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    Friday
    Jan202017

    The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy - Part VIII

    Time to revive an old series on the blog, and one of my favorites - on the (continuing) Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy.

    Since it has been a while, here's a little refresher on just who Jeff Van Gundy is, and why management, leadership, and organizational culture types should listen closely to what JVG has to say about performance, talent, and team dynamics.

    JVG is currently an NBA analyst and announcer for ESPN, previously he was the head coach of my beloved New York Knicks, as well as the Houston Rockets. He was successful as a coach, but may even be a better fit for broadcasting, as he over the years has shown consistent insights into the game, coupled with humor, irreverence, and fun that makes games in which he is broadcasting essential viewing for NBA fans.

    We've covered many of JVG's insights on the blog in the past, (good examples are here and here), and while listening to JVG recently being interviewed on ESPN's (Zach) Lowe Post Podcast, he had this nugget of enlightenment about the importance of conflict amongst team members, and how it is necessary (often), to drive performance improvement.

    Here's the JVG quote, and then a quick comment from me:

    (Some context, Lowe and JVG were discussing if players who are 'bad' or who have abrasive personalities should have that held against them when judging their performance) 

    JVG - To me, it is not about are you 'easy' in the locker room, it's are you right. If you are causing tension for the right reasons at the right times, to help spur your team to confront their issues, and their problems and you're willing to be confronted as well about your own issues and your own problems, then tension is a good thing. 

    This idea that everything should be happy go lucky in a locker room when you are a mediocre team, I disagree with. It's hard to get from mediocrity to average then from average to pretty good and from pretty good to good and then from good to great if there's no conflict. Conflict puts everybody's cards on the table. If you are causing tension for the right reasons at the right times and you are willing to be coached as well and confronted as well then I think tension is a good thing.

    A really interesting, and I think accurate, assessment of how conflict, how an occasional 'difficult' personality type on the team, and the tension and butting of heads that that kind of a person can cause should not be immediately looked at as a negative.

    In NBA basketball, and probably in your organization as well, there are plenty of folks who think their performance and their contribution is perfectly acceptable, and their position on the team is totally secure. They may even be your 'top' performers. But even they, probably, need to be challenged from time to time. Even they need to examine their own performance at least once in a while.

    And in basketball, and again, probably in your shop too, it often takes a gruff, difficult, hard to get along with personality type to force people into that kind of self-examination. And often in basketball, and for the final time, at 'normal' workplaces too, the tendency is to immediately point the finger at Mr. or Ms. 'Difficult' and ostracize them, (or simply get rid of them), for rocking the boat.

    As JVG reminds us, when a team of any kind aspires to do more, to do better, to achieve great things, some conflict along the way is not only inevitable, it is likely essential.

    Think about that the next time you are wondering what to do to make that hard to get along with person who likes to find the issues in what is going on around the office to simply pipe down and get along.

    Maybe they're not actually the problem after all.

    Have a great weekend! 

    Wednesday
    Jan182017

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 272 - Humanizing Employee Background Checks

    HR Happy Hour 272 - Humanizing Employee Background Checks

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Brian Monahan, Co-Founder, Inflection

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve Boese is joined by Brian Monahan, Co-Founder of Inflection, providers of the innovative employee background check solution GoodHire. GoodHire, named a 'Top HR Product of 2016' by Human Resource Executive Magazine, takes a fresh, innovative, and important approach to employee background checks, one that humanizes and democratizes the process, making the process and the data more transparent, and providing candidates and employers better opportunities to engage. 

    With an incredibly large, (and increasing), amount of candidates in the US having some kind of 'flag' or potentially disqualifying item in their backgrounds, the need for employers to better understand these items, and for candidates to provide feedback and context about these events has probably never been more important. With unemployment continuing to fall, and with more and more employers having trouble filling their openings, perhaps it is time to re-think background checking altogether. Brian shares his motivations behind the creation of GoodHire, as well as some perspective and insights on why this new way of looking at candidates is needed now.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below: (email and RSS subscribers click through)

    Learn more about GoodHire at www.goodhire.com.

    This was a fun and informative show, we hope you like it!

    Thanks to sponsor Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or your favorite podcast app - just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to subscribe and never miss a show!

    Monday
    Jan162017

    Blue Monday

    Blue Monday is not just the name of a New Order song from the 80s, it is also the designation given to the third Monday in January (that is today, in case you are still sleepy), by the British academic Cliff Arnall. Dr. Arnall postulated that a combination of factors including gloomy winter weather, holiday debts, time since Christmas and a general lack of motivation conspire to make this day, the 'bluest' or most depressing day of the year.

