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

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

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

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

But they don’t. Why?

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

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

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

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

What would I do if I was at Walmart?

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Don’t Have a Recruiting Problem!

I met with a CEO of a tech startup company last week. He had a very familiar story. “Forever (or at least what’s seemed like forever for him) we have never had a problem recruiting talent to our company, but now we can’t hire anyone”, he said to me. Seems like I have this exact same conversation with an executive at least weekly these days.

So, I put on my consultant hat to try and figure out what the real problem is. It’s rarely a recruiting problem and it’s always a recruiting problem. Let me explain.

When you have a recognizable positive brand, a fun place to work, lead the market in pay, and work in a cool industry, everyone wants to come work for you. Your top of the funnel is filled with candidates. You believe you must be super awesome at recruiting. You actually might be super awesome at recruiting, but you also could suck super bad as well.

You see in the history of the world it’s actually never been easier to find talent. Yes, you read that correctly. In the history of the world! Today, it is also one of the most difficult times in the history of the world to get that talent you found to accept your job. Both of these things are true simultaneously.

You can find them, you just can’t close them.

This has almost nothing to do with the pandemic. People in recruiting love to blame the pandemic, but this is simple economics at play. You have twice as many jobs open, in the US, as unemployed people, and most of those unemployed people do not have the skills needed for the open jobs. So, if you have 6 million unemployed people and 12 million jobs, you really still have almost 12 million jobs to fill.

In 2018 and 2019, before most of us even knew what a pandemic was or became vaccine experts, economists were ringing alarm bells over the lack of workers currently and in the future. But we ignored them because that’s what we do in organizations. We fight today’s fire, not tomorrow’s fire. And, honestly, even if we did decide to do something about it in 2019, what would we have done? Lobby for better immigration policy? Pay our employees to start having sex and create more babies? Truly, what would you have done?

The long-term vision strategy problem.

My startup CEO friend does have a recruiting problem. Because they made most of their hires through referrals, they never built the recruiting machine. No tech. No team. No strategy. No budget. Dead in the water, because we love to believe what’s working today will always work forever. Until it doesn’t.

His problem now is he’s playing catchup. Hire the recruiting talent. Build the recruiting stack. Create an employer brand. Do the recruitment marketing. Etc. The plan is actually pretty straightforward. But painful when you’ve only posted and prayed for your entire existence. All he wants to know is why can’t we just keep posting and praying, or when will post and praying start working again.

Posting and praying isn’t working right now, but it will work the next time that unemployment shoots up to 7%+, and that might happen again. We can always hope for a major recession to make hiring easy again. Most likely we won’t see high unemployment for a long time because of our current state of demographics, but a major recession, war, and pandemics are always our best hope!

Let’s just say we actually might have known this hiring problem was coming. Let’s just say. I mean because of millions of baby boomers leaving the workforce, a birthrate that is under replacement rate for years, closing our borders to skilled and unskilled workers, etc. Let’s just say we might have known this was coming, what could we have done?

We could have started growing our own talent by lessening formal education for jobs that didn’t education but we’re lazy as recruiters so we add in education to limit our candidate pool. We could have looked at candidate pools that have historically been deemed less desirable by executives: older workers, workers with records, workers with disabilities, etc. We could have automated more quickly and deeper into our processes. We could have added in more benefits and work environment options that retained and attracted more workers.

So, yes, you have a recruiting problem, but it’s not because you don’t know how to recruit, it is most likely because you don’t know how to plan and strategize. It is because we didn’t view recruiting like we do other business problems we have. We viewed it as an administrative function that you can just muscle through. You have a recruiting problem, but it’s not really a recruiting problem, it’s a business problem.

My Favorite Random Leadership Rules!

Leadershipping is hard. You try as you might to do and say the right thing, to the right person, at the right time, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it fails miserably. That’s life. Mostly we try to be the best version of ourselves, and not f*ck up to bad!

