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    Learn a new word: fact-resistant

    Let's start with the definition, courtesy of Wordspy:

    fact-resistant adj. Impervious to reason, counter-examples, or data, especially when they contradict one's opinions or values.

    From the examples given on the Wordspy entry (on the science behind global warming, politics in the Middle East, violence due to firearms), the term fact-resistant seems to have been most commonly applied or ascribed in these kinds of political or 'hot-button' kinds of contexts. I suppose using the term fact-resistant is a slightly kinder and gentler way of saying. 'What the heck is wrong with you, you big dummy. Can't you just accept the truth of what I am telling you?'

    But where fact-resistant is likely to be more relevant and applicable in the HR/workplace/talent management worlds are the conflicts and tensions that can arise between the data and analytics camps and the folks who prefer (or are just more comfortable with), the traditional or old-school ways of evaluating, assessing, and managing people.

    Here are a few specific scenarios where you, as a modern, progressive, and 'seen Moneyball six times' HR pro might run into some fact-resistant colleagues:

    The hiring manager that 'just can tell from looking in the candidate's eyes' whether or not they should be hired. He's been managing by 'gut feeling' for so many years, why should he change now? What does it matter what your data shows about what sources, backgrounds, and characteristic of candidates predict better performance? 

    The CEO who 'gets a good feeling' when she walks around the office at 8AM (and again at 5PM), and sees cube after cube of people diligently working. She is not interested in hearing about your data that shows that engagement, retention, and productivity would all be improved by the introduction of more flexible working arrangements. Everyone looks happy to her, so why make changes?

    The Chief Operating Officer that doesn't care that your compensation benchmarking data shows that you are trailing the market in some key areas and job roles - those same places and roles where your data also shows increased attrition and longer time-to-fill open roles than in less important areas. The COO just want to ensure that 'we pay just a little below market' to ensure stable and consistent gross margins. Peg everyone to '5% below market' and stop bugging me about this.

    I think you get the idea. But the trouble with these fact-resistant types is not identifying them, it is trying to figure out how to rebut them. Because your normal and expected recourse is to just present more facts. And by definition, this probably isn't going to help very much.

    Maybe appealing to the end results, the outcomes, instead of the math and data needed to get there is the best bet. Rather than hitting them with dashboards or spreadsheets that try to sell your idea, just go big on how you know how to fix the problem with X, Y, or Z, and how they will not only benefit, but also look like a hero in the process. 

    The fact-resistant types are tough though. I still think the Knicks are a title contender this year.

    I don't care what the numbers say.

    Have a great week!


    Remember Harvard Graphics?

    I saw this clever post yesterday, titled Computer Science Courses That Don't Exist But Should, and one suggested course in particular really stood out:

    CSCI 3300: Classical Software Studies

    Discuss and dissect historically significant products, including VisiCalc, AppleWorks, Robot Odyssey, Zork, and MacPaint. Emphases are on user interface and creativity fostered by hardware limitations.

    While I am not nearly geeky enough to know all of those old products, (the only one I recognize is VisiCalc, and I never even used that), it made me think back on my introduction to software and workplace technology more generally.Pretty slick UI, right?

    And the one 'classic' piece of workplace tech that I remember most fondly, for reasons I will share in a second, is Harvard Graphics, the first general use charting and data visualization tool to gain acceptance in the office. In the late 80s and maybe a little into the early 90s, Harvard Graphics was the go-to tool for creating at that time were really amazing bar, pie, line, and other types of charts that today we would just laugh at for their simplicity. But pretty soon Microsoft Office took over the office, and Harcard Graphics pretty quickly fell out of fashion.

    But I loved my time with Harvard Graphics. Back in the day, when the first colorful stacked bar chart of regional sales broken out for the last 4 quarters emerged from the plotter, (look that one up, kids), and I marched it in to the CFO's office, suddenly I was looked at not like the 22-year-old kid who knew nothing, but as the 22-year-old kid who created something cool.

    After getting a glimpse of what the HG program could do, the CFO started setting me off to make more and different kinds of graphical representations of our financials that would be used in exec meetings, sent out to the regional presidents, and often tacked up on the wall in the CEO's office. No one would ever tack a boring looking income statement on their wall, but a 3-D multi-colored bar chart of gross profit margin by product segment? That was high art to some of these guys, and I was the only person in the office, (probably because I could not add much value anywhere else), that was able at that time to produce these charts.

    That simple little program, and the rest of the office's reluctance to embrace anything new or seemingly complicated, helped me cement a reputation as someone clever, useful, and for being what then passed for technically savvy - which make no mistake helped out your career as much back in those days as it does today.

    Harvard Graphics got me at least two raises I am pretty sure.

    Ok, the walk down memory lane is over. Have a great weekend and think about this little tale the next time some new and scary and complicated technology shows up in the office.

    It just might be the one that gets your work tacked up on the CEO's wall. 


    CHART OF THE DAY: More open jobs today than since... well, since ever

    If the title of this post sounds familiar, well it should because I ran a post with this exact same title back in June. At that point the chart that accompanied the post showed that open jobs in the USA as of the end of April sat at 5.4 million, at that time the most that the Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTS report had ever reported.

    Fast forward a couple of months and we have yet another record high number of job openings in the USA as reported in the latest JOLTS report, climbing to 5.8 million as of end of July. Check the chart below and then, as you have continually demanded, some FREE comments from me after the numbers.

    Some quick takes....

