Do you ask your interviewer about your competition?

So, here’s the deal. Timmy gets his big break and gets the interview he’s always wanted. Goes in. Kills it. You know how Timmy does! The interviewer is doing interviewer things and drops the question, “So, Timmy, do you have any questions for me?”

Do “I” have questions for you!?! Heck, yes! I’ve been preparing for this interview for all of my life, or at least for about thirteen seconds before walking in the door! I do have some questions!

What question can an interviewee ask that will totally turn you off? 

There are probably a lot. We covered one a few weeks back in terms of asking about money, which is a big turn-off for a lot of interviewers. But one question came up and I wanted to crowdsource some results! Here’s the question:

“So, Mrs. Interviewer, can you tell me how I stack up against my competition?” (The other candidates who are also interviewing)

Hmmm….

I’ve got some feels on this:

  1. Gutsy. It could definitely blow-up on you in a hurry! Might be an immediate turn-off, and I’m not sure it would ever be a real turn-on.
  2. It does allow you to redirect the conversation back to strengths if your competition has some things they like over you. “Well, let me tell you a little more about how I also bring this to the table…”
  3. Most Hiring Managers will politely decline to talk about other people interviewing, maybe chuckle a little at the question, it’s a bit old school, so the older the people in the room, probably more likely to get a positive response.
  4. It’s aggressive, so if the role is a position where aggressiveness is a trait that is desired, it might be worth a shot.

I think there might be a better way to ask the same question, but use different wording to engage the conversation:

“What have you seen, by others interviewing, that you really liked about what they would bring to this position? Or, was there something you were hoping to hear from me, or others interviewing, that you’re not hearing?” 

This now takes it off the personal comparison of one candidate to another, and back to what the hiring manager is really looking for. Which again, allows you to redirect to your strengths, or minimize a weakness.

What say you TA and HR Pros? Hiring Managers? Does this question turn you off? If not, is there a question that would turn you off on a candidate?

Hit me in the comments!

From Great to Crap is Mostly a Management Failure

Can we all agree that we hire someone our thoughts are that this new hire can only get better. We think this person will be great when we hire them, and we expect them to only get better. Is this true? Or do you feel when you make an offer to a new hire this person will be a piece of crap you’ll one day fire?

If this is the case, when an employee turns into garbage we must accept the fact this it is mostly our doing as leaders. Somewhere along the line, we failed this person. We hired potential to be great and we did not help this person reach their greatness.

Where do we fail as leaders when someone goes from Great to Crap? 

– We failed to truly assess this person before we hired them. We thought we were hiring great, but we didn’t do enough due diligence to truly understand this person’s skills and motivations.

– We failed to onboard this employee thoroughly to set them on a path for success. To prepare them for our culture and norms.

– We failed to train and develop this person in a way that would assist them on their path of success within our organization. To give them the skills needed to succeed in their role.

– We failed to define, accurately and clearly, what a ‘great’ performance looked like in our organization and in this role.

– We failed to lead them to a performance that would guarantee their success. We allowed their performance to slip into negative territory and not help pull them out of it.

As a leader, we fail our people constantly. Should we talk about how employees fail us? We could, that’s what we usually do. We find every excuse in the world to tell ourselves how a great person turned into a piece of crap when the common denominator was our leadership. It’s not us, it has to them.

They fooled us in the interview.

They lied about their past performance.

They embellished their skill sets and motivations.

They didn’t do the work necessary.

It’s them, it’s not us. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. Well, anyway, I gave them the exact same thing I’ve given every hire before them.

Maybe they needed a bit more than all the hires. Maybe they needed something less, but different than the other hires. Maybe a one-size-fits-all training, development, performance doesn’t fit every size.

Okay, Yes, there is dual ownership over failed hires

That means, if someone has failed, under your leadership you must first look inward to what part you truly owned. What you didn’t do to help this person succeed. I’m depressed after every single termination I’ve done in my career because I know somewhere along the line, I failed as a leader. There was a point where I could have made a difference, and instead, I made an excuse.

