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.


Can the Young Star Ever Earn Less Than the Employees They Manage?

Capitalist Note - Got an email about this from a young gunner over the weekend, and sent her this post.  Felt like I should share again.  Cliff notes - you play to win the game, not win today.

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In a word, yes.  It's rare, but it happens.

Here’s my take - most star managers on the upswing of their careers have usually faced the prospect of either managing someone who has either:

a) earned more than they have, or

b) earned close to what they have. 

It happens more often with rising stars who are relatively young in an organization, because they tend to aggregate additional responsibilities beyond their years.  You’re aggressive with the star within the definition of “aggressive” within your company, then the department of the star has to grow, you move people around internally to work for them and BAM!  You also experience the reality that in order to hire people with the skills to work for the young star in the growing department, those new hires need to come in at or around the salary you have the star at…

Is that a problem?  Many would say yes.  To anyone (this message is for you, young star) who finds themselves in that situation, I would say "have patience, young grasshopper".  If you are that star who finds themselves managing people who earn more or close to what you earn, you're right, there should be more of a divide.  However, note this - you got to where you are because you are viewed as a high, high potential asset to your company.  There's probably only one way you can mess that up if you continue to perform - by not handling the situation with class.

If you make it about the money, some people will chalk that up to maturity, and you might see theMo money upward arc of your career slow down a bit.  If you find a classy way to bring it to someone's attention without demanding any immediate action, I can guarantee you one thing: You're going to make a LOT more money than the people you're currently managing over the course of your career.
 
To the stars of the world who find themselves in this situation, I say: "Be the ball, Danny".  Don't let pride or some shortsighted advice from your Uncle Tommy drive your reaction to this situation.  You've managed to be different than everyone else to this point.  Keep being different. 

Play to win the game, not this possession.


BUILDING CULTURE THROUGH RECRUITING #5: Building the Right TA Tech Stack...

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 only natural we can’t end a series on building culture through great recruiting practices without talking about Talent Acquisition technology (TA Tech). Once you’ve got your recruiting team, process and employment brand set up for success, the right TA Tech can dramatically help you scale your ability to communicate your culture and your company as an employer of choice.

TA Tech has blown up over the past decade with billions of dollars entering the marketplace in investment. It seems like every single day we’re getting an announcement via HRM-software email about the launch of a new TA Tech company.

All of this has caused massive confusion among HR/Recruiting/TA leadership trying to keep it all straight. The common questions are:

--What does this tech do?

--Do I need this tech?

--Doesn’t my ATS do this?

--What is my competition using?

--What should we be using to attract more talent?

The TA Tech marketplace is moving at a fast pace and innovation within the space is truly unparalleled in comparison with other segments of the HR Tech space. We’re offering up the following notes on buying/optimizing TA Tech with a narrow view hyper-focused on communicating your culture.  To ensure you have max ability to communicate your culture focus on the following items (after moving through post 1 through 4 of this series).

1—Find and culturally optimize the right ATS that fits your needs.

Your choices related to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are endless. ATS options are available for every budget and appetite for complexity. As you consider new systems or simply seek to configure the ATS you have, remember that simplicity wins. Reducing complexity maximizes the odds your recruiters will use the system and candidates will have a positive candidate experience.

Optimizing your ATS to maximize candidate experience is straightforward. As we’ve covered elsewhere, strip your initial apply process down to the minimum necessary. Revamp all ATS messaging to sound like a human. Ensure your recruiters use the system to update candidate status and allow the technology to provide status updates. Doing these simple things puts you in the top 10% of all companies related to TA Tech and signals your status as an employer of choice.

2—Make investments in technology beyond your ATS that deliver candidates who value and fit the culture you’re building.

The ecosystem of TA Tech is immense. Beyond the ATS, there are dozens of TA Tech segments with new solutions arriving every month. When making decisions about where to spend beyond the ATS, think first about where your best hires originate from.

For most companies, employee referral not only a leading source of hire, but the source with the highest perceived quality of hire. For this reason, it makes sense you would seek solutions that can help you automate the communication and marketing of employee referrals.  The right tech partner in this area can dramatically impact the reach and efficiency of your employee referral program.

Other solutions making sense for post-ATS spend at your company include CRM and Talent Pool technology, which allow you to track candidate interest and interactions and also make great use of the storytelling strategy described earlier in this series.

3—Invest in emerging tech in the Text Recruiting/Chat segment of Talent Acquisition.

The holy grail in TA Tech stack investment can be found in solutions that are candidate centric and help your recruiting function operate more efficiently. With those two goals in mind, one solution set comes to mind – text recruiting and chat.

Open rates on text dramatically outperform email in our lives, and this trend is true in recruiting as well. The best text recruiting solutions offer up early version of A.I., allowing a recruiter to work a candidate through multiple yes/no questions about their background and schedule time for phone interviews – all without the recruiter being present. This saves recruiter time for what’s most important – more phone time with the highest quality candidates.

The right solution in the text recruiting segment will also allow you to enable automated chat sessions on your career site – maximizing application rates by ensuring candidates don’t leave before they find what they’re looking for.

4—Mobile matters, so don’t mess it up.

Smart phones are ubiquitous, and 9 in 10 job seekers say they will use a mobile device during their job search. For that reason, you should develop your careers site and evaluate other solutions in your TA Tech stack with a “mobile first” mentality.

Most important to the mobile candidate experience is the apply process. Studies show that after 3 clicks, you lose 60% of applicants. That means it’s not enough to simply have a site/ATS that’s mobile responsive – design matters. The right “mobile-first” philosophy combines mobile-enabled platforms with an application process that that takes 2-3 minutes to complete. While features like “apply with Your LinkedIn profile” can ease this pain, keep in mind many candidates aren’t active on tools like LinkedIn.

