Lets just jump right in to opening day since #MarchMadness has become a huge disappointment for me…
How the Oakland A’s perfected the Applicant Tracking System…Remember the 02 season for the Oakland A’s? They finished 1st in the American League West with 103 wins and 59 losses. They were essentially a Cinderella team. Beane was able to produce an unexpected record with an unexpected team on an impossible budget. Often times you hear that necessity is the mother of all invention and that is probably the case here as well. Beane’s predecessor was forced with the task of fielding a competitive roster on a limited budget and turned to sabermetrics for help. He used sabermetrics to measure on-base percentages and target undervalued players. He eventually taught this system to Beane and he continued using it and tweaking it (and still uses it) to maximize a minimal budget and put together teams worthy of winning. The incredible thing about this is that someone had to step out and say “let’s try something different… no more recruiting the way we have just because it’s the way we have always done it…”. Other teams began utilizing this system and it began to change the recruiting of the entire league, not just one team. And hey, a good movie was born through the process somehow too 😉
The point isn’t really that the Oakland A’s decided to use evidence based metrics when assessing players, well.. yeah, that is part of the point. The other part is that someone was willing to change the way of doing things. They were willing to change the way they recruited in hopes to change their organizations output of a finished product. It’s kind of like our ATS that we turn to in HR. A one stop shop that shows us work history, education, skills and all other good to know evidence based info about candidates and employees. At one point, that wasn’t the norm (note: I am too young to know a time when that was not the norm in case you were curious). I did however work for a company that chose to utilize the paper way instead of maximizing the abilities of their ATS many years ago and it was foolish. I can only imagine the fights that sabermetrics brought in comparison to the pushback I got from charging forward on the oh so obvious one stop shop ATS that was being underutilized. What did we find when we started using all the bells and whistles on the ATS? We could suddenly work far more efficiently than we ever imagined. We could get lots of great things done, everything was in one place, everything was easy to get to, easy to measure and easy to assess…Ultimately, we could change the game. We improved our efficiency and overcame the fear of not holding a handwritten application in our hands when assessing candidates.
There will always be room for improvement, but if we aren’t open to change and improvement we will eventually get left behind. If HR professionals allow their organizations to fear change or fear it themselves I can promise you the organization will eventually be outperformed by competitors. What are some changes you are fearing in your organization? What are some changes you are heading in your organization?
On our AL SHRM Hill visit this past week one of our topics we chose to discuss with our Congressmen/women and Senators was Tax Reform. Naturally, we threw in our own opinions on the topic as the day went on and I was disgusted when someone brought up that he couldn’t find any employees because everyone would rather stay on their “entitlements” than work for min wage, 8, 9, or $10/hr. This guy works for a temp service and considering that’s the majority of my background I couldn’t help but size him and his service up as a less than par “temp service”. I’m being judgemental and very cross in my summary, but I think that temp services would rather project that answer to their clients, network, employees and apparently congressmen than take some responsibility for this issue.
I’ll tell you one of my clients in my previous job started the majority of their temps at minimum wage. We were often greeted with sighs and grunts when trying to fill their positions because of the pay. And yes, a lot of times they said it would interfere with their food stamps/unemployment/cma/etc. So we had to start thinking outside of the box. I happen to believe that when “You know better, you do better” and took a shot at informing applicants. Communicating clearly where they could start with this position and where they could end with this position. What the pros and cons were for the programs they were depending on and the pros and cons for taking a position that may interfere with some of these programs. It was more time-consuming on the front end, but gave us far better results in our hiring process, eliminated walk offs and reduced turnover. There were still candidates that turned the positions down, but there were far more that accepted the positions and were able to maximize the opportunity to ultimately better themselves. Why so often do we underestimate the power of communication? #SPEAKUP
The mindset has to change, not just in the temp world, but in HR as a whole. On the hiring project I’m working on now I’ve recently had to send out almost 500 emails to candidates that we have not chosen for a position. I made a case to my employer that when people respond to those emails that we answer their questions. When they want to know why they weren’t chosen, we tell them. As HR we need to capture that opportunity to enhance the candidate pool in our own community. Sometimes people are making mistakes that they don’t even know are mistakes #KnowBetterDoBetter. Of course you still have the ones that will be angry or out to get you and you have to decide what you can pour your efforts into, but I don’t believe HR is only valuable to its current workforce, I believe HR is valuable to its past/present/future workforce and that means we have to offer advice and coaching to people who don’t work within our organization now.
