Does working for a bad boss help your career more than a good boss?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably worked for some good bosses and some bad bosses. The best bosses I worked for were supportive and empathetic. They cared about me as a person and supported me as a professional. The bad bosses usually just focused on themselves and what I could do for them.

I know many people who will talk about working for a terrible boss and actually show signs of professional PTSD! We joke, but sometimes the experience can be that awful. There was a recent study done with refugees who are survivors of torture. I’m not saying working for a bad boss is “torture,” but I know I can find some people who would argue it is!

Here goes, Tim! Good bosses, bad bosses, and torture survival!

The study mentioned above found that refugees who were tortured, compared to those who didn’t get tortured, became more resilient. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, comes to mind.

I think the same can be said about working for a bad boss compared to a good boss.

Employers are constantly looking for resilient employees. We try to measure resiliency in pre-employment assessments. During the past few years, resilience as a hiring competency has been very hot.

I have this theory that working for a bad boss or a bad company that treats you poorly, in many ways, makes you a better employee than you working for a great boss and a great company. And it all has to do with raising your level of resilience! You see, when times are good, and things are relatively easy, you are exercising that resiliency muscle.

I’m not saying you get soft working for great leaders and great companies, but you might get a little soft!

We see this constantly in the world as we go through great economic times. Everyone gets a little softer. Hard economic times force us to work that resiliency muscle. To harden up a bit, to grow a thicker skin, put up with some stuff that we wouldn’t normally, to survive.

Bad Bosses and Bad Companies Make More Resilient Workers!

There’s a fine line between becoming resilient and getting broken. That’s the hard part. Like the study found, in some cases, a person just gives up and accepts their fate. They begin to believe this was somehow deserved. The key is to find the “survivors,” those who wouldn’t give in or give up. Those who actually become more resilient from their experiences. Those are your diamonds in the rough from an employee perspective.

Too often, we only want to hire from winners. “Well, they worked for Google. They must be awesome!” And they might be. But I want “awesome” and “resilient” when I know we’ll face tough times. When we have to dig ourselves out of a hole, from a business perspective, I want to have some people who have been in a hole before and found their way out!

Another option is looking for strong workers who work for a bad boss at a good employer. We all know the world, at every company, is littered with some bad bosses, no matter the brand. I have a feeling the same resilience is built up over time. Having to “deal” with a bad boss for a while, and figuring out how to be still productive and get things done is an amazing skill to have acquired in your career. Even though it won’t feel that way at the time!

Yep, today Tim wrote about how refugee torture victims and working for bad bosses is similar to how we build resilience. Now to work on a case study with my own team…

Stay hard.

What is your measure of success? #HRTechConf

I’m out at the world’s largest HR Technology Conference this week, learning a ton and having some amazing conversations with peers and practitioners. One, in particular, is sticking with me about how we measure success in HR and Talent Acquisition.

With the increase in the capture of data across our technology stacks, we have more information than ever to give us insights and really give us better robust measures of success. But we tend to hang on to old measures that have little correlation to actual success.

There are a bunch of things getting in the way of us successfully determining what should be the measures of success in our functions:

  • We need to measure things that are challenging but not too challenging.
  • We tie our success metrics to annual bonus potential.
  • We don’t really know what success should look like from a benchmarking standpoint.
  • We have legacy measures that everyone is just kind of used to, and the majority of the industry still uses them. So, we should follow the pack.
  • We need measures that we can quickly manipulate of having excuses if things go sideways.

We will never admit the truth above.

From the HR Technology standpoint, your technology vendors assume you are much more sophisticated than we really are. I don’t mean that in a way that is meant to slight our expertise and knowledge. If I had HR and TA leaders rate their own skill competencies, almost always, technology would come in dead last. Most of us have this as an area of massive improvement.

Why does this matter?

Our technology will drive our success measures. Our technology vendors believe we know what success looks like. So, they build our measures, even when they know there are actually better measures of success that they can pull and put together. True, black and white measures that are not subjective and can’t be manipulated.

The first thing that would help with creating real HR measures of success would be to decouple our bonus compensation and measures. Having a person design their own measures of success and tying it to a compensation outcome is a recipe for failure and underperformance. If anything, HR and TA should have their bonus tied to business success outcomes and measure functional success separately. In the long run, a highly successful function should help the business achieve better outcomes.

This one practice frees us up to really dig into our data and our technology and redefine what success looks like around the HR umbrella of functions. To really use our data and our insights to reach new levels and better understand how we can make an impact and improve. We should feel like we can build measures of success and fail at those measures without killing our livelihood. That’s the only way we can hope for true change and worthwhile long-term measures that help us succeed.