    And while it might be easy to pass off the idea of Blue Monday, or any most depressing day of the year as kind of a silly joke, I think like all good jokes there is at least some truth lurking within. For most of this past weekend (at least here in the USA), the news was dominated by extreme winter weather events, the impending inauguration of a new President that without getting into the politics of it, seems to have at least half the population in a tizzy, and punctuated by your favorite sports team losing in the big game.

    It is really, really easy to get a little down this time of year. Yesterday I thought I saw a small sliver of blue sky in what has been a typical, relentless, and yes, depressing series of gray, wet, and cold winter days. I actually stopped what I was doing to stare for a minute, (maybe I should have taken a picture), at a sight I had almost forgotten about. Immediately after completing this post, I am booking a trip to someplace warmer and sunnier.

    I'm joking, but only kind of. When you think about the concept of Blue Monday, and think about how you fired up you were, (or were not), when you were forced to crawl out of your warm bed and face the cold, dark, and potentially icy day, then I bet for many of you, (and the folks you work with), Blue Monday does not sound all that crazy.

    It is tough out there. It is especially tough today, if Dr. Arnall's formula is even a fair indicator of how the combination of weather, work, and personal pressures all seem to come together and smack you in the face this time of year.

    So here's my advice, (I hope to take it myself), for Blue Monday. Go outside, (if ice is not falling from the sky, I mean). Pet your dog. Or find someone else's dog to pet. Take a real lunch break. Call a friend. Eat something that is not on your diet. And finally, most importantly, be nice to each other. We are all in this crappy Blue Monday together.

    And if all that fails, feel encouraged that as bad as it gets today, well, things are only going to start looking up from here.

    Happy Blue Monday.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Jan132017

    HRE Column: Looking ahead to HR Tech 2017 - #HRTechConf

    Once again, I offer 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, in what has become an annual exercise for me, I take a look at the emerging HR, HR technology, and workplace themes and trends that surface from my early planning for the HR Technology Conference in October.  While some of these themes or trends are just extensions and evolutions of ideas and concepts we have been talking about for a while, (mobile, analytics, engagement), some others like the field of Artificial Intelligence, or AI, seem really fresh and new.  I like to think that reviewing hundreds of HR Tech speaking submissions and having dozens of calls with leading HR tech providers and thought leaders provides me kind of a unique perspective on what is really happening with modern HR technologies inside organizations.

    In this month's HR Executive column I take a look at a few of these initial themes or trends that I am seeing in HR, HR Tech, and the workplace, and how these trends will help inform and shape the discussions in 2017, and the program for the HR Technology Conference in October. This is always a fun exercise for me, and I hope you get some ideas and insights from this review as you plan out your year.  

    From the HRE piece:

    I have started the planning process for the 20th annual HR Technology® Conference and Exposition (Oct. 10 through 13, 2017, and back in Las Vegas after a quick detour through Chicago last year). To date, the most common question I am asked from individuals and organizations interested in attending and/or speaking at the conference is what the main themes will be this year.

    Granted, the annual event covers an ever-broadening spectrum of technologies, business processes and topics and, over time, many of the primary challenges facing HR and business leaders have grown, changed and evolved as well. Five years ago, the word "analytics" would likely not have popped up in an HR leader's job description. Today, analytics is high on almost every HR leader's list of strategic priorities. And the main themes of HR Tech have evolved as well, along with these ever-changing business challenges and technology-driven opportunities.

    But to get back to the question, here is my very preliminary swing at the answer:

    Artificial Intelligence and HR

    When I initially started brainstorming topics for the column, one thought was to write about the recent Consumer Electronics Show and look for parallels and extensions from the new and emerging consumer tools to how these technologies might manifest in the workplace. While I decided not to do an entire column on that topic, there was one clear "winner" of CES this year, and that was Amazon's Alexa platform. Alexa, via Amazon's Echo device, is a voice-activated, intelligent digital assistant that can perform a wide variety of useful tasks, primarily in the home. The big story from CES was how Alexa is already being leveraged by numerous other devices -- such as in cars, on refrigerators and directly integrated in smartphones. The big takeaway from this, and a trend I am seeing reflected in many of the HR Tech proposals I have reviewed, is the increasing comfort level and capability individuals are developing with intelligent and responsive technologies, in addition to their increasing reliance on them. As these intelligent technologies proliferate in our personal lives (often accompanied by voice-interface capability), we can expect to see them emerge in HR and workplace technology as well. I expect "AI for HR" will be an important topic at HR Tech 2017 and beyond.

