What if you’re just average?

At some point in our little journey on this big floating rock we discover something about ourselves.Some of us discover we might actually be pretty good at some stuff and being good at that stuff actually has some value, so for all intensive purposes, if you’re one of these people, you kind of won the game!

First, congratulations. I’m truly happy for you.

Second, don’t get too cocky. The thing you might be good at is for some reason people find your appearance pleasing. So, you won by having strong appearance DNA. It’s not like you’re a brain surgeon or a popular influencer or something. You’re just good looking and food doesn’t make you fat, or maybe it does and that’s why people like you, who the hell knows why anyone wins the game anymore.

Some of us will find out we’re just average. There is actually nothing overly special about who we are and what we do. If we are lucky we’ll find another average person to fall in love with us, and we can average children, and hang with average friends, do average stuff on the weekends. Life doesn’t suck, it’s “fine”.

A few of us will find we basically suck at almost everything. Life is hard for those who suck. As the saying goes, it sucks to suck. That’s life, some great ones, a bunch of average ones, and few sucky ones. The problem with life is most people think they are either great or above average. No one thinks they suck (okay, some do, but properly medicated and with the right therapy that usually goes away), and almost no one thinks they’re average.

What do we do when 80% of those people we know don’t know they’re average?

I mean, I usually just tell them straight up after about three or four gin and tonics. Look dude, I love you, and that’s my own downfall, but you’re average. I mean, we can still hang, because I’m only slightly above average as compared to you, so we’re cool. That mostly doesn’t work, which is why I write on this blog and don’t hang with real friends, but in the end, I think those people who I wanted to be my friends will value straight-shooting.

I read this week that for every $1 I spend, that’s like Bill Gates spending $2.8 million dollars. If Bill Gates spent $1 million dollars per day, it would take him four hundred years to spend all of this money. Even after the divorce, or maybe even more with the divorce, Bill won the game.

$1 to $2.8 million puts into perspective the difference between average and great. It’s not just Bill is probably slightly better than you and me. He’s on a different planet! In fact, he could actually be on a different planet if he wanted.

We confuse being slightly above average, or even just better than the crappy person working next to us, that we must be great. But, just because you’re the tallest of the seven dwarfs doesn’t make you tall. The only way this concept works is if you’re slightly better than someone you know is great, not average or below average.

Every single generation has an issue with being average. We don’t want to be labeled as average we want to be extraordinary when 80% are just plain ordinary. I think this is mostly due to how we define average. The actual definition is: “a number expressing the central or typical value in a set of data, in particular the mode, median, or (most commonly) the mean, which is calculated by dividing the sum of the values in the set by their number.”

What does that mean? It means if we lined up a hundred people you would be number 50, or 49 or 51-ish. Basically, there would be 49 people better than you and 49 people worse than you. You’re in the middle. For those of you who are a middle child, think of it as your older sister is better than you, but you are better than your younger brother. Middle children tend to have better insight into the concept of being average.

Embrace Your Averageness!

Here’s the thing, being average has its perks! The Perks of being average:

  1. No one really expects anything from you. At best, the only hope is you just don’t screw stuff up!
  2. It’s super easy to keep your job when you’re average because all the focus goes to the ones that suck, and all the hard, important work goes to the ones who are great.
  3. Average people tend to live a happier life because of the lower expectations people have towards them.
  4. Being average, and embracing it, opens you up to way more friends and people to hang out with since most of the world is average. If you believe you are superior, it’s really slim pickings when it comes to folks you want to hang out with!
  5. The selection of mates for romantic relationships really increases! I mean imagine all those people with hickies you can choose from when you set your sights appropriately!

So, what if you’re just average? Well, you are. Or statistically thinking, you are more likely to be than anything else. And that’s okay. I mean, unless, you truly want to be great.

Are You Really a Global Leader?

I was looking at some technology this past week and they were telling me they are a global technology provider! So, of course, I ask the question, “Oh, really, where do you have users?”

A bit of silence and then some explaining, “Oh, well, of course here in the U.S., but we also have users in Canada and the UK.” So, not really that Global, really just Global-ish, right!?

I see the same thing from profiles on LinkedIn all the time. “Global Talent Acquisition Leader”, “Global Head of HR”, etc. When you dig in you find they have the responsibility of the U.S. and like one other location outside of the U.S. I had one the other day that literally had the U.S. and Canada and never, in their career, had any responsibility outside of those two countries, but “Global” was still in the title.

Calm down, sparky!