I become a better selector of people and a better leader if I internalize each failed hire and try to better understand the part I played in this failure. Did I hire someone who had fewer weaknesses, but no real strengths? Did I believe that giving this person the “same” was good enough? Did I see this person start to fail and not address it immediately believing that a “great” leader would not micromanage and give this person freedom?

Great to crap isn’t a one-person journey. It takes a lot of failures and people to make a great person into a crappy hire. What role did you play in your last bad hire?

The Single Most Desired Trait Employers Want: Being an Adult!

Don’t buy into the hype! “Oh, just do what you love!” That’s not being an adult, that’s being a moron! Just do what makes you happy! No, that’s what a child does.

“Tim, we just want to hire some ‘adults’!” I hear this statement from a lot of CEOs I talk with currently!

That means most of the people they are hiring, aren’t considered adults by these leaders. Oh, they fit the demographic of being an adult from an age perspective, but they still act like children!

I tell people when I interview them and they ask about our culture I say, “We hire adults”.

That means we hire people into positions where they are responsible for something. Because we hire adults, they take responsibility for what they are responsible for. If I have to tell them to do their jobs, they’re not adults, they’re children. We don’t employ children.

I think about 70% of the positions that are open in the world could have the same title –

“Wanted: Adults”.

Those who read that and got it could instantly be hired and they would be above average employees for you! Those who read it and didn’t understand, are part of the wonder of natural selection.

How do you be an Adult?

You do the stuff you say you’re going to do. Not just the stuff you like, but all the stuff.

You follow the rules that are important to follow for society to run well. Do I drive the speed limit every single time? No. Do I come to work when my employer says I need to be there? Yes.

You assume positive intent on most things. For the most part, people will want to help you, just as you want to help others. Sometimes you run into an asshole.

You understand that the world is more than just you and your desires.

You speak up for what is right when you can. It’s easy to say you can always speak up for what is right, but then you wouldn’t be thinking like an adult.

You try and help those who can’t help themselves. Who can’t, not who won’t.

My parents and grandparents would call this common sense, but I don’t think ‘being an adult’ is common sense anymore. Common sense, to be common, has to be done by most. Being an adult doesn’t seem to be very common lately!

So, you want to hire some adults? I think this starts with us recognizing that being an adult is now a skill in 2021. A very valuable skill. Need to fill a position, maybe we start by first finding adults, then determining do we need these adults to have certain skills, or can we teach adults those skills!

The key to great hiring in today’s world is not about attracting the right skills, it’s about attracting adults who aren’t just willing to work, but understand the value of work and individuals who value being an adult.

I don’t see this as a negative. I see it as an opportunity for organizations that understand this concept. We hire adults first, skills second. Organizations that do this, will be the organizations that win.

The Motley Fool has a great section in their employee handbook that talks about being an adult:

“We are careful to hire amazing people. Our goal is to unleash you to perform at your peak and stay out of your way. We don’t have lots of rules and policies here by design. You are an amazing adult and we trust you to carve your own path, set your own priorities, and ask for help when you need it.”

You are an amazing ‘adult’ and we trust you

If only it was so simple!

Do Reference Checks Matter: The Argument! #HRFamous

On episode 49 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together once again to discuss the importance of reference checks and a $15 minimum wage.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

Show Highlights:

2:00 – Tim recently discovered that some millennial marketers didn’t know who Gary V was. Do the millennials and Gen-Z of your life know Gary V?

5:45 – Tim posted a blog post last week titled “You’re an Idiot If You Still Check References!” that got a lot of comments. He thinks it’s a huge waste of time because the references won’t say anything negative about the candidate (typically).

8:45 – JLee’s issue with reference checks is that they’re just not being done well and with the care and effort they need.

10:00 – KD agrees with JLee and thinks that reference checkers need to be set up to find negative information from the references. Otherwise, they’re not doing their job.

