It’s Really Hard to Judge People!

I was out walking with my wife recently (that’s what middle-aged suburban people do, we walk, it makes us feel like we are less lazy and it gets us away from the kids so we can talk grown-up) and she made this statement in a perfectly innocent way:

“It’s really hard to judge people.”

She said this to ‘me’!  I start laughing.  She realized what she said and started laughing.

It’s actually really, really easy to judge people!  I’m in HR and Recruiting, I’ve made a career out of judging people.

A candidate comes in with a tattoo on their face and immediately we think: prison, drugs, poor decision making, etc. We instantly judge.  It’s not that face-tattoo candidate can’t surprise us and be engaging and brilliant, etc. But before we even get to that point, we judge.  I know, I know, you don’t judge, it’s just me. Sorry for lumping you in with ‘me’!

What my wife was saying was correct.  It’s really hard to judge someone based on how little we actually know them.

People judge me all the time on my poor grammar skills.  I actually met a woman recently at a conference who said she knew me, use to read my stuff, but stopped because of my poor grammar in my writing.  We got to spend some time talking and she said she would begin reading again, that she had judged me too harshly, and because I made errors in my writing assumed I wasn’t that intelligent.

I told her she was actually correct, I’m not intelligent, but that I have consciously not fixed my errors in writing (clearly at this point I could have hired an editor!). The errors are my face tattoo.

If you can’t see beyond my errors, we probably won’t be friends.  I’m not ‘writing errors, poor grammar guy”.  If you judge me like that, you’re missing out on some cool stuff and ideas I write about.

As a hiring manager and HR Pro, if you can’t see beyond someone’s errors, you’re woefully inept at your job.  We all have ‘opportunities’ but apparently, if you’re a candidate you don’t, you have to be perfect.  I run into hiring managers and HR Pros who will constantly tell me, “we’re selective”, “we’re picky”, etc.

No, you’re not.  What you are is unclear about what and who it is that is successful in your environment.  No one working for you now is perfect.  So, why do you look for perfection in a candidate?  Because it’s natural to judge against your internal norm.

The problem with selection isn’t that it is too hard to judge, the problem is that it’s way too easy to judge.  The next time you sit down in front of a candidate try and determine what you’ve already judged them on.  It’s a fun exercise. Before they even say a word.  Have the hiring managers interviewing them send you their judgments before the interview.

We all do it.  Then, flip the script, and have your hiring managers show up for an interview ‘blind’. No resume beforehand, just them and a candidate face-to-face.  It’s fun to see how they react and what they ask them without a resume, and how they judge them after.  It’s so easy to judge, and those judgments shape our decision making, even before we know it!

 

Interview Pro Tips: The “You” Show!

A bunch of folks have been doing some work at home or furloughed at home, or some laid off at home over the past few months. Depending on your situation I’ve been hearing more and more from people who are out interviewing for the first time in a long time and looking for advice.

JDP did a survey recently and found out that the average candidate preps for 7 hours to prepare for an interview! I’m not sure I buy into that piece of data, it seems like there might be a bit of exaggeration going on from candidates who want to make you believe they actually did way more than they actually do.

Let’s be honest, you looking at a companies website and reading reviews on Glassdoor doesn’t take you seven hours. It probably takes you about 30 minutes, and I would bet my career on the fact that is about 99% prep that happens for most candidates.

How should you prepare for an interview? 

There are two types of candidates I see in an interview. The first type just lets the interview happen to them. They basically react. I’m here, you have questions, let’s see how this turns out.

The second type of candidate, which is much rarer, come prepared to put on a show. I’ll call it the “You” Show! This candidate comes in and has prepared to show you why they are the person for this position. They risk that you might be the type of person who won’t like this, but more times than not I find leaders are actually impressed by these candidates.

What does the “You” Show script include?

It starts off with an introduction that includes a good story that will instantly get those in the room on your side. It might be funny, might be inspirational, but it was definitely planned and prepared. Anywhere from three to five minutes of this is who I am and why I’m unique, and why you should like me.

The You Show candidates have also prepped by doing research on those who will interview them. They probably know more about the people interviewing them, then the people interviewing know about you as the candidate. They’ll stalk your LinkedIn profile, your social footprint, Google name search, people from my school who work there, etc. I want to know my audience if I’m putting on a show, so I at least have a chance to producing a show they’ll like.

If I have one hour, planned, for the interview, I want them to hear 55 minutes of me, and very little from them. I want them leaving that room, call, video conference being wowed! Being of the mindset that we really don’t need to interview any longer, since we just found the person.

The “You” Show is probably an exaggeration of your true self. Kind of like, “Hey, this is the best me” and while I might not be this person every minute of every day, when you get the best of me, this is what you can expect. The “You” Show is high-energy, fully caffeinated, I’m going to energize you and when I leave you’ll feel better about yourself.

As you get ready for your next interview ask yourself if you would want to watch you do that interview. If your answer is “no”, it will probably be “no” from those interviewing you as well.

5 Traits That Make Your HR Business Partner Great!

I use to think the title ‘HR Partner’ was played out and it probably was for a time.  There was a point a few years ago when every HR Pro had to change their title from HR Manager, HR Director, etc., to HR Partner.  It always made me feel like we were all apart of a bad cowboy movie, ‘Giddy up, Partner!’

I’ve actually grown to really like the “Partner” in the title of an HR Professional.  While many HR Pros just changed their title, I’ve met some great ‘Partners’ in HR who have changed their game, to match their title change.

What makes a Great HR Partner Great?  Here are 5 things I think makes them game-changers:

1. Great HR Partners know your business.  Now, wait.  I didn’t say they ‘knew their own business’, they know the business of who they support. But wait, there’s more!  They know the business of who they support, the way the person or team they support knows it. Say what?!  It’s not good enough to know the business of your organization.  You have to know how those you support know and support the business.

That could be different, based on the leader.  One leader might be ultra-conservative in their business practices, another risky. A great HR Partner knows how to support them in the way those they support, want to be supported – while still being able to do the HR part of their job.

2.  Great HR Partners have a short-term memory. Great baseball pitchers don’t remember one pitch to the next.  Each pitch is new. Each pitch has the potential for success.  If they remembered each pitch, the last one, that was hit for a home run, would cloud their judgment about the next pitch.

Great HR Partners are willing to change their mind and try new things.  They don’t carry around their experiences like a suitcase, pulling them out and throwing them on the table each time those they support want to try something new.  Don’t forget about your failures, but also don’t let your failures stop you from trying again.

3. Great HR Partners allow risk.  A great HR Partner is able and willing to accept that organizations have risk.  It is not the job of HR to eliminate risk, it is the job of HR to advise of risk, then find ways to help those they support, their partners, to achieve the optimal results in spite of those risks.  Far too many HR Partners attempt to eliminate risk and become the ‘No’ police.  Great HR Partners know when to say “No” and when to say “Yes”.

4. Great HR Partners don’t pass blame.  If you are a great HR partner and you work with great partners, you will all support each other in the decision making process.  A great HR Partner will never pass blame but will accept their share as being one of those who supported the decision to move forward.

This doesn’t mean you become a doormat.  Behind closed doors, with your partners, you hash out what there is to hash out.  When the doors open – all partners support the final decision that is made.  A Great HR Partner will have the influence to ensure they can, and will, support that decision when those doors open up.

5. Great HR Partners don’t wait to be asked.  A great partner in any capacity is going to support those they support with every skill they have available to them.  In HR we have people skills – so when those who we support have issues, we offer up our ideas on what we can do to help the team.  Great HR Partners don’t stop at HR advice!  In a time of brainstorming and problem solving the idea that goes unshared, is the worst kind of idea.

I might not know operations, and I will say that up front, but I’m going to put myself out there and tell my partners that eliminating the rubber grommets on the bottom of the widget is a bad idea because while it saves us $.13 per unit, it also makes our product slide around and that ultimately will piss off the customer.

Being an ‘HR Partner’ has very little to do with HR.  Those you support expect you have the HR expertise. What they don’t expect is how great of a ‘partner’ you can be.  Great HR Partners focus on the partnership, not on the HR.

When is the time to work hard?

“Never! Work smarter not harder!”

Shut it. I wasn’t talking to you idiot.

I tend to try and surround myself with people who are “hard” workers. Who sees stuff that needs to be done and they just do it. In fact, they can’t even turn themselves off if they wanted to. Maybe all the work that you, or I, or they do isn’t “hard”, however, you define hard work, but it’s work and it needs to get done.

Every successful person I know is a hard worker.

Being a hard worker doesn’t mean you almost always work more than everyone else, but when work needs to get done, they get it done. But, don’t discount time and success, most successful people work more and harder than none successful people. It’s super rare to find a lazy successful person.

At what point in your life should you work the hardest? 

No, it’s not all the time, unless you’re young, then yes, when you are young you should be working hard all the time! That is the time to build the foundation. That is the time you have the most energy. That is the time when you have the least to lose.

The time in your life when you should be working the hardest is when you are young. 18-35 years of age, should be a work fest, followed by brief interludes of some trips and stuff.

I often get into conversations with young people who want to retire young, be super successful, but they have yet to work 50 hours in a full week in their life! They should be working 80-100 hours per week. This is the time you can work that amount and make it count.

But girls (and boys) just want to have fun, Tim!

Yeah, you know what’s not fun? Being a greeter at a mass retail store at 68 years old because you can’t pay your rent. The world is a young person’s game because you are fun. You have the time, the energy, you as nice looking as you’ll ever be, you have the fresh young person smell, all of the world wants more of you!

To be successful you must work hard. Part of that success comes from working hard all the time when you are young. As you age and gain experience, you begin to find out when exactly you need to turn it on and when you can shut it down for a bit. If you’re young and you think you already know when to shut it down, you’re a moron, or at the very least you are only getting to a fraction of the success that you are capable of.

If you just graduated high school or college this month, it’s not the time for a break, your life is just beginning. Right now, today is the exact time you should be working hardest and you should be doing it all the time!

 

4 Great Things About Your 401K Taking a Dump!

The stock market is in the crapper and everyone’s 401K took a hit that will take years to recover, so how can any of this be great!?!

Oh, just give me a minute to explain…

Yeah, it sucks! I mean panic in the streets sucks, I just lost my retirement condo in Boca sucks! I’m trying to make light of a bad financial situation. Oh wait, I kind of am.

The reality is we all put ourselves in this situation. We gambled. We put our money into mutual funds and 401Ks and other investment vehicles and we loved watching them gain money for the last ten years! Since the great recession, the S&P 500 has tripled! If you got in early, you’ve seen your entire retirement increase substantially from where it was.

Good news, bad news. It sucks we are all taking this hit, but we’ve had a great ride up! Plus, it will ride up again, for those who have a few years. For those who don’t, I’m very sorry, truly. It’s a great lesson for us all that as we get close to retirement, get the vast majority of your money out of the market and into much more conservative investments.

So, what about this nightmare do I think is great?

1. GenX lives! It’s too late for the Baby Boomers, they’re out. The Millennials thought they were on the cusp of taking over, well sorry, kids, Daddy isn’t leaving just yet! Thanks to the market fall, Gen X is here to stay for another decade and the Millennials looking to take over as leaders are just going to have to sit back and relax.

2. Retirement is Boring! I know you wanted to retire. It seems so great sitting around Florida watching your friends get older, sicker, and eventually die. Look, you get one run around this rock, why just stop, let’s keep this thing going! There isn’t one part of me that is looking forward to retirement. What am I going to do, sit home and watch crappy CBS cop shows? Nope, apparently, I’ll be getting a second job to help pay for the food bill with all my Gen Z kids at home that can’t find jobs.

3. Being Poor is a Great Diet Plan. Do you know no one has ever written a diet book about not having money and how it reduces your caloric intake? It seems like someone would have ‘scientifically’ picked up on that. Ugh, I lost most of my retirement in the stock market, now I have to stop going out for the nice 3,000 calorie dinners at the Applebee’s! America is way fat! LIKE WAAAAYYY FAT! We all need a diet. To feel a bit hungry again. We’ll all be tougher for it!

4. I’m buying great companies at a super discount! I’m a conservative gambler. I only like winning! Do you know how you win? Buy great, profitable companies, at 50% off and double your money in a shorter period of time! Now is not the time to be gun shy. This will be one of the top 2 or 3 buying opportunities in the history of the market!

I know, there is a portion of folks who will read this and think, “Tim’s an asshole!” How can he say this!?! He has no empathy! (Editor’s Note: Tim is an asshole.)

We all choose to react to tragedy in different ways. This sucks. This sucks for me and my family. This sucks for my business. This sucks for you. We can all agree on that. I also need to move on. To move forward. We did that after the great recession and we were stronger for it. We’ll do that again.

Also, Gen X Lives!

Can I be Completely Honest With You?

“Can I be completely honest with you?” is a phrase usually followed by some sh*t you don’t want to hear.  We talk about this concept a bunch in HR.  We need to tell our employees the truth about their performance.  We work to coach managers of people on how to deliver this message appropriately.  We develop complete training sessions and bring in ‘professional’ communicators to help us out on the exact phraseology we want to use.  All so we can be ‘honest’ with our employees.

Can I be completely honest with you?

No one wants you to be honest with them.

Employees want you to tell them this:

1. We like having you work here.

2. You’re doing a good job.

3.  You are better than most of the other employees we have.

4. We see great things coming from your development, and you’re on target for promotion.

5. Here is your annual increase.

Now, that might actually be ‘honest’ feedback for about 5% of your employees.  That means you will be saying a different version of honesty to the other 95% that won’t like you being completely honest.

That is why talent management is really hard.  No piece of software will help you with this one fact.  Most people don’t like honesty.  The cool part of this is that most managers don’t like to be honest. It’s uncomfortable. It causes conflict.  Most people aren’t comfortable telling someone else that they have some issues that need to be addressed, and most people don’t take that feedback appropriately.  You tell an employee they have ‘room for improvement’ and they instantly believe you told them they suck and they’re about to be fired.

So, as managers, we aren’t completely honest.  We tend to work around the truth.  The truth is we all have things we need to get better at, and it sucks to hear it out loud.  If someone tells you they welcome this feedback, they’re lying to you and themselves.  Those are usually the people who lose it the most when they are told the truth.  People who tell you they want honest feedback will believe you’re going to tell them ‘honestly’ they’re a rock star.  When you say something less than ‘rock star’ they implode.

So, what’s the honest solution to this?

Say nothing.  Set really good metrics. Metrics that show if a person is performing or not.  Make sure everyone understands those metrics.  Then, when the employee wants feedback, set down the metrics in front of them, and shut up.  Don’t be the first to talk.  The employee will give you some honest feedback if you wait.  Which will open the door to agree or disagree? Otherwise, you’re just working on subjective.  Subjective and honest don’t go well together.

But, you knew that. I really like having you stop by and read this.  You do a great job at your job. You’re certainly better than all those other readers who stop by and read this.  I’m sure you’re on your way up!

The Truly Absurd Power of a Bad Idea!

Have you ever been caught in a downward vortex of a truly crappy idea that at some point you wondered to yourself, “how the heck did we get here!?”

I like to think I’m the kryptonite of bad ideas in my organization. It’s part of my personality of being a bit unfiltered in my thoughts and ideas. If I think something is a bad idea, I’m probably going to say something. Or at least, I hope I will say something.

Why don’t we stop bad ideas in organizations?

