Let's talk about something that impacts every organization - The perception of whether your executives do anything, and in a related topic, whether they are viewed as credible.
There's 4 buckets every executive at your company falls into:
1--Works hard/does stuff and viewed as credible.
2--Doesn't work hard/do stuff but is viewed as credible.
3--Does stuff/works hard and isn't viewed as credible.
4--Doesn't work hard/do stuff and isn't viewed as credible.
The gold standard is to have execs in #1 - Does stuff/is credible. Engagement is always easier when this is the case. For the most cynical of executives, they'd love to be viewed as credible without really trying to dig in and work or understand what's going on 4-5 levels below them.
Entire TV series have been based on the disconnect - Undercover Boss, anyone? The CEO puts on a stupid wig, goes to the front lines and finds that special person they want to help moving forward - everyone cries and the CEO is now aware of how hard the work is. Check. Then it's back to the corporate jet and the Ritz.
Why am I posting about this today? I was reminded of the four buckets of Executive perception when Magic Johnson resigned as the President of the Los Angeles Lakers (pro basketball). For the uninitiated, Magic is a top 5 player all time in pro basketball, and he's royalty when it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers. So the Lakers hired him 2 years ago to return their organization to glory.
There was just one problem. Magic wanted the job, but he didn't want to have to work hard. In addition, the fact he didn't work hard in a job he didn't know how to do destroyed his credibility in his workplace, which for him was the community of other GMs doing work within the NBA. You can get a good rundown of the Magic Johnson scenario here.
But back to your company. Evaluating whether an executive works hard and is viewed as credible is tough for the following reasons:
a--It's not necessarily the executive's job to understand what everyone does and how the sausage gets made. They have a job that's different that the first layers of your company, and at times, just as important.
b--Employees love to hate. Just because they don't know what the executive does doesn't mean the exec in question doesn't work hard. But it might tell you they need to connect more to be credible.
So how do you determine whether an executive works hard and is credible? My first suggestion is to ask their executive peers who rely on them for services. If the peers don't feel they work hard or are credible, it's likely you have a problem. After all, peers at the executive level are aware of the demands of the job. They're slow to say, "I don't know what he does", because they've heard that before about themselves.
Finally, look for command related to talent management 2 to 3 levels below them. Someone trying to understand the work and add value to the way your company's product or service gets delivered is likely to know who's good and who's not, and base it on tangible items clearly linked to success in the job, not politics or rumors.
There's a lot of people at your company who think your executives don't do anything. They might be right.
You should try to understand if you're dealing with Jeff Bezos or Magic Johnson and take action accordingly.
If there's one thing that HR could do better at, it's caring less about being perfect and shipping more HR product.
You see it all the time in the world of HR. We have big plans. Those big plans include the need for project planning, for meetings, vendor selection and deep thoughts. After awhile, the process takes over the original intent, which was trying to serve a need and make the people processes of our company just a little bit better.
We chase big, risk adverse, "get everyone on board" type of wins. The development of those big wins can stretch into a year - no make that two years - of prep.
What we ought to be chasing more is Minimal Viable Product, which in the software industry gets defined as this:
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development.
A minimum viable product has just enough core features to effectively deploy the product, and no more. Developers typically deploy the product to a subset of possible customers—such as early adopters thought to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to grasp a product vision from an early prototype or marketing information. This strategy targets avoiding building products that customers do not want and seeks to maximize information about the customer per amount of money spent.
I'm looking at you, Workday. You're on notice, SAP. We love the big solution in the world of HR. But the risk of big failure goes up astronomically when implementation plans are more than 120 days and your own HR team hates the product - after 18 months of work to "customize" "configure" it.
Of course, we'd be a lot better off if we would simply either design/buy the simplest solution to a problem we think needs fixing by HR. To be clear, you can buy or design these minimalistic solutions. Which way you go depends a lot on what you are trying to fix/improve. The general rule of thumb is this related to the following types of HR "needs":
--Technology - always buy. Find the simplest solution you like, buy for the shortest term possible and roll the solution out. If you prove the use case and gain adoption, you can always seek to upgrade to something more complex, but if it fails, initially buying simple is the smart play. Recruiting, performance and system of record tech falls into the "buy" category.
