Why is Walmart Struggling to Find $200K/Year Store Managers?

6.68% of Americans make $200,000 a year or more. Of course, that almost 7% is definitely centered around certain areas. States like California, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, etc., have a much larger percentage than the average. States like Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, most of the Midwest, etc., are under the average.

The Wall Street Journal had an article this week about how Walmart is struggling to fill their store manager jobs. Specifically, their General Manager job, the number one job in a Walmart store, which pays around $200,000 per year.

You would think with so few people making $200,000 a year, Walmart would have smart, ambitious folks knocking down their doors for a chance to make $200,000 per year!

But they don’t. Why?

First, most organizations tend to promote from within. Walmart is similar to this, but reality eventually hits the ceiling. An average Walmart store probably does a revenue of $50-100 million per year. The net income of those locations probably runs around $3-5M per year. There are roughly 350 employees in a Walmart store. Running a single Walmart store is like running a mid-sized enterprise business! Most SMBs in the country have a revenue well under $1M.

This means that Walmart can most likely train an hourly store employee to become a department manager, but to become a General Manager, they are looking for some formal business education. You have to run a giant P&L. You have major risk factors. You need real leadership skills. In many towns, “the Walmart” is probably the biggest business in town!

College kids, on average, don’t want to leave State U for a $65,000 a year job as a Manager in Training at Walmart. It’s not something you go back to the homecoming football game and brag about. Your friends took that $50k per year job with the tech firm in town as an entry-level, you make more, but they look down on you.

I know some folks are reading this and thinking, “So! You make more! You will continue to make more! You run are in line to run a giant business! You f’ing cares what others think!” Young adults do. Young adults care what other people think. If I’m frank, and I usually am, we all care what others think!

What would I do if I was at Walmart?

I love this game. It was the basis of my entire book! What would Timmy do if he ran your shop!

#1 – Stop trying to hire or require any form of formal education. Yes, you need smart folks, so give cognitive assessments. Find smart people who can learn quickly, who also have some “hustle” and “grind” to them. You probably have a ton of folks already working for you that you won’t consider. You also have to look at talent pools we tend to discount, most notably, in this case, 50 years and older, retired military commanders, etc. Walmart wants to solve this by talking new college grads into these jobs, I’d be talking failed executives into these jobs! Big salary. Big team. Big job. College grads don’t want that, your Dad does, and a retired military leader who is used to leading hundreds of soldiers does. Also, your Dad will work 60 hours a week and think it’s normal. A new grad will work a solid 40 and think it’s North Korea.

#2 – Build the Manager School. If a great GM in a Walmart environment makes them $3-5M a year, there are margin dollars to build more great GMs! Part in-person instruction. Part on the job training. Part virtual instruction. All the way in on fully engaging non-stop. Send them to manager boot camp. Make it exclusive. Bring in big-time celebrity speakers around leadership and performance. Do graduation with a gold watch.

#3 – Make it so lucrative they won’t want to leave. $200K is really nice, but you need some other stuff. You need to make folks say, “F! You!” To their friends that don’t think Walmart is cool enough. What is that? I don’t stock options. Partner programs on profit sharing. Company SUV.

Here’s what I know. The profit difference between Walmart’s worse GM store and their best GM store is so big it would make you blush. It’s millions of dollars. So, making sure you hire, train, develop, and take care of the great ones is priority number one. Building the talent pipeline to successful GMs would be the job of a team of people that included great recruiting leaders, brand and marketing leaders, and technology and data leaders.

I’m not saying this is an easy job. It’s enormously difficult and complicated. But, it’s doable. The problem is, that every organization thinks the solution to their problem is new college grads. They can help, but it’s only one sliver of the full pie that is needed.

Scarcity and authenticity are powerful!

I get asked multiple times a day about how organizations can find more talent. The desperation in today’s world around this one topic is concerning. People are losing their jobs and their well-being over it. Corporate recruiter experience is at an all-time low.

The formula for hiring and attracting talent has not changed and it won’t change. Like anything we desire in the world, it comes down to scarcity and authenticity. That being said, that is also extremely difficult to provide to a job seeker.