What I’m finding is the HR technology community is ready to help us do this. We just have to ask them! We have to ask them to define our success using a data analytics approach and understand the outcomes and insights we can gain from these new measures. This also takes a big of courage because we’ll be leading not following and that’s always a vulnerable spot. But, one I think separates great leaders from average leaders.

“Quiet Quitting” Isn’t New!

Over the past week or so, the term “Quiet Quitting” has been everywhere on mass media. LIKE, OMG, CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT THESE DAMN KIDS ARE DOING NOW!?! (Side note: Can journalists be any lazier than they are right now? Wheee, look what I created!? Um, what?)

Gag me with a spoon…

We’ve had employees basically decide to stop working but keep collecting a paycheck since the first caveman hired his cousin to help hunt and gather! We just weren’t creative enough to label it something cool. For years I would call them the “Walking Dead.” Same scenario. An employee decides they hate you and want to quit, but they don’t have another job to go to yet.

Quiet Quitting is the result of The Big Regret!

Now, if we want to get all creative and sh*t, I came up with the term “The Big Regret”! Look it up. I can point to the exact date and piece I wrote. In fact, I had a conversation with my friends at Oracle about titling a piece so we could get out in front of this concept before everyone else. Welcome to marketing, kids!

Because so many people have changed jobs over the past twelve months and hated the new job, we have a rash of “quiet quitting” going on. It’s all because they love the new money but hate the new job. They have, wait for it, “BIG REGRET”! Gawd, I love it when I’m smart and right and cute.

What can you do about “Quiet Quitting”?

Fire their ass immediately!

If you have someone who’s not performing and really just collecting a check and waiting for a better job to come along. I’m going all NSYNC on them – Bye, Bye, Bye!

Yes, finding and keeping talent is very hard. No, we don’t put up with quiet quitting because of that. The people you have working for you love their job. Love your company. They will hate you for keeping the quiet quitters.

Look, I don’t care if you want to quit. In fact, I’ll help you if you want. But while we are paying you, there will be performance expectations. That’s how the real world works. You get paid. You perform. If you decide not to perform, you better get ready to be terminated.

Happy Monday, HR Gang!

Why do you suck!?

There’s an interactive questioning technique called The 5 Whys.  The theory is that if you continue to ask ‘why’ enough times, you’ll get to the root cause of every issue.

  • Timmy is a bad performer. Why?
  • He doesn’t follow through on anything. Why?
  • It seems like he gets things started well and then moves on to other things before the first thing is finished. Why?
  • He likes the energy of starting new projects. Why?
  • He thinks if he’s on the front side of the project, he’ll have more influence on the direction the project is going. Why?
  • Because that has been his experience with our organization.

Oh, so he might not be a bad performer. He just has an opportunity area that we might be able to help him out with – getting projects across the finish line.  And we’ve taught him to behave in this manner.

I don’t know if you have to use to 5 whys each time. I do think you have to ask at least three whys to get past the emotion of any decision.  We tend to make most decisions with some element of emotion.  Getting to the third why will get the emotion out in the open.  That is important in any decision-making process.

Does this technique seem a little ‘parental’?  It does, which is why you probably don’t want to make a habit of using this technique too often.  It is definitely a tool, though, that can be very effective for a leader to use from time to time.

  • “We need to change our hiring process!”
  • Why?
  • “We have had three consecutive failed hires.”
  • Why?

“Well, one person was a referral from an executive, so we hired without really checking references. One hire totally aced our pre-employment testing but had a sketchy work history but tested off the charts. One was a knockout in the interview, marginal testing, and just didn’t pan out.”

So, do we really need to change our hiring process? Or should we just start following our hiring process?

3 Whys takes the emotion out of any decision-making process.  It gets out everyone’s inner issues about the problem.  We tend to lead with a crisis statement that will lead to action.  If we take action based on incomplete information, we will unnecessarily start doing things that we might not need to do or make changes that really don’t make sense to the organization.

Next time you are facing a tough decision, start asking ‘Why’ and see where it leads you. You might be surprised where you’ll end up!

What’s Your Beauty Premium at Your Remote Job?

If you know me, you know I love talking about beauty and attractiveness and the impact it has on work! We like to think that how you look has nothing to do with how you perform. Ugly people are told that from birth! “It doesn’t matter how you look, Timmy. You can still be great!”

Academically, that actually does prove out very well, in study after study. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite, and it might be the biggest thing no one talks about at work. This week the newest beauty study hit the street titled, “Student beauty and grades under in-person and remote teaching.”