We love rules. Rules are safe. If you follow them, mostly things work out. If you break them, mostly things don’t work out as well, but every so often, you’ll be just fine. I think the trick to breaking a rule and having things work out is if you still follow your moral compass when determining which rules you’ll break and which ones you won’t.

As a leader, we are both rule-maker and rule-follower.

Rules of leadership that I try to follow:

– Never expect an employee to care as much about the department/function/company and the job as you do, but if they do, show that respect.

– Starting a new project is awesome and the feeling is great, but surround yourself with finishers because that’s what really matters.

– No one wants to hear what’s wrong, they want to hear what’s your plan to fix it. Any idiot can tell you what’s wrong.

– Always be prepared for your largest customer to kick you to the curb. It likely won’t happen, but when it does you won’t panic and your team needs that more than anything at that moment.

– You’ll never fully get the full truth from someone who relies on you to get their check. It will be washed and wrapped, and that feedback will be as kind as possible. Unless they already have one foot out the door.

– Keep your expenses low. I don’t need a fourth kind of Kabucha in the office, but I do need that extra salesperson.

– You never have to talk every person in the room into your idea, just the person with the most influence. Before you open your mouth, understand who that person is.

– If “average” is the ceiling of someone working for you, you can live without them on your team.

– Don’t be concerned with overpaying for expert advice that you trust and count on.

– Ship it. You will never really perfect an idea or a project. Put it out in the wild and see what happens, then adjust. Too often we hold stuff until it’s too late because we don’t think it’s ready.

– It’s not your job to make someone who works for you happy. It is your job to help them make a happiness decision. Either they are mostly happy working in the job they have, or they need to go find out where they can be happy.

– Your job isn’t to be the best at whatever function to lead, it’s to put the best team together that will be the best at that function. Great leaders do two things exceptionally well. They recruit great talent onto their teams, and they knock down roadblocks to great performance.

Okay, share your favorite leadership rule in the comments below!

Should Corporate Recruiters Get Paid Salary & Commission?

First, shoutout to @Hervbird21 (Recruister) on Twitter for starting this conversation (Editor’s Note: Hervbird21 I don’t know who you are but send me a note and I’ll share your LinkedIn if you’d like) Also, take a look at the Twitter thread as there are some exceptional recruiting thought leaders who had thoughts on this subject.

Link to the thread

I’ve written about this a number of times over the years, but with the recruiting market being so hot right now, I’ve actually had a number of Recruiter compensation calls with corporate TA leaders trying to figure out three main things: 1. How do we retain our recruiters; 2. How do I attract more recruiters; 3. How do we reward great recruiting performance?

First, I’m all in on the fact that recruiters should be paid in a pay-for-performance model. That doesn’t mean that corporate recruiters, agency recruiters, and RPO should all be paid the same way. All three of those roles are different and should be compensated based on what the organization needs from each recruiter.

Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of Performance Pay for Corporate Recruiters

Pros:

  • You get more of what you measure and more of what you reward.
  • Your best recruiters will be compensated more, and higher compensation is tied to longer tenure.
  • Low performers and internal recruiters who actually hate recruiting will hate it and self-select out.
  • It will most likely raise individual recruiting team member performance in the aggregate.

Cons:

  • You will most likely have turnover with this type of change
  • Potentially, you could get behaviors that aren’t team-oriented. (IE., senior recruiters not helping junior recruiters)
  • Potentially, you could lower your quality of candidates as recruiters move quickly to gain performance comp. (the quantity over quality argument)
  • It actually might increase your compensation budget, initially, until you can find the model that is most effective.

Okay, wait, why did I say “potentially” on the Cons? Primarily, because it truly depends on the model design. Just making a decision to pay more for hires is ridiculous and leads to bad outcomes. But, developing a model that rewards individual performance that is based on recruiting behaviors that lead to better hires, quickly, and in a team setting, well, now you diminish the negative outcomes of pay for performance.

How could we make pay for performance work for corporate recruiters?

