Oops, I Did It Again: The Big Regret

Welcome back to Re-Run Friday – this post originally ran in April 2022!

The Big Regret! How’s that new job treating you?

When 4-5 million people per month change jobs, mostly for more money, there are going to be some consequences! Turns out, the grass isn’t always greener when you get more green!

A Muse survey, reported in the WSJ, recently found out that nearly 75% of workers who’ve changed jobs recently have regretted it, and 50% of those would try and get their old job back! That’s a lot! But it’s not surprising.

The biggest stressors we have in life are having kids, buying a house, and changing jobs. We tend to make bad decisions when stressed, and when you have 4-5 million people per month making that decision, well, that’s a lot of bad decisions!

What will we learn from the Big Regret?!

1. Money isn’t everything, but once you get more of it, it’s hard to go back to the old money level.

2. The old job and the old boss didn’t really suck, and the stuff we thought sucked at the old job, suck at the new job as well. It’s called “work” for a reason.

3. The power of someone paying attention to us and making us feel pretty is the most powerful force on the planet. Never underestimate it.

4. You can go back to your old job, but it will be different. It’s like going back to your ex. You are both a bit smarter and a bit more cautious now. There are some scars. Same people, same company, same job, but it’s not the same. Doesn’t make it bad, but you can’t expect it to be the same.

5. You can’t really judge a job until a couple of things happen: 1. You actually know how to do the job fully; 2. Co-workers stop seeing you as the newbie. In every case, that timeline is different. Be patient and do the job before you judge it.

6. If you find that you have an asshole boss at every job you work, the asshole might be you, not the boss.

7. In the future, when we have more jobs than available workers, let’s not act surprised when people start changing jobs. It’s happened in every similar economic cycle in the modern world. It’s called opportunity. Don’t confuse that with the world has changed.

What should you do if you hate your new Great Resignation Job?

  • Take some time to really determine what you hate. Was that different from the old job? Was it the same? Will it be that way at the next job? Too many folks don’t know what they hate and they just keep selecting the same jobs they hate time and time again, but with a new pay rate and new address.
  • Some of us immediately want to return back to our old job. That might work, it might not. A psychological thing happens to so many managers once you leave them. It’s like you broke up with them and now you want to run back to that comfort. You’ll find many have no interest, and it has nothing to do with your value and performance, and everything to do with them feeling like you’ll hurt them again.
  • Try and find something you like to do, but call it “work”. This is different than the B.S. you’re told about work doing something you love and you’ll never work another day in your life! I’m no life coach, but that crap doesn’t work. You call it “work” even if you love it, because one day you’ll show up to do what you thought you loved and find out its work, and you’ll be depressed and broken. You don’t love work. You love your family and your God and puppies. You work to put yourself in a position to be able to do what you love. If you’re super lucky, every once in a while those two things will overlap.

3 Ways To Change Your Life, Overnight!

Yo!  I’m on vacation for the next week.  Instead of writing I’m gong to run old posts that no one read, but I thought were brilliant.  That’s the hard part because I think everything I write is brilliant.  Some of the stuff really gets well read, and some of the stuff just sits there and gets no love.  In 5 years of blog writing, I still haven’t found out why some pieces I write don’t get read!  I mean, I know why some do.

Everyone wants to read – “3 Ways To Change Your Life Overnight!”  There is this belief that idiots like me will somehow write this brilliant post with the 3 actual reasons to change your life overnight, but in reality this doesn’t exist.  But you click on it, because you’re hoping for a miracle.  I don’t have miracles, or I wouldn’t be writing blog posts.  I’d be sitting on a beach somewhere enjoying a margarita.  That’s how I believe miracles work. If I have one, it equals me sitting on a beach, drinking a margarita.

See!  I can’t solve your biggest problems overnight. I think miracles equal beaches and margaritas.  Which gets me back to the point – that’s where I’m going!  It’s a miracle!

I could actually just title every post something it’s not and it would get more clicks:

The 1 Miracle Food That Will Melt Your Big Fat Belly!

Get Pretty By Doing Nothing!