Where are you missing communication? How is your HR team enhancing your community?
Did you ever want glasses or braces as a little kid? I can remember wanting them even though kids I knew that had them hated them… I kind of have had the same feelings about working in a cubical; I always wanted to even though friends of mine that had hated it. I wondered often how it would be to work in an open environment with cube mates. Would it be like Office Space? Maybe like Two for the Money-you know before Al Pacino moves Matthew McConaughey up. Well I finally had the opportunity to scope out this cube farm life… and just whoa. There are not a lot of cubicles where I am, but there are enough and because we are in a more open environment I have this daily anxiety that I’m disturbing everyone else. I’ve always been able to work/study in loud environments, but I don’t want to disturb others when they are working. My biggest challenge in this setting is not letting others distract me. When you are sitting in an open environment like this for some reason everyone wants to stop and chat. I’m so lucky to have the cubical that is by the entrance to the break room and the entrance into the plant. This means two things, everyone walks by me at some point in the day and if they are going into the plant they STOP and set ALL of their stuff on my desk while they put their hair net, beard net, hard hat, ear plugs, safety goggles and lab coat on. How do I cope with that? I put my ear buds in-even if I have no music going and focus on my computer screen, flash a smile and hope they keep moving. I have no personal items on my desk as I know they would never last with the constant storage my desk has to offer others. With this experience under my belt I cannot help but question who thought cube farms were a good idea? Where is such an environment the best setting for high productivity? Don’t get me wrong, I still get my work done, but some days it’s an extra challenge that I could do without.
Completely for fun here’s a rumor I had to deal with at the restaurant I told y’all I was waiting tables for: “She’s a spy from corporate”… Corporate sent me, little ol Kristina, into a restaurant in little ol Decatur, AL to spy on them? Whoooooaaaaa. As the new kid I found it humourous. As an employee trying to do a job I found it frustrating. As an HR professional I found it heartbreaking. I immediately wondered what kind of situation I could’ve signed up for. Are things bad enough in your organization that people assume the new kid on the block is a spy? to clean things up? To shut things down? To rat people out? To change things, for the better or even the worse? What kind of culture have you shaped that has people fearing a corporate mole when someone poses a solution to a problem? I can’t face day-to-day situations and turn my “HR” off, no matter where I am. It may be a curse… I don’t know, lol.
It has me thinking about culture and where us HR professionals get it wrong… We tend to be in situations where we wait until everything about our culture goes wrong before we find a solution. We are very much reactive in defining culture and we should take a look at our goals there again and see how effective that is. Now I know we don’t all have an opportunity to build culture from the ground up, but I see a lot of situations where an HR pro comes in and identifies the need to change the culture, but waits for something to blow up to get buy in on the idea. Don’t do that! You take responsibility and start making things happen… pitch it better to the higher-ups, make sure the higher-ups believe it and support it. Be an example. If you know me you know that I’m an advocate for the 5 love languages and the theme in the book is really based around making a difference starting with yourself… If you continue to throw tantrums no one takes you seriously, if you start to implement what you know it is going to take and behave the appropriate way people will see the results. That is taking on a huge role, but the ROI is worth it. I can tell you this though, if you wait until half your staff believes that there is a spy from corporate to clean up the culture… you’re in big trouble.
I focus a lot of my recruiting efforts into selecting candidates that will be a culture fit for where they are applying to work. Recently I’ve been tossing around some questions with Ben over at upstarthr.com and some of my co-workers at my day job. I still have a lot to learn about identifying the right candidate based on culture criteria and I’m pouring a lot of effort into making sure I understand what the company intends their culture to be and if their existing employees feel the same way. Talking to my co-workers got me wondering what my previous co-workers would’ve said the culture was in my last position and then I remembered a conversation I recently had with one of them.