12:00 – Tim wants to ask the question to hiring managers, “When was the last time you rescinded an offer based off of a bad reference check?” He says that it never happens.

15:00 – KD thinks that the issue isn’t as big as Tim is making it. He thinks the issue isn’t the practice but how the practice is being done.

17:00 – JLee thinks it’s important that the right person is asking the questions in a reference check instead of someone that isn’t trained in the practice.

20:00 – Tim still thinks that no one is taking the time to actually do this the right way. He thinks that if we’re not going to do it right, why do it at all.

22:30 – It’s Tim vs. KD/JLee in this fight! KD asks Tim if he makes calls to check out someone before hiring them. Tim avoids the question.

23:00 – Next topic of the episode: President Biden put an executive order in place to pave the way to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

24:45 – KD thinks that they mostly are fans of a living wage but that means different amounts in different regions of the country.

26:00 – Tim thinks this isn’t a political issue, but it’s been co-opted as a political issue because of the research that has come out on both sides of an issue.

28:30 – KD notes that most companies with primarily professional class workforces don’t have an issue with a $15 minimum wage. He also notes that people aren’t thinking about compression within the job market as much as they need to when being OK with a big increase in the minimum wage.

31:45 – JLee mentions her experience working at McDonald’s and how some older people worked there to support families but she was only doing it as a part-time gig in high school.

The Single Biggest Truth in Hiring That No One Will Admit!

I’ve had my mind changed about a lot of things over the past decade of writing. I look back at posts I wrote 5 years ago, and think, “Wow, that was a stupid way of thinking!” I’ve also consistently written about things that I can’t prove, but I know to be true with every ounce of my being.

So, every time I find data that confirms my bias, I like to share it! It makes me think I’m still correct in my viewpoints!

The more attractive you are, the more opportunity you’ll get in your job choice and career! 

Think it isn’t true? Here’s the latest study from 2021, from three PhDs in Economics from Cal and the London School of Economics,  “Do Looks Matter for an Academic Career in Economics?” Want the short answer? Yes! Of course, don’t be stupid!

“Using unique data on Ph.D. graduates from top economics departments in the United States we test whether more attractive individuals are more likely to succeed. We find robust evidence that appearance matters for job outcomes. Attractive individuals are more likely to study at higher-ranked Ph.D. institutions, are more likely to find themselves in private sector jobs than in government jobs or in academia. Within academia, attractive Ph.D. graduates are more likely to be placed at higher ranking institutions. More surprisingly, appearance also predicts research productivity on the job.”

What did the study find?

  1. The more attractive you are, the better schools you’ll get into.
  2. The more attractive you are, the better jobs you’ll get.
  3. The more attractive you are, the better you’ll actually perform!

Now, come on. I get pretty people will get into better schools and get better jobs, but why in the hell do pretty people actually perform better!?! This has to be a flawed study, right!

“Pretty Privilege” is alive and well, at least in the United States, where this study took place. Maybe in other countries, like Canada, ugly people still have a chance. But, I’m doubting it. (Also, shout-out to Maria Alvarez for the “Pretty Privilege” title!)

Can people really have “Pretty Privilege”?  (FYI – the title of my upcoming autobiography is, “Of Course I Have Pretty Privilege, Just Look at Me!”)

So, I’ve laid out my theory of this before, but how soon people forget. So, here it is again:

Step 1: Pretty person gets a great job. Is Successful.

Step 2: Success and Good Lucks, get you a great choice of Mates.

Step 3: Pretty, Successful people get married and procreate.

Step 4: Pretty kids get into the best schools.

Step 5: The cycle repeats.

So, yes, of course, there is pretty privilege. So much so, we pretty people actually talk about it behind the Uggs backs! There are only two privileges stronger than Pretty, being white and being rich! If you have the trifecta-privilege, well, you’re basically unstoppable.