I’m not trying to dump on all the folks who commented on “Quarterly Bonuses” but stop that! “Quarterly Bonus” really means, “I don’t want to be individually measured and held accountable, but I also want more money on top of my great base salary”. Quarterly bonuses in most corp TA shops are a joke. They are usually based on Hiring Manager satisfaction and days to fill, two of the most subject measures that have zero correlation to better recruiting.

Also, internal recruiting pay for performance is not just a modified agency or RPO model. Corporate recruiters do much more than just recruit in most TA departments, so if you reward them to just recruit, understand, you’re just standing up an in-house agency model. Your internal recruiting model for corporate has to be unique to the job.

Some thoughts and ideas:

– Spend a bunch of time deciding what you actually want from your recruiters and from your function as a whole. Those two things must be aligned.

– Before going to a pay for performance model you need to get your arms around your recruiting funnel data. Otherwise, you’re just guessing at what and who to reward.

– In most cases, you can’t make the rewards the same because recruiters have different requisition loads and levels of position. Also, in most cases, certain areas of your organization hire at different times. So, get ready to test and be flexible to do the right thing at the right time.

– It’s okay if a recruiter makes more than you think if the model is producing what you want it to produce. Too often I hear from TA leaders that are like, “Jill is making too much!” But, Jill it killing it and the top recruiter.

– If you can’t get your head around paying for hires, pay for the behaviors and activities that lead to more hires.

– Start with a month or quarter test, make sure during the test no one will lose money. The goal is to try and reach some sort of outcome of better performance, to see if it can work. If they are only concerned they might make less money, you won’t truly see what can work or not work.

– It’s not about quality or quantity. It’s about quality and quantity. I’ve never led a recruiting team in a corporate or agency where good recruiters would ever send a crappy candidate on purpose. That just doesn’t happen, normally. If it did, that recruiter didn’t belong on the team.

I don’t believe in recruiting “team” rewards as pay for performance in most cases. Most teams are not designed and measured for “team” performance, so many on the team are getting the reward for a few doing most of the heavy lifting. You can still have team rewards, but you truly have to think about how you reward your most effective recruiters, short and long-term.

I think the ideal ratio for compensation for corporate recruiters should be 75% base salary and 25% pay for performance, where your best top recruiters can make 125% of their normal total comp if they are killing it. As I mentioned above, you will have recruiters quit because you have “recruiters” on your team that didn’t take the job to recruit, but to administer a recruiting process and collect a nice base salary.

Okay, tell me what I missed in the comments or if you have a model that is working you would like to share with everyone!

HireVue launches the HR Industry’s First AI Explainability Statement!

AI Explainability What?!

First, this is a big deal and I’ll explain what it all means and why you as an HR pro or Recruiting Pro should care.

AI is being built into almost every part of the HR and TA tech stack. Algorithms and Machine learning are having a massive impact on how we find, offer, develop, and promote talent in our workforces, so having an understanding of how this is happening is very important to the risk side of HR.

What is an AI Explainability Statement?

Basically, it’s the behind-the-scenes stuff you don’t think you want to know. It’s how the sausage is made, and it matters a great deal. You want to know that the tech you are using is reducing bias and not putting your company at risk of a lawsuit. You also want to know how and why your tech is doing what it’s doing.

HireVue didn’t have to do this. No one else has to this point. But, it’s important they lead with this as they probably have caught more flack than anyone else in our industry over how their technology was selecting one candidate over another based on some early testing they did with facial analysis technology, that they no longer use and haven’t in years.

What is HireVue’s AI Explainability Statement?

Okay, first, let me give you the overview because the actual statement is more like a white paper that is 29 pages long! Here’s the overview:

HireVue considers the ethical development of AI, candidate transparency and, privacy to be core values of the business. HireVue’s AI Explainability statement is the latest proactive step to ensure that its technology is at the forefront of emerging best practices in the use of HR hiring technologies. The Explainability Statement, together with previously commissioned independent audits, provides customers with meaningful information about the logic involved in HireVue’s technology. Together they are the latest tools to help companies understand the processing of personal data.

