7 Secrets That Will Change Your HR Strategy Forever

by TIM SACKETT

TIM SACKETT

Tim is the President of HRU Technical Resources, engineering and IT staffing firm in Lansing, MI. He has 20 years of HR and recruiting background split evenly between corporate Fortune 500 gigs and third party staffing gigs. For the Halogen blog, Tim writes about the good and the bad of Talent Acquisition practices and how organizations can be smarter when it comes to acquiring, assessing, and hiring top talent.

The best performance feedback Tim ever received was that he was "unfiltered and loose in the corners." So, buckle up - he tells it like it is - which means sometimes he calls HR and Talent Pros out on the dumb stuff we do. Catch him weekly at www.timsackett.com and fistfuloftalent.com, or call him at 517-614-5014. That's his real cell phone number - if you call, he'll actually pick up!

Webinar Transcript

Woman: Tim Sackett is a 20 year HR recruiting talent pro, with a Masters in HR and Sphere certification. Currently the President of HRU Technical Resources, a $40 million IT and engineering contract staffing firm and RPO. Tim has split his career between recruiting and HR generalalist roles, as well as HR vendor community and corporate America. So he feels like he gets it from both sides of the desk. Please welcome to Elevate 2015, Tim Sackett.

Tim: Hey, everybody. Thanks for that intro and welcome, obviously a big online event, and I'm excited a part of it. So you're joining Dear Diary, 7 Secrets No One Tells You About HR Strategy. And we want to get right into it because we only have 30 minutes. So my name is Tim Sackett, and I'm the President of HRU Technical Resources, you see me right there. I'm not Tom Izzo, he's the guy in the white shirt, the Michigan State basketball coach. I'm his really great friend, Tim Sackett, in the green. Also I write at Fistful of Talent, if you haven't checked it out it's fistfuloftalent.com and that's a Tim Sackett project, which is timsackett.com. I write every single day about HR, talent acquisition, leadership, any of those great things, so make sure you stop and check us out. Connect, I'm on LinkedIn if you Google my name I'm the first 10 pages and we'll get hooked up if you like the material.

So first I want to start off with this, right? I'm a huge fan of science fiction movies, and clearly this is something from the Matrix, if you haven't seen it. So it's Morpheus, and he's handing out the pills to Neyo. Which is, "Hey if you take the blue pill, the story ends." Which means you can just go back to living in la-la land or you can wake up in your bed and everything was what you believed. Or you can take the red pill and you stay in the Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit goes. Which is, I'm going to show you the truth, right? I'm going to tell you some things today and I'm going to share some things in these seven strategies that you might not agree with. In fact it might be against everything you even believe and talk about within HR and talent requisition. But what I'm telling you, right, is what I believe is the truth and so we are going to get right into it.

So number one is, people don't leave companies they leave, what? What have we been told, right? People don't leave companies, they leave managers. I think no, I think you're wrong, right? I think people don't leave companies, period. And I say that and I give you some examples, right? So here's a guy, and you probably saw this, it happened actually in Detroit, Michigan and his name is James Robinson. And James would make $10.50 an hour, he walks and kind of rides the bus 21 straight miles to work in Metro Detroit area from downtown Detroit out to the suburbs, and he's done this for 10 years, right? And it only came up, it was a national news story last year, because he had a car and it went down, and somebody in the free press heard the story of this guy that for 10 straight years went 42 miles one way to work, I mean round trip to work, right? Took him just about as much as he worked, it took him to get to work. And yet he still went to work every single day, never missed a day, $10.50. And they asked him like, "Hey, why do you do you do this?" And he's like, "Hey, this is what I do, I like to talk to everyone about sports, about life, it's the people I work with." Even though he had to go and walk, in the winters of Michigan, 21 miles, he figured out.