--Teach - You're buying a tech solution for early forays into Learning and Development? You're kidding me, right? You know that you may build this and no one will come, right? You also know that the type of training you're generally asked for (manager and leadership training, etc.) is an area where you're the expert, right? hmmm....
--Process - You never buy process initially - you build. You never spend money on a consultant to help you in any area before you - the HR leader - has your own hot take related to what you want in this area.
Thinking in a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) way is simple. For tech buys, If you're first generation HR (no tech has existed), you should always find the simplest solution you like, buy for the shortest term possible and roll the solution out. Figure out what's usable and what's not. See this article from me for Best in Breed vs Suite considerations. Open API's mean you have limited worries about tying all the data together. Let's face it, you've got to grow up your HR function before you were going to use that data anyway. Buy small and learn. Maybe your v 2.0 tech solution is an upgrade to a more advanced provider. But you don't by the BMW when you're kid is learning to drive - you buy the used Camry.
Here's some lighting round notes on what Minimal Viable Product looks like in HR - for some specific areas/pain points:
--Manager/Leadership Training - You want to shop big and bring in an entire series from an outsourced partner. The concept of MVP says you should listen to the needs, then bootstrap a 2-hour class together on your own. At the very least, you order a single module of training from a provider (I like this one)and walk before you run.
--Redesigning Recruiting Process - Put the Visio chart down, Michelle. Dig into a job that represents a big area of challenge at your company and become the recruiter for that job for a month. Manage it like a project and be responsible personally for the outcomes. Nobody cares about your Visio chart - yet. They would love the personal attention you give them. Once you run a single, meaningful search in a experimental/different way, you'll have real world stories and experience to create a <shudder> Visio chart that's based on reality.
Doing Minimal Viable Product in HR means you plan less, get to doing, run the action you're taking through a cycle and evaluate. If it works, build on the 2.0 version with a bit more complexity. MVP in HR means you ship more product that's lighter than what's traditionally come out of your office.
Get busy shipping more HR product. Plan less. Play the Minimal Viable Product game and if you're going to fail, fail quickly.
Let's face it. If you're in the game and playing to win. you're going to have some failures. Sh*t that goes sideways.
"Regrettable situations", as I like to refer to them.
I like to think Teddy Roosevelt had it right at the turn of the last century when he gave a speech widely known as "The Man In The Arena". It goes a little something like this:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
TL;DR: People who aren't making sh*t happen shouldn't be allowed to criticize. At worst, we shouldn't listen to those who have never put themselves out there via risk-taking in their own careers.
It's easy to play it safe. But that's what gives birth to boring careers, tract housing and underfunded 401ks. Whether you're playing to win for a greater cause or you just think careers and the rewards that go with them are the ultimate scoreboards of life, Roosevelt's "Arena" is as true today as it was in 1910.
If you're in the arena, it's going to get messy. Failure will be in your neighborhood.
So let's talk a little bit about the spin cycle necessary when you do fail, or when your underperformance isn't widely known, but could be held against you by your enemies, or at least those who view you as standing in the way of their own career progress.
Scenario: You're working on an important project. Things aren't going well and some of your co-workers understand (correctly, I might add) that an important client contact has grown to dislike you (this could be either an external or internal client). It seems that in repping the best course of action, you try to play hardball with this individual when they were blocking your progress, and they didn't take kindly to being told what to do/leveraged/semi-threatened. Now the words out on the street by those in the know - you're in trouble on this project, and while it likely won't destroy your career, it certainly doesn't help.
To make matters worse, you've got people in your own company/department gossiping about this personal sh*t show that you're at least partly responsible for. As with most gossip, it starts among those who would most like to see you fail and who haven't done 1/4 of what you've done for your company (see Teddy's speech).