Why?

99.99% of us can’t present our jobs in a scarce way. Google can, you can’t. Turns out, you’re not Google.

There are very, very few of us who have the luxury of working for a brand that almost anyone would kill to work for. The unicorn brands, as I like to call them. These brands can create scarcity around their jobs. This scarcity feeds upon itself, where candidates will go to extraordinary lengths to get noticed for a job, just trying to get their “foot in the door”.

The “authenticity” part is where we in the 99.99% of us can fight back!

Whether you are big or small, if you have a non-unicorn brand, we can always be super authentic. It’s harder for those running the scarcity game to do this because part of the game is to have some mystery behind door one.

To be able to leverage your job postings with videos from potential co-workers, the hiring manager, and an executive giving deep insight and understanding of your jobs and brands can be something very powerful to pull in more talent.

Can you combine these? Yes, but you rarely ever see it. Mainly because if you’re lucky enough to achieve scarcity around your jobs, you feel like what do we really gain? We already have almost all the candidates we want, why do the extra work for a small incremental increase.

The key is you have to do one or the other really well. One you control, one you don’t.

What I find is too many organizations act like they have scarcity when they don’t. And almost none of the organizations that should be killing authenticity actually do it.

The formula didn’t change.

Mailbag: Can an experienced Recruiter be any good with 378 LinkedIn Connections?

I had a Talent Acquisition Leader reach out to me this week. She is having a hard time hiring recruiters and was looking for some insight. Now, she was looking for more of a professional generalist recruiter. Someone who can hire some hourly, but also corporate positions that include: finance, IT, operations, marketing, etc.

She mentioned she had gotten a resume of a recruiter who had four years of experience, but when she looked her up on LinkedIn, she only had 378 connections. Could this recruiter be any good with so few LinkedIn connections?

The Answer

No.

Okay, before you become unglued, let me explain.

Let’s say this four-year recruiter was only hiring high volume hourly. That would mean this person would never spend time on LinkedIn, since hourly workers, for the most part, do not have profiles on LinkedIn. So, now you’re thinking, “yeah, Tim, LI connections don’t matter for this person so they could be a great recruiter!”

Still, I say no!

Because, for me, a great recruiter builds a network of other recruiters and sourcers to constantly learn from. It basically takes almost no effort or skill to connect with 500 other recruiters, sourcers, HR pros, and your personal network on LinkedIn. Once you get to the 500 mark, no one knows if you have 501 or 30,000.

I challenge my own entry-level recruiters that have no recruiting experience to get to 500 connections as quickly as possible. Within six months, they should be able to do this very easily. So, if you run into a recruiter who is three or four years into their career, and they are under 500, they are showing you that they probably have very little interest in expanding their network and learning from others.

500 LinkedIn connections are like training wheels for a recruiter. I don’t expect every profession to have over 500, but recruiters, sales pros, and people looking for jobs should always have over 500. There’s no reason not to, it’s literally the easiest professional networking available to everyone for free.

Do more LinkedIn connections then equal someone is a better recruiter than another?

No.

But, wait, you just said…

Recruiters, of all types, need to get to 500. After that point, it really becomes more about the quality of the connections that you build. If you just accept every Open Networker on LinkedIn, that network will be full of Life Coaches and Pyramid Scheme sellers!

Great recruiters build networks that help them learn more and recruit better. I would say once you establish a network, you then become much more selective about who you invite and which invites you to accept. Right now, with my network that runs over 20,000, I only accept about 1/3 of the invitation requests I get based on the criteria I want in my network.

I know recruiters that quickly maxed out their LinkedIn networks with garbage and had to go back and scrub their networks, and it’s very time-consuming. But, I also see recruiters who switch industries and skills who do this as well. Your network should grow and change with you based on where you are at in your career.

So, LinkedIn connections matter and they don’t. That’s just reality in today’s world of recruiting. Whether you are recruiting doctors or truck drivers, you should still be using LinkedIn for your own professional development on an ongoing basis.

How fake is your employment brand?

I think most employment brands are completely fake. The reason I feel this way is because HR and Executives approve the messaging.  We, HR and Executives, are the last people who really know what our employment brand truly is.

