My Big Fat Recruiting Dilemma!

Have you had an employee who had to stop working because they became too fat? Just wait, you will, it’s just a matter of time.

I remember when my biggest nightmare as an HR pro was going to tell an employee they need to bath and wear deordorant. I can’t even imagine having to go tell an employee, “Hey Bro, you have to go home, you’re too fat.”

The U.S. Army recently came out and shared some statistics about how the U.S. obesity epidemic is hurting their recruitment efforts:

“Just under three in 10 young people [ages] 17 to 24 can join the Army today – and the other armed services for that matter – and the single biggest disqualifier is obesity,” Major General Allen Batschelet of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command told CNN. “Ten percent of them are obese and unfit to the point that they can’t join the service. It’s really very worrisome.”

“The obesity issue is one of the most troubling because the trend is going in the wrong direction,” says Batschelet. “Ten percent are disqualified today, and we think by 2020, it could be as high as 50 percent, which would mean only two in ten would qualify to join the Army.”

Our national security is at risk because our citizens can’t put down a Big Mac. Our enemies don’t need to attack us with bombs and troops; they just need to keep sending us cheap junk food to consume!  Then one day they just come ashore and roll us over to the POW camps.  I sure hope they serve good food at the camps…

Big fat Americans just aren’t a national security issue; this is a major issue facing all employers.  The reality is, no one wants to hire unhealthy people. If given a choice between people with similar skills and abilities, one in shape and one obese, employers will always hire the person who is in shape.

You want to see hiring discrimination at its finest?  Put a minority in good shape, a woman in good shape and an obese candidate, all with similar skills, in front of a hiring manager and have them rank them on most likely to hire.

The obese person will always rank last. Why?  Your hiring managers fear hiring someone who might die on their watch, more than hiring a minority or woman.  Was that too real for you? Check your analytics, you know where your problems are.

How do we fix this?

Companies have failed at wellness across the board.  I think it’s just a matter of time until you begin seeing organizations tie performance and compensation into their wellness plans.  It seems extreme, but so is this problem.  When a company reaches the point where they’ll tie your job performance to your health ‘performance’, that’s when you have an organization that truly cares about you.

2 Reason Men Get Hired More Than Women

The New York Times had an article regarding hiring practices and succession practices at Google, and G*d knows if Google is doing it, it must be important, and we all must try and do the same thing. What I liked about this article was it didn’t necessarily look at practices and processes, it looked at data. The data found that Google, like almost every other large company, does a crappy job hiring and promoting women.

Shocking, I know, if you’re a man! We had no idea this was going on! In America of all places… Beyond the obvious, though, Google was able to dig into the data and find out the whys and make some practical changes that I think most companies can implement, and that I totally agree with.  From the article:

“Google’s spreadsheets, for example, showed that some women who applied for jobs did not make it past the phone interview. The reason was that the women did not flaunt their achievements, so interviewers judged them unaccomplished.

Google now asks interviewers to report candidates’ answers in more detail. Google also found that women who turned down job offers had interviewed only with men. Now, a woman interviewing at Google will meet other women during the hiring process.

A result: More women are being hired.”

Here are two selection facts that impact both men and women:

1.  We like to surround ourselves with people who we like, which usually means in most cases people who are similar to ourselves.

2. We tend not to want to brag about our accomplishments, but our society has made it more acceptable for men to brag.

This has a major impact to your selection, and most of you are doing nothing about it.  It’s very common that if you run simple demographics for your company, ANY COMPANY, you’ll see that the percentage of your female employees does not come close to the percentage of your female leadership.

Why is that?

Here are two things you can do to help make the playing field more level in your organization:

1. Have women interview women.  Sounds a bit sexist in a way, but if you want women to get hired into leadership positions you can’t have them going up against males being interviewed by males because the males will almost always feel more comfortable with another male candidate. Reality sucks, buy a helmet.

2. Ask specific questions regarding accomplishments and take detailed notes. Studies have found woman don’t get hired or promoted because they don’t “sell” or brag enough about their accomplishments giving their male counterparts a leg up, because the males making the hiring decisions now have “ammunition” to justify their decision to hire the male.

Let’s face it, Google is doing it, so now we all have to do it.  What would we do without best practices…(maybe innovate and create new better practices – but I digress…).

