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

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

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

The Reactions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem with my philosophy is “Sunk Cost”.

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

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

This is super common in the management of people resources!

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

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

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

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

This is Poor Performing Employee Management 101!

-You hire an employee.

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

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

-The employee still doesn’t perform.

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

Why do we do this?

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

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

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

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

Writing LinkedIn Recommendations like Yelp Reviews!

I want to start a trend.

I’ve had some really great people write LinkedIn recommendations for me. I think all of them are from people I’ve actually personally worked with and had a strong relationship with. The dirty little secret, though, is no one really ever reads or pays attention to these reviews. I mean, no hiring decisions are based on “OMG! Tim’s LI recommendations were off the charts! We must hire him!”

The trend I want to start is to start giving each other LI recommendations like we give Yelp reviews of restaurants, hotels, attractions, etc. Wouldn’t that be at least more fun!?!

They would read something like this:

Tim S. on Laurie Ruettimann: 5 Stars – Once walked a mile, drunk, with Laurie to a Sprinkles ATM in the middle of the night because Sprinkles Cupcakes are the best! We have a secret IG group where we talk “ish” about everything, and it’s super fun! Be careful though, she’s always trying to talk you into going to work out and other stuff you probably don’t want to do.

Tim S. on Kris Dunn: 4.5 Stars – I would have given him 5 stars but I was expecting Kris Dunn the NBA basketball player, and while this Kris Dunn does play basketball, he’s nowhere as good as the real Kris Dunn in the NBA. Loves to wear dress sneakers as part of his get-up, which I dig. The only person alive who drinks 32 oz Powerade Zeros in the morning, but didn’t drink the night before.

Tim S. on Steve Boese: 5 Stars – Have you felt his muscles? No, he legitimately works out, under all those fancy suits is a chiseled beast (or at least I’m told). The one dude is constantly on speed dial for a road trip to any sporting event in the world but prefers NBA and Gamecocks sports. Super secret Chairman’s dinners were the best until he sold out and went commercial. King of the top ten list.

Tim S. on Carmen Hudson: 4.5 Stars – She and I were separated at birth. Don’t even try to question, we have the 23 and Me results, haters! Shoes on point. Perfect travel pal. Drags a dude around with her that’s pretty cool, but he constantly complains about his plane seat while on this way to 5-star hotels. Not a 5 star because she lives in Seattle and that’s too far away from me.

So, what do you think!?! 100% improvement from a traditional LI Recommendation, right? I mean, you would hire all of these folks above, I mean if you could afford them, but you can’t, but you would!

Hit me in the comments with your LinkedIn/Yelp Recommendation of me (oh, this will be fun)! Also, be aware, I might hit you back with mine of you!

Why Aren’t You Celebrating When You Make a Hire in Recruiting?

When I was a brand spanking new recruiter right out of college something amazing would happen every single time we made a placement. Now, granted, this one in an agency environment, and we were kind of a small business, startup, but if we (not I, but anyone on the team) made a placement we celebrated!

Now, I’ve heard of TA shops where they ring a bell or play a song, or something like that. NO, I’m talking about closing down the office and popping a bottle of champagne that usually turned into other drinks, and coming to work the next morning with a slight headache, celebration! Doesn’t that seem crazy now, in the world we live in!? I know high-volume recruiters who are making 15 hires a week or more! That’s a lot of champagne!

It might not be popping bottles, but we should still be celebrating!

Let’s be honest. Currently, for almost all recruiters, we are on a treadmill and it doesn’t look like that treadmill is going to stop anytime soon! If there was ever a time to celebrate a hire, filling a position, it’s now! I had a TA leader tell me last week that she has never been more stressed in her career than she has been right now, and over the past 6-12 months. The job is non-stop, and not trying to sound too life-coachy but we have to stop and enjoy our successes!

So, what can we do to celebrate filling a position(s) on a daily, weekly, and/or monthly basis?

