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    You need a rival, not just more competition

    Wanted to point out to a really interesting study/paper on the effects of rivalry and competition on individual performance. In the study titled 'Driven to Win: Rivalry, Motivation, and Performance', author and researcher Gavin Kilduff took a look at what the phenomenon of interindividual rivalry (think Bird - Magic, Bill Gates - Larry Ellison, or Beatles - Rolling Stones) and its consequences for motivation and task performance.

    Long story short, (and the paper is kind of long so I will save you from reading the entire thing if that is not your bag for a Friday), is that in a study of competitive distance runners it was found that the presence in the competition of a rival, increased individual performance by as much as 25 seconds over a distance of 5K.

    And the paper makes an important distinction between what constitutes a rival versus the more general and generic idea of competition. A rival, in this context, is another runner with which you have competed against numerous times in the past and whose finishing times were consistently near to yours, such that in the course of many races contested over time you would have come to 'know' and recognize that competitor as a rival.

    So at the starting line, during the race, and in the important drive to the finish line you would in theory see and recognize this rival, and at least according to the study, your performance would improve relative to a race where you were just trying to do your best and not trying to best your rival.

    It is kind of an interesting concept I think, that there is a difference in performance that is driven by a rivalry compared to the more general and abstract notion of competition. Competition is vague. A rivalry has a name and a face and talks trash about you sometimes.

    If indeed we perform better when we have a rival what might that suggest for more mundane situations in the workplace? Should managers more actively pit one employee against another in performance-related competitive situations in order to foster the notion of rivalry?

    Should organizations more explicitly identify and benchmark against key competitors and strive to 'defeat' them in sales, recruiting, or other corporate contests?

    Should each if us personally select or identify a 'rival' to measure ourselves against and to compete with on a day-to-day basis?

    It's a jungle out there my friends...

    Happy Friday.


    Maybe you're spending too much time on Twitter

    Recently Twitter made available to all users of the service its advanced analytics tools that show interesting statistics around impressions, (how many people actually saw a tweet), engagement, (replies, favorites, retweets), and trends over time on these metrics.

    To check it out for your own tweets, just sign in to Twitter then click on http://analytics.twitter.com/

    Below is a screen capture of the top part of my Twitter analytics review from this morning, take a look and then a few comments from me after the image:

    Apologies if it is a little hard to read, but the couple of points I wanted to call out from observing my own data and that might be applicable to you are not really dependent on the precise data points anyway.

    Point 1 - Hardly anyone sees the average Tweet. As of this week I have about 25.4K followers, give or take a few. The average impressions, (people that actually SEE my wonderful Tweets), ranges between about 500 on the low end and 1,200 on the high end. So if you do the math, that means only about 2% - 3.5% of my followers even see the average Tweet. Of course, I have little idea which of my followers these are, but that is a separate point.

    Point 2 - Of the people that actually see my Tweets, about 1% of that group actually "engages" with the update - (replies, RTs, favorites, link clicks, etc.), resulting in an engagement level, when compared to the overall number of followers I have, is almost akin to me simply shouting my status updates and pithy tweets out of the window. Maybe 1 in 10 of my Tweets have 0 engagements, meaning no one replied or clicked or favorited, etc. That is the tweet falling in the woods and having no one there to hear it scenario.

    Point 3 - I think we all, me included, need to keep Twitter, (and every other social network probably), in perspective as to its true reach, value, and the imprimatur it foists on those who have seemed to "figure it out". I have way more followers than the average Twitter user. But I am not sure that really means all that much when looking at some of this data. And I am not even talking about the folks who have bought followers or somehow gamed the system in other ways. That is another story totally.

    I guess my final point is that I and everyone else needs to keep data like this in mind and not just when thinking about Twitter or social networking in general. It is really more about figuring out where and how to spend your time and effort such that you are getting closer to whatever it is you are chasing. And if Twitter is a part of that strategy for you, then you definitely ought to dig in to your analytics and get behind the data.

    What do you think, have you checked out your Twitter analytics? Are my numbers representative or am I just bad at Twitter?


    VIDEO: A glimpse of wearable tech for HR?

    I have given a few presentations this year on how advanced technologies like wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and robotics might change work and workplaces, but often in these talks it has seemed like the concepts have felt a little remote or not totally relevant to folks in the audiences (usually HR/Talent pros).