And again don't think, "Oh he lives in downtown Detroit he couldn't find another job." Don't let the media talk you into that. There's all kinds of work, especially in downtown Detroit, midtown Detroit. It's one of the faster growing populations in the country right now, there's jobs everywhere. He went there because, again, he's loyal to the job, loyal to the work. People hate change. And so it's one of those things where I say people don't leave jobs because of their supervisors, they don't leave, period. And I got more examples, right? Remember Amazon lining ambulances up to the factory when the air conditioning went out waiting for people to fall over, and taking them to the hospital? Instead of just saying, "Hey, how about you go home for the day, the air conditioning's broke?" Amazon locking their workers in overnight, so they couldn't even get out. Saying it's for their protection but if there was fire in the building they are all dead.

We deal with crazy bosses, we deal with harassment issues in the workforce. And yet people still, for the most part, stay. And it's a crazy phenomenon. But we always think like, "Oh no, no, no there's constant turnover and there is all these issues." But the reality is the most people hate changing jobs. It's one of the larger stressors in life. Along with getting married, along with having a baby, buying a house, changing jobs. It's like top four things in the world that are the highest stressors in peoples lives. And for the most part, people will put up with a lot of crap and still stay in their job.

So we are going to talk about this intent to turnover versus behavior. Because you see a lot in the media them sharing, like, "Eighty percent of people right now would change jobs if they were presented with a better opportunity." That's intent, right? That's intent to turnover, it's not actual behavior. And so what we saw was, when we started looking at some of the data, some of the real data is that, and this is from a chief researcher at Analytics Week, he showed this intention to turnover versus actual turnover behavior. And I want to dig in to some of the actual reasonings of what you see here. Right now, the blue, right, is the intention, the red is the actual. So what you do is you actually find some things that are true turnover behavior issues and some that people say, "Oh, I'm going to turnover, I'm going to leave if I don't get this." When in reality, it doesn't match up with the actual behavior. So first and foremost, we're going to look at what, right?

Morale is king. Morale is one of those true behaviors that drives turnover and it's actually higher than even intention, which is a huge thing, right? So are you happy at work? Is what this really comes down to. And that's a big deal, because we know that it's really hard to make somebody happy at work, mostly we want to go out and hire happy people versus trying to make them happy.

Culture is also really important. It's another one that was right under the kind of morale in terms of driving actual behavior of turnover. And again, when you take a look at retention, and all the things that you do, whether it's new hire, it's promotion transition meetings, it's what you drive in terms of your workplace culture. And a lot of this has to do with fit, right? So I want to hire people happy people, I want to hire people who fit my culture. And then if I do both of those things really well, there's probably a high indication that I'm going to have lower turnover.

The other thing though that came out, and we always want to say this, right, it's not about the money. Well, guess what? It actually is about the money. About half of the actual turnover behaviors that came up, that were over the intent to turnover, right, which is the indicator, were actually about money. Three out of the six of those intent to turnover things were all about, "Am I being paid fairly? Am I being paid competitively?" Those kinds of things. And so that's one the things that actually comes up a lot. And we try to tell ourselves that it doesn't matter, but you know what? It actually does. It actually matters a whole lot.

The next thing that comes up is, hey, bad bosses have an impact, but it's actually about the same as compensation factor. So the compensation factors, while significant, were actually third on the list overall, right? And a bad boss is actually down the line even more. And what this means is that, you know what? There's an actual something that we believe, right? That we actually expect that we're going to have a bad boss. And if you take a look at all those things that we do on a normal basis in terms of media that we watch, and all the shows that we watch that are kind of sitcoms, it's kind of common, right? We all expect that we're going to have this crazy boss, and we actually put up with it as long as all these other things match up. We have great culture and we have all that.

Moving right along, number two. We're all a little bit racist and and biased towards hiring. Think that's not true? Hey, right here we have a...University of Chicago did a study. Who would you pick in terms of to interview, white girls names, black girls names? When you take a look at...they actually took about across section of about 500 hiring managers. Male, female, black, white, Asian across the board, they tried to make it as equal as possible. Fifty percent all chose all white girl names and that's a huge significance, because everything else was either a combination or all black girl names. And the all black girl names were really low. And so this is again a cross section, equal amounts of race and male, female and again 50% still chose all white.

