Archive for Business

The Community Has Spoken – #truBatonRouge

global-communication-background003“HR people and recruiters sure think differently, don’t they?” (quote from #truBatonRouge attendee)

They sure do; and I’ve talked about it quite a bit. I feel somewhat able to pontificate on the subject as I’ve not only worked for an agency, been an internal recruiter, and managed corporate recruiting teams, but have also held numerous HR leadership positions over the years.

If we imagine we’re just one ginormous agrarian society, the recruiters are like the hunters and gatherers who track down the talent; they’re out there fishing in the pond where no-one-else is fishing. The HR practitioners are back home tiling the soil; waiting, as it were, for the food to come to them.

It’s endlessly fascinating to me why these two groups – all invested in finding the right people for the right jobs at the right time – have such differing views on what talent attraction and acquisition looks like. So often, I continue to find, the HR leaders/practitioners in an organization operate via the ‘staffing’ model; let’s open the req, confirm the job description, blast an advert of some sort, and assume the people will come to us. Make the offer, close the req, and wait until the next person quits and we have to fill the same job all over again.

Is it a matter of time and resources for many HR practitioners? It can be. One of the #truBatonrouge attendees was from a rapidly growing organization with 600 employees where it’s no doubt a challenge to create a strategic sourcing and recruiting strategy when there are 3 people in the entire HR Department and they also handle payroll, benefits, comp, FMLA/ADA/WC, employee relations, etc. etc. etc. Out of necessity, perhaps more than anything else, they’ve migrated to a model where the hiring managers are fully empowered to handle all their own hiring; HR manages the process, workflow, and tools, but is hands off unless specifically asked to participate.

Without a dedicated recruiter the 25+ open positions they have (I checked) are, more than likely, being blasted to job boards in an attempt to get as many warm bodies loaded into the recruitment funnel as possible.

It’s the HR way.

And I anticipated this sort of tension – if that’s the right word – to rise to the top when I planned the event. Knowing the market here in south Louisiana the attendees were a varied bunch: we had a handful of recruiters, a gaggle of HR professionals (generalists who have recruiting as one of their responsibilities), some entrepreneurs, a health care executive, a bunch of organizational development folks, and a few communication/marketing professionals.

So what did we talk about?

I led a track on the “The Problem with Job Interviews” which focused on exploring things like uselessness due to lack of planning and our focus on hiring for “fit” when we don’t even know what that really means. We dove into the impact of bias – with confirmation bias being one of the biggies as we seek to confirm our initial gut feeling from the first 90 seconds with an applicant. We chatted about the use of data. We conversed about how many interviews is too many; one attendee reported he had multiple visits and met with 15 interviewers for a job. Sweet fancy Moses.

Casey Kugler led a track on “Recruiting Tips from a Corporate Recruiter” and discussed sourcing and searching strategies. He shared the results of an experiment he recently conducted to see if taking the time to personally construct LinkedIn communication (“Hi Joe…I see you like Pearl Jam!”) garnered more results than generic messages (note: he saw a 3% improvement). Darren Sherrard, Associate Director for Recruitment with the VA, discussed recruitment marketing and specifically chatted about paid vs. earned media as well as the evolution/merging/blurring of PR and recruitment marketing.

We had a track called “Fear and Loathing in Succession Planning” and dove into the topic “Are YOU the only one who cares about your Performance Management Program” with Sandy Michelet. The latter discussion was interesting; enough HR/OD people expressed a desire to hang on to numbers, rankings, ratings, and forms that it appears the shitty performance appraisals we’re often saddled with aren’t going anywhere soon.

We wrapped up the day with a free-wheeling discussion merging all sorts of topics together with a focus on how HR/Talent professionals can, perhaps, innovate; wellness (ugh!), use of technology, the digital divide, and spirituality in the workplace/business environment all landed on the table.

It. Was. Awesome.

We held #truNOLA in 2012, but I wanted to hold an event in Baton Rouge to gather more people together who have an interest in talent, recruiting and the evolution of work. I wanted varied experiences and differing opinions. I wanted people to meet and connect and build community.

And we did.

Thanks to Devin Lemoine and the team at Success Labs for providing the space and hosting us for the day, and thanks to my friend Bill Boorman, founder of #tru, who believes in building this global community.

“Those HR people and recruiters can get on the same page after all.” (me)

Desperate, Sweaty, SWM Looking for ‘Love’

DatingGameThe dating/recruiting comparisons are endless and we’ve been drawing parallels for years. The conversation will continue for some time; we’re waiting, after all, for the much-anticipated eHarmony launch of its recruiting/assessment/matching platform later this year.

