As Leaders Should We Involve Everyone In Decision Making?

There is an African Proverb that says:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

It’s a paradox we face as leaders right now. We are forced to move fast because the world is moving fast. We are also forced to believe we must involve everyone. Yes, we want to go fast, and yes, we want to go far!

Typically, that turns into something like this. The Boss lady calls a meeting of the team. Everyone jumps on the Zoom call, and the lady boss says, “Hey, we need to make some changes” based on some market/industry/tech change. “So, we are going to use this time to brainstorm and make some decisions on what we should do.” We’ve all been in these meetings.

The other way this can go is no meeting, Boss lady brings in a few confidants on the team, gathers some information, and then she just makes some decisions. Good or bad, she’s the boss, and she’s paid to make these decisions. A little old school, we are told this isn’t really how it should be done anymore.

The reality is both actually work differently. One is fast, one will go far, and we need both.

As a leader, sometimes the best course of action is just to make the call if there is a need to move fast. Look, we have a new product launch that got moved up, and we need to be fully staffed in four months. I’m pulling in a few, or one, people who can handle this item, and I’m getting out of their way. Go, make this happen!

We understand, as leaders, this might piss some folks off. “Well, no one asked my opinion on this!” Yes, you are correct, and by your reaction, I can see I made the right decision by not pulling you in. We desperately needed to move fast! I wasn’t looking for input. I was looking for fast results.

Then, we have times when what we are trying to do will have a long-term impact on our organization. A bunch of moving pieces and multiple stakeholders. Moving quickly, while desirable, might not be the best course of action. We need to hear folks, and folks need to be heard. We want to go ‘far’ with this project.

My leadership comfort zone has always been to go fast. If you’re fast, you can course-correct with the extra time. If you go slow, my belief was the decision would most likely be made for you. As a leader, were you hired to make decisions or have decisions happen to you? Now, this isn’t really the case, but man, that sh*t sounded good on my PowerPoint slide deck!

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

Both strategies are correct. Both have a purpose of when to be deployed. Too often, we tend to stick with the one strategy that we feel most comfortable with as leaders. It’s important we understand what we are most comfortable with because that is also our blind spot. I have to remind myself constantly to slow down when it’s right so that we can go far.

I’ve worked with a ton of leaders who were most comfortable with going together, truly believing they were the best leader. In the end, they failed because while they were well-liked, they didn’t execute fast enough for what the business needed.

Hiring Managers! Job Seekers Are Judging You on These Two Criteria!

If you’re out looking for a job, it usually feels like you’re being judged on every little thing you do, have done, or potentially will do in the future. Interestingly enough, a Harvard professor discovered you’re actually only judged on two things:

“People size you up in seconds, but what exactly are they evaluating?

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has been studying first impressions alongside fellow psychologists Susan Fiske and Peter Glick for more than 15 years and has discovered patterns in these interactions.

In her book, “Presence,” Cuddy says people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you:

 – Can I trust this person?

 – Can I respect this person?

Psychologists refer to these dimensions as warmth and competence, respectively, and ideally, you want to be perceived as having both.

Interestingly, Cuddy says that most people, especially in a professional context, believe that competence is the more important factor. After all, they want to prove that they are smart and talented enough to handle your business.”

Trust and Respect.

I’ll add these are probably two things you’re being judged immediately following the judging that gets done on your overall appearance, which is almost instantaneous! Let’s face it, we like to hire pretty people.

Once you open your mouth, you’re being judged on how well you can trust what this person is telling me and if you respect their background, work ethic, where they came from, etc. Most of this is based on the person doing the judging, not you. I know, that sucks.

How do you help yourself?

1. Try and mirror the energy of the person who is interviewing you. If you come in all calm and cool, and the person who is interviewing is really upbeat and high energy, they’ll immediately question you as a fit.

2. Do research on who you’ll be interviewing with and try and get some sense of their background and story. Try and make some connections as fast as possible in the interview. This will help build trust and respect with this person. In today’s world, it’s not that hard to find out stuff about an individual. If HR sets up your interview, just politely ask who you will be interviewing with (the name).

3. Be interesting. Have a good story to tell, one that most people will find funny or interesting. Not too long. A good icebreaker to set off the interview in a great tone.