Okay, I know you’re saying this says student, not employ, so it doesn’t count! Bare with me…

First, this is a legit study, not some vendor survey thing. This was done by a legit PhD at a legit university.

What does the study say?

  1. Both men and women have a beauty premium in terms of their performance. This means, that more beautiful you are in a university class, the more likely you are to be graded higher. (This is real!)
  2. With in-person classes, the beauty premium is the same for men and women. Basically, pretty boys and girls equally get an advantage in grading.
  3. With remote classes, the beauty premium only works for men!

Why does this matter to remote work?

If we know there is a beauty premium in human behavior when judging the performance of students, how hard is it really for us to believe our supervisors and managers also don’t have a beauty premium when it comes to determining work performance? I would argue that there is very little difference between the two judging activities.

This means as many of our jobs switch to remote, we now have an issue with women having their performance judged harsher than men when working in a remote environment because they will no longer get any beauty premium. Again, this only works with beautiful people. The ugly ones were already getting judged more harshly.

We love to believe that remote work favors females for a number of reasons. Saving time on the commute, easier to arrange care for kids and those they might be responsible for, etc. But now we have this issue!

The work beauty premium is real, and it’s not!

The beauty premium is measurable and has been proven in a number of studies. When judging people, we find it more difficult to judge pretty people harshly but easier to beat down ugly people. It’s not real because it’s totally an unconscious bias that even when we know it’s a problem, we ignore it and keep promoting pretty people over maybe higher performing people who aren’t as pretty.

I just find all of this so fascinating! Two-fold, one in that I’m not what any study would find as traditionally “beautiful” from the male standpoint, and that over a long period of time, centuries, genetically, this actually plays out across all cultures. While one culture might like light skin, tall, slender, and those people will have a beauty premium. Another culture might prefer dark, short, chubby people, and that beauty premium plays itself out.

I just need to find the one culture that likes gingers!

Are Recruiters Wasting Hiring Manager’s Time?

I had a conversation the other day with a corporate HR Director and we were talking recruiters, corporate recruiters.  My friend had a dilemma, a classic corporate recruiting scenario. The problem is she has recruiters who are doing a decent job, but they won’t get out from behind their desks and get out into the organization and get face-to-face feedback from the hiring managers. But, here is the real reason:  the recruiters feel like they are “wasting” the hiring manager’s time.

“So,” she asked, “How do I get them out to build these relationships?”

Great question, but she asked the wrong question (which was partially my answer).  Her problem isn’t that her recruiters aren’t building relationships face-to-face with managers. The problem is they feel they are “wasting” someone’s time.

They don’t value or understand the value they are providing to the hiring manager. If they did, it sounds like they wouldn’t have a problem visiting with the hiring managers.  It’s a classic leadership failure, solving a symptom instead of solving the actual problem.

I don’t think that this is rare, recruiters feeling like they are wasting hiring manager’s time. It happens constantly at the corporate level.  Once you train your recruiters (and hiring managers) on the value the recruiters are providing, you see much less resistance of the recruiters feeling comfortable getting in front of hiring managers to get feedback on candidates, and actually making a decision.  This moves your process along much quicker.

What value do recruiters provide?  Well, that seems like a really stupid question, but there aren’t stupid questions (just stupid people who ask questions).  Here are a few that will help your corporate recruiters understand their real value to hiring managers:

  • Corporate recruiters are the talent pipeline for a hiring manager. (or should be!)
  • Corporate recruiters can be the conduit for hiring managers to increase or better the talent within their department.
  • Corporate recruiters are a partner to the hiring managers in assessing talent.
  • Corporate recruiters are a strategist for the hiring managers group succession planning
  • Corporate recruiters are your hiring manager’s first line of performance management (setting expectations before someone even comes in the door)
  • Corporate recruiters are tacticians of organizational culture.

So, the next time you hear a recruiter tell you “I don’t want to waste their time.” Don’t go off on them and tell them to “just go out there and build the relationship”. Educate them on why they aren’t wasting their time. Then do an assessment for yourself to determine are they adding value or are they just wasting time. All recruiters are not created equal and some waste time, and it’s your job as a leader to find ones to add value.

A critical component of all of this is building an expectation of your hiring managers of what they should expect from your recruiters.  They should expect value. They should expect a recruiter who is a pro, and who is going to help them maneuver the organizational landscape and politics of hiring. They should expect a recruiter is going to deliver to them better talent than they already have. They should expect a partner, someone who is looking out for the best interest of the hiring managers department.