You can click here to read the full statement (and Yes, it’s worth a read if you’re using AI-based tools in your HR & TA Tech Stack!)

Why does this matter?

I’ll let the chief data scientist at HireVue explain:

Lindsey Zuloaga, Chief Data Scientist at HireVue: “Being at the forefront of defining the transparent and ethical use of AI and software is at the heart of what we do. Our mission is to create a level playing field for anyone seeking employment, reducing bias and providing organizations with a more diverse pool of talent. Deploying AI correctly and ethically, powers a significantly more consistent, less biased, more engaging screening process for recruiters and candidates alike. We believe there needs to be more transparency around its use in HR, this is why we’ve published our own AI Explainability statement, to best support our customers and educate the industry.”

Here’s what we know after using AI-based hiring tools for a few years now:

  1. AI does what it’s trained to do. So, if you train it inappropriately, it will act inappropriately.
  2. AI has the ability to significantly reduce bias and increase fairness in hiring as compared to manual processes where we just leave hiring to humans and our guts.
  3. We can constantly monitor and correct AI. We are less likely to constantly monitor and correct our human hiring managers.

Big Kudos to HireVue for being the first out of the gate to do something like this. They’ve taken a lot of criticism for some things they’ve built and tried in an attempt to make hiring better that didn’t go as they planned, but they’ve corrected and taken a lead within the industry from this learning. This is exactly what you want from a vendor you rely on to help you make consistently better hiring decisions.

As a Leader, do you want to be loved or feared?

The most famous quote from Machiavelli’s book “The Prince” is:

“Better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”

Uh, oh, Tim is quoting Machiavelli, this blog has jumped the shark!

I heard this quote recently in a virtual HR event. HR speakers seem to come in two types:

1. Love is greater than fear. This is popular and most fall into this camp. It’s a feel-good play. The first rule of HR speaking, it’s always better to make the audience feel good, than to give them something they actually need.

2. Machiavelli’s assessment, It’s better to be feared. Less popular take, but I do hear it in the form of stuff like, “I’m not here to be your friend, I’m here to get results!”

I also have smart friends who pull Machiavelli’s name out anytime they want me to feel like I’m on the wrong side of something, “How ‘Machiavellian’ of you, Tim!” Okay, I get it, you’re smarter than me, how ‘Machiavellian’ for you!

The normal breakdown of leadership goes like this. You would rather be a beloved leader than a feared leader. Those leaders who are loved will be more successful than those who are feared. You have to be one or the other. Or do you?

I think all leaders deep down in places we don’t talk about at parties (A Few Good Men reference!) want to be loved, or at the very least, well-liked. It’s human nature. No one really wants to be hated. It’s stressful, people don’t want to be around you, it makes for uncomfortable hugs, etc.

On the love side, love can make you do some crazy things, but so can fear. I would drive all night to help my wife or kids with something if I thought they really needed me, even if they or I could probably find another alternative. I would also probably work all night if I thought I might lose my job and I need to pay my mortgage. Love and fear are powerful in getting us to act.

I think fear is bigger when it comes to crunch time scenarios. I might ‘love’ my boss a ton, but when the project is on the line and the company might lose a major project and cost us hundreds of jobs, fear is driving the truck, not love. Love won’t bring those jobs back, fear might just win those jobs back.

As leaders, this our dilemma. I want my team to love me, but I also need a touch of fear on the edge. It’s an imperfect balance.

What I know is love isn’t the only answer, no matter how many memes you make or posters you put it on. I don’t know if Love is bigger, it’s definitely more popular, for obvious reasons, but great leaders have used both. I want you to love me, I need you to fear me a bit, in the end, I’ll probably use both to get the job done.

Talent Hoarding is Real! And it’s getting worse…

Talent hoarding has been around since the beginning of time. If you were good at hunting and gathering, some bigger stronger caveman was going to keep you around and not let some other cavemen lure you away!