Watered Downed Feedback is Killing America

I said this before, but you don’t want to hear it.  No one cares about what you have to say, unless it’s telling them how good they are.

People can’t handle critical feedback, unless it’s set up in a mechanism where they expect it and desire it.  That’s the crux, hardly anyone has that mechanism and while most people tell you they want critical feedback they don’t have the makeup to handle it.

Here are the types of “critical” feedback people can handle:

“You’re doing a good job, would love it if you could get that big project off the ground. That would really help us out!”

Here’s what you really want to say, critically, but can’t:

“You do good at things I tell you to do, and all basic day to day duties of the job. I need more from this position and from you, and I’m willing to help get you there. I need someone who can take a project from scratch and kill it, without me having to babysit the entire thing. You’re not doing that, and that’s what I really need you to do. Are you willing do that?” 

Same message, right?  You do some stuff good, but one critical aspect of the job is not getting done. The problem is, the first level feedback is given 99.9% of the time, because managers and leaders know if you deliver the second level, that person will be destroyed!

They’ll think you think they suck, and they’ll start looking for a job.  When in reality, you were just trying to give them legitimate feedback. Real feedback. Something that would actually help them reach expectations.

So, how do you get to a point to be able to deliver ‘real’ feedback?

It’s starts with your hiring process. In the interview process you need to set people up to understand that your organization delivers real feedback, and they must be able to accept critical feedback and not crumble.  This is a team, it’s about getting better, not hurt egos.  Half will crumble in the interview, which is a good thing, you don’t want them anyway.

For those that you think have the self-insight enough to handle it, you need to do it before hire. Give them the real feedback from their interview, and see how they reply, how they interact.  This will show you what you can expect from them when they get this level of feedback as an employee.

For the employees already working, you need to start by showing them and giving them examples of what true feedback looks like. You need to coach and train your leaders on how to deliver this, on an ongoing basis.  You then need to have coaches and mentors sit in with all leaders when they begin to deliver this feedback.

Part of your leader training is to show them how to accept feedback from their teams as well. If you want to dish it out, you have to accept it as well. Training and coaching employees on how to ‘manage up’ is key to making this successful. This isn’t about blowing people up. It’s about delivering true feedback to help them get better, and person accepting and receiving this information under that assumption. We want you to be the best you, you can be.

All this takes work and time. The organizations that can do this win the culture war, because all the people working for you will know they won’t get this anywhere else!

3 Things You Should Say When Resigning

I have people ask me to help them write a resignation letter – which is a little funny because it really doesn’t matter what you write – only two things are going to happen:

1. They’ll freak out that you are leaving and try and talk you out it.

2. They’ll go “Oh, that’s too bad, we will hate to see you go”

For your ego sake, you want #1, not #2. #1 means your boss/company perceives that you’re valuable and more than likely doing more work than most and they don’t want to see you go, because they don’t want to take on your work.  #2 means they were probably looking at cutting you anyway in the next layoff and you just made their job very easy, plus they got a free intern for the summer that will probably do your job better than you did, or create a new process eliminating your job all together.

Now, about that all important resignation letter…

I tell people there are 3 things to say when you resign, whether you believe them to be true or not (and for all my former bosses that I resigned, this isn’t what I did to you, I really meant what I said):

“You are the best mentor I’ve ever had; I want to thank you so much for all you’ve given me.”  (there’s a got chance you’ll need them as a reference later on in life, so even if your boss is a tool – make them feel like they changed your life forever!)

“You can always call me and I’ll help you out with anything you need, after I leave.”  (They’ll never call you, and you won’t ever pick up – but it makes everyone feel like the world won’t end when you leave. Plus, the new person they hire to replace you could care less about what and how you did things.)

“I’m really going to miss working here.” (Even you aren’t and leaving will be the happiest moment of your life – say it.  They might be the only option you have some day to go back to work when you fail at your new job.)

People have this glorified vision of what happens after they leave a job – like somehow the company will implode and business will stop as they know it.  The fact is, business doesn’t stop, the sun comes up, people show up to work, and they find ways to carry on.  That’s life – organizations move on, even when they lose their best.  Don’t make resigning some historic event, it’s not.  It’s part of this dance we do as employees of organizations.  Be appreciative for the opportunity you were given. Keep your options open.  Don’t burn a bridge.  It’s pretty simple.



