Ready for Change? Think Again!

I get asked a lot of advice on talent and HR issues people are facing.

Many of these questions are about fixing things that aren’t working well in their HR or Talent departments. “How do we get more applicants?” “How do we get managers to develop their people?” “How do we deal with our unpredictable CEO?”

In the past, I would jump right in with quick solutions. I’d spend five minutes giving advice without knowing much about their specific situation. It’s fun sure, but it’s not always helpful.

I’ve changed my approach.

I realized that my quick fixes were based on my experiences, not theirs. What worked for me might not work for them.

Now, I start by asking one important question: Do you really want to get better?

Do you really want to change?

Most people quickly say, “Yes!” But then, after thinking for a moment, they might pause and start to explain, showing they aren’t really sure they want to change.

This hesitation is powerful!

We often think that getting better is always the goal, but sometimes, staying the same is just fine. The return on investment might not be worth it.

We tend to focus on fixing problems, believing they need to be solved. But in reality, we can continue doing great HR work without making unnecessary changes. It might seem like the next big issue to tackle, but sometimes, it’s better to leave it alone and focus on something else.

Often, HR and Talent professionals find that those around them aren’t really interested in improving. This realization can save them from a lot of frustration. It’s better to wait until everyone is genuinely ready to get better.

So, before you try to fix everything, ask yourself: Do you, or do those around you, really want to get better? Hopefully, the answer is “Yes!” But if not, remember, the world will keep turning, and so will you.

Skilled Trades Aren’t Winning Gen Z & Millennials

What!? They aren’t? Surprise, they don’t like Facebook either!

So, picture this: I’m cruising to work, listening to NPR (I’m old), and this dude from Gen X pops up, talking about how teens aren’t into skilled trades because, well, they’re not sexy. And I’m like, duh! Even I know that!

Who’d think a job fixing stuff or working with tools is sexy?

It’s not about being sexy; it’s about being stable.

Let’s face it: Trying to pitch skilled trades to teens is like offering snow boots in the Sahara – it’s just not on their radar. They’re not buying it.

But you know who might? Those folks hitting the big 3-5. Why? Because they’re at that point where stability starts sounding like music to their ears. They’ve been humping $40K jobs for 15 years and have almost, but not quite, given up on hope.

Imagine walking into a restaurant and saying, “Hey, want a job that pays well, has killer benefits, and sets you up for a comfy retirement?” It’s like waving a magic wand. And who’s going to be first in line? Not the teens dreaming of six-figure gigs without lifting a finger. Nope, it’s those 35-year-olds who’ve been around the block and know the value of a hard day’s work.

So, sure, skilled trades might not be on the top of Gen Z and Millennials’ wishlists, but who needs ’em when you’ve got another generation out there dreaming of steady work and a fat paycheck!

That’s my mission, and I’m sticking to it!

Most companies have fancy vision and mission statements. But let’s be real, living up to those missions often feels like a stretch. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve always been loyal to my employers and employees. I’d get the company logo tattooed on my ass if they asked.

But most of their mission statements are just plain boring. They all seem to say the same things: Quality, Integrity, Service, Innovation, blah, blah, blah.

Does anyone really think, “What the world needs is a company that makes lousy products, lies to customers, and treats employees like dirt”?

We work with a partner of the U.S. Army that blows me away with their “mission”. Every person there, from the janitor to the accountant, understands what their work means. Even if their job is literally sweeping the floors! They know that every product they make could save the life of a soldier they’ll never meet. These soldiers aren’t just names on a list; they’re someone’s family. Every day, these employees show up to work with one goal: to make sure their products protect those who defend our freedom.

Now, that’s a real mission!

When I was in HR at Applebee’s our “mission” was simple: make sure customers got their food hot and didn’t run out of drinks. It’s important for business, sure, but it’s not exactly changing the world, you know?

Take a look at your office’s mission statement. Does it really mean something to you? Because if it doesn’t, you might start feeling pretty blah about your job.

Having a sense of purpose matters.

It doesn’t have to be about saving lives, like it is for some people. I run a staffing company, and my mission is clear: I help people find jobs. And let me tell you, especially in tough times, that feels really important.

It’s great knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life by helping them find work. And even when times are good, I’m still on a mission—helping people find even better jobs or helping companies find top-notch employees. That’s my mission, and I’m sticking to it!

So, you want to lead?

I’ve been talking with a lot of C-suite leaders lately who are worried because they don’t see next-gen leaders on their teams. It’s not that they lack team members, but they don’t see these individuals as future leaders, or they feel they’re not close to being ready for leadership roles.

The current team members mean well. They want to be leaders and often talk the talk, but just wanting to be a leader isn’t enough. This is a common sentiment among C-suite executives.

Real leadership isn’t about making promises—it’s about taking action and producing results.

