How many people in your profession actually know what they are doing?

I asked this question recently to a number of people. On a normal distribution curve of performance it should look something like this:

-20% are Top Performers

-70% are Average Performers

-10% are Not Performing at all

So, my belief would be if I asked an individual in any professional occupational role, “Tell me what percentage of pros in your field actually know what they are doing?” That I should get a very similar distribution. But I didn’t!

Ask yourself this question right now. How many of your peers, doing the same job you are doing right now, actually know how to do the job?

If you are a plumber, and I put ten plumbers in front of you, are you confident 80-90% can do the job? No? Then how many? If you are an HR Professional, what percentage of your peers are actually good at our profession?

Here was the breakdown I received, in terms of what percentage of peers in your field can actually perform at an acceptable level, as rated by their peer group:

Only 1% of the 394 people surveyed felt like over 90% of people in their field knew what the heck they were doing! 18% of people felt like less than 10% of the people in their field knew what they were doing! 

What does this tell us?

Almost everyone overrates their own performance and underrates the performance of those around them doing the same job. It’s really hard for us, in a peer setting, to look at others and go, “yeah, Mary is way better than me!” It’s way easier for us to look at a peer and go, “Oh, Tim? Yeah, he’s an idiot! We don’t let him get near the Happy Meals!”

What I actually tend to find when auditing various functions within an organization is that most people can actually do the job that is requested, when it takes lower-level skills. As you ramp up the skill difficulty is when you see larger variations, which isn’t very comforting.

What are the professions that take high skill? Medical, legal, accounting/finance, technology, etc. Most of these professions, to be really good, you need a combination of a strong education, experience, continual learning, and high attention to detail. Because most of these professions are high paying and have high hiring needs, many people are trying to get into the field, but don’t have all four of the requirements mentioned!

Anyone who has gone through a frustrating medical issue where doctors couldn’t find out what was wrong, only then to go to a more well-known medical facility and immediately get a real diagnosis and treatment, understand this perfectly.

If you’ve been through a difficult legal battle you understand the difference between a $300 an hour lawyer and a $1000 an hour lawyer! There are certain things in life you don’t cheap out on. I don’t want the cheapest brain surgeon or tax accountant or criminal defense lawyer. I’m okay with the cheapest quote to cut my lawn.

The difference in skill and performance levels amongst peers is probably greater than we think. I don’t think 20% of people in the same profession are top performers, it’s probably closer to 1%. We know rock stars in a profession when we see them, and it’s rare. You don’t have 2 or 3 on every team.

That’s why it’s critical that if you have high performing talent, at any level, you do almost anything to retain them. Most will outperform a handful of average to low performing peers doing the exact same job.

 

3 Ways You Can Extend the Work Lifecycle of Older Employees

One of the biggest biases we have as leaders is ageism. If you’re 35 years old and running a department and you are looking to fill a position on your team that will be your righthand person, the last thing you’re looking for is a 55-year-old to fill that spot! That’s just me being real for a second.

You and I both know that 35-year-old hiring manager is looking for a 25 – 28 year old to fill that spot

That’s mainly because at 35 you’re still basically stupid. I was. You were. We think 35ish is the pinnacle of all knowledge, but it’s really when we just start learning for real.

So, we have this core issue to deal with in workplaces right now. Our leaders are mostly Millennial and GenX, and Millennials are increasing into these roles at a rapid rate. Because of the Boomers leaving in large amounts, there aren’t enough talented young workers to replace the knowledge gap that is being left. So, we are left grappling with what we think we want (youth) with what really needs (experience!).

A recent study at the University of Minnesota found that employers need to add programs to focus on older workers:

The study argued that programs aimed at training workers won’t be enough to satisfy the state’s need for workers between 2020 and 2030. New policy directives and incentives may be needed, including offering pathways for baby boomers to delay retirement, drawing in workers from other states and supporting immigration from other countries

“There’s all this focus on workforce development, but none of it is guided to older workers,” said Mary Jo Schifsky, whose business, GenSync, advocates for meaningful career pathways for older adults and who helped initiate the study for the Board on Aging with the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “We need career pathways for older workers just as much as we do for younger workers.”
 
