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    CHART OF THE DAY: All email, all the time

    So I have a theory about this week, the week leading up to the long Labor Day weekend in the USA, and the unofficial end of summer. After Labor Day the kids are all back to school, vacations have pretty much all been taken, and all of a sudden you realize that there are still 18 big unfinished items on your 'Things I wanted to get done in 2015' list.

    So this week is it, the last 'fun' week more or less, before the end of year holidays kick in. So have fun. And don't expect too much out your humble correspondent this week either. I want to enjoy the end of summer too.

    Full disclosure: I did not want to blog about email AGAIN. Even I am sick of it. And it kind of doesn't matter anyway. But over the weekend I (once again) received at least a dozen or so work-related emails, none that I would classify as urgent, and by the end of Sunday night I couldn't help but have email (again) on the brain. 

    Please stop emailing people on the weekend. Really. I am begging you. 

    Anyway, here is the Chart of the Day, I almost forgot that was the point of the post. According to some recent data spotted on Business Insider it seems like for most folks email is either an obsession, or something you don't care much about at all. 

    Let's take a look at the data, then some FREE comments from me after the chart:

    What to make of this data - where the vast majority of people either are on email all day long or just once or twice a day?

    1. It should be really, really easy to figure out what kind of person (a check all day or a check once a day type) you are dealing with after one of two email exchanges. From the data we see that from the wide divergence in how often people like to deal with email making any kind of assumption about expected email responsiveness is probably a bad idea.

    2. People who check email all day long every day often cannot understand and have little patience for folks who fall on the other end of the spectrum. Think about your own preferences and usage of email. If you are constantly on your email all day long just how frustrated do you get with people who do not share your email obsession/enthusiasm. 

    3. This isn't an email-specific take, and really doesn't have anything at all to do with the chart, but I wanted to share that I finally came to my senses and turned off just about all visible and audible notifications in my phone. The only time my phone now 'pings' me is when I am getting a call or a text. No more email notifications, no more 'someone mentioned you on Twitter' alert, no more 'breaking news' type messages. It is remarkable how much better and I hope healthier I feel about my relationship with my phone.

    Ok, that's it, I am out. It is still summer after all. 

    Have a great week!


    HRE Column: The Big Trends in HR Tech and the #HRTechConf

    Here is my semi-frequent reminder and pointer for blog readers that I also write a monthly column at Human Resource Executive Online called Inside HR Tech that can be found here.

    This month, I took a look at the program for the upcoming HR Technology Conference (which if I can pat myself on the back for a second, put together), and tried to tease out some of the trends and themes that have risen to the surface from months of planning and literally hundreds of pitches.

    I came up with three big trends that I tried to describe in my HR Executive column. From the HRE piece:

    Organizations of all sizes now have access to powerful technology solutions in support of all the functional areas of HR. It will be incumbent upon the HR leader of 2015 and beyond to make the best technology choices in order to successfully develop and execute the organization’s people and talent-management strategies.

    When I review and reflect on this year’s HR Tech conference program, several key themes emerge:

    Data and analytics continue to drive HR and talent management.

    A continuing theme in 2015 has been the realization and maturation of the importance of bringing more analytical approaches and rigor into the HR discipline. The importance of data; the strategies to gather, compile, assess, and make meaning from that data; the role technology plays in support of these efforts, and the ways that data enhances our understanding of people and talent will be explored at this year’s event. Large organizations such as IBM, Unilever and Wawa Inc. are using data, analytics and the modern tools that have become increasingly available for HR and business leaders to efficiently manage this barrage of data and, in time, make more effective and efficient people decisions and set talent strategies.

    We will also hear how analytics are being directly applied in specific functional domains such as recruiting, learning and succession planning, and are not just being carried out for their own sake.

    Finally, the popular “Awesome New Technologies” demonstration sessions will once more have a heavy data and analytics slant. Many of the new innovations that will be presented showcase new ways to capture, present, analyze and make actionable HR and workforce data.

    Building on a theme from 2014, the HR Tech Conference program will once again reflect the continued confluence of marketing, social media and technology with HR, and how these trends are being exploited in functions such as talent acquisition, employer branding and employee engagement. The program lineup will feature interactive panel discussions and conversations with HR, business and talent-acquisition leaders from organizations such as Glassdoor, Cisco, United Health Group and Marriott on the ways modern HR is advancing the application of best practices, borrowed from classic consumer-marketing approaches, to execute talent strategies...

    Read the rest of the HR Exec column here 

    Good stuff, right? Humor me...

    If you liked the piece you can sign up over at HRE to get the Inside HR Tech Column emailed to you each month. There is no cost to subscribe, in fact, I may even come over and wash your car or cut the grass for you if you do sign up for the monthly email.

    Also, if you are interested in the HR Technology Conference you can learn more, see the full agenda, and register to attend at the HR Tech website - www.hrtechconference.com.

    Have a great weekend!


    Learn a new word Thursday, I mean Wednesday: The Dunning-Kruger Effect

    I know that the wildly popular 'Learn a new word' series on the blog is meant to be a semi-regular Thursday feature, I didn't want to let this new term I just came across languish for another 24 hours, hence we have the first iteration of 'Learn a new word Wednesday.'

    Today's word/term helps us understand the problems we have had in our own careers and in our own organizations with an element of the traditional performance management process known as the 'self-assessment' or 'self-rating.'