The Difference Between Performance and Potential: A 9-Box Primer for Smart HR Pros

If you’re like everyone else in the free world, March brings a little bit of a grind.  The hope and promise of the new year has settled into a familiar routine, and you need something fresh to keep you interested at work as a high-end HR pro, right?

Of course you do – that’s why Fistful of Talent is back with a webinar that’s designed only for the real players in HR who like to think long and hard about talent/performance in the companies they serve.  Join us on Wednesday, March 25th at 2pm EST for The Difference Between Performance and Potential: A 9-Box Primer for Smart HR Pros and we’ll show you how to take the next step in your performance management platform by sharing the following goodies:

A rundown of how smart companies create 2-dimensional performance management systems using performance vs potential, and how that approach sets the table for a host of talent management activities using something called the 9-Box Grid.

A deep dive into the differences between performance vs potential in any company, including a roadmap for how any company just getting started with performance vs potential can begin building the process to consider both inside their organization.

–We’ll break up the seriousness of the topic by considering where Individual Members of the Jackson Family, the 3 Versions of Van Halen and Husbands/Boyfriends of the Kardashians fall on the performance vs potential scale.  You know, just to help you relate.  And to stop taking ourselves too seriously.

–Since most of you have more experience with performance than with potential, we’ll share some thoughts and data related to common traps and derailers when you build out your definition of potential at your company (hint – the more you tie it to what it REALLY takes to be successful at your company across all positions, the better off you are)

-We’ll wrap up our time together by sharing a list of 5 Things You Can Do From a Talent Management Perspective Once You’ve Launched Performance Vs. Potential/The 9-Box.  Hint – All of the things we’ll share make you more strategic and less transactional as an HR pro, and they let you have high level conversations about talent with the leaders of your company.

You’ve been aware of the ying/yang relationship between performance and potential for years – why wouldn’t you want to help your company get started to understand the same set of truths?  Join us on Wednesday, March 25th at 2pm EST for The Difference Between Performance and Potential: A 9-Box Primer for Smart HR Pros and we’ll give you a great roadmap to refreshing how your company views performance and talent.


The Random Shit They Leave Us

You know what one of the greatest things about firing or laying someone off is?  The free crap people just leave in their desks when they leave!

Someone at my company left a long time ago and left this ladies brown, kind of chunky, cardigan sweater.  It was one of those that was really comfortable, but not the best looking.  That thing just gets passed around amongst any of the ladies who are cold.

I had to pack up the desk of a guy who was fired for performance once and found an almost full fifth of vodka.  That was a really nice find! And probably the reason his performance wasn’t so good.  Sure you get a ton of pens, staplers, tape dispensers, etc. Office supplies seem to be the bulk of finds.

At one employer I was at after a major layoff the head of HR had what was left of our HR team go collect all the office supplies from all the empty desks.  There was over a hundred people left go that day and the mountain of office suppliers was enormous! We could have opened our own Office Max!

Office lunch and snacks are probably the second most left item. You can a lot of microwavable soups and such.  Candy. Crackers. Chips.  Don’t think that stuff gets thrown away!  Office workers are a direct descendant of Piranhas! You throw random desk food into a break room and that stuff is gone in minutes.

There tends to be a lot of business books left in offices and cubes after someone leaves. I guess that 7 Habits and Good to Great weren’t working so well, so why take them along with you.  I, myself, have an entire bookshelf in my office of business books that I’ve read over the past two decades. I really don’t need them anymore, now they’re basically decoration.  I also have three text books from my master’s HR program that I’ll never crack open.  keeping those were a solid choice.

The one thing you can count on is there are always some clues left behind of why the person is no longer with you, especially those who are terminated.  Usually, you find something thing that helps this person waste eight hours per day. Crossword books, magazines, video game console, workout bands, etc., basically anything you can do at work, except work.

Half used calendars are another thing people tend not to take with them on their journey through life. I could make an entire memorial of past employees by just pinning up their cat and muscle car calendars.  Nothing shows appreciation and tenure like August’s motivational quote of the month!

Of all the random shit past employees leave us, it’s the stories that are the best.  I think you can measure your impact on an organization by the number of stories you leave behind.  If you go to a group lunch or office party, a year later, and there are no stories being shared about you, you probably didn’t have much impact.

What’s your best shit that people left behind?

Are You Staying In Your Lane?

