Do you discriminate against boring people?

In hiring, we now know that we basically discriminate against almost every form of everything! Sexual identity, gender identity, race identity, height, education, weight, religion, you name it and someone out there has a bias towards or against you and whatever form you are.

The reality is, every single time you hire, you are discriminating against something. As a society, though, we’ve deemed some forms of discrimination as wrong, and some we are completely fine with. “Oh, we are going to select the white candidate.” That’s bad. “Oh, we are going to select the skinny candidate.’ That’s good.

I have a bias away from boring people. When I hire, I discriminate against boring people. Turns out, no matter the role, I don’t like to hire boring people. I don’t like to interview them. I don’t like to hire them. I don’t like to work with them. Why? Because they are boring!

Now, you can rightly argue I’m a complete fool. There are plenty of boring people who can be great hires and perform really well. Boring people can be considered safe, calm, nice, non-instigators, even keel, etc.

Is there anything worse than being labeled boring?

I think I would rather be labeled ugly than boring. I mean we all love to hire pretty people, but you would much rather hire an ugly person with a great personality, and a good-looking boring person. Besides how someone smells, it’s really the first thing you notice in an interview! Not how ugly they are, how boring they are!

I’ve heard executives say that the greatest trait they can have in an accountant is that they are boring. No one wants the party playing around with their money. But, still, I disagree. While I don’t want the party running around managing my money, I still want the person managing my money to have a pulse!

Boring is one of those traits that are hard to change. It’s hard to coach up a boring employee to have a personality. If I hire an ugly person, I can help them be better looking cosmetically. I can help a fat employee lose weight. I can even help a smelly employee smell better. But, boring is boring!

I’m sure all of this triggers some folks. For the most part, if you’re triggered and you’re boring, I don’t care, because it’s not like a boring person is going to do anything about it. If you’re not boring, and you’re triggered by me discriminating against boring people, well, isn’t that a strange wall to be standing on?! “I’m fighting for all the boring people! #BoringLivesMatter” But, do they? Do boring lives matter? And if they do, to whom? I mean, they’re boring.

A funny thing happens when we come clean about our discriminations. They seem silly. To write them down and defend them. To try and make sense of it all.

The more discriminating one’s eye for talent is, the more they open themselves up to discrimination. That’s the catch 22. The more specific you get about what you want in a hire, the more things you add into the wants and needs column, the more likely you are to cut someone out who deserves a shot.

I’m still against boring. Change my mind.

What About Me!?

The year is 1981, the artist is Shayne Ward, the song is “What About Me” (Look it up, kids!). I actually sing this to my wife all the time as a joke:

The chorus:

“What about me, it isn’t fair
I’ve had enough now I want my share
Can’t you see I wanna live
But you just take more than you give”

What about the employees who have that are staying!?

We all have a lot of employees who are leaving us. I’ve had a couple of really great folks of my own that have left for new positions. I also have the vast majority that have stayed and are also really awesome!

We do this stupid thing in organizations that I hate. It’s been going on forever. We tend to really overvalue new employees and employees who are performing that leave, and we totally discount the folks who stay. Dare I even say, those who are “loyal” and stay. That’s a trigger I know, because honestly, those who left were loyal also, until, well, they left.

I mean, just because someone leaves for an opportunity that feels is right for them and their family doesn’t make someone not loyal. I believe disloyalty is when someone purposely tries to hurt your organization, and as such, is trying to hurt all the employees who actually work there as well. That’s way different!

We have this fixation on trying to “save” an employee who wants to leave. I actually think trying to save good employees is a good investment. The problem is, we also need a “save”/retention strategy for all those employees who are killing it every day and not going anywhere. They need the love as well!

Wait, isn’t that just good old fashion employee engagement or good new fashion employee experience?

Yes.

Yes, and in certain times it’s also more than that. In times of terrific economic advantage to workers, like we are now in, we probably have to do a bunch more. You can show your employees some love, or someone else will!

I had a number of conversations recently with really smart leaders around pay and compensation. In times like we are in right now, compensation market-level data can’t keep up. It never really can, but it usually doesn’t move this fast, so being 3-6 months trailing is okay. Right now, you can not be one month behind. Actually, your recruiters probably have better market data than your compensation team. They are seeing it with accepted and declined offers every day, with pre-screen expectations, with comments they are hearing from hiring managers on offers they are hearing about.