Hire Brilliant People By Posting and Praying!

Six Figure HR Jobs From Home!

It’s Not You! It’s All Those Other Assholes!

6 Pack Abs, 6 Seconds Per Week!

How To Kill A Hiring Manager and Not Get Caught!

See.  It works.  People don’t want real solutions, people want miracle solutions.  My miracle solution is: Beaches and Margaritas.

Sorry – that’s all I really have.

Until I get back from my miracle – enjoy the stuff you should have already enjoyed, but didn’t.

The Great Recession Fall out on Talent Acquisition

I have a feeling I’m about to preach to the choir.  I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with a hiring manager lately, that just don’t get it! (I hear you saying “What do you mean “lately” – does a hiring manager “ever” get it!)   The Recession has made our job very hard, especially if you are currently trying to hire anyone with technical skills (engineers, designers, IT professionals, Scientist, etc.).   During the Recession we had candidates coming out of our ears!  Today, it seems like, almost overnight, technical jobs across the country have turned on like a fire hose!  Everywhere companies are trying to find technical talent, in all industries, all at the same time.   Remember that baby boomer Tsunami of retirement we were suppose to see?  This feels like the first waves are hitting the shore in terms of technical hiring!

I’ve spoken to engineering schools that 100% graduation hires, plus companies now paying for engineering seniors, senior year of tuition!   I’ve spoken to companies that have had to double their payroll projections, mid-budget year, just to have enough money to hire the same amount of projected hires at the beginning of the year.  In HR and Recruiting we get this, the market moves, sometimes very quickly, and organizations have to be prepared to adjust and move with it, or risk causing some very bad outcomes to our operations.  But, do our hiring managers get this?

I’m hear to say, not enough have gotten the message!

Over the past few months, it we are now having daily “conversations” with hiring managers who are still wanting to see the same 20 candidates they saw during the height of the recession, and turning down candidates for minor things like “he seemed a little shy”, “she was from Tech and I like State grads”, or “he’s had 2 jobs in the past 10 years!”   I’ve had hiring managers have interviews, come back and say they like both candidates really well, but would like to see some more! When I don’t any more!   It all sounds familiar doesn’t it!  The Recession did this to them!  It made the greedy, it made them ultra picky, and it made them believe there is a never ending pool of great candidates who only want to come work at your company.   Ugh! I hate the Recession!

So what?

In HR/Recruiting this is where we become marketers.  We have to start selling, and what we are selling is an idea.  An idea that the world is different, they sky is falling and there’s only one person left to hire.  “That person, is the stupid candidate I just put in front of your face!!!” (wouldn’t that be great if we could say that!?)  Look, I understand you and your hiring managers “only want to hire the best talent”; by the way so does everyone else.  But times are changing, if you want to hire the best, you better be paying the best, or at least offering the best value proposition as compared to your competitors.  Lines of candidates aren’t out there just waiting for calls any longer.

It’s really just simple addition, more technical job openings than candidates + baby boomers now beginning to feel like they can retire = our job just got a lot tougher!

Do your hiring managers get this equation?

Bad Hires Worse

I wrote this 2 years ago.  It still rings true.  I still need to be reminded of this.  I still run into examples of this monthly. Enjoy.

If I could take all of my HR education, My SPHR and 20 years of experience and boil it down to this one piece of advice, it would be this:

Bad Hires Worse.

In HR we love to talk about our hiring and screening processes, and how we “only” hire the best talent, but in the end we, more times than not, leave the final decision on who to hire to the person who will be responsible to supervise the person being hired – the Hiring Manager.   I don’t know about all of you, but in my stops across corporate America, all of my hiring managers haven’t been “A” players, many have been “B” players and a good handful of “C” players.  Yet, in almost all of those stops, we (I) didn’t stop bad hiring managers from hiring when the need came.  Sure I would try to influence more with my struggling managers, be more involved – but they still ultimately had to make a decision that they had to live with.