Still, it's a problem. You've underperformed, and people are talking. The good news is that the people who matter most in your career (your boss, perhaps your boss's boss) aren't yet aware.
That's what this post is for. You've got a choice to make, and here are your options:
1--Do your best to muddle though the situation and hope it doesn't explode on you, taking the equivalent of your right leg from a career perspective at your company.
2--Get to the person you wronged and try to make it right.
3--Execute on a policy of no surprises to your boss (as well as proactive disarming of those who would position themselves as your enemy), hitting him/her with the reality of the situation and generally getting in front of bad things.
Most people choose option #1. Just play the string out and hope for the best. The weakest view option #2 as the best path, but for purposes of this exercise, I'm assuming you blew that person up for a good reason - they were being unreasonable in their blocking of what needed to happen, etc.
It's option #3 that most true Alphas use - getting in front of bad news and taking the leverage away from all who wish them harm.
I'm reminded of this art by this post from Jeff Bezos of Amazon (No Thank You, Mr. Pecker) - which details the fact that the National Enquirer was blackmailing him under the threat of releasing partially nude and totally nude photos of him that he supposedly had sent to his girlfriend/mistress - to influence him to call off his investigation of why his personal life had earlier come under much scrutiny.
I'll let you go read the Bezos post. As it turns out, the richest man in the world is probably a bad person to blackmail.
But back to you and me, and our more pedestrian careers. When things go sideways and sharks are circling, it's probably always best to get in front of the bad news with the people who control your career - for the following reasons:
A--The cover up always feels worse than the actual situation.
B--When you tell those that matter, you can control the narrative.
C--Important people with power (those that control your career) hate surprises and being embarrassed.
Do you really want those that want to stick it to you to control that initial narrative? Of course you don't.
You got sideways on a piece of work. Nobody died. Be a player and march into the office of power, let them know about it and tell them what you're thinking about doing to fix it.
Then ask for their advice. People who believe in you love to be asked for advice when you're having trouble.
Game. Set. Match. Haters who watch others (you) play in the arena - be gone.
Let's talk about small failures at work. The kind that stack up and make you feel like you had a crappy week.
Some of you think everyone is watching you when you fail small. The dirty little secret is no one is watching you unless you beat them (good for you, but watch out) or lose to them (at which point they'll tell others or discretely imply that they crushed you). Of course, life at work doesn't have as many true "L's" as we think.
People are hopelessly self-absorbed. No one is watching you for the most part, or has time to stop thinking about themselves to evaluate - wait for it - you. Bask in the fact that your small failures are not really seen or evaluated by those not directly impacted.
Then get ***ing better. Because you might have a problem if you never get a "W".
I've got a senior in High School, and you know what that means - time for admission envy, parental handwringing and everything that goes with along with that.
Sarah's going to Vanderbilt/Harvard/Stanford. Man, I wish my kid would have worked harder...
I get it - we all want more for our kids. To the extent they've worked hard, we want them to go to the best school. When that doesn't happen, we start worrying, because not being admitted to a top school is a classic 1st World problem. The volume gets amped up when your kid is a high performer and can't even get a sniff to a top school with a 4.4 GPA and a 32 ACT. See this post (spend more time on the comments from parents who feel they've been wronged) for some crazy stories, accusations of unfairness and helicopter parents losing their minds.
It's easy to understand your paranoia. If the school your kid is going to isn't up to par in your mind, or if you think he/she has been wronged by an admissions process, it's easy to rant and wish for more.
Until you figure out the following 2 things:
1--Comparison is the thief of joy, and more importantly;
2--By the time your kid has his second job and/or 5 years into the world of work, it's not going to matter where he/she went to school.
Stacy Dale, a mathematician, and Alan Krueger, an economist, collaborated in two large-scale research studies (Dale & Kruger, 2002 & 2014) in which they effectively controlled for the background characteristics of students attending colleges that varied in selectivity (based on average SAT scores of the entering class). The first study was of students entering college in 1976, and the second was of those entering in 1989. Essentially, their question in both studies was this: If people are matched in socioeconomic background and pre-existing indices of their academic ability and motivation, will those who go to an elite college make more money later in life than those who go to a less elite one? The overall result was that the college attended made no difference. Other things being equal, attending an elite school resulted in no income advantage over attending a less elite school, neither in the short term nor in the long term.
