Get Back to HQ as Fast as You Can!

I know you want to keep working remotely. It’s awesome to be able to wake up, throw on some sweats and just check email. I mean this is what “work” should be, right!? Like not really working, but getting paid for it, this is the best time to be alive!

Okay, where was I? Sorry, Bridgerton is on in the background and episode 5 so, well, you know! No. No! I wasn’t really watching, just background noise. Similar to Steve from Accounting stopping by the cube to talk about nothing.

You’re a complete idiot if you don’t go back to Headquarters! 

I’m sorry to have to be your big brother and break the news, but the future of work isn’t you sitting on your couch in sweatpants deciding if you should paint an accent wall, or add some succulents to the shelf behind your “desk” that people see when you’re on a Zoom call.

If you actually care about your career, you are pushing your leadership team to get back to work, in the office. At some point, people who make decisions are going to start promoting people and the people who will get promoted will be the people with who they have the best relationship. Oh, sorry, you thought it was skill-based, performance-based promotions! That’s cute. Anywho.

The moment someone asks if you want to return to in-office work, you say, “Yes!” You tell them, you’ll actually come in right now, this moment. You already have your desk stuff packed and are ready to come back.

Yeah, yeah, it’s a “New World of Work”! 

Like a Robinhood Game Stop trader, the world is about to teach you a lesson or two. The world of work doesn’t give a sh*t about what you actually want. Oh, we’ll tell you we do, but at the end of the month, there’s this little thing we look at called financials. Look it up, it’s important. Turns out, you working at half capacity at home, isn’t the greatest thing for our financials. I mean, it is the greatest thing for your home design skills and you teaching sign language to your cat, so there’s that!

I know, it’s me, not you. I’m sure I’m wrong.

You know what. The best companies and leaders in the world have already figured this out. They figured out if you really want high levels of collaboration. Great decision-making. Great creativity. To build the next biggest thing in the world. You kind of have to be together, not on a video.

The new world of work isn’t remote. At its best, it’s probably you get treated more like an adult. Like, “Okay, Timmy, you can not come in on Wednesday because there’s a snowstorm and we think you’ll at least stay up on email, and return a couple of calls.” The pandemic showed us the new world of work, can be more flexible, and in some additional cases, remote, but for the most part we need you back in the cube.

Why Won’t This Work? 

Basically, it because we won’t do two things:

  1. We won’t really define, in true measurable, non-subjective terms, what performance looks like for your position. If we did, you might be able to work remotely and actually meet expectations of performance.
  2. We won’t put a system in place that will truly measure what the hell you’re actually doing. The technology is out there, but you feel micromanaged that someone would actually check to see if you are doing what you’re being paid to do.

So, we’ll just have most of you come back to work. We’ll do the same dance we’ve been doing for a hundred years. It could be better, but better comes with a lot of change, and right now we don’t even change our pants daily.

In the meantime, get your ass back to HQ if you really want to advance your career. And, please, spare me the “I’m not being treated fairly” when you get passed over for a promotion while sitting on your couch in pants with animals on them.

The Single Most Desired Trait Employers Want: Being an Adult!

Don’t buy into the hype! “Oh, just do what you love!” That’s not being an adult, that’s being a moron! Just do what makes you happy! No, that’s what a child does.

“Tim, we just want to hire some ‘adults’!” I hear this statement from a lot of CEOs I talk with currently!

That means most of the people they are hiring, aren’t considered adults by these leaders. Oh, they fit the demographic of being an adult from an age perspective, but they still act like children!

I tell people when I interview them and they ask about our culture I say, “We hire adults”.

That means we hire people into positions where they are responsible for something. Because we hire adults, they take responsibility for what they are responsible for. If I have to tell them to do their jobs, they’re not adults, they’re children. We don’t employ children.

I think about 70% of the positions that are open in the world could have the same title –

“Wanted: Adults”.

Those who read that and got it could instantly be hired and they would be above average employees for you! Those who read it and didn’t understand, are part of the wonder of natural selection.

How do you be an Adult?

You do the stuff you say you’re going to do. Not just the stuff you like, but all the stuff.

You follow the rules that are important to follow for society to run well. Do I drive the speed limit every single time? No. Do I come to work when my employer says I need to be there? Yes.

You assume positive intent on most things. For the most part, people will want to help you, just as you want to help others. Sometimes you run into an asshole.

You understand that the world is more than just you and your desires.

You speak up for what is right when you can. It’s easy to say you can always speak up for what is right, but then you wouldn’t be thinking like an adult.

