Do You Know What Your Employees Are Doing Tonight?

I love Fast Company – if I could only read one magazine ever – it would be FC.  If I could read two – I would re-read Fast Company.  Article for article the best publication on the market. (Editor note: Fast Company, please send the check care of The Tim Sackett Project)

Recently, FC had an article about the expectations you put on your employees, after hours: “It’s 10 pm, Do you know where your employees are? 4 Steps to set after-hour “work” expectations.” From the article:

“Leaders fail to clarify their personal preferences for staying connected to work with technology, and don’t share their expectations of the responsiveness with their direct reports. This leads to misguided assumptions that can wreak havoc on the work/life balance of their employees. And most leaders have no idea any of this is happening.”

There advice:

1. Recognize that you have to initiate the conversation with your direct reports.

2. Decide what you really expect in terms of response and connection.

3. Have a meeting, state the parameters clearly, and then be consistent.

4. Finally, keep the lines of communication open and encourage ongoing clarification.

So, what is the big dilemma about setting after-hour work expectations?  It invades upon our personal life, right!?  Wrong!  Here’s the deal – if you want work-life balance, you need to have balance both ways. That means, taking a phone call from the boss or the client at 9pm on a Wednesday, or finishing a project on Saturday afternoon, etc. But you should also be able to negotiate what “normally” will look like (knowing we all have exceptions that will crop up from time to time).

Here’s are the expectations I’ve set with my team:

1. If you are a Director or above:

A. If I call you after-hours, you pick up the phone – or call back within 10-15 minutes – or I read that you’re dead in the morning paper. (I rarely call my direct reports after-hours, so if I do, it’s important, you can step out of your son’s basketball game for 5 minutes and take my call)

B. I don’t make you work nights or weekends – but if you have to for some reason – don’t tell me you did it, like you just cured cancer – you didn’t, you did your job.

C. Let me when a client is upset, no matter what time it is, if I’m on vacation, if I’m at a funeral, my son’s wedding, meeting with Obama – I need to know – now!

2. Managers:

A. If I call you after-hours, you pick up the phone – or call back within 10-15 minutes – or I read that you’re dead in the morning paper. (see the trend yet?)

B. If recruiters are always staying later than you are staying – eventually I’ll pick one of them to be manager.  You don’t have to stay late every night, but don’t be the first out the door everyday.

3.  Recruiters:

A. If I call you after-hours, you pick up the phone – or call back within 10-15 minutes – or I read that you’re dead in the morning paper. (I think we are clear on this)

B. Unfortunately, recruiting isn’t a 9-to-5, Monday thru Friday job. Well, at least for recruiters who are actually good. Doesn’t matter if your agency or corporate – the best connect with talent on nights and weekends, especially to close deals.  There is an expectation you will do this.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.  Just be straightforward about it and set the proper expectations that “you” have – not organizational expectations – many times those don’t align – have enough self-insight to know what you need from your team – you’ll be happier, and they’ll be happier.



It’s Halftime America! Imported from the D

Being in Michigan Chrysler’s last two Superbowl Ads have been big news in our part of the world (check out last year’s ad with Eminem- here).  In case you didn’t see the most recent one, starring Clint Eastwood – here it is:

Super cool right! Make you feel good about America.  If you’re from Michigan and/or Detroit – makes you feel good about that fact – which believe me isn’t an easy task, recently!   It is branding at it’s best.  No one actually likes Chrysler – well not if you’re from Michigan.  Chrysler is like the Big 3’s ugly redheaded step brother.  Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, etc. would be considered a better car buying option by most.  It’s arguable that Chrysler wouldn’t be in the top 7 car buying choices of the majority of Americans. Yet, with branding like this, they probably will be fairly soon!

