Quote of the Week: “Be careful not to compromise what you want most…



…for what you want now.” – Zig Ziglar


For this week’s quote we can thank American author, salesman, and motivational speaker Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar. It is timely for me as a reminder that not all battles are worth waging, and not all hills worth dying on.

To the above point, I recently came against considerable push-back whilst in the pursuit of a long desired personal objective. I felt justified in the ask and believed it aligned closely with the objectives of the other stakeholders involved, but learned once I looked to move forward that I didn’t have the alignment needed to realize my goals.

…I am both an agreeable and solutions-focused person by nature; given enough time I can almost always come up with a collaborative solution that leaves most parties happy, and in the absence of said time can still generally strike an acceptable interim compromise. In this case I could find neither, however; and while anger has historically been a near alien experience for me, in this case I found myself irate with the outcome. I simmered on it for the better part of a week, considering alternative means to obtain my objective and dwelling on what I would do if they too were unsuccessful. Then – finally at my whit’s end – I got enough distance from things to realize what in hindsight should probably have been obvious at the outset:

I had to let it go.

^I realized I had to do so because the goal I was seeking was ultimately a short-term objective weighed against my larger plans, and the social capital I would have to burn to accomplish it against existing headwinds wasn’t worth expending. Examining these facts in sum, I decided to bide my time and re-visit another day.

…As we get started this week, let’s look to remember that wanting something badly shouldn’t always be the basis behind how vigorously we pursue it. Because at the end of the day – particularly concerning matters of negligible or moderate importance – we can’t win all the time.

^And in these cases, sometimes the long road is the most expedient one.

Happy Monday,


A Few Thoughts on Internal Equity





…So today I read a solid piece (here) from Compensation Café Founder and Editor Ann Bares. Citing research from the Harvard Business Review, Bares demonstrates that at least some of the much talked about male/female pay gap is attributable to men’s greater tendency to negotiate for higher wages when starting new roles. With this fact in mind, several employers are opting towards greater pay transparency and more uniform policies around wages and negotiation – in some cases doing away with the latter entirely.

…I think that taking salary negotiation off the table in a bid for internal equity is a bad idea. Setting aside the fact that doing so hugely handicaps an organization’s ability to compete for (and retain existing) talent in the broader marketplace, it’s flawed because it starts from the place that personal advocacy is a bad thing. After all, as Bares intimates in her piece one way to remove the effects of gender on negotiation outcomes might be to socialize both men and women to negotiate for themselves from a young age.

With that said, doing the above is a long game play that will take at least a generation to change. In the interim, as HR pros it’s our job to ensure business leaders are doing the right thing when it comes to paying each individual contributor – male or female – in line with their performance. And this doesn’t necessarily mean paying or treating everyone equitably, either… because not every situation warrants this. But it does mean stepping back and considering how treatment of any given employee fits into the big picture. The impact of differential treatment on internal equity should never be discounted (and is sometimes untenable), but dismissing the need to ever entertain it entirely may do just as much (or more) damage to a company’s ability to compete over the long term.

Until Monday,


P.S. I will write more about this later, but it’s just after 7:00 PM central time and I have an absolutely awful case of writer’s block right now.

Infographic Thursday: The Impact of the ACA on the Staffing Industry



Thanks to AkkenCloud for this great infographic outlining some of the impacts of the ACA on the staffing industry. It has some great stats (I didn’t know that 95% of employers have less than 50 people), so as always check it out and be sure to follow the author on Twitter here if you like what you see.

Affordable Care Act Infographic



A Few Thoughts on Career Progression




…So lately I have been thinking a lot about “potential” versus “readiness”. On the one hand, as a talent manager the topic has been coming up a lot at work, 1. I’m 28, and I have a lot of my career career left in front of me… but I’m not a spring chicken anymore, either.but on a personal level it has been top of mind as well. 1

There are a lot of reasons that “ready talent” – that being defined in this case as talent that possesses the technical skills required to theoretically succeed at the next level – sometimes falls short of expectations when promoted. Failure to adapt to the culture of a new team or organization, being placed into a role with undefined expectations, a poorly managed transition between the new hire and incumbent, and/or an inability to influence key stakeholders are just a few reasons that talent which should succeed on paper doesn’t always succeed in role.