Don’t kid yourself, it’s about pay until it’s not about pay.

We have been sold an old paradigm that we love to believe is true, but it’s only half true. Pay being equal, all the culture and leadership stuff matters. Pay not being equal, no one cares about your stupid skills development program, and Billy the nice boss. First, pay me what I should be getting.

We have a major crisis on our hands right now as organizations. You can only solve so much of this by backfilling talent and turning on your recruiting machine. You first have to turn off the exit pipeline leaving your organization. Settle down the turnover and it will be easier to recruit and build back to where you need to be.

You have a ton of employees who are staying and not resigning. Those folks are now doing more to take up the slack because turnover is so high. As leaders, this is the time you actually make your money. Full court press on making sure your folks are taken care of in the ways that are important to them, that they feel appreciated and seen, that they matter.

It’s not about the folks leaving. It’s about the folks who are staying!

3 Great Learnings from Rejected Offers!

The CEO of Kapwing, Eric Lu, a video online technology company, recently wrote a blog post about what he and his team learned from recruiting engineers and had sixteen offers that were rejected! Go read it, it’s a great insightful post, from a leader will to share a bit of his pain and learning for the benefit of all of us!

First, we all know that recruiting technology candidates have been, and will continue to be, very difficult, especially in Silicon Valley. Eric knows this as well, but you still like to dig into your own data and find out more. I find most leaders don’t truly like to know why someone rejected their offer. In fact, most leaders make up excuses about the candidates who reject them, instead of learning more about themselves. So, Eric is already a pretty damn good leader by just wanting to know more about this issue!

Why do people reject your offers?

Before we even get into some of the common reasons, the reason most candidates reject an offer is that “we” (recruiting, hiring managers, leaders) did a crappy job at closing the potential candidate. What should happen is we all have pre-closed enough that when an offer is made, we already know the answer, and that answer is “yes”! You should rarely be surprised by this answer, and if you are, something failed in closing this candidate.

Money! (Duh, you really wrote that?!) Yeah, turns out people almost always want more money to come work for you, when they have a job and have some experience. They want a lot more money when they have those things and others who also want them.

No High-Level Title. Why? Ego, yeah. But, honestly, this is also another money thing! If you can actually get a higher title, this helps in your career progression. If I’m looking to hire a “VP” I want someone who has that experience or career progression. Most orgs won’t hire a “Manager” to become a “VP”, so titles matter to a lot of people. Even though they shouldn’t.

Your Brand/Position/Leader is what they want. This is the hardest one because many times there’s nothing you can do. Some candidates are looking for something specific and they don’t know if that will be you until they go through the process to find out. Sometimes that takes them to the end where they discover this isn’t for them.

What did the CEO of Kapwing learn from his rejected offers?

1. Expiring offers actually work! I absolutely love this concept! It’s a psychological concept to be sure! Once someone decides to accept your offer, even if other offers come in, they will usually stay with that offer. Kapwing had both sign-on bonuses and offer expiration dates! Take a look at this pic –

Expiring Offer Model from Kapwing

2. Access to your founders, C-suite, and Board can make a difference! But, really it’s more than just access, it’s also about those folks showing interest and making the person feel desired. If I’m interviewing for a non-leadership role and the CEO and a Board member reach out to me to say great things, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and like those folks give a sh*t! I want to work for a company like that!

3. Communication from interviewers and potential new teammates is a big win! Candidates constantly get ghosted. They hate this and they hate “you” for it! If you want to land more candidates FORCE those who interviewed to email, call, send flowers, etc., and give those candidates constructive, yet positive, feedback. Also, have potential teammates of this person send notes, like “hey, Timmy, said he interviewed you last week and mentioned you have some knowledge around “X” we could so use you right now on this project…can’t wait to work with you!” A future employee wants to feel like they will find great friends at your company!

Shoutout to Eric Lu and the Kapwing team for sharing their pain, knowledge, and learning. It was a brave post, honestly, and I loved it!