I tell people all the time. An interview isn’t a test, it’s just a conversation with some people you don’t know. We have these all the time. Sometimes you end up liking the people, sometimes, you don’t. If you don’t like the people you’re interviewing with, there’s a good chance you won’t like the job!

The Key Ingredient You Need to be Successful at Work! (and Life)

Ugh, I hate that I wrote that title. I. AM. NOT. A. LIFE. COACH!

I don’t write about sports as much as I used to. When my sons were in sports, and I was coaching, I bet I wrote some sort of sports analogy about once per week. The thing with this idea is it works in sports, but it really works in almost anything in life.

Okay, here it is:

“Having people around you who want you to win is key to success.”

I’m not going to take credit for this, nor will I give credit to anyone because I have heard something like this for the last twenty years, but I find almost always people forget about this one simple but powerful idea.

We discount how much of our success is tied to being surrounded by people who want us to be successful! Or we give ourselves too much credit for our own success. We think we’re smarter or better when in reality, we are all about the same, but the circumstances we find ourselves in are very different!

I tend to find myself in conversations with parents regarding their high school and college athletes who are working on going to the next level because I’ve had kids and a wife who played sports at a high level. What most parents and kids don’t understand is how important it is to play for a coach who truly wants to see you succeed. Wait!? Don’t all coaches want to see every player they have on the team succeed? Nope. Unfortunately.

In college athletics, when coaches change, they inherit a bunch of kids who they didn’t recruit, so they aren’t fully invested in these kids. While they will need some or most of these kids, in the short term, to be successful, Almost always, they will bring in their own kids and be more invested in them.

We are currently seeing massive transfers in all sports taking place in college athletics, and a large part of that is kids trying to find a coach(s) who truly wants to see them succeed!

It sounds like when leadership changes take place at work, right?!

When a new leader comes into your company or work team, we see the same type of behavior. New leaders want to bring in their own people. Why? Because you need to surround yourself, even as a leader, with people who want to see you win! Individual contributors need this. Leaders need this. Anyone who wants to win needs people around them who want to see them win!

It’s not about just making it. Keeping it going. It’s about seeing you win. That’s key. Don’t think you can exchange that for something less.

This is why it’s key for you to put yourself in a position where you feel everyone around you wants to see you win. If you’re a leader and you have people on your team that you are unsure they want to see you win, you need to get rid of those people. If you are in a job where you have a leader or peers who don’t want you to win, you need to find a new job immediately!

See, this is why I would be a shitty life coach. I never want people to leave their job. It’s not in my DNA. Keep that job. Make it work! Then I write this post and say leave your job immediately if you are not surrounded by people who want to see you win!

I have some very close friends in my life. The one trait I feel for each of them, without an ounce of jealousy, is I want to see them win! My own team at HRU, without a doubt, I want to see each person I work with be massively successful and win all the time! Surround yourself with people who want to see you win!

Timmy Sackett, World’s Worse Life Coach, Out.

The 5 Steps to Buying HR Technology #HRTechConf

Hey kids! I’m out at the HR Technology Conference this week, and I have 26 meetings set up with HR Technology companies to do briefings. My buddy, KD, says I do a hundred crappy HR tech demos a year, so you don’t have to. That means this week, I’ll knock about 25% of those! It was 27, but I had one cancel because they felt like I didn’t do enough “HR” tech, and I only know “Talent Acquisition” Tech. That made me laugh! Thankfully, I’ll survive. They most likely won’t.

If you are an HR or TA Leader, the biggest budget purchase you’ll most likely ever make in your position is technology. What I find is that even though this will be one of the most important leadership decisions you’ll ever make, most leaders really have no idea how to buy the technology that runs their business. By the way, as leaders, almost know functional leader knows how to buy technology, so we aren’t alone!

Because we lack this knowledge, most of us will either let our IT department make this purchase for us (a super bad idea!) or pay a giant consulting firm a giant fee to help us make this decision (not as bad of an idea, but not great). Your IT department doesn’t know HR/TA. You do. That should be enough said about IT choosing your functional technology. The giant consulting firms are paid millions of dollars by certain vendors for “research.” So, guess who they will recommend you buy?