Conversely, there are also occasions where high potential talent that seems poised to eventually be ready for the next level never quite gets there. Sometimes they just don’t want it badly enough, other times they’re high performers that have been mis-classified as high potential, and still other times they don’t get the right developmental opportunities to prepare them for the next level at critical points in their careers.

…I have always agonized over if my client group’s future leaders are getting the exposure to critical experiences that they need to reach the next level… whilst at the same time also worrying if their brand internally may be irrevocably harmed if they are pushed too fast.

Talent pros: When do you know that someone is ready to make the leap? And when is it good to give someone the rope to try even when you don’t know for sure? I’ve said before that I am personally predisposed to throwing caution to the wind and going for it when opportunity presents itself, but many a broken career lies at the bottom of precipices that it may have been ill 2. Unintentional rhyme >_>.advised to try and clear. 2

Welcoming good literature suggestions in the comments section below.



Quote of the Week: “If you don’t have time to do it right…



…when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden


For this Monday’s quote we can thank the late American basketball player and coach John Wooden. It’s a reflective quote for me because I don’t think I’ve ever come so close to making a major decision – only to reverse course – as I did this past week. But I ultimately did so at the 11th hour because I realized the choice I was going to make was a hasty one based largely on a desire to resolve a growing sense of anxiety and uncertainty… and making a decision for such reasons is fundamentally anathema to who I am.

Ergo, after sleeping on the matter I decided to handle things another way. And while I’m not at all yet certain that my new direction is the right one, I do know that I only have one chance to get it right; this means taking the time to deliberate on everything before me carefully and candidly.

Everyone is under pressure today. That pressure takes a myriad of different forms, and can at times be withering to endure. With that said, regardless of our circumstances we should always take care to make the best decisions we can – not just for ourselves but for everyone impacted by us and the decisions we make.

Do-overs and seconds chances don’t always come around, and when they do they are often costly. As such, as we get started this week I would encourage you to take your time in all things of importance. Time will never sit completely still for us… but anything that warrants doing well requires us to occasionally demand that time at least stretch itself so that we might take the most appropriate actions possible.

As always, please let me know what I got right (and wrong) here in the comments section below.

Happy Tuesday,


The Importance of Articulating “Why” When Providing Feedback


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I know this would normally be a ‘Quote of the Week’ day, but I am mixing things up this week. ^_^…So in HR we often do a lot of management couching. And as an HR Manager supporting a pretty demographically diverse client group, for me to credibly advise leaders on how to tackle the myriad of different people challenges they face on a daily basis it’s critical that I have both a strong working and applied knowledge personally coaching individuals and teams.

Ergo, I am constantly soliciting feedback from my direct reports (whilst at the same time conducting a personal assessment of my own people management competencies) to understand how I can be a stronger team leader. Through this process, within the past year I’ve made significant gains where it concerns (i) helping my team develop new competencies to position them for advancement opportunities, (ii) removing non-value added work, and (iii) creating a culture of transparency and open communication.

It has been a long process, but lately I’ve (at times) started to feel like I know what I’m doing.

…Enter Work Rules! by Google’s CHRO Laszlo Bock, which helped me to recognize a gap in an area that I thought of myself as pretty good: Delivering actionable feedback. 

^Allow me to elaborate: It isn’t uncommon for me to regularly thank a member of my team for successfully completing ‘XYZ’ (or conversely provide constructive feedback when someone has an opportunity for growth). But often missing in my feedback has been why what I am commenting on is important. Allow me to illustrate: On any given day, I might say something like the below to a member of my team;

Me: Thanks for keeping me in the loop on how you managed that unemployment claim, and also for resolving it in such a timely manner. Keep it up!
Direct: Thanks for the kind words! No problem.

^When delivering positive feedback in this way, I’ve generally felt like I am doing a good job by (i) recognizing an employee for solid performance and (ii) clearly specifying what I’m recognizing the employee for. But in the above example the why this behavior adds value is a very important missing component. Because the why is what allows the employee to contextualize how his or her behavior added value… and as such give discretionary performance.