Choose Your Hard…

I was at SHRM Annual last week and a very common story from everyone I spoke to, know matter their title, was the fact that recruiting talent is extremely difficult right now. Most organizations are in desperation mode, and I’m not saying that to be dramatic.

There’s a concept that motivational folks have been using for a while now. The concept is “Choose your hard.” Meaning, a lot of stuff in life is hard. It’s hard to be overweight and not feel good about yourself, it’s also hard to work out and eat healthily. Choose your hard.

It’s hard to get up and go to work each day and put in long hours to make ends meet. It’s also hard to be unemployed and figure out ways to survive. Choose your hard.

It’s hard to recruit talent.

There are so many things organizations can do to recruit talent better. You can hire great recruiters and give them the right tools. You can actually fund your recruitment marketing and advertising appropriately. You can measure and performance manage your recruiters and sources. You can work with your hiring teams to help out as employee advocates to produce more referrals. You can shop out your entire recruiting to RPO or Agency. You can hire great employees who love your brand and train them to be recruiters. You can go out and lead the market in pay and total compensation packages.

All of this stuff is hard to do.

It’s hard because most of this stuff comes with accountability. If I can talk my CEO and CFO into funding us correctly, this will come with some expectations of performance. I will put a bullseye on myself and my team.

It’s hard to get fired from a job because you didn’t perform. Because you didn’t do the work that was needed to be successful. That you didn’t put in the work to build the plan, to acquire the needed resources, to lead your organization to success.

Don’t get me wrong, working harder is not a strategy. Working harder is a short-term fix, that eventually leads to failure and burnout. Hard is doing the work that needs to be done so your sole strategy is not just working harder.

At the end of the day, we all have to choose our hard.

Leaders Secretly Hate Succession Planning!

Do you want to know what you’ll never hear anyone on your leadership team say publicly? Well, let me stop before I get started, because there are probably a ton of things leaders will say behind closed doors, off the record, and then open the door and say the exact opposite. Welcome to the PC version of corporate America.

One of the obvious, which always causes a stir is veteran hiring. I’ve written posts about Veteran Hiring many times, in which I state that companies will always, 100% of the time, publicly say they support veteran hiring, but behind closed doors they don’t really support veteran hiring. At best they want to offer veterans their crappiest jobs, not their best jobs.

If they did truly support veteran hiring, we would not have a veteran hiring crisis in this country! If every organization that claims they want to hire veterans, would just hire veterans, we would have 100% employed veterans! But we don’t. Why? Well, it’s organizational suicide to ever come out and say we don’t really want to hire veterans.  The media would kill that organization. Yet, veterans can’t get hired.

Succession planning is on a similar path. Your leaders say they support succession planning. They’ll claim it is a number one priority for your organization. But, every time you try and do something with succession planning, it goes nowhere!

Why?

Your leaders hate succession planning for a number of reasons, here are a few:

1. Financially, succession planning is a huge burden on organizations, if done right. Leaders are paid for the financial success of your organization. If it comes down to Succession Planning, or Michael getting a big bonus, Succession Planning will get pushed to next year, then, next year, then, next year…You see Succession Planning is really overhiring. Preparing for the future. It’s a long-term payback. Very few organizations have leadership in place with this type of long-term vision of success.

2.  Leaders get too caught up in headcount. We only have 100 FTEs for that group, we couldn’t possibly hire 105 and develop and prepare the team for the future, even though we know we have a 6% turnover each year. Organizations react. Firefight. Most are unwilling to ‘over hire’ and do succession in a meaningful way.

3. Leaders are like 18-year-old boys. They think they can live forever!  Again, publicly they’ll tell you they’re planning and it’s important. Privately, they look at some smartass 35-year-old VP and think to themselves, there is no way in hell I’ll ever let that kid take over this ship!

So, what can smart HR Pros do?

Begin testing some Succession Planning type tools and data analytics in hot spots in your company. Don’t make it a leadership thing. Make it a functional level initiative, in a carve-out area of your organization. A part of the organization that is highly visible has a direct financial impact on the business, and one you know outwardly has succession issues.

