I Love a Rivalry!

I’m all about it – winning, competing, the buzz, and yeah, even losing. Losing keeps you caring about winning.

Not everyone sees it like that, though. Some think we should all just get along and that having rivals is old news.

But here’s my take – real competition with rivals pushes us to be better than we thought we could be. Without that push, we’d never hit our top performance.

The snag with rivals at work is it can get ugly real quick if it’s not handled right. That’s why some folks say we don’t need rivals in society.

A badly managed rivalry, especially at work, can wreck the vibe faster than anything else. It turns into a “me against them” deal, even when ‘them’ is just another part of ‘us’!

But, if done right, rivalries can light a fire under leaders and teams, taking them to some crazy high performance levels. External rivals, like competitors, bring that extra kick. Those are the rivalries we love – kicking the competition’s butt!

Internal rivals can be just as motivating, maybe even more because it’s real. Your rival is someone you know, or at least more than your competition.

This relationship with an internal rival is where the energy comes from, both good and bad. We hope these internal rivalries drive both sides to greatness, but it doesn’t always pan out that way.

Usually, internal rivals end up trying to outdo each other, when what we really want is both sides reaching greatness and cheering each other on. I used to think it wasn’t doable when I was a young leader.

One side wins, one side loses. That’s a rivalry.

But over time, I’ve seen that the best leaders figure out ways for healthy rivalries, getting everyone to back each other up and celebrate together. It’s about plenty – there’s enough success for all of us. As you succeed, and your co-workers succeed, that success lifts us all.

I first saw this in college sports. A coach taught us to push each other as rivals in practice when it helps us be our best. But when it’s game time, we stick together to reach our goal of winning. It’s about the team.

So, leaders, when you’re setting up internal rivalries, keep in mind that concept of plenty and togetherness. It’s about me, until it’s about we. The leader’s got to show us where that line is.

Is it time to go with the flow?

Whenever HR folks hang out, they often think they’re the rebels in the room. But truth be told, when you look at what they say and do, we’re all not much different from everyone else. This isn’t just an HR thing; it’s all over our workplaces. It’s like we’re stuck in this ‘Group-think’ mode.

Back in the 1950s, Solomon Asch did a study where students had to solve simple problems, like figuring out if two lines were the same length. Some students purposefully gave wrong answers, and guess what? Three-quarters of the others went along with the wrong answers at least once. It’s a reminder that as humans we tend to follow the herd, even when it’s clear they’re off track.

In the corporate world, the contrarian label often gets slapped on the CEO or someone on the fast track to getting the boot. Despite what top executives say about valuing contrarian ideas, the truth is, going against the grain isn’t well-received in companies. So, it’s kind of amusing when HR pros claim they’re the rebels in their organizations. No you’re not. Plus, do you really want to be?

Let’s cut to the chase – HR doesn’t have to be the rebel; shouldn’t they just go with the flow? HR needs someone who totally drinks the Kool-Aid and fully supports the mission. It might sound rebellious in its own way, especially if the boss is a visionary leader, but that’s what organizations need from HR.

HR needs to toe the line. Conform to the vision, conform to the mission, and lead by sticking to the organizational goals. By embracing this kind of conformity, HR can actually make a real difference in the success of the company.

Challenging Corporate Complacency

There’s this persistent buzz about technology stealing our jobs in our line of work. The staffing industry, a massive half-a-trillion-dollar global business, thrives on a rather bold assumption: corporate laziness.

I’m not banking on your laziness, though. At my company, we focus on contract work, not only the typical direct hiring. But this laziness perception isn’t exclusive to us; other industries are guilty too.

Look at the diet industry—it’s full of expensive shortcuts like bars, shakes, and pricey gyms, all because we sometimes prefer an easy fix over healthier habits. Guilty as charged!

Here’s the kicker: if corporate Talent Acquisition (TA) simply did their job—filling openings—the direct hire staffing industry might vanish. It’s not that complicated, yet we do everything but fill the position.

It might not seem lazy outright, but it’s sidestepping the core task, which is just as harmful. Ever seen a kid dodge mowing the lawn by doing indoor chores instead? Same principle, different setting.

Recognizing how others bank on our presumed laziness is crucial for TA leaders. And doing something about it? That’s where the real game starts.

Here are some actionable steps from one of my previous blogs:

  1. Set clear, measurable goals for each TA team member.
  2. Make these goals visible daily.
  3. Address performance issues immediately.
  4. Adjust measures to fit business needs.
  5. Keep at it consistently.

TA isn’t a handout; it’s an investment. Great leaders get this and act against corporate complacency.

It’s not just about working harder; it’s about working smarter. It’s time we all took that step forward.

Escaping the Best Practice Trap

As we kick off this new year in 2024, it’s time to break free from the ‘best practices’ trap and pioneer fresh, groundbreaking approaches in HR. Ever found yourself at an HR conference, where even the mention of a best practice draws in a crowd eager to replicate its success? We’ve all been there. Sure, using strategies that have worked before is tempting. But what if these highly recommended ‘best practices’ don’t actually guarantee success?

The problem lies in assuming that what everyone else is doing must be the best way forward. But times change, circumstances shift, and what was once a winning strategy might be holding us back now.

Let’s face it, adopting someone else’s best practice might just help you reach their level, but is that enough? In the fast-paced world of business, striving to merely match your competitors isn’t what visionary leaders are after. They seek strategies that propel them ahead, not just keep them in the race.

Using successful methods from other companies might help a bit. But it’s like walking a path someone else already made instead of creating your own. The real game-changers aren’t found in replicating what’s already been done; they’re in the unexplored territories of innovation.

Picture this: HR conferences buzzing with ideas yet to be tested, concepts so revolutionary they have the potential to redefine industry standards. That’s the space where true transformation begins.

To truly revolutionize your HR strategy, dare to step away from the best practice treadmill. Instead of asking what worked for others in the past, challenge yourself and your team to explore what could work brilliantly in the future.

Are you ready to break free from the shackles of best practices this year?

Lessons from Curveballs

This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!

The Ball Will Always Find You!

There is a baseball metaphor about the ball finding you. Basically, if you are unprepared or you are scared, that’s precisely when the ball will find you! The moment you least want the ball to come to you is when the ball is hit at you. I’ve heard coaches say this statement my entire life being around baseball.

Life works like this as well.

The one time when you go into the office, and you’re not really prepared for your job or function is the day you’ll be called into an emergency meeting with the CEO! The one question you don’t prepare to be asked will be the one that will be asked.

So, how do you prepare yourself for being unprepared?

1. Acknowledge it when it comes.

So often, we want to try and fake our way through something we weren’t prepared for, but it shows. We aren’t really fooling anyone but ourselves. So, acknowledge it. You know, that’s a great question you asked. I’m not prepared to answer that at this moment, but let me do some research and come back to you with a thorough answer.

2. Redirect the conversation to what you do know.

This isn’t perfect because a savvy executive will come back to the original question, but 60% of the time, it works every time! “That’s a great question. What I focused on were these factors, which, in my estimation, is what we need. I believe…”

3. Answer another question like you’re answering their question.

This is risky, but politicians use this tactic all the time, and it mostly works because the person asking the question is sure you answered their question or not, and they don’t want to sound dumb by asking it again, thinking you answered it! Tim, can you give me some insight into how much we’ll be over budget in TA by the end of the year? “Sure, first, it’s amazing the progress we’ve made. At the beginning of the year, we had no idea we’d be 75% over our planned hiring, and the team has been amazing in reaching that goal. In the second half of the year, we see hiring beginning to slow, and we are anticipating that in Q1 of 2024, we’ll be back up to normal.” Then you just shut up or ask if anyone else has any other questions! Bonus points if you actually go back at them during your answer with some verbal ques like, “You understand, right?” Of course, they’ll be nodding yes! At that point, they will never follow up with another question!