    The Employee Experience

    Last year in this space I talked about the evolution of employee engagement as an important topic for 2016. Now that a full year has passed, I think this evolution from the idea of "engagement" to something that has become known as the employee "experience" has made significant progress. More organizations have begun looking past the focus on the "end result," i.e., the engagement score, and have launched initiatives (and looked to supporting HR technologies) that more directly impact the key components of an employee's experience with the organization -- components that ultimately drive what we measure as engagement. A look through my inbox of pitches for HR Tech 2017 reveals topics such as career development, employee well-being, corporate social responsibility and personalized employee learning -- all topics that speak to organizational efforts to enhance their employees' positive experience.

    Platforms and Integration

    Like most technology trends, there is a lag between the introduction of a new technology, the identification and emergence of that technology as a "trend," and the more widespread acceptance and adoption of the technology by providers and organizations. At  the 2015 conference, we began to look more closely at the importance of HR-technology platforms, ecosystems and application marketplaces. No matter the specific terminology, the main idea was that organizations of all sizes had adopted numerous and often disparate HR-tech solutions, and were facing the daunting challenge of integrating these diverse solutions both for process efficiency and productivity, as well as for consolidated reporting and business intelligence. Fast forward to early 2017, and HR-tech platforms, application interoperability, and the "marketplace" or app store concept is now being more fully realized and adopted by providers and customers. At the upcoming HR Tech Conference, I expect we will see and hear stories about some important and early organizational successes that have resulted from applying these technologies and approaches to harmonize their divergent sets of HR solutions.

    Read the rest at HR Executive online...

    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 shovel the snow off your driveway, take your dog for a walk, or help you plan your summer vacation.

    Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Jan112017

    CHART OF THE DAY: People are quitting faster than you can fire them

    Do you know what the best day of the month is for workforce trends and labor market geeks is?

    Of course you do - when the monthly JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) report is released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics!

    That great day was yesterday, and in what has become a semi-regular feature on the blog over the years, I want to share just one chart from the latest JOLTS report, and as you DEMAND, offer some free (cheap!) comments on the data.

    First the chart - this one showing the amount of 'Quits', (voluntary separations), vs. the level of  'Layoffs and Discharges' (non-voluntary turnover), for the US labor force.

    Some quick takes from the 'Take this job and you know what with it!' vs. the 'Clean out your locker and scram' trends:

    1. Consistent with the longer term and pre-recession trends, 'Quits' are now exceeding 'Layoffs' by about a 2/1 ratio. Back in 2006, you could expect 2 folks to quit for every 1 who you had to fire (or layoff). Halfway into the last recession, (and for some time after), Layoffs surpassed Quits, as no one in their right mind wanted to quit their job with the chances of finding another one being so dicey.

    2. Obvs, the return to a more 'normal' and historical 2/1 Quits/Layoffs ratio puts much more pressure on HR,  recruiters, business leaders - essentially anyone whose job depends on having the needed people in place, and not looking to leave for the next, better opportunity at the drop of a hat. The same drivers that are making the Quits rate climb, (perceived labor market leverage, lots of openings across the country, rising wages), also tend to depress the 'layoff/discharge' rates. Do you really want to can that marginal performer if you are not at all sure you can find a better replacement in a timely manner?

    3. Finally, what might be the most valuable take away from looking at the overall labor market Quits/Discharges ratio is that it (should) force us to think about this ratio in our own organizations, and what we think might be the optimal or healthy ratio for us. We probably would rather exist in a world where there were not all that many quits and certainly not all that many firings or layoffs. But that ideal world rarely exists, and even if it did, would it be perfect?

    Said differently, there probably should be some tension and some churn in our organizations. The system/culture/workplace should weed out some folks who will self-select out. There should be some really talented folks that end up having/choosing to leave to chase some bigger dreams and goals that you might not be able to offer them the opportunity. And there should be some folks that you force out. The key may not be the absolute numbers of any of these categories, but the way these groups compare. If you are being forced to forcibly remove more folks that leave on their own accord, then you have a problem I would imagine.  And if no one ever decides to leave on their own, you have a problem as well, albeit a different one.

    Ok, that's it from me. Enjoy the JOLTS report like I know you will!