  1. Acknowledge those fills as a true success. Period. Because here is what happens. We start off a meeting by saying, “Hey, I just want to recognize Mary because she made four fills last week and that’s just awesome! Now, let’s talk about the 660 openings we still have open!” That is defeating. Try and separate the success conversation from the rest of the work conversation.
  2. Have a senior-level executive, above the hiring manager, send notes of thanks and encouragement. We many times feel like second-class citizens in recruiting. We hear the hiring managers and their bosses talk sh*t about us in meetings. It’s our fault that these positions aren’t getting filled and because of that, they are failing. Actually, it’s all of our fault, but they love using that excuse. If senior executives recognize and celebrate the successes of the recruiting team, it goes a long way. It goes even longer if they actually understand their role in this failure!
  3. Have a Hiring Manager who just had some great fills happen, come buy lunch for the recruiters. Yes, it’s the job of TA to fill jobs, but if you’re a hiring manager and you want great recruiting, recognize and thank your recruiters, often. It’s a super hard gig right now. They will appreciate you.
  4. Have the CEO send a company-wide note or video recognizing an individual recruiter who has gone above and beyond to get positions filled. Share the stories. Yes, this makes this one recruiter feel special, but it also signals to the company how important recruiting is right now for our entire success.
  5. Don’t allow you and your recruiting team to be victims or use victim phrases or behaviors. Yes, we are in a difficult spot, but we are here together, and the only way we’ll get out of this, will be together, as one. We support each other, always. We only talk about our team and the teammates on our team in positive ways. We help each other, unconditionally. In times of crisis, victim mentality kills recruiting teams faster than anything. I’m not asking you to be “Polly-Ann-ish”. I asking you to understand where you are and do not allow outside forces to pull you apart.

Also, ring the bell, buy cupcakes, take the team down to Dairy Queen for an hour, do crazy stuff that shows the organization that a hire was made, and goddammit, that is important to recognize and validate!

Recruiting is hard. Life is hard. What makes it all worth it, it to feel valued. Valued for who you are, and the work you do. To have some enjoyment amongst the chaos. To feel supported by peers, and support them back. It doesn’t take much, but it does take something.

Keep grinding out there people. I see you! And once is while, Pop a Bottle of Champagne and Celebrate!

9 Types of Employee Recognition That Suck!

I run a small business.  When I need to know something, I usually reach out to my employees and find out what they think.  It’s not some big fancy ‘research’ survey with thousands of responses, but it’s real.

Recently, I wanted to know what people might want in terms of a recognition award.  Ironically, what I found goes against some big fancy research done by recognition companies who are in the business of selling the crap on the list below, crazy how that works in the research game! Anywho, what I found wasn’t surprising to me.

Here’s the list of the Top 8 things my employees don’t want when it comes to Recognition Awards:

1. Anniversary Pins! If you give me one of these I will stick it back in your eye! “Hey, Tim, Thanks for 10 years! Buddy, here’s a pin!” A What!?!? I’ve given you ten great years and you’re giving me a pin. Is this 1955?

2. A Plaque. Or any other kind of trophy thing. If I wanted a trophy to show me that I’m a salesperson of the year, you hired the wrong person. JayZ said it best “we can talk, but money talks, so talk more bucks”.

3. Corporate logo wear. Giving out corporate logo wear as a form of recognition screams you have executives that haven’t actually spoken to an employee in the last twenty years!

4. A watch. Wait, if it’s a Rolex, I’ll take a watch. If it’s a Timex you better ‘watch’ out, I’m throwing it at someone! Nothing says we don’t really care about you like a $50 watch with it engraved on the back ‘You Matter! 2019!’

5. Luggage. The ‘experts’ would like you to believe that your employees would really ‘appreciate’ luggage because it’s an item they don’t normally like to spend their money on. The reason why people don’t like to spend their money on luggage is that it gets destroyed after one trip through O’Hare! That’s just what you want to see coming around the luggage carousel – “Hey, look, honey, it’s your employee of the year award all ripped up and stained”. Sign and symbols.

6. Fruit Baskets. First, most people don’t want to be healthy or we wouldn’t have the obesity problem we have in our society. Second, people like chocolate, candy, salty snacks, and diet soda. If you want to send food, send food they’ll actually eat!

7. A Parking Spot with Their Name On It. This goes bad two ways: 1. I drive a $100K Mercedes and you don’t, now you know I drive a better car than you and it’s awkward; 2. I drive a beater and I’m embarrassed to let everyone know I make so little I can even afford a 2014 Chevy Cobalt.

