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    Wednesday
    Jul272016

    VACATION REWIND: There are only 5 possible reasons for every business problem - Bar Rescue Edition

    NOTE: I am on vacation this week - please enjoy a replay of a piece from February of this year.

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    There are only 5 possible reasons for any business problem - Bar Rescue edition

    Some folks who know me know that about a thousand years ago I spent a fair bit of time working in the Middle East - in Saudi Arabia to be precise. And these same folks also know that every one of my probably hundreds of stories I have told about my time in Saudi fall into only five major categories - it was really hot, we had to find gray market beer, I played rugby with a wild group of expats, we socialized with the (mostly Irish and Canadian) nurses from the local hospital, and sometimes you had to deal with some scary police/security people.

    Every story, no matter how it starts, ends up in one of those five classifications. In fact, over the years I got tired of telling, (and people got tired of listening to) the old tales, and now I just list the five categories. The details of any one event or experience don't really matter all that much anyway. But the categories are still valid.

    What made me think about this again was that over the long weekend I caught a few episodes of a marathon one of my favorite reality TV shows - Bar Rescue. If you are not familiar with the show, the basic premise is this: Veteran bar and hospitality consultant and expert Jon Taffer gets summoned to 'rescue' or help fix a bar or bar/restaurant that is failing, and possibly about to go out of business. 

    Taffer will bring in a team of experts like a master mixologist, a chef, and designers and construction crews that together help to renovate the bar, motivate and train the owners and staffs, and redesign products and processes in hopes of giving the bar a new start and (hopefully), keeping it in business.

    But what's the connection to 'Steve's boring Middle East stories?' you might be asking. 

    Well it is this: Just like my dopey stories, every major problem facing the failing business owners in Bar Rescue falls into five categories as well. Sure there may be some subtle differences in specific situations, and most of these disaster bars suffer from multiple problems, but at their canter, they are mostly, remarkably, the same.

    Every failing bar's problems fall into one of these five categories, (with some specific manifestations where I can think of some).

    1. Lack of leadership from the bar owners - shows up in a few ways on the show, my favorite are the owners that simply get trashed drunk at the bar every night and have no idea what is really happening. Other times the owners are part-time or 'hobby' owners and have other businesses or jobs that keep them from paying enough attention to the failing bar.

    2. Terrible hiring decisions - often this is the 'professional' bar manager that has no idea what he/she is doing. Also, lots of 'friends and family' hiring of people that are totally wrong for the jobs they are in or are taking advantage of their relationship with the owner to get away with doing substandard work.

    3. Lack of attention to maintenance and upkeep - these are the bars with dead fruit-flies in the bottles, accumulated grease covering everything in the kitchen, and tubs of expired and/or rotting food in the walk-in. It is actually kind of shocking what some of these failing bars have allowed to let happen - at times it even threatens the health and safety of workers and customers.

    4. Little or no understanding of the market/customers - time and time again Taffer and his team have to advise and educate the bar owners about the local neighborhood, the main drivers of potential traffic to the bar, and how the bar stacks up against the local competition. Typically in these situations, the bar owners have failed to recognize and adapt to changes - trends, preferences, and expectations of customers that are not the same as they once were back when the bar was more successful.

    5. Failure to understand the economics - this one is pretty common the show and manifests itself in a few ways. Sometimes the owners really don't know how much money they are really losing or owe. Sometimes they don't have a good grasp on the financial drivers of their business, like knowing what food or drink items are most profitable. Or they are getting fleeced by staff (or even themselves) by giving away too many free rounds of drinks and not realizing how much that is hurting the business.

    Just like my Saudi stories can be pretty easily classified, every failing bar's problems on Bar Rescue can fit into one of the above categories. And the the more interesting thing about Bar Rescue than my stories, is that these bar/business problems are pretty likely the same broad set of categories just about and business faces too.

    Issues with leadership at the top. Bad hires, poorly trained staff, people in the wrong roles. Failing to keep track of the basic elements needed for any kind of success. Not keeping up with market and business condition changes. And finally, not watching and understanding the finances. Every problem (pretty much anyway), fits into one of these buckets.

    Figure out in which one of these buckets that most of your business problems fit and you, like the Bar Rescue team, will know where to spend your time and energy making things right.

    Tuesday
    Jul262016

    VACATION REWIND: Netflix ratings and what they might mean for your real-time feedback program

    NOTE: I am on vacation this week - please enjoy a replay of a piece from January of this year.

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    Netflix ratings and what they might mean for your real-time feedback program

    Everyone's favorite entertainment streaming platform/service Netflix has been in the news plenty lately.

    Their most recent earnings announcement was pretty fantastic, their revenues and reach are climbing steadily, and they continue to set the pace, tone, and standard for the modern entertainment experience. Just about everyone who is a Netflix subscriber loves it, and some think that Netflix (and some other services like Hulu and Amazon Prime), might one day ring the death bell for traditional broadcast networks and cable service providers.

