3 ways Technology has made me a better HR Pro

If you thought this was a blog post about the many HRIS options out there you can just close this page now. For those of you that want to know what I’m talking about that’s not an HRIS here it is:

  1. Google. Y’all…. I can google anything! It’s so nice to be a Millennial in HR and know that I’ve always had google. Legal question? google. What’s the local unemployment rate? google. Local event that has content relevant to my career path? google. Webinars for an issue I’m trying to solve? google. Seriously… google is my number one. So much so that I probably owe it a Christmas gift.
    google
  2. Social media. This one isn’t just because I love a good buzzfeed list of all the strangest interview questions or a “Whine about it Wednesday video” (those don’t even happen anymore). Social media makes the list because it helps me stay connected to a ton of HR pros that are smarter than I am and can answer some of my questions because they are experts and they are my friends. Staying in touch with people year round is so much easier with social media. Mentors via social media? YES PLEASE!
  3. Just kidding, those are the only two reasons I wanted to share.

 

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Participation Trophies at Work

Found this post while cleaning up my drafts and decided to publish it. I wrote this almost two years ago, yet didn’t need to change a thing.  

I have yet to meet a millennial that enjoys being called a millennial. I often hear from my fellow generation that they are often called out in meetings for probably being too young to understand a reference, or too young to remember such and such event or some other ridiculous comment. When there’s only one or two young folks in the meeting room out of twenty, this can be very uncomfortable and slightly embarrassing. We are often talked to like we are responsible for an entire generation of people, for example “your generation is lazy because you all received participation ribbons.” or “you have never lived without technology and that’s ruining you all.” I usually listen with a nice warming smile, but I’m screaming at you in my head. I don’t want to take responsibility for how my generation turned out (mostly because your generation raised us)!

I don’t understand the uproar over the participation ribbon phenomenon because we didn’t give them to ourselves. This particular topic is one that will send any boomer or gen xer into an uproar even though it can be linked directly back to them. Going back to the time we were all running around a soccer field as tots to now. Why up until now? Because they are still handing out participation ribbons. That problem employee that you wish had a better attitude, you aren’t correcting it and you’re still signing a paycheck for that person every week. That entitled employee that thinks he knows everything isn’t being counseled by you because you don’t feel like dealing with him, but you’ll sign his paycheck every week. That employee that’s late every single day isn’t getting written up because you don’t have the time to sit down with her, but you still sign her paycheck every week. That employee who is only grasping half of her job isn’t receiving any further training because you can’t deal with her millennial attitude, but you can still sign her paycheck every week.

We don’t live in a perfect world so the stereotypes will always exist. The next generation to enter the workforce will endure their hazing that every previous generation has endured in years before them. They will listen to the snarky comments and smile when being called out for being to young (or incompetent) to understand what every one is talking about. We can’t get rid of the stereotypes overnight, but what we can do is try to fix the problem instead of contribute to it. If you don’t like what your “millennials” are doing, then talk to them about it. Stop going to seminars (led by people who are not millennials) about how to work with millennials and how to talk to them and just treat them like human beings. I can tell you right now how to talk to millennials:

Step 1) Find a millennial

Step 2) Open mouth

Step 3) Say words

Bam! Easy enough? And you saved a couple hundred bucks. We are not super secret, hard to understand human beings. We are employees who come to work just like you do and need guidance and feedback sometimes. We are the future of your organization and we will be responsible for the generations after us, just like you should feel responsible for us. We will carry on the legacy of our chosen fields and the organizations that we work for. You will one day pass the torch on to our generation and we hope you can do so with words of wisdom and encouragement instead of crappy remarks about how we conduct ourselves. We aren’t all the same and we know that everyone in your generation isn’t the same.

Here’s what I really want to know: What are you doing at work to address your “millennial problems?” Are you still complaining about participation trophies, but letting your workforce go rewarded for poor performance?

Stay in touch #SHRM17

It never feels like enough time at national conference. Every one is back home by now and getting in their usual work routine again (after a 12 and a half hour crash to recharge our introverted batteries-just me?). We are all catching up on what we missed while we were in NOLA and cranking out our “final thoughts” on #SHRM17 while asking ourselves how did it come and go so quickly? This was my fifth annual conference and it may have been the best one yet.