In today’s world, talent hoarding begins when a manager doesn’t identify someone who works for them as promotable when they most likely are. The organization uses its leaders to understand who is ready for that next-level position. Certain managers, tend not to openly report they have such a candidate in their group, so they can keep that talent performing for them. This makes their life easier.

But, let’s not just blame these managers of people. There’s another organizational design issue that causes talent hoarding. Manager performance, and often parts of their compensation, are based on “team performance”. That being the case, it’s to a manager’s advantage, and the team’s advantage to keep talent. Almost no organizations incentive managers to promote people off their team into other parts of the organization.

There was a study just released in 2022, appropriately titled, “Talent Hoarding in Organizations” that showed that:

“Temporary reductions of talent hoarding increase worker’s applications for promotions by 123%. Marginal applicants, who would not have applied in the presence of talent hoarding, are three times as likely as average applicants to land a promotion.”

What the study determined, was that if you did not have any barrier to letting someone apply for promotion, your way more likely to be promoted! Things like you must first have your manager sign-off on your readiness, or things like having managers put names forward, etc.

Organizationally, we know also that talent hoarding often pushes talent to leave. Basically, if you aren’t going to promote me, I’ll use the free market to get a promotion somewhere else. In a talent market, as we have right now, that is happening at a massive scale. We see organizations implementing new internal mobility strategies to help counteract this, but it’s barely making a dent still, primarily because most of these strategies still rely on some sort of manager performance metric to allow someone to move internally.

Can we eliminate or reduce talent hoarding?

Short answer, yes. The longer answer, it’s hard!

First, we are talking about centuries of institutional dynamics at play. Generation after generation of leaders were raised under this framework. Thus, we have major change management issues to conquer.

Second, we would need to eliminate the negative side, or at least counteract the negative side of team promotion, with a positive side for the manager and team. This is the “coaching tree” analogy. Great coaches hire assistants and teach them how to be great coaches and those coaches go on to peer level roles. When you talk about the greatest sports coaches of all time, one major factor is their coaching tree. How many other coaches did they create? And, how good were those coaches?

If we can find a way to reward, and not punish, managers for promoting talent within the organization, which is greater than the reward for keeping great talent, we will have a much better chance at stopping talent hoarding. That is difficult. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an organization that has figured out the value of the theoretical “coaching tree” for a manager. Meaning, if I promote someone off my team, what is that worth to me, as the manager?

It’s a hard question to answer because it’s very specific to position and organization. If I’m at Apple and I “grow” a new Engineering Manager, from a Software Engineer, that I’ve mentored, there is considerable value in that happening! If I’m managing a fast food restaurant and mentor an hourly worker into a salaried manager, that is less valuable, by dollar amount, but still very valuable to the organization.

The reality is, you have no shot if you don’t try and answer that value equation!

You can have some success, by just eliminating all barriers to promotion and allowing anyone to apply. You will still have some that won’t, as managers will still have formal and informal influence over those that work for them. So, it’s not perfect. But, you’ll get more, than by asking your managers alone.

Also, just eliminating barriers could create a gender issue as we know through many studies men or more willing to apply to jobs they aren’t qualified for than women, so barrier elimination will most likely get you more male applicants, who you will promote, leaving more women behind. We actually need our leaders to help us identify and promote our great female next-level hires.

When talent is scarce, like it is now, talent hoarding will be worse. Talent hoarding is bad for your culture and it’s bad for your talent. And it’s happening right now in your organization.

The 1 Factor You Must Have to be a F500 CEO!

It’s not what you think.

Right now you’re sitting there reading this thinking, “I need to know what this is so I can see if I have it or can get it because it’s in my life plan to be an F500 CEO!” You probably are thinking it must something like grit, determination, maybe smarts, attractive looks, or maybe it’s Tim talking about this it’s probably height because he’s a short motherf@cker!

