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    Entries in HR (335)

    Monday
    May222017

    Learn a new word: The Optimal Stopping Problem

    I caught an interview over the weekend with one of the authors of Algorithms to Live By (can't recall which of the two co-authors I heard, but it doesn't matter. Kind of like it doesn't matter which of the two guys in Daft Punk plays a particular instrument on any given track. But that is another story.), and wanted to share a new word I learned from the interview that has some relevance to HR/Recruiting.

    For this installment of Learn a new word I submit The Optimal Stopping Problem.

    From our pals at Wikipedia:

    In mathematics, the theory of optimal stopping or early stopping is concerned with the problem of choosing a time to take a particular action, in order to maximise an expected reward or minimise an expected cost. Optimal stopping problems can be found in areas of statistics, economics, and mathematical finance (related to the pricing of American options). A key example of an optimal stopping problem is the secretary problem. Optimal stopping problems can often be written in the form of a Bellman equation, and are therefore often solved using dynamic programming.

    I bolded the 'secretary problem' which, despite its dated-sounding kind of name, is the example most commonly cited when discussing optimal stopping, and as luck would have it, is directly tied to HR/Recruiting.

    The secretary problem is essentially, the question of 'Given X number of job candidates for a given position, and also given you have to make a 'hire/decline' decision on each candidate before moving to the next one, how many candidates do you need to interview in order to maximize your probability of identifying the best candidate, while minimizing the risk of making a 'bad' hire, (say by waiting too long, rejecting too many candidates, and having to settle for a candidate that is left).

    Let's say you have 10 candidates for a position. You probably wouldn’t offer the job to the first candidate you interview, because you have no idea how that candidate compares to anyone else, or the general caliber of the candidates overall . But you probably don't want to wait until the 10th candidate, because if they’re the only one left you’re going to be forced to offer them the job (or keep it unfilled), regardless of how strong a candidate they are. Somewhere in the middle of the process there must be an ideal place to stop interviewing more candidates just to see what they’re like, and make a selection. But where to stop?

    Enter the Optimal Stopping Problem. You can dig into the math here, but it turns out there is an ideal place to stop interviewing candidates, (or dating different people in order to try and choose who to marry), and it's after you have interviewed (or dated), 37% of the contenders. After you get to 37%, make a note of the 'best' candidate you have seen so far, (let's call her Mary Jane). Then, continue interviewing candidates and when you find the first one that is 'better" than Mary Jane, stop all further interviews and immediately offer that person the job.

    How it works is related to the math behind estimating where the best candidate could be in the lineup. This number, expressed as 1/e, where 1/e eventually approaches 0.368, or about 37%. By analyzing the possible distribution of talent, it also turns out that if you interview the first 37 percent of candidates then pick the next one who is better than all the people you’ve interviewed so far, you have a 37 percent chance of getting the best candidate. 

    It's a really interesting way of looking at the hiring decision making process, (as well as other processes that involve trying to make the 'best' choice amongst a number of alternative). But it makes sense somehow, even if only on an anecdotal level.

    How many times have you slogged endlessly through an interview process where after some point candidate after candidate seem the same, and certainly no better than one you saw two weeks ago?

    Or how many of us have, (maybe even privately), thought about a past boyfriend or girlfriend that 'got away' and for some reason has never been eclipsed by the series of people that you have subsequently dated?

    Knowing when to stop, and understanding the probability that you have seen the best, or close enough to it, in any decision process is an enormously valuable thing.

    In the secretary problem, and in probably a bunch of other problems too, the answer seems pretty clear - once you hit 37% you have seen enough, you won't learn much if anything else useful, and you know how to make your decision.

    It is easy to apply in a job vacancy with 10 candidates. 

    It is a little tougher to estimate just how many people you are willing/able to date in order to know when to apply the 37% cutoff.

    Have a great week!

    Monday
    May152017

    HR Tech China #2 - Five Things I'm Looking Forward To

    In a few short weeks I am heading back to China to host and speak at the 2nd Annual HR Tech China event, this year being held June 6 - 7 at the Shanghai International Convention Center in Shangai, China.

    Last year's first HR Tech China event was incredibly memorable, interesting, and valuable, especially for the US-based folks that attended, as I don't think you can even begin to understand a place, business and organizational challenges, and its people without visiting in person. And even that, in a place as large, dynamic, and complex as China only gives you a first step towards really knowing a place and your opportunities there.

    And of all the places in the world where opportunity is present, I can't think of any one with more potential than China. The economy continues to grow and modernize, the appetite for new and innovative technologies are endless, and the desire by many US companies to expand both into the Chinese market, and out of the Chinese market by local firms, is dramatically expanding. 

