Helping Unemployed/Underemployed People Is Part of Your Job...

If you're like me in the world of HR and recruiting, you get asked for career help as a normal rite of passage. For me, it's tough because there's only so much you can do to help people find opportunities outside of the company you work for.

That process can make you jaded in the world of HR. People think you're more connected than you are, and as a result, you're going to get more of these inquiries than the average person.

But you matter more than you realize, even when you can't help as much as you'd like.  I recently caught up with another HR leader I ran into by chance in our community.  A few years back, she was down but I had references that said she was talented. I introduced her to 5 people I thought might be able to help her in her career.  None of those contacts generated the lead she needed, but she eventually landed on her feet.  Flash forward to our chance meeting a month or two ago - we caught up, and she was borderline emotional about how I helped her, even if it didn't result in the lead that got her the current role.

It's the long tail of career assistance for you and me as HR and recruiting pros. Treat all with respect, do what you can, and underpromise and overdeliver. The results don't matter as much as your empathy and intent.

I've been fortunate to have had a role in helping to start/build some great careers across the direct reports I've had over the years.

Then I get this note yesterday. Take a look and see you below:

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From: Kevin
Date: Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 6:02 PM
To: Kris Dunn 
Subject: Hey old friend

KD!

Hope all is well in your world.  I was at lunch with some customers today and we all told our stories of how we wound up in the wireless industry.  

SO... I got to tell them the story one more time about you "lighting me up" in that pickup basketball game in early 1995. Who would ever think a chance thrashing on the basketball court would lead to a new friend and a great career? 

Thanks for all you did to help me get started. I learned so much from you and have tried to replicate as much as possible by helping as many people as possible network and find jobs, especially when they find themselves without one.

I hope things are going good for you and yours! God Bless!

Kevin

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I was just starting my career when I met Kevin.  Like you, I have a great bullshit filter, and he was a real person with humility and ambition. So I referred him into the company I worked for and we became co-workers.

The rest is history.  Kevin's built a career in that industry long after I left.  And I get this random email on a Thursday evening, 23 years later.

You have a lot more impact than you know. The next time someone reaches out to you for career help, be patient.  They need you and their expectations are managed.  

Be empathetic and do what you can.  There but for the grace of god, go I.

They need you.  Remember the long tail that exists with this part of your job and identity. Every time you push away the voice in your head that says you don't have time or can't help and provide an ear, everyone wins.

Including you.

 


HR HATER WEEK: Why Passive HR People Fail to Deal With The Problem...

Capitalist Note: This week is HR Haters week at the Capitalist. Let's ID the personas out there who don't respect HR and figure out how to deal with them.  See the first two posts in this series here and here.

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THE PASSIVE BEHAVIOR YOU’LL SEE ON YOUR TEAM RELATED TO DEALING WITH HR HATERS

If you’re reading this series, you’re either an alpha or would like to become an alpha. The same is not true for your team. One of the reasons I wanted to do this series on HR Haters is that is our profession is full of behavioral profiles that drive the way we respond to clients. Haters

Tell me if you see yourself or your team in any of the following passive paths taken with people who question (aka, HR Haters the validity of HR:

1--HR is service oriented, therefore we tell ourselves the customer is always right. It’s pure rationalization, of course. The customer of HR is not always right, we’ve just got a cross section of people who would rather not think about the alternatives.

2--HR fails to confront people doing bad things and begging forgiveness. The alternative to the customer always being right, of course, if to first confront the general sense of lawlessness. It doesn’t matter what could come next, if you’re unwilling to confront, the next step never comes. And the craziness continues.

3--HR fails to negotiate a middle ground with HR Haters. HR is great at a lot of things. Negotiation is not one of those things. The solution is often as simple as confronting, then negotiating. More on this fun fact later.

4--HR fails to understand all the tools at their disposal to play offense with those who dare to question the function’s credibility. Some HR leaders are political masters, Machiavellian in their daily craft. But others are unwilling to do what it takes to wrestle control of the organization.

Dealing with HR Haters is - at times - about that political wrestling match. Recognize any of these behaviors on your team? You’ve got great people on your team, but many of them are uncomfortable with activity that at times feels like confrontation.

As luck would have it, willingness to confront is the only consistent factor that converts a HR Hater to a friend/colleague of you/the profession – at least someone who respects the function.

Be careful out there.  But not too careful.


FALLING INTO HR WEEK: Hollywood Examples of People Waking Up in HR...

Note from KD - It's “Falling Into HR” series this week at The HR Capitalist.  Go check out my post on Fistful of Talent from Monday as part of this series.  This is the third post in that series.

