to the Capital Riots, so I thought I would share the responses I gave to one of them. 

Any time you're starting your response with the phrase, "In a world" in a classic movie trailer guy voice, you know that reality has officially jumped the shark. I can only assume I'll be answering questions about the best way to onboard Alien employees in 2022. Politics

Onto the questions I answered about whether we should term employees wearing Trump stocking caps only, versus those carrying the speaker of the house podium while wearing said hat:

-Beyond legal questions, what kind of ethical and cultural considerations do HR leaders need to think about if they learn an employee participated in the Capitol riots?  

I'm going to start my answer sounding like the movie trailer guy with the great voice that always starts each trailer with "In a world..."   In a world where almost every election of note is a 50/50 split, HR leaders thinking about the Capital riots are going to have to dig deep and do what they normally do related to showing judgement with employment decisions. That includes logic, judgment and common sense rarely seen in social media, and at times in the media cycle.

Great HR leaders will start with the obvious - for the employee in question, what did they actually do? If they were in the Capital on the day of the riots, did they a) participate in some low level demonstrations somewhere around the mall, b) attend the Trump rally at the White House, c) march with the crowd to the capital, d) protest outside the capital and/or e) enter the capital (and if so, did they cause damage)?

This is the world of the HR leader and employment calls. People come to us with a claim, and it's up to us to figure out what actually happened. An employee that was in DC on approved PTO but did not enter the Capital building and wasn't otherwise arrested, etc. isn't a relevant call to term. People will make the case that it is, but assuming the employee is a functioning member of your company and didn't do anything illegal, real HR leaders have to look at the facts. 

That's what the money's for as an HR Leader.  People pay HR leaders to be the grown ups when bad situations happen and calm minds are needed, and the good news is that's exactly what we are.

-What is your advice for HR leaders concerned about action they take looking partisan or political?

Welcome to the world of HR. The more HR leaders have pitched their political beliefs in the past, the less they have the ability to lead in times of crisis where employment calls can be considered politically driven. Note this isn't rationale for HR leaders not to make tough calls, just the reality. The more you've shown you're less than politically neutral in the past, the less you'll be able to make a tough employment call (fire, don't fire) in your company that both sides of the political spectrum will respect and acknowledge as fair. 

-Do you think this event should prompt HR to revisit codes of conduct? If so, what should they look out for or consider including in light of current events?

It's 100% imperative that HR has access to a broad-based "Professional Conduct Policy" that gives them the ability to take employment action across a broad range of unforeseen circumstances. A great Professional Conduct Policy (PCP) not only lists specific things for consideration in the workplace, but includes broad language that suggests conduct and behavior outside the workplace that is inconsistent with the values of the organization may warrant an employment decision by the company, if the company deems the behavior and conduct makes it impossible for the company to more forward with the individual as a member of the team.

Great Professional Conduct Policies provide flexibility for HR leaders, because you can't cover every scenario this crazy world is going to throw at you. 

That said, great HR leaders treat these policies as a last resort for action, only using them if it's apparent the employee can't move forward.

2021 is the best! You know I'm around for the punishing emails. Don't hate me because won't automatically term someone. Great HR Leaders evaluate, consider, then show decisiveness. That's what makes them great.


Post-Election Skill for Leaders: Making All Feel Welcome & On Equal Ground...

I read this post recently by William Wiggins at Fistful of Talent on Transgenderism. It's a simple, insightful piece on being aware. 

Prior to reading William's post, I finished Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac. It's the story of how Uber rose from humble beginnings to become a Unicorn, then stumbled from the top as it's bro-tastic culture caused it to be tone-deaf to the world around it via PR fiasco after PR fiasco.

Both are highly recommended reading. One is 500 words and one is 80,000 words.

Then of course, like you, I've been through the shit show that is the 2020 Election Season.

There's never been a bigger need for awareness for making all feel like they belong and are welcome than post-election 2020. 

