Category Archives: Business

Saying You Can’t Find Talent is Like Saying You Can’t Find Anything to Watch on T.V.

Below is an excerpt of my latest article published by ERE.net.  Please read the entirety here: http://www.ere.net/2013/02/05/saying-you-cant-find-talent-is-like-saying-you-cant-find-anything-to-watch-on-tv/

For those not familiar with this idea of a talent shortage, it is born from the fact that 49% of current U.S. employers, according to a study conducted by Manpower, cannot find qualified people for their open positions. When you hear this statistic you perhaps jump to the conclusion that if companies can’t find qualified people, then qualified people must not exist. Hence, a talent shortage must exist.

This is flawed thinking.  What may actually be occurring is employers keep flipping the channel hoping to find something better to watch.

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Does a Talent Shortage Really Exist? A Fictional Debunking!

Does a talent shortage really exist?  Can organizations really not find qualified people?  Why are so many qualified people still without work?  Sure we can blame unemployment to some degree and yes, many organizations are overrun with unqualified candidates but more is at work here.  Read the following (fictional) account that explains why many job candidates, even with all their experience, can’t find a new job.

OPEN: Scene begins with recruiter walking into an office carrying a folder full of resumes.  The hiring manager, sitting behind his desk, looks up and smiles.

HIRING MANAGER: Hey, what have you brought me?

RECRUITER: This has been the most challenging assignment of my long career but I’ve finally Dolphinsfound three people who can operate on underwater missile systems and speak telepathically with the local marine life.  All of them have laser engineering degrees and five years or more of experience in marine biology as you requested.  Admittedly I didn’t even know such people existed.

HIRING MANAGER: Sounds good!  Let me take a look.

The recruiter takes a seat across from the hiring manager confident his supreme recruiting ability to find people with such niche experience will impress.  The hiring manager scans the first resume.

RECRUITER: I have spoken with all three candidates and they are all very interested in the opportunity.

HIRING MANAGER: This candidate here, what are his salary expectations?

RECRUITER: Well he’s a little above range of the $60K a year you are offering which as we discussed is much, much lower than the industry average for this type of job.  I figured though since he seems to be one of only a handful of people in the world capable of doing this job that perhaps you might work with him on salary.  His resume says he’s been communicating with dolphins for over four years now and his work on missile guidance systems seems to be…

HIRING MANAGER: Looks like most of his experience is with missile propulsion systems not guidance systems.  He has only four years with guidance and I really need someone with five years or more.

RECRUITER: It’s just one year!  I’m sure he can be trained….

HIRING MANAGER: We’ll stick him in the “maybe” pile.

The hiring manager drops the resume in his discard pile and pats it with a disingenuous smile.  He pulls up the next resume.

HIRING MANAGER: Says here this guy got out of school in ’68.

RECRUITER: Yep, plenty of experience!

HIRING MANAGER: He’s old.  He may leave in three or four years and retire.

RECRUITER: Three or four years is a pretty long time for employees to stay in this age.  If you can hire a guy like this and keep him for three years than I consider you lucky!

HIRING MANAGER: Looks like he lives two hours away.

RECRUITER: I know!  Can you believe it?  He lives only two hours away!  Imagine the odds!

HIRING MANAGER: That’s going to be a long commute.  He’ll probably get tired of driving it.  He might leave after six months.

RECRUITER: Ummm then why not pay a little to relocate him closer?  I assumed considering the lack of talent in this field that relocation would be a given.

HIRING MANAGER: We’ll also put him in the “maybe” pile shall we?

RECRUITER: I had no idea the candidate had to be local.  Finding candidates in the whole entire world who are capable of doing what you need was difficult enough but they have to work within a commutable distance and within your salary range as well?  Not too mention they need to be a certain age!

HIRING MANAGER: Easy, easy, don’t get too agitated.  I’m sure this next candidate will be suitable.

Ah here we go.  They have adequate missile guidance and missile propulsion experience.  Ah yes, excellent they went to the right school.  I forgot to mention I preferred they graduated from this school.  Looks like they once worked for a competitor of ours.  That’s good!  Hmmmmm.

RECRUITER: What’s the problem?

HIRING MANAGER:  It says here he can telepathically communicate with all Caribbean underwater sea mammals.

RECRUITER: And the problem is….?

HIRING MANAGER: Well we really need someone who can telepathically communicate with Pacific sea mammals and since they are in a different part of the world mammals in that region probably speak a different language than mammals in other regions.

RECRUITER: Huh?