The concept is almost perfect – classic American actor from a time gone by,  focus on a growing economy and jobs, America’s best known industry – Automotive, and an American city rising from the ashes – heck you don’t even know it’s a Chrysler commercial until the last 10 seconds!   It’s marketing the way it should be.  It’s not thrown in your face – look at our cars, looks at our cars, look at our cars…it connects with an emotion inside of you, a willingness to want to be a part of something bigger, pride in country, pride to be the best – then BAM – Chrysler.  The last connection – the hook – you’re going to go out and buy a Chrysler.  Don’t say you won’t – they already have your subconscious wired to buy.  There isn’t anything you can do at this point, you’re just an unwilling participant in something much bigger than yourself.

Does your employment brand invoke this type of emotion?  Probably not – let’s face it – this isn’t easy to do.  Millions of dollars were spent to get Chrysler to come up with this concept.  You don’t have millions – you have hundreds.  So, how can you get here?  Do the same thing using your own people.  Every company has those leaders and employees who have bought in – they wear the company logo jacket, have the company tattoo and are willing to get into an argument with a fellow employee is dares to bad mouth the company.  These are your brand messengers, these are your Clint Eastwoods.  Let them sell your company.  Get your iPhone – shoot a video – put it up on your employment page of your website (just ask the 22 year old kid in IT, he’ll know how to do it).

It’s hard for HR folks because we always want to control the message. We want to clean it up and make it perfect.  Stop that. It’s alright if it’s a bit dirty, a bit unpolished.  It’s alright that the person might use some language or words you wouldn’t use – this is you – your company – your brand.  Embrace it and others will to.

I’m proud to be from Michigan, and I’m proud of The D (Detroit for all you non-Michiganders) – thanks Chrysler for helping remind us of this.  I probably won’t buy your cars, but many will and you did good regardless.

How To Really Get an Entry Level Job

I get asked a lot by all kinds of people about the “secrets” to landing a job – students, parents of students, experienced professionals, not so experienced professionals, etc. – it doesn’t matter – everyone has this belief that because I run a recruiting company and have worked in HR for going on 20 years I have the inside. Well, I do!

The cool thing is, most people already know what they need to do to land a job – they just refuse to do it.   It’s the same with losing weight.  Move more, eat less.  It’s really that simple – but that takes work, that takes discipline – what we all want is that drink as much beer as you want and eat fried foods diet – but we know that won’t work! (BTW – if you have a good Beer and Fried Foods Diet Plan please send it my way!)

Finding a job (especially an entry level professional level job) takes work, it takes networking, it takes picking up the phone and having conversations, it takes asking for help, it takes asking people to do things for you – and many of us just aren’t comfortable doing all of these things.

This past week I received a message through LinkedIn from Christina Hart.  Christina is an entry level college grad from the University of Michigan, looking for an entry level professional level position in New York City.  She is looking for a Social Media, PR, Marketing type position, is willing to grunt work.  Christina was reaching out to me, asking to for a few minutes to talk, network and see how I might be able to assist her in her job search.  After telling her I refuse to help UofM grads and ribbing about her school choice – we scheduled some time to talk.  Here was my advice to her:

1. Keep doing what you’re doing. (Let’s face it – reaching out to random HR people you have no connection to and asking for help – takes guts! She has them.)

2. Use your University of Michigan (wait, I just threw up in my mouth) alumni status.  She needs to LinkIn, email, call every single NYC UofM alumni that she can find and share her plight. Here’s one tip I think most people miss – start at the top first!  Director, VP level and above – the more experienced the more willing they are to help, because they don’t fear you’ll take their job!  If you want a Social Media job, don’t contact the Social Media person – they won’t help – they’ll think you’re after their spot.

3.  Be Specific. Entry levels always want to open themselves up to as many possibilities as possible, but when HR folks and Hiring Managers see these resumes they feel like the person doesn’t know what they want.  If you want a social media position, say you want a social media position and go after it.  Specific people get hired before the all-things-to-all-people People.

4. Ask for help.  Inherently, people want to help someone who asks for help – it’s in a normal person’s DNA.  Entry levels tend not to want to “burden” people, and they make it too easy for people to turn them down.  Don’t do this.  Beg for help, plead for help – you’ll be amazed at what people will do to help you!