So, we end up with stuff like this:

Seems really cool!  Makes us feel good about ourselves and our organization.  But for the most part, it’s one big lie.

That’s marketing.  It’s not marketing’s job to tell you the truth.  It’s marketing’s job to get you to buy something.  Sometimes it’s just some crappy product or service. Sometimes it’s the church down the street with the cool young pastor and rock band.  Sometimes it’s working for your organization.

Many HR Pros and Executives get really pissed off when I say something like this.

That’s because they drink their own Kool-aid.  They truly believe the messages brought forth are the truth.  Those messages are what they hope and dream the organization to become, so they’re all bought in on making it happen.  I actually really like these people. I like people who are bought into making their organizations what their commercials are telling us they are, even when they aren’t.

Who wants to go work for an organization that puts up a commercial of some manager unable to communicate what needs to be done, and Bobby down in the accounting bitching he only got a 14 lb. turkey from the company when last year he got a 15 lb. turkey?

No one!

But that’s truly your organization.  Organizations are like families. You have some folks in your family you don’t want the rest of the world to see, but when you take the family photo it looks like everyone is fairly normal and well adjusted.

So, how fake is your employment brand?  On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being Goldman Sachs and 10 being Google, where does your organization fall?

Can Everyone be the Best Employer to Work For?

I have yet to see an organization come out with a brand that says,

“Hey, we’re Super Average, but come work here anyway!” 

For the most part, every organization spouts off about being the best place to work. Statistically, that just can’t be true. Everyone can’t be the best, right?

I think for the most part it’s just lazy recruitment marketing. You are either the best, or you’re something less and no one would ever go to their c-suite and say, “Yeah, so we’re going with “We are almost the best place in the city to work for!” What do you think!?

Why does anyone really want to work at your company? 

That is really the only question you need to answer. It might be because you’re the tallest of the seven dwarfs in your marketplace. It might be it’s a decent-paying job close to home. Maybe you have a friendly culture, and mostly everyone gets along.

But, really, why would anyone choose you?

The answer will set you free. It will allow you to really have fun with who you are and find others that are like you. Not all of us were raised to work for the “best”. The world needs ditch diggers and toilet cleaners, and people who still get up and go to work, and feel proud of what they accomplish.

The fact is, you and your executives shouldn’t give one sh*t about being the best as measured by everyone. You should only be concerned with being the best for those people, who are your people.

Now, why would anyone really come and work for you?

Hiring for a High Give-a-Damn

Josh Zywien, the CMO of Paradox, made a great hire this past week and I sent him a note telling him so. I like to do that. He knows he made a great hire, but it’s always nice to get a note confirming your belief! If you don’t know Josh, you should give me a follow, he’s one of the good guys in our industry.

Josh responded to my note with a statement I wanted to share because it’s profound:

I like to hire people who have a ‘high give-a-damn’! 

I absolutely love that and told him I was stealing it!

What does hiring for High Give-a-Damn Mean? 

It’s one of those intangibles you know when you see it. Like porn. Hard to explain, but when I see it, I know what it is. High Give-a-Damn (HGD) individuals don’t just care about their job and their company. HGD is pervasive in all aspects of their life. You’ll see it come out in other ways away from their career as well.

The High Give-a-Damn Traits:

  • High attention to detail
  • Live an orderly life
  • Most likely, well-kept house, clean, probably makes their bed every single morning.
  • Classic fashionable dress style not to stand out, but you notice them
  • They say the right things and the right times
  • They can be counted on
  • Follow-through is impeccable
  • They give a shit about stuff that matters
  • Have a habit of taking care of their physical & mental self, more than the average person.

People with HGD don’t drive around in a messy car with a coffee stain on their shirt. They might not have a lot of money, but what they have, they take care of. They do more with less because part of HGD is not to waste resources, both professionally and personally. So, you take care of your stuff. Part of your ‘stuff’ is your personal self.

I’ve written about organizations “Hiring Pretty” in the past. About the scientific research that shows organizations that tend to hire more attractive people actually have higher results. There is a bit of this in HGD. Individuals with HGD most likely get the most out of the attractiveness they have.