I know I’m not the only one – it happens every single day.  Everyday we allow bad hiring managers to make talent decisions in our organizations, just as we are making plans to move the bad manager off the bus.   It’s not an easy change to make in your organization.  It’s something that has to come from the top.  But, if you are serious about making a positive impact to talent in your organization you can not allow bad managers to make talent decisions.  They have to know, through performance management, that: 1. You’re bad (and need fixing or moving); 2. You no longer have the ability to make hiring decisions.  That is when you hit your High Potential manager succession list and tap on some shoulders.  “Hey, Mrs. Hi-Po, guess what we need your help with some interviewing and selection decisions.”  It sends a clear and direct message to your organization – we won’t hire worse.

Remember, this isn’t just an operational issue – it happens at all levels, in all departments.  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is look in the mirror at our own departments.  If you have bad talent in HR, don’t allow them to hire (“but it’s different we’re in HR, we know better!” – No you don’t – stop it).   Bad hires worse – over and over and over.  Bad needs to hire worse, they’re desperate, they’ll do anything to protect themselves, they make bad decisions – they are Bad.  We/HR own this.  We have the ability and influence to stop it.  No executive is going to tell you “No” when you suggest we stop allowing our bad managers the ability to make hiring decisions – they’ll probably hug you.

It’s a regret I have – something I will change.  If it happens again, I won’t allow it.  I vow from this day forward, I will never allow a bad hiring manager to make a hiring decision – at least not without a fight!

Burning Down Your HR Department

This post originally ran in January of 2012.  I liked it, and still like it today.  Many of us are looking to kick off 2014 with a fresh approach.  Read this, it might save you some time in the upcoming year!  Enjoy.

A couple of years ago my parents house burned down.  They were away on vacation and lighting struck the roof. Before the fire department could get there and put it out, most of the house was destroyed.  60+ years of memories and possessions, gone.   In hindsight, it was a bit of a blessing,  there house was at the age where everything was starting to need replacing, and my father was at the age, where he wanted to retire.  Those two things don’t go well together!  Major home improvements equals major expense, and a fixed income.  So, long-story-short, mother nature, and the insurance company, gave my folks a new house for a retirement gift!  All is well that ends well, I guess.

This situation, though, led to some deep emotional conversations about what the wish they could have pulled out, if they new this was going to happen.  As you can imagine it was all the stuff you and I would want – our photos, our mementos, some favorite things that remind us of loved ones, or things that we were proud of.  I thought about his recently when having a conversation with a friend who just started a new position as the head of a large HR shop.  His comment to me was:

“What I really need to do is burn this place down and start over!”

To which I replied, “well, isn’t there anything you would keep?”  Bam!  That is what he needed – he did need to burn it down, but there were definitely some things he needed to take out before lighting the match.

It’s a common practice that Leaders tend to do when taking on a new position – we tend to burn down our departments.  Oh, we say we won’t, as we go around throwing gasoline on everything, and we say we aren’t rebuilding as strap our tool belt on and start hammering away, but the truth is, most leaders want to remake their new departments into what they want, not what it was.

So, I’ll ask you to take a few moments today and think about the concept of burning down your HR department.  What would you pull out and save?  What would you happily allow to burn up?  What would you miss?

Everyday we owe it to our organizations to get better.  You don’t have to burn down the department to get better – but you do need to get rid of those things you know you would easily allow to burn up!

7 Sure Fire Ways to Fail as an HR Leader

It’s tough being an HR Leader these days!  You have all these boomers retiring and taking their typewriters and knowledge with them, you have all theses X’ers who think they are now the second coming, the GenY’s and the Millennial’s who have been told they are the second coming, and now we have these Generation @’s who think they can work from where ever since they grew up with a smartphone and a iPad in their crib.  On top of all this, somehow in the last 10 years executives decided HR is no longer HR, but now we are these business partners, so on top of having to take care of all these people issues, we now have to be concerned with business issues, teach our leaders how to be leaders, continue to train our workforce to stay current, fight off talent sharks from our competition, make sure the corporate picnic still runs smoothly and oh by the way can you put a nice internal blog post together for the CEO and make it real “peopleish”.