5. Commit.  Christina is originally from the D (that’s Detroit for you none Michigan people), but she wants to live in NYC.  She just signed a 4 month lease in NYC – she is committed.  She is not waiting to get a job, then moving.  She’s on the ground – will start tomorrow – ready!  To few are willing to do this – it says a ton about her.

This is really hard for me to do, because I usually get paid a bunch of money for referring someone – but – got an entry level position you’re trying to fill? –  give Christina a call, she is going to make some company very happy (even with that UofM degree)!

And don’t get use to this – I’m not giving away free talent everyday!

Candidate Bill of Rights

In November 2010 asked me to write a post on a hot topic at that time a “Candidate Bill of Rights“.  Needless to say, I’m not a huge fan of a Candidate Bill of Rights – I’m a Capitalist and believe in a free-market system of HR and Recruiting.  Here were my main point then – and what they are still today:

Candidates –

You Don’t Have To Apply:

  • If we have a crappy working environment – you don’t have to apply
  • If we don’t pay appropriately for the market – you don’t have to apply
  • If we don’t give my employees opportunities for growth – you don’t have to apply
  • If we don’t treat you like a human – you don’t have to apply
  • If we don’t give you a full job description – you don’t have to apply
  • If we don’t tell you every step of the process – you don’t have to apply

You Don’t Have To Work Here:

  • If we make you wait endlessly without any feedback – you don’t have to work here
  • If we make you an offer that you don’t like – you don’t have to work here
  • If we don’t offer the right work-life balance – you don’t have to work here
  • If we give you a bad Candidate Experience – you don’t have to work here

Candidates – if any of the above is true – you have some decisions to make:

1. Can I live with what I know about the company and the experience they put me through to get this offer?

2. IF SO, do I want to come and work for the company?

3. IF YES – welcome aboard, you’re coming on ‘Eyes Wide Open’

4. IF NO – thanks – good luck – see you next time

You see we all have choices – if you don’t like the way I’m treating you as a candidate, don’t come and work at my company.  I would hope that most HR Pros are smart enough to get this fact – treat candidates like garbage and they’ll stop applying for your jobs, thus making your job all the more difficult.  That might be a bit pie-in-the-sky thinking because I also know way to many HR/Talent Pros that don’t get this!   They have a little bit of power and have decided to torture candidates with painfully long and arduous application and selection processes – that aren’t helpful to their own companies, statistically, and definitely aren’t helpful to the candidates.  During a recession they don’t see much impact from these horrible processes, but eventually the tide turns and face the results of their actions.  Karma is a bitch!

So, do we need a candidate bill of rights – No!  Do you need to spend a ton of time, effort and resources on candidate experience – No, as well!  Don’t go right ditch-left ditch and start over correcting.  Treat candidates like you would want to be treated.  Have a few standards and etiquette, and some manners.  It’s not hard, it’s not expensive and you definitely don’t need to pay a consultant to show you how to do it!

7 Secrets that only HR Pros know

I was reading an article the other evening over at Huffington Post, Welcome to the Club: What only Moms know (Why was I reading this I hear some of my dude HR guy pros asking themselves? Let’s face it I’m 40ish and woman are still mostly a mystery to me, so I try and find out their secrets! Plus I hate being left in the dark on this parenting thing, so “I need the info” as Dr. Evil would say.)  I don’t want to spoil the article, but suffice to say, either I’m very in touch with the feminine side of parenting, or what they were sharing really wasn’t the “real” secrets Moms know!

The article did get me to thinking about secrets and how in HR we seem to always have a few that we are either ask to keep by others, or just the ones we share in this great fraternity of HR.  Here are some of the HR secrets that I thought of:

1. Who in the organization is on the way out.  (Sometimes many people know of individuals who are on the way out, but usually HR has a good pulse on everyone)

2. Who in the organization is probably on the way up, and not because they deserve it. (Every leader has an attraction to an employee or two, for a number of reasons, and those folks usually find their way into roles that they don’t deserve.)