The lesson? Being a leader in modern times is tricky. Consider the following realities:

  1. You're a leader.
  2. You're full of personal thoughts, a specific background and some form of bias. You think how you think. Politics included.
  3. When change comes and you're asked to lead everyone, it's easy to react as if it's a burden or worse.
  4. You can say it's all gone too far you shouldn't be asked to manage people on the far right or the far left. Many will agree with you.
  5. But - you'll ultimately acknowledge the views of the group of people in front of you - everyone - or you won't be allowed to lead anymore. Unless you're in a groupthink organization where everyone thinks the same.

History shows this cycle to be true. Your job is to lead everyone. When you don't engage or find the good in a group of people in front of you, you won't get the results you want or need as a leader in your organization.  When you think about the election we just went through in 2020, it's easy to become polarized and lose sight of this universal truth.

Saying that the vocal people on the left want to ruin America is lame. Saying that anyone that voted republican must be a racist is lame. Both are intellectually lazy. 

What if you decided that rather than be late to the game, you made it a priority to make all feel welcome and on equal ground in your company or on your team as a leader?

What if?

I'll tell you what if, my friend.  If that was your approach, you'd find the people in question - the special class of people currently causing others discomfort (the groups change over time) - incredibly willing to work for you and just as importantly, freed to do their best work.  You'd be maximizing your ability to get great work from the resources you have.

When you choose to lead everyone and not take the polarized bait the world wants to feed you, a funny thing happens. Performance and the ability for someone to do their best work goes up.

None of us are perfect when it comes to the change cycle outlined in #1 through #5 above.  Stop reading things in your bubble and start thinking about the best way to bring everyone on the team into the fold in 2021.

Performance goes up as bullshit goes down.  Just be crystal clear on what's bullshit in this cycle (anything that makes you slow to accept that reasonable people can think differently).


Talking About Glassdoor's New Diversity Ratings with Joel Cheesman...

In Episode 18 of BEST HIRE EVERKris Dunn chats with Joel Cheesman, founder of Poach and Ratedly (as well as a co-host of the aptly-named Chad and Cheese Podcast) about the addition of Diversity Ratings on the Glassdoor platform. 

Joel and KD discuss the new rating and what it means for company reputation, the complicated relationship between Indeed and Glassdoor and how smart EB/Marketing/HR/TA pros can use the DEI focus to grow and protect their careers in a recession.

Please subscribe, rate and review (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Click here if you don't see the player below!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

1:25 - Joel breaks down his work at Poach and Ratedly. Poach follows employee sentiment and tells you when to reach out to great talent at a company that's thinking about jumping. Ratedly aggregates review sites so you can track what's being said about your company without logging into 15 review sites.

4:40 - Joel covers and outlines new Glassdoor ratings in the area of DEI and Diversity. Are you ready for your employees to rate your company on diversity?  Sure you are...

8:30 - KD and Joel talk about the number of ratings needed at a company for the diversity rating to appear - a disadvantage for SMBs.

9:30 - KD breaks down big company current DEI ratings on Glassdoor and Joel reacts.  It's complicated.

12:05 - Joel breaks down the complicated relationship between Indeed and Glassdoor, which are owned by the same PE firm. The companies had a 28% drop in revenue during the COVID period.

14:50 - Joel and KD talk about who has more leverage in the world of HR and TA - Glassdoor or Indeed. 

16:40 - KD asks Joel about the potential to show Glassdoor ratings on the Indeed platform, etc.

19:20 - Joel breaks down the challenge specifically for Employment Brand and marketing pros during the downturn, and how DEI branding presents an opportunity for them to survive in a pandemic flavored recession.

RESOURCES AND SHOW NOTES:

------------Joel Cheesman

Poach.ai

Ratedly

The Chad and Cheese Podcast

Joel Cheesman on LinkedIn


------------Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

Kinetix

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Boss Leadership Training Series

Kris Dunn on Twitter

Kris Dunn on Instagram


The All-Too Human Condition of Hating a Candidate Due to the Referral Source...

Referrals - We love them in the talent world.