8. A Hug! Wait! I totally want a hug! Just not a creepy hug. You know what a creepy hug feels like when you’re about 13 seconds into it and the other person won’t let go! But nothing says “we recognize you” in the totally wrong way, like inappropriate hugs at work!

9. Anything Virtual! Get the hell out of here with your stupid virtual card and virtual balloons! Or a virtual Zoom high five. No one wants virtual recognition, they want some tangible and real.

What do employees want?

Well, that’s an entire post by itself, but my 20 years of HR ‘research’/experience shows people want their peers and leaders to appreciate their efforts. Nothing says ‘we truly care about you’ like having one of your peers tell you in some sort of way. When teams can do that, they become special! It might be a quick handwritten note, a face-to-face meeting in the hall, etc. It really doesn’t matter the avenue of how it comes, it just matters that you have the culture that it does come and it’s encouraged to keep coming.

I’m not a Dr. but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article regarding incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, using the pre-nominal “Dr.” when she has a doctorate in education, Ed.D, versus a medical doctorate, Ph.D. There is no doubt that Jill Biden did the work and received the degree, from a real, actual university.

The question really comes down to, is there really a difference in calling someone “Dr.”? 

I’m a brain surgeon, call me Dr. I’m a clinical psychologist, call me Dr. I’m a Pharmacist, call me Dr. I’m a Physical Therapist, call me Dr. I’m a Professor of Sport History, call me Dr. I’m a Vaccine Scientist, call me Dr. I teach English 101 at a local community college, call me Dr.

For each of those titles, currently, to obtain that title you have to have a doctorate degree. Well, actually, you don’t have to have a doctorate to teach at a university or community college. To become a medical doctor, Pharmacist, Physical Therapist, today, you must get your doctorate in the U.S. Regardless, many people get a doctorate but do jobs that don’t necessarily need a doctorate to do that job.

As a recruiting professional, I have an opinion. 

I believe we call people Dr. when in normal society those people are called “doctors”. When I go see a Physician, most people, who don’t know them personally, will call them “doctor”. If in a normal work setting, someone doesn’t call you “doctor”, but you call yourself doctor, that comes off really bad.

The worse is when you expect someone else to call you “doctor” but the average person in the world would never expect to call you “doctor”. Then you come across as pompous. “Tim, it’s nice to meet you!” Yes, that’s Dr. Tim, thank you. “No, that’s Dr. Asshole, goodbye!”

This is just good situational awareness if you are on the job market. We deal with many candidates who have their doctorate in various sciences. It’s very rare in a professional work setting they would ever use “Dr.”, and if they corrected a hiring manager during an interview, let’s face it, that wouldn’t end well.

Does any of this really matter? 

Before someone loses their head and puts in a 700-word comment about how I’m a misogynist against Dr. Jill Biden, check yourself. I could care less about what Jill Biden wants to be called. If she wants to call herself Queen, good for her! Dr. Queen, even better!

The reality is, most likely, this Op-Ed wouldn’t have been written if Jill Biden was voted in as President, and her first husband, Joe, has his doctorate in education, and called himself Dr. Joe Biden. So, that’s a problem. It doesn’t make the Op-Ed opinion wrong, just questionable.

If she’s comfortable with calling herself Dr., that’s all that really matters. I have a feeling that if I got an Ed.D or any other kind of doctorate degree, I would force people to call me Dr.! “Hey, Mr. Teddy Starbucks barista, that’s “Dr. Timmy”! Get it right!” I would also expect that people would say bad things behind my back if it wasn’t normal for someone with my degree to be called “Dr.”

What do the “real” doctors think? 

I got feedback from three friends who all have a doctorate degree. All three felt like this was basically bad form on the part of the writer of the Opt-Ed. He comes across as a sexiest, old, out of touch elitest.

There is, though, a background within the doctoral community of hazing between those with doctorates about who has the “better” degree and from the “better” school. Also, MD’s, medical doctors, most likely look down on all other doctorates who don’t save lives.

As my one friend put it, I will definitely give it to my fellow doctorate friends who have an Ed.D versus a Ph.D, or went to a B-level school versus an A-list school. But, let’s not kid ourselves, I could have not gone to my Ph.D class on management, or done poorly, and no one is losing their life!