3. How much money you’ll get on your next raise.  (Oh, yes we do. But keep working hard anyway, we don’t want it to seem like it’s predetermined)

4. The information of why certain departments tend to get more (resources, staff, etc.) than others – but we can’t you – it would cause organizational chaos!  (I hate to tell you this, but it usually has nothing to do with department performance and everything to do with you department leader – or should I say lack there of)

5. What you’re going to get for your annual bonus – usually 6-12 months before you get it. (hey, this stuff has to be budgeted)

6. What changes will happen to your benefits – again – usually 4-8 months before it hits you.

7. Who in your company is most likely to go postal on you.  (But we can’t tell you for HIPAA reasons – sorry – but if you sit next to Ted you might want to invest in a bullet proof vest)

I’m sure there are a number of others, but many aren’t unique to just HR.  I was thinking of putting down: We cook the books on our metrics, but guess what? So does every other department!  Let’s face it, in a political corporate structure that relies on metrics to obtain budgeted resources – the numbers aren’t always going to be clean!  I like HR because we tend to have “big” secrets and are called upon to keep those secrets.  It’s probably the biggest failure I see with new HR pros – they tend to try and create organizational friendships by sharing “the secrets” -and it always ends up blowing up on them.

HR has secrets – you knew it, I confirmed it for you.  Now let’s move on – because I not telling you the specifics! (besides the Ted thing)

Employee Communication 101 – Tebow Style

I need to catch up on my HR/Sports related posts!  My teammates over at the 8 Man Rotation are probably feeling like I’m not pulling my weight lately, and what better way to get back in their good graces but to throw out a Tebow post!

So, the big news from John Elway over at the Denver Bronco’s camp is that Tim Tebow has earned the right to be called the starting quarterback going into next season’s Training Camp.  Basically, that means that during off-season conditioning Mr. Elway is not going to allow any other quarterback to beat out Tebow – Oh! Thanks for the vote of confidence Mr. Elway! I’m not surprised by Elway’s announcement.  What I’m surprised about, and probably shouldn’t be, was by Tim Tebow’s response:

“Nice,” Tebow said of Elway’s pledge of support. “It’s a great honor to be a quarterback for the Denver Broncos. I take that very seriously. I’m very excited about this offseason and I can’t wait to get to work and get better.”

He couldn’t have been coached better by a team of PR specialist to respond this way!

Look, Tebow gets that Elway’s endorsement, was really a partial non-endorsement – and he had a choice on how to react, and took the higher road.  He responded in the way we would like anyone of our employees to respond when put in a similar situation, and believe me, we put our employees in these situations!   We constantly have hiring managers deliver performance and succession messages to employees that sound very similar to what Elway gave Tebow:

“Mary, keep doing what you’re doing and good things will happen.”

“Bob, you control what you can control and it will all work out.”

“Gayle, with hard work, you can go as far as you want in this organization.”

“Ray, the only person who is going to stop you, is you.”

This is the classic performance management response/non-response – and we allow this to happen to often – but more amazingly than how much we allow this to happen, is how upset we get with our employees when they become frustrated with this non-feedback, and don’t give us a “Tebow” response!

Tebow is a winner in life because he understands the art of communication.  He understands that, while he has a huge platform on which to speak, using it as a weapon will get neither himself or his organization any closer to their final goal.  Elway screwed up – he should have been honest – “We’ll give Tim every opportunity to compete to be the starting QB of the Denver Bronco’s next season.  We will work this off-season with Tim to make him the best possible QB for our ororganization.” Period. Shut up, no further questions.  Tim showed the organization how to communicate – be humble, be appreciative and be gracious – you will come out a winner every single time!

Want Change? Hire Pirates!

Dollars for donuts, Fast Company is the best publication out their for anyone in the business world!  They hit a home run in my book recently with the article: An HR Lesson from Steve Jobs – If you want Change Agents, Hire Pirates!  “Why? Because Pirates can operate when rules and safety nets breakdown.”  More from the article:

A pirate can function without a bureaucracy. Pirates support one another and support their leader in the accomplishment of a goal. A pirate can stay creative and on task in a difficult or hostile environment. A pirate can act independently and take intelligent risks, but always within the scope of the greater vision and the needs of the greater team.