Now, some will want to argue. “Tim, attractiveness is in the eyes of the beholder!” This is usually said by a person who is a six, or lower, on a scale of 1 (troll) to 10 (goddess). To which I could lay out countless studies on attractiveness and call bullshit, but hey, you’re not very attractive, thus, not really my competition, so believe whatever you want, I’m 2/3 of the way to the trifecta!

So, if you have never read my stuff and this is the first time, and you’re ugly, right about now, you’re pissed! So, let me say, the paragraph before is half-joking, I’m 3 for 3, baby! 😉

What can you do if you’re not Pretty? 

First, if you’re asking yourself this question, I’m sorry, you should have more confidence, high confidence is super pretty! But, I get it. We all can’t be the belle of the ball.

If you don’t have Pretty Privilege, you need to do some other stuff extraordinary well. Be way smarter. Grind and Hustle way harder. Network way better. You must outwork the Pretty People. Invest a lot in your outward appearance. You might not be super attractive, but you can definitely be prettier than a lot of other folks! Be the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs, is all I’m saying.

Let’s break it down.

You and the people at your company responsible for hiring aren’t always hiring the best candidate. Mostly, they hire the candidate who can do the job, which also happens to be the best looking of the candidates they interviewed. All things being equal, hire pretty, is the strategy. I’m not saying it’s the best strategy, I’m just saying it’s the strategy most organizations follow, but would never admit to.

We see this in organizations all the time. You walk into an organization and you start to go, wait, I think there’s a problem, everyone here is way too good looking! Almost always, those organizations are super successful as well. Back in the day, the c-suite would call this “image”. We are upholding an “image” of the firm. What they were really saying was, you need to be prettier to hang with us!

So, keep ignoring Pretty Privilege if you want. It’s alive and well and most likely determining your next hire.

 

 

 

There is no such thing as “Too Much Talent”!

There is this common belief that one organization can have “too much” talent and having “too much” talent is most likely not going to turn out well. Okay, this is a commonly held belief amongst sports teams, specifically, basketball. (All non-sport fan HR pros check out…WAIT!)

The concept happens when you have organizations build super teams. The reason we believe it will fail is mostly ego-driven. All of these superstars won’t be able to play together because they all want to be ‘the’ star and for the team to win and play well, you must take on a role. And, that role, might not have you being the star.

The Brooklyn Nets are this year’s version in the NBA of “too much” talent, with superstar players, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the newest addition, James Harden. All three are superstars.

Why do we feel an organization can have too much talent? 

As ‘normal’ people, we have a hard time believing that someone who is great, a superstar, would be willing to share their glory. To take a backseat or play the second chair, for the good of the ‘team’. It is our belief that most people suck, apparently. Or, truthfully, we suck, because we are just projecting our own beliefs!

I like science and some researchers wanted to take a look at this phenomenon of super teams and too much talent. What did they find?

  • Teams benefit, overall, from having more talented team members.
  • The benefit decreases over time, but…
  • More talent is never detrimental to team performance! 

While a great team might start to get less great over time, that is mostly due to a lot of non-talent factors. Could be the age of athletes, less motivated to succeed, etc. But, still, the team is more successful, with the talent, than before.

How can we use this knowledge in normal, non-sport organizations? 

First, we need to understand that all hiring managers are a bit hesitant to hire someone they feel is more talented than themselves. This is human nature, we all have this trait at some level. We want to protect the job we have, hiring someone great, no matter what we tell ourselves, we feel puts our own job at risk. This is normal, not a weakness.

The way around this is that everyone has to come together and acknowledge we all have this weakness. “Hey folks, we need to hire people better than ourselves if we want to become a super team. That said, we need to hold each other accountable to that end”

Second, we need to be able to measure “better”. What is better than you or me? How can I measure that in a candidate? That is truly an impossible task, for most professions and positions. At the very least, you must be able to look yourself in the mirror and ask the question, “Is this person better than me, or given the chance, could they become better than me and a decent time period?” “Can I help this person be better than me because they have some core skill sets I don’t have?”