Questions to ask yourself to know if you’re truly a Global leader:

  • Do you only take meetings and calls in your own time zone? If yes, you’re not a global leader!
  • Does your entire team only speak one language? If yes, you’re not a global leader!
  • Does your passport only have stamps from vacation spots? If yes, you’re not a global leader!
  • Do you only have direct employees in three countries or more? If no, you’re not a global leader!
  • Do you spend a great deal of your time managing cultural conflicts? If no, you’re not a global leader!

Okay, maybe you can still be a global leader and not have correctly answer one or two of the above questions, but there is a difference between being a leader who had multiple country responsibilities and being “global”.

But, “Global” looks so super sexy in my title!

Yes, it does! I’ll grant you that. But you look like a moron to people who are truly global and who you most likely are striving to become. The last thing you want to do when trying to become global is to show you have no idea what being a global leader truly is.

I’m Not a Global Leader

I’ve only run operations within the U.S.. So, when I give advice, it’s important for me to understand if whomever I’m working with is global or not. What I can tell them is how this work within the U.S. If the problem is a global problem, I’m fairly confident I can help, but I have not actually performed TA outside of the U.S.

I’ve traveled, spoken and worked with TA leaders all over the world. So, I know enough to be dangerous. I would feel confident taking on a global role within TA that I could figure out what needed to be done and how to be successful, but I base that mostly on my ability to pull from a global network of experts whom I know would help me.

Still, I’m not a global leader.

Career Rules They Don’t Teach You in College! #HRFamous

On episode 60 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss vacations in St. George, Utah, the crew’s favorite career rules, and an update on hourly hiring in the U.S.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

Show Highlights

3:30 – KD recently visited Tim in Utah. During their time there, they found out that KD might have a fear of heights.

5:00 – Tim’s wife (and son) are obsessed with the soda shops that are big all over Utah, especially Swig. All they serve at the small shops are soda with a million different combinations and cookies. KD doesn’t understand the hype.

9:00 – Tim and KD learned they vacation well together!

12:30 –  Since it’s graduation time, the crew shares their favorite “career rules.” Tim’s favorites are “don’t leave a job until you have a job” and “the one-year rule” for career hoppers.

13:45 – JLee’s career rule involves not giving a large window between the job offer and start date.

17:00 – KD thinks that a three-week buffer between job offer and start date is perfect. Tim thinks maybe four would be better.

18:00 – KD’s rule is “the most important thing is to take care of is your boss.”

21:20 – JLee has recently come around on Tim’s “12-months at a job” rule. She recently read something that has said that maybe certain employees are just in high demand and they’re not really job-hoppers.

24:30 – Tim asks JLee how many one-year stints in a row is too many. She thinks more than two of them in succession is a little worrisome.

25:40 – TA leaders are talking a lot about how hard it is right now to hire hourly workers. JLee says this is a very hot topic at Marriott.

30:00 – KD notes that hourly hiring even in more white-collar spaces is difficult. Companies will need to pull out all the stops to keep their employees around.

Do you feel like an imposter in your HR or TA Leadership Role?

Imposter syndrome impacts everyone at some point. The feeling like you don’t belong because your abilities aren’t up to par with others, or your accomplishments don’t fit the role you were given. This belief that you might be a fraud, except no one has figured it out, just yet!

So, there is a couple of ways I look at this feeling of being an imposter in the role you have:

  1. It’s true, you’re an imposter. You might get lucky and no one will figure it out, but most likely at some point, they will. So, you have the time from right now, until you’re figured out, to actually not be an imposter! Good luck.
  2. You feel like an imposter, but you actually know your sh*t. This one is just your insecurities f’ing with you. You probably just need a good life coach or partner, a little self-confidence boost to actually put you on the right path. (Don’t call me, I’m not a Life Coach!)

Within HR and TA we see quite a few imposters. It usually. takes about 12-18 months for an imposter to be figured out after hiring. The world, and LinkedIn, are littered with imposters with year and a half working stints. Some are so good at being imposters they actually will jump from one failure to the next and get promoted! But, the timing always stays true!

The world is also full of really great people who feel like imposters. Why does a good, solid performer feel like an imposter?

  • You work for a weak executive who don’t know that you are actually a really great hire and have great potential. This lack of belief by your leadership leaves you feeling like an imposter.
  • You just suffer from lack of confidence. You might have always had low confidence. Did you feel like you did bad on every test in college, but always got an “A”? Here’s your sign.
  • You have a bunch of senior level terrorists on your team that make you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, when in reality they don’t know what they’re doing, but they’ve been around longer and you’re the fourth leader who will fail with this ragtag bunch of under performers.

How do you stop feeling like an imposter in your leadership role?

Validate your greatness!