4. Bluff.

Answer the question, even though you don’t really know the answer, and hope and pray they also don’t know the answer! I’ve seen way too many people in my career try and look like a fool. I find that very few executives ask a question they don’t have some semblance of an answer to already. They are just checking to see if you’re on your game and have the answer. So, I do not recommend bluffing. This is usually a low-performer behavior that is probably getting fired soon anyway, and they’re desperate!

5. Open the conversation up to the broader audience or the person who asked the question.

This strategy works really well if you have a strong relationship and trust with the person or people you’re speaking with. In this tactic, you basically acknowledge you don’t know but come back and see if anyone knows or has a strong opinion. You are still driving the conversation and asking questions, which puts you in an authority position, so you don’t look weak by not knowing the answer to the question being asked. “That’s a great question. I actually don’t know the answer, but I’m wondering if anyone else in the room does. Or does anyone have a feeling on what this might look like?” At this point, you could offer up an educated guess as to what you believe it to be if no one else has anything and agree to come back with some more specific information.

Professionally, the ball is going to find you whether you are ready for it or not. We all hope that we will be prepared and ready, but that’s not always the case. Your next reaction is critical to how others will end up viewing you. The more confident you are in your ability and performance, the easier it is to say you just don’t know. Unfortunately, so many times throughout our careers, we get caught off guard, and it might be during a time when our confidence isn’t super high, and that opens us up to trying to make something up on the fly and opening ourselves up to being viewed as a fool.

Posted on  by Tim Sackett

Are You Really Still Ghosting?

This holiday season, I’m stepping away from my usual writing to bring you some of the top-read posts from 2023. Enjoy!

The Reason You Got Ghosted by a Candidate!

Yesterday I answered a question from a candidate about why an employer ghosted them after their interview. Many readers were upset because they were also getting ghosted by candidates. In fact, like all the time, way more than they would ever ghost a candidate. Oh, two wrongs do make a right!

All ghosting is sh*tty behavior by candidates and by those of us who hire. Period.

The reality is that this is hard to admit, and as a professional, we own a portion of the candidate ghosting. Are candidates awful for doing it in the first place? Yes. I will not let them off the hook. But I also only control what I can control, and that is my process, behaviors, etc.

Why are candidates ghosting us?

1. We are moving too fast. Wait, what?! We are told to move fast because that’s what candidates want!? Yes, but when you move so fast, the candidates don’t know you (your company and you personally), the job, the boss, or the reasons why they should come and interview. It all doesn’t seem real. So, it becomes easy to just not show up. (Que Taylor Swift – We need to slow down!)

2. We aren’t giving candidates a way to easily tell us they moved on with another offer. Hourly candidates, especially, are moving fast and have multiple offers. You might have scheduled them for an interview later in the week, but they have already decided to go with another offer. While we gave them instructions on where to go and when we could have made it easier for them to opt out. Many organizations are using auto-scheduling tools like Paradox, which sends reminders and lets candidates choose to reschedule or cancel via text. Those organizations get significantly less ghosting!

3. We believe that once a candidate schedules an interview, our job is done. The most powerful human emotion in existence is being wanted by others. Candidates come to you for a number of reasons, all of which they can most likely get from someone else as well. But, showing them more desire than someone else is a key to great talent attraction. You still need to do that with your messaging even after the interview is scheduled.

4. We allow it to happen without any ramifications. (Okay, this might be a bit aggressive!) What if, every time a candidate ghosted you for an interview, you posted their picture and details on social media!? Yikes! Right?! “This is Tim Sackett, a cute redhead. He ghosted us for an interview yesterday at 3 pm. If you see him, tell him we are thinking about him!” Do you think it would get noticed? Heck, yes, it would!