Ideally, referrals are made by employees/team members who understand the culture we've created at our company, and only refer the best in their network to us. That's generally true, and even if there's a few referral spammers in your company, we're better off with referrals than without them.

You know what types of referrals we hate and are suspicious of?

THE REFERRAL FROM SOMEONE IN OUR ORGANIZATION WE DON'T LIKE.

If you've got enough experience in the recruiting/team building game, you've been there before.  You've got an open spot on your team, and you're doing your normal recruiting game.  Then it happens.

Rick, a guy you detest, sends you a referral and vouches for the candidate.

Damn. That's the last thing you needed. But the intensity of your discomfort is directed by the following determination:

--The candidate isn't good. AH HAH!  Rick is clueless. Order has been restored to the universe.

--The candidate is really, really good.  Whoops!  Shit just got complicated.

Why does the candidate being good make it problematic? Well, you hate Rick. That means the following things are in play:

1--If you don't interview a great candidate, you're the problem, not Rick.  That's never been a part of the narrative you had related to your relationship with Rick.

2--If you interview the great referral from Rick and don't hire them, it gives Rick an avenue to criticize the selection you do make. 

3--If you interview the candidate and hire them, have you just hired someone sympathetic to Rick when he's kind of been your nemesis during your tenure at ACME.com.  That seems like it might be problematic.

All of these things go through our mind when we get a referral from someone in our organization we don't like. The blind spot is simply to ignore the referral, because you won't engage with a person you don't respect and trust. But if you do that, you're playing small. You're better than that.

The real talent magnets understand that quality internal referrals from sworn enemies or simply people you don't like are GIFTS.  You should absolutely interview them and hire them if they're the best person for the job.

Whether you simply interview or actually hire the quality referral from a known enemy inside your company, you're playing chess - not checkers - with your engagement with this type of candidate.

Mine the candidate for info about Rick. You may learn they don't know Rick as well as you thought they did.  But if they do, be sure and drop some details to Rick about your conversation.  It's fun to watch Rick be a little bit uncomfortable.

Can you hire this candidate?  That really depends how good you are at your job.  If you're great at your job, they're going to enjoy being part of your team and Rick's not a threat.  Rick may actually end up hating the fact that he gave you a great referral, which is a gift in itself.

Great referrals from sources you hate are an opportunity. Play chess, not checkers.


How Buffer Approaches Salary Transparency (It's Kind of Cool)

Attention HR geeks who like to dabble in compensation...

Also, attention anyone who is interested in current events, which finds some highly compensated workers moving out of high priced areas (SF, NYC, LA) to work remote. As you're aware, companies have started communicating they'll be adjusting the salaries of some of this high priced talent to reflect the cost of living in their new locations. Buffer

For those of us used to formal compensation plans, this move is standard - it's called geographical grading, and most formal compensation plans set ranges for jobs, then adjust them upward or downward based on the area the talent lives in.  There are generally 5-6 geographical grades in a compensation plan.

Of course, it's the cancel culture and the "how dare you" culture that's SHOCKED a company would reduce compensation for someone moving from San Francisco to Iowa. 

Many of the same people who would rage against the audacity of a company reducing salaries for lower cost locations would also be huge proponents of salary transparency.

And this is the point where we merge both topics - salary transparency and geographical adjustments.

Consider the technology firm BUFFER.

Buffer does a nice job of describing it goals with salary transparency - you can read up on it here.

But what's super interesting about their view on transparency is how they set salaries within a range and how they adjust them up or down. More from Buffer's page that talks about their philosophy and even provides a <freaking> calculator

This multiplier is still applied by using a teammates’ location to determine one of three geographic bands, based on a high, average, or low cost of living area. We use data from Numbeo to figure out which band applies for each teammate. For high cost of living areas we pay 100% of the San Francisco 50th percentile, average is 85%, and low is 75%.

We figure out each teammate’s geographic band by comparing the cost of living index of a teammate’s location to the cost of living index in San Francisco.