You try and help those who can’t help themselves. Who can’t, not who won’t.

My parents and grandparents would call this common sense, but I don’t think ‘being an adult’ is common sense anymore. Common sense, to be common, has to be done by most. Being an adult doesn’t seem to be very common lately!

So, you want to hire some adults? I think this starts with us recognizing that being an adult is now a skill in 2021. A very valuable skill. Need to fill a position, maybe we start by first finding adults, then determining do we need these adults to have certain skills, or can we teach adults those skills!

The key to great hiring in today’s world is not about attracting the right skills, it’s about attracting adults who aren’t just willing to work, but understand the value of work and individuals who value being an adult.

I don’t see this as a negative. I see it as an opportunity for organizations that understand this concept. We hire adults first, skills second. Organizations that do this, will be the organizations that win.

The Motley Fool has a great section in their employee handbook that talks about being an adult:

“We are careful to hire amazing people. Our goal is to unleash you to perform at your peak and stay out of your way. We don’t have lots of rules and policies here by design. You are an amazing adult and we trust you to carve your own path, set your own priorities, and ask for help when you need it.”

You are an amazing ‘adult’ and we trust you

If only it was so simple!

2021-2022 HR Trend – Teaching Sales People to Get Back on the Road!

“Yeah, I can get as much, or more, done right from my living room as I did before the pandemic!” (said in the snotty tone of a spoiled brat kid, maybe a slight valley girl vibe) “Like, there is absolutely no need to go visit clients and potential clients in person!”

I don’t know much, but here’s what I do know:

Pre-Pandemic:

  • Next to impossible to hire good salespeople.
  • A constant struggle to get average salespeople to get on the road and meet with potential clients. (Why do we need to meet with people in person when we have email and Inmail?)
  • Overall, sales results weren’t too bad because the economy was on fire.

Post-Pandemic:

  • Next to impossible to find good salespeople.
  • Now everyone thinks working at home is great and why should I ever leave my couch!?
  • Overall, sales results won’t be as good because the economy isn’t as good.
  • Executives will freak the f*ck out because sales aren’t as good.
  • Someone will knock on the HR door and say something like, “Our sales suck, we need better salespeople and better sales training!”

Do NOT underestimate how difficult it will be to get your people back on the road!

Right now you’re thinking the opposite. “Tim, every single day I hear from our sales folks about how they can’t wait to get back on the road!” Yeah, turns out, they’re pretty good at telling you and their boss what they want to hear! They already sucked at getting out and making sales calls, staying home for a year, didn’t make them better!

What can HR do to help the Sales Results at their Company? 

1. Help your Sales Leaders make really good accountable goals that are trackable by individuals.

2. Report to your sales leader weekly travel budget stats. You might not be able to see if they did a good sales call, but you can ensure they actually got on the road!

3. Mentor/Buddy programs. It’s hard making sales calls in person. It’s a bit easier when you get back on the road with a partner. Yes, this increases cost, but we need to break the ice and get back into the groove.

4. Force your sales leaders to get back on the road with their team. We love, as sales leaders, to talk about our glory days, yet, not actually show the kids how it’s done.

5. Add a sales “work sample” into your interview process. Make the person interviewing come in and do a sales call with you and someone else from the sales staff. Make them show you they can actually do it. “Timmy, you’re going to come in sell me this Montblanc Pen. Go!”

HR Pros, do not discount the value you can bring to the sales operation of your organization. Sales, revenue generation, is the lifeblood of your company. Want to elevate your status within your organization? Get involved with helping your sales team thrive!

The Bad Idea Trap!

2020 wasn’t the best year for a lot of people and as such we have so much excitement and anticipation for what 2021 will bring, but we are cautious. Already in 2021, we’ve seen some hangover of 2020!

We believe that 2021 and into the near future will be a bit of a struggle for most organizations. Some character building years ahead of us. We’ve come out of a decade of growth, pandemic hits, and now we have some rebuilding to do.

I truly believe when tough times hit, we see the best in people. As professionals, we work harder than ever to get to the success we want. We come up with all sorts of ideas and things to try to get us back on top. Therein lies the problem.

You see, there is this funny phenomenon that happens, that has now been proven in science. Turns out, during bad times, we come up with more bad ideas than good ideas!

Why do we have more bad ideas than good ideas during hard times?

A great historical example (that might have some context to 2020!) was during the 1920s and 1930s. Extremely hard economic times in Germany led to the rise of the Nazis. I think we can all agree, 100%, the Nazis were a very bad idea. But, because of the awful economy, many folks thought the Nazis were a great alternative.