I get it – it’s hard being a leader in HR, that’s why I’m going to help you out and give you some tips of things to stay away from:

1. Think of yourself or your company as “the” industry leader. As soon as you do, someone will knock you off.

2. Identify so strongly with the company that you no longer have a clear boundary between your personal interests  and the corporation’s interests. Yes you should be committed, but don’t be “committed” – to often leaders doing this fail to differentiate their personal agenda and the corporate agenda and start empire building.

3. Have all the answers.  This is tough because it’s common leadership training that we all know – use your people, surround yourself with people better than you, make group decisions, etc.  But until you put your butt in that seat you never realize how many things will come your way, where people want a decision and they are unwilling to make it – so they look to you for the answer. Don’t get sucked into this trap – push back – make them bring you solutions.

4. Hunt down and Kill those who don’t support you. Don’t think this happens! Look at turnover numbers of  departments when a new leader takes over – they are almost always higher than those of the organization as a whole.

5. Become obsessed with the company image.  Your company image is hugely important, but it is not the most important thing you have going on. Make sure your operations match the image you want to create, not the either way around.

6. Underestimate or take obstacles for granted.  As a leader you want to be confident during hard and challenging times, but don’t let yourself get fooled into believing your own confidence will get you through.  Having a clear understanding of the reality you are facing, and being able to communicate that without fear to your team, with a plan of action, is key.

7. Stubbornly rely on what you’ve always done.  “Well, when I was the leader at GE we did it this way…” Look, this isn’t the 80’s and this isn’t GE. Might it work? Sure. But be open to new ways of doing things, while being confident of what you know will work. Don’t put yourself or your organization in jeopardy, but be willing to try new things when time and circumstance allow.

Adapted from The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives in Forbes by Mike Myatt

Photo credit to Hugh at Gapingvoid.com

Hire More Pretty People

This post originally ran in January of 2012, and in one of the most read posts I’ve done.  It as so popular, Kris Dunn, stole the idea, tweaked it, and made it his most downloaded whitepaper in Kinetix history!  You’re Welcome, KD.  After 2 years, I still find this concept has merit! It’s also very close to how Hitler’s Germany started! Enjoy.

What do you think of, in regards to smarts, when I say: “Sexy Blond model type”?

What about: “Strong Athletic Jock?”

What about: “Scrawny nerdy band geek?”

My guess is most people would answer: Dumb, Dumb, Smart – or something to that context.

In HR we call this profiling – and make no mistake – profiling – is done by almost all of our hiring managers.  The problem is everything we might have thought is probably wrong in regards to our expectations of looks and brains.  So, why are ugly people more smart?

They’re Not!

Slate recently published an article that contradicts all of our ugly people are more smart myths and actually shows evidence to the contrary. From the article:

 Now there were two findings: First, scientists knew that it was possible to gauge someone’s intelligence just by sizing him up; second, they knew that people tend to assume that beauty and brains go together. So they asked the next question: Could it be that good-looking people really are more intelligent?

Here the data were less clear, but several reviews of the literature have concluded that there is indeed a small, positive relationship between beauty and brains. Most recently, the evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa pulled huge datasets from two sources—the National Child Development Study in the United Kingdom (including 17,000 people born in 1958), and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the United States (including 21,000 people born around 1980)—both of which included ratings of physical attractiveness and scores on standard intelligence tests.

When Kanazawa analyzed the numbers, he found the two were related: In the U.K., for example, attractive children have an additional 12.4 points of IQ, on average. The relationship held even when he controlled for family background, race, and body size.

That’s right HR Pros – Pretty people are smarter.  I can hear hiring managers and creepy executives that only want “cute” secretaries laughing all over the world!