So let's examine that a bit for what we know about formal compensation plans. The fact Buffer provides one salary they pay for each job (they don't adjust for who you are, that's how they keep it consistent and can do transparency) means that they have elected a single point to pay within a salary range recommended by salary surveys from a provider like Numbeo.  I'd assume they're likely paying at the midpoint in the range (ranges have minimums, midpoints and maximums) for anyone in the role to keep it real.  Then, as stated, they are adjusting through geographical grades or bands in the way described above.

So, if you're moving to Denver, you're taking a 15% cut, which by the way, is super consistent with the numbers reported related to VM Ware and Twitter adjustments (widely reported as 18% for a move from SF to Denver). If you're moving to Ames, Iowa - sad trombone - it's a 25% cut.

Geographical grades and band have been around forever. It's interesting to see a company committed to salary transparency be unapologetic for adjustments for geography.

How can they do it? Simple, when you pay everyone in the same job the same $$, the black box of comp mystery goes away. I'm not saying that's the way to do it, but it's a bit of a case study on how simple it could be, and it automatically addressed equity concerns. 

See the calculator online at Buffer by clicking here!!


Cost of Living Pay Cuts for Twitter Employees Moving from Bay Area: Valid or BS?

By now, you're aware that hundreds or thousands of companies have announced that their white-collar jobs won't be returning to the office until 2021, and perhaps until a vaccine is approved, deployed and effective.

That means people working for those companies can work anywhere. Add that the densely populated cities were the first hotbeds of COVID infection, and you've got a recipe for a talent migration - individuals determining that this is a good time to leave coastal areas like NYC, the Bay Area and Los Angeles (click link for one of hundreds of reports). Twitter

But as every HR pro knows, salaries offered via compensation plans get adjusted based on how much it costs to live in specific geographical areas. To no HR pro's surprise, that means companies at some point are going to adjust the compensation of people leaving areas like San Francisco for more remote areas where a 3-bedroom home doesn't cost 2-3 million.

Surprise! The process has started even at the most tech friendly (fair to say progressive) companies.  Last week, Twitter and VM Ware announced the plan to adjust salaries of those fleeing the Bay area was formally being rolled out. Here are some of the details via Bloomberg:

--VMware (NYSE:VMW) offered to let employees work from home permanently, but those who opt in and move out of the Bay Area will receive pay cuts. .

--The salary reductions depend on where the employee relocates. Denver, for example, would come with an 18% annual pay cut (San Diego, 8%), according to Bloomberg sources.

--Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) is using a similar strategy with its newly permanent employees, and Facebook is mulling adopting the compensation scheme.

--Twitter employees who move and lose pay will get a $3,000 one-time allowance

--VMware tells Bloomberg it adjusts pay depending on the "cost of labor" for the region and notes that employees moving to more expensive areas could receive raises.

Is this fair? The talent pros who have been around the block will undoubtedly say yes. After all, if you open up a software developer shop in Denver as a means of relieving recruiting pressure in SF, and your compensation plan tells you the cost of a developer is 98k instead of 120K, that guidance would drive the recruiting plan related to what you wanted to pay. You might use the range based on what you find in the market, but that guidance is there for a reason, and most of the delta is cost of living guidance.

As expected, the Twitter mob is losing its mind. It's unfair, another example of the man attempting to screw the little guy, etc.

It's actually just data and math, folks. And for the most part, it's 100% legit.

Having said that, booming markets where a bunch of California people flee to in order to escape oppressive state taxes (and whatever else they're fleeing from) can lag a bit related to what the best compensation surveys might show. Denver and Idaho are red hot, but 18% still seems in range if you're trying to escape San Francisco.  Austin is another hot location, which begs the question of state taxes (0% in Texas) being included in the calculus.

Of course, what's normal and customary is also an opportunity. Tech companies looking to grab talent could take the market position of "we're not reducing salaries for those who move!", and use it as a recruiting advantage.

But that would cause compression and resentment for those that remain, which is kind of what the whole geographic thing related to compensation was designed to handle in the first place.

Good luck with the move, Twitter people! May your W-2 remain robust and in conjunction with your locale...


