With all the talk about the necessity for teamwork and collaboration given the further decentralizing of the Global Economy . . . then why are resumes all about marketing our individual accomplishments?
With all the talk about the necessity for teamwork and collaboration given the further decentralizing of the Global Economy . . . then why are resumes all about marketing our individual accomplishments?
Today's dose of news is an odd one. As I sit here enjoying a cup of coffee and sifting through the "goings-on", I've just learned that Mattel has won a permanent injunction vs MGA, barring sales of Bratz dolls. Given that I have no children, you might ask how I even know what a Bratz doll is - well, I have neices that loves these things way more than Barbie dolls - when you have a 6-yr old telling you that, "Barbie's are old school, but Bratz girls are really cool", you know marketing is working! So the first time I ever went to the store on a Bratz hunt, I admit being a bit surprised when I saw some wearing jeans tighter than Bongos, belly-rings, collagen-injected lips, and more than their fair share of pornstar outfits. You know it's strange when the most conservative doll you can find for your neice is a skin-tight skiing outfit where at least the doll's 'assets' are covered! Don't get me wrong - I love sexy and attractive female outfits . . . but for a 4-yr old? C'mon, give me a break.
I understand the American Psychology Association also reported similar concerns, "Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girls or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality," the report says." The Iranian immigrant CEO, Isaac Larian, of course, 'adamantly disagrees', stating "These are the clothes that are worn if you go to schools anywhere in the USA." Hmmm . . . you have to chuckle at the irony here given how Iranian women are harangued and potentially stoned for as much as showing off an ankle in burkas that are only available in 2 wonderful colors: Black and Dark Black. I guess Bratz don't subscribe to the Islamic female dress code - yep, no Annual Fall Fundamentalist Fashion Show for us!
Anyway, shifting gears slightly, Carter Bryant was apparently working for Mattel when he developed the Bratz concept while working for Bratz. My take? Well, taking Bratz off the shelves will be catastrophic for MGA. While privately held, it's obvious that Bratz is MGA and MGA is Bratz. With all our current job losses, we don't need another 1500 people out of work, but my guess is that most will be absorbed by competitors such as Mattel, Jax Pacific, etc. The bigger mystery for me, as an Executive Recruiter, is how in the hell MGA's CEO didn't try to hire Carter Bryant. Was there at least a valiant effort - after meeting and realizing this guy could make you a billionaire, did it not occur to recruit him away? Seriously, are you kidding me? You got what you had coming, Pal - next time, open your wallet and make an offer your mission-critical Designer can't refuse.
However, let's turn the cube slightly. Was not hiring Carter Bryant full-time a bad move? Well, and let's keep it real, Isaac Larian can lay on a beach sipping Martinis for the rest of his life. A Bloomberg article this morning states, "Bratz sales through June were $3.1 billion, according to evidence at the trial. MGA said its Bratz profit was $405.4 million, while Mattel claimed it was as much as $777.9 million." So, in hindsight, Isaac Larian had to know he was taking on a risk by hiring a moonlighting designer working for Mattel that may have yielded no fruit, so assuming paying out my guess of $50k USD in contractor fees, MGA saw profits of between $400B USD to $700B USD. Now, that's not quite apples to apples as ~$50k was only the initial investment as the dolls still had to manufactured, marketed, and distributed . . . but it sure sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
At the end of the day, I once again can conclude that despite our current economic woes and a globalizing economy, the 'American Dream' is still alive if a 17-yr old Iranian can immigrate to L.A. with $750 dollars in his pocket and go from washing dishes while attending Cal State University before starting MGA and becoming a Billionaire. At the end of the day, maybe MGA will start producing and marketing Burka-wearing dolls whose only curves that show are their heads and shoulders . . . but my guess is that they wouldn't sell here in the gool ole' U.S.A. :)
A message to ALL Recruiters, Internal & External, young and old, Gen-Y to Boomers, tall and small, hairy or bald, etc:
Be careful in how you let candidates know they are no longer under consideration. Consider for a moment the following email going out to a candidate that took an hour to build a profile on your employment site; a candidate that thinks very highly of your organization . . . and was quite excited when she received a"'Hot Opportunity Alert" through an 'agent' she set up on the career site:
"Following a competitive review of your background and qualifications, regrettably we are unable to offer you further consideration at this time."
