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    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 208 - LIVE from Ultimate Connections 2015

    HR Happy Hour 208 - LIVE from Ultimate Connections 2015

    Recorded Friday March 20, 2015


    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Cecile Alper-Leroux, Ultimate Software

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish recorded LIVE from the Ultimate Software Connections 2015 Customer Conference in Las Vegas. Our guest was Cecile Alper-Leroux from Ultimate, one of the most interesting, influential, and engaging leaders in the HR Technology industry. And quite frankly, Cecile is one of the HR Happy Hour Show's favorite guests too.

    On the show, Cecile talked with Steve and Trish about designing HR technologies from a person-centric viewpoint, the importance of creating technologies that are simple to use while still providing the depth of functionality that most organizations need, and finally around some really interesting and innovative concepts like thinking about the organization's health more holistically and 'culture as a service.'

    Additionally, Steve talked about a $175 million journal entry, Ben Eubanks makes a cameo appearance, and Trish shared some 90s music memories.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below:

    Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio


    This was a fun and engaging show - many thanks to Cecile and to everyone at Ultimate Software for hosting the Happy Hour once again!

    And of course you can listen to and subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or via your favorite podcast app. Just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to download and subscribe to the show and you will never miss a new episode.


    Notes from the Road #15 - The Five Guys You Meet in the Hotel Fitness Center

    Back out on the road this week while simultaneously trying to stay (reasonably) healthy and what passes for fit for a person of my stature. This combination of travel and desire to not let the half-dozen Las Vegas trips I have on tap for 2015 ruin me have placed me in quite a few hotel gyms and fitness centers of late. And when you spend even a little time in hotel fitness centers, you inevitably encounter at least one of these five types of guys (and yes, these are always guys), along the way. Each type is at best slightly annoying and at worst downright frightening and no matter which one you meet, you will be reminded how terrible people are.

    1. Meathead screamer guy - this guy grabs the heaviest weights he can find in the gym and carries out a cycle of squats and deadlifts while making sure everyone in the hotel hears how hard he is working out by emitting a series of grunts and groans in his best Monica Seles voice. It doesn't matter if the heaviest dumbbell is 20 pounds, meathead screamer guy is going to lift it in several ways and scream about it the entire time.

    2. Making up an exercise guy - Let's see - if we balance on a large medicine ball, hold a 10 pound plate in one hand, and lean forward and try and pick up a 5 pund dumbbell, we have just created a brand new exercise! Decades of research, study, and documentation of the basics of exercise are not enough for this guy. He has to leverage the vast resources of the Courtyard by Marriott Perimeter Northeast fitness center to break new territory.

    3. Extremely tight shorts guy - needs little explanation. Middle-aged, out-of-shape men of the world: Please stop wearing compression shorts in public. I beg you. You are at a sales conference, not prepping form the Ironman.

    4. Michael Phelps of the hotel pool guy - What? The hotel has a 20-yard long, kind of straight pool? That is the invitation for the wannabee Michael Phelps types to don the speedo and those tiny little goggles barely large enough to cover your eyeballs and start their own version of the 400M individual medley. Backstroke, breast stroke, butterfly - this guys has them all and wants to make sure everyone notices. Hey Mark Spitz - I just want dangle my legs in the shallow end and have a Mai Tai without catching the spray from your kick turns.

    5. Try every machine once guy - This guy probably has not ever set foot in a gym since middle school and the chance to experiment with the latest in 18 year old Nautilus machines in the Doubletree is just too tempting to pass up. This guy hits the bicep curl, then the shoulder press, then the abdominal crunch, then back to the bicep curl, and then maybe the overhead press for a few reps. A few rounds of the exercise machine roulette game and this guy is ready to hit the very happening lobby bar for $3 Miller Lite pints and half-price pulled pork sliders.

    Ok, I am out. Back to the grind that is Las Vegas in the spring time. Be careful out there my fellow road warriors. And stop annoying the rest of the world in the hotel fitness center.