In the U survey, managers ranked baby boomers high on loyalty, professionalism, engagement, and their commitment to producing quality work.
Employers need to find ways to extend the Work-Life Cycle of the older employees that work for them until the workforce, technology, and retraining programs can catch up to fill the void. Most employers are only focused on programs that are looking at younger workers.
So, what can you do as an employer to extend the life cycle of your older employees?
1.  Have real conversations with older employees about what they want. Most employers shy away from having the ‘retirement’ conversation with older employees because they think it’s embarrassing or illegal. It’s not. It’s a major reality of workforce planning. “Hey, Mary, Happy 55th Birthday, let’s talk about your future!” Oh, you want to work 18 more years! Nice! Let’s talk about a career path!
I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard a hiring manager say, “I don’t want to hire him because he’s 59 and is going to hire soon.” Well, I spoke to him and he wants to work until he’s 70 (11 years) and our average employee tenure is 4.7 years. I think we’re good!
2. Stop, Stop, Stop, believing that all you can do is hire full and part-time FTEs into roles. If Mary, my 63-year-old financial analyst wants to give me five more years of work, but only wants to work three days per week, in role ‘traditionally’ we’ve only had a full-timer, I’m taking Mary for three days! HR owes it to our organizations and hiring manager to push them out of the box when it comes to schedules and how we have always filled positions. 3 days of Mary is probably worth 3 weeks of an entry-level analyst in the same role!
We do this to ourselves. I hear it constantly from hiring managers, “HR won’t allow me to do that.” Why? Have you asked? No, but HR doesn’t allow us to do anything. We need to come to our hiring managers with solutions and let them see we are open to doing whatever it takes to help the organization meet its people’s needs.
3. Develop programs and benefits specifically designed to retain older employees. I work with a plant manager who developed an entire engineering internship program around having his retired engineers come back and work three days a week with interns and paid them ‘on-call’ wages for the days they weren’t there, so interns could call them with questions at any time. These retired engineers loved it! They could come to do some real work, help out, and still have a great balance.
It went so well, he kept some on all year, on-call, and partnered them with younger engineers who needed the same support and assistance from time to time. The on-call rate was pretty inexpensive, the support and knowledge they got in return, was invaluable.
It all comes down to flexibility on our part as employers to extend the life cycle of our older employees. We no longer have this choice where we can just throw our older employees away and think we can easily replace them. We can’t! There physically isn’t anyone there!
This is about using each other’s strengths. Younger leaders will be stretched and we need to help them stretch. We need to help older employees understand their roles. In the end, we need to find a way where we can all see each other for the strengths we bring to the table, not the opportunities.
It’s our job as HR professionals to work on how we can extend the life cycle of each of our employees.

Working Outside of Your Time Zone Sucks!

For most of my adult life, I’ve worked mostly in the timezone I lived in. So, when I worked in the mountain or central time zones I lived in those time zones. For the vast majority of my career, I’ve worked in the Eastern time zone. I’m not trying to be time zone conceded, but I think most business people live on EST.

If you ranked the top five most workable time zones, globally, I think most people would have it something like:

  1. EST or GMT-4 (New York, D.C., Boston)
  2. GMT+1 (the UK)
  3. WST or GMT-7 (LA, Seattle, San Fran)
  4. GMT+8 (Singapore)
  5. CST or GMT-5 (Chicago/Houston/DFW)

What do you think? Agree, disagree, don’t care.

For a couple of weeks, I decided to work from home from St. George, UT (GMT-6). My team is all EST, so I was two hours “behind” them. I usually get to work around 7:30 am, which meant text messages, Teams notifications, emails, etc. started around 5:30 am.

I had a choice to make. Sleep and work like a normal person and get going around 8 am “my time” at where I was at, or totally just keep my companies EST working time. I decided to try and live normally in Utah, but it was strange. Being two hours off most of your team means you feel like you’re playing catch up all day, and then they get done around 5 pm and you have two hours with almost no interaction at the end of your day.

With more and more organizations going to work at home “forever” and allowing people to work remotely wherever they want, I see this issue increasing. I know global organizations have been doing this for a long time and for many this is a new concept. You’re right, it’s not new.

It just sucks!

I’m sure you get used to scheduling meetings in the middle of the day so it works for everyone or working late into the evening or early morning for those leaders with teams on the opposite side of the world, but when the majority of your team is in one timezone and you are in another, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out.

It’s probably more difficult for those who have worked in one timezone and then move to another, versus all of those people that worked in a different timezone since the beginning. If it’s all you know, it’s all you know.

So, I’m wondering. How do you cope with living and working in a different timezone than the majority of your team? How do you stay connected and not feel like you’ve missed out? Hit me in the comments with your strategies.

If you think GenZs are Entitled Snowflakes, You’re an Idiot!

I made this joke on Twitter recently:

This has been a frustration of so many of my peers in Human Resources over the past couple of years. We have leaders, usually Gen X or Boomers, who think anyone younger than them are called “Millennials”. It’s uninformed at best, and just a bad look for leaders in our organizations.

