What is your measure of success? #HRTechConf

I’m out at the world’s largest HR Technology Conference this week, learning a ton and having some amazing conversations with peers and practitioners. One, in particular, is sticking with me about how we measure success in HR and Talent Acquisition.

With the increase in the capture of data across our technology stacks, we have more information than ever to give us insights and really give us better robust measures of success. But we tend to hang on to old measures that have little correlation to actual success.

There are a bunch of things getting in the way of us successfully determining what should be the measures of success in our functions:

  • We need to measure things that are challenging but not too challenging.
  • We tie our success metrics to annual bonus potential.
  • We don’t really know what success should look like from a benchmarking standpoint.
  • We have legacy measures that everyone is just kind of used to, and the majority of the industry still uses them. So, we should follow the pack.
  • We need measures that we can quickly manipulate of having excuses if things go sideways.

We will never admit the truth above.

From the HR Technology standpoint, your technology vendors assume you are much more sophisticated than we really are. I don’t mean that in a way that is meant to slight our expertise and knowledge. If I had HR and TA leaders rate their own skill competencies, almost always, technology would come in dead last. Most of us have this as an area of massive improvement.

Why does this matter?

Our technology will drive our success measures. Our technology vendors believe we know what success looks like. So, they build our measures, even when they know there are actually better measures of success that they can pull and put together. True, black and white measures that are not subjective and can’t be manipulated.

The first thing that would help with creating real HR measures of success would be to decouple our bonus compensation and measures. Having a person design their own measures of success and tying it to a compensation outcome is a recipe for failure and underperformance. If anything, HR and TA should have their bonus tied to business success outcomes and measure functional success separately. In the long run, a highly successful function should help the business achieve better outcomes.

This one practice frees us up to really dig into our data and our technology and redefine what success looks like around the HR umbrella of functions. To really use our data and our insights to reach new levels and better understand how we can make an impact and improve. We should feel like we can build measures of success and fail at those measures without killing our livelihood. That’s the only way we can hope for true change and worthwhile long-term measures that help us succeed.

What I’m finding is the HR technology community is ready to help us do this. We just have to ask them! We have to ask them to define our success using a data analytics approach and understand the outcomes and insights we can gain from these new measures. This also takes a big of courage because we’ll be leading not following and that’s always a vulnerable spot. But, one I think separates great leaders from average leaders.

The 5 Steps to Buying HR Technology #HRTechConf

Hey kids! I’m out at the HR Technology Conference this week, and I have 26 meetings set up with HR Technology companies to do briefings. My buddy, KD, says I do a hundred crappy HR tech demos a year, so you don’t have to. That means this week, I’ll knock about 25% of those! It was 27, but I had one cancel because they felt like I didn’t do enough “HR” tech, and I only know “Talent Acquisition” Tech. That made me laugh! Thankfully, I’ll survive. They most likely won’t.

If you are an HR or TA Leader, the biggest budget purchase you’ll most likely ever make in your position is technology. What I find is that even though this will be one of the most important leadership decisions you’ll ever make, most leaders really have no idea how to buy the technology that runs their business. By the way, as leaders, almost know functional leader knows how to buy technology, so we aren’t alone!

Because we lack this knowledge, most of us will either let our IT department make this purchase for us (a super bad idea!) or pay a giant consulting firm a giant fee to help us make this decision (not as bad of an idea, but not great). Your IT department doesn’t know HR/TA. You do. That should be enough said about IT choosing your functional technology. The giant consulting firms are paid millions of dollars by certain vendors for “research.” So, guess who they will recommend you buy?

Since I get to do a lot of demos and briefings, I like to think I most likely have some good insight into how to do this. Wait, what the heck is a “Briefing” with an HR Technology company? Basically, “briefing” is analyst-speak for speed dating with a tech vendor. In 30 minutes, they’ll tell you why they’re awesome, what they have built recently, and what they plan on building in the future. Then I get to ask them what their favorite movie is, where they’ve traveled, etc. You know, all the normal dating questions. If they really know what they’re doing, they’ll bring diet Dew to butter me up!

How Should You Buy HR Technology?

Step 1 – You actually use your current software fully and truly figure out what it can’t do that you desperately need to do your job better. I find almost no one does this first step. They just want something better, even though when asked, they struggle to verbalize what better is.