Every year the Smart Stage line up has gotten better and better (Rue has been killing it from the start), the crew responsible for the social media team finds more creative ways to use our experience as an advantage for conference attendees, and the concurrent sessions cover a wide array of interests and experience levels. This year I really started to notice more people connecting at the conference! Of course a lot of factors are at work for this to happen, but social media has a hand in all that connecting! I was so lucky to witness, and be a part of, so many IRL meet ups this year from people who have been chatting together and sharing their thoughts via twitter, Facebook, instagram, blogs, etc. and it made my little HR heart SO HAPPY!!!

Connecting with new people is not easy for every one. I know this because it takes a lot of effort for me to connect with a new person (and following Heather Bussings lead, I’m currently looking for a designated extrovert for myself to maybe make this a little easier). Regardless, these connections are vital to the growth of our field of Human Resources. Our profession is made up of all kinds of folks with different backgrounds, different interests, different education, etc. and that allows us all to see things slightly different. The cool thing about that is now you have other professionals you can bounce ideas off of, discuss challenges, and share best practices while crossing geographical boundaries. I don’t mean we should set out to copy each other in any area of our job, but to build on each others strengths and learn from each other we have to be connected.

To move our profession forward and break the stereotypes that we don’t like we must work together as a whole to, dare I say, do HR on Purpose!! The process of moving forward will happen much quicker if we are intentional about continuing the conversation long after conference. (One way you can do that is joining the #Nextchat discussions on Wednesdays at 3pm ET!!!).

Having a strong network of HR professionals to help you grow and push you to represent us all well makes the challenges of HR less overwhelming. So I want to challenge you to reach out to someone you met at #SHRM17 within the next week and just follow-up with them. Send them an email, LinkedIn message, tweet whatever you like & see how they were doing and tell them you enjoyed connecting with them! Keeping the conversation going can be that simple.

If you’re an introvert like me, having those social media connections is way less exhausting than having to constantly meet with people in person by the way.

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Leading the witness

Often times we are eager to interview candidates to join our organization and some times we get so excited or have so much information to cover that we make this common interview mistake – we lead the witness.

leading the witness

With an estimated 5-6 million jobs open in the U.S. right now it makes sense that we would get eager to fill our jobs and excited to sell the candidate on our work, before letting the candidate do some talking. I’ve seen interviewers make this mistake so many times, and I always cringe when they do because it will directly impact the outcome of the interview/hiring decision.

I recently conducted a recruiting training with an HR team and I spent a lot of time on leading the witness, so much so that I had the team role play some cold calls and interviews to show them when they do this. Leading the witness can start as early as the first call (which I think is a result of so many people beating into the heads of recruiters that candidates don’t really want to talk to us – so in turn they blab everything about the job in 35 seconds because they are afraid they will never get that person on the phone again). Their HR director spoke up at one point in the training and said “If you ever get to sit in on an interview with Kristina, watch her…she does very little talking.” This is mostly because I want to hear what the candidate has to say (listen to learn), but it’s partially so I don’t do any leading. Of course to do this, you must be able to power through awkward silence. A lot of interviewers will jump to fill the silence when things get awkward and then babble down a path of telling the candidate exactly what the organization is looking for.

Now don’t get me wrong, the candidate should know what your organization is looking for and your culture shouldn’t be a secret. When you’ve done all the talking upfront and over shared what your company is looking for, you’re setting the candidate up to form their answers around what you want to hear. This makes it harder to screen for a culture fit since you’ve given away all of your culture buzzwords before you’ve heard what the candidate has in mind for their next position.

Here’s an example:

Interviewer: Here at XYZ company we are looking for candidates who believe in bringing their A game every day, we have no “off days” here. Employees give 110%. We believe in working late hours when we have a project deadline approaching, and expect project deadlines to be more important than anything else. We want some one who likes to play hard when it’s time to celebrate… etc. What are you looking for in your next job?