    Poker, dating, and responding to email - it's all about the timing

    Good poker players will tell you, at least I am pretty sure they will tell you, that no matter if your cards are good, bad, or somewhere in between, that a smart player will respond and react to the betting action in a consistent manner. If you call or raise a bet too quickly or eagerly, that might be a 'tell' that you are holding some great cards and can't wait to get more money into the pot. Similarly, waiting and belaboring a decision to call a bet could signal a comparatively weak hand, and embolden your opponents.

    So the smart play is to find and maintain a consistent rhythm or cadence to your reactions and decisions, good cards or bad, and eliminate at least one source of intelligence for the other players. Don't get too twitchy, don;t wait too long to move, and you maintain some control of both your emotions as well as the table.

    I suppose the same argument could be made in dating where guys have, for pretty much forever, had to figure out how quickly to call after an initial meeting and exchange of phone numbers, or a positive first date. Call too soon then you come off too eager and possibly creepy. Wait too long to call back and you might send off a 'I'm not really interested' vibe that inadvertently could short-circuit the relationship from the beginning. So it's a tough call (no pun intended), figuring out the proper 'wait' interval for the call so that you don't screw it up or send the wrong message.

    This kind of 'How long do I wait to react?' dilemma pops up in all kinds of workplace situations as well - in when to speak up in meetings, following up after a job interview, and particularly one that stands out for me, the 'How long do I wait to respond to this email?' conundrum.

    Here's the scenario I want you to consider. You send an important'ish email to a colleague - maybe your boss or a sales or job prospect, not one of your direct reports, the idea being the person you emailed does not have any kind of 'expected response time' commitment to your emails. But you are eager for a response nonetheless. Then this person sits on your email for a bit. Maybe a day, maybe two, maybe even a week. Again, they don't really 'owe' you a reply in any specific timeframe, but they 'should' get back to you at some point. So a few days pass, let's say about six, then you finally get a reply back to the email that for which you've been eagerly waiting. 

    And now the moment of truth, like the poker player having to decide how long to wait before pushing in your chips, you have to determine when to reply to the reply, to the message that you waiting six long days to receive. If you immediately hit back, say within a half hour of getting the message you are sending out a couple of signals that you may not really want to send. First, you come off as a little bit desperate or at least over eager. You waited six days to get a response and you're firing back in almost real-time. You may just be excited, but you also could appear weak. And second, and maybe this is just a hangup I have, you set yourself up as someone who is constantly, perhaps obsessively, monitoring your Inbox. Most productivity folks recommend checking and responding to emails a couple, maybe three times a day. Getting an immediate reply back tells me you never stop looking at your email.

    So what is the 'right' or best way to mange this situation? 

    Unless the subject matter is really urgent, or has some kind of hard deadline associated with it, I think you have to wait at least half as long to reply back than it took for you to get your original reply. So in our example if it took six days to hear back from your emailer, then you should be able to hold out for a couple, even three days to respond back. Waiting, at least a little, sends a couple of more positive messages. It shows you have other things going on besides waiting for that email. It shows that you took some time to actually think about your reply. And finally, it sort of but not quite evens the power dynamic between you and your correspondent.

    So if you want to play the power game at the poker table of in your Inbox, take a little time before you re-raise and before you reply. You don't want to show what you're holding but acting too fast.

    And to everyone waiting for an email reply back from me, I promise they are coming soon...


    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 207 - CHRO Corner: Laurie Zaucha, Paychex

    HR Happy Hour 207 - The CHRO Corner with Laurie Zaucha, Paychex

    Recorded Friday March 20, 2015


    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Laurie ZauchaPaychex

    This week on the show, the HR Happy Hour launched a new series, the CHRO Corner, that will feature the most interesting and influential leaders in Human Resources today. Our first guest in this new series is Laurie Zaucha, VP of HR and Organizational Development at Paychex, a leading provider of HR software solutions and services having over 500K customers and upwards of 13,000 employees.