Step 2 – Once you know what you need, you figure out who the best players are in the market who do that thing. That takes some research and a hell of a lot of demos. For anything you need, figure out at least twenty vendors selling that solution. Based on your size, that will limit your selections, but at least 5-6 will always be in play. Think about Enterprise-level HCM alone; you have: Workday, Oracle, SAP, Infor, Ceridian, ADP, UKG, and I’m sure others that I’ve missed. This is why I got to the HR Technology Conference every year, to keep up with the market. Every HR and TA leader should be doing the same.

Step 3 – Depending on your size, you’ll have to RFP. For many SMB and Mid-enterprise buys of point solutions, you’ll just be on your own trying to find a partner. In this case, step 2 becomes super important for you because I find that most HR/TA shops buy what is “Sold” to them, not what is available. Turns out, HR Tech companies are super good at marketing and advertising to potential buyers. Those companies marketing to you might be the right choice if you’re lucky, or it could be an awful choice. You need to know your options!

Step 4 – You need to talk with users of the technology you decide to buy before you buy it in three ways: 1. Users currently going through an implementation. 2. Users who are through implementation for at least one year. 3. A user who has left them within the past year. If the vendor doesn’t give you these references, walk away! You need to know how much pain you’ll be in and the realistic timing of implementation, you need to know what learnings others had during their ramp-up of the technology, and you need to know what could go very wrong as a worst-case scenario.

Step 5 – Network in the community for other users who use the same technology you want to use and find out what they are paying for that same technology. I find tech vendors charge as much as they can, and some buyers are better at negotiating than you’ll be. If you can come back with some hard numbers, the vendor will work with you. If you have no idea, you’ll pay a much higher rate than another company using the exact same solution. Also, if the big giant consulting firm that you’re paying six figures for can’t give you these introductions, you’re paying them too much!

There are obviously a bunch of steps within these steps, but this framework will give you a good start and make sure you don’t make a bad purchase. Also, remember the old technology buying saying, “no one ever got fired for buying IBM.” That was said because, at the time, IBM was the gold standard and the most expensive. So, while you might be able to find a good technology cheaper, you also have more risk of it failing.

The same goes for HR/TA buying decisions. There are over 10,000 HR Tech solutions on the market. You can find some amazing technology where the vendor will almost give it away to gain you as a client and get more users, but that comes with some big-time, unproven risk. For some, that risk will be worth it because you’ll be able to get and use the technology you could never afford without taking that risk.

The Recruiter Texting Rules!

Here we go! Your boy is back with some more rules! You know I love me some rules! I’m high rules, and low details, which drives most people crazy!

I was having a conversation recently with some recruiters about texting candidates. For the most part, in recruiting, we’ve gotten to this point where we believe every candidate prefers texting over every other kind of communication. And, if they don’t want a text message, then they want email.

This isn’t exactly true! I did some research and surveyed over 1600 candidates we screened to find out the facts and published it – 6 Things Candidates Want You to Know – you can download it here for free. But I’m not here trying to sell you a free whitepaper!

The entire reason we believe candidates prefer text over any other form of communication is some creative marketing around text vs. email response rates in overall text vs. email communications. Now, this is where all of this falls apart. I get over 500 emails per day. I get maybe 25-50 messages. Of course, I’m going to respond more to text messages vs. email. But that doesn’t mean, as a candidate, I want text vs. email, necessarily!

This all lead me down a path where I believe we need some rules around texting as recruiters!

The Recruiter Texting Rules:

Rule No. 1 – As the first outreach to a candidate you don’t know, texting is not preferred by candidates. They don’t know you, and they certainly don’t want you jumping into their private text messages with a spammy job offer!

Rule No. 2 – No one of quality ever accepted an interview and job offer through text message without first speaking to a real human. Pick up the god damn phone. Once a candidate is all in with you, then yes, they will most likely only want texts from you.

Rule No. 3 – Give me a way to opt-out of your bad text recruiting automation hell! For one, it’s the law. But, most still make it way too difficult to stop the automated texts.

Rule No. 4 – Just because you have my number as a candidate does not give you permission to stalk me for a date. It’s super creepy!

Rule No. 5 – If we aren’t friends, don’t text me like we are friends. Avoid sarcasm. Keep it professional and short.

Rule No. 6 – If it feels like you’re sending candidates too many text messages. You are sending candidates too many text messages! Also, don’t text me a novel! Send long stuff in an email.

Rule No. 7 – If I ask you a question, answer the damn question! We are adults. You can tell me the truth I don’t need some run-around answer that doesn’t really answer my question.

Rule No. 8 – If you expect me to respond within minutes. I expect you’ll respond within minutes. Set the ground rules around expectations early.