HIRING MANAGER: I’m not sure he’ll be able to communicate with both.

RECRUITER: Well how about I ask him!

HIRING MANAGER: Oh wait, hold on.  He has included a picture of himself.

The hiring manager frowns.

RECRUITER: What’s the problem now?

HIRING MANAGER: He has a tattoo of a shark on his right arm.  As you know, sharks and mammals don’t like each other.  I’m afraid he won’t fit in culturally with the underwater sea life.  I think we’re going to have to keep looking.

The recruiter begins to cry.

Though this example is an extreme case, I think you get the point.  The next time you read an article on the great talent shortage, remember that candidates are not being evaluated for talent alone.  If they were, the shortage would not exist.

What Thanksgiving Teaches us About the Importance of Culture Fit

I have spoken numerous times about both the benefits and the potential detriments of using cultural fit in the hiring process. On one side many hiring managers measure candidates by cultural fit believing that candidates will stay longer if they gel well with their organization’s work environment. Others argue that cultural fit provides hiring managers an excuse to discriminate and dissuades diversity in the workplace which studies show leads to a greater flow of ideas and creativity.

A recent survey published in Forbes indicates that in an effort to increase workforce attrition, 88% of employers are looking for cultural fit over skills in their next hire.

They believe cultural fit is so important because most executives understand that a bad hire can cost between two and three times that departing employee’s salary and so hiring an employee who works and plays well with others is more important than if they are the most skilled to do the job. The theory is that if the employee likes their manager and colleagues, they will be happier and stay longer. If you’re from a big family like I am, at least on my in-laws’ side, you easily recognize the significance of cultural fit, especially when it comes to deciding who to sit next to at the dinner table.
To read the full article published at: WWW.ERE.NET please visit here.

7 Ways You are Sapping Your Colleagues’ Will to Live

As I’m talking to my son over the weekend about a few of the annoying things he does that he has no idea bother other people I’m forced to reflect on a few of the annoying things my colleagues have done to me over the years and some things I no doubt do to others.  Here are a few things you do that annoy the hell out of your colleagues to which you are oblivious.

Tell lame jokes – You think everyone loves a good joke but the key word here is “good”.  Are you an encyclopedia of jokes?  Do you have a natural knack for remembering every one liner told to you and then regurgitating the same joke over and over again to every colleague that passes by your desk?  Do you laugh uproariously at your own joke even though you’ve told it twelve times?  In closed company do you sometimes whisper the inappropriate joke about Stevie Wonder’s blindness or Polish people’s alleged stupidity.  You do?  Yeah, knock that mess off!

Sigh before smoking – Do you sigh before getting up from your desk on the way out for your 4th smoke break before lunch as if to convey, “Boy I wish this addiction didn’t have such a hold on me.  I sure feel bad for not working.”  It isn’t your smoke break that annoys everyone so much as your feigned sigh of remorse.  You know you don’t care that we’re working while you’re toking away and we know you don’t care either!

Yell in Your Emails – Ever had a boss or colleague send you an email like this?  “This report isn’t bad but WE CAN DO BETTER!  ALPHABETIZE THE COLUMNS AND SEND EVERY MONDAY MORNING FROM NOW ON!”  Easy Mr. Furious!  While you think you’re just trying to emphasize your request, your use of all caps comes across as angry shouting.  Chill!  Your yelling isn’t increasing your employee’s satisfaction.

“Who the F#@k won Survivor last night? – Run for cover because someone is dropping “F” bombs.  I know the casual use of “Fudge” helped propel Eddie Murphy and Dice Clay’s comedic careers but you’re in the office now buddy and using it to make yourself look funny or big only makes you look like a vulgarian.  Occasionally a well placed “Fu#k may illicit a laugh but we don’t need to hear, “What the f*ck, why the hell is the fu#king printer out of mother fu$king paper again?”  Just calm down man!

Zone out – When people start talking to me within ten seconds I usually start thinking about what I’m going to eat for lunch, or for dinner, or what I need at the store later.  I usually nod during the conversation at moments that probably don’t make sense and occasionally throw in a grunt of agreement a la Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade.  Not much time passes before they figure out I’m not even listening to them which obviously gets on their nerves or makes them feel boring and unimportant.  Yes, that’s right.  My hunger is more important than how we plan to boost revenue!

Not plan ahead – Ever had a colleague call you from the road and ask you for directions on how to get to their sales call and/or to book them a room for the night in the area even though they knew about their trip weeks in advance?  Ever felt like sending them an email that said, “I’M NOT TOMTOM OR YOUR F#@KING TRAVEL AGENT!”

Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me – You probably don’t remember this song from Hee Haw but maybe you’ve worked with someone like this.  One day your colleague complains about a sore throat, the next sunburn, the next diarrhea (egad), the next a headache, the next a runny nose, the next their sex life (egad x 2), until the cycle repeats all over again.  You are the pillar of de-motivation my friend and you are sapping the life out of your colleagues.

What behaviors at work do you do which may annoy others or what are the things others do that annoy you about which your colleagues are clueless?

5 Business Lessons Learned from Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

Season 3 of AMC’s popular drama, The Walking Dead, premiered October 15 and drew 10.9 million viewers setting a record as the most watched drama episode in cable history.  The show focuses on a group of people who have banded together to survive a zombie apocalypse.  Along the way they gratuitously eradicate any “walkers” as they call them, by means of pistol, screwdriver, pitchfork, or any other instrument they can turn into a lethal killing device.  Though most tune in for the mayhem, an underlying story, that of the survivors battling each other, develops and keeps us glued to the screen.  The chaos simultaneously pulls strangers together and rips friends apart.  Here are a few business lessons we can learn from this rag tag bands’ inner workings.

  1. He who makes the tough choices, right or wrong, is the one called leader – Many of the survivors (Shane, Andrea, Carol, and even you Lori) constantly gripe about Rick, our hero’s decisions, but despite the sometimes calamitous outcomes of listening to him, they still follow his lead. Why?  Rick isn’t followed just because more often than not he makes a good decision but because he’s the only one capable of taking the criticism surrounding his bad choices, moving on, and coming up with a new plan.  In other words he can take the heat when the others can’t.  “Holy crap the little girl that I lost was turned into a zombie!”  Bam!”  Rick shoots her in the head.  “Let’s move on!”  Strong leaders do what others realize must be done but won’t because they fear judgment.  As redneck Daryl put it, Rick does the heavy lifting.
  2. A shared mission promotes cooperation even when “cultural fit” is lacking – “T-Dog meet Daryl the crossbow wielding redneck.  Daryl, meet T-Dog, our team’s only black guy.”  Daryl’s brother was handcuffed to the roof of a building and as the zombies rolled in T-Dog lost the key and had to leave Daryl’s racist brother behind to a probable gruesome demise.  Despite this these two men from wildly different backgrounds work together in the face of an opposing force.  Their differences mean very little when the whole of the world has been zombified.  As they continue working together for the greater good, past differences are replaced with mutual respect and cooperation towards their end goal of survival.  Though cultures may vary, shared values and a shared company mission can unite a diverse workforce into a formidable power.
  3. Who cares about cultural fit when you’ve got skills – Cultural fit means very little when the end goal is to survive to see the next day.  If you’re handy killing with a pick axe, baseball bat, or samurai sword, then you’re on the team regardless of whether you are red or yellow, black or white.  If you can do the job, you’re hired is the point.  Few of the Walking Dead survivors would hang out with one another if the world wasn’t overrun with zombies and yet little of that matters when they’ve got the skills to do the job and further the end goal.
  4. Don’t know how to shootNo problem we’ll train you! – Most employers want a well trained, batteries included, fully made employee right out of the box and will leave a position vacant if training is required until they find Mr. Perfect.  Not so in a zombie apocalypse.  Again adversity or rather the shared goal of survival pulls people together.  Those who can, do, and those who can’t step up to get trained.  “You don’t know how to fire a gun?  No problem, here’s how.  In fact let’s go practice on this hoard of walkers meandering our way.”  Whether your business is in crisis or on smooth seas, you can’t afford to wait around for dream zombie slayers when you have perfectly good people applying.  They can just as easily learn to behead a zombie with a scythe as the next guy.  Yes, you have to make an investment in them but that is also an investment in your company.  When you train people who share your end goal, your company’s survival for example, then odds are they won’t leave before their hard work has more than paid for the cost of their training.
  5. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch – Some people just can’t handle the pressure.  Rick’s best friend Shane griped constantly and consistently tried to undermine Rick’s decisions to the detriment of the whole group.  So strong was his desire to survive that he was willing to kill the living even if that meant killing Rick too.  So Rick killed him first.  Never one to advocate whacking your employees sometimes even your capable ones must be terminated (fired not killed) for the greater good lest they spread strife and dissension throughout your organization.  Opposing points of view are good but corrupting the company from within is not.

If you have any additional knowledge of how weathering a zombie apocalypse can help your business survive, I welcome your additional inputs.