    You know, that component of the typical performance management process (usually positioned at Step 1), where you and everyone else is meant to attempt to quantify your own skills, competencies, progress towards meeting whatever goals were set for you way back when.

    Let's see, do I give myself a '3' or a '4' for 'Tolerance for Ambiguity?' If I go with the '4', does that make me look like someone who is just trying to prop myself up above the other jokers in the group? But if I only give myself a '3', then that will make it easier for my manager to rate me as average too, since if I only think I am a '3' then why should she disagree with me?'

    It's a nightmare, no doubt.

    Which brings us to today's Learn a new word. Let me introduce, (apologies if you have heard of this before, it was new to me over when I saw it) - The Dunning-Kruger Effect.

    From our pals at Wikipedia, (so you know this is true):

    The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein relatively unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than is accurate. The bias was first experimentally observed by David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University in 1999. Dunning and Kruger attributed the bias to the metacognitive inability of the unskilled to evaluate their own ability level accurately.

    Their research also suggests that conversely, highly skilled individuals may underestimate their relative competence, erroneously assuming that tasks that are easy for them also are easy for others

    There it is, scientific proof that shows that we are all, the skilled and the unskilled alike, (substitute skilled and unskilled for 'average' and 'high' performers and you see where I am going), pretty much incapable of accurately assessing our own ability.

    It makes intuitive sense, kind of, that the unskilled or even average performers would assess themselves a little too favorably when given the opportunity - after all who likes to actually admit they are not very good at something? Add into this tendency the crazy pressures and power dynamics that come from the workplace performance management process and you can easily see how self-assessments become really dubious in terms of their value.

    On the flip side, the Dunning-Kruger effect tells us that highly skilled performers will over undervalue themselves and their abilities. If I can do this easily, that must mean it is easy to do, goes their thinking.

    This is likely the fundamental reason why in sports so many of the very greatest players don't actually succeed in post-playing career efforts at coaching. Playing the game at a high level came so easily to them, that they can't see why it does not come so easily to the normal or average players that they have to coach and mentor, resulting in frustration and suboptimal outcomes.

    You might have had a sneaking suspicion as an HR pro of the shaky and questionable value of the self-assessment process. If you did, you know have a fancy term to attach to your POV. 

    Don't blame the player. Blame the Dunning-Kruger effect. 


    Job Titles of the Future #14 - Cultural Intelligence Agent

    What kind of organization do you think would benefit from someone who could 'Harness industry trends, insights and resources to help fuel an environment of disruptive growth and innovation?'

    Additionally, the person who would excel in this role would also be able to 'Mine the cultural landscape to identify emerging trends and influences in the areas of Music, Gaming, Design, Tech, and Culinary.'

    That all sounds really cool and fun and vaguely hipsterish. I am pretty sure I am not qualified.

    But to go back to the initial question, what king of organization in what type of industry would you guess is right now looking for someone with these skills? 

    Smart guesses would be advertising, media, (especially 'new' media), entertainment, or maybe even old school publishing. How many guesses would you have to make before you arrived at Soft Drinks and Snacks? Because at least in today's specific example, the company that is right now looking for this kind of talent for a role they call a 'Cultural Intelligence Agent' is PepsiCo.

    More details from the PepsiCo job listing:

    PepsiCo is looking for a Cultural Intelligence Agent with a passion for culture and experience working within or across creative industries including Music, Design, Gaming, Tech &/or Culinary. This role will be responsible for leading a team to harness industry trends, insights and resources to help fuel an environment of disruptive growth and innovation. As an Agent in the Creator Culture Catalyst group, you must demonstrate the ability to become a trusted advisor and thought leader to cross-functional business, brand and innovation leaders. The Agent also will drive and manage cross-functional projects that support creative initiatives and foster innovation

    What do knowledge of music, gaming, design, etc. have to do with the ability to create and sell Pepsi?

    Well maybe nothing directly. But indirectly, understanding, interpreting, and responding to cultural trends helps you understand people. And understanding people is pretty much the key to success in any business.

    Cultural Intelligence Agent sounds like a pretty awesome job. Not quite as fun as Relief Pitcher for the Mets, but still pretty sweet. I hope the folks at PepsiCo see this post and let me know how the recruiting for this position turns out. Because the kind of person who will make a great Cultural Intelligence Agent sounds like a really fun person to know.

    What about in your organization? Does understanding culture matter?

    Note: Further reading for anyone interested in how culture impact business: Chief Culture Officer by Grant McCracken.

    Have a great week!


    Superhero T-shirts, Ranked

    You probably own a superhero t-shirt. You might even be wearing a superhero t-shirt right now. But you probably never have considered the question "Which superhero t-shirt is best?" Which makes you pretty normal, I think. 

    Without further delay, here is your incomplete, subjective, unscientific, and 100% accurate ranking of superhero t-shirts.

    Note: I am not going to get into the methodology, criteria for inclusion, etc.. because frankly who cares?

    12. Iron Man

    11. Hulk

    10. Daredevil

    9. Spider-Man

    8. Fantastic Four

    7. Wonder Woman

    6. Superman

    5. Captain America

    4. Punisher

    3. Batman

    2. Flash

    1. Green Lantern


    Have a great weekend!