Rule No. 9 – Never! And I mean, NEVER! Text with a green bubble! Just Kidding! 😉

Okay, peeps, what did I forget? Give me your favorite rule for texting candidates in the comments below.

You Have No F@cking Idea What You Want!

Can I be real a second?
For just a millisecond?
Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?

We have a core problem in HR and Talent Acquisition that might be impossible to solve. On one side, we have hiring managers who think they know what they want, but any Recruiter can tell you that changes by the minute and by the candidate you put in front of them. Can you spell conscious bias?

On the other hand, we have candidates who truly believe they know what they want, but until they actually get into the job and work with the team and get a feel for how the culture works, they also have no clue of what they really want. Can you spell clueless?

All the while, the reality is that none of us really know what we want.

Oh, Timmy, I do! I want more money! Ugh, this new job with more money sucks!

Oh, Timmy, I do! I want passion and purpose in my work! Ugh, this new job doesn’t pay enough for me to live!

Oh, Timmy, I do! I want a job that pays me more than I should be making, makes me feel like I’m helping out the world in some major way, allows me to come and go as I please, and never asks me to produce any evidence of any work that I ever did!

Well, yes, yes, you do know what you want!

Even then, some idiot would find fault with that job. The brand isn’t cool anymore…(and here comes the throat punch!).

Humans are awful at knowing what they want and combining what’s best for them. We tend to pick things that make us feel good at the moment, but a week later, we hate ourselves for it. This makes employee selection super difficult. You have two people meeting each other for an hour, if you’re lucky and then making a life-changing decision. Turns out, that rarely works out well for either side.

We try to throw psychology and technology into the mix, and honestly, this would work better, but we still throw a human in the loop (candidate) at some point who basically can’t be honest with themselves or the A.I., and we can’t figure out why this entire thing keeps failing.

So, what should we do?

I think we should just select employees based on a lottery. “Are you interested in this job? and Do you meet the requirements?” Two yes’s, and you get a shot at the job lottery! Let the odds forever be in your favor! Good luck.

I mean, would it really be worse than what you’re doing right now?

I don’t know.

I hope you liked the picture of my puppy.

Happy Global TA Day! I Love Recruiting!

Today is Global TA Day, put on by the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP).

The other day I had someone ask me, who doesn’t really know me and definitely didn’t know what recruiting is, isn’t recruiting hard because people don’t like you?!

I wish I could tell you I’ve never heard this question before. When I first started in recruiting 25 years ago, it was a common theme in my life. “Oh, you’re a headhunter! That must suck…”

I thought it would be all different when I went into the corporate side of Talent Acquisition. Okay, now I’m in “real” recruiting. But I wasn’t. Corporate TA, which I love, wasn’t real recruiting. It was just another form of recruiting. Either way, I enjoyed that side of recruiting as well.

Why? Why do I love recruiting?

Basically, at any moment in my day, week, or month, I’m going to be a part of a life-changing event. I’ve been a part of someone getting the job they dreamed of, or getting a pay increase that will change the direction of their life, or maybe a position that will allow them to move to a location that will fulfill something they’ve been searching for.

It’s not every day. It’s not every week. Heck, sometimes it might not happen in a month. But every morning when I get up, today might be the day! There’s a chance. There’s a chance today is going to be a great day.

I love recruiting because in recruiting, we have the ability to change our company for the better every single day. Maybe today will be the day I find the designer who will design a next-gen product that is the future of our company. Today might be the day I hire a nurse who will care for my grandfather when he is sick and help them recover. Today might be the day I hire a Barista who takes to extra seconds to recognize a person who tomorrow will need to be seen to make it through another day.

Aspirational? Hell, yes. And today, I’m here for it!

How do we stop boring conference sessions?

For decades I think we all had a hard time imagining conferences in a new way. Most followed, and still follow, a basic format of a full group morning keynote, followed by hour-long sessions throughout the day, followed by an afternoon day-closing keynote. Most of the design was directed by the continuing education community, which is why most conferences started.

You need one credit per session, and those sessions need to be at least one hour of ‘training’ or education.

Then TEDx came around, and people had 18 minutes to produce some of the most amazing content any of us had ever seen! DisruptHR-like events sprung up, and we got to see great content happen in 5 minutes! Many people started wondering, why the heck are we sitting here for one hour listening to people drone on endlessly when they could tell us all of this in half the time!?