Turns out, depressions, pandemics, social uprisings, etc. Lead us to more bad ideas than good ideas. We start grasping at straws, believing we are trying to help. We are testing out stuff to see what works when we think nothing is working when in reality, we might actually be starting something worse.

To go along with this, when times are awesome, no matter what you do, you probably are less likely to screw something up. “Hey, we did this crazy thing and our sales were up 3%!” Great, maybe if you didn’t do that crazy thing your sales would have been up 10%, but now you think that crazy idea, that bad idea, actually was positive!

Great times cover up many of our bad ideas. Bad times shine a giant light on our bad ideas.

Why am I talking about Bad Ideas? 

2021 might be a ripe time for bad ideas! We all will be pushed and stressed to make things happen. Leaders are going to look for ideas. It’s our job to come up with ideas. Most of those ideas are going to be bad. Sorry, but that’s just simple math. Most ideas are bad, some are good, very few are great.

In HR and TA we tend to believe that our ideas, our projects, our programs, etc. don’t have a giant impact on organizations. Actually, they have more impact than you think, but it’s mostly long-term impact, not short-term. We want these ideas to have an immediate impact, but people and culture tend to take time.

That is why, in 2021, we have to be very careful about the Bad Idea Trap.

I want you to go out and test and try things but move a bit more cautiously out of the gate. Be willing to shut things down quicker. Be more aware of the timing and how your organization is doing. If your organization is killing it, great! Go have some fun, break some things! If your organization isn’t doing well, slow down, take your time, don’t allow yourself to be in a rush, even though it’s going to feel like you should be.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a large corporate meeting room with a bunch of people and some well-meaning executive starts off with “there are no bad ideas! Let me have them all!” Yes, there are bad ideas and the worse idea is a bad idea that is chosen to move forward!

Maybe our 2021 Slogan in HR and TA should be “Yes, there are Bad Ideas!”

Your Superpower is Your Authentic Self!

I had someone ask me what my superpower is? I found that a hard question to answer. I mean do you think being able to write a 500-word blog post in 15 minutes a superpower!? Some bloggers probably do, but no one else!

I was told that my true superpower was me just being me. My authentic self. Then I asked this person how much I owed them for the life coaching session! 😉

We are told constantly to be ourselves, or live our true life, find a way to be yourself, etc. The reality is being your authentic self might be your superpower, but like all superpowers, they can be used for good or evil.

Let me give you the best example ever! Donald Trump is his authentic self. It’s his superpower and he rode that superpower right into the White House. His authentic self was a superpower he used for evil, and ultimately it destroyed him and his legacy.

What I find a leader of people is that employees living their authentic self either works wonderfully or awfully and rarely anywhere in between!

Here’s the thing about being your authentic self, you must first know if your “authentic self” something others want to be around or if your authentic self off-putting to others. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be yourself, but if your authentic self is a complete asshole, you might want to work for yourself and not someone else!

Let be really frank here, any gender can be an off-putting authentic self. It doesn’t mean you don’t love who you truly are, but you must also realize who you truly are isn’t what most people want to be around. Your superpower isn’t going to be asked to join the Justice League, you’re going to be asked to join the villain side.

In real life, you actually don’t become a villain, unless you’re DJT. Most likely you become your own boss, or you live a miserable existence trying to fit into a work world that doesn’t want you and you don’t want it. Some of the best and brightest people I know can’t work for others. Their superpower is something that allows them to be awesome, but not when working closely with others on a daily basis.

Why does this matter? 

It matters because if some idiot is trying to sell you the snake oil of “Just be your Authentic Self” you must first determine, is your authentic self something others will embrace and want to be around. If so, great, you’re going to probably have a great career. If it’s not, and you want to work in the corporate world, you’re probably in for a lot of therapy.

Also, let me be very clear, not living your authentic self while you are at work isn’t the worse thing in the world. You can be one thing at work and another thing in your personal life. Is it ideal? No. But, I’ve seen many people in my career be successful in doing this. It’s a little like Clark Kent and Superman. I can be Clark Kent at work and then go home and be Superman in the rest of my life.

The worse thing that can happen is you try and force your authentic self onto others and believe they should “accept” your authentic self. Nope. That’s not how it works. You can’t make anyone accept your authentic self, you can only make yourself accept that. If I don’t like your superpower, you can’t make me like it, and if I’m in a position to determine the trajectory of your career, you’re in trouble.