I think there are two types of people in the world:

  1. People who stay in their lane
  2. People who don’t stay in their lane.

The first group, lane stayers, are the type of people who follow a natural life path.  Basically, these are the people who don’t push the natural evolution of their lives. I started at this company. I worked my job. In a certain time I’ll get promoted. There is a sequence of life that I’ll follow, and for the most part, things will work out.

Those leaving their lane, don’t agree with their natural order of things. Nope, I don’t want to wait for my things to happen. I’m going to make my own things happen.  I don’t believe there is a path for me, so I’m going to create your own.

We have both of these types of people in our organization.  Unfortunately, we try and sell to people that those leaving their lane are somehow better.  When in reality, if you diagnose the best organizations you will usually find a higher percentage of people who stay in their lane.

The natural order of organizational effectiveness relies on people staying in their lane.  If we had everyone leaving their lane, it would cause chaos.  Our organizations would be in constant turmoil.

Staying in your lane is a weakness.  I started out in my career as that person who couldn’t stay in their lane.  I wanted to leave my lane constantly because I thought that was my way to success. As I got more tenured in my career, I realized that those friends and peers, who stayed in their lane, tended actually to reach a higher level of success faster!

Part of it is patience.  Part of it is loyalty.  Part of it is confidence in your abilities in the environment you’re in.

Staying your lane isn’t easy to do.  We get so much media thrown at us that tells us to get out of our lanes.  They call it a challenge.  They say we are pushing ourselves to a higher level. They are ones who also believe they need to get out of their lane.

Those, who stay in their lane, don’t usually feel a need to tell people about it.  That’s why it’s not popular. That’s why you don’t see books about it, and TED talks about it.  Staying in your lane is the new black. Try it out.

Will 2015 be the year of the Quotas?

We still haven’t really made a dent in this diversity/inclusion thing have we?  The numbers don’t lie.  81% of healthcare workers are female, less than 18% of leadership positions in healthcare are filled by females.  The same is true in the service industry, the restaurant industry, etc.  Similar numbers can be said about African Americans and Hispanics in almost every industry.

The world is changing and we keep doing the same thing.

HR shops are trying to change our behaviors and how we think, but they are working against thousands of years of ingrained behaviors.  A few training courses aren’t going to change this level of programming.

People hate quotas in hiring.  They view the word ‘quota’ in the same vane as they view other words that lead to hate speech.

No one wants quotas.

That’s the problem. Quotas work.  Quotas are a measure that organizations can see and do something about.  Oh, we need five more females. We better go hire them. It’s straightforward. It’s simple to understand.

I get what’s wrong with them, we talk about that all the time.  Rarely, do we ever talk about what’s right with quotas.  When I was in HR at Applebee’s I had a ‘diversity quota’ on my leadership staffing.  It was measured as a percent of the overall staff and our diversity in leadership was measured as females, African American, Asian, Hispanic, etc. Basically, the only thing that didn’t count was white guys.

It was frustrating to me because I had very high diversity within my leadership team, but to continue to get high ratings I had to keep hiring diversity, even if it meant that one day I would have 100% diverse leadership. This rating was important to me because I got bonused on this rating. Having a diverse leadership team was very important to Applebees.

What Applebee’s leadership knew was that I was never going to get to 100% diversity.  It wasn’t their goal.  But, they knew to move the needle on diversity we needed to start measuring the color and kinds of faces we were hiring.  Quotas.

It worked.  It showed those working for our organization that we were serious about hiring diversity, so much so, that we were going to ensure this number moved.

Quotas are bad when they are used for bad purposes and good people get hurt by this.  I wasn’t passing over better white guys when hiring leadership at Applebees.  I was searching for better diverse candidates overall and hiring them.  Our leadership makeup needs to reflect our employee makeup. That is better hiring.

Don’t discount quotas in 2015.  If you truly want to move the needle in your organization, measure it.

Success is Relative #8ManRotation

It’s that time of year when college football coaches get fired because they weren’t ‘successful’.

This year’s unsuccessful coach of the year has to be Nebraska’s Bo Pelini.  Here are some of his stats:

– Won 9 games every year he has coached at Nebraska. Not averaged 9 wins. He’s won 9 games each year!