Clickbait Reporting on HR Issues in Today's World...Sucks (The HR Famous Podcast)

Look, I get it. We live in a clickbait society designed to write a great title to any story and get everyone enraged about whatever the issue of the day is.

Politics. Masks. All issues on COVID. You can list all your other examples in this box - <insert here>.  It's clickbait all the time, Blizzard-entertainment-cover-photo and few reporters take the time to present a balanced account of the issues at hand.

But I'm an HR leader by trade, and since the clickbait has firmly landed in the world of HR, now I'm mad. 

What am I mad about? The uptick in articles on business sites citing issues in workforces at American companies. Full disclosure, if there are big issues at any company, that's on the company and people like us to get in front of and make better.

But reporters have lost their way in reporting on these issues.  Case in point, this recent Bloomberg article about employees at Blizzard entertainment not making enough to eat.

Things this article didn't do that should be required in standard reporting on workforce issues:

--They didn't share any details to build credibility on source documents provided by a source (in this case, an internal salary spreadsheet created by one or more employees)

--They didn't share how many employees they talked to for the article. I've seen articles describing big problems at a company with as little as 6 employees cited. This one doesn't even say how many employees they talked to.  The company in question (Blizzard) has 5,000 employees. Duh.

--They didn't use publicly discoverable information (Glassdoor, any salary site) to provide context related to what the limited number of employees they interviewed told them.

I could go on. If there are issues, HR is responsible for helping fix those issues and should be accountable if things aren't right.

But reporters should be accountable too. But, in today's world, too often they are not. They get three data points out of 5,000 available, don't do research, write a sexy headline and publish.

Reporters: Do Better. DO YOUR JOB.

This rant is why the latest episode of The HR Famous Podcast features me and Jessica Lee discussing the recent Bloomberg article that attempted a takedown vs Blizzard Entertainment related to pay issues - including some employees passing around a cloud spreadsheet listing salaries they make at Blizzard. Along the way,  we discuss what quality reporting looks like around this type of issue, messaging as part of damage control when a company finds itself under scrutiny, and we also look for clues related to the depth of pay issues at Blizzard on the company's Glassdoor page.

Take a listen below!

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Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player below) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

1:30 - Tim is gone (again) this week on another vacay! KD and Jlee talk about what they think Tim is doing on his Lake Michigan getaway. Ginger people don’t tan!

12:00 - Next topic of the day - Blizzard Entertainment, famous for making many popular video games like Call of Duty, has a situation where employees circulated a salary document internally that showed major pay disparitiesThe salary document was first reported by Bloomberg - but the gang has questions.

15:00 - Jlee praises the person who circulated the Google sheets form for being efficient. If anyone has the link to the spreadsheet, HR Famous would love to see it! KD wonders aloud how many columns are on the spreadsheet?  Are there names? The gang doubts it.

18:00 - An Activision spokesperson says that they compensate their employees fairly and gave their top performers a higher salary increase than in prior years. KD compares this issue to an episode of The Office where they have to decide who to give raises to and how.

21:00 - KD comments on the quote from the Activision spokesperson that says “a 20% increase on salaries compared to other years” was questionable language. KD and Jlee give high marks to this language that is a little clever to the untrained eye. 

25:00 - KD points out that Blizzard has thousands of employees and not everyone could be consulted for this article. He's kind of over articles that splash, but make no mention of how many employees a reporter talked to.

26:00 - What do you think Blizzard’s Glassdoor rating is? KD is a little surprised by Blizzard’s rating and thinks that their rating isn’t indicative of some of the problems this article addresses. 

29:00 - KD finds the reported Blizzard salaries on Glassdoor by job and finds that many aren’t too far off the industry average/ KD guesses the problems are in customer service and QA based on low hourly rates.

32:00 - Jlee feels for Blizzard and their HR department in these tough times for their company. KD wants reporters to tell a full story and do their job right. He encourages them to take their clickbait titles for traffic, then tell whole story.