Give me someone who can achieve goals, and I believe I can help them become a leader. Too often, we look for leadership qualities like we look for friends. Is this someone I’d want to hang out with? Can I trust them? Are they pleasant? Do they smell nice? Do I get along with them, and do others as well? Would I follow them? If they jumped off a bridge, would I jump off a bridge?

I don’t need my leaders to be my buddies; I need them to accomplish tasks. Can you get things done without upsetting everyone around you? Finding this balance is important. Sometimes, we focus too much on one side of the equation, and it’s not the side of getting things done!

So, you want to lead?

Great! The key is to deliver results. The approach is simple, but many fall short:

Clearly explain what needs to be done. Identify and address obstacles. Set deadlines and agree on how tasks will be completed. Remove roadblocks and excuses. Follow up consistently. Emphasize accountability. Get things done.

In my experience, the most effective leaders don’t make promises; they deliver results. Every day. Every project. Leaders who rely on promises often fade away over time. Turns out most organizations value actions over words—they need tasks to be accomplished.

The 30,000-Day Challenge

Consider this: If we’re lucky, each of us has around 30,000 days to live. (Go ahead, calculate it!) It’s a good guess. However, 30,000 days is an optimistic estimate. Many won’t reach that number, and even if we do, those 30,000+ days might not be our best days.

So, what are you doing with your 30,000 days?

Personally, I’ve already lived through a lot of days (please don’t do the math this time), and within those days, I’ve accomplished some remarkable things—building a loving family, nurturing a fulfilling career, and sharing my life with cherished companions (ahem including writing to all of you).

Here’s what I’ve learned from my perspective:

  1. Reassessing Daily Value: I mean, I value all that I have and my life, but it gets lost on the daily basis of life. I get the big picture, but the small picture overtakes it constantly.
  2. Amplifying Enjoyment: I am not enjoying what I enjoy enough. If our time is limited, shouldn’t we savor life’s enjoyment more deeply?
  3. Prioritizing Loved Ones: Ultimately, our time together is irreplaceable. I prioritize quality moments with those I love over anything.

I believe many of us share these realizations. We’re all racing through life until we suddenly grasp that we don’t want to win this race after all. We’ll slow down and say, “I’ll catch up later!”

This doesn’t mean I’m ready to give up my possessions and wander like Caine from Kung Fu (Google it, Millennials!). Work is important, but so is play. Balance? The 30,000-day clock doesn’t care about balance; it keeps ticking.

In my 30,000 days, I aspire to leave a positive mark on the world. For each of us, that mission varies. Some want to care for the sick, preserve the environment, or aid the homeless. Be famous. Be rich. The list goes on. For me? I aim to raise three young men who will continue this legacy, making the world a better place in their own way. If I devote my 30,000 days to being the best Dad I can be, I’ll consider it a life well-lived.

What will you do with your 30,000 days?

Meaningful Work Isn’t Just Saving Puppies

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes work truly meaningful. Many HR professionals believe that for employees to be truly engaged, they need to feel that their work is meaningful.

I agree with this idea.

However, some HR pros have misunderstood this concept. They’ve started pushing social causes onto employees, thinking that supporting these causes equals meaningful work.

Tom’s shoes are the best example. Each pair costs around $45, but the materials and labor probably only amount to about $5. While Tom’s donates a pair to a child in need for each one sold, they’re essentially sacrificing $5 of profit per pair. Can we really say this is meaningful work?

So, what’s my idea of meaningful work?

Meaningful work isn’t about saving puppies. It’s not about supporting causes. It’s about employees feeling that what they do every day contributes to the organization’s success. For many organizations, this has little to do with supporting specific causes—although it might for some.

The problem with equating meaningful work with causes is that everyone has their own causes they care about. If an organization defines helping the homeless as its cause, that’s great! But now, they need to find employees who also care about this cause to make work meaningful for everyone.

In HR, we sometimes make the concept of meaningful work too complicated. Instead, we should help leaders communicate better with their teams about how individual efforts impact the organization’s success. Meaningful work is about using your skills to contribute to your organization’s prosperity.

Sorry, we’re not saving puppies or planting trees here – but I promise it’s still going to be meaningful to us!

Staying True to Your Game

The saying “Stay true to the game” pops up all the time. It’s been around in sports and pop culture for ages. Basketball especially! (Side note: who do you have winning tonight?) Anyway, I feel like I keep hearing it more and more.

“The game” stands for your thing, whether it’s sales, accounting, basketball, you name it. For me, it’s recruiting. Whether third-party, corporate, or RPO, we’re all in the same boat.

Being true to recruiting is kind of subjective. What does it even mean?

If you zoom out from recruiting and think about staying true to something you’re passionate about, how do you do it? How do you make sure it’s a priority? What do you do to show you’re committed?

This way of thinking sets the stage for understanding what it means to stay true to recruiting.