Since I get to do a lot of demos and briefings, I like to think I most likely have some good insight into how to do this. Wait, what the heck is a “Briefing” with an HR Technology company? Basically, “briefing” is analyst-speak for speed dating with a tech vendor. In 30 minutes, they’ll tell you why they’re awesome, what they have built recently, and what they plan on building in the future. Then I get to ask them what their favorite movie is, where they’ve traveled, etc. You know, all the normal dating questions. If they really know what they’re doing, they’ll bring diet Dew to butter me up!

How Should You Buy HR Technology?

Step 1 – You actually use your current software fully and truly figure out what it can’t do that you desperately need to do your job better. I find almost no one does this first step. They just want something better, even though when asked, they struggle to verbalize what better is.

Step 2 – Once you know what you need, you figure out who the best players are in the market who do that thing. That takes some research and a hell of a lot of demos. For anything you need, figure out at least twenty vendors selling that solution. Based on your size, that will limit your selections, but at least 5-6 will always be in play. Think about Enterprise-level HCM alone; you have: Workday, Oracle, SAP, Infor, Ceridian, ADP, UKG, and I’m sure others that I’ve missed. This is why I got to the HR Technology Conference every year, to keep up with the market. Every HR and TA leader should be doing the same.

Step 3 – Depending on your size, you’ll have to RFP. For many SMB and Mid-enterprise buys of point solutions, you’ll just be on your own trying to find a partner. In this case, step 2 becomes super important for you because I find that most HR/TA shops buy what is “Sold” to them, not what is available. Turns out, HR Tech companies are super good at marketing and advertising to potential buyers. Those companies marketing to you might be the right choice if you’re lucky, or it could be an awful choice. You need to know your options!

Step 4 – You need to talk with users of the technology you decide to buy before you buy it in three ways: 1. Users currently going through an implementation. 2. Users who are through implementation for at least one year. 3. A user who has left them within the past year. If the vendor doesn’t give you these references, walk away! You need to know how much pain you’ll be in and the realistic timing of implementation, you need to know what learnings others had during their ramp-up of the technology, and you need to know what could go very wrong as a worst-case scenario.

Step 5 – Network in the community for other users who use the same technology you want to use and find out what they are paying for that same technology. I find tech vendors charge as much as they can, and some buyers are better at negotiating than you’ll be. If you can come back with some hard numbers, the vendor will work with you. If you have no idea, you’ll pay a much higher rate than another company using the exact same solution. Also, if the big giant consulting firm that you’re paying six figures for can’t give you these introductions, you’re paying them too much!

There are obviously a bunch of steps within these steps, but this framework will give you a good start and make sure you don’t make a bad purchase. Also, remember the old technology buying saying, “no one ever got fired for buying IBM.” That was said because, at the time, IBM was the gold standard and the most expensive. So, while you might be able to find a good technology cheaper, you also have more risk of it failing.

The same goes for HR/TA buying decisions. There are over 10,000 HR Tech solutions on the market. You can find some amazing technology where the vendor will almost give it away to gain you as a client and get more users, but that comes with some big-time, unproven risk. For some, that risk will be worth it because you’ll be able to get and use the technology you could never afford without taking that risk.

How do we feel about government student loan foregiveness?

President Biden this week announced some college loan forgiveness for certain individuals holding federal student loans. There are a bunch of details, but I’m not going to get into those here. You can read about them on a thousand different sites in detail. I want to talk about whether forgiving student loans is something we agree with or don’t agree with.

There seem to be two camps. On one side, most holding current student loan debt, but not all, think this is a great thing. Those who have this burden now have less and can move on with their careers and build their lives with a little less burden.

On the other side, you have folks who went to college, incurred debt, went to work, and paid that debt off. The government didn’t help them, but that was what they signed up for, and they made it work. They might have had this debt decades ago when attending college was much less expensive, or maybe they went got only a few years ago but worked like crazy to ensure they paid it off.

The fact is, student loan debt for all those who have it can be crushing. The reason most people decide to take on that burden is that they believe getting that college education will lead them down a path to a better life. The ROI on a university education is still pretty good in the U.S.

I’m in both camps.

