Can Your Team Handle It?

Ever heard of Capacity Modeling?

It’s all about figuring out how much work your organization can handle to meet the changing demands for its products or services. When it comes to recruiting, it’s about determining how much hiring your team can manage to meet the company’s talent needs.

Imagine this: Your talent acquisition team is working hard every day, making progress bit by bit, but just barely keeping up. Then, one day, the CEO walks into your office and says, “We need to hire 300 more employees in the next 12 months because of a new investment. Can we do it?” A smart talent acquisition leader would say, “Let’s see if we can.” Unfortunately, many would quickly agree without knowing if it’s possible. That’s where things can go wrong.

If you don’t know your team’s capacity, promising to hire that many people is risky. If it already feels like you’re at your limit, adding 300 more hires might seem impossible. Capacity Modeling helps you give a well-informed answer.

You could show your CEO something like this: “We’re currently at 87% capacity. The best practice is to be at 85% so we have some flexibility for unexpected needs. If we need to hire 300 more people, we’ll exceed our capacity, so we’ll need more time and resources.”

This approach lets you have a straightforward, data-based conversation with your CEO. It shows your value and prevents you from making promises you can’t keep. While it might seem complicated, Capacity Modeling is doable and very useful. It helps you understand how much hiring your team can handle, plan better, allocate resources wisely, and set realistic hiring goals. Have you used it or tried it? Let me know in the comments!

Does Office Temp Affect Men and Women Differently?

A new study shows that men and women actually perform at different levels depending on the temperature of their environment. Can you guess which gender does better in hot or cold temperatures?

The married man in me had to guess!

My wife loves to sleep with the bedroom ice-cold! Many nights, the pup and I have huddled together for warmth, not sure if we’d not make it through the night. The next day’s headline could be, “Woman Finally Has a Peaceful Night’s Sleep While Husband and Dog Freeze!” Just kidding! Kind of.

So, I thought women would perform better in cold temperatures. Turns out, I was wrong! Here’s what the study found:

“Female students generally did better on math and verbal tests when the room was warmer. They gave more correct answers and just more answers overall. Male students did better in cooler rooms, giving fewer correct answers in warmer settings. Interestingly, temperature didn’t seem to affect logic test performance for either gender.”

So, men and women really are different when it comes to temperature!

But this makes us wonder, how do we find the right temperature for our office when both men and women are working together?

I’ve worked in places where the facilities team had one set temperature, no matter what. No space heaters, no fans allowed (because of energy use duh), so you’d see people wearing coats or blankets at their desks, or others in tank tops because it was so hot!

The truth is, we all have a temperature that helps us do our best work. When we think about making our employees comfortable and productive, it’s up to us to help them find the right temperature. This isn’t just being picky—it’s science! If we want high performance and happy workers, the temperature they work in matters.

So, what temperature do you work best in? Have you even noticed? Let me know in the comments.

Extra Credit Matters!

Remember back in school when a tough test knocked you off your feet? The best part was always the extra credit opportunities the teacher offered to help boost that low grade. Deep down, they probably felt bad for you.

Extra credit was a lifesaver!

But here’s the thing: you never got extra credit just for showing up to class.

Why? Because extra credit is for those who go above and beyond. You don’t earn it by just doing what’s expected; you have to do something extra!

At work, you can get stuck in a cycle where employees expect extra credit simply for showing up—and surprisingly, many companies give it to them! Your employees are doing their basic job, and yet they expect to be rewarded for it. This is common in places with weak leadership.

The problem comes from not clearly defining what’s expected and what deserves extra recognition. Once you make this clear, giving extra credit becomes fun and fair.

Don’t get me wrong—I love rewarding employees! While not everyone looks for extra credit, those who do should know exactly what it takes to earn it and what they’ll get for their extra effort.

This is called performance management. Good performance management means clearly setting job expectations and recognizing the extra efforts that deserve rewards. By setting these standards, you create a place where employees are motivated to excel and know that extra effort leads to extra rewards.

So, make extra credit a part of your performance management plan. Clearly explain what going above and beyond looks like, and reward those who do. This way, your employees will know how to shine, leading to a more motivated and high-performing team.

The Stuff They Leave Behind

One of the most unexpected parts of someone leaving a company is finding the stuff they leave behind in their desks. Obviously the situation isn’t great, but the things you discover can be pretty interesting.

I once had to pack up the desk of a guy who got fired for poor performance, and I found an almost full bottle of vodka. That was a surprise! Probably explained his work issues. Besides the rare finds, you usually get a lot of pens, staplers, tape dispensers, and office supplies. What else am I missing?!