The fact is, all doctorate recipients did the work. Professionally, they will take being called “Dr.” in that professional setting. Professors might not ask to be called “Dr.” but if a student calls them by “Dr.” it fits the professional setting. If Jill Biden is working on Educational Policy and Strategy, if completely fits her being called Dr. Biden, that is her professional role.

If I’m going out for dinner with Jill and Joe, in a personal setting, of course, it would seem weird for her to want me to call her Dr. Jill Biden at the dinner table, if we were just having a social dinner. But, that’s not what this is about. This is about someone you thinks he knows more than everyone else, and he’s going to mansplain it to us all, especially, a woman.

If Jill wants to be called Dr. Jill Biden, call her that. If you don’t like it, then don’t put yourself in a position to have to use her name. I’m sure she would appreciate that.

Tomorrow I’m Talking for 9 Minutes! Check it Out! #InnovateWork #FindGreatness

My buddy, Chris Bailey, from the Cayman Islands called me and said, “Hey, I’m helping out with this HR thing called InnovateWork. Will you come on the event and do a talk?” I ask, “How long?” He says, “9 minutes.” I say, “9 minutes! I can definitely talk for 9 minutes!”

The event is Tuesday, November 10th at 1 pm ET. You can register here, the entire event takes like an hour or so – besides my 9-minute talk, you can also see Chris, our friend William Tincup, Simmone L. Bowe from the Bahamas, and Dr. Cassida Jones Johnson from Jamaica

Also, hosting the event are some more friends, Julie Turney, Bill Banham, Rob Catalano (Bill and Rob co-Founded InnovateWork).

What will I be talking about for 9 minutes? 

Great question, but I have a way that I think we can discover who is great in your organization! Yep, in 9 minutes I’m going to teach every single person on the webcast how they can discover who is great in your organization No technology needed. I’m not selling anything. Well, I’m selling you a great idea and an exercise that your leadership teams will love!

In 9 minutes I’m going to actually walk you through the exercise that you can then take back to your own organization and use! It’s simple but powerful, I’ve literally done this in organizations and had people crying!

Come check it out! It’s an hour or so out of your week, and I guarantee you it will be worth it!

REGISTER HERE! 

If You Pay Women More They’ll Work Harder Than Men! (It’s Science!)

A new study out from Harvard (so you know it’s legit and sh*t!) on what is the real payoff on paying employees more. It the age-old question, right? We can’t find great talent, so we say, “well, if we paid more we could find more talent”. Not quite “great talent” but more talent.

But, that really isn’t even the question this is answering. This is about what about our own employees and if we paid them more, would they work harder?

So, will employees work harder for more money? 

The study looked at mass retail and warehouse workers and found that a $1 increase in pay would on average, overall employees, give back the company $1,10 in extra productivity. Not great, but in very big organizations, an extra $.10 per hour in productivity could be significant, but there were other findings I found more fascinating:

1. Women, on average, will actually work harder for more pay than men! 

2. It’s super hard to pre-select those employees, or candidates, who will actually be more productive with the additional pay.

In fact, “women’s productivity responds more and their turnover responds less to wage changes than men’s, which can lead to occupational pay gaps”. Meaning, less pay doesn’t have the same impact on women as it does men. Men are more likely to turnover when they feel they aren’t being compensated fairly.

The other side of this study that is fascinating from a compensation perspective is something we all kind of know, but never like to admit to – we actually kind of suck at selection and determining who will be a great performer from a poor performer. Interviews, especially in no-skill, low-skill jobs, are basically worthless.

You might have a better chance of being a pay leader and only hiring women. At least you’ll give yourself a better chance the ladies will work harder for that money!

I think what this really speaks to is class pay for performance. Our need to make sure we are paying those employees, who perform the best, more than those employees who do not perform the best. We struggle with this. “Well, Tim, they are all classified “Warehouse Associates 1″ if we paid them differently there would be chaos!”

I get it. It’s not easy, but being great is never easy. Do you really think what you are doing now is really working great?