5. We are making it too easy for candidates to interview. This is a catch-22. We need talent, so we reduce every roadblock possible for candidates. It’s so easy. Most don’t care if they burn the bridge or not. That is truly why employee referrals are so valuable for most employers. Referrals are far less likely to burn a bridge. That might be a trick to use. Ask a candidate: Do you know anyone at our company? Begin to tie the personal connection back to them, and they will be far less likely to ghost. Also, make it super hard to get an interview, and people will hold it as a higher value! “Only 1% of people who apply to our company ever get an interview! it’s a rare thing we offer to only the top candidates.” If you knew that was the case, you would show up for that interview!

I think most of the candidate ghosting is truly reflective of the poor morals and values of the people who are doing it. You made a commitment to someone. You keep that commitment, or at the “very” least, you inform that person you will no longer be able to keep that commitment. It’s a pretty basic human condition. Those who ghost probably had crappy parents and mentors in their life who didn’t teach them the basics. I’ve never once spoken to or met an upstanding individual who thought highly of themselves that would ghost. High-quality people don’t ghost. Low-quality people do.

People don’t like to hear that. They want to talk about circumstances and bad employers, etc. The reality is high-quality people will contact someone and let them know they no longer want to be considered, regardless of how crappy the employer may or may not be. Low-quality people just don’t show up. Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. I’m just telling you the truth. You already know.

If you’re an employer and you ghost candidates after interviews – You (not your organization). You, personally, are of low quality, just like the candidates who ghost you. I don’t like to hire low-quality people. But I also want to give every opportunity for a low-quality person to become a high-quality person.

Posted on  by Tim Sackett

A Christmas Present for Your CEO

This holiday season, you’ve got the chance to make your CEO’s Christmas wish list come true. It’s time to give them the gift of insights into what they really want from their HR and Talent Acquisition teams.

I created a short survey designed just for CEOs, all about what they wish HR and TA would do more of or start doing. It’s all about improvements, tech stuff, and making magic happen within your organization. They get to rate your HR team’s current performance, spot areas for improvement, and even prioritize the issues they care about most. Psst, CEOs, your secrets are safe with us – this survey is anonymous.

Spread the Joy

So, spread some holiday cheer and share this survey link with your CEO or hook me up with their email.

As HR pros, you have the power to make some serious magic happen. By getting your CEO involved in this survey, you’re not just boosting your own game but helping us all understand what makes CEOs tick across different industries!

I’m making this holiday season all about shaping killer HR strategies. Are you with me? Share the link with your CEO and let’s sprinkle some HR magic together!

I’ve Got a Great Business Opportunity For You!

No. No, you don’t. You have a great business opportunity for you, and you need me to make it happen.

Email Subject Lines in the Past Week

  • “Business Opportunity”
  • “Potential Opportunity”
  • “Great Business Opportunity for You!”

There was one common theme with each one of these messages sent to me. Not one of them was an opportunity for me to make money, but each was an opportunity for me to pay someone else money!

Idiots Using these Subject Lines

Do you seriously believe that these subject lines are working? That people are reading them and going, “OMG! I’m the Luckiest Girl alive today! This beautiful human chose me for this opportunity that I was neither looking for nor really even wanting! #Blessed”

I have a feeling there is something clinically wrong with the person who uses this subject line. I want to get them professional help. Medication, therapy, a punch to the throat, whatever it takes, I’m a giver, a helper of sorts.

I would love it if we could have a law where if some moron uses a subject line like this, we can send them away for a while. Like prison, but more used car sales lot they have to live in for eternity. Every day, all day, just wandering the lot and getting approached by an overly aggressive used car salesman that won’t leave them alone.

Look, I Get It 

I run a company that has to sell our services. Every morning I get up, shower, get dressed, and head off to work. “Gotta make the donuts!” They don’t make themselves. Our world is predicated on someone buying whatever it is we’re selling.

So, I feel for you, but I’ve got a few words of advice –

Be Better! 