The premise is solid though!  If you go back in our history and culture you see how this type of things evolves:

1. Very smart guy – gets great job or starts great company – makes a ton of money

2. Because of success, Smart guy now has many choices of very pretty females to pursue as a bride.

3. Smart guy and Pretty bride start a family – which results in “Pretty” Smart Children

4. Pretty Smart Children grow up with all the opportunities that come to smart beautiful families.

5. The cycle repeats.

Now – first – this is a historical thing – thus my example of using a male as our “Smart guy” and not “Smart girl” – I’m sure in today’s world this premise has evolved yet again. But we are talking about how we got to this point, not where are we now.  Additionally, we are looking at how your organization can hire better.  So, how do you hire better?  Hire more pretty people.

Seems simple enough. Heck, that is even a hiring process that your hiring managers would support!

Riding the School Bus made me Tough!

Re-run Friday – this post originally ran in January of 2011.  I still find Jenny Johnson one of the funniest people on Twitter and Instagram, check her out, she’s brilliantly funny. Also, my kids still hate the school bus!

I read a very funny quote today from a comedian, Jenny Johnson, which she said

“If you rode the school bus as a kid, your parents hated you.”

It made me laugh out loud, for two reasons: 1. I rode the bus or walked or had to arrive at school an hour early because that was when my Dad was leaving and if I wanted a ride that was going to be it.  Nothing like sitting at school talking to the janitor because he was the only other person to arrive an hour before school started.  Luckily for me, he was nice enough to open the doors and not make me stand outside in the cold.  Lucky for my parents he wasn’t a pedophile! 2. My kids now make my wife and I feel like we must be the worst parents in the world in those rare occasions that they have to ride the bus.  I know I’m doing a disservice to my sons by giving them this ride – but I can’t stop it, it’s some American ideal that gets stuck in my head about making my kids life better than my life, and somehow I’ve justified that by giving them a ride to school their life is better than mine!

When I look back it, riding the bus did suck – you usually had to deal with those kids who parents truly did hate them.  Every bully in the world rode the bus – let’s face it their parents weren’t giving them a ride, so you had to deal with that (me being small and red-headed probably had to deal with it more than most).  You also got to learn most of life lessons on the bus – you found out about Santa before everyone else, you found out how babies got made before everyone else, you found out about that innocent kid stuff that makes kids, kids before you probably should have.  But let’s face it, the bus kids were tough – you had to get up earlier, stand out in the cold, get home later and take a beating after the ride home, just so you had something to look forward to the next day!

You know as HR Pros we tend also not to let our employees “ride the bus”.   We always look for an easier way for them to do their work, to balance their work and home, to do as little as possible to get the job done.  In a way, too many of us, are turning our organizations and our employees into the kids who had their Mom’s pick them up from school.  I’m not saying go be hard on your employees – but as a profession we might be better off to be a little less concerned with how comfortable everyone is, and a little more concerned with how well everybody is performing.

Too many HR Pros (and HR shops for that matter) tend to act as “parents” to the employees, not letting them learn from their mistakes, but trying to preempt every mistake before it’s made – either through extensive processes or overly done performance management systems.  We justify this by saying we are just “protecting” our organizations – but in the end we aren’t really making our employees or organizations “tougher” or preparing them to handle the hard times we all must face professionally.  It’ll be alright – they might not like it 100%, but in the end they’ll be better for it.

I’m In Love With Old Employees

Re-run Friday, this post originally ran in December 2011.  My Dad is now 72, still working, still letting people know what he thinks unfiltered.  I’m hoping he’ll finally retire in the coming months, but I’m doubtful that will happen!  Enjoy.

I’ve recently got to spend some time with my Dad – he’s 70.  I use to think 70 was really old, like let me help feed you that oatmeal old.  My Dad doesn’t seem 70, or look 70, I guess it’s somewhat true – 70 is the new 60.  Here’s what is awesome, though, 70 in work years – is still 70!  When you are working in a professional role at 70, pretty much you’re the oldest person sitting at the meeting.  You know where the bodies are buried, who dug the hole and who has been searching for the bodies ever since.  My Dad works in a professional role – they keep paying him to show up, so he keeps showing up – he’s probably pretty damn tired of answering the question – “So, when you going to retire?”

Lately, he’s been sharing some great work stories with me – from the perspective of being 70 and already collecting full social security. This is what is completely AWESOME about being 70 and still working – you don’t give a sh*t about office politics!