Once you get your ATS and apply process mobile-friendly, remember that tools like required assessments should follow the trend of “mobile-first” design.

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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.


REAL TALK: Managers are Looking for Alphas for Succession...

There's a millions things that go into a decision on succession, who gets the promotion and other spoils of career advancement.

I'm here today to talk about one of those things - being an alpha.

All things being equal, the leaders who make decisions about who moves up in the organization want someone who can take charge and lead. Gruden

I was reminded of this as I watched Hard Knocks, the series on HBO that follows a single professional football team in training camp.  The coach of the Oakland Raiders, Jon Gruden, spent over 5 minutes in a recent episode evaluating backup quarterbacks, with a job in the NFL on the line.  

Both quarterbacks were equal. What did Gruden want most? He wanted one of them to stop being passive/blending in and start taking charge, directing others and being vocal - and he was telling them as much.

In other words, he was equating leadership with alpha qualities that are visible in nature.

Most managers are looking for the same thing when it comes to promotional decisions, especially in spots that manage others.  All things being equal, alphas get the nod.

That's not you? You might need to fake it!!!  Or at least understand you have to summon your Alpha in select spots.

You may not be a natural alpha. That's OK.  Just understand that if you're in a competitive spot with others, sometimes succession and promotions are decided by observing who naturally asserts themselves in fluid situations.


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.


ABOUT INNOVATION: Why Are Some Cover Bands So Good But Never Make It?

Sell the kids for food
Weather changes moods
Spring is here again
Reproductive glands

He's the one
Who like all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don't know what it means
Don't know what it means
And I say yeah
 
--In Bloom, Nirvana

If there's one thing that's always amazed me, it's the number of artists that are absolutely ####ing awesome - but never make it in the marketplace.  

You know what I mean, right?  How many solo or group musicians have you heard and wondered why they are accountants during the day? How many sketch artists or painters have talent rivaling Nevermind
Warhol but have never been discovered - and are working an hourly job to make ends meet?

I was reminded of this a couple of years ago when Mrs. Capitalist joined me and some friends to go see the Atlanta-based Nirvana cover band named "Nevermind".

They were - absolutely great.  The lead singer has hair like Kurt Cobain and the Mr. Rodgers-style sweater.  But most importantly, they nailed the Nirvana sound.

WHY NOT THEM?  Why can't you stream their stuff on Spotify/Pandora?

I thought a lot about that in the days that followed.  Here's what I came up with.

Most of us don't have musical skill or artistic ability.  So we're shocked when we hear it/see it and find it to be unique.  But the real reason most artists don't make it has to do with originality/innovation.  

Originals get paid.  Innovators start new trends and cash in.  When you really stop to think about it, it's that way in corporate America as well.

The guy I saw that night sounds like Kurt Cobain.  But he and his band didn't create their own sound.  So the marketplace doesn't reward them.

Let's take someone from the business world.  There's a lot of people in American business that are as dynamic as Elon Musk - many are more dynamic.  They interview well, are great in meetings and damn, are they great presenters.  What's missing?

Elon Musk has big ideas and endless passion.  SpaceX.  Tesla. SolarCity. 

You're as good as Elon Musk on the powerpoint and in front of people.  But your ideas?  They're smaller.

Nevermind is to Nirvana as a smart executive is to Elon Musk.  One wore the sweater first.  The other followed.

It's the same thing in the business world.  You're amazed by the presentation skills of Frank in Marketing, but he hasn't broken through.

Turns out those public speaking skills are missing one important ingredient for the payoff - original ideas. 

I'm so happy because today
I've found my friends
They're in my head
I'm so ugly, but that's okay, 'cause so are you
We've broken our mirrors
Sunday morning is everyday for all I care
And I'm not scared
Light my candles in a daze
'Cause I've found god
Hey, hey, hey


 


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.


PODCAST: e5 - This is HR - Age Bias Claims at Google, HR Ideas That Can't Be Implemented, and Fake Job Postings on LinkedIn

(Email subscribers, if you don't see the podcast player, click here to listen to the podcast)

In Episode 5 of THIS IS HR, Jessica Lee (VP of Brand Talent, Marriott) is joined by Tim Sackett (President of HRU) and Kris Dunn (CHRO at Kinetix) for a discussion of industry news that only true HR pros could love.

The gang covers:

--Age Bias Claims recently settled at Google, with the search giant paying 11M to 200+ claimants, with the key claimant striking out/not being hired in 4 separate hiring process (4:54). The gang talks about how this represents a cheap reset on training and a move ahead strategy for Google.  Conversation also is had about what is "googly" and what is not.

--The THIS IS HR crew clears the deck and provides a platform for JLee to go off on a rant about progressive HR concepts that look great in small environments but are next to impossible to launch in big companies (13:03).

--A renegade firm highlights a bug in the LinkedIn development stack that allowed them to post a job for a CEO position at Google (21:49).  Spoiler alert - Google has a CEO and LinkedIn quickly shut down the bug and ruined the fun for the rest of us.  Tim talks about where to find ROI with your job posting money and the team explores the giant mess of skeletons that are created when aggregators automate posting from other aggregators, which means you can't get old stuff pulled down and other forms of resulting recruiting pain.

JLee, Tim and KD round out the show by talking about the most aggressive LinkedIn invite they have recently accepted  (32:36) - you know the vibe, you accept an invite and someone is automatically trying to sell you something.

THIS IS HR hates bad LinkedIn invites, but we hate ourselves when we accept them in moments of weakness/charity.