It doesn’t mean the person has to be naturally ‘pretty’ but think of the time when you took that one selfie, that one time when you were feeling super cute, had that one hat on, the light was right and now it’s your favorite IG photo. Yeah, that, but now what if you did that every day? That’s HGD. “Felt cute, not ever gonna delete!”

Now, at this point, you might be saying, “Tim, all of this seems superficial. There is nothing here about skill or performance, about actually being able to do the job.” Yeah, I’m not only hiring for HGD and nothing else. This is about, what if I had three people who had similar skill level, education, experience? At that point, my tiebreaker is who has the most HGD?

Who is going to bring the most HGD to the team? Because in the end, when I’m going to war with my team, I want people who give a damn. Yeah, we might be making widgets for crackheads, but I still want people who want to make the best widgets for crackheads. People who want to make sure that crackhead has the best experience with our product and service. (Right now, Josh is like, WTF, how did I get in a Tim Sackett Blog Post with Crackheads!?)

Not enough Hiring Managers are hiring for HGD. In fact, as a society we kind of gone soft on HGD. We have this belief that you can be HGD in your personal life, but not your professional life, or vice versa. The reality is true HGD is always on or never on as a personality trait. You either give a damn about your life, or you don’t. I want to be around and work with people who are HGD.

I’m not a Dr. but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article regarding incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, using the pre-nominal “Dr.” when she has a doctorate in education, Ed.D, versus a medical doctorate, Ph.D. There is no doubt that Jill Biden did the work and received the degree, from a real, actual university.

The question really comes down to, is there really a difference in calling someone “Dr.”? 

I’m a brain surgeon, call me Dr. I’m a clinical psychologist, call me Dr. I’m a Pharmacist, call me Dr. I’m a Physical Therapist, call me Dr. I’m a Professor of Sport History, call me Dr. I’m a Vaccine Scientist, call me Dr. I teach English 101 at a local community college, call me Dr.

For each of those titles, currently, to obtain that title you have to have a doctorate degree. Well, actually, you don’t have to have a doctorate to teach at a university or community college. To become a medical doctor, Pharmacist, Physical Therapist, today, you must get your doctorate in the U.S. Regardless, many people get a doctorate but do jobs that don’t necessarily need a doctorate to do that job.

As a recruiting professional, I have an opinion. 

I believe we call people Dr. when in normal society those people are called “doctors”. When I go see a Physician, most people, who don’t know them personally, will call them “doctor”. If in a normal work setting, someone doesn’t call you “doctor”, but you call yourself doctor, that comes off really bad.

The worse is when you expect someone else to call you “doctor” but the average person in the world would never expect to call you “doctor”. Then you come across as pompous. “Tim, it’s nice to meet you!” Yes, that’s Dr. Tim, thank you. “No, that’s Dr. Asshole, goodbye!”

This is just good situational awareness if you are on the job market. We deal with many candidates who have their doctorate in various sciences. It’s very rare in a professional work setting they would ever use “Dr.”, and if they corrected a hiring manager during an interview, let’s face it, that wouldn’t end well.

Does any of this really matter? 

Before someone loses their head and puts in a 700-word comment about how I’m a misogynist against Dr. Jill Biden, check yourself. I could care less about what Jill Biden wants to be called. If she wants to call herself Queen, good for her! Dr. Queen, even better!

The reality is, most likely, this Op-Ed wouldn’t have been written if Jill Biden was voted in as President, and her first husband, Joe, has his doctorate in education, and called himself Dr. Joe Biden. So, that’s a problem. It doesn’t make the Op-Ed opinion wrong, just questionable.

If she’s comfortable with calling herself Dr., that’s all that really matters. I have a feeling that if I got an Ed.D or any other kind of doctorate degree, I would force people to call me Dr.! “Hey, Mr. Teddy Starbucks barista, that’s “Dr. Timmy”! Get it right!” I would also expect that people would say bad things behind my back if it wasn’t normal for someone with my degree to be called “Dr.”

What do the “real” doctors think? 