Interviewee: (thinking to themselves: an 8-5 where I can get my job done and go home and spend time with my kids every night, but gee, right now I really need a job) Well, I’m looking for a group of people who believe in hard work and put project deadlines above everything else.

Kind of a crummy example, but as I thought up example after example they all were descriptive of either my current or former employers and I don’t want to show all of their cards or call anyone out. The mistake here is telling them so much about your environment and THEN asking them what they want. In some cases the candidate is going to be perfectly honest with you and then you can have an honest discussion whether this is the right fit for them and the organization. In other cases people are going to say whatever you want to hear to get hired-at least until they can find the right job for themselves. In some cases people aren’t setting out to lie to you, they just haven’t put any thought into that question so they parrot back everything they just heard you say.

This mistake is most important to avoid in a company where you are screening for culture fit. If you believe culture is driving the success of your business, why widen the risk of bringing in someone who is just trying to fake it? Before you say it, remember we’ve talked about “there’s a place for everyone” i.e. “there’s a culture for everyone.”Also, this isn’t permission to disqualify people for the wrong reason. You CAN define culture so don’t rely on a vague “not a culture fit” reason for not extending an offer.

A quick search for some stats estimate that 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions and one of the reasons this happens is the candidate isn’t really a culture fit and it wasn’t discovered in the interview process (even though it can be). There’s all kinds of stats that pop up when looking to identify how much a bad hire costs our organizations – one source said 1/3 of the employee pay, one source says 50-60% of the pay, and another says 2.5 times their salary. There are a lot of variables to consider when calculating this number, but know this: you can actually identify how much it costs your organization. So, calculate it for your organization and use that number. Data outside of your organization should mostly be taken with a grain of salt in my opinion. Especially considering there is no one size fits all solution to any of our issues, right?

Super easy solutions to this “leading the witness” mistake in general. Ask your questions first. Then expand on the job and organization after your questions have been answered and give the interviewee a chance to ask you questions. Too much to remember? Try this, if Jack McCoy would get scolded for it in the courtroom, steer clear in the interview. Awkward silence is okay, let the interviewee think and you listen.

Three Interview Rule

I’ve always suffered a bit of a professional identity crisis. Am I recruiting or am I HR? Am I both? Are they one in the same? I’ve gone back and forth, but one thing I can say without a doubt that fits with both HR and Recruiting is solid relationships with your hiring managers. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn how to manage this relationship and the most challenging was when recruiting for a highly technical engineering company. One thing that drove me crazy was the constant need for “more candidates” for one position. If you’re experiencing the same challenge, let me share my three interview rule with you (it’s really simple).

Me to hiring manager: Here are three candidates that fit what you are looking for based on the extensive discussions we’ve had around your current hiring need.

Hiring manager to me: Great, let’s interview all three of them.

*Interviews all of them*

Hiring manager to me: I want to interview more candidates.

Me to hiring manager: What did you not like about these three?

Hiring manager to me: I don’t know.

Me to hiring manager: Then we are starting over.

3

Why would I tell them we are starting over? Because if you have found three candidates that fit the criteria you’ve discussed with the hiring manager and they still can’t make a decision, then they do not know what they are looking for. When I talk to a hiring manager we discuss every aspect of the position I can with them- minimum skills required, type of work, who the customer is, who they will report to, personalities of the team members they need to work with, day to day environment, education requirements, length of contract, hours of the schedule, peak seasons, when they might be required to work extra, what materials will they be working with…you get the picture. ANYTHING that is relevant that can help me find the perfect candidate for my customer, the hiring manager.

The three interview rule won’t work when you’ve given them candidates who do not match the job req so you should only pull this out when you’re candidates are a match for what you and the hiring manager discussed. This rule can be applied to any position, not just technical ones. Having the discussion about no more than three interviews the right way will help you build credibility with your hiring managers. Approach it as a way to revisit the job you are working on and what might need to be revisited as a requirement, not as a power move. Use it as a way to show you support the hiring manager and respect their time so you want to make sure you have the right information to get it right and help them make an informed decision. Continuing to give them candidates when they cannot tell you what they didn’t like about the qualified candidates already submitted will only drag out the hiring process.