One thing I’ve never seen dissected though is how one’s approach, to either the dating process or the hiring process, impacts the final outcome. Maybe it’s because at some point enough people find their match, job-wise or romance-wise, so we kind of lose interest. (“Thank God Mary finally found a man. I’m so tired listening to her ramblings about the losers she’s meeting.”) Or, of course, they just stop trying. (“Bob has stopped shaving and just sits around his house in his underwear. All he eats is Papa John’s pizza.”) Either way we’re thankful for the silence when they stop blathering on about how they can’t find “the one.”

But all this starts with some sort of goal-setting, know what I mean?

Let’s take dating. People join dating sites for any number of reasons. Some are laser-focused on finding a spouse or forming a significant relationship while others want companionship so they don’t have to attend events or work parties as the lone single gal/guy. There are folks who just want a partner with whom to sip wine and go for walks on the beach. Quite a number, let’s face it, pony up their hard-earned cash with the goal of satisfying hormonal urges.

As for job seekers, the individuals who take the time to create a lengthy profile on a job board or the soon-to-be-launched eHarmony recruiting site presumably do so for the same reason: to land a job. A job they love! 

People in both camps may be desperate; the out-of-work guy in job search mode needs to start bringing in some income. The why-am-I-still-single? 36-year-old gal who enjoys spinning pottery and singing in the church choir is bone wearingly exhausted being the +1 at couples’ events. Plus she has urges…if you know what I mean.

Candidates and single-people with hopelessness oozing out of every pore. Who hasn’t run into them?

I’ve sat across from job applicants who have begged for a job. “I’ll do anything,” said Rhonda-the-applicant. “I really need to work.”

I’ve also, back in my single days, sat across from sweaty dudes who plied me with cocktails and begged for companionship. “I’m ready to settle down,” lamented one crunchy-granola weirdo hipster dude as he chugged his sake at the Thai restaurant during our first (and last) date. “You want to come and see my house? I brew my own mead and raise earthworms in the basement.” (note: after I feigned an emergency and raced for the safety of my car, I watched him unlock his bicycle and wrap his pants leg with duct tape before he peddled back home to his earthworms).

Where’s the line that one crosses? At what stage does someone move from having a desired (and achingly unrealized) objective into wretched despondency?

Is there a point at which the lovelorn hit a critical juncture and can’t reverse their path? Had earthworm guy, once upon a time, been a tad more circumspect in his quest to snag a woman? Did he change after stumbling through young adulthood on some sort of creepy refection-filled journey?

I dunno.

But I do wonder if the mysterious magical eHarmony recruiting tool will assess “desperation.”

I also wonder if that would that be good … or bad?

 

 

Running the Family Business

The GodfatherA bit of news came out last night about our beloved Saints. As reported by The Times-Picayune, “New Orleans Saints, Pelicans ownership shocker: wife Gayle, not granddaughter Rita, will control empire after Tom Benson dies.”

Of course, as with anything of this sort, there’s all manner of speculation. Did Rita want to eventually move the team out of New Orleans? Is Gayle (a much younger 3rd wife for Tom Benson) a gold-digger? How is Gayle going to run this show when her primary business achievement was having a failed interior design company?

This story will keep local tongues wagging for a bit and I anticipate a few Rita Benson-LeBlanc costumes at various Mardi Gras parades over the next several weeks.

This was, however, a not totally unexpected turn of events as Rita (#2 exec in the organization) had previously been placed (by her grandfather) on a 3-month administrative leave. Per NBC Sports:

In 2012, Rita Benson LeBlanc was removed from the football business due to concerns about her management style, which caused her to have 30 different assistants in six years.  In 2013, the NFL rejected a “poison pill” in coach Sean Payton’s new contract that allowed him to leave the team if Mickey Loomis no longer served as General Manager, based on the belief that Payton wanted Loomis to remain in place as a buffer between Payton and Rita Benson LeBlanc.

Oh Rita. That’s a new assistant every 2.4 months.

Can you imagine recruiting candidates for that gig? I’m quite sure it was initially fairly easy to get a candidate interested: “Hey Mary! How would you like to work for the Saints!?!!” “Oh Yes!!” (Mary had visions of running into Drew Brees in the hallway and sharing gossip at the water cooler with Reggie Bush).

But as the years went on and the revolving door of assistants swung wildly I’m sure it got harder and harder; New Orleans is a pretty small city after all. “Hey Mary! How would you like to work for the Saints!?!!” “Is this that job working for Rita? You must be joking; I’m not a masochist.”

(Over the years I’ve talked to and/or interviewed a good number of employees with the Saints organization; it’s a workplace like any other with some good and some bad. It’s certainly not a black & gold paradise.)