The key, of course, is students matched in socioeconomic background, academic ability and motivation. Match kids up by those factors, and there's no outcome difference in attending Kennesaw State vs Georgia Tech (Atlanta example, plug your own in for your area of the US).
And when it comes to the factors considered, give me motivation over the other factors once a decent level of academic ability is present. The average GPA of millionaires is said to be 2.9 - I'll be back with more on that later this week.
I see it all the time as a recruiter - people from elite universities with average careers, and people from schools I've never heard of killing it and running the world.
I was blessed to have my first son do the minimum at a really good high school to get a 3.7 GPA and mail in a high 20's GPA. So my expectations are managed, that's easy when your kid knows not to apply to elite schools. But he was an absolute grinder in other things in his HS years, so I know he has a shot via transferred motivation to do great things and outperform a 34 or higher ACT.
I'm a recruiter by trade. If you're still recovering from your son or daughter going to the state school, chill out. He or she has a 50/50 shot to outperform the kid of the mom who stuck the Stanford admission in your face. But only if they grind and the motivation is greater than their peer group.
BONUS - Video below shows a kid wanting Ivy and coming to the realization it's University of Illinois (from Risky Business, click through if you don't see the video player).
We've talked a lot about Google For Jobs and it's potential impact on your future recruitment marketing spend. As a quick reset, Google for Jobs was launched in October of 2017 and was thought to be a significant blow to Indeed for 2 reasons:
1--Indeed was not listed as a partner that would automatically have its jobs included/indexed in the Google for Jobs product, and
2--The presence of the Google for Jobs interface on search results for jobs pushes the once dominant SEO power of Indeed way below the fold, which means the ROI of Indeed spend should go down over time. Translation - the first thing candidates see won't be Indeed, which is like Uber customers losing access to its app. In fact, they'll have to scroll a loooooong way down.
Nobody discounts the power of Google. But the erosion of Indeed has been slower than many predicted.
His article provides a bit more proof that the erosion of Indeed via the Google for Jobs threat isn't final, and many job seekers still use the Indeed interface to start their job search. Check out the following graph from HR Wins (email subscribers click through to the site for the graphic), click on the article link above and subscribe for more goodness like this:
The disclaimer to this data, of course, is that candidates at times are notoriously bad at self reported data (my favorite is the over-reporting of "I heard about this job from the company's career site", which is rarely true).
But beyond the candidate self-reporting issue, the directional info seems true with what I've seen. Indeed isn't dead yet. The info about LinkedIn being secondary to candidate job search is a nugget you won't find elsewhere.
In case you missed it - I did the following review of a Netflix documentary - Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. Go read that and watch that Netflix joint. But at the end of that post, I let my readers know that if anyone could give me a Ja Rule song (one of the organizers of the Fyre Festival that went so wrong), I'd give them the proper recognition in this space and at Fistful of Talent.
Turns out, I have a lot of Ja Rule knowledge amongst my reader base. Among those offering up a Ja Rule song for reference - Jess, akaBruno, E, HR mime and HR footprints, and that's just those brave enough to own Ja Rule knowledge with a comment - also got a bunch of emails.
All this Ja Rule talk took me to the topic of the Fast and Furious movie franchise. If you need an explanation of what is is, click the link to the left. Turns out, Ja Rule has done quite a bit of music for the F&F series.
That made me want to provide the following: Fast and Furious Soundtrack Songs, Ranked. Spoiler alert - Ja Rule made it, if only because my readers have a s**t ton of Ja Rule knowledge.
HR disclaimer: I'm not accountable for the language in any of these songs. Check your kid's or nephew's playlist before you wag the finger at me.
As always, these rankings are unscientific, unresearched, highly subjective, and 100% accurate. Use at your own risk.