The crazy part is it’s not just about getting the generational names correct, it’s also about how we tag a generation. I’m not a fan of “generational” training programs, but they are hugely popular. I get requests to come and talk about generational differences to organizations monthly, and I’ve never spoken about generational differences!

For some reason, we are fascinated by the concept of having multiple generations working together in the workplace. We want to know all the broad differences between the generations, knowing as soon as we throw out one of those stereotypes, we immediately look like idiots.

I’m particularly triggered by older leaders who feel Gen Z’s are just a bunch of kids you are entitled snowflakes on their phone all of the time. I’m this way because I have three Gen Z sons and see who they, and their friends, are becoming and in so many ways they will outshine my Gen X generation over the same period of time, by a mile!

CNN did an article highlighting four GenZs who are doing amazing things:

  • One is teaching swimming to people with disabilities.
  • One started a movement to cheer up kids going through difficult times.
  • One is helping Vets in need.
  • One is making and delivering “Blessing Bags” for the needy.

What all of these GenZ people have in common is what I see from my own GenZ connections. GenZ grew up during the Great Recession and saw what hard times do to people. In turn, that experienced shaped them into young people who want to help others, are willing to do the work to help others, and do it in a way that is modern and digital.

Yes, they are on their phones a lot. So, are we all. But, they use this digital world to do things a speed we could have never comprehended when we were their age. They are consuming information at a rate far exceeding every generation before them, which makes them better informed than most before them.

I wouldn’t call them entitled or snowflakes. They are not delicate or looking for a handout. They were raised in hard times and they are giving back as much as any before them. You might call me a fan of this generation. I have so much hope for what they will bring to the world. As a parent, I guess we probably all feel that way about our kids.

As we get ready to go into 2020, I would love to see all leaders embrace this growing younger workforce in a way that is positive and hopeful for the future. I think we are in good hands with GenZ!

This isn’t about “Fit”, it’s about your Bias is showing!

“We’re big on CULTURE and fit!” We’re looking for the “right” person, not just skills!” “We just kind of know if they’ll fit or not…”

Of course, it’s not The Project if we don’t have some sports analogies that I tie back to some HR topic! That’s how this puppy was founded, probably won’t change. So, you might have missed a great sports-HR topic that popped last week!

LSU is the top college football program in the land and their head coach is Ed Orgeron. He’s beloved by a lot of people and has a great coaching pedigree. It’s surprising, with all of his success at LSU, that USC could have had him as their head coach, but he was passed over. And last week the truth of why he was passed overcame out!

“Specifically, Feldman said certain people in the Pat Haden administration “couldn’t get past what Ed Orgeron sounded like.”

“They didn’t listen to the players. They didn’t listen to the staff,” Feldman explained. “Ed Orgeron’s not a country club guy. I think he can relate to just about anybody…I think he can read people very well. I don’t think Pat Haden, who was the decision-maker at the time, that’s just not kind of guy he wanted. And I don’t think he could get past it.”

USC as an institution is elitist. They have graduates like Matt Charney and Neil Armstrong and George Lucas and OJ Simpson. Pat Haden, himself a USC graduate and Rhodes scholar, was the Athletic Director at the time Ed Orgeron was the interim head coach.

Can you imagine one of your hiring managers coming to you and saying, “Yeah, the resume is awesome, the references are awesome, but you know the candidate sounds dumb, so I’m going to pass!” That’s culture and fit. “We’re great” and we need someone who is going to “represent” us in a way where he makes us believe we are still great.

Pat had a bias. I want a head coach who ‘looks’ and ‘sounds’ like a head coach of USC. What does that mean? Looks good in a suit. Sounds like an educated person, probably white (at least sounds white). Heterosexual with a pretty wife. It was a look, an image. It wasn’t about results.

Pat Haden and USC were just doing what most organizations constantly do. They were hiring for fit. For “culture”. Believing somehow they had it figured out. Turns out, for Ed’s sake, they made the right call, because he is in a position where he is valued and they actually like his accent!

If you find yourself in an interview debrief and the conversation starts going down a path of “Fit” understand you’re about to hear someone’s bias coming out! Maybe you’ll even catch yourself and your own bias. We all have some and they mostly come out when we really can’t determine a real reason of why we don’t want to hire someone!

The Employee Walk of Shame

I’ve lost jobs and I’ve called old employers to see if they would want to hire me back. I’ve usually gotten a response that sounded something like, “Oh, boy would we want you back but we just don’t have anything. Good Luck!”  Many of us in the talent game talk about our employee Alumni and how we should engage our Alumni but very few of us really take true advantage of leveraging this network.