There was a small study done around this concept. A researcher went to a conference and sat in 50 sessions. Within four minutes, he made the decision was this content was boring or not. Based on that, he also looked at the time the speaker went over or under their time, and his data showed him that boring speakers were more likely to go over their allotted time!

“For every 70 seconds that a speaker droned on (over their allotted time), the odds that their talk had been boring doubled.” 

So, if you ever sat in a boring session and thought, “Oh my, this is so boring, and it’s taking forever!” You’re right! The boring stuff does take longer!

As a speaker, all of these changes that conferences are making and testing are really exciting. Here’s what I’ve learned over the past 12 months with some of these new content configurations that are being tested:

The shorter amount of time you have to speak, the more time it takes to prepare really great content! It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? It should be harder the longer you have, but it’s not. If you have a short amount of time, your talk has to be really tight and practiced. If you have a long time as a speaker, you can wander around and come back to things.

Shorter segments of live content that are good are much deeper and less wide. The best short-range content goes really deep on one item, not surface level on many items.

The audience pays closer attention to shorter content. If you have an audience for an hour or more, they tend to come in and out. If you have them for 20 minutes, you are more likely to have them the full time, which means they’re more likely to call you out if you try and slide some B.S. by them!

Most non-speaker speakers really struggle with short content. Most speakers at a conference aren’t professional speakers. They’re practitioners. They need more time, not less, because they aren’t on stage enough to practice short, tight sets of content. So, they’re more likely to fail when doing short sessions.

Get ready for some exciting conferences in 2022 and 2023! Conference producers are really working to change things up and keep modern attendees engaged with the content at conferences, most now both in-person and virtual, and I personally love the challenge and the changes! If you’re building our budget for 2023, make sure you try and hit an in-person conference. To me, it’s one of the best ways to sharpen your saw and build a great professional network!

Take a look at some awesome new HR Technology startups! #HRTechConf

The popular startup competition will take place during the upcoming HR Technology Conference, happening September 13 – 16, 2022, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. I’m super proud to once again be of the judges selected by LRP Media Group and the HR Technology Conference for this year’s Pitchfest. It is my favorite event of the year!!

This year, 33 companies will compete during the three preliminary rounds, each with five minutes to present and two to three minutes to answer questions from the judges. Based on a combination of votes from the audience and the judges, the total score earned by each company in the preliminary rounds will determine which six advance to the finals.

On Thursday, September 15, at 10 a.m. PT, the Pitchfest final will name one winner to receive the grand prize of $25,000 and exhibit space at the 2023 HR Technology Conference. A second-place winner will get $5,000. Prize money for the winners will be donated by Randstad Innovation Fund, Randstad’s strategic corporate venture fund.

Listed in alphabetical order, these are the companies selected to participate in the 2022 Pitchfest:

1.    AtlasJobs

2.    Dalia (Frontline Recruiting Tech)

3.    EasyLlama (Sexual Harassment Compliance)

4.    Educe Software (Talent Management Tech)

5.    Extraview (Interview Tech)

6.    Findem (Sourcing Tech)

7.    Finwello Inc. (Financial Wellness)

8.    Gift Better Co. (Employee Appreciation)

9.    Illoominus Software, Inc (DEI Analytics Tech)

10. Inclusively (Workforce Inclusion)

11. ishield.ai (Diversity Communication Tech)

12. JobSync (Recruiting Automation Tech)

13. Largely (Talent Marketplace)

14. Lumina (Job Advertising Tech)

15. Manager360

16. ModernLoop (Recruiting Opersations Tech)

17. PivotCX (Recruiting Communications Tech)

18. Pointr (Position Tracking Tech)

19. Praisidio (Talent Retention)

20. Probotalent, LLC (Reference Assessment Solution)

21. Pulse – Automatic Status (Slack Status solution)

22. Ramped (Upskilling)

23. ReturnSafe (Hybrid Work Experience Tech)

24. Rise (Core HCM)

25. SmartRank (Candidate Screening)

26. Soundbite Inc. (Employee Engagement Tech)

27. SPOTLYFE (Employee Engagement Tech)

28. Sunny Day Fund (Financial Wellbeing Tech)

29. TaTiO (Applicant Attraction Solution)

30. TeamSense (Text-based Hourly Worker Comms Tech)

31. ThinkSight (People Analytics Tech)

32. Translator, Inc. (DEI Learning Platform)

33. uMap™ (Talent Management Tech)

**You’ll notice two of the 33 don’t have links – that’s because I couldn’t find them based on their name! That’s a great Startup lesson.**

So, how do you use this list? Start clicking through and see who they are and what they do! What I find is that many of these startups have amazing technology, and they are looking to get users to prove their concept, so that means you can probably get great tech at a great price!! Plus, many times, be at the forefront of an HR Technology movement.