I think we have the ability in retail, dining, warehouse, manufacturing, do compensation testing where we try some of these philosophies and ideas. What would happen if we developed great productivity measures, and then we really compensated our best performers more. Not twenty-five cents more, but significantly more than their peers who are average or below average on those same metrics?

Might you have some turnover of weaker players? Yep. Is that a bad thing? Maybe, most likely not, if you’re prepared with a funnel of potential new hires. Becoming great at HR is about challenging what we are doing now, so we can become better than we are for the future.

Now, go take care of those ladies who are working harder than your dudes!

Does Your Average Employee Tenure Matter? (New Data!)

I keep getting told by folks who tend to know way more than me that employees ‘today’ don’t care about staying at a company long term. “Tim you just don’t get it, the younger workforce just wants to spend one to three years at a job than leave for something new and different.” You’re right! I don’t get it.

BLS recently released survey data showing that the average employee tenure is sitting around 4.1 years.  Which speaks to my smart friends who love to keep replacing talent. I still don’t buy this fact as meaning people don’t want long term employment with one organization.

Here’s what I know about high tenured individuals:

1. People who stay long term with a company tend to make more money over their careers.

2. People who stay long term with a company tend to reach the highest level of promotion.

3. People who tend to stay long term with a company tend to have higher career satisfaction.

I don’t have a survey on this. I have twenty years of working in the trenches of HR and witnessing this firsthand. The new CEO hire from outside the company gets all the press, but it actually rarely happens. Most companies promote from within because they have trust in the performance of a long-term, dedicated employee, over an unknown from the outside. Most organizations pick the known over the unknown.

I still believe tenure matters a great deal to the leadership of most organizations.  I believe that a younger workforce still wants to find a great company where they can build a career, but we keep telling them that is unrealistic in today’s world.

Career ADHD is something we’ve made up to help us explain to our executives why we can no longer retain our employees.  Retention is hard work. It has a real, lasting impact on the health and well-being of a company. There are real academic studies that show the organizations with the highest tenure, outperform those organizations with lower tenure.  (here, here, and here)

Employee tenure is important and it matters a great deal to the success of your organization. If you’re telling yourself and your leadership that it doesn’t, that it’s just ‘kids’ today, we can’t do anything about it, you’re doing your organization a disservice. You can do something about it. Employee retention, at all levels, should be the number 1, 2, and 3 top priorities of your HR shop.

Influencers or Analysts? Who has the most impact on your brand?

The worlds of Influencers and Analysts have never collied more than they are right now in the HR industry. Most of this has to do with the popularity of Influencer Marketing that has taken off in the past decade, and like most things in HR, we are now just catching up with the marketing trend.

Traditionally, in the HR space, companies selling products, technology, and services only really cared about two things: 1. What do our clients think of us, and 2? What do the “Analysts” think of us?

What’s an Analyst? 

Every industry has them. These are basically individuals who work for organizations like Deloitte, Gartner, Forrester Research, IDC, and hundreds of boutique firms specializing in specific parts of the HR ecosystem. The individuals spend a great deal of time understanding the landscape of a specific function in HR, the technology, the processes, what works, and what doesn’t, etc. Then your organization pays its organization a great deal of money for this expert knowledge.

The hope is, using this expert Analyst knowledge will ultimately help you save time, money, and missteps because you’ve hired a firm of experts to help you make the right decisions. Many of these experts have never actually worked a day in HR, but hold MBAs and such. Some of these people are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and if you listened to them, they could truly help you. Some are idiots working for a big firm.

Examples of Analyst I admire: William Tincup, Madeline Laurano, Trish McFarlane, George LaRocque, Ben Eubanks, Kyle Lagunas, John Sumser, Holger Mueller, Jason Cerrato, Josh Bersin, Sarah Brennanetc. 

This will then beg the question of well, then, what’s an Influencer? 

Influencer marketing has been around for a hundred years, but Kim Kardashian is the queen of modern-day influencers. I’m famous! You see me talking about or using this product. You buy this product. That’s really the backbone of influencer marketing. I mean Kimmy D would never steer you wrong, would she?

An Influencer is anyone in an industry that a measurable amount of people are listening to, which will influence their buying behavior. I write a blog post on some products that I’m using in my own shop. It’s super awesome! You go out, look at it, and decide to buy it and use it with your team. You’ve been influenced.