I was reminded of this recently when a friend of mine took a new job.  You know the deal, shorter drive, more money, growing company and oh, boy, just where do I sign!?  The fact was, it was all they said, shorter drive, more money and they were growing, but they forgot to tell him was our operations are broken beyond repair, you will work 7 days a week and probably 12-14 hours per day because of the mess we have, but keep your head up it’s the only way you won’t drown here!

So, now what does he do?

He already had the going away party, bar night out with the work friends with the promises to do lunches and not get disconnected, packed up and unpack the office into the new office.  Let’s face it, big boy, you’re stuck!  Not so fast.  He did the single hardest thing an employee can do he called his old boss after 7 days and said one thing, “I made a mistake, can I come back?”

Luckily for him, his past boss was a forward-thinking leader and so this past Monday he did the 2nd hardest thing an employee can do he made the “Employee Walk of Shame“.

You can imagine the looks from people who didn’t know him well, “Hey, wait a minute, didn’t you leave?” Having to tell the same story over and over, feeling like he failed, like he wasn’t good enough to make it in the new position.

HR plays a huge part in this story because it was HR who can make this walk of shame a little less rough.  Let’s face it, it is different.  You just don’t leave and come back as nothing happened. Something did happen, there was a reason he left and that reason isn’t going away.  A transition back needs to be put into place even though he was gone seven days.  It’s not about just plugging back in, it is about re-engaging again and finding out what we all can do better so it doesn’t happen again.

It’s also about making sure you let those employees who you truly want back, that they are welcome to come back (assuming you have the job) and not just saying that to everyone.  There are employees who leave that you say a small prayer to G*d and you are thankful they left!  There are others where you wish there was a prayer you could say so they wouldn’t leave.

Make it easy for your employees to do the Walk of Shame, it helps the organization, but realize they are hurting, they are embarrassed, but they are also grateful!

DisruptHR Detroit 3.0 Speaker Applications Now Being Accepted!

For those who don’t know, I’m involved with DisruptHR Detroit with an amazing team of HR pros and leaders, and we are putting on our 3rd event on Thursday, September 19th at 6 pm.

Great DisruptHR events start with Great content and we are now Accepting Speaker Applications for DisruptHR Detroit 3.0!

Due Date is August 2nd!

Tickets for this event will go on sale on August 5th and we’ll announce the full slate of speakers and the agenda on August 9th.

The location of DisruptHR 3.0 will be downtown Detroit at The Madison. Click through to the DisruptHR Detroit site for more information.

Who makes a Great DisruptHR Speaker

Anyone with a passion for HR, Recruiting, People and pushing the envelope around what, why and how we do what we do every day in the world of work!

We especially love practitioners of all experience levels. You don’t know have to be a twenty-year vet to be great at DisruptHR! You can be an HR pro in your first year on the job. It’s all about passion and ideas!

So, what makes a great DisruptHR Talk?

  1. It’s 5 minutes – so you better be tight around what your topic and idea is!
  2. 20 slides that move every 15 seconds – you don’t control this, we do. So you better practice!
  3. No selling products or services – Yes to selling ideas and passions!
  4. Make us feel something – laugh, cry, anger – have a take and be proud of that take!
  5. We see and feel your passion.

We’ve built DisruptHR Detroit to be a supportive hub of HR and Recruiting. We want people to come and challenge us, but know you’ll be rewarded with an audience that will support you and cheer you on. These talks aren’t easy, and we get that! The audience gets that!

How can you speak at DisruptHR Detroit 3.0?

APPLY to Speak it’s easy! It’s a great development opportunity for those looking to get on stage and have some professional experience speaking. You actually get a professionally produced video of your talk that you can use as evidence of your ability. It’s also a great networking opportunity with the Detroit metro HR and Talent community!

Job Descriptions vs. Job Postings with @LRuettimann and I (Video) @HRTMSInc #SHRM19

Laurie Ruettimann and I discuss the differences between a job description and a job posting and review a great piece of technology called, JDXpert, we did a demo on. Check it out!

HRTMS Inc. is a human resources software company that specializes in Job Information and Description Management. Its groundbreaking solution JDXpert allows you to bring structure and efficiencies to the way job information is constructed, managed and stored. HRTMS works with a wide range of organizations including manufacturing, healthcare, education, retail, finance, pharmaceuticals, energy, technology, hospitality, professional services, and media services. Since its release in 2010, JDXpert continues to be the most comprehensive and powerful job description management tool on the market.

HRTMS is allowing Laurie and I to give away a free Ebook – “10 Ways To Improve Your Job Descriptions”! (Just click on the link to download!)