What about this? Who would you interview? Would you interview the white guy, black guy? Okay this is a Cambridge study, they took 250, again, hiring managers. Took resumes made them equal but put different pictures on each one and said, "Okay, who would you want to hire?" Sixty percent chose to interview the white guy, even though the resumes were exactly the same, just some name changes and stuff. But the experiences and all that, education was the same. Only six chose all black. So again, and we're going through a cross section of managers here that aren't all white, they are exactly equal white, black, male, female.

What about, who would you promote? In a normal situation, especially in a lot of our industries, we see more female actual workers than male workers in our workforce, and yet we see a large numbers of the actual leadership being male over female. In the service industry, the dining, restaurant industries this is huge, it's 70/30. Seventy percent of the workers are female and only 30% of the leadership is female. And again, so this is a huge issue in terms of being biased towards hiring.

What about this, who would you want to hire? Skinny girls, by the way, make about 6% more. Well, I told you in the last slide, you wouldn't hire any of these ones, right? You would hire the male. And so again, thinking about how we're biased towards hiring, how can we change that? And knowing how you can do that. We're all thinking in HR that we are not biased. But the reality is, as the stats shows us, that we are actually very biased.

Number three. Trying to get this puppy to work here. Number three, all right here we are. We're all rewarded for inflating performance feedback. And let me explain that a little bit. No negative feedback means no conflict. We know how our hiring managers hate conflict, in fact that we all hate conflict as well. And so if we give average to above average feedback, guess what? No conflict for the most part, we don't have to worry about it. There's something else though that happens, right? We also have this comp compression and you go, "Oh, wait a minute, everybody wins because of the larger increase I give you, it pushes up on my increase as your boss, and also then they have to raise everything up and I increase as well." So even comp compression, in terms of this inflated feedback, actually helps me out. How do we combat this, right? Don't tie compensation increases to performance feedback, that's really hard. A lot of it is actually do that in our work environments and it's a difficult one to change, but it's really important that we try to change that.

When [inaudible 00:11:04] explaining new hires exactly what was expected of them and make that low rating the norm, right? And so right now on a one to five scale, if you got a three, you'd say, "I'm not an average, I'm above average. This sucks." You have to really set that performance feedback at, "Ninety percent of our workers here are a three. That means you are doing what's expected and we love that. We need you to do that. But if you want to get to a four or five, then here's what that looks like, here's what that feels like. Here's the things and the behaviors that you have to do. By the way, here's what a two looks like, I'm not going to tell you what a one looks like because you'd be fired before that happens, right?" So again, we are rewarded for inflating performance feedback and we think that it's not true, but then when you go back and look your performance ratings, you'll see that the data probably plays out that way.

Number four. We have no idea if a new hire will be good, or bad, or average. And we think we do, we want to say, "Oh no, come on. Like, we really do know that." We don't, right? Hey, by the way, five out of six people love playing Russian Roulette and exactly what we're doing when we hire is we're really play Russian Roulette. We don't really know, we're just spinning the dial and hoping that we click on the right one. So why do we make bad hires? We compromise. We don't really hire the best talent, we hire the best talent at the time. Bad hires's worse, we allow managers who are underperforming to go out and hire. By the way, guess what? Statistics show us, analytics show us that those managers will actually hire worse performance because they don't want anybody to challenge themselves.

We don't trust our data, and again this is the one that we think we know better than what the data is telling us. And again one of the nice things about the data usually is that it's unbiased, and it's just telling us what it is, black and white. And then we also have this, "Hey, they look like me." And again, research shows us that most hiring managers will try to hire and select people who look and feel and are like them, right? I'm a white guy, I'm 45 years old. More than likely I'm gong to look for somebody that has the same kind of mind set, talks like me, and looks like me. I'm more comfortable with that person. And so I'm more likely to select that person. As HR people, we kind of have to stop that.

But wait a minute, HR gets it, right? That's the problem is HR probably does get a little bit better. But HR's not the one making the final hiring decisions, it's hiring managers. And we're trying to train them to be like us, but the reality is is they're never going to be like that, because they don't have the time to put into it. They're always going to be out there working on operations, or working on whatever functional area they are in, and they are not going to spend the time and energy.