Tinker. Get people involved. Have conversations. Start playing around with some things that could have an impact in terms of development, retention, cross-training, workforce planning, etc.  All those things constitute succession, but instead of organization level, you are focusing on departmental level or a specific location.

Smart HR Pros get started.  They don’t wait for the organization to do it all at once. That will probably never happen. Just start somewhere, and roll it little by little. Too often we don’t get started because we want to do it all. That is the biggest mistake we can make.

Delta Airlines Charging Unvaccinated Employees $200/mnth! Why?

At this point, if you’re in HR, you have seen news of Delta Airlines charging unvaccinated employees an additional $200 per month in health insurance premiums. Needless to say, there has been a strong reaction from the HR community to this announcement.

It’s interesting for sure as you have most HR pros believing everyone should get the vaccine, but also that corporations should not be charging employees if they do not get the vaccine. Some other reactions have been why should an employee be charged a premium, now that we know the vaccine won’t stop you from getting Covid. And an unlimited amount of other opinions as well!

Isn’t this just the smoking premium?

About a decade ago employers started charging employees who smoke higher health care premiums. Walmart charges employees who smoke an additional $2000 per year in increased health insurance premiums. When this was first done by a small employer in Lansing, MI a decade ago, lawsuits were filed, the HR community became unglued, and we had these huge ethical arguments over whether this was right or not to do to an employer.

What right is it of an employer to charge me more if I want to smoke or not! You’re not charging Tim over there eating a Big Mac and drinking a gallon of soda!?

Delta’s Covid decision is causing similar outrage about the vaccine.

Here’s the thing…

From the data we currently have, and the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, we know statistically those with the vaccine are much less likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid. The “average” cost of a Delta employee who gets the virus and is hospitalized is $50,000!

$50,000 is not a small cost! Multiply that by hundreds of employees and it’s becoming a major issue. The issue being, on individual employee’s personal decision to not get the vaccine, is actually costing every single Delta employee, with upcoming increased insurance costs!

“Yeah, Tim, but someone made the personal decision to light up a cigarette. No one is making the personal decision to get the Covid!” Ugh…

You know you can’t send your kid to public school in the U.S. unless they have their approved vaccines. Millions of kids each year, go get their vaccines and go to school. We’ve pretty much eradicated all kinds of terrible diseases. An extremely tiny amount of parents have an issue with this. Ultimately, science has proven to be effective in helping our kids stay alive. Yay! Science!

More employers will go down this path.

Already we are seeing more and more employers mandate vaccines for employment. SHRM, the largest HR association in the world, has mandated vaccines for its employees. This isn’t a political statement. It’s actually not a statement of empathy, either, although most PR teams will try and turn it into one. It’s a financial statement of fact. We can’t afford for you to be stupid and play Russian Roulette with the virus.

All of this does lead us down a slippery path. It started out with something we all now know is harmful to our health, smoking. If you smoke, you will pay more for health insurance. Now it’s Covid. If you don’t protect yourself, by getting a vaccine, we will charge you more for health insurance. What’s next?

If you’re fat…don’t think it’s not coming…

Reactions From My First In-Person Conference Since the Beginning of the Pandemic! #SHRMTalent

Out in Vegas at one of my favorite conferences, SHRM Talent, this week. I love and missed interacting with all the TA pros and leaders, so this week was really energizing!

There are so many takeaways from this week at SHRM Talent. It seemed both odd and familiar all at the same time. I’ve been going to conferences for over a decade and very few put on a better conference than SHRM, it’s always first-class, and the 2021 SHRM Talent was at the new Cesar’s Forum conference center which is super nice.

The Reactions:

  • SHRM has opened up their 2021 conferences to be both in-person and virtual. This combination has been unique. After a year and a half of only doing virutual, as a speaker, you have to get back into practice of the cadence of in-person speaking. In virtual, you have very little audience reaction to what you’re saying, so you just plow through the content. In-person you get reactions, so you have timing that you have to be concerned about. Funny line, hold for laughter, wait I actually heard some laughter!
  • At the same time, you still have a virtual audience that you have to engage. What I found, across many sessions, that quesitons from the virtual audience were usually 3-4 times more than the in-person audience. I think in the future, SHRM and others, will figure out a way for people to ask questions all through one format, so those in-person attendees can have the same comfort level of asking their questions as well.
  • Those attendees who chose to be in-person seemed to be very engaged! It’s like these were the folks hungry for real-life interactions and they are making the most of being out in the wild for the first time in long time. Everyone has been very friendly, talkative, welcoming. I think we are all just happy for a bit of back to normal.
  • SHRM has caught some criticism for going back to in-person, but I applaud them for making the hard decision to figuring this out. It’s not going to be perfect, but at some point we must rip off the band-aid and get back to some normalacy, while trying to be safe. Masks were required and you were reminded immediately if you forgot. I was asked upon checking in if I was vaccinated and had to sign off on that. It wasn’t required, but highly encouraged, and definitely tracking attendees.
  • The difficult piece of all of this Covid/Vaccine stuff. You go to breakfast and sit down at a round talbe with four or five peers and all of sudden no one has masks on and everyone is talkign and interacting. You go from your hotel room through a Vegas casino cesspool and into the conference and back and forth. Is anyone really believing that any one is safe? It’s all kind of a game of make believe. This isn’t a SHRM issue, this is an issue every single in-person conference has to navigate. The HR Tech Conference has mandated vaccines, but the same reality will be experienced there as well. The reall world is all around us, just because we protect ourselves some part of it, doesn’t mean the rest isn’t all around us.
  • The content and the practitioners desire to learn and grow is still so inspiring to witness live. To see people really getting nuggets they can take back to the office and make them better, and see a speaker talking passionately to an audience can not be replicated virtually. I think we’ve found that when you can’t do virtual and good second place is virtual, but in-person just hits differently.
  • I don’t think SHRM will ever be able to put the toothpaste back into the tub when it comes to having virutal attendees. I also think this is awesome for those pros who can’t afford the travel, or can’t travel for so many reasons. But it does mean that in-person SHRM audiences will probably be smaller moving forward. SHRM National is rumored to be around 11,000 attendees this year, down from over 17,000 (in-person) for 2019. Also, around 25-40% of those 11,000 will attend virtually. Virutal attendees are very profitable for SHRM, so it’s not all bad to the bottom-line for SHRM. I do think in the future SHRM, and others, will have to figure out some unique things to do for virtual attendees verse the in-person. Transform Recruitment Marketing did an unboxing for their virtual audience, and I can definitely see SHRM working with vendors to put something like this together to help make those virtual attendees feel more connected to the conference experience.
  • Finally, I got some “real” hugs this week from friends I haven’t seen in a long time and it felt amazing! And, yes, we were all masked and vaccinated!

Shout out to the SHRM staff for putting on a great event under a lot of uncertainty. As always they handled it with class and professionalism, and I’m sure it was a great trial run for them to get ready for the upcoming annual conference!

SHRM Annual Conference is happening on September 9-12th and I’ll be back in Vegas to present to a live audience again, and I’m so excited to see how this goes as well since the numbers will be much larger, and then soon after back again to The HR Technology Conference in Vegas on Sept 28 – Oct 1. Come join me!

Don’t Mistake Credentials for Intelligence!

I was the first person in my family to graduate from college. I was the first person in my family to obtain a master’s degree. I continue to have the grammatical skills of a middle schooler!

My parents are “real” people and have “real” conversations. My family has reached high levels of what most people would call successful. My Mom and Dad didn’t go to college, but both I would consider being very intelligent. They “get it” at a very high level, but one of their biggest strengths was never assuming someone was smart or dumb based on a credential.

This fact allowed them, in their careers, to speak to anyone on an equal footing. The guy swinging a hammer, or the woman running the billion-dollar company, both started on the same level in my parent’s eyes. Both the hammer guy and female CEO have great knowledge, although most likely different knowledge, to share and learn from. Depending upon the specific time, each brought high value to the interaction that was being had.

I get told all the time, “oh, you are just like your mother”, and I see why people make that comparison. I also believe I’m very much like my father, in that both of my parents feel very comfortable fitting into almost any situation. Because they don’t measure a person’s value based on their credentials or the size of the bank account, but on the value, that person brings overall to the interaction that they are having in that exact moment.

