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    Tuesday
    Jul292014

    The value of keeping the team intact: NBA edition

    Drowned out by the overwhelming amount of fan and media attention that accompanied the recent decision by basketball's LeBron James to leave his team of the last four seasons, Miami, and return to his original club in Cleveland, another team in the NBA has quietly completed the execution of a different kind of talent strategy in advance of the 2014-2015 NBA season.

    The talent strategy? The retention of key players and team leadership. The team? The NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs who recently defeated James and Miami 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals, thus setting off a chain of events of player movement (starting with the league's best player, James), that is still not completely settled almost two months from the end of the season.

    The Spurs' retention strategy concluded with the re-signing to a multi-year contract extension of the team's longtime coach Gregg Popovich. From the ESPN.com piece announcing Coach Pop's contract extension:

    Gregg Popovich has agreed to a multiyear contract extension to continue coaching the reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.

    Popovich, 65, has coached San Antonio to five NBA titles since becoming the team's coach in 1996-97. 

    The Spurs won their first championship since 2007 last month when they defeated the Miami Heat in five games in the NBA Finals.

    With Tim DuncanBoris Diaw and the rest of San Antonio's key players all set to return next season, it was no surprise that Popovich has signed on for a few more years.

    The long time coach, Popovich. The 'Big Three' star players, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili. All of the important reserve/role players that helped the team vanquish the Heat in a five game series that was for the most part, incredibly one-sided. Everyone that played a key part and made needed contributions to the Spurs' great season and eventual NBA title are returning to the team next season.

    In modern professional sports, the ability to retain so much of the key talent from a championship team is almost unheard of. Individual players, emboldened by their status as 'championship winners', often seek (rightly), to leverage that status into more lucrative contracts with competing teams. Some reserve players get uncomfortable returning to a team where they are likely to remain reserves for another season, thus potentially detracting from their longer term market value. And in sports, just like in any other business, sometimes people get tired of working with each other after a few years, and seek to use the success as a launch pad to something and somewhere else.

    Retention as a strategy is sometimes, perhaps even regularly overlooked in sports and in many other types of organizations as well. Some people like to say retention is an outcome, and not really a strategy in of itself. It could be, but either way that does not diminish its importance and role in long-term organizational success.

    ALL the NBA chatter this off-season has been about where LeBron was going to play next season, what his decision meant for the other stars on Miami, and how these moves impacted the eventual recruiting strategies of the other teams in the league. And while all this talk about player movement, potential trades, and how certain players might fit in with their new teams is fun and interesting for fans, it completely obscures what the most successful organization of the past 15 years has been doing.

    The Spurs led the NBA in victories, won their 5th NBA title in the Popovich/Duncan era by defeating James and Miami in convincing fashion, and then re-signed Popovich and all the important players from that team and NO ONE is talking about them.

    It is because retention is boring. Recruiting is fun and exciting though, so we like to talk about that instead. But retention, stability, and sticking to a winning formula probably gives the Spurs, (and your organization too), a better shot at long term success than chasing elusive talent and not doing enough to convince your home grown talent to stick around.

    Monday
    Jul282014

    Summer Fridays (probably should have waited until Friday to post this)

    A week or so ago I had the chance to talk to Kirsten Fleming from the New York Post about work schedules, workplace flexibility, and perks, (particularly in industries like tech, advertising, and fashion). The resulting piece, How Summer Fridays became the most divisive issue in NYC, ran about a week ago, and is a fun, informative take on what organizations are doing with respect to 'Summer Fridays' and more workplace flexibility in general, and is peppered in classic HR Capitalist style with a cool series of Instagram embeds of NYC workers enjoying their Friday afternoon freedom.

    Here is a snippet from the piece, (which includes what might be the apex of my professional career, a quote in the awesome New York Post), and you can read the rest of the piece here:

    Owens is one of the fortunate New Yorkers who have a coveted Summer Friday work schedule, which means beating the scrum of weekend warriors to the roads and rails. And while he relishes his early exit, he gets just as much of a thrill from ribbing his pals who toil away in traditional industries that require them to work a full day on Fridays.