So how do we know about this, right? So Google this great review, right? Five years worth of interview data, and they took it out and they researched everything. And they found that the individual interviewers were only 1% better than a 50/50 chance in terms of hiring high performers. And the one thing I like about Laszlo Bock and the HR teams over there at Google is that they have been really transparent about sharing some of the data they have. And this kind of really kind of hit a lot of us right across the face. Because Google did it better than everyone, everyone's trying to be the next Google, we're all following what Google's doing. And then they came out and said, "Hey, by the way, all this stuff that we're doing, doesn't even give us...it only gives us 1% better chance to hire than if we just flipped a coin. If we brought in two people that applied for the job and said, 'Hey, you're about equal and so we're just going to flip.' "

And again it goes back to, we have have to involve science in terms of our hiring decisions. We can't go on gut feelings, we can't go with all these biases that we have. We really have to really go back out there and say, "Hey, if we want to make better decisions, we're going to have to go and use research and science that goes beyond our capabilities as human beings." And for the most part, a lot of us struggle with that, because we still want to do this kind of gut feeling like, "Hey I know what makes a good hire in our environment." No, you don't. I don't think so.

Number five. We're going to keep moving along because we've got 30 minutes. Your employees don't really know what will make them satisfied in their job, yet we keep asking them, right? With engagement studies and everything else. Turns out our employees are actually pretty bad at telling us at what actually satisfies them, right? We think it's "Oh, it's this greatest boss, it's a great boss, if we have a great boss then that's what engages me." Well, we know that's not exactly true, right? What about empowerment? All the kids today, all those millenials they just wanted to be empowered, they just want flexibility, they want to have the ability to do what they want, when they want. Again most of them then end up performing worse. Hey wait a minute, it's just a big giant pile of cash because I told you that, that's a big driver. And yet we know again, that's not one of those things. So what is it, right?

The employee satisfaction reality is that not all of your employees responses are going to be equal. We struggle with this in HR, we want to really, truly believe that everyone's response counts exactly equal. But it doesn't, you have some people who are walking zombies in your area, and in your companies. We have some who are really highly engaged and they are driving performance, and they are helping your company and you couldn't do without them. Guess what? Their responses probably have a little bit more weight to them and we need to figure out, what does that look like? And then you have some people who hate working for you, and they are just doing it to collect a check and they can't wait to get out.

Again I don't want to listen to those people, because their satisfaction doesn't have anything to do with how we drive great performance in our company. Not all responses are credible, right? So go back to some people they are on their way out, some people just are collecting their checks, some people are waiting to retire in three weeks, who knows what that might be? The big one to me is this last one, which is senior leaders always believe that they have a better view of satisfaction than any of those people under them. But the reality is they are looking through these glasses that are little fuzzy, right? They've already drank the Cool-Aid, they built the vision, like, truly they are bought in. So they think everybody should be just like them. But as you get down to the lower levels and you really start to measure satisfaction engagement, you find out that by the way, guess what? None of this stuff is what the senior leaders think it is. And it's really hard for us to really go above them and tell them, "Hey, this is not the way it is, we need to make some changes." But we have to find ways to do that within the HR side, right?

So this is me and this my dog, Scout, we are best friends and to me this the key, and it goes back to the Gallop research, you need to have a best friend at work. And we need to find ways to have people have a best friend at work, this is super important. The other thing is, you need to be just you, right? Don't try to be Google, don't try to be somebody else, don't try to be an Amazon. You just be who you are, and hire people who love your culture. To me, that's the key of this employees satisfaction is you go out and say, "Hey, this is what we are. We don't have a ping pong table, we don't have beer Fridays, we're not going to give you free laundry service. But what we are going to do is provide a great work, some solid benefits, people that you love to work with in a job close to home." Whatever it might be, whatever your story is. Just be who you are, and be who you are always and not try to be somebody else. And that's critical in terms of high employee satisfaction.