A few weeks ago I received a text from one of my former co-workers. She was talking about being at a mandatory company wide meeting and somehow the conversation turned towards divorce. We were talking about books on my reading list that I would recommend and the 5 love languages was one of them… totally a life changing book. When I told her about the book and the purpose and how easy it is to apply it to your every day life she was sold and then she shared with me that her and her husband had almost divorced previously… It’s no secret that I was on the brink of that myself… mostly because my desire to succeed in my position and the importance I placed on the company jeopardized my priorities. Her response to that was “Oh yeah I know I think most of us have”. I stopped and stared at my phone as the crushing truth smacked me in the face. That right there defined their culture (and though I don’t work there anymore, it breaks my heart). That very conversation that her and I just had summed up what was and was not important to the company we slaved away for and I don’t use that lightly. When she said most of us, she meant most of the top producers in the company. Why? Well, because our options were to succeed or to fail. Either choice was on a zero budget and we were expected to make miracles happen. I don’t know what you know about making miracles happen, but it takes a lot of time and effort… might as well move into your office! My young 20-year-old self saw it as an intriguing challenge.. I can do this..! My young inexperienced, unmarried self fit their culture. I had nothing else to devote my time to, but work. I had no experience so I had to be grateful for the opportunity. I never imagined that my expectations of work could and should change as my life changed. I was not a believer in the work/life balance. I didn’t understand putting yourself/family before your job (remember that old school work ethic that I learned growing up?).
One of the questions that made it to Ben was something along the lines of where do the “bad attitudes” go to work? Because, there is a place for everyone… He had a well worded spin on it and I’m sure he will share it on his blog soon if he hasn’t already done so. And the dots started connecting for me.. today I would be a terrible culture fit for my previous employer, not because I have a “bad attitude”, but because I have a different attitude and most definitely not because I can’t or won’t produce, but let’s face it, we all do our job better when we are happier. What makes you happy? Aligning with the right culture for you. Sometimes that may take a few companies before you figure out what that is (note: this is why I don’t immediately dispose of the job hopper resume, sometimes I have a little glimmer of hope in my heart that they are on a quest to find their culture fit… I mean, if it is important to us recruiters isn’t it possible that it actually is important to some of those job seekers?). Sometimes it means you and the culture of the company you work for grow apart. It doesn’t mean that you are a horrible demon if you don’t fit the culture or vice versa; it just means you’re no longer a fit. It is what it is.
So you’ve all figured out that I’ve been ignoring the blog a bit lately. Not really intentionally, but I have a LOT going on that is keeping my focus elsewhere! 🙂 So this is where I am… I’ve kind of touched on a fairly recent employment change and to shine some light on that employment change it was not a very well planned employment change! BUT, that is perfectly okay because it’s given me a lot to blog about 😉 so stay tuned! Some of the topics you can look forward to will be along the lines of overcoming upper managements brick walls, planning for failure, interviewing the interviewer, back up plans, corporate spies, culture from the outside in and much more! Right now I’m working two jobs- a lot of fun, I’ve always enjoyed working two jobs and it keeps things interesting, but I’m doing something I never thought I’d do again- waiting tables. Recap: Recruiter by day, Waitress by night, job seeker* somewhere in there with a dash of blogger. *I am currently in the interview process with another company for a pretty sweet job, so hopefully I can remove the “job seeker” soon. I am happy at my current day position, but it’s not a long-term employment situation and both parties were aware of that going into the deal. I really can say that they have been absolutely AWESOME and the thought of leaving them eventually is bittersweet… Speaking of AWESOME I’m getting ready to head to the Hill in about a month for a SHRM visit and I officially have plans to attend the national SHRM conference in Chicago this summer! I expect both of these trips to give me some good content to share with you guys!
I really just wanted to carve out some time to share with you all that I am committed to getting some good stuff delivered to you as well as thank you for your continued support!