That starts with a demo! I promise, they are painless, and you will learn some cool stuff, give it a try! Challenge yourself to do one new demo a quarter. Keep on top of the technology that is shaping our industry into the future!

You Don’t Want Work Life Balance! Stop Lying!

My wife always tells me it’s actions, not words, that make a difference. You can say all of this great stuff, but if you do nothing, it’s meaningless. I think we would all agree with this.

So, when we hear graduating students, candidates, and employees tell us what they really want is “Meaningful Work” in their careers, we have to understand that those are “Words”! Not actions, just words. A study from Olivet Nazarene University Meaningful Work Survey asked this question and, predictably, found this:

So, yeah, 90% of us believe that meaningful work is critical for our career and happiness. That sounds about right. Those ‘words’ tend always to come out when we talk about our dream job, etc.

Then the study asked another question. It was basically, given your current career, job, etc., what is the one thing that would make it better? An action. But, remember those words!? What you would believe would make their career/job better should be “more meaningful work”! 90% of you idiots just answered that it was super important for your career and happiness!

Here’s what they actually said:

Show. Me. The. Money!!!!

Yep, you know I love this! “We just have a job that saves puppies! That would make me so happy!” Oh, wait, saving puppies only pays $23,000 per year!?! Yeah, screw those puppies! I want to work for a private equity firm! I’m a boat, bitch!

Want to retain your employees? Stop trying to make your employees believe that the rubber vomit you’re manufacturing matters and pay them more and give them flexibility! Stop asshole managers from treating their people badly! And magically, you’ll have high retention, and your people will love working for you, even though you don’t save puppies!

I get it. Deep down, we all want to do something that changes the world for good. We want to help others and save puppies. And the concept of meaningful work does really matter, given all other things, like compensation, flexibility, great leaders and co-workers, etc., are equal.

If I can make six figures a year saving puppies, I’m saving puppies. You’re saving puppies. We are all saving puppies!

But it doesn’t, so our actions speak way louder than our words when it comes to career choices and change. Meaningful work is not the most important thing for people in their careers. It’s something to consider, but don’t get too caught up in believing it’s going to fix all of your employee experience issues!

The more we believe we’ve changed because of the pandemic, the more ridiculous we look each time we leave jobs and people we like for more money. We had a good thing, but we think more money will make it better. The truth is the vast majority of us have no idea what we really want, but we believe more money is always the best answer.

“Quiet Quitting” Isn’t New!

Over the past week or so, the term “Quiet Quitting” has been everywhere on mass media. LIKE, OMG, CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT THESE DAMN KIDS ARE DOING NOW!?! (Side note: Can journalists be any lazier than they are right now? Wheee, look what I created!? Um, what?)

Gag me with a spoon…

We’ve had employees basically decide to stop working but keep collecting a paycheck since the first caveman hired his cousin to help hunt and gather! We just weren’t creative enough to label it something cool. For years I would call them the “Walking Dead.” Same scenario. An employee decides they hate you and want to quit, but they don’t have another job to go to yet.

Quiet Quitting is the result of The Big Regret!

Now, if we want to get all creative and sh*t, I came up with the term “The Big Regret”! Look it up. I can point to the exact date and piece I wrote. In fact, I had a conversation with my friends at Oracle about titling a piece so we could get out in front of this concept before everyone else. Welcome to marketing, kids!

Because so many people have changed jobs over the past twelve months and hated the new job, we have a rash of “quiet quitting” going on. It’s all because they love the new money but hate the new job. They have, wait for it, “BIG REGRET”! Gawd, I love it when I’m smart and right and cute.

What can you do about “Quiet Quitting”?

Fire their ass immediately!

If you have someone who’s not performing and really just collecting a check and waiting for a better job to come along. I’m going all NSYNC on them – Bye, Bye, Bye!

Yes, finding and keeping talent is very hard. No, we don’t put up with quiet quitting because of that. The people you have working for you love their job. Love your company. They will hate you for keeping the quiet quitters.

Look, I don’t care if you want to quit. In fact, I’ll help you if you want. But while we are paying you, there will be performance expectations. That’s how the real world works. You get paid. You perform. If you decide not to perform, you better get ready to be terminated.

Happy Monday, HR Gang!