Pirates are more likely to embrace change and challenge convention. “Being aggressive, egocentric, or antisocial makes it easier to ponder ideas in solitude or challenge convention,” says Dean Keith Simonton, a University of California psychology professor and an expert on creativity. “Meanwhile, resistance to change or a willingness to give up easily can derail new initiatives.” So Steve’s message was: if you’re bright, but you prefer the size and structure and traditions of the navy, go join IBM. If you’re bright and think different and are willing to go for it as part of a special, unified, and unconventional team, become a pirate.

The article is an excerpt from Steve Jobs book: What Would Steve Jobs Do?: How the Steve Jobs Way Can Inspire Anyone to Think Differently and Win by Peter Sander, and it goes into some of the hiring philosophy that Jobs had while he was at Apple.

So, what did Jobs Pirates have to have:

1. It’s not enough to be brilliant and think differently- a Pirate has to have the passion, drive and vision to deliver to the customer a game-changing product.

2. Will the person you hire, fall in love with your organization and products?

3. A Pirate is a traveler who comes to you with diverse background and experiences.

4. Even though they’re a Pirate they still have to fit into the team and come with or be able to make connections.

“So, in Steve’s book–recruit a team of diverse, well-traveled, and highly skilled pirates, and they’ll follow you anywhere.”

5 Reasons Facebook is the Future of Recruiting

On February 2nd, at 1pm EST, Kris Dunn, The HR Capitalist and FOT01, and I will be putting on a 1 hour webinar called: Social Recruiting MacGyver Style!   Our goal is to give the HR/Talent/Recruiting Pro who are busting there butts each day to bring better talent into their companies – so quick and easy tips on how to recruit and source talent on Facebook for little or no money.

So, what will it be all about – basically why and how we think Facebook will dominate the future of recruiting!


Here’s a few reasons:

1. 1 Billion Facebook members (they’ll hit that number soon) who are more active than LinkedIn’s core member. (Think about it – how many times per day do you check FB vs. LinkedIn?)

2. Facebook has everyone – I need to recruit many different functions  – not just professional or technical. I need clerks, line workers, customer service reps, skilled trades, Nurses, lab techs…see where I’m going with this!  Staffing and Recruiting departments just don’t recruit professionals – we need all levels of talent in our organizations.

3. I want to fish in a pond where there a few fishermen/women – not one where there is one fisherman for every fish.  Recruiters are the most prevalent single profession on LinkedIn – or so it seems!

4. Referrals are my best hires and all of my employees (at every level) are on Facebook – I need to tap their networks.

5. Facebook and some of its App Developer partners, like BranchOut, have figured out some great ways for you to tap into their membership – to see who might have interest in your company or be willing to refer your company to their friends and family.  We HR Pros love Easy Buttons!

Come check it out – if you know Kris and I we will guarantee 2 things:1. There is a good chance you will be entertained for an hour; 2. We love to share things that make HR and Talent Pros lives easier!

Register Today!




Burning Down Your HR Department

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hire More Beautiful People!

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

What about: “Strong Athletic Jock?”

What about: “Scrawny nerdy band geek?”

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

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

They’re Not!

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

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

Here the data were less clear, but several reviews of the literature have concluded that there is indeed a small, positive relationship between beauty and brains. Most recently, the evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa pulled huge datasets from two sources—the National Child Development Study in the United Kingdom (including 17,000 people born in 1958), and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the United States (including 21,000 people born around 1980)—both of which included ratings of physical attractiveness and scores on standard intelligence tests. When Kanazawa analyzed the numbers, he found the two were related: In the U.K., for example, attractive children have an additional 12.4 points of IQ, on average. The relationship held even when he controlled for family background, race, and body size.


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


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

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

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

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

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

5. The cycle repeats.


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


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