I got feedback from three friends who all have a doctorate degree. All three felt like this was basically bad form on the part of the writer of the Opt-Ed. He comes across as a sexiest, old, out of touch elitest.

There is, though, a background within the doctoral community of hazing between those with doctorates about who has the “better” degree and from the “better” school. Also, MD’s, medical doctors, most likely look down on all other doctorates who don’t save lives.

As my one friend put it, I will definitely give it to my fellow doctorate friends who have an Ed.D versus a Ph.D, or went to a B-level school versus an A-list school. But, let’s not kid ourselves, I could have not gone to my Ph.D class on management, or done poorly, and no one is losing their life!

The fact is, all doctorate recipients did the work. Professionally, they will take being called “Dr.” in that professional setting. Professors might not ask to be called “Dr.” but if a student calls them by “Dr.” it fits the professional setting. If Jill Biden is working on Educational Policy and Strategy, if completely fits her being called Dr. Biden, that is her professional role.

If I’m going out for dinner with Jill and Joe, in a personal setting, of course, it would seem weird for her to want me to call her Dr. Jill Biden at the dinner table, if we were just having a social dinner. But, that’s not what this is about. This is about someone you thinks he knows more than everyone else, and he’s going to mansplain it to us all, especially, a woman.

If Jill wants to be called Dr. Jill Biden, call her that. If you don’t like it, then don’t put yourself in a position to have to use her name. I’m sure she would appreciate that.

Does Your Average Employee Tenure Matter? (New Data!)

I keep getting told by folks who tend to know way more than me that employees ‘today’ don’t care about staying at a company long term. “Tim you just don’t get it, the younger workforce just wants to spend one to three years at a job than leave for something new and different.” You’re right! I don’t get it.

BLS recently released survey data showing that the average employee tenure is sitting around 4.1 years.  Which speaks to my smart friends who love to keep replacing talent. I still don’t buy this fact as meaning people don’t want long term employment with one organization.

Here’s what I know about high tenured individuals:

1. People who stay long term with a company tend to make more money over their careers.

2. People who stay long term with a company tend to reach the highest level of promotion.

3. People who tend to stay long term with a company tend to have higher career satisfaction.

I don’t have a survey on this. I have twenty years of working in the trenches of HR and witnessing this firsthand. The new CEO hire from outside the company gets all the press, but it actually rarely happens. Most companies promote from within because they have trust in the performance of a long-term, dedicated employee, over an unknown from the outside. Most organizations pick the known over the unknown.

I still believe tenure matters a great deal to the leadership of most organizations.  I believe that a younger workforce still wants to find a great company where they can build a career, but we keep telling them that is unrealistic in today’s world.

Career ADHD is something we’ve made up to help us explain to our executives why we can no longer retain our employees.  Retention is hard work. It has a real, lasting impact on the health and well-being of a company. There are real academic studies that show the organizations with the highest tenure, outperform those organizations with lower tenure.  (here, here, and here)

Employee tenure is important and it matters a great deal to the success of your organization. If you’re telling yourself and your leadership that it doesn’t, that it’s just ‘kids’ today, we can’t do anything about it, you’re doing your organization a disservice. You can do something about it. Employee retention, at all levels, should be the number 1, 2, and 3 top priorities of your HR shop.

Is it okay to be biased for underrepresented communities in hiring?

I’m a big podcast listener. It’s one of the reasons we started HR Famous because we loved the format! One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is The Prof G Show with Scott Galloway.

If you aren’t familiar with Scott Galloway he’s a New York University professor of marketing and hugely popular. He’s a liberal and rails openly against Trump and also his own industry, Higher Education. I’m a moderate and he’s so freaking smart, I could care less about his political leanings, I just get smarter listening to him.

Besides being a professor, he has started and exited a few technology companies, sits on boards, has school-aged kids, and talks a ton about the stock market.