Superpowers are awesome, but they can be super for good or super for bad. Love who you are, but don’t expect others will necessarily love it.

The 12 Steps of Recovery for Passionate A$$holes!

I wrote a post a while back titled, “The 5 Things HR Leaders Need to Know About Developing Employees“. In that post I had a paragraph:

When I was young in my career, I was very ‘passionate’. That’s what I liked calling it – passionate.  I think the leaders I worked with called it, “career derailer”.  It took a lot for me to understand what I thought was a strength, was really a major weakness.  Some people never will gain this insight.  They’ll continue to believe they’re just passionate when in reality they’re really just an asshole.

I then had a reader send me a message and basically said, “This is me!” And I was like, “That was me too!” And then we kissed. Okay, we didn’t kiss, but it’s great to find another like yourself in the wild!

The reality is, I’m a recovering Passionate Asshole.

What’s a “Passionate Asshole” who are asking yourself? Here’s my definition. A passionate asshole is a person who feels like they are more about the success of the company than anyone else. I mean everyone else. They care more than everyone! And because we care so much, we treat people poorly who we feel don’t care as much as us!

Passionate assholes truly believe in every part of their being they’re great employees. You will not be able to tell us any differently. They are usually high performing in their jobs, which also justifies even more that they care more. But, in all of this, they leave a wake of bad feelings and come across like your everyday basic asshole.

You know at least one of these people. They’re usually younger in the 24-35-year-old range. Too early in their career to have had some major setbacks and they have high confidence in their abilities.

Here are the 12 Steps of Recovery for Passionate Assholes:

Step 1: Realization that you’re an Asshole, not the best employee ever hired in the history of the universe. This realization doesn’t actually fix the passionate asshole, but without it, you have no chance.

Step 2: You understand that while being a passionate asshole feels great, this isn’t going to further your career and get you to your ultimate goal.

Step 3: Professionally they have to be knocked down in a major way. I was fired. Not because I was doing the job, but because I was leaving a wake of bodies and destruction in the path of doing my job. You don’t have to be fired, demotion might also work, but usually, it’s getting canned that will do the trick.

Step 4: Someone you truly respect needs to tell you that you’re not a good employee, but an asshole, during a time you’ll actually listen.

Step 5: Find a leader and organization that will embrace you for who you’re trying to become, knowing who you truly are. You don’t go from Passionate Asshole to model employee overnight! It’s not a light switch.

Step 6: Time. This is a progression. You begin to realize some of your passionate asshole triggers. You begin to use your powers for good and not to blow people up who you feel aren’t worthy of oxygen. Baby steps. One day at a time.

Step 7: You stop making bad career moves based on the passionate asshole beast inside of you, telling you moving to the ‘next’ role is really the solution to what you’re feeling.

Step 8: We make a list of people we’ve destroyed while being passionate assholes. Yes, even the people you don’t like!

Step 9: Reach out to the people you’ve destroyed and make amends. Many of these people have ended up being my best professional contacts now late in life. Turns out, adults are actually pretty good a forgiving and want to establish relationships with people who are honest and have self-insight.

Step 10: We are able to tell people we’re sorry for being a passionate asshole when find ourselves being a passionate asshole, and not also seeing the passion within them and what they also bring to the organization is a value to not only us but to the organization as a whole.

Step 11: You begin to reflect, instead of reacting as a first response. Passionate assholes love to react quickly! We’re passionate, we’re ready at all times, so our initial thought is not to think, but to react decisively. You’ve reached step 11 when your first thought is to no longer react like a crazy person!

Step 12: You begin to reach out to other passionate assholes and help them realize how they’re destroying their careers and don’t even know it. You begin mentoring.

I know I’ll never stop being a Passionate Asshole. It’s a personality flaw, and even when you change, you never fully change. But, I now understand when I’m being that person, can usually stop myself mid-passionate asshole blow up, and realize there are better ways to communicate and act.

It’s 2020 and I’m Re-certifying with @SHRM. Want to know why?

In 2001 I got my SPHR certification for the first time. I started my first real HR Manager job and the CHRO wanted to make sure every single HR person on our team had either a PHR or SPHR. I did an eight-week group study course with fellow HR pros studying for the test and I was lucky that my company had also purchased a SHRM study kit.

I remember leaving that test thinking, “I have no idea if I failed or passed! And, boy, I only know a fraction of what I thought I knew in HR!” This was after studying for two months straight and putting legitimate hours in on the study kit.

I passed and vowed to never have to take that test again!