Recruiting is my thing. To keep it real, I stick to a few key things:

  1. I soak up as much recruitment info as I can.
  2. I connect with top-notch recruiters.
  3. I swap stories and tips with fellow recruiters.
  4. I’m always looking for ways to improve my skills.
  5. I know that staying loyal to recruiting is a choice I make.

Staying true to recruiting means always aiming higher, personally and professionally.

Sure, it’s not always easy, but it’s about staying true to the game.

So, here’s the deal this Monday. Share what your thing is in the comments below. Then, let us know how you’re staying true to it this week. Go for it.

The Real Game-Changers

I can’t stand hiring managers who don’t want to hire moms because they might need to stay home with a sick kid or take an early lunch to catch their fourth-graders play. Both men and women managers have told me they’re not into hiring moms. It doesn’t sit right with me.

Why? I grew up with a single mom. I remember her choosing where to shop based on how many times she’d bounced a check there. I’d hand back stuff at the checkout ’cause they wouldn’t take her check, and we only had enough cash for a few items.

My mom started her own business, paid her mortgage, and raised two kids. It wasn’t perfect, but we made it. Those experiences shape a kid for life. It makes you appreciate what you have when you know you can live with much less.  My mom became hugely successful after I got out of college and my kids only know her as the grandma that has so much.  I can’t even describe to them the struggle, they have no concept.

The moms I bring in are some of the toughest workers on my team.  They come to work, which for many is a refuge of quiet and clean, and do work that is usually less hard than the other jobs they still have to perform that day and night.  They rarely complain, and usually are much better at putting issues into perspective and not freak out.

When I have a rough day, I try to remember that most of my day is done, but theirs won’t be until they hit the pillow. Old people and moms are the most disrespected of the working class. I swear by that. They are the most underutilized workers of our generation. A woman takes a few years off to raise a kid and somehow she’s now worthless and has no skills.

I don’t even want to write this post because I feel like I’m giving away a recipe to a secret sauce.  All these national recruiting companies are hiring the youngest, prettiest college grads they can find to work for them, and they mostly fail in the recruiting industry. Moms find this industry rather easy as comparable to what they are used to doing.

The real recruiting secret? Moms. They’re the main ingredient that makes it work.

Your Recruiting Process Is Doomed

Here’s the real talk: sooner or later, you or anyone in recruiting will feel the itch to shake things up, thinking it’ll make the process smoother, sharper, or just better. The old ways failed, usually because you didn’t create them, so you figure a makeover is in order to match today’s standards. The revamped process promises to make hiring managers happy and completely change how talent flows into your organization.

Sounds legit, right?

It does, been there, done that. But here’s the kicker – it won’t work. The ‘new’ process is just the same old one with a fancier look. Sure, it might be somewhat ‘better,’ but that’s not the issue. The real problem is you’re missing something crucial. Why the urge to ‘re-process’? Let’s say it’s about getting “more” out of your recruiting game – more talent, more compliance, happier managers, better retention, just more.

But let’s be real. If your current setup was delivering, you wouldn’t be fixing it.

Wondering why the ‘new’ process won’t be your golden ticket either? It’s not because you don’t want ‘more.’ You’re scared of it. ‘More’ means facing things you could dodge in the old routine.

That’s the real reason your ‘new’ process is set up to fail. Deep down, where water cooler talk doesn’t reach, you don’t actually want it to work.

Having a successful process means opening up to failure. It needs hard numbers, accountability, a clear line in the sand that screams “we own this.” Those things spell out success and shout out failure. Success is cool to show off, but no one wants to flaunt failure. So, you go on this ‘re-processing’ spree, hoping to secure success without risking failure. Newsflash: that’s not happening. Success only matters when you know what failure looks like.

Sure, failing as a team isn’t the end of the world, but on a personal level, it’s terrifying. This fear keeps you from building the process your organization actually needs. A process that calls out the winners and the not-so-great players. A process that pinpoints where things need fixing. A process that calls for clear decisions.

Why is your new recruiting process doomed? Because you’re not willing to build one that shows your failures.

Here’s an idea, just do the job you were hired for

Every day, people get worked up over stuff they can’t control. Everyone’s telling you to be this or that, depending on the latest trend or generation.

I’ve stopped listening to people who don’t know my job or haven’t been in the field for ages. Instead, I talk to my employees – the young, the old, and everyone in between. They all matter because they all contribute to moving the organization forward.

I don’t care about what others think; I focus on what my employees are telling me. Their problems are personal, from daycare and student loans to health scares. Forget the big world issues; help them with the close ones first.

Your employees are individuals with their own problems, and millennials aren’t college kids anymore. The newbies might have different labels, but they’re still young people with their own issues.

At the end of the day, employees want to succeed. Helping them be successful is my top priority as a leader. Success is personal, so I figure out how to tie it to the organization’s goals.

We keep letting others tell us how to do our jobs. I’m sticking to doing the job I was hired for because, frankly, no one knows it better than me. Maybe we should all just focus on doing the job we were hired for.