    It is one thing to envision how connected machines, robots, or drones are going to change work on the front lines, but how much, really, will they impact the day-to-day work in HR, Talent, or Recruiting? I suppose HR pros have a right to be a little skeptical about the nature or level of likely disruption.

    Well before you get too comfortable in concluding that HR will be kind of immune to these kinds of technological advances, take a look at a quick (2 minutes or so) video, (embedded below, Email and RSS subscribers will have to click through), of what potential wearables might have in HR, recruiting, etc. The video is a demo of a Google Glass application prototype from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, and I think you might be able to see some obvious, (if creepy) use cases for your work in HR or recruiting.

    The technology, dubbed SHORE (Sophisticated High-speed Object Recognition), gauges emotions such as anger, happiness, sadness and surprise and projects this information directly onto the screen of Google Glass, sort of annotating the face of the person you're speaking with. 

    Pretty cool right? 

    An application that gives you a better read on the emotions of the person with which you are speaking?

    Isn't a lot of HR/Recruiting centered on actually speaking with people, getting a read on them, trying to possibly get behind what they are actually saying?

    Wouldn't this kind of a technology, (when further developed and refined), have some role in HR/Recruiting?


    It's a short week, make sure you still put in your 47 hours

    Quick shot for a Tuesday that feels like a Monday and also feels like a Wednesday since it seems like I am already two and half days behind.

    Just before the long Labor Day weekend Gallup released some figures from its 2014 Work and Education poll that showed Americans that are employed full-time are, on average, putting in about 47 hours per week on the job, almost a full working day longer than what has been the 'standard' 40 work week.

    Here's some of the Gallup data in chart form (thanks Forbes), since we know that charts make everything better:

    The trends for both full-time and part-time workers, as you can see in the chart, have held fairly stready over time. But what also has not changed is the notion, at least held nominally, of the standard 40-hour work week.

    According to the Gallup data, only about half of full-time workers report their normal working week as 40 hours, (or fewer), with almost 4 in 10 workers reporting work weeks of 50+ hours on average. And I have a sneaking suspicion that surveys like this are under-reporting time employees spend tethered to their phones and emails that are spent at night or on the weekends.

    There is more data and analysis over at Gallup, but the real point I suppose I wanted to make here is that it probably is time to drop the '40 hours' a week notion if in fact that is not the reality for you or your organization. If you are an 'average' shop, then folks are already working almost 6 days a week now. Just face it if that is what reality suggests and expectations demand.

    And now we all better get back to work, going to be tough to cram in 47 into what is now about 3.85 workdays left in the week.

    Have a great week!


    LABOR DAY: What were the best and worst jobs you've ever had?

    Happy Labor Day Weekend!

    Labor Day is awesome. In fact, I think it might be awesome not just for the BBQ, (a good enough reason to love it, I plan on smoking my first ever pork belly this weekend), but also for the fact that it is one of the few holidays where we don't have to be constantly admonished to 'Remember the true meaning of the day'.

    No one seems to really care anymore about the 'true meaning' of Labor Day. The battle is mostly over. 'Labor' has more or less lost. 

    But so what? Let's have some burgers!

    So maybe we can try and have some fun today and share both our best and worst jobs that we have ever had.

    Just one tip though, if your current job is the worst one you have ever had, you might not necessarily share that one in the comments, just in case you still need that terrible job.

    So here goes, my best and worst jobs:

    Best Job - A tough call, but I am going to go with the gig I had helping to implement accounting and finance software for AT&T Saudi Arabia back in the 90s. The cool parts of the job were getting a chance to learn how business really got done, (we had to rename 'bribes' into 'facilitative payments' for example), living and working in the Middle East (much, much more fun than you would imagine), and having my career trajectory completely changed from that point forward. Lots of great memories from that gig.

    Worst Job - Again a tough call, as I have had a number of terrible jobs. But the worst was probably the summer job I had between Freshman and Sophomore year of college where I picked orders for grocery and convenience stores in a massive, refrigerated warehouse. And on the graveyard shift as well. Heavy lifting, freezing all the time, sitting outside on a stoop at 4AM to eat 'lunch' and to try and warm up does not equal good times. Sure, there was an occasional bit of fun, (once an entire pallet of orange juice cartons crashed from about 50 feet up), but the other 98.5% of the time there was pretty miserable.

    How about you? Feel free to share in the comments your best and worst jobs as well.

    Have a fantastic Labor Day Weekend!