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    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 264 - Future Trends in Talent and Talent Acquisition Technology

    HR Happy Hour 264 - Future Trends in Talent and Talent Acquisition Technology

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Kevin Wheeler, Founder, Future of Talent Institute

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the show, we welcome consultant, speaker, and thought leader Kevin Wheeler to the HR Happy Hour Show to talk about some of the big trends in talent and talent technology, and how it is so important for HR and talent leaders and professionals to keep dialed in to these trends to better prepare themselves and their organizations to successfully navigate the future.

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

    Kevin shared some of his recent work and research on how large companies are dealing with the increased technology capabilities and the transfer to digital business models, and the continued emergence of the contingent or 'gig' economy. We also talked about the importance of images and imagery in corporate communication, and how technology and organizations should be re-assessing and re-committing themselves to more visual forms of communication. Think of it as applying what Instagram does but inside and for the enterprise.

    Kevin also previewed his upcoming keynote at the Talent Acquisition Technology Conference, November 15-16 in Austin, Texas. Kevin will be talking about the ‘The Promise and Peril of Predictive Analytics’ at the event, and we talked about just a few of the key challenges and considerations for HR and talent leaders who are considering adopting predictive technologies in talent acquisition.

    We also spent some time talking about Amazon - quite possible the most interesting large company in the world.

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

    Remember: subscribe to the HR Happy Hour on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or your favorite podcast app.


    The Carnival of HR and the Old Days of HR Blogging

    I started blogging in about 2007, right about the time I started teaching a course in HR Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

    For some reason in my HR Tech class I thought it would be a good idea to make sure the students knew about blogging - how to set up a blog, how to update a blog, how to write on a blog, etc. And in what turned out to be indicative of a few other things I covered in that class, I realized I needed to sort out how to do those things myself before I could teach them to the students.

    And so the first iteration of this blog was launched in 2007.

    Sometime later that year I ran through the same exercise with Twitter. I thought it important to talk about and demonstrate this new thing called Twitter in class, so I had to learn how to use it myself. So in late 2007, my initial Twitter handle, @Sbjet was born. I remember being VERY excited when I crossed 100 followers. That was big time in 2008.

    And something else was big time, at least to me, back in the early days of my HR and HR Tech blogging - the monthly Carnival of HR. 

    I have not written about the Carnival of HR in ages, so chances are some, or maybe even many, folks reading this blog today are not familiar with the Carnival. But back in 2008 and 2009 this monthly collection of the best blog posts from around the HR blogosphere was a really, really big deal. I tried for what seems like ages to get a post of mine included in the Carnival, only to be passed over. 

    I was pretty much unknown, writing a dumb blog about technology and teaching for a tiny, tiny readership. 

    But I kept on submitting a post each month anyway, and one month, finally, one of my posts was included in the Carnival of HR. I wish I could remember exactly when that was, but I do remember being really, really ecstatic about it when I found out, (this has to be the nerdiest thing I ever got excited about). 

    But back then, being in the Carnival of HR felt, at least to me, kind of vindicating. I felt, somehow, that it validated what I was doing in the eyes and opinions of the other HR bloggers who back then I was SURE were all better, smarter, and more popular than I was. I actually think most of them still are by the way.

    And also different back then, was that it really seemed like the smallish number of folks who were actively blogging about HR all would read each other's posts, would comment on them fairly often, and would share posts with each other in old school ways like Email and Google Reader. Sure, Twitter was just starting to become a thing by 2009 or so, but even then, the HR Twittersphere and the HR Blogosphere were pretty much the same group of folks, give or take, and there was (maybe I am being really naive here), a real sense of camaraderie and community there.

    And I guess that is why the Carnival of HR seemed so cool to me back then. It was like a public list of who was in the club, who was doing interesting work, who was contributing and had something to say.  Getting a post in the Carnival of HR meant you were a part of the cool kids, and even at whatever age I was then, still seemed like an accomplishment.

    I kind of miss those days, back when the center of the conversation was actually distributed around the internet on the couple of dozen or so HR blogs that were THE ONES to read then. Lots of them (and their owners), had cool names like HR Minion, Your HR Guy, HR Ringleader, HR Maven, Punk Rock HR, and the HR Capitalist. Some of these names still are active and vibrant in the HR blog world. Some, not as much, or their owners have moved on to new things and new adventures.

    But for me, someone who without blogging would NEVER have gone on to do any of the cool things I have been able to do these last few years, the early days of HR blogging were just about the best times I ever had with this blog.

    Why take this walk down memory lane?

    Because my HR Happy Hour Show partner Trish McFarlane messaged me last week to let me know she was hosting the latest Carnival of HR, and wondered if I had a post to include in the round up.

    I will admit to not having thought about the Carnival in a long, long time, but then of course I remembered how once it was the MOST important thing for a lowly HR blogger like me. And I remembered how cool it was to be included.

    So of course I sent Trish over a post to include in the Carnival, (and thanks Trish for using it!).

    You can check out the Carnival of HR on Trish's HR Ringleader blog here.

    And check it out you should. Because there just might be someone included in the Carnival for the very first time, and who thinks that being included is the BIGGEST deal ever. 

    And you know what? 

    They would be right. It is the biggest deal ever. 

    Thanks Trish for including me. 

    And thanks to all the HR bloggers out there for letting me into your club.


    The Geometry of the Deal

    So do you want to know what I did this past Saturday night? 

    Scratch that, I assure you that you do not, as you would likely become distracted having to navigate the simultaneous emotions of boredom, pity, and incredulity.

    So let's pretend for both of our sakes that I didn't spend a good portion of Saturday night re-watching (thank you Amazon Prime), the 1996 HBO movie The Late Shift, a 'based on real events' telling of the late-night TV wars of the 1990s following the retirement of TV legend Johnny Carson, long time host of NBC's The Tonight Show.

    (Ok, just between us, this is what I did on Saturday night, don't judge, and roll with me on this)

    Quick recap of the movie's key elements: 

    1. Johnny announces his plans to retire from TV in May of 1992, giving NBC effectively a full years notice and time to select his successor

    2. NBC has to decide who will be the next host of The Tonight Show, an extremely important decisions because (at least in 1992), The Tonight Show was still very popular, and extremely profitable. This was a big deal for NBC, (and their corporate owner at the time, GE).

    3. There are only two candidates. One, Jay Leno, who was well-liked, funny, (he was), and had become Johnny's regular guest host in the last few years of Johnny's run. And two, David Letterman, who had been hosting the Late Night Show on NBC, (the 12:30AM show that ran right after Johnny) for the past 10 years, and who was also popular, if slightly more edgy and hip than Leno.

    4. The rest of the movie, (I won't spoil it for you, as if I need to worry about dropping a spoiler for a 20 year-old movie), runs through what happens in the run-up to NBC's eventual decision, and the chaos and corporate drama which almost immediately ensues.

    I decided to watch this movie again for one specific reason, and that was not because I could not remember who did get The Tonight Show.

    No, it was because I recently was in a discussion with a friend regarding a real-life contract negotiation, and during that discussion I wanted to advise my friend to essentially 'think bigger', to not necessarily get bogged down in trying to 'win' on the small items, but rather to try and garner support for something more expansive, something more wide and far-reaching, frankly for a pretty significant re-interpretation and definition of the business relationship altogether.

    And then the phrase I was wrestling with trying to articulate finally popped into my head - I wanted him to change 'the geometry of the deal'.

    And then, I remembered where I first, (and I am pretty sure the only) time I heard that phrase - the movie The Late Shift.

    About a third of the way through the movie, Letterman comes to realize that NBC intends on awarding The Tonight Show host job to Leno, and is frustrated and confused and doesn't really know how to move forward. His ally (and Carson's producer), Peter Lassaly advises Dave to meet with a Hollywood agent, something Dave has in the past had no interest in doing. Lassally does convince Dave to meet with one of the most powerful agents in Hollywood, Mike Ovitz, and the 'geometry' line comes from Ovitz, when he sits down to meet with Letterman and Lassally.

    (Note: I can't find a clip of just the Ovitz meeting, below is a YouTube embed of the full movie, fast forward to 35:12 for the meeting, which is only a little over 2 minutes long). Email and RSS subscribers, click through.

    Here's the text of the Ovitz speech as well, in case you can't be bothered to mess around with the clip:

    Michael Ovitz: Peter, I know Dave's circumstances, and so I know why you're here. Dave is a star of such compelling stature that frankly it makes me personally angry he finds himself this abused. We pride ourselves here at CAA in developing a career plan for our clients that protects them as much as it enriches them. David has set such an incredibly high professional standard and yet he is going disturbingly unrewarded. That just doesn't make any sense; it's simply bad business practice. Obviously, we have an interest in establishing a business relationship with you Dave, and you Peter. Frankly, we have worked out a career plan for David, and it includes securing everything for Dave that he wants. EVERYTHING. Of course that means an 11:30 television show. Dave will be offered an 11:30 show, and he will be offered it by every network. The geometry of the deal will be far larger, the studios will be in, the syndicators, the full range of the entertainment industry. We shall frame a deal that will make you one of the giants. And if you give us the privilege of working with you, CAA will take care of everything your talents deserve, and his spirit desires.

    Awesome, right?

    And if you did watch the clip in the movie when Ovitz makes the speech you will catch his confidence, his preparedness, ("Peter, I know Dave's circumstances"), and his all-around dominance of the proceedings. Dave leaves the meeting much more confident himself, which is how all the best coaches, agents, teachers, leaders, or bosses make the people they work with feel.

    But most of all, and why this is so cool is that phrase - 'The Geometry of the Deal'. It's been in my head for 20 years, and now, hopefully, it's in your head too.

    Go kick some a$$ this week.

    I will try to as well.


    REMINDER: LinkedIn is still not the real world

    In what has become an annual tradition on the blog, as beloved as the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, or me passing out on the sofa in a turkey/stuffing coma each Thanksgiving, I wanted to offer my quick reminder that the world of LinkedIn has only a partial, if not passing, resemblance to the real world of work, workplaces, and the kinds of jobs most people have.

    What prompts this regular reflection and reminder? As in years past, (here is what I wrote about this last winter), LinkedIn has released what they call 'The Top Skills That Can Get You Hired in 2017', based on their data set of member profiles, job posting activity, and their assessment of the candidate skills that were more likely to generate recruiter interest and hiring activity. They publish this list of 'top' skills both globally, and for a selection of countries and more or less the narrative that follows is something along the lines of 'If you want to get hired next year, you should try to acquire one (or more) of these skills.'

    Here is the list of these 'top' skills for the USA for 2017, per LinkedIn:

    As has been the case in the last couple of years, these 'hot' skills are dominated by the latest in IT trends and innovations. Cloud computing, user interface, algorithm design, etc., are all skills (and roles), that have certainly seen an increase in employer demand, and is often reported, can be difficult to find in candidates. So simple supply (which is not enough), and demand, (which continues to increase), for these skills naturally make them 'hot' and the folks that possess them remaining in demand.

    Makes sense. Good to know. Interesting to think about if you are just starting your career and want to have at least some level of comfort about your chances of employment.

    But as I like to point out, and did the last time LinkedIn shared with us what was 'hot',  these skills, or said slightly differently, the kinds of jobs that require these skills, still make up a really, really small percentage of overall employment in the USA, and are not the ones that the vast majority of people are doing.

    Here's the latest data that is available from our pals at the Bureau of Labor Statistics on 'Major Occupational Groups as a Percentage of Employment', (from 2015):

    Did you see the grouping for 'Computer and Mathematical', where the majority of jobs that required most of the 2017 LinkedIn 'hot' skills would typically reside?

    It is down towards the bottom of the graph just after 'Personal care and service' and before 'Healthcare support'. If you go to the actual BLS data, 'Computer and Mathematical' makes up 2.9% of all jobs in the USA, about the same as it has been the last couple of years.

    Even allowing for the fact that some of the 'hot' skills would be in demand in other general employment categories, is still stands to reason that just about all of the jobs where these skills are being sought out for represent, still, a sliver of the US labor market, and do not reflect the jobs that the vast majority of people are actually doing, (and will be doing for some time).

    Sure, it is trendy to think that the LinkedIn skills represent the future of work, and perhaps they probably do, and I would encourage anyone, especially younger folks to think about pursuing them,  but these skills don't really represent the 'present' of work, not in a substantial way anyway.

    LinkedIn is a fantastic business, a staggering success, and not at all like the real world where the overwhelming majority of workers reside.

    Have a fantastic weekend And don't spend so much time on LinkedIn.


    Taking care of customers by taking care of employees, Part 2

    A few months ago I shared on the blog some details about fast-food giant McDonald's recent improvements in both same store sales, customer satisfaction, and customer service, (think shorter wait times in the drive thru), that were largely attributed by McDonald's CEO to a series of comprehensive hourly wage increases for thousands of front-line staff.

    For a quick refresher on that story, here is part of what I wrote back in March:

    What if there was another, simpler way to improve customer service that didn't involve 'engagement' at all, but did impact those employees that are on the front-line working with and helping customers every day? You'd be interested in something like that, wouldn't you? What if it was as simple as cutting a check? Well, make that several thousand checks.

    Check this excerpt from a recent Fortune piece - McDonald's Says its Wage Hikes Are Improving Service:

    The hamburger chain in April announced it would raise the average hourly rate for workers at the U.S. restaurants it owns to $9.90 from $9.01 starting July 2015, with average wages climbing above $10 per hour by the end of 2016. The company also said it would allow those employees to earn up to five days of paid vacation every year following one year of employment.

    McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook, who took the helm in 2015, has since moved swiftly, closing hundreds of weak stores, bringing back all-day breakfast, and simplifying the chain’s menu, reducing bottlenecks in serving customers quickly.But improving the customer experience hinges on workers being on board with all these changes, hence the raises.

    “It has done what we expected it to—90 day turnover rates are down, our survey scores are up—we have more staff in restaurants,” McDonald’s U.S. president Mike Andres told analysts at a UBS conference on Wednesday. “So far we’re pleased with it—it was a significant investment obviously but it’s working well.”

    In October, McDonald’s reported its first quarter of comparable sales gains in two years. The company built on that growth with a huge 5.7% increase in the following quarter.

    Wow, is it that simple? A general 10% across the board wage increase and sales and customer service both rise enough to offset the costs of the increased wages? That's it? Man, what took them so long to sort that out?

    That was McDonald's story back in March, and if you read the entirety of the piece, you will see that I acknowledge that there were probably some other, and possibly significant factors at play that likely also contributed to the uptick in sales and improvement in customer metrics. But there can be little doubt that the wage increase had an effect as well, and I would argue, the most pronounced effect. 

    Let's fast forward to earlier this week where Business Insider shared some details of another massive retailer taking a page from the McDonald's (as well as the Costco) playbook of increasing wages and improving training, and perhaps most importantly, concentrating on employee scheduling, (and not just to 'optimize' staffing levels) - none other than Walmart. What have been some of the effects of wage increases and overall heightened investments in people at America's largest retailer?

    From the Business Insider piece

    Walmart is becoming a better place to shop because it started paying employees more.

    For many years, the company was plagued by widespread complaints about poor customer service at its stores.

    That was until last year when Walmart, under pressure from investors following several quarters of same-store sales declines, decided to invest billions of dollars in wage increases and training for workers.

    Specifically, Walmart committed to investing $2.7 billion over two years in higher wages, scheduling improvements, and employee training, following in the footsteps of companies like Costco.

    Walmart's efforts so far have translated into a pay raise of about 16% to $13.69 per hour for non-managerial full-time employees, The New York Times reports.

    In the meantime, widespread issues in Walmart stores such as empty shelves and cleanliness have significantly improved.Three out of four Walmart stores now meet the company's own customer service standards, according to the Times. A couple years ago, just 16% of its stores met those goals.

    It turns out that paying people more may have made them better employees.

    The piece goes on to mention, (like in the McDonald's situation), some possible other reasons for the improved results, and some alternative motivations for Walmart to make these investments in their workforce, but as in the McDonald's case, Walmart's leaders see a clear line between taking better care of employees and taking better care of customers, (and driving better top and bottom line results).

    I think after these two cases, you get the idea of where I am going with this. I will end this piece with the same couple of thoughts I used to end the March piece on McDonald's:

    Sometimes, maybe most of the time, we tend to over think what it takes to keep people (reasonably) happy, and give them a situation where they feel good about the work they are doing, and the customers that they are serving. 

    You might not be able (nor necessarily should you), give everyone on the staff a 10% bump. But there probably is some other, simple, reachable change you can make that would serve the same purpose. It's out there. You can find it.

    Just don't call it "employee engagement" and you will be fine.  

    Have a great day, and if you hit up a McDonald's or a Walmart today, let me know how it goes.