The more time you spend within your peer group outside of your organization, the more you’ll be able to assess if you’re an actual imposter or if you actually know what you’re doing. The first step is to hang out with some peers you believe are rock stars and start assessing what they say versus what you say. Are they asking you for advice? Are you only asking them for advice? (Pro tip: true imposters don’t ask for advice, because they want to continue to believe they know everything!)

Remember why you got hired into your role!

What were you hired to do? Did you do it? Are you close? If you did accomplish what you set out to do, what’s next on your plan? What still needs to be fixed? Can you fix it? Do you need outside help? Have you upgraded your team? You were hired because an executive thought it was important to do something in your organization, and that’s your job. You will either do it, or not do it. Imposters never do the job they were hired to do, but they’ll tell you they did!

Leaders are action oriented. Imposters are not.

Imposters don’t take action, because they don’t know what action to take, or they are fearful that the action they will take will blow up and they will fail. Leaders take action to better the situation of their department/function, knowing failure could happen, but doing nothing if just continued failure of why they were hired. The one action imposters will take are usually around something to do with showing someone else is to blame for the failure of their function. “We would have succeeded if marketing and IT would have given us a better career site!”

Don’t fear your feelings of being an imposter!

Feeling like an imposter, especially for new leaders, might be the most natural feeling a leader has! Questioning yourself and your abilities will drive you to learn what you don’t, and partner with those who know more. The imposter feelings will give you the pressure you need to succeed and not slow down.

One helpful key to imposter feelings if having a mentor or peer, outside of your organization, that you can share your feelings with. Someone to bounce ideas off of, and help you understand the difference of being an imposter and being a leader. These discussions are important for your mental health.

Are you an imposter in your current role? The real imposters will answer “No!” and change nothing. The real leaders will think about it and determine the feelings are just feelings, and go about doing something about it.

What is the difference between Recruiting and Sourcing?

I get asked a lot about what’s really the difference between Recruiting and Sourcing? Or, where does Sourcing end and Recruiting begin? Or something similar to these questions.

The answer is it doesn’t matter.

The organization has a need for talent.

The organization has to find or grow talent.

You and others in the organization need to figure this out.

So, figure it out!

Everyone is going to design and process this differently. Some will have Sourcers take it all the way until the candidate is screened, then the Recruiter will come in and finish the process. Some will have the Sourcers just find the talent, then have the Recruiter work to contact, screen, etc.

It doesn’t matter how you design it if it works for your organization, and, this is key, it’s replicable no matter who you have in the role.

Stop. Think. Let that process for a second.

One of the biggest mistakes I see really good organizations make is they build and design processes around the talent they have right now. One piece of that talent changes and all of a sudden it no longer works.

“Well, Tim, did all the sourcing and just handed me great talent!” Great, Tim quit because he was doing most of the work and you took all the credit. How is that process working now?

Talent Acquisition is really hard when you have to make it up new each time you have an opening! Talent Acquisition becomes sustainable when you can plug in the skill sets you need and the machine keeps spitting out talent no matter who it is.

Is it Sourcing? Is it Recruiting? It doesn’t freaking matter. Make it work for your organization.

What I find with the most innovative TA shops on the planet is they didn’t look at what everyone else was doing. They looked at what their organization needed and they solved for that problem. Many times the solution was doing something no one else was doing.

The Past-Employee Walk of Shame!

I’ve lost jobs and I’ve called old employers to see if they would want to hire me back. I’ve usually gotten a response that sounded something like, “Oh, boy would we want you back but we just don’t have anything. Good Luck!”  Many of us in the talent game talk about our employee Alumni and how we should engage our Alumni but very few of us really take true advantage of leveraging this network.

I was reminded of this recently when a friend of mine took a new job. You know the deal, shorter drive, more money, growing company, and oh, boy, just where do I sign!? The fact was, it was all they said, shorter drive, more money and they were growing, but they forgot to tell him was our operations are broken beyond repair, you will work 7 days a week and probably 12-14 hours per day because of the mess we have, but keep your head up it’s the only way you won’t drown here!

So, now what does he do?

He already had the going away party, bar night out with the work friends with the promises to do lunches and not get disconnected, packed up, and unpack the office into the new office.  Let’s face it, big boy, you’re stuck! Not so fast. He did the single hardest thing an employee can do he called his old boss after 7 days and said one thing, “I made a mistake, can I come back?”

Luckily for him, his past boss was a forward-thinking leader and so this past Monday he did the 2nd hardest thing an employee can do he made the “Employee Walk of Shame”.

You can imagine the looks from people who didn’t know him well, “Hey, wait a minute, didn’t you leave?” Having to tell the same story over and over, feeling like he failed, like he wasn’t good enough to make it in the new position.