One of my candidates forwarded this to me today and let me know how it made her feel - and no, it wasn't good. I had to explain that this was a 'canned response' and that nobody in HR actually wrote it (despite the signature line showing 'Human Resources, XYZ Company'). Given that she has an MBA and a 10-yr track record of consistent upward progression, distinguished professional accomplishments, is extremely well-suited for the role, took another 40 minutes to create a striking cover letter on said career site, the 'candidacy rejection' email was beyond impersonal. It was stark, distant, borderline condescending, and what some might term 'icey'.
Think about how "Following a competitive review of your background and qualifications" comes across . . . right before slamming the door shut. In my candidate's own words, "Did they even look at my resume?" Also consider the term "regrettably" - this is not a term top performers use in their vocabulary, whether it be spoken or written. There are other more emotionally intelligent ways to convey a similar point.
Look, I know what you're thinking - "Toughen up", right? Well, wrong. Remember the situation: This candidate took the time to set up a career site agent due to her respect and admiration of the organization. That's not the same thing as the active seeker chasing every opportunity possible. Much to the contrary, this is strategic targeting and personal career planning on her part. She 'has a job', is a top-performer, and isn't just going to jump ship without significant calculation, thought, and planning - that's what the great ones do. And let's not forget: Top performers associate with other top performers . . . and yes, word gets around in these tight circles.
So take a hard look at your rejection emails. It will take no more than 5 minutes if you simply put yourself in the candidate's shoes and imagine how you would feel if you were them. The moral of the story is this: Don't let the titled one-liner spell doom for your employment brand among the 10% of the talent market that drives 90% of most organization's successes.
Wow, this is like watching a trainwreck occur right in front of you. What if this was your boss . . . holding a press release after letting you go for "cause"? Ouch!
I've had quite a few conversations over the last several years how it often appears that the same organizations seem to win recruiting awards year after year after year. Frankly, I think this is rightfully so - if you're better than the competition, you should win out. At the same time, I think that there should be a "Lifetime Achievement Award" for the consistently usual suspects :)
So this year, I noticed that OnRec was taking nominations . . . and instead of moving through the day with the groupthink mantra of "That's just how the judging in our industry goes" . . . or the age-old, "That's just how it is - Get used to it being that way . . . ", I decided to take the few moments necessary to nominate the Marines for their 'Careers Site'.
2 days before Sourcecon, I received an email personally from RD Whitney that he recommended someone from the Marines be present . . . but as you can imagine, it's tough to line up a military recruitment command that isn't exactly known for "standing in line for an award" :) In the end, I tried reaching out to as many Marine recruiters in the Chicago area that I could, and I don't believe I was successful in getting any of them to the award ceremony.
But at the end of the day, it wasn't about the award. It was about the fact that military organizations are often overlooked from a recruiting perspective . . . when it is, in fact, their recruiting gigs that are probably among the toughest jobs in America (Kudos to Kris Dunn on his post). It's also about a heartfelt "Thank You" to RD Whitney for having the audaciousness (not audacity, but audaciousness) to consider a military organization in the first place. That speaks volumes to me -- RD, you've got my vote.
And at the end of the day, it was about moving against the groupthink mantra that "one person can't make a difference". The next time someone tries to feed you that line of groupthink garbage, think twice and consider the source. Need empowerment? Look in the mirror and give yourself a pat on the back - don't let anyone ever tell you that one person can't make a difference.
You can, you should, and if you believe, you will.
Think bigger. Don't just watch this - Think.
Then think some more. How does this IBM video show us the future of Talent Acquisition? Thinking yet?