At the same time, I’m very pro-credential!

I married a woman who has her master’s degree. My oldest son, at 24, already has his master’s degree, my middle son has his bachelor’s and I’m sure eventually something beyond that, and my youngest son will attend university very soon. So, if credentials don’t equate to intelligence, why did I push my own children to obtain said credentials?

Just because a credential doesn’t equate to intelligence, doesn’t mean that most people don’t make this mistake as a first impression! Also, we are still in a society that overvalues a credential for the most part when it comes to getting jobs and promotions. So, you set your kids up the best you can with the hope this will assist them in being successful.

The real challenge is to get them to understand that just because you are educated, doesn’t mean you’re smart! To have that super valuable skill my parents have! That I hope I have some of! To truly value those around you without the credential that many times have so much more to offer you than you have to offer them.

I believe the best leaders in the world have this skill. The ability to look at each individual and know they probably possess all kinds of strengths that I don’t have, regardless of pay grade or formal education, and to treat them accordingly. It seems like an easy concept, but every day I see examples of highly credentialed people looking down on those less credentialed than themselves.

It goes both ways, we all judge…

I also understand that this type of judgment goes both ways. I have many friends and family who are blue-collar and tend to think less of those who are credentialed for the simple fact they view these people as less hardworking. Sure, they might not get dirty and sweat on a daily basis, but it doesn’t mean they don’t work their butts off.

Covey has the classic line, “Seek first to understand”. You swing a hammer, I try to sell the project that allows you to swing a hammer. Without each of us, business does not happen. One is not more important than the other, and both are keenly needed for success. If more of us understand this very simple concept, the world would be a much more civil place to live in.

The Dance We Call Work.

I read a statistic the other day that said on average a person works about 6 hours per day, Monday through Friday. The number of hours worked per day has actually decreased during the pandemic. It’s interesting because when you ask people how many hours per day they work almost all would say at least 8, or more.

But, do we really “work” eight hours per day?

Prior to the Pandemic when most people went into an office, you definitely “worked” at least eight hours most days. Or at least you were present in your office environment for eight hours. How much work you actually did during that time varies widely!

The Pandemic hits and people work remotely and we begin to hear a different narrative around work. The conversation switches from “hours” to what actually got done. Let me be clear, this should have always been the conversation, but culturally we still have so much “asses in seats” management going on it was tough to break through.

When people started “working” remotely they began to have the flexibility to integrate all of their life at one time. No longer did you have to shut down one part of your life to go to work. You could now seamlessly start a load of laundry on the way to fill up your cup of coffee and still make it back in time for the beginning of your sales Zoom meeting. It all just kind of made sense, for those who could do it.

All of this now makes “The Dance” we do in the office seem a bit silly!

I’ve always been a giant fan of set solid productivity goals and if someone hits those goals, I could care less if it takes them 10 hours a week or 60 hours a week. You make life decisions on how you work at the office, at home, etc. If you are super productive and kick out your job in 32 hours a week, but still get paid a full salary, you’re winning the game! If it takes you 50 or 60 hours a week to complete your job, you need some development to help you, or to find a new job/career!

You show up at the office at 8 am, dink around a bit, catch up with co-worker-friends on what happened in the 12-16 hours since you saw them last, do some stuff until lunch, do some more stuff, wait until 5 pm, then run off to do life stuff. Rinse, lather, repeat. The Dance is never-ending.

But something cool happened during the Pandemic and now everyone wants to dance a different dance! It’s not that everyone wants remote. If you say that out loud, just know I’m judging your intelligence! Everyone doesn’t want to work full remote. A lot of people love working with others and seeing them face-to-face, many on a daily basis! You might not like your co-workers, company, job, etc., but actually, most people do.

The New Work Dance is really about finding ways to add in some flexibility.

A little bit goes a long way! “Yeah, but Tim, our jobs don’t allow flexibility! We open the doors at 7 am and customers start coming and we need our workers there!” Yep, I get that. You can’t have someone make coffee at home for customers who come to your location to buy coffee! But that doesn’t mean you can treat your employees like adults and allow for some flexibility.