– 67-27 overall record – a +.700 winning percentage

That seems pretty freaking good!  How many of you would take 9 wins each year from your favorite college football team (Alabama fans you can’t participate!)?  I’m a huge Michigan State fan and we’ve been fortunate to have double digit win totals four out of the last five years and we’re on cloud nine! If you asked me five years ago if I would take 9 wins per year for the next five, I would have bought it for sure!

Here’s what Bo didn’t do:

– No conference titles

– No BCS bowl appearances

– At least 3 losses each season

99% of fans in the country would take 7 years in a row of 9 wins each year.  Because most of us will never come close that success on our best year.

That’s why success is relative.

Think of this with your own hires and employees.  You judge success of your new sales person on the results of the sales person that just left.  If your new sales person sells $1 million worth of products, and the old guy sold only $750K, the new person is a rock star.  That same new sales person is judge against your all time sales person at $2 million, and suddenly, they’re a piece of crap.

Nebraska holds their coaching hires against legendary Nebraska coach Tom Osborne who won 13 conference championships and 3 national titles.

This is why comparing individuals in terms of performance never really works out well.  A better way is to determine what does ‘good’ performance look like in your environment, no matter the individual. Also, what does great performance look like.  Then measure your employees against those metrics, not an individual who might have been good or bad.

Most organizations struggle with this concept, because defining good and great performance is hard.  It’s easy to compare.

Don’t allow yourself and your organization to take the easy road. It doesn’t lead you to where you want to go.

Do I believe Bo should have been fired?  Yes, but not because of his won/loss record.  Bo wasn’t a fit, culturally, with Nebraska football.  Bo had a short fuse and lost it publicly and on the field way too often for cameras to see.  This isn’t what Nebraska people want from their coach.  They’re extremely loyal fans, and don’t like to be embarrassed. Yes, they want to win, but it’s not a win-at-any-cost fandom that we’ve been accustom to seeing recently in major college athletics. Win, but win with pride and respect for the history of the program.  That’s tough. Nine wins per year, apparently doesn’t do that!


Do Your Employees Really Like Your Organization? #EWS2014

Hey, gang I’m running a sponsored post by the great folks at Spherion regarding their 2014 Emerging Workforce Study which has some really great data, check it out.

I’m a company guy.

When I make the decision to go to work for an organization, I’m both feet in.  I’ve always been that way. I’m the dork who loves to get the company logo gear and I don’t just wear it to work on ‘casual’ Friday, I’ll wear it to my families holiday get-togethers!  To me, supporting the organization you work for is a non-negotiable. I want to work with people who want to work with the organization we work for, and if you don’t, get out!

Spherion’s 2014 Emerging Workforce Study found some really interesting statistics around this, that blew my mind!  Crazy as this will seem to you, not everyone thinks like me! Check this out:

    • Only 35% of workers would say something very positive in discussing their company with other people.

35%! If you would have asked me this question, without me first seeing the data, I would have said this was 75%.  I was way off.  This is a major problem for organizations!  65% of your employees basically believe they could not say something very positive about your organization.  Ouch! That hurts.

You want to see another major disconnect that is playing into this lack of engagement?

    • 64% of companies believe their younger workers lack the business and life experience required for leadership positions.
    • While companies believe younger workers lack experience, 61% of Gen Y workers agree they have greater opportunities available to them because of their age.

Organizations are finally really starting to feel the pain of their aging Baby Boomer workforce beginning to leave their positions.  This is that ‘oh crap’ moment when you realize you don’t have the proper succession in place for the future. To make this situation worse, your younger workers believe they’re ready to ‘drive’!  They want the keys to the executive washroom, but you know they’re not ready.

Put on top of all of this, about ten years of not developing your leadership competencies because of the recession, and you my friends have some major organizational issues you are about to face!

What can you do about this? Here are a few ideas:

1. Hire people who really, really want to work for you. Brand advocates will stick with you through thick and thin, even when you’re not at your best.

2. Teach your leaders to be ‘great’ at performance management.  Spend money and time on this.  There is great technology out there that can help as well.

3. Know who your true internal influencers are on your staff, and invest in them.

There is no easy way out of this, for any of us.  But, the awesome part of this mess, is that HR can have a great impact in making our organizations better.  Time to sharpen the saw and get to work HR Pros!


Disclosure Language:

Spherion partnered with bloggers such as me for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any idea mentioned in these posts. Spherion believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.