I'll be back in a few days with my angle . . . and I'm looking forward to yours.
Playmaking with the Talent Acquisition world now includes the tactical suite of Strategic Sourcing. Put simply, organizations are starting to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk, when it comes to thinking of talent (and the identification, engagement, and acquisition of that talent) in ways that mirror military special operations. As I mentioned at SourceCon 2008, Strategic Sourcing is THE correlary to special operations manuevers in the competitive marketplace.
But what exactly does it mean to inject the term 'Strategic' into 'Strategic Sourcing'? Let's be honest: the word 'Strategic' is often overused and mis-implied . . . it's as if the bar is raised the moment we toss those 9 letters into a conversation about Talent Acquisition. Anyone who is a Sun Tzu or Colin Powell fan knows that "Strategy dictates tactics" . . . however, as Alan Kelly so aptly offers, there is a gray area between these two areas - and within that gray area are a set of "plays" that we can run to enhance our relative position on the battlefield or in the marketplace.
Within our practice, we view strategy as the set of data, information, perceptions, and evolving variables that lead us to run plays for our clients. Given that our firm is founded by two former special-operations trained service-members (U.S. Marines and U.S. Army), we bring a unique viewpoint to the table. Some of our maneuvers are discrete; some are overt. Some are reconnaissance measures (intelligence-gathering measures), while others are full frontal assaults on an organization's competition (direct sourcing given all 'weapons' at our disposal to take a 'target of opportunity'). We understand that, at the end of the day, our firm's value proposition is to bring battle-tested playmaking ability to the table. It's who we are - it's what we do. So when you're ready to consider your next play (or, more likely, set of plays), drop me a line.
In reading a report from Aberdeen Research on “Customer 2.0: The Business Implications of Social Media”, I learned that of their data set, Best-in-Class organizations demonstrated the following:
In other words, 5 out of 5 saw improvement in ROMI while 4 of 5 saw improvement in customer retention and NPD. Consider that a 9% improvement in customer retention could be huge – depending on structure, perhaps a bump of 10% - 20% in margins and/or net income (it’s all relative, but worth noting). Also, a 7% increase in NPD is HUGE: Considering that 9 of 10 new products fail . . . a 7% increase may be the bump that pulls the entire NPD effort out of the red and into the black. Again, these things are all relative . . . but worth noting and respecting.
As I don’t want to get into posting everything, let me offer one of the introductory excerpts worth mentioning:
“The phrase ‘Web 2.0’ has permeated conversations concerning the Internet for the past several years; however, the use of social media applications as an additional touch point for customer and company interaction is a relatively new concept. While the debate concerning what technologies are encompassed by the phrase ‘Web 2.0’ continues, there is little debate among top companies about its business value.”
Let me be overt here: I think that Talent Acquisition stands to benefit from social media as much as marketing, if not more. Our challenge, however, is putting down the toy ourselves and beginning to use it in a way that will drive organizational value, not just bump up our popularity or numbers of ‘buddies’.
Once we end our addiction, stop taking the drugs, and start actually dealing them, our entire industry will make a quantum leap forward :)
The new McKinsey Quarterly came out today, and thus, it is a good day. Of particular interest is the article titled, "Making Talent A Strategic Priority", by Guthridge, Komm, and Lawson. For those of you who, much like me, have trouble digesting 3,000 any later than 2 hours post-coffee (or Green Tea for the caffeniatically-challenged), I'm going to translate and focus on those elements to purely Talent Acquisition. (Yes, the entire Talent Mgmt continuum interests me, but I don't play in the cradle-to-grave talent cycle today, so I'd be off-base to offer any misguided musings.)