 

Career Confessions of Gen Z – The Holy Grail of Benefits

Welcome to the reboot of Career Confessions of Gen Z! I started this in 2018 with my Gen Z son, Cameron, and the response was off the charts. So, in 2019 I found 8 great Gen Z HR, TA, and Marketing pros to continue the Gen Z content. Enjoy! 


The early members of Generation Z have entered the workforce and the rest of the 61 million Gen Z’s are on their way. A big question that employers have been asking regarding this generation is, “What do we offer to attract them to our company?”.

To attract and retain this generation, many companies have been altering their benefits and internal culture to be more appealing. More and more companies are now offering things like a flexible work-life balance schedule, remote work days, casual dress codes, a 401k match, advancement and rotational opportunities, and etc.

While those benefits are appealing, only 4% of companies are offering the most attractive benefit that will not only attract Gen Z candidates, but will generate major employee loyalty. That benefit is Loan Forgiveness Assistance.

CNBC reported that eight in 10 workers with student loans say they would value in working for a firm that provides extra dollars for student debt repayment.  I find it hard to believe that number isn’t 10 out of 10!

In the U.S, people collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student debt. Most of that student debt belongs to Millennials and early Gen Z’s. An additional $1.27 trillion in new federal student loans is estimated to be added between now and 2028 by Gen Z. This generation is going to find themselves in the same debt situation as Millennials as tuition rates continue to rise.

Student debt is a real, growing problem that employers can help reduce and that we want them to help us reduce.

Not only is contributing toward student loan debt a major perk for employees, but it also ensures employee loyalty and retention. By offering this benefit, employers are giving their employees an awesome reason to never leave their company and to want to work their asses off for them.

I have a few Gen Z friends that are in companies that have some sort of student loan repayment assistance in place and I can tell you that they never plan on leaving those companies. The fact that the companies make contributions towards their student loans was also one of the major reasons they chose to work at their companies. They scored the holy grail of benefits when they accepted their jobs!

There are a few different ways in which employers can offer loan forgiveness assistance. To learn more about what other companies are doing and how student loan repayment assistance programs have been mutually beneficial for employers and employees, consider reading the following links:

A 401(k) Twist on Student-Loan Aid

Student Loan Repayment Is The Hottest Employee Benefit Of 2018

How Student Loan Debt Impacts Your Employees

Student Loan Repayment: The Job Perk Of The Future


Hallie Priest is a digital marketer for HRU Technical Resources, a leading engineering, and IT staffing firm based in Lansing, MI, using her skills to create content to serve all involved in the job seeking/hiring process. When she is not strategizing campaigns, going over analytics, or talking about her dog you can find her at the nearest coffee shop fueling her creativity. Connect with her on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/halliepriest


Co-Managing with an A–hole!

In the modern work world, we are often tasked as leaders to co-lead, co-manage a team, a function, a location, etc. The challenges to this are many, but none is more difficult when you have to do that and the other person is a complete a-hole!

What I find is that most a-holes have no idea they’re an a-hole, or they know they’re an a-hole but some broke in their brain to make them believe their actually a better person/leader as an a-hole versus a normal person.

What are the jerk, a-hole leader behaviors? Being condescending to the employees they lead. Talking behind the back of those they lead to others on the team that are a peer of that person. Not supporting their co-leader on things that were previously agreed to, etc. You know what I’m talking about!

I’m lucky that I haven’t had this issue for a while but I see it happen all the time in organizations I support, and it’s one of the most talked about issues I hear from friends and peers that work in corporate gigs. Here’s some of my advice for co-managing with an a-hole:

– A–holes hate being put in a box. Put them in a box. Get agreements on things, then get written confirmation of those agreements. I find a-hole leaders will work not to confirm via email or written communication, especially if they don’t really agree with the direction and plan to screw you later!

– Always stay above the line in front of those who report to you and your peers. “Above the line” means you never allow yourself to do or have the same bad behaviors as your co-manager. You take the high road, always. Trust me, in the end, you’ll benefit greatly from this!

– Be brutally honest in your assessment of your a-hole co-manager. I find most a-hole leaders are never told by a peer that they’re being an a-hole with real specific examples. Most if told, will actually try to change those behaviors. Some are truly just a-holes and they won’t change, but it will make you feel better to address it. Also, don’t stop addressing it! Every time it happens, call them out. That is actually an “above the line” behavior by you calling them out!

As a leader dealing with this situation will probably be the most challenging you’ll have in your career, but ignoring it, complaining to your boss, to matching their behavior are all losing propositions that take your career nowhere.

I love killing a-holes with kindness! It doesn’t happen often to them, they are used to getting the opposite reaction from their behavior, so extreme kindness to them really throws them off guard and unsettles them which can be quite funny!