Your Employment Brand (Once Done Right) Probably Needs Less Refreshing Than You Think...

Quick post today related to employment branding and HR marketing.  The big thought is this:

You get sick of your own stuff at a much more rapid pace than the marketplace does.

Trust me, I'm somewhat of an expert related to being impatient with things that are done well.  But the reality is that once you (or I) create something, we see it more than anyone Brandelse. Whether it's a comprehensive employment brand strategy or simply an analog handout you're using at job fairs, you see the creative related to your employment brand about 1000x more than anyone else.

The result? You and I call for dramatic recasts/redos of employment brand artifacts much sooner than we should.

Let's offer up some realities in support of this:

1--You are responsible for creating the brand around your HR/recruiting/talent practice at your company.

2--You do the work. It's like having a child. It's a LOT of work, and once done, you hopefully feel good.

3--You see the brand EVERY day. The imperfections and woulda/coulda/shoulda grind against you on a weekly, if not daily basis.  A year in, you're sick of it and thinking about doing it again.  It feels necessary!

4--THE DIRTY SECRET TO REMEMBER - nobody gets exposed to your employment/HR/talent brand at the same level you do. You're sitting on Main Street in Chernobyl related to your brand, everyone else is thousands of miles away.  They come around every once in awhile, get what they need, then leave. They come back occasionally.  THEY HAVE NOWHERE NEAR THE BRAND EXPOSURE YOU DO AS THE CREATOR.

The rule of seven in marketing says that prospects have to hear messaging 7X before they get it.  Whether it's an internal HR brand or an external employment brand you've create, PLEASE RELAX.  If you did a great job on it and are proud of it, don't recreate it every 12 months.

Chill out.  If your brand efforts in recruiting or HR sucked the first time, then by all means, recast it and make it better.  But remember, no one is seeing it as much as you are.

I think a good rule of thumb for a brand done well is to look at a rebrand at the 3-4 year mark.  If you've had the same brand for that period of time, I think it's OK to think about a HR/recruiting brand refresh.

I'm reminded of the power of leaving pretty good alone by our website at Kinetix.  We get comments on how much people enjoy it on almost a weekly basis.  If you asked me or my partner, Shannon Russo, what we want to do differently, we've have a laundry list of items.  But based on the continuous feedback, we'd be suckers to change it too much.

Once your brand is good, don't rush to redo it.  Add depth to the brand components, tools and messaging you already have rather than starting from scratch.

This public service announcement is provided to all my OC friends in HR and recruiting.

5 Questions With Sharlyn Lauby - Author of "Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success"....

Sharlyn Lauby is an author, writer, speaker and consultant. And a friend of mine!

She is president of ITM Group Inc., a consulting firm which focuses on developing training solutions that engage and retain talent in the workplace. SharlynThe company has been named one of the Top Small Businesses in South Florida.

She's also an incredible, trusted, practical voice on all things related to talent.  That's why I wanted to feature this book today.

She is well-known for her work on HR Bartender, a friendly place to talk about workplace issues. The site has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 Blogs HR Pros Love to Read” by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Sharlyn is the author of “Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success” and “The Recruiter’s Handbook: How to Source, Select, and Engage the Best Talent” (both available in the SHRM Store).

Sharlyn previously served as a member of SHRM’s Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) and Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility special expertise panel. Her personal goal in life is to find the best cheeseburger on the planet.

I loved the Manager Onboarding book and wanted to learn more.  Below is my 5 Questions Feature with Sharlyn on Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success:

1--Sharlyn, employee onboarding has been a hot topic for a while, but you zigged while others zagged and wrote an entire book on MANAGER onboarding (which I love).  What drove you to write an entire book on the need to properly onboard managers of people?

When it comes to new hire onboarding, there’s no training program that I’m aware of that says, “This is how you effectively onboard employees.” We learn how to onboard from our own onboarding experiences. So, if we onboard managers badly, guess what?! They will onboard employees badly. And there’s a statistic from Korn-Ferry that says 98% of CEOs think the key to employee retention is good onboarding.

The other piece that’s frustrating for new managers (and I’m sure you’ve heard this too) is when managers receive no guidance or instruction on something, then they make a mistake, and then they’re scolded by “Here’s how you do it…” Why not avoid the mistake and just tell managers what they need to know so they do it right the first time?

2--When it comes to manager onboarding, what’s the focus point or activity we neglect that has the biggest return on investment of time or money?

I believe it’s telling managers what their goal is. And I’m not talking about the common functions of management: planning, staffing, organizing, directing, and controlling. A manager’s true goal is to find and train their replacement.

Managers can’t work on the CEO’s super-secret pet project, take a vacation, or participate in training if every time they leave their office, their department falls apart. Managers need to learn how to develop talent and delegate. And they need to realize that doing this will not make them dispensable. It will make them more valuable.