Every CEO I’ve ever met wanted to hire better people for their company. Only a handful had the self-insight needed to truly hire better people. The first step to hiring better people is realizing you might not be the best! That’s hard for some executives to comprehend and admit. In fact, it’s hard for almost everyone to comprehend and admit!

You can not have too much talent on your team. You can not have too much talent on your team. You can not have too much talent on your team. You can have too many talented people who are assholes. That is something entirely different!

Covering Up a Career Hickey

I had a person work for me at a past job in HR.  She performed the HR cardinal sin of sins, she shared personal, confidential information with an employee outside of HR.  My problem was, this person was a high performer, an outstanding employee, she had a frustrating, weak moment, and did something you just can’t do in an HR position.  This is what we call a Career Hickey. Sometimes you can survive these hickeys and cover them up, and continue to work as normal.  Many times you can’t.

So now, this Hi-Po has a Huge Hickey.  Interestingly though, this Hickey can’t be seen when you look at their resume or interview them in person, but it’s a Hickey they can’t get rid of.  So, barring a life-turtleneck how does one cover this puppy up?

It’s interesting because I think that probably the best of us have a hickey or two that we would rather not have our current or future employer know about.  Sometimes they’re big-giant-in-the-back-of-a-Chevy-17-year-old-I-will-love-you-forever hickeys and sometimes they’re just oops-I-lingered-a-little-too-long type of hickeys. Either way, I would rather not expose my hickeys and have to worry about how this will impact the rest of my professional life. And here’s where most people drive themselves crazy.

As HR Pros I think it’s important for us to be able to help our organizations determine the relative value of individuals.  This person was a rock star at ABC company, did something wrong, and couldn’t maintain that position any longer with ABC because of said incident, and lost their job. Now we have a chance to pick up a Rock Star (and probably for a discount).

The question you have to ask is not could we live with this person if they did the same thing here?  Because that really isn’t the question, you already have that answer is “No.”

The question is: do we feel this person learned from said wrongdoing and is there any risk of them doing it again? 

You might come to the conclusion, “yes, they’ve learned, and yes, there is potential they might do it again” (let’s face it if they did it once, they’ve shown they can do it, so there’s always a risk), but it’s a risk we are willing to take.

So how does someone come back from a transgression at work? The answer is that they have some help.  Eventually, someone is going to ask the question: “why aren’t you with ABC Company anymore?”  They’ll give you the canned answer they’ve been developing since the moment they lost their job. If you’re a good interviewer, you won’t buy the first answer (I mean really – so you decided it was better off not to have a job – is what you’re telling me?!) and you will dig to see the hickey.  Hickeys are funny in that you really can’t take your eyes off of them, once you see them, but for those who can get by the hickeys, you might just find a great talent who is grateful for the second chance.

But, you also might find someone who just likes being in the back of that Chevy and getting Hickeys. You’re the HR Pro though and that’s really why your company pays your salary – to mitigate risk vs. the quality of talent your organization needs to succeed. So, you have to ask yourself, can you live with a Hickey?

Hiring for a High Give-a-Damn

Josh Zywien, the CMO of Paradox, made a great hire this past week and I sent him a note telling him so. I like to do that. He knows he made a great hire, but it’s always nice to get a note confirming your belief! If you don’t know Josh, you should give me a follow, he’s one of the good guys in our industry.

Josh responded to my note with a statement I wanted to share because it’s profound:

I like to hire people who have a ‘high give-a-damn’! 

I absolutely love that and told him I was stealing it!

What does hiring for High Give-a-Damn Mean? 

It’s one of those intangibles you know when you see it. Like porn. Hard to explain, but when I see it, I know what it is. High Give-a-Damn (HGD) individuals don’t just care about their job and their company. HGD is pervasive in all aspects of their life. You’ll see it come out in other ways away from their career as well.