    On the show, Laurie shared her insights on the role of technology in the modern HR organization, what HR leaders should be considering when evaluating technology, how Paychex has adopted several innovative and collaborative programs for candidate attraction as well as internal employee engagement, and finally some thoughts on what are some of the most important focus areas for the HR leaders of the future. Laurie is one of the most progressive HR leaders in the industry, and she shared some amazing insights on leading HR in the modern organization.

    Additionally, Laurie talked about moving and shaping the culture of an organization, Steve tried to sound (reasonably) intelligent interviewing his former boss Laurie, and we all realized once again the benefits of post-production editing.

    You can listen to the show on the show page here, or using the widget player below:

    Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio


    And of course you can listen to and subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or via your favorite podcast app. Just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to download and subscribe to the show and you will never miss a new episode.

    This was a fun and interesting show with one of the most innovative HR leaders in the technology industry. 

    Thanks to Laurie and everyone at Paychex for being part of the HR Happy Hour fun!


    The half-life of technical knowledge

    That thing you just learned about or acquired mastery of - it could be a piece of electronics or a programming language or a new HR or Talent Management system, or anything really - about how long would you estimate is the useful life of that newly acquired knowledge or expertise?

    One estimate,published in 1997, from the mathematician and engineer Richard Hamming suggests the half-life of technical knowledge is about 15 years. Since Hamming's conclusion was reached more than 15 years ago, the theory itself, as well as our own practical experience with the modern world, seems to indicate the 15 year useful life of specific technical knowledge is probably even shorter. It could be 10 years, it could be even fewer. You still (mostly) remember things, but as time passes the value of what you remember continues to diminish.

    Think about the device that passed for what you called a smartphone in 2005. Remember how that thing worked? And even if you do, does that specific knowledge help you much today? Or how about the expertise you developed to help you navigate through that archaic HR and Payroll system your company used a decade ago. Any of that training and learning paying off these days?

    While it is no great bit of insight to conclude that technology is progressing more rapidly than even in the recent past, the question that results from that conclusion, just how can you attempt to stay relevant and knowledgeable in such a fast-moving environment is the important matter. How can or should you go about becoming more accustomed to learning all of the time, since as much as half of the knowledge we have already acquired becomes obsolete, in a kind of continuous cycle of degradation?

    Well, our pal Hamming had some really good ideas about that, and they have been synthesized and summarized in this excellent piece Ten Simple Rules for Lifelong Learning, According to Hamming, on the PLOS Computational Biology site. (Please don't ask me what I was doing on a Computational Biology site).

    You should really read the entire piece, it is not that long, you have time, but since I know you won't I will highlight the one 'rule' that stood out for me the most, especially since it sort of contradicts a currently popular idea that we should be open to and embrace failure.

    Take a look at an excerpt Rule 6, Learn From the Successes of Others:

    As Hamming says, because “there are so many ways of being wrong and so few of being right, studying successes is more efficient, and furthermore, when your turn comes you will know how to succeed rather than how to fail.” In addition, he notes that “vicarious learning from the experiences of others saves making errors yourself.

    The best part of that observation is just recognizing the almost infinite number of ways to fail and the extremely rare ways to succeed or to be 'right'. Maybe we have gotten too caught up in the 'embrace failure' cult since it is just easier to spot and experience failure in ourselves and in others than it is to attain success. Learning from success, even other's success, might get you where you want to be faster than always trying to extrude the value from your own failures.

    There are plenty of other great nuggets in the piece, (especially Rule 8. No Matter How Much Advice You Get and How Much Talent You Possess, It Is Still You Who Must Do the Learning and Put in the Time), so like I mentioned above if you are someone that needs to be concerned and able to keep current and proficient in today's complex world of technology the entire article is worth your time.

    Have a great weekend - try to learn something new!