The authors early on point out that the notion of Talent Mgmt is nothing new - their reference to McKinsey research published back in 1997 made me feel old :) You mean talent was important last decade when Dinosaurs roamed the Earth? [Sure it was!!!] Just like back then, the following mantra that "people are our greatest asset" still pointless flows through the annals of Annual Report MD&A corpses. Different Day, Same %^$# if you know what I mean . . . and then they dropped the bomb on us:
"The widespread belief that expensive efforts to address the problem have largely failed compounds the frustration of many senior executives. In the past decade, organizations have invested heavily to implement human-resources (HR) systems and processes, and talent issues have unquestionably moved up the boardroom agenda. Although these moves are laudable and necessary, they have been insufficient at best, superficial and wasteful at worst."
But how could this be? That sales rep at the last trade show (I mean, "carnival" or whatever neuro-linguistics-phrase-du-jour is used to subconsciously suggest networking/partying trumps learning nowadays) told me that there would be 1000% ROI if I purchased by the close of the show! And that "thought leader" who just presented last week told me that process improvement was the key . . . he even had some whitepapers for me to buy at $149 a piece. Both those parties told me that their process improvement ideas (and their unique techonology) was immune to the widespread failures of their forefathers. Were they lying to me . . . or just themselves?
"To manage talent successfully, executives must recognize that their talent strategies cannot focus solely on the top performers; that different things make people of different genders, ages, and nationalities want to work for (and remain at) a company; and that HR requires additional capabilities and encouragement to develop effective solutions. Only in this way will talent management establish itself at the heart of business strategy."
Really? You mean that all people aren't created equal . . . and for that matter, all market segments and/or talent segments? Let's wake up, Everyone - we can learn a thing or two from our marketing cohorts. It's called market segmentation (or in this case, talent segmentation), which I'll be discussing at Sourcecon and the Kennedy Info Recruiting Expo. This peanut-butter mentality of spreading the whole talent acquisition investement (or better, costs) evenly among all talent pools is about as "Industrialization Era" as it gets. It's almost as if Henry Ford's ghost is running the Talent Acquisition function with the ever infamous mindset, "Why is it that I always get the whole person when what I really want is a pair of hands?"
Of course, Gen-Y comes up: "HR professionals say that these workers demand more flexibility, meaningful jobs, professional freedom, higher rewards, and a better work–life balance than older employees do. People in this group see their professional careers as a series of two- to three-year chapters and will readily switch jobs, so companies face the risk of high attrition if their expectations aren’t met. The Gen Y cohort, already representing 12 percent of the US workforce, is therefore perceived as substantially harder to manage than its predecessors."
This goes back to a similar post I made referencing Stoic philosophy. If a dog is pulling a cart, and the cart starts rolling down hill . . . yes, the dog can resist cooperating, but it will likely just wind up in the bushes. What am I suggesting? Simply, I recommend acknowledging that Gen-Y'ers might leave no matter what you do, so understand that it may be nothing more than an example of currency risk in other form. Do what you can, but live with it because you're going to lose more than you win (Vegas, anyone?)
"Finally, knowledge workers, the fastest-growing talent pool in most organizations, have their own demands and peculiarities. By one estimate, 48 million of the 137 million workers in the United States alone can be classified in this group . . . Knowledge workers are different because they create more profit than other employees do—up to three times more . . . Yet the performance of knowledge-intensive companies within the same industry varies significantly, which suggests that some of them struggle to extract value from this newly enlarged type of workforce."
Yes, I do admit this is a "hindsight is 20/20" moment . . . but this comment hit me hard the more I thought about it. What is suggests to me is that there can be an organization with greater talent and more knowledge workers, yet still underperform a competitor with less talent. This could be a premise for an entirely new post, but I imagine that a mediocre car-driver in a Ferrari could outrace a professional in a Honda. This may perhaps be the #1 point that is most heavily rejected and resisted by the Executive Search community.
"When companies do make talent a priority, they often fall into another trap: focusing narrowly on HR systems and processes, which divert attention from the place where most of the obstacles lie: people’s heads. “Habits of mind are the real barriers to talent management,” one financial-services executive confided."
Well stated - such is a fact of life . . . as well as business.