To the list of Fast and Furious Soundtrack Songs, Ranked:
10--Ja Rule feat. Lil Mo & Vita "Put It On Me" (Remix) The Fast & The Furious (2001) - I had to put Ja Rule in, so here we are. I'm told that this classic Ja Rule love song not only represented the romance of the first Fast film while capturing the urgency and vulnerability of the respective couples in the movie. It just made me think he sounds a lot like DMX.
9--Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth “See You Again” Furious 7 (2015) - In the wake of the tragic death of leading man Paul Walker in 2013, the somber melody of this hip-hop ballad was an appropriate farewell tune that grew to become a smash. Can't do the list without this one. I'm putting it at 9 because I like energy in my F&F cuts and this is chill. RIP, PW.
8 -Teriyaki Boys "Tokyo Drift" The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) - I heard they’re doing some crazy **** in Tokyo. This song is by Teriyaki Boyz, a Japanese hip-hop collective that worked with just about every important producer 10 years ago. I don’t think they’re making music anymore, but I could be wrong. This cut gets included as Tokyo Drift is DISRESPECTED in the F&F series since they didn't use the original cast. I think Lucas Black is dope.
7 - Bad Meets Evil "Fast Lane" Fast and Furious 6 (2013) - Dark horse entry to this list, Bad vs Evil is comprised of Royce da 5'9" and Eminem, with this track included in the Extended First Look trailer for Fast & Furious 6. Great music in the track and it's gotten around, as it was featured on both the soundtracks of the 2011 film Real Steel, and on 2K Sports' NBA 2K12. The track was also used for HBO's Entourage season 8 trailer and for the Final Fantasy XV trailer "Ride Together'
6--NBA (Never Broke Again) Youngboy "Murder" Fate of the Furious (2017) - Okay, this is a bit of a cheat. This song was a hit before they decided to put it on the soundtrack and it barely even has anything to do with aftermarket parts. Not my scene, but shoutout to the kids who listen to this stuff today, they all love NBA YoungBoy. Filthy lyrics. Don't listen if easily offended.
5--Limp Bizkit, Method Man, Redman, Swizz Beatz, & DMX "Rollin’ (Urban Assault Vehicle)" The Fast & The Furious (2001) - Out of the more intense records throughout the franchise’s history, this one is top-five material. The original chart topper, “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)” was already an icon nu-metal smash, but with the help of Swizz Beatz, it has more of a club feel. Fun Fact: “Rollin (Air Raid Vehicle)” was featured in the Fast & The Furious film while its hip-hop remix was only on the soundtrack.
4--Saliva "Click, Click, Boom" More Fast & Furious (2001) - “Click, Click, Boom” is an iconic nu-metal smash of the early 2000s. The extreme intensity from the M-Town band allows their radio smash mesh with The Fast & The Furious’ rugged and raw energy perfectly. Of course the white guy is following up Limp Bizkit with Saliva.
3- Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott "Go Off" Fate of the Furious (2017) - If you're old and trying to represent, your safest choice is ALWAYS Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott - hard to go wrong with that duo. Thus, they make the list.
2--Wiz Khalifa & 2 Chainz “We Own It” Fast & Furious 6 (2013) - Wiz and 2 Chainz deliver the goods here. 2 Chainz probably appears with the hologram of Conway Twitty next, because he's everywhere. Can't listen without humming along.
1--Ludacris “Act A Fool” 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) - Luda’s first entry in the Fast & Furious franchise was an outlandish banger that flooded the airwaves and MTV consistently back in ’03. This was also at the height of his career, when his Chicken-n-Beer album was making waves at the same time. This cut is so Fast and Furious I'd list it 10 times, but that would be boring. If you have time for one song to capture the essence of Fast and Furious, this one is it.
Disagree? Have something to add? You're probably wrong, but hit me with your views in the comments.
An analysis of millions of anonymous reviews posted on Glassdoor’s site identified more than 400 companies with unusually large single-month increases in reviews. Some companies, including Elon Musk’s rocket company Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and software giant SAP SE , have had multiple spikes.