    After all, once the summer calendar is under way, the Big Apple becomes a tale of two cities — the people who have Summer Fridays and the rest of the working schlubs. The liberal policies vary from allowing employees to leave early to giving them the day off entirely. The lucky “haves” tend to work in creative industries like fashion, public relations and media...

    Catch the rest here...

    Oh and by the way, are you slacking off taking off any time on Friday afternoons this summer?

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Jul252014

    REPRISE: PowerPoint for the iPad? Well that's no fun.

    Note: Caught a really interesting article this week on the Unofficial Apple Weblog, titled Microsoft still doesn't get why the iPhone succeeded, which breaks down Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's recent manifesto memo to MSFT employees regarding the tech giant's strategy and direction. Essentially, the author contends that Nadella's focus and emphasis on the device (smartphone, tablet, whatever is coming next, etc.), as a 'work' or productivity device misses the entire reason why people originally flocked to the iPhone and iPad in the first place. Here is a snippet from the piece:

    Consumers primarily buy mobile devices that make their lives easier and more fun, work be damned. Microsoft Office wasn't available on the iPhone until June of 2013. An iPad version wasn't released until four months ago! And guess what, hundreds of millions of consumers bought iPhones and iPads anyhow.

    The longer Microsoft continues to focus on the alleged allure of productivity software, the more it runs the risk of falling into the same trap as RIM, which remained so beholden to the notion of physical keyboards that it completely ignored the mass market to placate its beloved enterprise users. Just as RIM mistakenly believed that physical keyboards could fend off the growing popularity of the iPhone, Microsoft seems to believe that the abstract notion of "productivity" will help them garner more marketshare.

    The underlying problem with this train of thought is that it ignores the fact that the iPhone helped usher in the consumerization of IT, the dynamic where individuals themselves are able to influence the type of mobile devices supported in their work environment.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    Steve here- The entire piece kind of read and felt familiar to me, and a quick look back at the archives here revealed I had kind of written a similar piece back in February of 2012, when early rumors of MS PowerPoint being ported out to the iPad first started making the rounds.  So since it is sometimes fun to look back, and because I think the gist of the argument I made in 2012 still applies today, here is that piece from 2012 in all it's majesty:

     

    PowerPoint for the iPad? Well that's no fun.

    Lots of chatter in the tech news and blogosphere this week about the possible launch of an iPad version of Microsoft Office.  First the news of the Office for iPad was broken by The Daily, denied, (kind of), by Microsoft, examined in more detail by ZDNet, then reconfirmed on Twitter by a staff member at The Daily. And I am sure there were lots of other takes on the potential release of Office for the iPad, most of which making it seem like it is not a question of if Microsoft will release the iPad version of Office, but rather when the apps will be released.Source - The Daily

    So based on the evidence, and the sort of non-denial denial from Microsoft, let's assume that indeed in the 'coming weeks' there will be a release of MS Office for the iPad. Most of the accounts about this possible new Office version herald this development as a positive one, both for Microsoft, essentially absent to this point in the rapid rise of the tablet ecosystem, and also for the millions of iPad users that now can become 'more productive' now that the ubiquitous Office suite will have a native iPad version.

    But for me, I have to admit I don't feel all that excited about having Excel, Word, or PowerPoint on the iPad. Even assuming that the iPad versions of these workplace stalwarts manage to leverage the best capabilities and usability features that the iPad offers, you are still crunching spreadsheets, writing (boring) documents, and futzing around with another PowerPoint. You know, working. And work, sadly, is often not much fun. And perhaps through no fault of their own, Excel and PowerPoint take a lot of reflected shrapnel for that if you get my meaning.

    People love their iPads because they are fun, (assuming you can mentally set aside how they are actually manufactured, but that is another story), they provide an amazing user experience, and mostly what you do with them either isn't work, or doesn't feel like work. It just seems cool, hip, easy. Not words we often associate with work. Especially when work takes the form of spreadsheets and slide decks.

    So when MS Office for the iPad comes out will I rush to load it up? Probably not. But I imagine I will eventually succumb, as the allure and utility of being able to tweak that presentation file on the iPad when sitting in the airport will prove too tempting and seem too necessary. It's work right? Need to get 'er done whenever and wherever.

    I just hope I won't have to drop Angry Birds to make room for Excel. Because that would really stink. 