Recent UK salary surveys show that senior sales, finance, marketing, and IT managers earn up to 50 percent more than their HR counterparts. Our research confirms the idea that HR’s influence is declining. The executives we interviewed criticized HR professionals for lacking business knowledge, observing that many of them worked in a narrow administrative way rather than addressing long-term issues such as talent strategy and workforce planning.
Isn't it ironic that the same organization touting "people are our greatest asset" in the annual report significantly underpay those who spearhead Talent Management? Fat bonuses, lavish stock options, golden parachutes, and underpaid HR Execs. Color me surprised . . .
I'll be back with Part 2 over the next 48 hours - I hope my ramblings were worth an eyebrow raising, a smirk, a laugh, or above all, a thought . . .
Put simply, full engagement is truly a beautiful thing. It’s what all high-performing organizations and teams aspire to, which is made obvious by Fay Hansen's article at Workforce. That being said, the fact of the matter is the notion of engagement has become nothing more than a platitude to many; an empty buzzword tossed around by the management consulting firm du jour; nothing more than a talking point during keynote speeches. Yes, there have been multiple studies suggesting positive correlations between employee engagement levels and retention, productivity, and profitability . . . however, there is very little discussion about what being engaged really means.
So what is engagement? To one, engagement can be that feeling you get when you hit the gas of a Harley Davidson and feel the wind against your face. To another, engagement might be the feeling of cheering on the football team they’ve been a fan of since childhood, during a last-minute touchdown drive in the SuperBowl. Many would agree that engagement is the moment when you hold up your newborn baby and make eye contact for the very first time. When employees, team members, or people in a relationship are truly engaged, it means they fully recognize they’ve become a part of something much bigger than just themselves. Above all things, being engaged is about finding meaning in our lives, whether it be personal, work, spiritual, or a combination of the building blocks that make up who we are.
So, when it comes to the workplace, the question becomes: Can you drive engagement by creating meaning among employees and team members?
This question is fascinating when presented, because managers often attempt to answer without first obtaining a deep understanding about what is important to their individual team members in the first place. Developed leaders are able to build trust based, in large part, upon their emotional intelligence (EI), situational instincts, leading by example, and consistent actions of integrity, which make them easy to follow. However, most organizations understand that developing real leaders is often easier said than done. Most would agree it’s an expensive proposition – high risk, high reward. For example, ponder for a moment why ‘Leadership Development’ tracks usually have little to no ethics, psychology, or ironically, leadership components. It’s no surprise that these inside-out LD programs are largely perceived as marketing tools, used to attract entry-level college grads through a defined career path (of whom the organization realizes will likely attrit in three to five years anyway).
As a result, astute organizations are now pursuing outside-in strategies, which focus on creating experiences that drive meaning (and thereby, employee engagement) through PR, internal corporate communications, and behavioral incentives that grow the internal and external brand. For example, "Think Green, Bank Green" Bank of America offers a $3k cash incentive for purchasing a hybrid vehicle, Apple is known to sell Apple to its employees as strongly as it sells Apple to its customers, and just this Sunday, I watched BP assert an “unshakable commitment to human progress” on an early morning commercial. Tactics such as these constitute lower-risk ways to drive engagement than purely investing in leadership development or relying upon a personality survey. It’s probably another reason we see the notion of becoming an “employer of choice” gaining so much steam in the Talent Acquisition and Organizational Development space today.
In the Marine Corps, engagement is known as ‘espirit de corps’, or morale. In its most basic form, engagement directly correlates to the “the will to fight.” It is well understood that will alone is much more important than equipment, air support, or technological advantage – even with the deck stacked against you, unbreakable will is very often the difference between winning and losing. Although this level of engagement is insanely difficult to achieve, never stop chasing it. Each small step taken toward full engagement is a victory to be celebrated.
In closing, let me offer the inspiring words of the great Vince Lombardi: “We are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence."
Featured at Fistful of Talent.