Case in point: I recently delivered similar feedback to the above, but added; “(Direct report), keeping me in the loop on the actions you take when managing these claims helps me because I occasionally get push-back from stakeholder XYZ; and by knowing how you handled the situation at the time, it allows me to make sure I’m on the same page with you here and to back you up when I get questions.”

^When I provided the additional “why” when delivering feedback, a really powerful thing happened. The employee followed up with me and said: “Thanks for letting me know why this helps you; I often wonder if I should get you involved with day to day transactional activities like this, and understanding how information like this helps you makes me confident about broaching it without feeling like I might be wasting your time.” 

^The direct’s comments then opened up a good dialogue wherein we talked about some of the other tactical items managed by the employee where she was unclear on what my level of involvement should be. And at the end of this dialogue, the employee left the meeting with much greater clarity of purpose on several previously undefined items whilst subsequently feeling much more empowered on others. Simply by contextualizing the otherwise very specific work performance feedback I was providing, I removed a lot of uncertainty for a member of my team and enabled her to be a more efficient performer.

…Sophomoric, I know; but I just wanted to share this ‘aha’ moment for anyone else that may be missing this simple value added component of feedback.



10 Must Follow* Tips For New College Grads From an HR Guy


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1. There is an asterisk in the title because, really, what the heck do I know? -_-A few days ago I became aware of a project TheLadders is running where they are reaching out to writers and asking them what advice they would give for new graduates attempting to break into the field (TheLadders are a career resource for professionals across all vocations and at at any stage of their careers).

…Okay. So advice for 22 year olds just starting out their professional careers. I can do that (I think). Here goes… but keep in mind that this is mostly practical advice geared towards how to obtain maximum career success based on my own individual (and often meandering) experience and anecdotes:

1. Don’t worry too much about your first salary – instead, focus on the type of work you’re going to be doing.

Unless you got your degree in an in demand STEM field or are starting with a top-paying employer (e.g. Google, GE, BCG etc.), chances are your first salary isn’t going to be very high. And even if you fall into one of those buckets (or are an unusually good negotiator and/or fortunate), what qualifies as a “high” salary to you now is likely negligible in the grand scheme of things. As a new college grad you should regularly be seeing big (in some cases double digit) percentage increases in salary annually early in your career if you are getting frequent advancement opportunities. Pay flattens out as you get deeper into your 30s, but as a 22 year-old don’t worry about the difference between making, say, $38k and $52k out of the gate. That difference will turn out to be negligible latter in your career (even factoring in time value of money) if you land jobs that teach you rare and valuable skills. Incomes well in excess of six figures are in your grasp as you enter your 30s (and earlier, for some), but you have to develop a scarce skill set that adds a lot of value. And you probably aren’t going to learn (most of) this skill set in school. You will learn it on the job. So when taking that first job ask yourself “How does this make me better?” not “How much does this pay me?” Taking the former approach will pay off over time.

2. Get lots of different experiences. Don’t stay in any one role for too long (which is not necessarily the same as not staying with one company).

Don’t stay in any one role for two long. This doesn’t mean that you need to constantly jump employers… but if you aren’t getting regular opportunities to advance into bigger (or at least different) job assignments during your first 4-5 years in the workforce then you need to move on. One of the worst spaces to be in early in your career is to look up and see that you are 28 and have been in the same transactional Customer Service role that you were in when you were a 21-22 college graduate. Don’t be that guy/gal. Get new experiences as much as you can when you’re young.

3. The greatest predictor of what you will accomplish in the future is how you spend your time now. So use it wisely.

…So you graduated college. You get to relax on the weekends from now on, right? Wrong! College is where you learn how to learn, but your post-grad career is where you learn how to apply that skill towards your career and continued education. If you aren’t continually finding ways to advance your skill set during your off time – e.g. in the form of research briefs, MOOCs, trade associations, networking, professional designations/certificates etc. – then you are doing things wrong. You create separation from your peers by how you spend your time when you’re not at work. Everyone puts in a minimum of 35-40 hours during the week… that’s table stakes in today’s employment marketplace. What are you doing when you’re off the clock, though? You always need to keep getting better, which means that you should never stop learning or looking for an edge.