When you know that you could retire at any minute, and you’re comfortable with that – a freedom comes over you that most people don’t have in your organization.  When your boss is 40ish – the same age as your kids – and you’ve got 30 years of work war stories and experience on them – you tend to tell it like it is, when no one else will.  When the CEO says he just wants to hear it like it is – to tend to say it like it is – even when your boss and his boss are trying to duck out of the room or kick you under the table – because they don’t want the CEO to know what “it’s” really like.

It’s Awesome to be Old and be at Work!

To often leadership tends to discount older workers in the twilight of their career – “Oh, that’s just crazy old Guss – don’t pay attention to him – he still thinks we can get great customer service by talking to people face-to-face!”  (the group all laughs loudly, while checking their smart phones for the latest customer service numbers of the electronic dashboard)  We believe that their “sage old advice” has no merit.  In reality we hate the fact that the older worker tends to cut through our political B.S. and tell us what we really don’t want to hear – the painful truth of why we are failing.

Sure many of our older workers could deliver their feedback in a better way, coat it with a little sugar, make it easier to go down.  But, most of the time they don’t.  They just throw it on the table, like a grenade, and watch the fallout as executives start tripping over their spreadsheets trying to explain why they’ve had declining sales for 12 straight quarters, but how they should still be eligible for their performance bonuses.

Look, the next time you hear one of your old workers start to speak – stop – listen – don’t judge.  They aren’t trying to get a promotion, or a raise – realize they probably don’t even need to show up any longer.  What they are saying comes from the heart, comes from years of experience, comes from the fact they have reached a point in their life where they only want to leave a legacy of something they can be proud of.  Your organization can truly benefit from it – but only if you open yourself up to hear it.

5 Things to do at work the day after Thanksgiving

The Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday has to be the most useless day of work ever.  I know many folks who still don’t get this off as a holiday, and either have to burn vacation or burn PTO to get this day off paid – obviously not including all of those folks who work in the service areas and have to actually work to deal with all those crazy black Friday shoppers!  I’ve been there – both working on the service side of the world on the day after, and on the side when you work for some lame company who makes you come in on the day after, when clearly none of your customers will be working – so you just try and find stuff to do, before sneaking out at 3pm to meet the family at the mall.

Don’t fret, I’m here to help.  Here are my Top 5 things to do when you’re stuck at work the Day after Thanksgiving:

1. Clean out your files – I know this doesn’t sound fun but it needs to be done and it makes you look really busy with your desk all filled with files and stuff! Really cleaning of any type works really well on this day and burns a solid 2-3 hours.

2. Research – What does that mean!?  No one knows, that’s why it’s so great! You can be on LinkedIn, Facebook, reading blogs, it doesn’t matter – it’s Research!

3. Policy Revisions – Again, what does this really mean!?  You bring up some electronic versions of some policies and you have them in the background as you search the internet for the best Black Friday Deals!  When someone walks into your cube – you click on the Word file and say “hey, just working on these policy revisions, what are you doing?”  They say, “I was just doing some research, what do you want to do for lunch?”

4. Rewriting Job Descriptions – see #3 Policy revisions.  The good thing, really, about any of these is you can also have Pandora playing in the background and just become a complete vegetable for about 8 hours.

5. Updating Performance Plans – you can also call this reviewing performance reviews, etc. Basically, you’re going around talking to employees about what they had for Thanksgiving dinner and talking about how awful it is watching the Lions and Cowboys play every Thanksgiving.  Just make sure to mention something about their annual goals and Bam, mission accomplished.

I will say that this is a great day to send notes to executives as well.  Let’s face it, they’re not in the office – they’ve got more vacation than you and know it’s worthless to come in on the day after Thanksgiving.  But you sending a note and “actually” working makes you look like a champ!  The best part is you don’t even have to be working – I just pre-write my emails and then schedule them in Outlook to be sent to executives at 7:23 am on Black Friday, then a follow up on how I solved the issue at 6:12pm on the same day!  That’s a Pro Tip, use it wisely!