Give it a shot and let me know how it works! As always, if you have questions, I’d be happy to answer them!

 

Learning into action #SHRM17

As I sit in another general session for #SHRM17 I wonder with my colleagues if this information is new to people in the audience. Great speaker, great information, fun delivery, but is the core of the message still new?

We have to remind ourselves that there are over 15,000 folks in this session & some of them are entry level so it is BRAND NEW to them. Some of our attendees this year have never been to any conference let alone a national conference. Some of our attendees are so busy at work that they don’t make time to read up on “new things” in our profession. So yes, for some of the audience this is new.

It’s going to continue to be new until our profession as a whole get better at it. If you haven’t been to a general session this week, “it” could be anything from improving recruitment and selection processes to building teams. So take what is inspiring you here and put it into action when you get back to work. Make a plan to present your case and turn your new information into a solution.

A few steps to not skip when turning this into action:

-Make sure it makes sense for your organization. If you can’t make a sound business case for it or identify the ROI you probably don’t need to waste your time on it.

-Don’t try and copy what you’ve heard, figure out how it applies to your organization.

-The 140 character words of wisdom floating around with the hashtag are only a tiny piece of the story. Paint the bigger picture so you can make a sound decision.

-Solve the problem your organization has. Don’t create a problem to solve, solve the one that exists.

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Education as a Benefit at #SHRM17

This morning I had the pleasure of taking a few minutes to sit down with Rachel Carlson, CEO and Co-Founder of Guild Education and one of her colleagues Zach Rowe. I was interested in knowing more about what Guild Education has going on and what the Guild sponsored session Beyond Starbucks/ASU: The Future of Education Benefits  has in store for us Tuesday morning at 7am!

Education as a benefit could be very valuable in a hiring environment that screams skills gap and talent shortage every day. Without getting into the numbers we can reflect on our own experiences at work and looking for/keeping talent & the challenges our own organizations are facing. Education as a benefit could be an effective strategic move for your organization, but I’ll let you hear it from Rachel and the panel yourself.

In talking with Rachel we covered a lot of thoughts on education as a benefit, so I’m going to do my best to sum them all up. So here’s the break down- Guild Education’s approach is about meeting the employees where they are. I personally think that is vital in considering any benefit for your organization, but I’m thrilled to know that’s Rachel’s approach for education. They are working with some big name companies implementing options from GED through Masters program- options and flexibility go a long way for today’s consumers!

A lot of times there is educational assistance for corporate office employees or executive employees, but RARELY for the front line workers. Hearing that companies like Chipotle (as in hourly food service workers) is using this as a benefit to recruit AND RETAIN employees intrigued me. I mean, this benefit is really doubling the retention of their front line workers? I get how this could help with recruiting right? Pretty obvious without even digging in to the strategy, but retention? Wouldn’t these line workers leave after they finish earning more education? Chipotle has a wonderful program for promoting from within, but there’s only so many promotion spots. Turns out employers will generally see a 3-8% enrollment in the program. Think of it this way, your top talent is taking advantage of this and that means your top talent is staying with you instead of quitting and going to work for a competitor. They’ve also done research that says 20-30% wont use it, but will value it as a benefit. Maybe those 20-30% have plans to use it later or maybe that just means encouraging continued education is a personal value that they appreciate the organization providing.

As for the employer side of this benefit, Rachel and her team sit down with potential clients and work through the numbers. That’s right, they can sit down and see if the ROI is going to be a profit center or just another benefit cost. I understand that cutting benefits when your organization is looking to save money quickly is an easy go to for the purse holders in your organization, but when there is a possibility of a benefit being a profit center you should at least stop and listen.  While I was tossing my skeptical questions to Rachel to see if this was a sound argument and how this might play out in some companies back home she made it real simple for me: “It needs to cost less than turnover.” In this case, it sounds like the Guild Education team is going to equip you with the knowledge and numbers you need to make a credible pitch.

I believe education is so important and I could go on and on about my conversation with Rachel and Zach this morning, but I want you to go to their session Tuesday morning at 7am and find out the details for yourself! Feel free to reach out to Guild directly at partnerships@guildeducation.com

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