Something truly, statistically interesting has happened over the last 14 years to CEOs of the Fortune 500. It really defies logic.

In 2005 the average age of an F500 CEO was 46 years old. Feels about right. 46 feels like young enough but also old enough all at the same time. The perfect combination of youth and wisdom.

In 2019, do you know what the average age of an F500 CEO was? You would think in 14 years that line would probably stay about the same. Maybe because of all the Baby Boomers leaving the workforce we would see it fall, but probably not too much. If a few Boomers were hanging on, we might see it rise a little, but again, it’s hard to move the average all that much.

In 2019 the average age of an F500 CEO was 59! Basically, over 14 years, the average age went up one year every year! It’s hard to even imagine that could be the case!

So, what is the one factor you need to be an F500 CEO? 

You need to be a Baby Boomer!

That’s right. Stop going to that Ivy league college and working on your MBA. Don’t worry if you’re ugly or short or fat or female or black or white or a dude. The only thing you really need to be is OLD!

Turns out, big giant companies like Old folks running their company!

Why?

If you are running a multi-billion dollar company, maybe even closing in on a trillion (Trillion is the new Billion!) you don’t want some kid at the wheel. You want someone with seasoning who will tend to be less reactive to major events. They’ll be a bit slower in how they move the company, a bit more conservative in how they manage the assets and resources.

Also, think about what’s happened over the past 15 years. We came out of the great recession. We had this young 45-ish CEO taking the lead in turning us around and putting us back on top. It actually worked! We’ve had this great decade of prosperity! Do you know what companies do when things are going really well? They don’t change anything! Including their CEO!

In fact, many times if the CEO wants to retire, and they trade that CEO in for a younger one, and 12 months in the company is slightly underperforming to expectations, they’ll fire that CEO quickly and bring back the old one to right the ship!

So, 37-year-old Millennial who is chomping at the bit to take over. Calm down and wait until you’re old! You really only have about twenty more years to wait until it’s ‘your time. That isn’t that long, just 25% or so of your life. You’ll get there, be patient!

Also, Short Kings, don’t hang your head, while you probably will never be a CEO because of your stature, you have so many other redeemable qualities, like,..well I’m sure you’ll of something… keep the faith, my tiny brothers! Turns out, besides being old, you also need to be tall!

Just do your damn job, Timmy!

It seems like frustration is at an all-time high. On a daily basis people are coming unglued over things they have no control over, and never will.

We are told to be more empathetic. We are told our employees need us to be “X”. You fill in the “X” because it changes pretty much article to article, generation to generation, leader to leader. One day I’m just supposed to care more. Then the next day I need to listen more. The next day I need to understand more. Today, I need to be more flexible.

Somehow we’ve gone from running businesses to managing a daycare.

I’ve stopped listening to people who don’t do the job I do. To the people who haven’t done the job in the past decade. To the people who claim to be experts but haven’t worked in my field, maybe ever, but certainly not in the past few years with the massive transformation that has taken place in the workforce. 

Instead, I’m going out and talking to my employees. The young ones, the old ones, the ones in between that we’re not supposed to pay attention to anymore because they don’t matter because they’re not young or old, or female, or a minority, or gay. I’m going out and talking to them all equally. Since I need them ‘all’ to move my organization forward. Especially, today with all the issues we have in finding talent.

It doesn’t matter what my employees are telling me. That’s for me, to help them. The thing that will help my employees, most likely won’t help your employees. You work in a different culture, location, industry, climate, etc. No one is a better expert on my employees than I am. 

Just like you will be the expert of your employees, your team, your department, your organization.

 But, here’s what I think you’ll find out:

 – Your employees are all individuals with very specific problems, concerns, and desires.

– Their problems start close to them and then move outward. Sure it sucks Trump is making massive change and they want to help America and the World, but first, they have an issue with daycare and paying student loans, and a health scare. Those problems are bigger than the world problems you keep shoving down their throat. Help them solve the problems close first, then solve the world.