The High Give-a-Damn Traits:

  • High attention to detail
  • Live an orderly life
  • Most likely, well-kept house, clean, probably makes their bed every single morning.
  • Classic fashionable dress style not to stand out, but you notice them
  • They say the right things and the right times
  • They can be counted on
  • Follow-through is impeccable
  • They give a shit about stuff that matters
  • Have a habit of taking care of their physical & mental self, more than the average person.

People with HGD don’t drive around in a messy car with a coffee stain on their shirt. They might not have a lot of money, but what they have, they take care of. They do more with less because part of HGD is not to waste resources, both professionally and personally. So, you take care of your stuff. Part of your ‘stuff’ is your personal self.

I’ve written about organizations “Hiring Pretty” in the past. About the scientific research that shows organizations that tend to hire more attractive people actually have higher results. There is a bit of this in HGD. Individuals with HGD most likely get the most out of the attractiveness they have.

It doesn’t mean the person has to be naturally ‘pretty’ but think of the time when you took that one selfie, that one time when you were feeling super cute, had that one hat on, the light was right and now it’s your favorite IG photo. Yeah, that, but now what if you did that every day? That’s HGD. “Felt cute, not ever gonna delete!”

Now, at this point, you might be saying, “Tim, all of this seems superficial. There is nothing here about skill or performance, about actually being able to do the job.” Yeah, I’m not only hiring for HGD and nothing else. This is about, what if I had three people who had similar skill level, education, experience? At that point, my tiebreaker is who has the most HGD?

Who is going to bring the most HGD to the team? Because in the end, when I’m going to war with my team, I want people who give a damn. Yeah, we might be making widgets for crackheads, but I still want people who want to make the best widgets for crackheads. People who want to make sure that crackhead has the best experience with our product and service. (Right now, Josh is like, WTF, how did I get in a Tim Sackett Blog Post with Crackheads!?)

Not enough Hiring Managers are hiring for HGD. In fact, as a society we kind of gone soft on HGD. We have this belief that you can be HGD in your personal life, but not your professional life, or vice versa. The reality is true HGD is always on or never on as a personality trait. You either give a damn about your life, or you don’t. I want to be around and work with people who are HGD.

You’re an Idiot if You Still Check References!

One thing really hasn’t changed in hiring in like fifty years. Before we hire someone, in certain higher-up levels within our organizations, we do this little dance. The dance is us asking you for “professional” references, that we must check before we can “officially” hire you, and you giving us such references, which are basically your friends.

Don’t think it’s a dance? Think it’s truly helpful in finding noticeably better talent? Answer me this one question:

How many candidates have you rescinded the offer to because they received a bad reference? 

Wait! WAIT! Let me first take a guess at your answer…Let me see thousands of candidates, hundreds of hires, divided by the square root of 73, and my answer is: ZERO!

I’ve asked this question to thousands of HR and TA pros, thousands of candidates and basically it’s like one out of a thousand, and even that “one” has a story! “Oh, sure, just last week Tim we rescinded an offer. So, we checked the references as usual, and everything came back that this candidate was Jesus-like, could walk on the water, all of that. But, our receptionist knew someone who went to school with this guy, who happens to know his girlfriend’s mother he broke up with two years ago and come to find out, he’s a loser!”

So, the references were fine, but…

Checking References in the traditional way that over 90% of organizations still use is a complete and colossal waste of time and resources! 

Look, I get it. It’s always been done this way, but the reality is this isn’t a quality of hire check, this is am I hiring someone who is stupid enough to not give me people who will at least say good things about me check. While you might still think that measure is valuable, it’s not. Traditional reference checking does not filter out enough candidates for it to be worth the amount of time and resources you put into it.

Now, I am a big fan of Reference Checking Technology, automated reference checking because this technology, on average, will eliminate around 10% of the candidates you want to hire, for very good reasons! Modern-day reference check technology is about helping you select candidates you see as technically a good fit, but you want to double-check the cultural fit.