    If you really, truly, expect to be a global company, then you almost have to be in China, I think.

    That said, I am incredibly excited to be heading back to China and for the 2nd HR Tech China event. And since no one asked, here are the five things I am looking forward to the most about the event and the trip.

    1. HR Tech China (the event) - last year's event was really incredible, and I am sure Year 2 will be even bigger and better. With an array of local Chinese HR leaders and experts, business and economic officials, and a wide variety of both local HR tech and services providers, as well as many of the large, global HR technology companies you know well, this event is perfectly suited for the Chinese and greater Asia HR leaders. The event is first-rate, and quickly becoming a leading event in the global HR tech space.

    2. The Food - Where to start? Easily three of the top ten 'best things I have ever tasted' have been on my trips to China. Peking Duck in Beijing, Hot and Sour Soup in Hong Kong, and spicy sea snails in Zhuhai I still dream about. I am going to eat everything on this trip. 

    3. Shanghai Disneyland - C'mon who does not love Disney? On the trip back from last year's HR Tech China I had the chance to stop in Hong Kong and visit the Disney theme park there. It was really fun and a great experience, and luckily on this year's trip I am going to make time to visit the newest Disney park, this one right in Shanghai. Everything I have seen and heard about Shanghai Disney is that it is really incredible and I can't wait to see it.

    4. The Flight - So a 14 or 16 hour flight might not sound like so much fun. But think of it this way - no emails, no text messages, no one bugging you for anything for the better part of day. A book, a movie or two, a glass of wine, a little sleep - sounds like a night you can only dream of having at home these days. Enjoy the solitude while it lasts.

    5. The People - I have met and look forward to seeing again, so many great people that are a part of HR Tech China. Nowhere have I felt more welcomed. Incredibly nice, generous, curious, motivated, and smart - that is how I would describe the people I have had a chance to get to know a little. Can't wait to see them again and make some new friends. Add me on WeChat!

    I know China seems like a far away place, and it kind of is, but each time I go, (and I hope that it will be more often than once a year in the future), it seems a little closer, and a little less far away each time.

    I know this blog does get readers from Asia and Australia and New Zealand, if anyone is interested in coming to the event in June in Shanghai, send me a note via the contact form on the left side bar and I will make sure you get the information you need.

    Have a great week! 

    Friday
    May122017

    HRE Column: HR Tech Conference Preview #1

    Once again, I offer my semi-frequent reminder and pointer for blog readers that I also write a monthly column at Human Resource Executive Online called Inside HR Tech that can be found here.

    This month, as I have been wrapping up the program development for the upcoming HR Technology Conference that will be held at in October, I take a look at some of the more interesting trends and themes in HR tech that have emerged from reviewing about 450 proposals and talking with dozens of HR leaders and technology service providers. These issues demand continuing focus for HR leaders and the spotlight will be placed on them at the Conference this fall.

    So in this month's HR Executive column I examine a a few of these technologies and trends that are continuing to be top of mind for HR leaders and HRIT leaders and that will be on display at the Conference in October. There are of course a few other themes and trends that are important, but I could not fit them all into the HRE piece. I will probably touch upon some of them in next month's column.

    I am super excited of what is in store at the event and plan to share as many of the big ideas that will be showcased there in the next few months both at HRE and here on the blog as well as the HR Happy Hour Show.

    Here's a taste of the HRE piece:

    As I write this, we are about two and half weeks from the official launch of the program for the 20th Annual HR Technology® Conference and Exposition, which will be held at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas from Oct. 10-13. Developing the program for the event consists of a combination of reviewing approximately 450 "official" speaking proposals, having dozens of discussions with potential speakers, attending numerous industry events to see speakers in person as well as connect with HR technology providers, and finally, attempting to read and review as many sources of HR tech industry news and information as time allows.

    From all of these activities, I come up with a conference program that accurately reflects the current state of HR technology in organizations, showcases innovative and forward-looking HR and HR tech thinking, and presents an event where HR and HRIT leaders can learn, see and experience all the best of HR tech in one place.

    And each year, as I close up the process of program development, I like to take a step back to examine the overall themes and concepts that have coalesced from the process in order to draw some observations and conclusions about the current (and future) state of HR technology. From that perspective, here are some key observations and themes that I have seen from this process that reveal insights into HR tech, and that act as a bit of a preview of what you can expect at the conference.