4. Sleep.

Do as I say, not as I do…

…But seriously, sleep. The improved level of performance you will have on 7-9 hours sleep (how much you need varies by person) compared against what you can produce on less makes getting a good night’s rest common sense.

5. Early in your career, try not to quit your job if you don’t have something else lined up first.

This is one of the worst mistakes I see 20 somethings make. They decide that their job isn’t challenging them enough / their skill set is underutilized / whatever and so they quit their jobs without something else lined up. But doing this (i) wrecks your resume, (ii) kills your negotiating leverage when you get your next role because you lose walk-away power, (iii) undermines your employability with the very real percentage of employers that don’t consider unemployed people and (iv) is a bad habit to get into when the going gets tough. If your job sucks then just suck it up and slog through every day until you find a new (better) gig that you can transition into.

6. If you are in your 20s and the first 5+ years of your career you’re only seeing 3-4% year over year pay increases then it is time for a change.

I said in point #1 that you shouldn’t worry about comp for your first job – and you shouldn’t… but that’s because as a 20 something you should be seeing regular healthy pay increases if you are (i) with a company where you are getting regular advancement opportunities and (ii) learning rare and valuable skills. To be fair, most employers aren’t equipped to give top performing employees the sorts of wage increases they could find on the open market externally simply because comp structures haven’t caught up to the changed world of work yet… but that shouldn’t be true for you if you’re a 25 year-old that is just hitting your stride. If you are consistently a top performer in your 20s and all you’re seeing are 3-4% increases year over year then it’s time to move on.

7. Deliver on the work that you say you will deliver on.

When you are first figuring out how to work it can be hard to do this well because it is easy to over-promise due to unrealistic expectations, but over the long run the best way to grow your professional brand internally is by consistently delivering on the work you’re expected (and volunteer) to do at a high level.

8. Treat everyone in your workplace with respect.

No one likes to work with a jerk, so don’t be one. In fact, go a step further and treat everyone as well as you can all the time. This doesn’t mean being a wet blanket (more on that below) but it does mean being kind. This will pay dividends over time.

9. Don’t be afraid to speak up and stand your ground. You have to hold people accountable.

20 somethings often struggle with holding people accountable and standing up to co-workers/customers/bosses/whoever that are abusive or otherwise don’t respect their boundaries. Don’t be afraid to have an opinion, though, and if someone is treating you unfairly or otherwise walking over you don’t be afraid to push back. People will respect you more when you can do this, and furthermore being able to stand your ground and push back are table stakes skills of being a good people manager (which is often a typical step up on many career ladders).

10. Sleep.

I said this already. I know. But I am saying it again. It’s that important. Get your 7-9 hours.

…With that said, don’t just take my career advice. There are lots of other things beyond those mentioned above to consider if you want a fulfilling career. For example, if you want advice on work-life and all that jazz, check out these awesome posts from other former-college grads turned professionals providing advice on how to make the best of the start of your career.

As always, let me know what I got wrong (and right) in the comments section below.



Successful Hiring and the Role of Employee Personality Tests




The following is a guest post from Gabe Duverge at Notre Dame College:

Online quizzes and personality tests may be entertaining from time to time, but they’re widely used by employers, and could strongly indicate a prospect’s success at a job. As a matter of fact, Indeed, an employment search engine, estimated that 60 to 70 percent of applicants in the U.S. took some type of personality test in 2014.

While there are some objections to these tests, it appears as if the majority of companies believe the pros outweigh the cons. To learn more about these exams and their effect on the workforce, read the full piece on employment personality tests. The article overviews the subject in detail, but if you’re looking for an abbreviated version see below. Numerous tests exist, but the following are predominately used:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The MBTI, which some would argue is the most popular personality test, measures decision-making and how test takers perceive surroundings. Because there’s a heavy emphasis on how individuals arrive at conclusions, as well as communication style, this test can help companies determine who will best fit in to the organizational culture.

The MBTI is based on four dichotomies:

  • Attitudes: extraversion or introversion
  • Perceiving functions: sensing or intuition
  • Judging functions: thinking or feeling
  • Lifestyle: judging or perception

The test taker receives a letter for each aspect of the test, which combines to form a full personality profile. This test has the ability to measure intricate ideas and can offer suggestions for how to improve areas of weakness.