  1. We never want to tell someone their idea is bad. We say things like, “there are no bad ideas!” Of course, there are bad ideas! That’s just a dumb statement. There are ideas that can ruin your company and your career. If some idiot opening shares a bad idea, it should be up to us as peers to point this out and help them out.
  2. The person sharing the idea is in a power position. This one is hard. Well, Tina is the boss! I don’t like her idea, but we have to go along with her or else it will probably look bad and she’ll make sure she crushes my career. This is the worst! If you’re a leader, you need to find someone who will tell you the truth about your stupid ideas.
  3. We all know it’s a bad idea but we’ve got so much already invested we need to make it work. Ugh! My grandmother would call this, “throwing good money after bad”. Well, we’ve come this far, we have to make it work. The best organizations know when to call it quits on a bad idea, take the loss, and begin a new in a better direction.

So, bad ideas grow and prosper basically because we don’t want to hurt feelings or hurt our own careers.

I do think there are some strategies we can use to help get us out of a bad idea. Some things that will allow us to protect our relationships and our careers, and put us on a better path.

If I think of the times that I saw someone’s bad idea blow up in their face, it happened because it was done publicly. If we have the ability to sit down privately with the individual and talk through it, I usually find that together we can create something better, and change a bad idea into something that will work, and it saves face for all involved.

In terms of people in the position of power who have bad ideas, I like, again, speaking to them in private, but also using data and competitive data to try and influence their decision in another direction. I’ve also used a strategy that is a bit risky, but it’s going over their head in a way that seems like you weren’t doing it on purpose. Like, “Oh, I want to share this data with the entire company because I found it so fascinating and thought others would have interest!” Data that shows we should be doing something else, in hopes, it sparks an idea for someone to change.

The reality is bad ideas happen every day in our organizations and it’s up to us to help create a culture where we reward stopping bad ideas. Where we respect each other so highly we are confronting bad ideas as a way to help that person’s career, not point out their failure. If we can get to that point, we put ourselves in a position to take the power out of bad ideas!

Recruiting Facts: People Actually Like It When You Want Them…

If I hear one more person tell me that candidates don’t like phone calls, I’m going to shove a phone up your…

I’m not the smartest cat, but I know a couple of things.  Here are a few things I know:

1. You can’t taste the difference of well Gin and high-end Gin after 4 Gin and Tonics.

2. French Fries, Onion rings and Tator Tots taste great fried and taste awful baked.

3. Great tasting chocolate is the reason women can be single. (okay, I stole that one from my wife!)

4. Candidates with car trouble are lying.

5. People like to be told that you want them for a job! It’s flattering. It makes them feel important. It makes them feel valued. They love to listen to what you have to say, regardless of how satisfied they are in their job.

If I called you right now with a job that was something you have always wanted, guess what would happen?  You would call me back. You would call me back almost instantly. You would run out to your car, telling the receptionist on the way out you have an urgent personal call, to hear what I have to say.

Those people. Those thought leaders. Those idiots, who are telling you candidates don’t like phone calls are LIARS!

Why are they lying to you? Here is why I think they are probably lying to you:

1. They are lazy and hope the internet will solve all of their problems.

2. They are hoping to talk the world into believing you never have to make a phone call to get a job.

3. They are scared.

I did a survey where I asked 100 people, mostly millennials, (all potential candidates, since all people are potential candidates) if I called you with your “Dream Job”, would you either pick up my call or call me back?  Would you like to know the results?

100 out of 100 said they would pick up my call or call me back! 100%!

Recruiters who say candidates don’t like phone calls are not recruiters, they’re administrative professionals. Pay them accordingly.

Are you a “People Person”?

I was listening to an executive the other day talk about what he needed in an employee. Of course, there were the job skills and competencies, formal education was one, and then that magical phrase came, “Oh, and the candidates better be a ‘people person’!”

A People Person.

What the living hell does that even mean?