Food is another common thing left behind. From microwavable soups to candy and chips, departing employees almost always leave their snacks. Instead of being thrown away, these items quickly disappear once put in the break room, snatched up by hungry coworkers in no time.

Business books are often left behind too. Titles like “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Good to Great” stay on the shelves, suggesting they weren’t quite as life-changing as hoped. My own office has a bookshelf full of such books, now more for decoration than actual use. I also have textbooks from my HR master’s program that I’ll likely never open again.

The stuff left behind often gives clues about why someone was let go, especially if they were fired. Things like crossword puzzle books, magazines, video game consoles, and workout bands show exactly how the employee spent their work hours, not working. These items give a peek into their daily routines and distractions.

Half-used calendars are another common thing people don’t take with them. I could make a display of past employees with their old cat and muscle car calendars, complete with motivational quotes from every month. These items reflect the personal tastes and quirks of their previous owners.

But out of all the things left behind, the stories are the best. You can really tell how much someone impacted the office by the stories people tell about them long after they’re gone. If coworkers still talk about you at lunch or office parties a year later, it shows you left a mark. Good or bad.

Remote Work killed Work!

Okay, Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, BlueJeans (remember that one!?), etc. all killed work!

According to a recent study by Microsoft, which knows everything we do at work because it has access to every one of our calendars, our meetings have increased 300% since 2020!!

300% is not a small number!!

Why? We think if you’re working remotely, the only way to prove you’re working is by having more meetings. It turns out we suck at understanding how to measure work and performance. We always have, but this is just one giant data point to show how bad we suck at measuring work!

So, no matter where you work – remote, on-prem, hybrid- we all sit around and have meetings to ensure we are all working. The definition of insanity is what?

Stop f*cking having meetings!!

I know that is easier said than done. Too many people in organizations define their existence by meetings. We are addicted to meeting culture. If we don’t have a real work product to show people what we are doing, we must give them some “meeting product.”

Here’s how you stop “meeting culture”:

1. Never allow anyone to schedule one-hour meetings. Make a rule. It has to be under an hour or over an hour, but it can’t be one hour. (Just test it—you’ll be shocked at what happens!)

2. The agenda for every meeting must be sent out 24 hours before the meeting, or it will be automatically canceled. The agenda must clearly state the purpose of the meeting and its outcomes.

3. Have AI record every single meeting and save those recordings. When people are recorded, they tend to f*ck around less and get to the point.

4. Post a list on your public intranet or email out a scoreboard showing who schedules the most weekly and monthly meetings. No one will want to be #1 on that list!

This is just a cure for a symptom, I know.

In reality, we have an issue with measuring productivity and the success of each role for those who work. We need to establish clear measures of success, in every role, and then find out where people can be most successful. This is not about remote, or hybrid, or in-office. This is about being more productive and successful in our roles.

Collaboration is key for so many organizations and functions to succeed. When people went out to work in various environments, we defaulted to meetings to continue collaboration. We still need to collaborate. But it shouldn’t always be on video. Pick up a phone and talk to someone. Find a time when you can meet in person over a coffee. Are these still meetings? Maybe. However, a little more one-on-one time in different mediums can replace a lot of video team meetings that waste too much time.

Okay, you clicked on the post because you thought I was going to bash remote work, and you just can’t have that happen! It’s not about remote. It’s about our ability to develop measures of success and then trust those measures and our people to do their work. Having more meetings is not making us more successful.

Help, this thing is broken!

When I talk to people who have just started a new position as an HR leader, they often mention that the department they’ve inherited is a mess. Their main question is, “How do I turn this thing around?”

We’ve all wondered this at some point, haven’t we? Help, Timmy, this thing is broken!

Usually, your first leadership role isn’t handed to you on a silver platter. You’re brought in because something’s broken and needs fixing. It’s rare to step into a perfect setup where everything runs smoothly, everyone gets along, and the budget is overflowing.

If it were perfect, they wouldn’t need you!

Here are the steps I recommend from my experience in turning around struggling HR departments:

Step 1 – Don’t Expect Instant Cultural Change

You can’t change the culture overnight. The existing culture is strong and takes time to shift. The only way to change it immediately would be to replace everyone, which isn’t realistic. I mean technically it’s possible – but focus on gradual changes instead.

Step 2 – Look for Quick Wins

Find the easy fixes first. There are always simple things you can improve that will make a big difference. These quick wins create positive energy and give you time to tackle bigger issues.

Step 3 – Remove Problem Employees Fast

Don’t be afraid to fire toxic employees, even if they have essential knowledge. Negative people can drag down the whole team. If the department is already broken, a bit more disruption won’t hurt and can actually help in the long run.