LOOK CLOSELY AND HOLLYWOOD SHOWS US HOW PEOPLE FALL INTO HR

There aren’t a lot of great HR characters coming out of Hollywood. But all you have to do is look closely and you can tell how they fell into the world of HR. Here’s five that come to mind and their match related to how they fell into our world of people, process and corporate politics:

1-- Toby Flenderson from The Office – Poor Toby. We smile and cry as HR pros as we watch him fumble through his day. Quick to rely on policy/process and slow to confront anyone directly and aggressively, Toby without question fell into HR by taking a transactional role and finding a place where he could survive. You and I get to the deal with the stereotype. Lucky us.

2-- Mary Winetoss, the rules-obsessed head of human resources hell bent on curtailing the hijinks of office workers planning to throw a wild holiday bash in the 2016 R-rated film "Office Christmas Party." A less known Hollywood HR character, you might be tricked based on her early reliance on policy that she’s like Toby. That’s an incorrect take, as her connection and problem solving with the leaders of her company clearly tells us she fell into the role based on being a “people person”.

3-- Dirty Harry in “The Enforcer” (1976) – The iconic scene in this movie depicts Harry’s boss announcing he’s been demoted to “personnel”, which clearly matches our earlier “don’t fire them, move them to HR” path. Harry doesn’t take the demotion well, pondering the move for two seconds before saying, “Personnel? That’s for assholes!” Thanks, Dirty Harry.

4-- Pam Poovey from Archer (FX) – Many of you don’t know Archer, but your kids probably do. Archer is an adult animated sitcom created by Adam Reed for the basic cable network FX. It follows the exploits of a dysfunctional group of secret agents, with Poovey being the group’s Director of HR. Ridiculed by her client group, but secretly capable of spy work with no training, Poovey clearly fell into HR by being dropped into our function at some point on an interim basis and finding a comfortable home.

5-- Ryan Bingham in Up In The Air (2009) – Partial credit here since Bingham (played by George Clooney) is a specialist who lays people off for a living. Still, as you listen to Bingham wax poetic about travel program points and benefits and remain distant from the people he’s firing, it’s hard to imagine he’s not a HIPO who parachuted into the world of HR, got comfortable with the perks and never left.

My point to all this? Most of us fell into HR. Some of the stories are funny, some are cautionary tales and some reinforce stereotypes. How you got here doesn’t matter. To survive in a world of change, you’re going to have to connect to the world around you and have more self-awareness of how you’re perceived. 

I'm glad I fell into the world of HR, even if I'm not as good looking as Clooney or as cool as Dirty Harry.


FALLING INTO HR WEEK: One Kid's Path Into the Rock and Roll Lifestyle of HR...

Note from KD - It's “Falling Into HR” series this week at The HR Capitalist.  Go check out my post on Fistful of Talent from Monday as part of this series.  This is the second post in that series.

THERE ARE 8 MILLION STORIES IN THE NAKED CITY

Some of you knew you wanted to be in HR in middle school.  It’s rarely that clean for the rest of us.

Consider the story of how I (Kris Dunn, aka “KD”) fell into HR. It’s a doozy:

1--I graduated from Northeast Missouri State (now Truman State) and automatically started a career as a young Division 1 college basketball coach at UAB (University of Alabama-Birmingham), because that’s how great HR is born, right? LOL. 

2--As a coaching staff member at a Division 1 program, I probably witnessed 9,000 conflicts with widely accepted people practices in corporate America, even though I wasn’t familiar with the terms “people practices” or KD head shot“corporate America,”or “HR”.

3-- After 3 years in coaching, I decided I was likely to be poor for a long time and exited the coaching game to go back to get my MBA, then took a job working overnight in a wireless call center to pay the bills.

4-- While working overnight in the call center, a soon to be mentor named Marilyn Brooks (Director of HR) figured out I had some potential in random post-shift interactions in the hallways and parking lot. She decided to seek me out for a project evaluating staffing vendors as part of a RFP process they were going through. I worked on the project overnight and delivered a lot more than was required. Mrs. Brooks was pleased.

5-- After getting my MBA, my wife and I relocated back home to Missouri (St. Louis area) where she became a staff prosecutor and I went to work doing market research for IBM Global.

6-- We went through one winter from hell, looked at each other and said, “what the hell are we doing?” Even though we were from the Midwest, 5 years in the new South had thinned our blood, and we wanted to get back to the Southeast.

7-- With LinkedIn not even a glimmer in venture capitalist’s eye at the time, I started calling people I knew, Marilyn Brooks among them, seeking career opportunities that would get me back to warm winters.