A People Person: A person who enjoys and is particularly good at interacting with others. 

Oh, so like a normal person who isn’t an asshole?

The skill of being “A People Person” might be the most over-valued skill of all time. And not because it’s not important, not one wants you to hire an asshole, but because have you ever met someone who when asked said, “You know, I’m just not A People Person!” No! You haven’t! Everyone, from the beginning of time, says they are A People Person!

The reality is, we ask for it because we know the truth, most people don’t enjoy interacting with others. We put up with idiots we run into every day, some of us are better at than others, no profession really does better than another.

In HR, we like to say, “We the People Person People”, but I find it’s actually the opposite. Most HR pros I run into might have the worst People Person skills, but they are paid to do a job, so put on the act fairly well. Once in a while, you find that true kind soul who seems, almost naively, to get along with everyone. “Oh that Mark, he’s a stinker, but you know he once opened a door for me, he’s good people!” Those people might be only real people persons in the world.

I’ve been labeled A People Person in my career. The reality is I’m an inch deep and a mile wide in terms of my interest, so I just have a skill of finding those few things I have in common with people I meet, so conversation comes easy for me when I meet new people. But, I dislike people at the same rate as others. I would consider myself as much of an asshole as most people, I might just hide it better at the right times.

Maybe that’s the true real skill of A People Person. Not being an asshole at the wrong time. Or at least limiting those times you’re an asshole.

Here’s the thing: The next time you hear someone say or ask for A People Person, just smile and chuckle a bit on the inside, because what they are really saying is “I just want someone who isn’t that much of an asshole” but saying “A People Person” sounds so much more professional!

 

The One Fix for Talent Acquisition You’re Too Afraid to Implement!

There’s a ton of reasons we are afraid of stuff. I was never scared of the dark, but for some stupid reasons, I’m scared of bees. I know that I’m not going to die from a bee. I’ve been stung. It hurts, you get over it. Yet, I hate when a bee is buzzing around me!

I think most people are afraid to be ‘found out’ professionally. To have it discovered that we aren’t as good as we think we are. Every function has hickeys. Things we really don’t want others in the company to see or know about. They aren’t career-ending things, still, they are things we aren’t proud of.

In talent acquisition, we lose great talent at points in our recruiting process. It happens way more than it should, for a number of reasons. If you were to truly dig into the exact reason why each person was lost, it wouldn’t be something most TA departments would be proud of.

What this is really saying is that talent acquisition isn’t giving this information to the hiring manager, or more likely, your hiring managers don’t believe the B.S. you’re selling them on the reasons why!

The majority of TA departments, when asked why a good candidate is lost during the process will come up with candidate problem reasons. The candidate backed out, it was too far to drive. They got an offer from another company and couldn’t wait. It wasn’t the position they truly wanted. Etc.

All of which might be legitimate, but we forget, many times the hiring managers get a different side.  Usually, hiring managers know people, who know people, etc. and the ‘real’ reason will get back to them. It then becomes, “well, Mark was getting the run around from your TA team about his plane ticket costing too much, and he felt like it just wasn’t worth dealing with this at this level”, or “the Recruiter took three days to call Mary back to schedule the interview time and by then she decided to take the other offer”.

The reality is, the majority of TA leaders don’t want to know the ‘real’ reason because it reflects poorly on their team, and on them. That doesn’t feel good! Uncovering the brutal truth is painful and many times embarrassing.

Want to fix your TA department? Find out why candidates truly left your hiring process. If that’s your focus, you’ll quickly have your priorities of what to fix, change, and improve upon.

How do you do this? First, you don’t allow your recruiting team to ask the question. The answers you’ll get back will be ‘massaged’ to make TA look great and make the hiring managers look bad, or at the very least blame anyone else except yourself. Third-party this out, or find a neutral party within the organization that can make these inquiries and report back the results. This is key.

The best leaders want to know the truth. Not their version of the truth, but the real truth. Unfortunately, the truth might be the scariest thing you’ll ever face.