Step 4 – Hire Loyal Team Members

Bring in people who are loyal to you first and the company second. High turnover in HR leadership can be a red flag. When interviewing, ask how many leaders came before you. A supportive team is crucial to help you through the tough times.

Step 5 – Have a Clear Plan and Communicate It

Develop a plan and get buy-in from executives early on. Keep them updated on your progress regularly. Change takes time, but consistent communication ensures you have the support you need.

Step 6 – Build Relationships with Other Departments

Make friends in IT, Marketing, Finance, Operations, and other departments. You need their support to drive change. It’s okay if not everyone in your department likes you, but you need respect and backing from other departments.

Step 7 – Change the Way You Talk About HR

Stop saying HR is broken. Use positive language to describe your efforts. Talk about building great processes, using top-notch technology, and developing amazing talent. Changing how you talk about HR helps change how others see it.

The hardest, most challenging, thing you’ll ever do is turn around a broken department, but it will also be the most rewarding and best thing that ever happened to your career!

The Employee Benefit That Costs Nothing

Every few months, news outlets release rankings of the benefits that employees value most. They include the usual: compensation, remote work, health insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, blah, blah, blah. While these benefits are consistently listed, the rankings vary slightly based on factors like age, gender, and location.

It’s 2024. We’re in an era where certain benefits are now baseline expectations. If you want to attract and retain truly talented employees, offering good health insurance, competitive PTO, retirement plans, and life insurance is no longer optional. These are the minimum requirements just to compete. Without them, you’re not even in the game.

So, what can genuinely differentiate your company in this competitive landscape?

If you ask me, the answer is simple: flexible work schedules. It’s THE employee benefits that employees care about.

Flexible work schedules are a big plus for many employers, but they don’t work for everyone. An insurance company can allow employees to start their day at 10 AM and work until 7 PM without impacting operations. But, a restaurant can’t have its cook showing up at 2 PM when the lunch rush starts at 11:30 AM.

If your business can handle flexible work schedules, you’ll have an advantage in attracting top talent.

Why aren’t more companies embracing flexible work schedules? Many industries and organizations that haven’t traditionally offered flexible schedules could do so with minor adjustments. However, they’re often led by baby boomers and some Gen Xers who believe that if they can’t see you working, you must not be working. It’s really that simple.

The reality is that time spent in a seat is no longer a valid measure of productivity. With modern technology, we can accurately track the productivity and performance of our workforce. Unless an employee’s role strictly requires specific hours, does it matter if she prefers to start at 9 AM and finish at 6 PM instead of the traditional 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM?

Another common argument against flexible schedules is that it’s unfair unless everyone can benefit from them. What?! Not everyone gets a company car, but that doesn’t stop companies from offering them.

Employees who need to be there at specific times get why it’s necessary and probably won’t mind others having flexible hours. Instead of treating everyone under the same blanket schedule, why not be more flexible where you can? Your employees will appreciate it, and it won’t cost you anything.

The Day 1 Speech

Are you or someone you know stepping into a new leadership role? This guide is for you!

When starting out as a leader, there are two things you bring with you:

  1. Your resume
  2. Your 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 several ways, but usually, if you get hired, you have the resume to back it up.

Crafting your Day 1 speech is the important part. It’s your chance to share your vision, goals, and leadership style with your team. Here’s what your speech should cover:

  1. Why you’re the right person for the job and what drives you.
  2. Your role and objectives within the organization.
  3. How the team fits into your plans.
  4. Clear metrics for success.
  5. Insights into your leadership style.

Although it might be tempting to wait until you’re more familiar with the team, it’s important to deliver your speech early on. Your Day 1 speech sets the tone for your leadership and builds trust with your team. Get ‘er done!

You are now the leader. All eyes are on 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 each new position. You only control one of them, at this point. Don’t miss.

More, More, More!

Welcome back to Re-Run Friday – this post originally ran in May 2019!

The Future of Work, is More Work!

I’m sure you’ve read an article or listened to a podcast that had something to do with “the future of work”. It’s a hot topic to talk about, primarily because it’s all just a big fat guess and the best content is content where I just get to tell what I think will happen, but really have no idea for sure.

When I take a look at the HR technology landscape and see the tech that is hitting the market around work and performance, I think the future of work is actually just more work!

When I say ‘more’ work I really mean “More” work! Much of the technology that is being created and launched around HR Technology falls into a few buckets:

  1. How can we make workers more efficient at what they are currently doing?
  2. How can we monitor workers on what they are doing (tracking)?
  3. How can we leverage A.I. to do certain tasks workers are doing right now?

Don’t get me wrong, the technology doesn’t scare me in the least, I think it’s amazing, but the reality is much of it is designed to help us humans reach our full potential. If my couple of decades in HR has taught me anything it’s that very few of us humans want to reach our full potential!