I went to university and had parents who couldn’t help me. I left with student loan debt, and my wife and I worked very hard to pay off that debt. We laugh about how we would come home to our first apartment and go sit in the bedroom because we had no furniture but a bed. We couldn’t afford furniture because my monthly loan payment took up our extra money.

Yeah, yeah, and I forgot to tell you I walked uphill, both ways, to work…cry me a river, right?

When I started in HR, we never spoke about the burden of student debt for those we hired. It wasn’t as big a portion of the monthly expenses of new grads, so while they had the debt, they could still handle it. Now, it’s a major topic of conversation when HR talks about talent attraction and retention. It’s a major topic of conversation when we talk about benefits and incentives. The amount of student debt has become outrageous.

This question of forgiving student debt is very difficult.

There’s a piece of this that is about individual accountability. I took as few loans as I could while I was in college because I knew I had to pay them back. I worked multiple jobs all year while going to school. I chose a school that was inexpensive because I knew I had to pay for it. I didn’t go on Spring Breaks. I had a beater of a car. I bartered meals for services I could do. I was accountable for the debt I took on.

As a person who hires people now, I frequently will ask new college grads how they paid for their education. What part did you pay for through work? What part did you have to borrow? What part did your family cover? What about scholarships? The effort you put into paying for your burden speaks a lot about how you will be as an employee. I’m not saying that if you are fortunate to have parents who were able to help you pay for school, you can’t be great. You can. I rarely meet someone who worked their way through school on their own and doesn’t have a great work ethic.

What does this have to do with student loan forgiveness?

There’s no difference in having someone pay your debt if it’s not you paying for your debt. It’s not teaching you to value the commitment you made. You committed to a loan that had to be paid back. Mom paid it off. Your company paid it off. The government paid it off. You got from under your debt through no work of your own. You will be more likely, moving forward, to take on debt believing somehow, in the future, someone else will bail you out.

The problem with the thinking above is it’s still really f*cking hard to start life out in a hole, and too many people in our society are starting out in a hole. Some were hard-working enough to make it out of one hole and get into college, only to find themselves in the next hole. And often, that hole is just too deep to escape from.

I believe every single kid in our country who puts in the work in school should have access to a great college education, and that education should not bankrupt their future. At the same time, I’m not sure just giving them a get-out-of-college debt Monopoly card is the answer. Our country has a crisis when it comes to federal, state, and local government hiring. What if students could do some kind of government job corps that gave them a fair salary and experience, and for that, each year, they had a portion of their student debt forgiven? Or come up with some other sort of plan that taught with any debt you purposely decide to take on, there is accountability to pay it back.

These are your tax dollars.

Let’s face it our government is historically bad at spending our tax dollars. If you were to go out and ask the US population, do you want your “personal” tax dollars spent on paying off someone else’s student loan, you would be lucky to get a 50/50 split. Going to college and incurring college debt is still a privilege in our world.

What about paying off the car loan a single mom has that she had to take on so she could go to work to pay her rent and put food on the table for her kid? Should we pay that off as well? It’s a slippery slope when we start paying off individual obligations people make. Great, you want to be an Artic Beetle History major, and now you can’t find a job. That’s okay. Let us pay off that awful decision you made with my hard-earned tax dollars.

The real solution isn’t paying off student debt. It’s a political stunt!

The real solution is taxing colleges and universities that have become empire builders under their tax-exempt status. We, the U.S. population, allow higher ed to continue to build world-class structures and increase prices to the point that is ridiculous. Dorm rooms have become five-star hotels, okay, 3-star, but definitely Courtyard by Marriott level accommodations! My dorm room was more akin to a prison cell.

Why has this happened?

Universities are in the business of keeping kids in college as long as possible. The longer you stay, the more tuition and fees they will get. No longer can a normal kid make it out in four years. God forbid you to change majors and move schools. You will definitely be on the five to six-year plan. Higher education in the U.S. has become the biggest racket outside of health insurance in the entire country!

The crazy part about this is it seems like no one in politics is talking about this fact. We care that it costs too much, but we never do anything to make higher ed run like a real business.