HR plays a huge part in this story because it was HR who can make this walk of shame a little less rough. Let’s face it, it is different. You just don’t leave and come back as nothing happened. Something did happen, there was a reason he left and that reason isn’t going away. A transition back needs to be put into place even though he was gone seven days.  It’s not about just plugging back in, it is about re-engaging again and finding out what we all can do better so it doesn’t happen again.

It’s also about making sure you let those employees who you truly want back, that they are welcome to come back (assuming you have the job) and not just saying that to everyone. There are employees who leave that you say a small prayer to G*d and you are thankful they left! There are others where you wish there was a prayer you could say so they wouldn’t leave.

Make it easy for your employees to do the Walk of Shame, it helps the organization, but realize they are hurting, they are embarrassed, but they are also grateful!

What if we hired employees like NFL teams draft players?

The NFL draft, kind of like college football recruiting, is still mostly a crap shoot. I mean, you kind of know what you’re getting, but you truly have no idea if that player is going to be a great success or a colossal failure! It’s all a game of statistical chance. Our hope is this player is more likely to be successful than this other player, but there are no guarantees.

Kind of sounds like Hiring, right!

Here’s kind of what we know about the NFL draft. There are usually a few transcendent talents in the first few picks, like picks one through five. For the most part, if you have one of these picks, you’re are highly likely to get a player who will be productive for an above average amount of time, and more likely they’ll be a superstar talent.

Once you get into the late first round through the seventh round, for the most part the talent is all very similar! This guy runs a 4.56 forty yard dash and this one runs a 4.58 forty yard dash, etc. The stats, the playing experience, the physical traits they have, are bunched very closely together.

There are a few coaches and teams that have kind of figured this out. They are known for “trading back” in the draft pretty consistently. Why draft one player in the first round at number 25, when you can trade back and get two picks of players at 30 and 52? Virtually all three players are basically the same, and if you want better odds at picking a good one, you should give yourself more picks! Hall of fame coach, Bill Belichick, and Baltimore’s GM, Ozzie Newsome, are known to do this frequently and have built very consistently good teams with this strategy.

More picks equals more chances for success!

So, why don’t we hire like this? Let’s say you have an opening for one engineer. You interview a bunch, they’re basically all very similar, and you have no way of really knowing which one will be a great hire for you. Why don’t you hire two or three!?

“Well, Tim, if you knew anything about anything, you would know we don’t have budget to hire two or three engineers! That’s expensive!”

So, if you hired one and they failed, what did that cost you? Also, if you hired two and one made it and one failed, are you better off, or worse off, from where you started? What if both became great hires? Would your company be better or worse?

Let’s say you were hiring a Sales professional. Now, if you hired one and they failed, you start over. If you hired two and one failed, at least you have one performing. Hire three and all of them do well, that is awesome! All three fail and you just quickened your false positive rate on sales hires!

We don’t “over” hire because we, falsely, believe we don’t make bad hires. Until every time we make a bad hire!

What some great NFL personnel have found is “over” drafting, getting more picks, actually gives you more opportunity to get some great talent. Again, this is not just about the number of picks or hires. It’s a combination of doing the right due diligence on talent, all of your selection science, and then getting more chances!

Very rarely, in extreme cases, I’ve seen organizations that could not over hire. But, 99.9% of the time, all organizations would be just fine by over hiring and giving themselves more chances of finding someone great for their organization. Yes, you have some short-term salary budget issues, but most find that is offset by actually being fully staffed with high performing people!

It will either cost you more upfront or more on the backside, one strategy is proactive and one is reactive. As a leader you must ask yourself which one are you more comfortable with?

Amazon Rebrands Performance Management! #HRFamous

Editor note (that’s me, Tim) – The Amazon stuff in this episode truly made me laugh out loud!

On episode 59 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss the fact that Amazon AWS has branded performance improvement plan programs called “FOCUS” and “PIVOT.” They alternate between being impressed, horrified, and entertained by this branding.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/18851030/height/90/theme/custom/thumbnail/yes/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/87A93A/

Show Highlights

3:30 – Gary V recently did a post about the impending doom of meetings in a hybrid world and KD wrote about it on the HR Capitalist. Tim doesn’t care if people want to be remote for the team meeting, but he’s going to be there in person.

6:15 – JLee thinks there will be some proximity bias in meetings to those who are actually there at the meeting.

7:00 – Congrats to the newest Girl Scout troop leader on the pod, Jessica Lee!

9:30 – KD thinks that teams will have to choose to do either all Zoom or all in-person (with people dialing in and being second -lass citizens), or the manager/facilitator of the meeting is going to have to be really, really good to manage it.