Let me share an example. I have a friend who manages a retail chain. She’s a really good manager. A single mom who works her tail off to make ends meet. Her child is starting to play sports and on Saturday mornings for an hour, she wanted to go watch him. She was told she couldn’t have every Saturday off, so she would have to miss some games. She said I don’t want to take off every Saturday. I’ll come in, open up, run over to the game, run back, and the other workers said they’ll cover for me. Adults working out a solution.

What happened? You know! Nope, you can’t do that, because if we allow you, then everyone will want to start doing stuff like that!

Yes!!! They will, and if it works out, fine, that’s okay! Adults being adults, making adult decisions and solutions. Let them Dance! Find ways to give them a bit of flexibility in a mostly inflexible world. They’ll be happier, perform better, feel good about working for you, etc.

Will it always work out? No. Real-world, some folks will take advantage of the situation and those are the people you don’t want working for you. But, we have to change the dance. We have to find more dances that work for more people. We will not find one for everyone, but we can find more.

My hope is the Pandemic taught us one thing. This dance we call work is a fraud. 8 hours, 40 hours, whatever it is, it’s not about time, it’s about results, it’s about getting a job done well. I want to hire people who think about how to get the job done well in less time verse hiring people who want to show up and dance for forty hours a week.

Why do managers hold on to bad hires for so long?

I’ve been very public about my philosophy on hiring. I do not hire to fire. In no way do I hire someone thinking “I can’t wait until the day I fire them!”, I don’t think any of us really think that!

I hire someone believing that with the right training, development, and support, they will be wildly successful! I own at least half of that equation, the person I hire owns the other half. Many times it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The problem with my philosophy is “Sunk Cost”.

Sunk cost is an accounting philosophy that means a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. So, you’ve already sourced, recruited, and trained an employee. You’ve gone beyond training working to develop them. All those costs are now spent.

BUT – because you’ve ‘invested’ those costs into an employee, you are less likely to let them go believing you are more likely to get a return on those costs. In reality, there is absolutely zero evidence that shows you’ll get any return for future investment into that employee, but we really struggle to give up on them based on what we’ve already spent.

This is super common in the management of people resources!

Well, I’ve already dropped $50K into Tim, I guess another $10K isn’t that bad. When in reality that $10K is actually way better spent on another employee, and you fire Timmy!

I’ve known about Sunk Cost for a long time, but now there is actually scientific evidence to back up the fact we should be firing failing employees sooner:

“Sunk costs are irrecoverable investments that should not influence decisions, because decisions should be made on the basis of expected future consequences. Both human and nonhuman animals can show sensitivity to sunk costs, but reports from across species are inconsistent. In a temporal context, a sensitivity to sunk costs arises when an individual resists ending an activity, even if it seems unproductive, because of the time already invested. In two parallel foraging tasks that we designed, we found that mice, rats, and humans show similar sensitivities to sunk costs in their decision-making. Unexpectedly, sensitivity to time invested accrued only after an initial decision had been made. These findings suggest that sensitivity to temporal sunk costs lies in a vulnerability distinct from deliberation processes and that this distinction is present across species.”

This scientific study showed both humans and rats basically do the exact same thing. If we feel we have already invested a ton of resources in a task, we are more likely to continue pursuing this task even when all the evidence to that point has only shown failure!

This is Poor Performing Employee Management 101!

-You hire an employee.

-The employee gets trained and should have the skills to perform the job.

-The employee doesn’t perform the job, so you give more resources to help get them up to speed.

-The employee still doesn’t perform.

-The manager decides not to terminate the employee, but to continue to give more resources and chances.

Why do we do this?

You hired 3 employees before the failing employee and all three completed training and did the job successfully. We know the process works. So why do we not fire the employee?

Sensitivity to Sunk Cost. We are as dumb as rats when it comes to investing our own resources into failing employees. We act the exact same way!

It has nothing to do with the employee and our desire to give everyone a fair shot (I don’t hire to fire). It has everything to do with our own internal drive of not wanting to lose, what we feel we’ve already invested, even when all the data tells us future investment is akin to burning a pile of cash.

So, don’t hire to fire, but also don’t be as dumb as a rat and not fire someone who shows you they can’t and won’t do the job you hired them to do!