Number six. We don't really know how to motivate a group versus individuals effectively and this becomes a really hard dynamic, and it's called the cooperate motivational paradox, right? It's individual versus team. "Hey, if I reward individuals and I drive individual performance now I'm going to create internal competition amongst employees, and gosh I don't want that. I want team, but if I drive team I'm going to have some individuals that don't put enough forward and they're going to be low performers on the team and that's going to cause frustrations with the high performing team members. And oh my gosh, what do we do? How do we do this effectively?" And it's a struggle for a lot of corporations and that's why you see this bouncing around of recognition and rewards in most corporate settings. So this paradox is really difficult, right? And what I'll say is that we don't know how to motivate groups and individuals effectively at the same time. And that becomes really issue for our organization.

So what we think we know, right? Well at least we know what these young ones want, these millennials, they just want feedback. Again that's kind of a lie because Marcus Buckingham and his research came out just recently in this last year and said, by the way, guess what? Millenials don't want more feedback, even though we've been telling you for 10 years that's what they need, more feedback, more feedback, more feedback. What they want is for you to pay attention to them. They actually don't want more feedback, they want you to pay attention. Which is again, give me positive feedback, help me with my job and how I do, just don't give me critical feedback. What Marcus says is, by the way, guess what? Every segment of your population at your work feels the same way. Nobody really wants more feedback.They want more positive feedback, and they want you to pay attention to them more, just don't tell me how I suck. And so the critical feedback becomes really big on that side.

Number seven. Everything we measure in HR changes our path in the future and we don't really know where it's going to end up. And let me give you some examples, metrics are valuable and they are dangerous. When you start to measure something in your organization and you go, "Oh my gosh, this is critical. We have to do this." There is something that happens, right? Because that focus will actually make it happen, but then as you keep going down that way, there is chance that something might happen. I'm giving you an example and it just fails, right?

"Hey, we want to drive sales, we think we're going to do that by measuring client satisfaction, because satisfied clients come back and they buy more and they keep buying more. And so we focus on actual client satisfaction." And there was a company that I worked with that we did this, sales actually went down. Satisfaction was way up, but then sales went down, well why was that? It's because we weren't out there pushing sales anymore. And so there's always that kind of fine line of what you do drives another performance. Days to fills is another one, right? Focus on days to fill, and I've seen this happen in company after company, "We are going to drive days to fill, we are going to reduce our days to fill, we got to get these positions filled faster." But then turnover goes up, because you're making the decisions too quickly and it's actually causing some bad hires to happen. This domino thing again is a part of the same kind of concept, right? We push one thing over, we don't know what's going to happen.

When I worked at Applebees, we really pushed diversity in hiring leadership, but the reality was that it caused some bad behaviors down the road, where you had some organizations, and I'll give my own personal one, right? I had 70% of my leadership team was diverse. And for my own bonus I had to keep making my team diverse to get my year-end bonus to get higher ratings, and yet I was over diversified, comparable to everybody else in the company. And so then I had to drive this behavior of, what do I do? How do I do this? Do I have to go and start terminating somebody else, so I can hire another black female on my team so I can get my bonus? So there's some weird things that happened, right? And again in Applebees that was one kind of thing, the rest of the company really needed help on the diversity hiring. I just happened to be lucky enough to be in a great segment of the region, where I had great diversity hires that I could work with.

Moving right along, that was the seven things. But I want to give you a little bit about seven ways to make your HR strategy more strategic, based on what we know now on the seven issues that we saw. So the first one is going to be this agility versus inflexibility. And so what we have to do is really be more agile in our thinking within HR. We tend to be inflexible. This is the process, we're going to follow it, it's black and white, you can't change it. And the reality is it causes people to kind of shy away from us. And especially our hiring managers, employees, everything that's there. So really focus in being agile in your HR practices and your HR processes. And we hear this a lot, "Oh that's going to set precedent." That's okay, set precedent once in a while, it's fine.

Have a vision, think big or don't, right? The reality is if you have to have a vision for your group, if you don't want to, guess what? You're just going to be the old same HR. But you need to think big, you need to have a vision, you need to drive that. Not for the company, for your HR, for talent acquisition within your own kind of scope of what you can deal with, and make sure that you really focus on it.