So as we wait for more details to emerge, I find it interesting that all stories, thus far, point to Rita’s leadership style as a key factor in these moves.

Not financial mismanagement; not the inability to negotiate and settle contracts. Nothing about her ineffectiveness to close business deals. (Although it was reported that she tended to regularly miss owner’s meetings and the like).

Leadership style.

Imagine the relief the current assistant must feel. She may even make it past the 2.4 month mark.

*********

image

Another View of HR ‘Big Data’

topdown3Last week I read this article explaining that “Big data knows when you’re going to quit your job before you do.” The article relates how VMware is using Workday to predict when and/if certain employees are in danger of leaving the organization. Workday’s Insight Applications, summarized here, are rolling out in 2015 and are designed to predict future business outcomes. Leaders with access to both internal and external data should, of course, be able to take advantage of opportunities while also cutting risk levels using the data patterns, predictions and recommendations that are embedded within the Workday system.

As the original article pointed out “By combining company data on employee hiring, promotions, relocations, compensation, employee satisfaction surveys, managerial decisions and job cuts with public data sets like the standard of living in the region and workforce demand for certain skills, Workday can spot patterns. Businesses can input decades of historical staff data into Workday to inform and customize the system’s recommendations. In one case, Workday analyzed more than 1 million data points for 100,000 employees across 25 years to come up with employment suggestions. To train the software, companies must look back on worker-retention predictions and give the software an electronic pat on the head for ones it got it right and a virtual swat with a newspaper for those it got wrong. The system learns over time how each company works and, like an experienced HR employee, develops a gut feeling for which people the company needs to keep a closer eye on.”

The evolution of HR. The stuff many of us get giddy reading about, discussing and exploring. For those HR practitioners who are able to realize the benefits of technology and big data, such as this, it’s like a whole new world; we feel like we’re sitting with the big boys (finally) when we have this information at our disposal.

Unfortunately though, when Ginormous Corporate Conglomerate A and Large Regional Bank Holding Company B start using this sort of technology, it doesn’t set so well with Sally Lunch Bucket and Joe Six Pack.

Using absolutely no data, algorithms, or regression analysis whatsoever I present to you, unedited, a few of the reader comments (505 as I type this) from the original article:

  • “It’s not a problem for those rare companies that actually value their employees properly and compensate them fairly.”
  • “Yeah, like they care if you’re going to quit.”
  • “Pay your employees better, train them well and treat them well and maybe they won’t quit!”
  • “This will only make employees less trusting of their employers.”
  • “A better idea might be to figure out WHY someone is going to quit… and how to fix the problem they’re quitting to get away from. Bosses won’t like that, though, since 90% of us don’t quit our jobs, we quit our bosses….”
  • “Does it also predict when your company quits you?”

There’s also lots (and lots) of HR bashing….

  • “HR becomes less human everyday”
  • “Over the last few years HR “professionals” have been trying to gain more and more power and influence in the corporate world. They sell unproven or ridiculous ideas and philosophies to upper management or board members and then completely destroy a company from within.”
  • “HR has ruined getting a job in this country, They created a cottage industry on uselessness.”
  • “HR = a parade of clowns”
  • “The ironic part of this whole thing is that this machine will probably be operated by someone in “Human” Resources.”
  • “How about HR just do their jobs? There is no need to rely on a program, they just have to get off of their butts and be active.”
  • “Human Resources. Neither human, nor resourceful.”

Ouch.

So how do we prepare for this tsunami of distrust when rolling out a new technology such as this? Something that brings to mind, for a fair number of people, an Orwellian society?

We pay attention to keeping the human element in mind, that’s how. We communicate across the organization – not just with the C-Suite execs who have given the blessing to our endeavor. We share the why, what, and how with Joe and Sally. And then we share it again.

**********

Earlier this year I had a conversation with a VPHR for a large regional company that was looking to hire a Regional HR Manager. This position, based in a large metropolitan area, has HR responsibilities (primarily employee relations) across a 3 state region and also serves as an HR Business Partner for a company-wide line of business.

Big company. Big data.

And, as part of this movement to using data to more effectively manage initiatives and projects, the VPHR outlined her expectations that her HR team be viewed as, well, business partners. She didn’t believe a need existed for her HR team to travel to company sites or meet with employees. Unless, of course, it was necessary as part of an investigation.

“We’ve got the technology and the systems and the data,” she summarized. “I don’t need the HR Managers spending their time in the field.”

I wonder what Joe and Sally would think of that? “Human Resources. Neither human, nor resourceful.”