16PF Questionnaire:
Both psychology professionals and employers use this questionnaire to diagnose mental disorders. The test targets 16 primary traits and five secondary traits. It emphasizes behavioral situations.

Not only is the test easy to interpret, taking and administering it isn’t difficult, either. Critics, on the other hand, say that the test over-represents the traits of college graduates and undermines high school graduates. Furthermore, its accuracy may lessen for cross-cultural and multiethnic demographics.

DISC Assessment:
Not as well-known as the aforementioned tests, the DISC assessment prioritizes four personality traits: dominance, inducement, submission and compliance. Leadership can be a primary measurement from the DISC. However, its reliability has been questioned due to the different types of DISC assessments (various forms and versions exist). Results can be confusing with 384 unique scores.

Varying Perspectives:
There are multiple perspectives on the value that employment personality tests offer.

  • Supporters point to lower attrition and employee performance.
  • Critics mention that even though people pass the test, it doesn’t mean they’re skilled. Also, experts have found that some of the tests are discriminatory against different cultural groups.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity commission (EEOC) is investigating if tests have an adverse impact on certain groups, such as those with mental illnesses and others who are qualified for jobs but underperformed on the personality tests.

Moving Forward:
Employee Personality Tests in the FutureEmployee personality tests will continue to evolve based on legal considerations and other findings. Staff psychologists and experts will have a hand in advancing these tests, to provide further insight into potential hires.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.



A Few Thoughts on Mission Focused Work


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1. I will get to the idea behind my post title in moment. Stick with me, please.…So lately I am really enjoying the Department of Labor Blog. 1 It is sneaky entertaining, marrying my all-time favorite HR topic (comp) with a recent love (labor and employment law).

To the former point, I high recommend checking out the DOL’s new post (here) on the highest paid STEM jobs and the (growing) market for them. For the curious: The highest paying STEM role in the employment market today is that of a Petroleum Engineer (clocking in at just under $150k), while STEM jobs as a whole have an average base salary of $85,570 – nearly twice the average of all other positions ($47,230).

With that said, I’m sharing this DOL post because it’s a great example of just how much where you work – as defined by region and industry – matters. From the piece:

For example, computer systems analysts who work in motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing might make $58,940 a year, but computer systems analysts working in support activities for mining might make $118,770.


Besides having a high concentration of systems software developers, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California, also was the highest paying metropolitan area for this job, with an annual mean wage of $138,410. Wages for systems software developers in other metropolitan areas ranged from $52,720 in Lafayette, Louisiana, to $124,220 in the Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, California, metropolitan division. At the state level, wages for this job ranged from $68,580 in North Dakota to $124,070 in California.

^We’re talking about more than a 100% differential in pay for (presumably the same job as defined by title) dependent on where one lives and/or what sort of business one supports. Data points like those above really drive home for me the fact that – unless you’re a company with insane margins like Google/GE/Exxon Mobil etc. – trying to compete for top of market talent by making pay the primary value proposition is a losing play over the long run. Instead, for most companies having a great employer brand has got to be first and foremost about being a place where people are empowered and inspired to do great work. Otherwise, sooner or later most of your top performers are going to leave your organization if you aren’t a market leader on comp, right?

…I feel like this realization is misunderstood based on the way that most employers sell their jobs, though. Maybe it’s because job descriptions are written by HR folks instead of Marketing folks, but too often companies try and sell opportunities on title/comp/benefits when they aren’t really leaders there. Or they sell on job scope, which is great if you have an exceptional opportunity open but less compelling if you’re filling the same job (on paper) as a dozen other firms.

…There is also a problem with many jobs on a structural level. I say this because most roles are designed in a purely utilitarian capacity as opposed to keeping an eye on engaging… and when I say engaging I don’t define that as needing to get rid of the mundane stuff that is (on some level) part of most roles; but I do think that if you want engagement and retention in your workforce over and beyond what you can incentivize through remuneration and security, that your employees need to understand how their work fits into creating/supporting the product(s) you’re selling. And they need a certain degree of autonomy in how they do their work.

I know this is table stakes/obvious stuff to some, but I it gets missed far too often (even though doing it right can really be a source of competitive advantage).

Just a Tuesday thought stream…

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.




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