Human Nature: We Hate Good Ideas From People We Don't Like (The HR Famous Podcast)...

You know it's true. When your arch enemy does good, you could applaud them. But it just feels better to bitch by questioning their motives behind the good idea they're pitching.

You know the idea I'm talking about - the one YOU had in mind. It just turns out that you weren't in a position to deliver on that idea, so your arch enemy, nemesis or competition did it before you could get to it.

I know - you really hate them. You hate them more for announcing the idea that's a part of your identity.

Case in point - this week on The HR Famous Podcast, we're talking about the Trump administration announcing moves to make it easier for people without degrees to get government jobs. That position/move sounds more progressive than arch conservative. As such, the spin from the media was predictable - It's a ploy to try and buy votes from the poor people on the fence who might vote republican.

Of course, there's one little problem - the bill is actually a good one and there's no way this bit of news impacts the election.  We don't need more degree requirements - let's help more people get into consideration for good jobs by eliminating requirements that are barriers, as well as non-predictive of success in the role. While the media loved to spin this one, it's a great example of what I described at the jump.

We love good ideas - until whoever we consider our nemesis launches the idea before we do.

Human nature 101. Check out the conversation at the podcast below starting at 22:30 and highlighted below, and subscribe while you're there!

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Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player below) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!
 
SHOW HIGHLIGHTS
 
10:30 - First BIG topic of the day - Apple is giving all employees paid time off to vote or volunteer at a polling place in upcoming US elections. Tim gives his employees time off to vote within reason and he commends Apple for allowing retail workers to have time off to vote.
 
14:20 - Tim Cook and Auburn University shoutout from KD!
 
15:00 - KD doesn’t think that Apple’s decision is that out of the box. He brings up the potential logistical concerns in manufacturing or other settings where scheduling could be an issue. 
 
16:00 - KD and Tim discuss the potential influence of who to vote for from company execs. Tim talks about how his Mom used to share wisdom on who to vote for and why. 
 
18:00 - Tim and Jlee think Apple should have released to the public the memo on PTO to vote for good employment marketing. 
 
20:30 - Jlee is planning on taking a PTO day for the day after the election hangover. How late are you willing to stay up to watch election results?
 
22:00 - HR Famous supports Apple CEO Tim Cook and Auburn University (at least KD does). If you’re reading this Tim, we would love to have you on the pod!
 
22:30 - Second BIG topic of the day - President Trump signed an executive order in late June ordering the federal government to revise their qualifications for jobs, in hopes to prioritize jobs skills over college degrees. Ivanka Trump is leading this initiative to help those without higher education get good federal government jobs.
 
24:30 - Tim praises the federal government for catching up to private industry and taking out unnecessary job qualifications for certain jobs. 
 
26:30 - Tim and KD worry that this news coming from the Trump administration will be discounted because it’s coming from President Trump and both of them think it’s a pretty progressive move. 
 
31:00 - Tim talks about how he used to require all of his recruiters to have a college degree and the determination it shows to finish a degree. He has changed his requirements since and he’s seen some of his best recruiters come in without a degree. 
 
33:20 - Tim asks Jlee and KD what percentage of jobs they think actually require a degree. What do you think?
 
36:50 - One final War Eagle and Tim Cook shoutout!
 

 


HR TROLLS: Thinking Unemployment on Steroids Means You Have a Compensation Problem...

Short post today, but an important one. I belong to multiple online groups covering HR on a variety of platforms - you know the type - people can post questions on problems they're having in their HR shops and get help, advice and recommendations from their peers.

On one of the big forums on Facebook, a HR Director posted about problems she was having recruiting for the Distribution Center she supported, and reported that she believed that part of the issue was Trollthat many candidates who would normally be under consideration were recipients of the $600 weekly employment benefit that's part of the COVID stimulus program. The theory, which many of you know, goes like this - once a potential candidate adds up the state and federal unemployment and is earning the equivalent of 40-55K annualized (depends on your state benefit level), it's hard to get them to come back to a $15-20 an hour job.

That's more than a theory, that's likely reality in many cases.