Next is don't expect stuff. Do the expected stuff, 100%. Payroll, benefits, all that stuff has to be done, it's expected now. You don't get kudos for doing those things, but then you have to get comfortable with this kind of testing, innovation philosophy, pilot projects. Which is build, test, build, test, build, test. We are going to continue to try to do this within HR, and those that do it become really good. Flexible workforces is a great one. I don't want to have this giant rollout of a project, we're going to say, "Hey, by the way, we're going to do this great thing." And then in the end it all blows up and it doesn't make traction. I'm going to go out with one small segment in my group, I'm going to take one function, one department, I'm going to test it first. And when it does well I'm going to go and test it with another area. And pretty soon you have this grassroots kind of campaign of saying, "Hey, this works really good. And we're doing something that is really dynamic, let's try to roll this out to the rest of the company."

And if we did that in HR more, we would gain more traction and have more success than saying, "Nope, we are going to do it all at once, we are going to have this giant kind of thing happen." And then you roll it out there, and it fails because we can't get traction, that becomes really hard.

Candidate experience. In HR we have to really remember that we have both internal and external experiences to worry about. We tend right now to focus only on external candidate experience, internally we have hiring managers, we have employees, we have all these people that we need to focus on. And yet when you take a look at, and break down, all of the things that you do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis within HR in your organization. I would dare to say that you probably spend a lot of time on candidate experience externally than you do focused on customer service, internally. So really focus on that side it.

Accountability is a big one right now. Senior leaders love to talk accountability, and yet they have a hard time getting their hiring managers to really focus on the accountability. To me, I think HR can become the accountability officers of our organization, and really show our hiring manger how to do this the right way, the best way. And it becomes difficult to drive but this is performance management at its core and I think really HR owns this. So get involved, show your executives how HR can drive accountability in your organization, get great dashboards, get metrics, define what average performance, good performance, great performance looks like and make sure your managers are going out and pushing that kind of performance and accountability, over just what they feel.

Finally, I have this piece of filling in the piece of the puzzle that's not there, right? In every part of your organization there is something you can do to fill the void that nobody wants. In HR though, because we're surrounded by people things, and everything we do is related to our people. We can always fit ourselves into that void, we can always be that piece of the puzzle that finishes it off. So find those voids in your organization where nobody wants to handle it. When I was doing HR at Health System it was a big IT project which was electronic medical records. IT didn't want to take it, they didn't have the staff, HR stepped in and said, "Hey, we'll do it, we'll lead this project." It was a gigantic project, it was the most important project that the organization did, from the CEO's words, in the last 100 years. And we stepped in and took it over, and really drove it, because it had so many impacts across our organization in terms of people.

And again we didn't have to do that, we could have just said, "Hey, let us know how we can help, we'll support." Instead you step in, you fill that void. You do it with planning the company holiday party, don't think that's underneath you, it's not. You do do that with a new marketing thing. If you can help, you can help. Whatever might be, try to step into those voids and make it happen.

At the end of the day, it's this, right? Ultimately is how do we make it better? How do we make our organization better? How do we make HR better, talent acquisition better? How do we make marketing better? How do we make accounting better? It's all about this. At the end the HR strategy should be, how do we make our organizations better? Is everything we're doing making our organization better? Or is it things like, "Well we have this process to cover our ass." "Hey, we have this process to make sure that people are following the way we need them to do things, because it helps eliminate work in HR." Stop that kind of stuff, and really focus in on, "How can I help my hiring mangers to be better hiring mangers? How can I help my employees to be more productive? How can I help my organization retain talent in a better way?" All that stuff becomes critical in terms of what we do.

So it was quick, it was fast, I hope you really enjoyed it. Make sure you go out and connect wit me. HRU Technical Resources, The Tim Sackett project, Fistful of Talent, LinkedIn with me, there's all the data. By the way, that's my real cell phone number if you call me, I'll probably let it go to voicemail if I don't know your number, but I'll call you back or I'll text you. Or who knows, if you're crazy, I won't call you back at all.

So, thanks a lot, glad I got to be a part of this big, online event. Hope you found something great out of it, and we'll see you next time.

All right I'm done.