    Netflix is a case study example of a company that has managed growth, transition, technological change, and even making some strategic blunders to become one of the digital age's most interesting and influential companies. You might recall that Netflix made quite a stir in the HR/Talent Management space with their famous 'Culture Deck' a few years back. That document, which some have called the most important one in all of Silicon Valley, was seen and shared by thousands.

    But why I was interested in posting about Netflix this week has nothing to do with their 'culture deck' or consumer cord cutting or the new season of Orange is the New Black. It is for another element of the Netflix approach I find really interesting and relevant to HR and talent management pros today - their approach and attitude about program ratings, the traditional way most TV programs have been judged, and their creators rewarded.

    As consumers of TV we are all at least somewhat aware of ratings. They are reported on regularly. We all hear stories about TV's highest rated shows. And we know that when shows are cancelled, the usual reason is low ratings. In the traditional TV model, ratings are closely monitored, are made public and are widely reported on, and are the ultimate form of either validation and success, or rejection and failure. 

    Want to know the ratings of any broadcast or cable TV show? That information is not that hard to find.

    Want to know the ratings or even the total number of viewers for Netflix shows like Orange or House of Cards? Well, good luck finding out that information. Here is what Netflix thinks about ratings, from a recent piece on Business Insider:

    Netflix thinks ratings are bad for television shows, and are a negative force on the talent that produces them.

    Last week, executives from the likes of NBC and FX traded barbs with Netflix over ratings transparency.

    FX CEO John Landgraf said it’s “ridiculous that we don’t have usage numbers on Netflix," while NBC’s Alan Wurtzel cited data from an outside research company that Netflix’s ratings weren’t all that impressive.

    Netflix fired back, not just at NBC’s data, which content chief Ted Sarandos called "remarkably inaccurate," but at the very idea of ratings.

    Netflix has always closely guarded its viewership data, so much so that many of its creators don’t even know how well their shows are doing. Tina Fey, who was the co-creator of the Netflix show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” said she had no idea how many people were watching the show,according to the Wall Street Journal.

    Now Netflix is saying this type of secrecy is actually good for shows. Sarandos said that instant ratings data turns TV into a weekly arms race between networks, and puts “a lot of creative pressure on talent,” Variety reports.

    He asserted that the focus on ratings “has been remarkably negative in terms of its effect on shows.”

    Quite a bit to take apart from that story but the key for me is not the 'old guard' sniping at Netflix from the NBC exec, but rather the Netflix point of view that a focus on ratings, particularly instant or 'real-time' ratings information is in fact harmful to the creative talent that it is increasingly engaging to produce its content.

    It is kind of a remarkable point of view, and in the modern world of digital content delivery and availability of big data and powerful analytical tools, very counter-intuitive. Everything - marketing, politics, sports, and yes even HR and talent management is in an almost lock-step march towards compiling more data, gauging success or failure more discretely, and importantly - providing results and feedback to people much more often.

    You can't swing a cat in a room of HR people today and not find at least someone, maybe a few someones, that are scrapping annual performance reviews and shifting towards some kind of alternative program for assessing and hopefully improving employee performance. While these new approaches differ at least some, they almost always have one thing in common - the encouragement of more frequent 'feedback' (if you like 'ratings'), given to employees in the course of a year.

    Sure, this 'feedback' is meant to be less formal, more forward-looking, and less frightening than the annual performance review, but strip away the new terms we are using and underneath it all to many employees it is going to feel like you've replaced the dreaded annual performance review with anywhere from 12 to 52 'mini' performance reviews. And that is going to stink worse than any uncomfortable one-hour annual performance review meeting ever did.

    The real thing to think about in all this is the effect that feedback/criticism/ratings will have on talented people, especially creative people that are increasingly the difference between organizational success and failure.

    Netflix, the paragon of the modern company, culture, and talent engine has decided that less feedback (in form of program ratings), is actually a positive, and beneficial to the creative talent with which it engages, and which it needs to compete and succeed. It thinks for people to do their best, most creative work, they can't be constantly worried, on a week-to-week basis, with ratings and viewer numbers. Netflix is playing the long game.

    So what does this mean for you, the HR and talent pro wrestling with these trends and changes in the way 'traditional' performance management has always been done?

    It might mean this: Replacing traditional, annual performance reviews with a system that amounts to more frequent, if less formal, performance reviews might be exactly the wrong thing to do if you are trying to get the best, most creative results from your teams.

    Or said differently, how many really, really talented people do you know that like to be told how they are doing all of the time?

    Monday
    Jul252016

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 252 - Employee Wellbeing with Chris Boyce, CEO, Virgin Pulse

    HR Happy Hour 252 - Employee Wellbeing with Chris Boyce, CEO Virgin Pulse

    Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

    Guest: Chris Boyce, CEO, Virgin Pulse

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the show, Trish and Steve were joined by Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, a provider of market-leading, technology-based products and services that help employers improve workforce health, boost employee engagement, and enhance corporate culture.