So our friendly HR Director asks for guidance, and I'd say 20% of the responses went something like this:

"You should look in the mirror and pay a living wage."

There were different versions of that, but they all shared a common belief. The problem wasn't the incentive, it was the company.

What planet did I wake up on as I navigate the 5th month of the COVID experience? Mind you, this wasn't a random message board, it was a members only HR forum. You know, HR people. 

It's a tone deaf, light form of shaming that we've become all too used to in the cancel culture we live in.  How dare you not pay your employees enough to incent them to come back from a historically rich form of government benefit designed to keep the economy going in a pandemic?

Man, those shaming style commenters in a HR forum. Talk about not understanding the business as a limiting factor to HR success.

I'm still a fan of what the US government did. They moved fast, and while it wasn't perfect, the stimulus did what it was supposed to do.

But artificially propped up comp can't last forever, and while I write this it's unclear what type of Federal unemployment benefit will emerge in August after the $600 benefit expires at the end of July. It's likely to be significantly less. There's likely to be pain as a result of the benefit being reduced, and I don't take that lightly.

HR trolls suck. The world has enough trolls - our profession doesn't need our own version.

 


Good Call Center Jobs Teach You a Lot - But We Might Wonder Why You Didn't Get Promoted...

I love what jobs early in our careers teach and say about us.  There's literally 8 million stories in the naked city, and this is just one of those stories.

But in its own little way, it matters - a lot. Workaholics

This story is about what happens when a new graduate takes a customer service job at a big company. You know the person, the company and the type of job I'm talking about.

Person - New college grad or a person with a high school diploma who has had a couple of jobs where they strung a bit of success together.  If you're a new college grad, you probably have a business, marketing or liberal arts degree - you're not a STEM major, which is 100% ok.

Company - A big company with a professionally run customer service function - think more than 100 FTEs, and at times 1,000+

Type of Job - Sit your *ss in that chair and take the abuse make our customers happy through 80 inbound calls a day.

While a lot of these jobs are getting replaced by technology, they still exist, and in the opinion of this humble observer, they are great training grounds for a career in the business world. 

95% of graduates aren't STEM or technology majors, and they don't come from the Ivy League. The call center job is a natural starting point for a career, if you can land this job in a big company along the lines of what I described above.

You know what's sad? We've created an artificial expectation of careers via a cocktail of social media, college propaganda and related bulls**t that these types of jobs aren't good starting points for a college grad. Talk to new grads, and their expectation is that they should come out of the gate earning 60K. It's a lie for most of the world. Fewer kids are ready to work these days.

But (and there is a but) there's a Darwinian thing that happens in a professionally run, modern call center for a reputable company.

Promote or become staler than the 5-day old bread you left open and out on the porch. Career pathing happens, and the reps who do the work and are good at what they do get promoted - both up the ranks in the call center, and out into other areas of the company. That's how it should be.

But it begs another question.  What does someone in the same modern call center role/job with a big company for 3 years (no inline promotion, no career ladder move or anything else) mean?  It means they're well-placed and lost in the generally open bid for promotions, transfers to other departments, etc.

While the current crop of college grads doesn't want to pay dues in the call center, there's another reality. The world is quick to coddle the same grad who's spent 1 year in the same professional call center job and tell them things like this:

It's not your fault. The system was rigged. There's a bunch of favoritism associated with promotions in that arena.

Nope. You got beat, you didn't get it done. The professional grade call center that's internal at blue chip, well run companies knows what it's doing. You weren't good enough. You being in the same role in that company with a LOT of opportunity within the call center (not even looking at promotions to other areas) means you weren't in the top quartile, and you may be closer to the 50th percentile.

If you have a kid with a degree who's struggling to find his path, encourage him/her to find a great company with a good call center/customer service function, apply and win a job, then go compete like crazy.

Promotions for youngsters in well run call centers matter. They're literacy tests for the ability to grind, perform and compete in a career.

All other things being equal, I'd take a person who put on the headset and went to compete over one who hasn't.