Reference check technology also has a low resource impact. It’s automated so you aren’t having a real person track other people down to see how well you can all lie to each other. The questions that are asked, usually through email, are about a candidate’s preferences. I like to work in “X” way. The reference then is asked how they feel the candidate likes to work best on a spectrum of answers where both spectrums are positive. So, it’s hard for a reference to “game” the system.

Look, I hate calling you an idiot! 

I know you are checking references. Or at the very least, your executives think you’re checking references, because, let’s face it, they know nothing about hiring and science. They had their references checked back in the 1990’s, so they feel it’s something we must legally do or we’ll get fined or something. They have no idea!

Be better.

Stop checking references, manually. Start checking references using technology that will actually help you make a better hire. Also, don’t just take my word for it, or the word of one of the many reference check technology companies, prove it to yourself. Make some baseline measures you believe are important, test the technology on your next “X” number of hires, then check those measures again. Did you get better? Awesome. Did you stay the same or get worse? Hmmm, interesting, let’s dig into that! Continue to test and improve. Stop doing shit that makes you look like an idiot!

 

The Bad Idea Trap!

2020 wasn’t the best year for a lot of people and as such we have so much excitement and anticipation for what 2021 will bring, but we are cautious. Already in 2021, we’ve seen some hangover of 2020!

We believe that 2021 and into the near future will be a bit of a struggle for most organizations. Some character building years ahead of us. We’ve come out of a decade of growth, pandemic hits, and now we have some rebuilding to do.

I truly believe when tough times hit, we see the best in people. As professionals, we work harder than ever to get to the success we want. We come up with all sorts of ideas and things to try to get us back on top. Therein lies the problem.

You see, there is this funny phenomenon that happens, that has now been proven in science. Turns out, during bad times, we come up with more bad ideas than good ideas!

Why do we have more bad ideas than good ideas during hard times?

A great historical example (that might have some context to 2020!) was during the 1920s and 1930s. Extremely hard economic times in Germany led to the rise of the Nazis. I think we can all agree, 100%, the Nazis were a very bad idea. But, because of the awful economy, many folks thought the Nazis were a great alternative.

Turns out, depressions, pandemics, social uprisings, etc. Lead us to more bad ideas than good ideas. We start grasping at straws, believing we are trying to help. We are testing out stuff to see what works when we think nothing is working when in reality, we might actually be starting something worse.

To go along with this, when times are awesome, no matter what you do, you probably are less likely to screw something up. “Hey, we did this crazy thing and our sales were up 3%!” Great, maybe if you didn’t do that crazy thing your sales would have been up 10%, but now you think that crazy idea, that bad idea, actually was positive!

Great times cover up many of our bad ideas. Bad times shine a giant light on our bad ideas.

Why am I talking about Bad Ideas? 

2021 might be a ripe time for bad ideas! We all will be pushed and stressed to make things happen. Leaders are going to look for ideas. It’s our job to come up with ideas. Most of those ideas are going to be bad. Sorry, but that’s just simple math. Most ideas are bad, some are good, very few are great.

In HR and TA we tend to believe that our ideas, our projects, our programs, etc. don’t have a giant impact on organizations. Actually, they have more impact than you think, but it’s mostly long-term impact, not short-term. We want these ideas to have an immediate impact, but people and culture tend to take time.

That is why, in 2021, we have to be very careful about the Bad Idea Trap.

I want you to go out and test and try things but move a bit more cautiously out of the gate. Be willing to shut things down quicker. Be more aware of the timing and how your organization is doing. If your organization is killing it, great! Go have some fun, break some things! If your organization isn’t doing well, slow down, take your time, don’t allow yourself to be in a rush, even though it’s going to feel like you should be.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a large corporate meeting room with a bunch of people and some well-meaning executive starts off with “there are no bad ideas! Let me have them all!” Yes, there are bad ideas and the worse idea is a bad idea that is chosen to move forward!

Maybe our 2021 Slogan in HR and TA should be “Yes, there are Bad Ideas!”