3--What are some tips you have from your deep experience in helping organizations perform at a higher level related to introducing a new manager to an incumbent team?  How can we create a form of trust/transparency/authenticity with the team earlier with a new manager through onboarding?

I believe it starts with the hiring process. Does the incumbent team know what’s going on? Are they a part of the recruiting process? I’m a big fan of collaborative hiring. It allows key stakeholders – like the incumbent team – to get involved and be invested in the new manager’s success.

Then when it comes to onboarding, there’s an opportunity for the new manager and incumbent team to start building camaraderie. I recently read about a concept called a “personal guide”. It’s what you would think it is – a personal guide of how someone likes to work. Years ago, I had a boss who every time he took a profile or assessment, he would copy the results and distribute them to his direct reports. At first, I thought it was weird. Then I came to realize that he was teaching me how he liked to work. And how he wanted me to work with him. I could see that type of activity being a great way for new managers to build relationships and create a sense of team.

4--What’s 3 things that new managers do (without the help of your onboarding blueprint) that undermine their ability to be effective?

Here are three but let me say that I don’t know that all of these are the new manager’s fault. Organizations need to take some responsibility for setting the right expectations with new managers.

    1. They focus on the technical aspects of the job and not relationship building. The biggest mistake organizations make is hiring/promoting the most technically competent person and not giving them the people skills to do the job. Many managers think they’re being given the job for the technical expertise and forget they need people to get the work done.
    2. They forget to manage up. I learned a long time ago that I needed to build a relationship with my boss. And if I wanted them to support me that we needed to agree on A) when I could do something and never tell them B) when I could do something and drop them an email later and C) when I need to go to their office and have an immediate conversation. It builds trust.
    3. And they forget to develop their team. We’ve already touched on this but if managers want to move up in the company, they need to start thinking about developing their team. Otherwise, when they get a promotion, there will be no one to take their job. That leads to a new manager doing their “old job” and their “new job” until a replacement is found. No one wins when that happens.

5--Think about TV or the movies – and give us 2-3 Managers featured in Hollywood that are so good at managing others that you’re wondering if they’ve gone through proper onboarding for managers.

Wow! This is a toughie. Especially since there are so many ineffective managers on TV or in the movies who are simply portrayed that way to make us laugh – like Michael Scott in The Office or Director Ton in Aggretsuko.

I would point to a couple of managers like Morgan Grimes in Chuck who start out as a total goof but as he grows professionally, he really begins to deliver for his team. And he’s willing to admit and apologize when he makes a mistake. Another one is the Commissioner in Death in Paradise. He’s not actively directing all of the police investigations, but he’s there when the team needs him and seems to say just enough to help the team keep moving in the right direction.

Sharlyn Lauby is awesome.  You can order this book here - she's real people and a voice you should be following - Subscribe to her blog and follow her via the social accounts below:





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


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!


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.

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.


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 #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.


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.


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.


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.  


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Headphones at Work - Individual Contributor vs Manager of People...

In case you missed it, new research from AVS Forum polled 800 individuals for perceptions of people who wear headphones at work, at the gym and on public transportation. The full summary graph appears below (email subscribers, click through to my site if you don't see the graph).

TL:DR: Headphones don't make you viewed as pretentious as you might think - they've never been more accepted in the workplace, which makes 100% sense given the open floor plans in most of our organizations.


One thing that the research didn't address was level of employee - my gut tells me headphones are most accepted for individual contributors, and maybe even for those who want to remain individual contributors for the foreseeable future.

So let's talk about upward mobility and headphone/earbud use.

First up - I'm not anti-headphones or a member of the abolish headphones at work party.  I get it - people can getHeadphones_at_work into a groove with certain types of jobs (creative, transactional, etc.) with the vibe that music provides.  That's cool and I'm all for it.  I also get that headphones are often an attractive option for dealing with the noise intrusion that comes with living in a cube environment.

But here's the reality that goes along with headphones in the workplace:

1) Managers of people probably need to limit their headphone time.  Managers can't afford to not be aware of their surroundings and be approachable.  Managers take calls and walk-ins from other managers, external partners and their superiors who put them in the job in the first place.  More importantly, managers are expected to be available for the teams they lead.  Nothing says, "I'm not approachable" more than a manager wearing headphones or earbuds. 

Well, maybe a closed door all the time says that to a greater extent.  But you get my point.

2) Employees who want to be upwardly mobile into the manager ranks typically take less headphone time. The type of employee who migrates into a managerial role is naturally available.  They thrive on the walk-in traffic and a service orientation to those who approach them.  For that reason, they wear headphones less than others.  The resulting service and approachability contribute to the organizational logic that they're good candidates to manage people.

So, if you are wearing headphones and are productive - ROCK ON.   It's all good and whatever makes you productive is a good thing.

Just be aware of what that says about your desire to lead teams if you have them on for 5-6 hours a day....

I'm just sayin'.....