Reaching your full potential means you are working really hard!

I have a great story about working in a union job the summer I first got out of high school. My Dad got me the job working in a grocery warehouse picking orders to be delivered to supermarkets. The warehouse just implemented a new software system that tracked the productivity of each worker.

Basically, I would be given an order and the system had estimated how long that order should take for me to complete. If the order was complex I got more time, it is was simply pulling a full pallet of one type of item, I might only get ten minutes or so to complete, some orders were estimated to take 75+ minutes to complete.

The union had negotiated that I only had to work 77% of the time. Yes, you read that correctly! If you added up all of my order minutes, in theory, to keep my job, I had to be 77% efficient. So, in an eight-hour shift of 480 minutes, once I reached my 369.6 minutes of work, I could actually just stop. In fact, I was encouraged very strongly by my union brothers to stop at the exact point!

Now the “new” computer system didn’t account for extra effort. So, if I had an order that was supposed to take 60 minutes, but I worked really hard and completed it in 45 minutes, I just earned myself an extra 15 minutes. By the end of the summer, I was efficient enough in getting orders completed that I spent about three hours a shift playing cards with my union brothers in the back of the warehouse until my shift was done!

The new HR Technology that is in play right now, based on AI and machine learning, would have made these corrections individually within a few shifts, knowing I could do that work more efficiently than another person and soon my orders would have been adjusted. The technology would have ensured that my ‘extra’ effort turned into my normal effort.

We already know that my warehouse work will be replaced by robots, so my example is already dated. But what about that office job? Will a robot replace you? No, not right away, we are a ways off from that, but that same AI/Machine learning technology will track and measure everything you do and soon you will feel as busy as ever, because ‘down time’ is unproductive time and the tech can compute that!

The future of work is more work.

My First Time!

It’s Re-Run Friday again – this post originally ran in April 2019!

Do you remember your first time!?

I was twenty-six years old.  At the time, I was living in Michigan and working in my first job right out of college.  I had been doing pretty well for myself and began moving up in the company.

I had just been put into a position where I had a couple of people reporting to me, and I had to hire a new person to report to me as well.  I hired this smart, young person right out of college. Their passion and energy immediately attracted me to them.

Oh, wait, you think I’m talking about…

Okay, let me start again.  This post isn’t about sex! This post is about my first termination!

Can you remember yours?

In my career, having to terminate individuals are some of my most memorable experiences.  I think if you have half a heart, you’re probably the same.  When I talk to upcoming HR graduates, I always try and forewarn them about this part of our job.

Terminating employees leads HR pros to heavy drinking or other forms of stress relief. That is a fact.

From time to time I hear HR pros talk boastful about firing someone, and it makes me sick to my stomach.  While I’ve had to terminate individuals who clearly deserved it, I never took pleasure in doing it.  It’s the one thing that really sucks about having a career in HR.  We get to see people at their weakest moments.

Most of us pray that no one ever has to see this side of ourselves.  Let alone, be in a position, where you frequently get to see this side of humanity.

When you terminate someone, there is a good chance you’re going to see this person’s biggest fears.  I have enough of my own fears. I don’t need to carry around the fears of others!

My first time?

I had to fire the young kid I hired with all the passion and energy, hoping they were going to change the world, fresh out of college.  This person just couldn’t come up to speed as a recruiter. It happens. I worked with this person, encouraged them, but eventually this person was ‘dead-employee’ walking.

Their body kept showing up for work, but their mind and heart had given up.  No matter how hard they physically worked, it wasn’t going to happen for them.  So, I pulled them into the conference room and told them it was time.

No real emotion to make this termination more memorable than any other. The person was upset, and you could see this was not something they had written on their bucket list.  They stood up, walked out, and my life went on.

Nine years later, I’m working at Applebee’s in HR.  I was responsible for seventy restaurants, and I happened to stroll into one of the locations and there was my first termination working behind the bar!  I saw him before he saw me, but once he saw me he froze.

I went over to say ‘hi’, and catch up.  It was awkward and clunky, but I’m an HR pro, I was trained to do this.  After I let him go, he bounced around for a few years, and finally decided to go back to school, and had taken the bartender job at Applebee’s to make ends meet.

I saw this person a number of times after, and on one visit, he asked to talk.  He said that the day I walked into the Applebee’s, and he learned who I was, in my new position, he assumed I was going to fire him again.  I said, “For what?!” He said, “I don’t know, just because.”

It hit me hard.  This wasn’t about terminating a poor performer and moving on.  This person carried that termination around like a backpack for nine years, and as soon as they saw me, all that fear and feelings of failure flooded back to him.

Welcome to the show kids. Sometimes working in HR sucks.