It’s 2020 and SHRM just sent me a reminder that my SHRM-SCP is up for renewal. For years I carried both the HRCI-SPHR and the SHRM-SCP. Again, I figured I did all the education to keep them up, I’ll just carry both.

Why am I re-certifying for the SHRM-SCP? 

  1. If you’re in HR, SHRM is the world-recognized leader in HR. So, having a certification from SHRM carries career weight.
  2. 99% of Leaders of organizations who care about someone having an HR certification have always believed it was a SHRM certification, even though for most of that time HRCI was the actual certifying body. Now, SHRM has its own HR certification, and quite frankly, it’s as good as the HRCI one, and in some cases better.
  3. I don’t see any other association in the world doing as much as SHRM does to advance the practice of HR. Because of that, I foresee them being the leader in the HR space for a long time.
  4. When I speak to actual SHRM card-carrying members, they are very satisfied with the association and they are very happy with the education and support they are getting.
  5. It’s a cost-effective way to stay on top of changes in HR and show those who care that I’m staying on top of my profession, probably better than most people are.

Let’s be honest, I’ve reached a point in my career where the SHRM-SCP certification isn’t needed for me personally. I don’t have to re-certify and I’ll have a job tomorrow and at any time in the future. But, I’m choosing to anyway because I did the work!

I developed content for webinars and presented it to my peers in HR and TA. I sat and watched peers in HR and TA present at conferences and on webinars and I learned things I didn’t know. I read books and listened to podcasts, and consumed tons of HR-related material so I was staying up on all the changes in the HR field.

Maybe it’s PTSD from taking that test once, but I’m re-certifying because I never want to have to take it again. I’m re-certifying because having my SHRM-SCP makes me feel special and accomplished. It sets me apart in the field of HR, and I won’t apologize for that, I passed the test and did the work.

Me re-certifying isn’t about taking a stance for or against something. This is about me and my professional development. I encourage every single professional to find ways to continue your professional, functional development long after you have “gotten the job”. Getting the job is just the start, not the end!

(FYI – for those thinking somehow SHRM is paying me for this post. They aren’t. But as always I welcome anyone to pay me for anything if they are so inclined! I’m an equal opportunity check casher.) 

Does Having 2 CEOs Work? Also, Ginger Superiority on #HRFamous

In episode 38 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends)  Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee discuss whether having two bosses or two CEOs (dual leadership in major corporations) ever works, superior genetic traits and dress codes in a WFH environment.

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:

3:00 – Tim found an article about genetic superiority and the fact that redheads are superior (seems a little biased that Tim found this one). Redheads feel 25% less pain and run hotter in addition to other superior traits.

6:30 – JLee brings up the genetic superiority that Koreans have such as dry earwax and a  lack of body odor when sweating. The HR Famous crew is full of genetic superiorities!

8:30 – Do you find that the redheads in your life run hot in temperature and anger?

9:20 – Next topic: Business Insider reported on the two CEOs of Netflix and dual leadership at that company. They said that this resembles a family where there are often two CEOs leading a single-family.

13:00 – Tim gives an example of his work at Applebee’s and how the CHRO and the CEO had a co-CEO like relationship where the CHRO was very beloved by employees but the CEO was running a lot behind the scenes.

16:00 – JLee thinks it might be a little ridiculous to give out the compensation packages that a CEO of a company like Netflix would get to two different people. She also doesn’t know if a two-parent analogy is the best comparison because she thinks often one parent is doing more than the other.

20:30 – KD mentions two different places that dual leadership can go haywire. He thinks that who makes the final decision may be an issue in addition to the issue of an “I don’t know who my boss is” sentiment among employees.

24:00 – Next topic: dress code policies for virtual working. Some HR departments are trying to reconsider what a dress code looks like in a virtual environment.

25:30 – KD thinks that dress code violations tend to come more in the vain of overdressing rather than underdressing.

28:00 – JLee thinks the charade of putting a suit on for one call or presentation is a little bit ridiculous and not very genuine.

31:00 – Let JLee wear her ripped jeans! KD asks JLee what is actually inappropriate to wear on a video call. JLee thinks T-shirt and athleisure are 100% OK.

33:30 – Tim says that he’s gotten better about asking what is appropriate to wear for meetings instead of shooting in the dark.

4 Reasons You Fight to Keep What You Have vs. What You Need!

I recently had a great conversation with the CEO of Greenhouse Software, Jon Stross. Jon developed a model he calls the Hiring Maturity Model. Basically, it’s a scale or curve of where your recruiting department is in terms of technology maturity.