– Your millennial employees became adults, and you keep treating them like they just left college and are still kids.

– Your ‘new’ youngest employees are much different than millennials, and they’re not. They’re still young people with young people’s problems and passions.

– Your employees want to be successful. Across the board, it’s a driving and motivating force. You helping them become successful is the most important thing you can do as a leader. What’s successful? That is also very individualized. Your challenge, as a leader, is to find a way to tie their success to the organization’s success. It’s hard to do, and you have to figure it out for your employees.

We keep letting other people tell us how to do our jobs. Have fun with that. I’m going to do the job I was hired to do, the way I know it needs to be done because no one knows how to do this job, better than me.

Should we reward outcome or effort?

I’m a huge believer in results. When I test, my results orientation is off the charts! So, naturally, I’ve always believed you should reward outcomes/results. The world is filled with folks who put in the effort, but in the end, can’t close the deal, was how I’ve thought about it.

Over the past few years, I’ve softened a bit on this. I still love and want results, but I started to believe that obtaining success isn’t about failure, but small successful efforts that lead to success. I was reminded about this recently when I overheard a story.

The story was being told by a parent who was watching his son’s youth soccer match. A boy on his son’s team scored a goal and all of the kids and parents were cheering, but this father noticed that the boy’s dad who scored was not cheering. “Oh, boy,” he thought, “another crazy sport’s parent, never satisfied with what their kids do…”

After the match, this guy really wanted to talk to the Dad, to tell him what he was doing was wrong, and eventually was going to push this kid to hate sports. So, he waited around looking for the perfect time, when the boy walked up to his dad and the dad asked him, “how did you score that goal?” The boy thought a minute and walked through the play, how he got the ball from the opponent, how he ran really fast to get in front of the opponent, and then went as fast as he could dribbling the ball down to the other end, and kicked the ball past the goalie.

The boy’s dad said, “so, you gave great effort, to get that goal?” Yes, said the boy. The dad congratulated the boy’s efforts. “That was a tremendous effort you gave that led to that goal”, said the dad.

The other father stood there listening, now more than ever wanting to talk to the dad to apologize for thinking he was such a jerk. So, he went up and told him what he was about to do, but glad he stopped himself to overhear his conversation with his son. “Well, he will never be able to guarantee the outcome in sports, but he can always guarantee his efforts”, said the boy’s dad.

In the business world, it’s really about both effort and outcome.

My business is recruiting. We reward “outcome” all the time. Did you actually find and hire the person for this job? Pretty black and white!

But, the reality of recruiting is so often the recruiter has very little to do with the outcome. Yes, they have to find a candidate, but ultimately you have a hiring manager who has some say, you have a candidate who has some say, you have others who have input to the final say. So, only rewarding for an outcome they don’t necessarily control, seems like we are missing a piece.

I often see great effort put in by the recruiters I work with to find and uncover talent, to talk that talent into interviewing and getting them interested in the job, the hiring manager, and the organization. The entire process can be measured and viewed in bursts of effort.

It’s one of the biggest failures most recruiting departments, agencies, RPO’s, etc. do in recruiting. We only reward outcomes and not efforts.

I advise people all the time if you want more employee referrals, stop rewarding the final outcome, and start rewarding all the small efforts that lead to an employee referral getting hired. Reward an employee for just giving you a name and contact information, reward the employee when that referral comes in to interview, reward that employee when that candidate they referred show up on the first day of work, etc. Most of us only reward our employees when the referral has stayed on working for us for 90 days or six months.

The problem is, the employee has so very little to do with that referral getting hired, the outcome. They have plenty they can do to help lead a referral down the path to the outcome, the efforts!

There’s a time and place for outcome rewards. Ultimately in business, we need outcomes to be successful. That is just a fact of life. But, if you believe in your process, your training, your tools, etc. Rewarding efforts can lead to awesome, sustainable results, that can be very rewarding to those grinding it out every day.