Most of the influencers in the HR industry are current or former practitioners, they’ve lived your life. Some are super smart and have the resume to back it up. Some are complete idiots. Any idiot can have a blog (I’m a great example!). Most influencers, like an analyst, have a specialty, something they’re better at than other stuff. Some influence full time, but most hold down ‘real’ jobs to pay the bills. So, they probably don’t have the time to deep dive into the industry, as you’ll see with analysts.

Examples of Influencers I admire: Kris Dunn, Dawn Burke, Carmen Hudson, Robin Schooling, Jason LauritsenLaurie Ruettimann, Jennifer McClure, Sharlyn Lauby, Steve Browne, Sabrina Baker, Joey Price, Mary Faulkner, Jessica Miller Merrell, Janine Truitt-Dennis, etc. (there’s really too many to name!)

Many of these people are HR Famous! They have worked hard to create an audience who for the most part listens to what they have to say.

You also have people that fall into this strange middle ground of Influencer-Analysts types that have no name. Maybe they started out as an influencer, then became an Analyst, or maybe they were an Analyst who became popular and started influencing. Examples in this camp are folks like: Josh Bersin, Jason Averbook, Sarah Brennen, Trish McFarlane, Ben Eubanks, etc.

(BTW – All of these people you should connect to! )

So, who has the most impact on your Brand? Influencers or Analysts? 

This is not an easy question to answer because like almost anything it depends on a lot! We all know of a certain product we love and regardless of the influence or what some expert is telling us, we will just buy it because we love it!

We also have an untold number of products and services we buy because someone we trust told us about it, and because we trust them, we go buy it.

If you’re a large enterprise-level product or service, basically selling to companies that have more than 5,000 employees, you better make nice with the Analyst community! They tend to have the ear of more enterprise buyers then you’ll typically see from influencers. I doubt very highly the CHRO of Google is reading this blog! (but I know the CPO of GM is!)

What I see is companies selling to enterprises usually work with both Analysts and Influencers. They want to ensure their message is heard across the buying community, so they don’t miss out on a potential buyer, and they have the money to do both.

Companies selling to under 5,000 employees and it starts to get a little harder to determine the impact of Analysts. I mean how many HR and Talent shops in Small to Medium-sized businesses have the money to pay for Analysts Research? Not many! If you run an HR shop of a 1500 person company, you do not have $50,000 to hear what the best ATS is! The ATS you buy won’t even cost $50K!

Behind the scenes, most analysts understand their biggest impact on the enterprise buyer, and because that’s where the money is, that’s exactly where they want to be! If you have buyers across small, medium, large, and enterprise markets, it then becomes a more difficult decision on how you use Influencer marketing.

The real answer to the question above is you engage with the analyst and influencers that have the most positive impact on selling your product. Unfortunately, most organizations have little or no idea if either side is having an impact on selling their stuff.

Who has the juice? 

I call someone who has ‘real’ influence as having the “juice”. If you have the ‘juice’ you have the ability to influence real buying decisions on a regular basis. Laurie Ruettimann tells you to go out and buy this new great HR product, and that organization will see a measurable sales increase directly tied to the links in her posts. She’s got juice!

I wrote about an HR Tech company a few months ago after a demo and a month later they sent me a bottle of gin because they landed a six-figure deal directly from my mentioning them in a post. That’s gin and juice! 😉

Most people who call themselves influencers in the HR space have little or no juice. Usually, because they just don’t have a large enough, sustained audience who is listening. They might be 100% correct in their recommendations and insight, but not enough people are listening to move the buying needle.

I love what the folks are doing over at Advos because they are actually showing organizations who have the juice and who doesn’t. I can tell you I have the juice and say I’m the #1 Influencer in the HR marketplace, but the reality is, anyone can say that! HRMarketer is actually giving data behind those words to let people know where the real juice is.

The truth around all of the analyst vs. influencer chatter is that you’ll find people in both groups who can help you and people in both groups who are complete idiots and have no value. The best thing to do is build a relationship with both, find out who moves your needle and aligns with the messaging you’re trying to get out, and then measure. Eventually, you’ll find the right mix that will work for your organization.