8-- Marilyn’s words: “I don’t have anything in what you’re doing now, but I do have a HR Manager spot. Would you be interested in that? You used to be a coach and there’s a lot of coaching in this role.”

9-- I interviewed and got the job. I was on my way in the world of HR.

Many of you are reading this and shaking your head. Some of you hate me for falling into this opportunity without paying my dues. Bottom line is this – I had a mentor of sorts, did good work to reinforce the mentor’s belief in me, and the mentor ended up plugging in a non-traditional protégé into an opening on her HR team.

Shit like this happens all the time in HR. Film at 11.

THERE ARE 8 MILLION STORIES IN THE NAKED CITY - what's yours?


It's "Falling Into HR" Week at the HR Capitalist...

I've decided that it's "Falling Into HR" Week here at the HR Capitalist.

I'm up over at Fistful of Talent today with a post called, "ABSOLUTELY NO ####### ONE GROWS UP DREAMING OF A CAREER IN HR." to start the series.

I think for the most part, it's true that most people fall into our profession. It doesn't mean you shouldn't be in HR though.  A taste of that post appears below, head over to Fistful of Talent to see the entire missive.

And come back this week, of course, for more insights on falling into HR.

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FALLING INTO HR IS THE NORM, NOT THE EXCEPTION

Here’s a non-comprehensive list of other things people fall into:

–Love

–Heroin addiction

–A bad relationship

–Lucky circumstances in life

–Debt

–Scientology

–A habit of eating a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream at 9 pm nightly.

That list tells you falling into things can be a blessing and a curse – it’s all relative to the outcome. From my experience talking to the talented high performers who make up the world of HR, here are some common ways people “fall” into HR without a real plan to enter the function that’s loved and hated by so many:

1–I started from the bottom now I’m here. You are a bootstrapper! Right out of college, these people took entry-level roles in our function, usually doing transactions as an HR Coordinator, Payroll Specialist or similar role. They enjoyed the function and in many cases, rose to run the whole damn thing. HR pros who find themselves entering the function in this manner have the greatest opportunity for career path growth in HR with small and medium-sized businesses.

Head over to Fistful of Talent to get the rest of the ways people "fall" into HR.  I bet you'll find yourself in one those profiles.


You Think You Have Problems? Try Retention in the Missile Technology Industry...

Short post today, but a timely one given what's going on in the world.

You have retention problems. You've got pay issues, leadership issues and Sally said something nasty to Jeff.  It's a hard-knock life.

Then, there's the missile technology industry.  

As luck would have it, I found myself on the phone on Friday with a HR manager type embedded in a division of a government contractor that produces missile technology.

Her biggest issue? Trying to convince young talent that it's OK (forget cool) to develop missile technology that is bleeding edge - and ultimately used to kill people on a weekly (if not daily) basis across the world.

As it turns out, we can all rattle the battle shields to our heart's content - this post isn't about politics. But at the end of the day, someone still has to produce the technology and innovation that keeps us a step ahead in the modern world of warfare.

According to my HR manager friend on the front lines of the missile technology industry, it's getting harder to find young technical talent that wants to work on missile technology.  Once they're in the door, it's even harder to keep them. Seems as if the drone strikes have a draining effect on this section of the talent industry, as their innovation and work contributes to a lot of death.

I'm more of a hawk than a pacifist, but in listening to her talk, it's pretty jarring to remember that there are thousands of people inside that industry that have to live with the fact that their work contributes to a lot of pain around the world. It's one thing to arm a soldier with the tools they need - you can spin that defensively as well as offensively, right?

It's a whole other thing to work on technology that's delivered in a pretty automated way and may cause civilian casualties on a routine basis based on the way targets use civilian populations as shields.

What would you tell this HR Manager?  I told her the only idea I had is to look at the recruits with low sensitivity as the best cases for retention.  Low sensitivity means low empathy, with is probably a requirement if you're going to be in the missile technology industry given everything that's going on in the world these days.

So the next time you feel grumpy about retention, just remember your peers in the missile technology industry.  


Your Leadership Team Wants Hires Only From Elite Schools - They're Wrong...

It's a dance as old as time itself. Your leadership team has opinions on talent - which is good.  They're interested.  That's a positive.

But one of the calls a lot of leadership teams make is this:

"In order to be the best, we've got to recruit from the best. We should really focus on elite schools for our key hires - Ivy and maybe a few other schools"

There are a couple of problems with that stance.  Let's list them:

  1. Your company may not be an attractive destination to graduates of elite college and university programs. Back to school
  2. The graduates of those elite programs may not be equipped or motivated to do the jobs you would place them in.
  3. Other talent, just as capable for the positions you have open, is available for reduced cost, lower retention risk and will perform as well - if not outperform the elite group.