Student loan forgiveness isn’t about helping students. It’s about votes. If we really wanted to help students, the government would go after our “non-profit” colleges and universities and create a system where all students could go and afford a proper education for a respectable cost. Like Taylor Swift wrote, paying $10K in student loan forgiveness is like putting a bandaid on a bullet hole. We aren’t solving the problem, and we are partially addressing a symptom and then acting like we cured cancer. In the long run, my fear is this behavior just will make the problem worse.

5 Signs You Should Not Make That Job Offer!

If I have learned anything at all in my HR/Recruiting career, it’s that everyone has an opinion on what makes a good hire. If you ask 100 people to give you one thing they focus on when deciding between candidates, you’ll get 100 different answers!

I’ve got some of my own. They might be slightly different than yours, but I know mine will work!  So, if you want to make some better selections, take note, my young Padawans:

1. Crinkled up money. Male or female, if you pull money out of your pocket or purse and it’s crinkled up, you’ll be a bad hire!  There is something fundamentally wrong with people who can’t keep their cash straight. The challenge you have is how do you get a candidate to show you this? Ask to copy their driver’s license or something like that!

2. Males with more selfies on their Instagram than all other photos. I don’t even have to explain this (also, don’t go do a count on my IG!).

3. Slow walkers.  If you don’t have some pep in your step, at least for the interview, you’re going to be a drag as an employee.

4. My Last Employer was so Awesome! Yeah, that’s great. We aren’t them. Let’s put a little focus back on what we got going on right here, sparky. Putting too much emphasis on a job you love during the interview is annoying. We get it. It was a good gig. You f*ck’d it up and can’t let go. Now we’ll have to listen about it for the next nine months until we fire you.

5. Complaining or being Rude to waitstaff.  I like taking candidates to lunch or dinner, just to see how they treat other people. I want servant leaders, not assholes, working for me. The meal interview is a great selection tool to weed out bad people.

What are your signs not to make an offer?  Share in the comments!

How Can Organizations Succeed In a Multi-Channel Work Environment?

I’m keynoting the HRM Tech Asia conference in 2023, and as part of that, HRM Magazine did an interview with me for their Aug/Sept Magazine. The idea is we all want to offer flexibility. Our employees and candidates are demanding flexibility, but building a solid culture across all of these work environments is very complex!

Here’s some of what I had to say:

You can read the full article by clicking here!

Why do you fight to keep what you have vs. fight for what you need?

I had a great conversation with the co-founder and President 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 about why 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 get 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 six weeks, and we had zero downtime because we 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 it 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, and 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 budgets! 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!

What is your CEOs #1 Priority in Talent Acquisition? I bet it’s different than yours!

If we could all just be on the same page with most things, life would be considerably easier. I work with a lot of Talent Acquisition and HR leaders who are new to the role, and one of the things I try to advise them on is ensuring the c-suite knows exactly what their plan is, and to make sure it’s also the c-suite’s plan!

I find rarely the two are on the same page about what’s most important and it’s the major reason most HR and TA leaders fail in their role. Nothing to do with functional expertise, and everything to do with misalignment of priorities!

The Conference Board recently did a survey with 750 c-suite executives about this very topic, and here are the results:

Is Promoting Your Hybrid Work Model Your #1 Priority in Talent Acquisition!?

No, it’s not!

Now, moving more quickly in your process to get people hired and onboard definitely might be. Adding automation and technology that will definitely help will be high on your list. Having a more efficient recruiting process would also be very high. So, not completely a misalignment, but #1 seems completely off-base!

I wonder how many heads of TA or HR would have promoting our Hybrid Work Model as their #1 priority right now? I doubt it would be a ton. My guess is filling jobs and doing all those things underneath #1 would be much higher, and promoting hybrid would be way down the list.

What should you do with this information?

It’s a great reminder that throughout the year, we should be setting up some one-on-one time with our individual c-suite leaders to ensure their priorities around talent and our priorities around talent align. If they don’t, we need to make sure we have those discussions and leave the room on the same page moving forward!

Too many of us assume we are on the same page without verifying. I find that these discussions are usually the most valuable you’ll have, and just like our business priorities, we have to do frequent check-ins to ensure those priorities aren’t changing.

What is your #1 priority in Talent Acquisition right now? Hit me in the comments.