    Chris shared some insights on how HR and business leaders can evaluate and assess wellbeing and workforce health initiatives using data and analytics, and how it is important to consider measures of success beyond employer benefit costs and health care claims or participation. The most successful wellbeing programs use data to inform changes in productivity, engagement, safety, and organizational culture. There isn't a single measure for ROI on these programs, employers have to think about their unique and specific challenges to find the measures that will most impact their organizations. Chris also shared some important information around employee data privacy and how Virgin Pulse and their client organizations keep employee data private and secure, while still allowing organizational leaders to use aggregate and anonymized data to inform decision making.

    Additionally, Chris shared his thoughts on why employee and organizational wellbeing has become a more global, and holistic phenomenon, and what that means for HR and business leaders in their efforts to find, attract, develop,and retain the talent they need to meet their organizational objectives.

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

     

    This was a fun and interesting show, many thanks to Chris Boyce and Virgin Pulse for coming on. You can learn more about Virgin Pulse at www.virginpulse.com.

    Remember to 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 mess an episode.

    Friday
    Jul222016

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour - Digital Transformation LIVE from Inforum

     

     

    LISTEN HERE

     

    This week on the show join Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane as they come to you from New York City and Infor's INFORUM 2016.  

    Inforum is the event where Infor hosts 7,000 customers, prospects, partners, industry thought leaders, and press/analysts from 74 countries in New York City.  They provided over 1,000 breakout sessions to cover all aspects of tools that help organizations manage their business.  As analysts who attend many events each year, we can safely say that from the HCM perspective, Inforum is one of the top events when it comes to learning opportunities and innovation.  They capped off the experience with an outstanding "thank you" to attendees~ a Maroon 5 concert!

    We sat down after our main-stage presentations to discuss the increasingly important topic of how the workplace is changing.  Specifically, the changes that digital transformation is bringing is making a huge impact on how organizations work.  The way that business leaders are considering the approach to this transformation is paramount to many of the attendees at Inforum and likely, to you and your organization as well.

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

    This was an interesting and informative show and we love bringing the news to you straight from the event. Many thanks to Infor for inviting both of us to speak at the event. To learn more about Infor, please go to www.Infor.com

    Thanks for listening and remember to add the HR Happy Hour Show to your podcast subscriptions in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or any of the major podcast apps. Just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to subscribe.

    Wednesday
    Jul202016

    Over, Under, and Properly Rated #1

    My current favorite sports talk show is the Russillo and Kanell Show that airs nationally on ESPN radio. On the show, the hosts occasionally do a 'rated' segment where they categorize sports teams, players, and other aspects of sports and pop culture into one of three buckets. 'Overrated' for things they think are generally praised or valued more than they should be. 'Underrated' for the opposite - things that do not get enough attention or accolades. And finally 'Properly' rated, for the things that receive about the correct level of praise or derision.

    It is a fun segment, complete with sound effects, and in the spirit of running out of good ideas this week, I am going to steal borrow for this site. So here goes, the first in what may be a series if I remember to do this again, of 'Over, Under, and Properly Rated' (SFB edition). Expect a mix of HR, workplace, Tech, sports, pop culture, and whatever else comes to mind.

    Overrated

    1. SaaS - Yes, it's better than on-premise. Yes, innovation and upgrades come faster. Yes, in some cases total cost of ownership can be less than traditional software. But implementations are still tricky, integration can be a hassle, and the amount of vendor FUD is astronomical. I am not saying SaaS is 'bad', just perhaps a little over-promised and a little overrated.  

    2. Apple - more and more, the hardware matters less and less. As long as Pokemon GO works, who cares about the device?

    3. Employee pulse surveys - Asking employees what they think once a year is probably not often enough. Asking them every day? Probably too much.

    4. Company Culture - Important, sure. But not more important than Talent or Strategy.

    5. Pokemon GO - It is kind of fun. Just kind of.

    Underrated

    1. Turning off smart phone notifications - You will be amazed how much more relaxed and focused you will be

    2. Amazon - How can the biggest e-commerce titan be underrated? Because they are into everything - enterprise cloud services, content, droned, spaceships, and who knows what else. 

    3. Single sign-on - Where did I put that piece of paper with all my passwords again?

    4. The New York Knicks - A playoff team in 2016-2017. I am sure of that. 

    5. Big Brother - Yes, I am watching this again. I actually am watching it as I write this post.

    Properly Rated

    1. Candidate experience - Yes, it is important. It is about as important as lots of things that are all kind of important. You need to spend some time on it. Just some.

    2. Twitter - Probably not as influential and important as it could/should have been. Probably not as 'dead' as some pundits like to think.

    3. The Olympics - I don't know anyone who loves the Olympics. But most of us watch at least some of the Olympics.

    4. The Golden State Warriors - Vegas had the over/under on Warriors wins for next season at 68.5, which seems just about right to me.

    5. LinkedIn - It is slowly but steadily becoming more pointless by the day. But you still need to make sure you have a complete profile on there and pretend you care about it once in a while

    What do you think? Do I have it right? 

    Is this post itself over, under, or properly rated?