If your leadership team has a focus on recruiting from elite schools and you have concerns, here's some help from a name your leadership team will probably recognize - McKinsey. The July 2016 edition of the McKinsey Quarterly has an article entitled "People Analytics Reveals 3 Things HR May Be Getting Wrong".  

It's a good read.  Here's what the article has to say about elite hiring at one of their clients:

"A bank in Asia had a well-worn plan for hiring: recruit the best and the brightest from the highest-regarded universities. The process was one of many put to the test when the company, which employed more than 8,000 people across 30 branches, began a major organizational restructuring. As part of the effort, the bank turned to data analytics to identify high-potential employees, map new roles, and gain greater insight into key indicators of performance.

Thirty data points aligned with five categories—demographics, branch information, performance, professional history, and tenure—were collected for each employee, using existing sources. Analytics were then applied to identify commonalities among high (and low) performers. This information, in turn, helped create profiles for employees with a higher likelihood of succeeding in particular roles.

Whereas the bank had always thought top talent came from top academic programs, for example, hard analysis revealed that the most effective employees came from a wider variety of institutions, including five specific universities and an additional three certification programs. An observable correlation was evident between certain employees who were regarded as “top performers” and those who had worked in previous roles, indicating that specific positions could serve as feeders for future highfliers. Both of these findings have since been applied in how the bank recruits, measures performance, and matches people to roles.

The results: a 26 percent increase in branch productivity (as measured by the number of full-time employees needed to support revenue) and a rate of conversion of new recruits 80 percent higher than before the changes were put in place. During the same period, net income also rose by 14 percent."

That tells you multiple things - that elite programs generally don't outperform what I'll call "the field", feeder groups into key positions are more important than we realize, and by the way, you're always going to do better recruiting the field (conversion rate) than you'll do at elite schools.

I would have loved to see the relative retention rate of the elite schools vs the field as well, but I'll take what they gave us.

Use this article to help calm down any leaders you have who only want to recruit from elite schools.  As it turns out, a lot of gold comes from schools like Kennesaw State or Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

 


The Art of Timing Submission of Your Best Candidate to Difficult Hiring Managers...

And they ask you about the game you claim you got
Drop science now, why not?
You start to sweat and fret, it gets hot
How'd you get into this spot?
You played yourself...
Yo, yo, you played yourself...
 
--Ice-T

You know where I'm going with this if you clicked through, right?

Difficult hiring managers.  Not to be confused with those who suck.  Or maybe that's the same thing - I'll let you decide that...

There's an art to dealing with difficult hiring managers that pride themselves on only agreeing to interview candidates who are a direct match to the 15 things they gave you in the intake meeting.  You know how this goes, you work hard, have a decent slate of 3-5 candidates that represents what the market is in the first 7 days - then the difficult hiring manager won't talk to any of them.

That's why you might need to change your strategy with any hiring manager who fits this profile.

Instead of giving them the full slate, hold your best candidate back from your first set of submissions.

The hiring manager who rejects everything but the perfect candidate early usually becomes more flexible later.  Once the opening moves in the 30-60 day age range, pressure to get the position filled mounts.  The same candidates that were rejected at face value early suddenly become what I'll call "possibly viable" late (also know as grudgingly viable).

If you know specific hiring managers are going to hate everyone early, don't give them everyone.  Hold your best back.

Let them cycle through the superiority complex, including the following gems:

--"This is a great job - I need a great candidate"

--"This is a unique opportunity"

--"I think we can find someone who has X, Y, K and Z.  But I really need U, N, Q and E also.  Let's keep looking"

--"I need someone in the 60K range who has all those things. These people want 75k?  Let's keep looking"

If this feels nasty, I get that. But you''re working hard as the HR pro/recruiter on the case.  Your work is good. Don't allow it to be thrown in the trashcan if you know someone is going to do that 9 of 10 times with your first round of submissions.

Let the clock tick. Let the pressure mount. Manage the expectations of the candidate you're holding like the card that gives you the full house.

Then at the right moment, put the candidate/card down.

#winning

 

 


Lessons for HR: A PhD on Netflix Revenue and Spending...

 "The goal, is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."

-Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

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Simple task from the HRC today.  Watch this six minute video below and get a PhD on the Netflix spending spree on original shows and how it justifies burning money as they grow the subscriber base.

Netflix is pretty good at the pivot.  Lots to learn here... (email subscribers click through if you don't see the video below)

 More on the economics of Netflix in this Wired article from 2017 as well...