    1. Wage pressure has to, has to be coming even more than in some of the pockets that we have already seen increasing wages. With this many open jobs, and the labor force participation rate still pretty low by historical standards, rising wages have to be one of the options employers turn to in hopes of filling some of these jobs. You can push 'great culture' and 'summer hours on Fridays' as much as you want, but at the end of the day many, many candidates have many, many more options than ever. 

    2. As I wrote last time I showed this chart, even increasing wages might not be enough in a candidate-scarce market. Are you still telling 37-year-old new hires they start at 10 days vacation, accrued in 4-hour increments every two weeks? Are you still making outside sales people show up at some central office every day when they really have no need to do that? Are you still making and enforcing rules that anyone with options will not tolerate for any longer than they need to?

    3. It could be time when you (finally) push hard for a strategic increase in your internal development initiatives. Certainly some component of the record high in job openings stems from organizations that just can't find people with the right set of skills and experiences. But since the market continues to send messages that it will not suddenly or miraculously begin producing more of these ideal candidates, you have to figure out some other means of filling these gaps. Maybe you have to get more creative with apprenticeships, college and vocational partnerships, and/or upskilling your own employees to fill the roles that the market can't seem to provide.

    I love this chart. I love it when people have options, have opportunity, and hopefully, some leverage in the typically employer-driven recruiting game.

    Good luck out there.


    CHART OF THE DAY: All email, all the time

    So I have a theory about this week, the week leading up to the long Labor Day weekend in the USA, and the unofficial end of summer. After Labor Day the kids are all back to school, vacations have pretty much all been taken, and all of a sudden you realize that there are still 18 big unfinished items on your 'Things I wanted to get done in 2015' list.

    So this week is it, the last 'fun' week more or less, before the end of year holidays kick in. So have fun. And don't expect too much out your humble correspondent this week either. I want to enjoy the end of summer too.

    Full disclosure: I did not want to blog about email AGAIN. Even I am sick of it. And it kind of doesn't matter anyway. But over the weekend I (once again) received at least a dozen or so work-related emails, none that I would classify as urgent, and by the end of Sunday night I couldn't help but have email (again) on the brain. 

    Please stop emailing people on the weekend. Really. I am begging you. 

    Anyway, here is the Chart of the Day, I almost forgot that was the point of the post. According to some recent data spotted on Business Insider it seems like for most folks email is either an obsession, or something you don't care much about at all. 

    Let's take a look at the data, then some FREE comments from me after the chart:

    What to make of this data - where the vast majority of people either are on email all day long or just once or twice a day?

    1. It should be really, really easy to figure out what kind of person (a check all day or a check once a day type) you are dealing with after one of two email exchanges. From the data we see that from the wide divergence in how often people like to deal with email making any kind of assumption about expected email responsiveness is probably a bad idea.

    2. People who check email all day long every day often cannot understand and have little patience for folks who fall on the other end of the spectrum. Think about your own preferences and usage of email. If you are constantly on your email all day long just how frustrated do you get with people who do not share your email obsession/enthusiasm. 

    3. This isn't an email-specific take, and really doesn't have anything at all to do with the chart, but I wanted to share that I finally came to my senses and turned off just about all visible and audible notifications in my phone. The only time my phone now 'pings' me is when I am getting a call or a text. No more email notifications, no more 'someone mentioned you on Twitter' alert, no more 'breaking news' type messages. It is remarkable how much better and I hope healthier I feel about my relationship with my phone.

    Ok, that's it, I am out. It is still summer after all. 

    Have a great week!


    CHART OF THE DAY: Surging Investments in HR Tech

    Really a simple and self-explanatory Chart of the Day for a busy Tuesday, this one courtesy of the Wall St. Journal. Take a look at the chart of venture capital investment in the HR and Recruiting technology market from 1998 to the present, and as you expect and demand, some FREE commentary from me after the data.

    Some quick takes:

    1. First, to level set, the first half of 2015 with investment of about $811M is almost greater than the highest-ever yearly total of $859M back in 2000. Ah, 2000. The 'dot-com' era.  Good times.  But looking at the data you could argue that the HR tech market for VC investment really did not recover from the dot-com crash until very recently, like last year. So it could be that a prolonged period of under-investment is partially to account for the dramatic increases in 2014 and so far in 2015.

    2. Let's go ahead and assume that most VCs have plenty of options and opportunities for investment. If that is the case, then this windfall of money flowing into the HR tech space is good news for a large array of industry players - folks who can sell HR tech solutions, marketers, analyst firms, HR conferences, and even little 'ol bloggers like me, who have lots of products to see, think about, and potentially write about.  It is a sure sign of an industry that is primed for growth when the investment levels are surging upwards as we see in the WSJ. It's like the dot-com years all over again. At least let's hope we don't crash like we did from '02 - '04.

    3. What does this mean for the really important players in the HR tech market - the actual customers? Well in the broadest strokes it is mostly positive. More investment creates more competition which leads to better products and more customer choices. And while sometimes it seems like in HR tech that the bigger, more established players have gobbled up via acquisition many of the new entrants, I can assure you that judging from the number of HR tech startup demos I have been doing that there is no shortage of new ideas and innovation in the space.  This is a great time to be a customer of HR Tech, even if the market can be a little tricky to navigate.

    But like I said, good times all around - for the VCs, for the startups, and most importantly, for the customers and HR leaders who have access to an ever-expanding set of tools and technologies to help them improve results in their organizations.