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    Friday
    Jun292012

    French fried and who takes the heat when you reach for talent

    Last night I stayed up way too late for a tired body still recovering from #SHRM12 to watch the NBA 2012 player draft up until the point where my beloved New York Knicks made their one and only selection, with the 48th overall pick.

    And in classic Knick fashion, they managed to enrage the small but vocal contingent of fans on hand at the draft, as well as a fair number of active fans in the Twitterverse, with the selection of the mostly unknown Kostas Papanikolaou, from Greece, whose main claim to fame, (aside from being short an 'e' from having every vowel in his last name), was ONE good game in the recent Euroleague finals.  Immediately after the selection of Papanikolaou, and amid the fans' shouts of 'Who the heck is that?', some of the commentators on the draft broadcast talked about the Greek's game, and that he has potential, some good skills, needs some further development, yadda-yadda-yadda. Truth is, hardly anyone knows anything about this player and his game, and whether or not he will become a productive NBA player someday is anyone's guess. The dunk of death

    As a Knicks fan, the draft always brings back memories of the 1999 draft, where the Knicks selecting with the 15th overall pick in the event, selected a similarly unknown, (but admittedly with a better body of work to that point), Fredric Weis, a 7'2" center from the basketball hotbed of France. Long story short, Weis never played in the NBA, and despite having a decent career in a few European leagues and representing France is several international competitions, is really only remembered for one thing - being jumped over and dunked upon by NBA star Vince Carter in the 2000 Olympics, in a play known as "Le dunk de la mort'', ('The dunk of death'). 

    As I mentioned, Weis never made it to the NBA, and certainly it will take a few years to know if Papanikolaou will meet the same fate. There are just too many variables, and a long history of guys you've never heard of before, (Nowitzki, Ginobili, Sackett), having fantastic careers to completely discount the Greek's chances. 

    But here is the interesting thing for the talent evaluator and professional in these kinds of 'reach' scenarios - if Weis would have turned out to be a star, or even a solid, reliable contributor on the NBA level, a ton of the credit would have gone to the person(s) gutsy enough to risk their professional reputation and jobs and pick an unknown guy out of France over a more established player from a US college that the fans and public would have at least known about. The risk, at least a disproportionate amount of selecting an unknown quantity, from a talent pool not known for producing great hires, who you have to explain for half an hour just exactly who he is, is almost all on the talent pro.

    If a guy like Weis, and Papanikolaou as well, ends up as a success, most of the accolades and credit will go to them. If they fail, it isn't really their fault, no one expects unknowns from Europe to become big NBA stars, (less so today, certainly that was the case in 1999). 

    The safe bet of course, for the NBA talent evaluator, and for you the corporate talent pro, is to make the 'safe' pick, choose the talent from a known source, one that your fans, colleagues, and hiring managers recognize. Make the 'defensible' choice. 

    Because if the the blue-chip guy from the Big 10 school that has been on TV 47 time in the last 3 years fails - well then that's the player's fault, not yours.

    If you as a talent pro reach for a guy like Weis and he fails?

    Well that's your fault. And that's no fun.

    Have a Great Weekend!

    Thursday
    Jun282012

    #SHRM12 Social Recruiting session wrap: Don't be quick to judge

    The last dispatch from me from #SHRM12, aka, the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition which wrapped up yesterday from Atlanta.

    Aside: which major industry event will be the first one to actually adopt as its 'official' name the event hashtag? It would be kind of cool to see SHRM or some other organization to just drop the tired and formal sounding 'Conference and Exposition' part and just go with #SHRM12 as the event name.

    Where was I? Oh, yeah, wrapping up the final day at #SHRM12 which for me was highlighted by the panel discussion I was fortunate to be asked to moderate, titled 'Is Social Recruiting Really Working?', and that featured industry leaders and experts Robert Hohman, CEO of Glassdoor.com, industry analyst and legend John Sumser, and Jeremy Langhans, who leads Global Brand and Talent Attraction for Expedia.

    The panel discussion was, I think, pretty lively from the start, it took about three minutes before the panelists were (respectfully) disagreeing with each other, which I've always felt is one sign of an interesting panel discussion. As the panelists stepped through and discussed some of the common perceptions and assumptions surrounding social media for recruiting several common themes and best practices did start to emerge - the need for organizations to be more open and committed to engaging with candidates on social platforms, that trusting your employees to fairly portray the brand message is paramount, and that HR and Recruiting can and should work closely with their internal social media experts in Marketing and PR to help define, tune, and communicate the brand message.

    It was, I thought, a really good discussion overall, with some insights, shared experiences, and even a few laughs - particularly when Jeremy was getting talking points texted to him during the session!

    But for me, the biggest personal take-away happened after the session, and in the conversations with the folks that came up to the stage to chat with the panelists. During the session, an audience member asked about the value of Pinterest as a recruiting tool.  As I recall, Jeremy indicated that he had not personally seen much usefulness there, and I made a (lame) joke about needing to delete my Pinterest account. But essentially our panel did not have much positive to say about Pinterest in the recruiting context.

    But after the session an audience member, someone in Talent Acquisition from a major retail brand that you have absolutely heard of, told us that for them, Pinterest was, in her words, 'gold'. The kinds of people that the brand would want to find and connect with were all over Pinterest, were really engaged, and definitely wanted more interaction and communication with the brand. So while for us guys on the panel, laughing off Pinterest might have made sense from our limited world view, but for this major organization, the platform is starting to represent an increasingly important source for recruiting.

    The bigger point? 

    Every organization's experience, approach, and results in social recruiting is going to be unique. While there are some general guiding principles and leading practices that are emerging, (and we talked about many of them on the panel), there are no true and repeatable recipes for success that will be successful in all situations. One size does not fit all. In fact, it hardly fits anyone.

    It was a good lesson to learn, and I am thankful for the attendee who shared her view with us after the session.

    Thanks again to the panel members, and to the team at Glassdoor.com for making the panel possible, and for including me in the event.

    And I promise, no more on #SHRM12 from me!

    Wednesday
    Jun272012

    What was interesting at #SHRM12? How about vending machines?

    In a sea of SHRM National Conference and Exposition vendors providing employee assessments, background checking, and outsourced benefits administration services, it can be a little hard for any individual vendor, (assuming they don't have a custom 18-wheeler to roll in to the Expo Hall), to stand out from the pack.

    One vendor that did stand out, at least in my mind, not only with the neat and innovative service that they provide, and in the clever way they engaged with some of the members of the massive SHRM blogging brigade in the pre-conference hype, was Avanti Markets, a Washington-based company that provides organizations with a new and fresh take on the typical break-room vending machine array. Avanti installs and helps maintain 'markets', a convenience store-style set-up with a variety of packaged and fresh food items, and a pay-as-you-go style kiosk that allows employees to purchase and pay for items using debit, credit, a stored-value Avanti account, and soon, company payroll deduction.

    Companies can stock the markets with the mix of food items that they and their employees prefer, one idea being that organizations concerned with employee health and wellness can focus more heavily on fresh and healthy foods, and can even set a food pricing strategy, (and use subsidies), to encourage more consumption of good food options. Make a fresh salad cost $2.00 and a Snickers bar set you back $3.25, and you just might see the guys on the night shift start eating a little better.

    Avanti's inventory management capability also allows company administrators to see real-time stock levels, consumption trends, and allows companies to make rapid adjustments to ordering and pricing strategies.

    The last point about Avanti I'd like to mention, and maybe the main reason I wanted to take a few minutes to recognize them here? They seemed like a group of really nice people, from CEO Jim Brinton down to all the folks I met at the booth and corresponded with prior to the event. They have a neat idea, a cool service offering, and were really genuine and excited to share their story without trying to force me or the other folks here to notice them.

    If you are interested in a better and potentially more healthy set of options for your organization's break areas, I would encourage you to check out what is happening at Avanti.

    Now I better run to grab a Snickers before the price goes up.

    Tuesday
    Jun262012

    #SHRM12 Session Preview: Is Social Recruiting Really Working?

    Dispatch #2 from the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, where the coffee, bus, and bathroom lines remain long, the temperatures remain hot, and a drop-in to Atlanta from President Obama threatens to muck up travel plans for many a conference-goer.

    Today's effort is a bit of shameless self-promotion for 'Is Social Recruiting Really Working?', the panel discussion I will be moderating at the big show, tomorrow, Wednesday June 27 at 11:30.

    The session features a stellar panel consisting of Glassdoor.com CEO, Robert Hohman, industry analyst and legend John Sumser, and Jeremy Langhans, who leads Global Brand and Talent Attraction for Expedia.

    In the session, the panel will walk through some basic, fundamental issues and questions surrounding social media and social recruiting and challenge the audience to think a little past the hype, buzzwords, and confusion to try and get to the reality of what social recruiting is today, whether or not it is truly being effective for recruiting in the real world, and what the future might hold for social media in recruiting.

    The slides with the questions we plan to ask and discuss are included below, but certainly the slides themselves don't offer much in the way of answers, you'll have to come and see us on Wednesday, June 27 at 11:30.

     

     

    Many thanks to the entire team at Glassdoor.com for all the fantastic work helping to organize this session and for asking me to participate.

    See you at the session!

    Monday
    Jun252012

    This post has nothing to do with #SHRM12 (kind of)

    Dispatch #1 from the Super Bowl of HR, also known as the SHRM 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. If you have not been to Atlanta before you really only need to know two things about the city - one, it is really hot; and two, every other street is named 'Peachtree' or some variation. A typical set of driving instructions in Atlanta goes something like this:

    1. Head south on Peachtree

    2. When you get to the third intersection take a left on Peachtree

    3. Bear right at the traffic circle to get on Peachtree

    4. It will be on the right, if you hit Peachtree, then you've gone too far

    But enough about Atlanta.

    As for SHRM12, well, so far it is exactly as you'd expect for the most part. Big. Really a giant and complex logistical enterprise. And the attendees? 15,000 or so HR professionals from all over the world mostly standing in lines - for the shuttle buses from the area hotels, for the restrooms, for Starbucks. Massive expo hall that when taken all at once is a little bit of a sensory overload.

    What's new this time? Well an extremely large space called The Hive to help promote SHRM's social media outreach and efforts, an expanded and interesting blogger's lounge, and the general feeling that SHRM, (and its associated minions), are going to jam social media and Twitter down the throat of every HR professional from Topeka, Kansas whether they care to participate or not.

    I think it will be a good conference though, but I worry that overall the event itself, and the flood of coverage from the blogger brigade that SHRM has assembled will result in a fair bit of the 'same-old same-old'. I have already seen some Tweets about Monday keynoter Malcolm Galdwell's talk that it didn't seem very new or fresh, and it could have been delivered in 2010. I am not sure that is fair, but if even there is some truth to it, it might not bode well for the rest of the event. 

    So here's hoping for a great, interesting, and different kind of event. Let's be mindful that there is a lot more to creating a great experience by simply making it bigger. Let's try to actually add something meaningful to the conversation and the industry.

    I've written, (including this one), about 1,209 forgettable blog posts. And maybe 15 really good ones.

    Let's hope I (and the rest of us), can do better with #SHRM12.