12:45 – Next topic: Amazon. KD wrote another post, this time about the Amazon union issues. KD brings up Jeff Bezos’ shareholder letter.

13:30 – Bezos has a mentality that every employee should start the job like it’s “Day 1”. Tim is a big fan of the mentality.

15:45 – JLee points out that Bezos says he needs to create a “better vision” for his employees.

18:30 – KD pulls out one more thing he likes from Bezos’ letter. The message is consistent with the “Day 1” mentality and talks to “not being typical.”

21:00 – Tim’s son’s friend works at Amazon in supply chain. This friend was led to believe when he was interviewing that he would be working at the Amazon plant in Detroit, but he found out after accepting the offer that the job was in Gary, Ind.

22:30 – A leaked Amazon AWS memo shows program details related to performance improvement plans. KD breaks down the branding programs, called “Focus” and “Pivot,” as reported in Business Insider.

26:40 – JLee says that getting rid of 6% of employees is nothing and people are a little sensitive about 6%.

29:00 – The crew can’t stop making jokes about the different career-help programs at Amazon.

New Leaders Start with Two Things!

Are you a new leader or do you know someone who is about to get into a new leadership position? This post is for them!

Every time a new leader starts in a position they only bring two things with them:

  1. Your resume.
  2. A speech.

Your resume is easy. It’s all the crap you did in your career to this point. You’ll be judged on that resume by your new team. It can go a number of ways, but usually, if you got hired, you have the resume to back it up.

There’s nothing you can do about your resume when you start a new position. You are who you are, regardless of how you got to this point in a new leadership role. It’s too easy for people to check up on you, so lying isn’t a real answer, especially when starting a new job.

The speech, on the other hand, is completely up to you!

Every new leader needs to come into the new role with ‘the speech’. Your speech. What does your speech need to have in it? Well, that really depends on what kind of leader you are, but here are some basic components:

1. Why you? Why are you the one to lead us? What is your personal vision in life?

2. What were you hired to do?

3. What about us? How do ‘we’, your team, fit into this?

4. How will we know if we succeed or not?

5. What are some things we should know about your style?

This is your Day 1 speech. I know you want to wait a while. Get to know your new team. Get to know the ‘real’ problems. Get your feet on the ground. But you can’t. You don’t have that time.

You have to come in and be ready to deliver your speech. This one speech will most likely dictate your success as much as your resume. You will either kick off this new leadership position with the right momentum, or you’ll just be another schmuck to take over and do what every other person before you did, fail.

Does it feel like I’m putting too much weight on this one thing?

I’m not. I’m actually trying not to scare you, because most people don’t give great speeches when they’re terrified they’ll fail. But, don’t kid yourself, this Day 1 leadership speech is critical to your success.

You are now the leader. Everyone is looking at you for the answers. You might not have any of them, yet, but you better make it sound like you have them, or you’re about to discover them!

You only bring two things with you into this new position. You only control one of them, at this point. Don’t miss it.

Do these pants make me look fat?

I’ve got a bit of a problem.

I love buying new clothes, jackets, and shoes. You see, I’m kind of built like a fire hydrant. Picture a fire hydrant in your mind right now. Not very sexy is it!

So, I compensate, not by eating a great diet and working out constantly! Hell, no! That’s really hard work. I compensate by buying more clothes that I think will make me look skinnier than I really am!

Do you do this?

We do this in HR and Talent Acquisition all the time!

Just replace ‘clothes’ with ‘technology’. Yeah, we suck at HR, so instead of going out and fixing our foundational issues, let’s go buy a new pretty technology to cover up all of this fat, err incompetence!

Yeah, baby, with this new shiny technology no one will ever suspect we really suck as bad as we do!

The new stuff we buy screws with our heads. Every new shirt and sports coat I buy, I look at myself, and go “oh yeah! you’re going to look so awesome when you wear this!” Then I get on stage and someone tags me in a picture and I want to starve myself for a year!

Buying new stuff to make us look better than we are is the biggest lie we tell ourselves, ever.

So, before you go buy that new technology to fix all of your problems of why you suck at HR or TA, you have to know one truth. That truth is technology doesn’t fix why you suck. If you suck, great technology will make you suck faster. Bad technology will still make you suck, you just won’t be as fast as sucking!

Just like clothes won’t make me skinnier, new technology won’t make your function perform better.


The Talent Fix – My new book is now available to purchase! If your organization is having trouble hiring, this is a must buy! 

Talent Fix Review: My mom says it’s her favorite book that I’ve written!!! (I’ve only written one book!)

Purchase The Talent Fix now!