    Recruiting remains critical and competitive

    One consistent finding in my five years of conference programming has been that most new technologies that come across my desk are centered on recruiting. When companies are expanding and opportunities for growth often hinge on finding new talent, the need for new tools, approaches and processes to power more effective recruiting becomes essential.  We will continue to explore the evolution of recruiting technology and processes at HR Tech this year, with a focus on how modern technologies are enabling organizations to succeed in meeting their recruiting objectives. One specific area we will focus on is how organizations of all sizes are approaching the design, build and integration of the assortment of recruiting technologies that are available. Additionally, expect to see an incredible array of new and innovative recruiting technologies in our Startup Pavilion as well as being featured in our "Discovering the Next Great HR Technology Company" session.

    Technology powers engagement

    Employee engagement remains an important subject for organizations and HR leaders, as engagement levels have remained fairly constant -- and not very high -- for many years. But this challenge also represents an opportunity and many HR technology providers have developed solutions to address these challenges.

    Read the rest at HR Executive Online...

    If you liked the piece you can sign up over at HRE to get the Inside HR Tech Column emailed to you each month. There is no cost to subscribe, in fact, I may even come over and re-surface your driveway, take your dog for a walk, or help you weed the garden.

    Have a great day and Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!

    Thursday
    May112017

    Probably not going to get a "Best Boss" mug from the staff any time soon

    Sometimes it can be really tough to be the boss.  Lots of calls, lots of emails, lots of meetings, and probably lots of people in the organization that want a little piece of your time.  They might need some direction, want to get your opinion on something, might need some clarification before taking an action, and sometimes the team just might want a little face time, you know, a little interaction with the boss. Sometimes people feel a little better after getting some 1-1 time with the big kahuna.

    So all that can get tiring for the boss. At least at times it can. The boss, too, has things to do.  The boss probably has his/her own agenda and priorities on any given day. The boss, sometimes, probably comes into work not in the best mood and maybe does not want to deal with any of this 'other' stuff that was not perfectly slated into their calendar for the day.

    So I can kind of get it when once in a while the boss does not really have time for small talk in the elevator or in the hall. Or when, even in a small company, you need about 3.5 weeks advance notice to maybe get 30 minutes on the boss' calendar to day your piece. I get it. I do.

    But time management is only one of the dozens of things a successful leader needs to be good at in order to succeed, and while I don't know for sure how to manage time effectively, (I am writing this at 11:30PM so I can attest), I do know that the wrong way for the boss to set expectations for the staff as to his/her availability and accessibility is to do what TV personality Steve Harvey dropped on his organization, (and as described in Mashable).

    Take a look at an image of Harvey's set of instructions to his staff that was reportedly sent at the start of the show's most recent season:

    Awesome stuff, right?

    Don't talk to me under any circumstances unless we have a meeting on the calendar in advance. Don't speak to me in the hall, don't linger outside the elevator, don't 'ambush' me in the makeup room - basically DO NOT APPROACH ME AT ALL.

    Love it.

    But at least Harvey dropped a 'please don't take offense' at the end of the 14 ways to not talk to Steve Harvey bomb.

    That will make it all better. 

    I actually kind of like some of Harvey's rules. I may try to enact a couple in my life too. And if I do, just please don't take offense.

    Wednesday
    May032017

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 284 - Transforming HR with Technology, Live from Talent Space 2017

    HR Happy Hour 284 - Transforming HR with Technology, Live from Talent Space 2017

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guests: Bailey Borzecki, Dogfish Head Brewery, David Mennie, Saba

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve Boese is Live at Talent Space Live 2017 and talks with Bailey Borzecki, HR Inspirations Manager of Dogfish Head Brewery and David Mennie, VP of Product Management of Saba about how HR and talent management are being transformed through technology at Dogfish Head. Bailey shared some of the growth story at Dogfish Head from a startup to a 350-person organization spanning 36 states. Technology plays a key role at the company to support goal setting and goal alignment, to make manager-employee 1-1 meetings more productive and effective, and in fostering Dogfish Head's collaborative culture bases on feedback.

    Additionally, we talked about the importance of user experience and user adoption, the best ways to use technology to facilitate employee engagement, and whether or not Bailey is the only 'HR Inspirations Manager' in America. Steve also shared some early HR Happy Hour tales and his long-time partnership with Halogen Software, (now a part of Saba).

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

    This was a really fun and interesting show, we hope you think so too.

    Thanks to Bailey and David for joining the show and thanks to Saba for having us out at the event.

    Be sure to check out show sponsor Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com to learn more.

    Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and all the podcast apps - just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to subscribe and never miss a show.