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday
    Jul242014

    CHART OF THE DAY: Whose Labor Market is it Anyway?

    There is a simple answer to that question, really. 

    The candidates run the current labor market, at least for large, (and growing) swath of managerial, professional, and technical roles. 

    Check out this week's Chart of the Day, a look at how recruiters see the labor market - candidate driven or employer driven,  courtesy of the MRI Network's latest recruiter sentiment study, (as always, some pithy commentary from me after the chart)

    Wow - pretty simple and clear to see how at least this group of surveyed MRI Network recruiters have seen the labor market shift pretty dramatically in just two and a half years.

    From late 2011, when the sentiment was that that the power and leverage in recruiting was about an even split between candidate and employer, to one where now these recruiters see about a 4x advantage for the candidates, this shift will have some pretty profound implications for many HR/talent pros.

    Quite simply, offers to candidates with desirable, in-demand skill sets are going to have to get sweeter, and they are going to have to happen faster. Digging in to the MRI data you see that the primary reason candidates can't be closed is that they have accepted a different job offer. Sure, there are plenty of factors at play here, but the lesson is that just like in the market for desirable real estate in New York or San Francisco, the market for top candidates is likely to be super-competitive, with candidates holding signifcant leverage and multiple offers.

    One more nugget from the data - candidates accepting counter-offers to remain with their current employer are rising. Whether or not it makes sense to even make counter-offers is definitely subject to debate, but the fact that if you don't at least consider the practice for your in-demand talent, you are likely going to find yourself having to replace at least some of that talent sooner than you might have liked. 

    Looking back over this data, and the last few Charts of the Day I have posted and it continues to become more clear - job openings are up, employees are more willing to jump for a better opportunity, the competition for candidates is getting more fierce, and the strategy and tactics you were using as recently as 2011 probably are not going to work in labor markets where the best candidates have all the power.

    Have fun and be careful out there.

    Wednesday
    Jul232014

    WEBINAR: How Smart HR Pros are Becoming Better Marketers

    The next Fistful of Talent (where I am a contributor in case you did not know that), FREE webinar is set and it is a good one - details are below faithful reader.

    Kris Dunn and Tim Sackett will present "How Smart HR Pros are Becoming Better Marketers – By Using Company Reputation Sites Like Glassdoor.” on Wednesday, July 30th at 2pm ET, and they plan to hit you with the following topics:

     - How the the yelp-ification of America—the trend towards consumer-based reviews in almost every area of our economy—is changing the way employees and candidates think about job search and employer brands. It’s second nature for your employees to rate a restaurant, a book or a movie online. That means that employees of all types (not just the ones who want to complain) are more willing than ever to participate in your brand through user review.

    Why the explosion of social media and deep coverage of every aspect of our lives through video and photos is changing the willingness of smart companies to increase their transparency.  Every employee and candidate who interacts with your company is a potential reporter, and they expect you to share the good, bad and ugly about working with your firm openly and honestly. Old versions of employment brands won’t cut it—you”re going to have to give up some control to maximize your brand.

    - They will cover the 5 Biggest Myths about company reputation sites like Glassdoor and tell you which ones are completely BS and which ones you actually perpetrate by not fully engaging on sites like Glassdoor.  They will hit the usual suspects here: “The only comments are from the bad employees”  and “The salary data out there isn’t factual,” and tell you why things have changed. More importantly, they will hit how you actually may make the myths a reality by not fully engaging on reputation sites.  Think about that last sentence: You’ve got to be in the game to influence the game.

    Last but not least, they will give you a 4-step playbook on how to engage on reputation sites and become more of a Marketer as an HR/Recruiting Pro.  It’s true—you wouldn’t have read this far if you didn’t want to learn more about how to use reputation sites like Glassdoor to maximize your company and your career. We’ll help you get started.

    The outside world now has a huge say in how your company/employment brand is perceived, whether you engage or not. We think you should engage.  Join us for How Smart HR Pros are Becoming Better Marketers – By Using Company Reputation Sites Like Glassdoor” at 2pm ET on Wednesday July 30th and we’ll show you how.

    REGISTER BY CLICKING THIS LINK OR FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW!