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    Disconnect: When what you offer is not what they want

    (Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Allied Van Lines, proud sponsor of the “2012 Workforce Mobility Survey”, designed to capture the voice of HR on topics related to workforce mobility. Allied has more than 75 years of experience in corporate, household and international relocation.)


    It's kind of interesting, surprising, and often enlightening when instead of simply continuing to roll out the same workforce programs and practices year after year that organizations stop and actually ASK the constituencies that they are trying to serve and support what is important to them.

    Whether it is an internal training program, the roll out of a new IT solution designed to help make their jobs easier, or even a more outwardly-facing recruiting program or campaign, often it can be very hard for organizations to one, accurately understand the needs and goals of their audiences, and two, take the time to inquire, survey, and assess these needs and goals in a thorough enough manner such that any corrective actions can be justified and taken. Often, we roll out programs and judge them by their outcomes only, and at times not at all aware or capable of understanding the real causes driving those outcomes. All which makes taking the time and putting in the up front effort to understand the market's needs more important.

    I'll highlight one interesting example of this kind of disconnect, this one pulled from the data in the recently released Allied Workforce Mobility Survey 2012, namely the disconnect between what potential candidates looking at a relocation to take a new job opportunity say is important to them, and what organizations typically focus on in their development of relocation packages. I'll share two charts from the survey and then offer my take.

    Figure 1 - Candidates Top Obstacles to Relocation

    Figure 2 - Benefits Offered in Relocation Packages

    Did the disconnect stand out to you as it did to me when I initially saw these results?

    The number one obstacle to a potential job candidate's relocation and their ability to successfully join your organization is their spouse's job situation, yet surveyed organizations almost never directly address this obstacle in their current set of relocation package components. Seems crazy right? And while spousal relocation support is not an easy benefit to provide, since it is so important it seems to me that organizations, (as is typical in Higher Education environments), that can and do offer this service are likely to have much better long-term outcomes.

    But it also illustrates a more broad set of issues and considerations with recruiting new staff, whether they need to be relocated or not. And that is that very often the decision to accept a new job, to make a career turn, and at times, to uproot a family from one place to another, is a group decision. Spouses, children, extended family, maybe even colleagues and friends all play a role in these big decisions, but typically an organization doesn't or simply can't address them. I don't have a magic secret or simple list of tips that can help organizations and leaders in this, except to say just as you have problems, issues, concerns outside of work, with your family and friends, so does everyone you recruit, hire, and employ.

    People are complicated. And one thing is for sure, ignoring all these complications, and thinking about 'work' and career decisions like they exist in a separate box or compartment from the rest of life is a sure way to miss out on great candidates, and to fail in some respects in becoming a place where great, (and complicated), people will gravitate toward.


    If you would like to learn more about Allied Van Lines, please check out their website or blog. And if you would like to get more information from the Workforce Mobility Survey, you can click here. It’s definitely worth checking out


    10 years later, still talkin' about practice

    This week was the 10th Anniversary of NBA legend Allen Iverson's classic 'talkin' about practice' press conference, where the Philadelphia 76ers star, just a few days after seeing his Sixers team eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics addressed the media and was confronted with questions about his (allegedly poor) practice habits. Iverson had a tempestuous relationship with 76er coach Larry Brown, himself no stranger to controversy, and the 'practice' rant stemmed largely from Brown's comments to the media about Iverson's casual attitude towards practice and preparation.

    Some video exists from the 2002 press conference, (embedded below, email and RSS subscribers will need to click through), that shows Iverson in full on 'practice' rant, mentioning about 20 times in two and a half minutes that he saw it as being ridiculous as a the franchise player, and league MVP just one season prior, and a legendary fierce and fearless competitor, that he had to spend time well, talking about practice.

    Video below and some more comments from me after the jump...

    A few things about Iverson's comments and the 'practice' issue overall.

    One, the video, and most of what everyone remembers from the press conference was the two minutes of so of Iverson repeating, 'we're talking about practice, not a game' over and over, which makes it very easy to call into question Iverson's dedication and commitment. What is missing from the video, and can be found in the full transcript of the press conference here, is that before and after the 'practice' rant, Iverson talked openly about being hurt, confused, and disappointed in trade rumors that were floating around at that time. Iverson, rightly so, considered himself and was recognized by the league, as one of the very best players in the game. In 2002, he was in the middle of an 8 or 9 year run where he'd be named to the All-NBA 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team each year. In our workplace parlance, he was 'top talent' an 'A player' or a purple squirrel if you will. So naturally Iverson would have to be surprised and insulted that the team he had performed so well for, including dragging on his back to the NBA finals just one year prior, would even consider shopping him around the league.

    Two, the rant, and the 'practice' context raise really interesting and ongoing questions about talent and more specifically how hard it can be to 'manage' the best talent. Iverson was a former league MVP, the league's leading scorer, and had an unquestionably ferocious style of play, notable for a guy just 6 feet tall and thin-framed. No one who watched Iverson play consistently ever came away from recognizing his commitment and intensity to winning basketball games.  At the time of the 'practice' press conference, he was 26, had just completed his 6th year in the league, and won his third league scoring title. Was he a perfect player? No. But he was one of the very best in the game and it can be argued he knew how to best prepare himself and his body to stand up to the rigors of a long season and playoffs.

    Should Iverson have been more attentive and subservient to the wishes of the coach, and tried to be a more dedicated 'practice' player?


    Did Brown know the right way how to get the best out of Iverson, his star player?

    Probably not.

    I guess I am coming off as a bit of an Iverson apologist here, especially when most of the people that have seen or heard about the 'practice' rant come to the quick conclusion that Iverson was selfish, pampered, and in the wrong. I guess all I will say to that is as a manager or leader you eventually sink or swim largely by your ability to get the best performance out of your star performers.

    Iverson has some blame here for sure, but definitely not all of it.

    Probably too much of it.


    What should we pay your co-worker? No more questions for you 'Bro

    It can be really difficult to rate your own performance at work as anyone that has stared frustratingly at their annual 'self-assessment' might agree. Trying to navigate that tricky tightrope between honestly, desire to reasonably match your self-ratings with the likely views of the boss, while making sure that a nice blend of ambition, honestly, and subtlety ends up painting a portrait of you in your best possible, (and defensible), light can be one of the most difficult exercises an employee has to deal with all year.

    It's hard enough to be fair, objective, and completely honest about one's own perfrormance, and I think it at times is doubly hard to ask and to expect that same kind of fairness and objectivity when we are asked to participate in the evaluation of peers and colleagues at work as well. Whether it is in the context of a formal 360 degree evaluation, a less formal after-action or project review, or even in casual conversations with the boss about other team members, (the likely most awkward scenario of all), it is not all easy to be fair, accurate, and really honest sometimes. Judging, rating, evaluating other people's performance is an inexact science at best, and when self-interest factors in, ('If I say Steve did a great job, then does that make me look worse?', or, 'If I say Steve is a slacker, does that make me look like a petty schemer?', often resulting in 'I'll just say Steve did a good job in the most vague terms possible so that I can't be responsible for anything that happens.').

    Beyond the difficulty of rating peer performance, when the questions directly or indirectly go to 'How much should your colleague, Joe or Mary be paid', well then the fun really begins. Check out this video clip below, (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through), where Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook is asked by a reporter if Westbrooks' teammate James Harden should receive what is known as a 'max contract', i.e., a contract for the maximum salary that league rules allow.

    The question, and Westbrook's answer is essentially a little 360 degree assessment played out on camera. Westbrook is asked to 'rate' Harden as a player in the context that matter most in the NBA, the value of the contract that Harden should have. After a long pause, Westbrook answers in the only way he can, (and likely feels comfortable with), by giving a positive but vague review and endorsement of Harden as a player and team mate, (which is obvious to anyone that knows Harden and is familiar with the team), and completely avoids responding to the contract or compensation area. Finally, Westbrook issues a classic 'No more questions for you 'Bro', an indication that he in no way wants any part of participating in a discussion about another teammates contract status.

    Westbrook shows on camera what many of us and our co-workers are thinking when faced with the same types of questions in the workplace, when 360 time comes around I think. Uncomfortable, generic answers, wanting nothing to do with the hard questions, (like compensation). Don't get me wrong, I think peer reviews and 360s can be really important and valuable, but I also think that you have to remember the at times tough spot you put the team in when asking them to do something, (rate each other), that often, they want no part of doing.

    No more questions for you 'Bro.



    Timesheets, Incentives, and Five O'Clock Beers

    Timesheets. Despite incredible advances in biometrics, smart time clocks, and increasing availability of mobile and tablet solutions to make easier employee time tracking and time reporting, many organizations still have to deal with a weekly or bi-weekly struggle of collecting, verifying, or processing employee time sheets. Filling out timesheets stink, and chances are you might have been on both sides of the timesheet pendulum in your career, as someone who was horrible at turning in a timesheet by the deadline, or as someone that had to deal with chasing down slackers that can never seem to get it together by the deadline.

    One organization has come up with what might be the most clever solution yet for incenting staff to get their timesheets filled out and turned in on time - the digital 'Drink Time Sheet'.  The idea? Set up in the office a refrigerator full of free beer, but have it electronically locked, and linked to the office's timesheet system. Once all the week's timesheets are submitted, a siren sounds, the refrigerator unlocks, and the staff can celebrate the end of the week with a few Friday beers.

    Check the video below, (email and RSS subscribers need to click through), to see the Drink Time Sheet in action.


    What do you think? Could this kind of idea work in your organization? Maybe if not for time sheets but for some other kind of administrative, boring, and entirely necessary process that always seems like a struggle to complete?

    Have a great weekend!


    HR Happy Hour Show Tonight: The American Way of Eating

    The HR Happy Hour Show is back live tonight at 8PM ET with what should be a really fun show about a topic, eating in America, that at first blush might seem off topic for a show mostly about work, HR, Talent Managment, and technology, (and sports), kinds of subjects.

    But I think the show tonight, and talking with tonight's guest, Tracie McMillan, author of the recently published ‘The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table’, will be a great opportunity to learn more about how work, jobs, and the overall circumstance many American workers find themselves in effects that most basic element of life - what, how, and where we eat.

    And The American Way of Eating is a look as much about work in America as it is about food in America, and tonight I will talk with Tracie about that dynamic, as well as some of the incredibly fascinating insights into just how that salad you might be eating for lunch today was actually grown, packaged, shipped, retailed, and prepared.

    Listen to the show live starting at 8PM ET on the show page here, using the listener call in line 646-378-1086, or on the widget player below:

    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio


    You can also follow the backchannel conversation on Twitter - just search on hashtag #HRHappyHour

    It should be a really interesting show tonight and I hope you can join us!