Part of that conversation was a fascinating piece around why do we keep technology that isn’t moving us forward or making us successful? Don’t say budget! It’s not budget! Let me explain that.

What are the four reasons why we would rather keep stuff we have versus getting stuff we actually need? 

1. We fear the pain of change. “Moving from one ATS to another ATS is hard work and takes years and it’s just not worth it, Tim!” You’re wrong. It was that way when we had on-premise software, but with modern-day Saas platforms, this isn’t as painful by a mile! My most recent ATS change took 6 weeks, and we had zero downtime because kept the legacy system going while we got used to the new system.

2. We fear short-term lower performance over the benefit of long term gains. Well, it might not be great, but we know what we have. What if we change and it’s worse!? It won’t be because you will do your due diligence and research and you’ll make sure it will be exponentially better! If what you have isn’t that good, you must be willing to build something better. Your organization needs you to do this.

3. We feel stupid and don’t know the technology enough to advocate for change. This is very legitimate. I feel stupid every single day about technology. I’ve got some stupid thing with my Macbook going on and I can’t figure it out and drives me crazy! Demo. Demo. Demo. I felt stupid about our TA Tech space and I just started demoing everything I could find and it opened up a completely new world of what is possible in talent acquisition.

4. It was your call, originally, to get what you have, so bailing on it now looks bad on you. Do you still have an iPhone 4? No!?! What!?! Why not!? When the iPhone 4 was launched it was AWESOME! Oh, wait, the iPhone 12 is better? Turns out, technology improves. What you thought was best two or three years ago is now a dinosaur in the technology world. So, just like IT, Finance, Operations, it’s okay to say, hey, the tech we have now isn’t what we need today to stay competitive for talent.

Did I say demo? For the love of St. Petersburg, Demo! It’s the single best thing you can do to develop yourself around getting smarter about the technology in your functional professional area of expertise.

Too many of us keep processes and systems way too long for reasons that when you really dig into it, don’t even make sense. “Well, Tim, we have to use this ATS because payroll is tied to it and payroll says we can’t change.” Um, what!? Does payroll drive revenue for the organization? Does payroll find and develop talent for the future of the organization? Stop it! Stop the excuses.

Oh, Budget! 

I forgot it’s the pandemic, you don’t have a budget. Actually, you do. I mean you’re already spending it on crappy software that isn’t working for you. Stop spending that, and you have all kinds of budget! I have never met one CEO/CIO/CFO who when shown a better more efficient way of doing business wasn’t all in on giving it a try if it didn’t cost them more money. Same money? Okay, let’s do it!

Check out the Greenhouse podcast with Jon and me. He’s a great dude. I love his voice and cadence, I could listen to him all day!

Why do we suck so much?

There’s an interactive questioning technique called The 5 Whys.  The theory is that if you continue to ask ‘why’ enough times you’ll get to the root cause of every issue.

Timmy is a bad performer. Why?

He doesn’t follow through on anything. Why?

It seems like he gets things started well and then moves onto other things before the first thing is finished. Why?

He likes the energy of starting new projects. Why?

He thinks if he’s on the front side of the project, he’ll have more influence in the direction the project is going. Why?

Because that has been his experience with our organization.

Oh, so he might not be a bad performer. He just has an opportunity area that we might be able to help him out with – getting projects across the finish line.  And we’ve taught him to behave in this manner.

I don’t know if you have to use to 5 whys each time, I do think you have to ask at least 3 whys to get past the emotion of any decision.  We tend to make most decisions with some element of emotion.  Getting to the third why will get the emotion out in the open.  That is important in any decision-making process.

Does this technique seem a little ‘parental’?  It does, which is why you probably don’t want to make a habit of using this technique too often.  It is definitely a tool, though, that can be very effective for a leader to use from time to time.

“We need to change our hiring process!”

Why?

“We have had 3 consecutive failed hires.”

Why?

“Well, one person was a referral from an executive, so we hired without really checking references. One hire totally aced our pre-employment testing, but had a sketchy work history, but tested off the charts. One was a knock out in the interview, marginal testing, and just didn’t pan out.”

So, do we really need to change our hiring process? Or should we just start following our hiring process?

3 Whys takes the emotion out of any decision making process.  It gets out everyone’s inner issues about the problem.  We tend to lead with a crisis statement that will lead to action.  If we take action based on incomplete information, we will unnecessarily start doing things that we might not need to do, or make changes that really don’t make sense to the organization.

Next time you are facing a tough decision, start asking ‘Why’ and see where it leads you, you might be surprised where you’ll end up!