Ultimately, what they should expect is someone who won’t waste their time!

Sackett Tips: Advice for Grads and Dropouts!

Every year around this time the content machine delivers an endless amount of “Graduation” advice to new grads. “As you leave the manicured lawns of your youth…” I’ve actually done the “wear sunscreen” posts myself from year to year. They are easy to write because it allows the writer to just wax poetically about all the mistakes we’ve made ourselves, which in turn becomes the advice for you to do or not do (thanks, Yoda!).

I realized just yesterday the problem with the grad advice columns is we’ve completely forgotten about dropouts! In today’s world, with declining higher ed enrollments (college starts are down 5 quarters in a row) it’s even more important that we talk to the dropouts as well. Of course, we see many more dropouts when unemployment is very low as it is now. With a ton of jobs open, young people can make really great money without going to college, so it’s a natural phenomenon.

The Sackett Tips for Grads and Dropouts

  • Work for the biggest brand possible right out of the gate. You most likely won’t have a great experience, but it will help your career out way more in the long run. We are all enamored with the person who worked for Amazon and Apple over JBE Automation in central Iowa. Like somehow that Apple job where you got to focus on a sliver of a project is way more valuable than actually owning an entire project. But that’s life. Go work for a giant brand.
  • Calculate the value of leaving a job and people you really like. You will hear estimates from “experts” telling you not to change jobs unless you get a 10-20% increase. And that is really a lot of money. But, what if the new job sucks and the new people suck. Is that $5,000-10,000 worth it? Each of us has to make that call. What I find is most people will tell you it’s not worth it. 
  • Maintain relationships with peers and co-workers from other jobs you left and with those who left your company. That network will pay you back in the future like nothing else you have.
  • Say, “Yes” to jobs no one else wants. Those are the jobs that get noticed by executives. We all know the stuff no one else wants to do, so when someone steps forward and “takes one for the team” you stand out above the rest. 
  • Protect your time, but have a reason. Executives totally understand the person who says, “I can’t this weekend, I’m coaching my little girl’s soccer team and I have to be there for her” vs. someone who just says “No”. 
  • Every executive is looking for people who treat the organization and the brand like their own. I get it, they make a crap ton more than you, but they always didn’t make more. At some point, they made peanuts as well but treated the company like it was their own. Protected assets, spent budget wisely, etc. 
  • Diversity isn’t about color, gender, etc. But it also is about all that. You want to hire great people who fit your culture and who are also from diverse backgrounds. Most organizations fuck this up by just hiring color or gender and forgetting about the fit. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. 
  • Don’t wait for an employer to develop you. Find ways to develop yourself. Build a business case as to why your employer should pay for you to take a class that costs money. 
  • Make yourself as pretty as possible. Every single study you can find will show that the more attractive you are the more money you make, the more likely you are to get promoted, work for a great company, etc. Turns out, everyone loves pretty people. You, like me, might not have been blessed with “pretty” DNA, but we can all make ourselves the best version of ourselves! Don’t believe people that tell you looks don’t matter. They matter greatly, they’ve just given up.
  • Put on your own oxygen mask first. I run into so many kind souls who are trying to protect and help co-workers, peers, etc., but not helping themselves. Take care of yourself, so you can properly help others.

Oh, and wear sunscreen.

So, what’s the difference in advice between the grads and dropouts? None. Turns out, once you start working no one gives a shit whether you have a degree or not, now you have to actually perform.

It’s a great time to be a hard-working, attractive, smart person in our society. Take advantage.

Do Recruiters Still Need To Make Phone Calls?

Recently, I was on a webinar, and in my presentation, I harped on the talent acquisition pros and leaders on the webcast on why 100% of us are not using texting as a primary first form of contact with candidates. The data is in. Texting works! It works better than email by a mile, but still, less than 50% in the room are texting candidates.

After I was done a great TA pro contacted me and said, “Tim, shouldn’t recruiters be calling candidates!” I fell in love! Why, yes, fine, sir they should always be calling candidates! But, let’s not forsake other tools that are working at a high level. We know people, in general, respond to texts at a much higher rate than email and phone calls.

You see a text and within seconds you read it, and you respond to it at more than double the rate of email or voicemail. In talent acquisition, we are in LOVE with email, even when it doesn’t work.

In 2011, I wrote this post below – funny enough, it’s still relevant today (except now I think we need to add in more texting with those phone calls!)

Do we (recruiters) still need to make telephone calls?

I mean really it’s 2011 – we have text messaging, emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – hasn’t the telephone just become obsolete?  Does anyone actually use their cell phones to make actual phone calls anymore?