During the vast majority of these surges, the ratings were disproportionately positive compared with the surrounding months, the Journal’s analysis shows.
In the Journal’s analysis, five-star ratings collectively made up 45% of reviews in the months where the number of reviews jumped, compared with 25% in the six months before and after. While it isn’t possible to determine from the data alone what caused each spike, a statistical test shows the likelihood that so many would skew positive by chance is highly improbable.
Who's ready to rant? THIS GUY.
You should go read the whole article, because the data analysis alone is solid and research based. My biggest observations are as follows:
1--The implication of the WSJ article is that employers are gaming the system. No, you know what games the system? CREATING A PLATFORM WHERE THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO ARE NATURALLY INCLINED TO ENGAGE ARE THOSE WITH AN AXE TO GRIND. Damn, WSJ, can I at least a paragraph about the dubious nature of the Glassdoor business model before you start blaming employers?
2--The WSJ article never mentions that the business model of Glassdoor is to call up struggling employers and offer to help them. Some call this extortion. I don't (wink! note to Glassdoor legal).
3--The WSJ never gets to the fact that Glassdoor packages and services in the "offer of help" mentioned above basically does the same thing as the WSJ is accusing employers of. GD helps employers get their head around how to raise ratings, and that means proactive campaigns to get positive reviews in.
4--FYI, remind me why we would ask a disgruntled employee to proactively do a Glassdoor review?
5--The chart you see above - the one that shows 5-star ratings on Glassdoor growing from 17% of all review submitted in 2013 to 28% of all reviews in 2019 - is EMPLOYERS REFUSING TO BE USED AND ABUSED BY THE GLASSDOOR PLATFORM.
Yeah, WSJ, we asked some employees that don't hate us to do some reviews. Do better reporting and you'll understand why.
Well-known names with large spikes included messaging-app developer Slack Technologies Inc., professional-networking site LinkedIn, health insurer Anthem Inc., household-products maker Clorox Co. and Jack Daniel’s maker Brown-Forman Corp.
Spokespeople for Slack, LinkedIn and Anthem said their companies have encouraged employees to give feedback. A Brown-Forman spokeswoman said it doesn’t have a formal strategy to solicit reviews. Clorox didn’t respond to a request for comment.
In some cases, companies have encouraged loyal employees to post reviews as part of a publicity campaign. SpaceX and SAP, for example, galvanized employees to leave reviews to make Glassdoor’s annual ranking of the “Best Places to Work.”
Other companies, including Guaranteed Rate, have pressured employees to write positive reviews in order to raise poor ratings, according to interviews with current and former employees.
Walmart and CVS didn't reveal the terms of their new agreement in a joint statement. CVS had said that Walmart, the biggest retailer in the world, wanted to raise the cost of filling prescriptions by too much.
The dispute could have affected about $4 billion worth of prescriptions, according to an estimate from Eric Coldwell, an analyst at Baird. It also would have prevented CVS customers from picking up scripts from 4,700 WalMart locations.
Of course, the real briefing is this --If you don't think that's Amazon's coming to severely hamper CVS and similar Rx companies by getting into the Rx game themselves, you're not paying attention.
In case you missed it, leading online retailer Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) acquired PillPack in June 2018, an online pharmacy service that allows customers to purchase medications in pre-made doses. Walmart was also a contender to buy PillPack but lost out to Amazon's better offer. Closely following the PillPack purchase, Amazon announced a program that will include prescription deliveries through its Prime membership program.
You know there's always a new play annually when it comes to help you get cost out of your benefits program. You've seen that with the trends you now know well - managed acute care, tele-doc, mail order Rx, etc.
Someday soon, Amazon's going to have a path to offer you a 20% reduction in your company's Rx spend. It's only being slowed by realities like Aetna being owned by CVS, which muddies the competitive landscape for Amazon to navigate to make becoming your Rx provider of choice a reality.
But Amazon's coming. They might have to buy an retail Rx firm to get it done, but with the aging of the USA that seems like a prudent investment.