Be someone who you want your kids to be. Be someone you want your grandmother to talk about at bridge club. Be someone who will get referred by one client to a future client.

Also, I get you can’t just put up a subject line that says, “Hey, buy my crappy lead generation tool!” (Although, I bet your click-through rate on that is a minimum of 100% higher than “Business Opportunity.”

The world isn’t looking to do work, to make you money. Maybe I’m wrong, but maybe your subject line of “Business Opportunity” was just one big miss by me. You were saying, “Hey, I’ve got a business opportunity for me. I just need a sucker like you to bite” if that’s the case, my bad, continue being an awful person.

Great Business Opportunity

As always, I’m here to help fellow sales pros. Here are some subject lines that are guaranteed to get some click-through:

– I’ve got your bag full of puppies!

– You need to verify your Pornhub password

– BOGO on Wine, Chocolate, and Jimmy Choos

– Is this your Mom on Facebook?

“But, Tim, these are all lies!” I know, and I’m super excited you found the commonality between my subject lines and yours. Good luck!

Digital Transformation of Work & Wellbeing – @SHRMLabs Report

I got invited recently to be a part of a think tank of sorts on a project with SHRM Labs and Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator discussing what technologies are needed to help navigate the new digital world of work. What the heck does that mean? Good question!

If you haven’t checked out SHRM Labs they are doing some amazing work around innovation, technology, and work. Led by Guillermo Corea, SHRM is working to take a leading stance on the technology that is built for HR. This isn’t your grandmother’s SHRM! Shout out to Hadeel El-Tashi, she has been amazing as well on the SHRM Labs team.

Basically, we have three types of worker environments right now:

  • Full On-Premise work
  • Hybrid
  • Full Remote

Full on-premise work we’ve been trying to build tech and processes around wellbeing for a long time. To limited success, for sure, but still, it’s been a long focus for technologists and HR for decades. Hybrid and Full Remote, while not new, were limited in use, so the focus was not there, then the pandemic thing happened and this had to ramp up really fast.

What we found is there are limited options for organizations to truly and robustly support their team’s well-being when they work remotely and in hybrid scenarios. Here’s the basis of the report:

This report highlights participants’ voices on each of these points. It proposes ways to foster work/life integration in remote- and hybrid work environments, followed by an exploration of elements that constitute a great employee experience and effective employee culture, closing with a discussion of how companies can attract (and retain) the best talent in the face of a tight labor market and the Great Resignation.

You can download the report here

What were our main findings:

  1. All organizations need to find ways to embrace flexibility in the workplace. Not just white-collar workers, but all workers. Flexibility and “All” is a difficult undertaking.
  2. Give employees agency and develop accountability. I call this one, treating employees like adults, but smarter people in the think tank had better words than me!
  3. Drive efficiency and asynchronous communication tools. Stop the non-stop stream of zoom meetings thinking that’s how you’ll communicate effectively with hybrid and remote workers.
  4. Personalize benefits and improve the employee experience. We still deliver benefits mostly like it’s 1970. Everyone gets a 401K match, even if that’s not your priority and you have student loans or want to buy your first house. Or we offer student loan repayment, but you graduated thirty years ago and paid off your loans, twenty-five years ago. One size fits most, is a crappy experience.

We also had findings around building digital culture and attracting more workers – you can download the report to check those out.

Overall, we’ve got work to do in HR as a total function, including TA, Talent Management, Learning, Benefits and Compensation, etc. This is invigorating for the field and there are so many passionate technologists in our space trying to help us develop great solutions for our issues.

I’ve been studying the technology in our space for the past decade and I’m always amazed that the process of what we need and what’s available is ever-evolving. The pandemic while awful, has opened up the world of work in ways we’ve been pushing to make happen for decades with little movement, then this tipping point happened and it’s like HR is being reinvented all over again.

It’s an amazing time to be in our profession!