The New York Times had an article: Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You, in which they delve into the concept of whether the act of making a phone call has jumped the shark or not.  From the article:

“I remember when I was growing up, the rule was, ‘Don’t call anyone after 10 p.m.,’ ” Mr. Adler said. “Now the rule is, ‘Don’t call anyone. Ever.’ ”

Phone calls are rude. Intrusive. Awkward. “Thank you for noticing something that millions of people have failed to notice since the invention of the telephone until just now,” Judith Martin, a k a Miss Manners, said by way of opening our phone conversation. “I’ve been hammering away at this for decades. The telephone has a very rude propensity to interrupt people…

Even at work, where people once managed to look busy by wearing a headset or constantly parrying calls back and forth via a harried assistant, the offices are silent. The reasons are multifold. Nobody has assistants anymore to handle telecommunications. And in today’s nearly door-free workplaces, unless everyone is on the phone, calls are disruptive and, in a tight warren of cubicles, distressingly public. Does anyone want to hear me detail to the dentist the havoc six-year molars have wreaked on my daughter?

“When I walk around the office, nobody is on the phone,” said Jonathan Burnham, senior vice president, and publisher at HarperCollins. The nature of the rare business call has also changed. “Phone calls used to be everything: serious, light, heavy, funny,” Mr. Burnham said. “But now they tend to be things that are very focused. And almost everyone e-mails first and asks, ‘Is it O.K. if I call?’ ”

Sound Familiar?

Now I could easily turn this into a generational issue because for one it’s easy to do, but this isn’t a GenX vs. GenY issue.  This is a basic communication issue.  An understanding of what we do in our industry issue.  Whether your third party or corporate recruitment, we do the same thing, we search and find talent.  There are two basic ways to screen potential talent for fit for your organization: 1. Meet them in Person (no one would argue that this is the best way, but boy it’s expensive if you are using it as your first-line screen); 2. Meet them over the phone (done in some form or another by 99.9% of recruiters).

There really isn’t any way around this issue, we recruit, we make telephone calls.  If you don’t like to make telephone calls, if you believe what the New York Times article believes, you shouldn’t recruit.  It’s not an indictment on you, this just isn’t your gig.

Recruiters like to talk to people, to question people, to find out more about people, not a career, best done by email and text messaging. We need to talk live to others. That’s how we go to work. Doesn’t matter if you’re 21 or 6. It’s how to deliver great talent to our hiring managers.

So, here’s a tip, if you’re in recruitment and you don’t like making phone calls get, out of recruitment, you will not be successful.  If your first choice of contacting someone isn’t picking up the phone and calling them, instead of sending them an email, when you have their phone number, get out of recruitment. If you’re thinking you want to recruit, and you don’t like making phone calls take another path.

Recruiters make phone calls, that’s what we do.

Here is the Average Time to Fill a job for most employers in the U.S.!

I gathered data from around 13,000 sources to get the most accurate Days to Fill metric that I could. It is one of the most asked questions I get from the audience!

So, what’s the number? 37*.

Cool, now can we stop asking? Did that just solve all of your hiring problems?

No, it didn’t. Why?

Because Time to Fill is a worthless recruiting metric for the most part. There is zero correlation between how fast you fill a job to how well your talent acquisition function is performing.

37 days is meaningless out of context, as a comparison, every job is different, every organization is different, and every market is different.

So, if you are currently at 37 days time to fill a job, and in 2022 you magically get to 36.2 days to fill, are you better at recruiting? Are you? Maybe you hired too fast and now your turnover is increased. Maybe the economy went south for a bit and increased the labor pool and now you have more candidates applying. Zero. Correlation. To. Talent. Acquisition. Success.

So, why do we use it? Frankly, and this hurts because you know I love talent acquisition and the pros that work in it every single day, we’re lazy. We’re too lazy to measure what really matters. That hurts. That should make you mad. We are better than this.

Can your Time to Fill matter at all? Yes, as a health metric of your TA function. If your industry average is 37 days, and you’re at 54, your function might have cancer! That being said, you have to support that with other stuff. Your 54-day hiring process might have reduced your turnover to 15% in an industry that has 50%, then your 54 days is understandable. But, what I usually find in most industries and jobs are fairly close to the mean on time to fill. So, it can be used as a universal health TA metric.

But, once you start trying to reduce by .4 days or .3 days, you’ve lost your way.

*For those wanting to now use “37” days as the average time to fill in the world, I totally made that metric up! Stop it! Be Better!