As someone who is excited about process improvement I’m always questioning the way we do things. Not in a “that’s stupid” kind of way, more like “I want to know more and I want to understand the process” kind of way (probably a skill that could use some fine tuning). Anyway, the last few days I’ve been meeting with a team of people who are involved in some big hiring decisions for a project I’m working on. Some of these people are HR some are not, some are experienced in the interview process some are just helping us out for logistic purposes. Listening to the group give their opinions on our interviews has become extremely interesting to me. I always tell people when they are asking for advice on how to get hired, how to stand out from the crowd and so on to just be themselves because there is no one way that guarantees you will impress your recruiter, or whoever you are interviewing with. As I heard comments like “If you don’t even have at least a Sunday shirt to wear…” or “his answers sounded too rehearsed…” I thought to myself-how often do we focus on the wrong things? Why do we recruit the way we recruit? I used to always tell the recruiters that worked under me that it was NEVER a deal breaker if a machinist didn’t have an A+ resume… (staffing industry tip alert*) the machinist job is to be good at being a machinist not at writing a resume, our job as recruiters for our clients were to let our clients know why he was going to be a good hire… Now that I find myself recruiting for a company on the inside, I still believe this, I need a forklift driver to be good at driving a forklift not writing a resume. I didn’t explain to the candidates coming in for an interview what to wear specifically, so I don’t care that he wasn’t wearing a sunday shirt. [in fact when a candidate did ask what they should wear I told them to wear what they would feel comfortable in for an interview…a panel interview is intimidating enough I wouldn’t want to force them to wear clothes they weren’t comfortable in too!] I did tell the candidate to expect to meet with multiple people as this was a panel interview and to take the time to do some further research about the company before he came on site, I appreciate that he took that advice seriously and was prepared for an interview. For the record one of my biggest pet peeves is when a candidate shows up for an interview and asks “what do yall do here?”… ughhh? Why do you want to apply for a position here and not even know what we do here?
Anyway, I know I’ve said it before, did we change the way we recruit and forget to tell candidates or did candidates change the way we recruit and we are trying to catch up? Chicken? Egg? Here’s my opinion, 2 generations at once was a triumph, the more you add the more difficult decision-making becomes. Your old school opinions are the “sunday shirt” opinions… Your new school opinions are “Are you available for a Skype interview? BTW we wear jeans M-F and we are okay with the occasional telecommute” and so on. Somewhere in the midst of the generational melting pot we’ve decided we will recruit for skill and culture so we can be forward thinking companies and maximize our potential and run lean and create mentorship opportunities, etc. Ok-I’m starting to run all over the place with this, again, hang with me. Are we expecting candidates to know that’s our goal? No. So we tell them that is our goal. And we wait… and wait… to see how they respond, right? Well we know what we mean & just because we say it, doesn’t mean the candidate knows what that means. It’s easy to recruit for skill, no doubt about that, but culture brings a new element to the table. So tell your candidates what kind of culture you are looking to build, tell them what that means to each employee and the goals of the facility and what the expectations are of the candidates as far as meeting/sustaining those goals. Then wait for the reaction. Then see if they are excited. If they understand. If they are on board. Don’t keep it “secret squirrel” and then be bummed when they didn’t exceed your expectations. Create open communication with new hires on how they can contribute to the culture and the company goals and coach them when necessary. Nurture that from the beginning and eventually those people will be the ones teaching your new hires how to react to the expectations of the culture, start at the beginning! And don’t be afraid to define the organizations definition of the culture they are building. I was talking with an HR friend who said that a recent candidate she interviewed had impressed her because he repeatedly mentioned that he was looking for a second family and that meant something to her because she deals with so many people who “could give a shit less about the people they work with” and later I thought “Well, what if that’s what family means to them?” This is a great example in my mind because people say “I want to be treated like family” or things like that, but family may not be the most important thing to that person so they may define family a bit different from how you or I would.
What is the most important thing, in your opinion, that a candidate must do in the interviewing process to get hired?