On a recent pod, Elitism: Money vs. Influence, he gave his top 3 attributes the top-performing employees of the companies that he has started. These are:

  1. Most likely Female. “First they were female. If they were male I couldn’t say this but it’s okay because as long as you are biased for underrepresented communities your okay, but we try and ignore that…” (42:03 in the pod)
  2. Graduate from a world-class university. Ivy League, Penn, Michigan, Stanford, Berkley, Vanderbilt, etc. “Better schools matter…more applicants…start with better core human capital…better screening.”
  3. Athletes are very successful. They understand teamwork, discipline, they can endure and push themselves harder. “Someone who can finish an Ironman isn’t lazy”, says Galloway.

So, Professor of NYU, former business owner, and thought leader says it’s okay to be biased in selection.

I’m not sure I agree we should ever be biased in our hiring selection practices, but Galloway points out a reality in our culture. As long as we aren’t biased towards the majority, we will look the other way and ignore it.

What Galloway is saying is not different than how the vast majority of hiring managers are making their final selections. They take a look at past and current performance and they make some educated inferences about what those top performers have in common. Based on this knowledge, it will shape their hiring selection. Does this, or could this, lead to bias? Yes.

Does it make it wrong?

That’s the big sticky question, isn’t it?

We want to say, no, it’s fine, continue to hire the females if those are your best performers. But, just because your current females are your best performers doesn’t mean they’ll be your best moving forward, or that maybe one of the males will be even a better performer.

Flip the scenario.

Galloway now tells us that one of the three attributes for high performance is they are “male”. Do we have a problem with this now? Most likely, you do have a problem with it based on hiring equity issues, broadly, but it’s hard to say specifically since maybe this organization doesn’t have gender equity issues.

Want to know what Inclusion is difficult when it comes to organizational dynamics? It’s because what Galloway laid out is exactly what every organization lays out. The difference is, it isn’t always friendly to the underrepresented community.

Like I said, regardless of your feelings on this one subject, Galloway’s podcast is money! It’s on my must-listen to pods each week.

Give me your thoughts on this in the comments?

What can we really hope for out of a work experience?

I heard this quote recently, it was used by an old football coach to his players:

“It’s hard, but it’s fair.”

He wasn’t the first to use this and probably won’t be the last – but the line stuck with me because of how I don’t think many people in today’s age really think this way.  Many want to talk about what’s fair, few want to discuss the ‘hard’ part.  The football coach’s son described the meaning of what he feels the phrase means:

“It’s about sacrifice,” Toler Jr. said of the quote. “It means that if you work hard that when it’s all said and done at the end of the day, it will be fair based on your body of work. It’s about putting in the time, making sure that you’re ready for the opportunity.”

I think we all think our parents are hard on us growing up.  I recall stories I tell to my own sons of my Dad waking me up on a Saturday morning at 7 am, after I was out too late the night before, and ‘making’ me help him with something, like chopping wood or cleaning the garage out.  He didn’t really need my help, he was trying to teach me a lesson about choices.  If I chose to stay out late at night, it was going to suck getting up early to go to school.

He shared with me stories of his father doing the same thing, one night my Dad had gotten home late, so late, he didn’t even go to bed, just started a pot of coffee and waited for my grandfather to get up, figuring that was easier than getting a couple of hours of sleep and then hearing it from my grandfather the rest of the day.

As an HR Pro, we see this every day in our workforce.  There are some who work their tails off, not outwardly expecting anything additional, they’re just hard workers.  Others will put in the minimum, then expect a cookie. It’s a tough life lesson for those folks.  Most usually end up leaving your organization, believing they were treated unfairly, so they’ll go bounce around a few more times.

Eventually, they’ll learn to put in the work, put in the time, and more times than not, things work out pretty well.  Sometimes it won’t, so you go back to work even harder.  It’s been very rare in my 20 year HR career that I’ve truly seen a really hard worker get screwed over. Very rare! Now I know a ton of people who think they work hard, but they don’t, and they’ll say they get screwed. But the reality is they don’t work hard, they do the same as everyone else.

Do some idiots who don’t deserve a promotion or raise sometimes get it? Yep, they sure do, but that doesn’t happen as much as you think. The hard workers tend to get the better end of the deal almost always.

I hope I can teach my sons this lesson:  Life is going to be hard, but if you keep at it and put in the work, it’s going to be fair.  I think that is all we can really hope for.