Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Behold! The Remote Worker Renaissance is Here.

We’re past the early adopter stage. The tide has turned. And it’s coming your way. It’s time to embrace remote workers!

“We Don’t Do Remote”

I know. There are some of you that say you just can’t go remote. There is too much important chatter and information exchanged in the office. An employee out of the office doesn't form relationships they need to get information to do their job, and they aren’t able to collaborate as effectively as on-site workers. Remote employees also miss the level of contact with others they get in the office and the feeling of being part of the team. There is too much culture and shared experience remote workers miss out on. People in seats in the office also makes it easier to see them working. Tom Peters, the speaker and business management expert, talked about the important of Management By Walking Around (MBWA). Some managers struggle to monitor performance when they can't see their employee.

Get over it people!  These are real concerns, but they can be overcome!  They also don’t outweigh the benefits of remote work (for employer and company).

Talented Employees Want It

More and more people want remote work. Gallop has consistently found that flexible and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee's decision to take or leave a job. (I had this awesome link to support this with data but it's dead so you can check this out instead or refer to the dozens of other pieces about this out there). There is less time commuting - which often means more time for family, friends and hobbies. This is Work - Life balance, and is connected to lower absenteeism, less stress, and more happiness. It also can save a lot of money. The flexibility to work in pajamas, to plan your day and activities better, be more available to family in an emergency, or to work from different locations has massive appeal. Employees also enjoy being able to prioritize and plan their work, with less interruptions.

Companies Benefit Big Too

For the company, there can be significantly less cost associated with office space overhead (even when remote options are offered just some of the time, but certainly when a team member is 100% remote). Many companies subsidize commuting costs, which can offer another savings. Companies are also doing their part to cut traffic congestion and save the environment. Remote workers are more efficient and productive, being able to find focus when they work best, less distracted by coworkers, and have a higher availability. A Deloitte survey shows remote work is strongly linked to performance and employee retention. Remote workers scored higher on every other category measured about their work (loyalty, morale, you name it). Perhaps most importantly, the cost of salaries and time to hire can be drastically reduced when you are not limited to a geographical area. Talent in some parts of the country is cheaper than others, and many employees report willing to work for less in order to be remote.  Even if it's only to compete in the war for talent, companies need to find ways to provide successful remote working arrangements.

If you haven't already, it’s time to open your mind and consider making remote options work. Time and tide wait for no one.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I have to hire! 6 Basics to hire without a recruiter.

Many of us don’t have the luxury of passing hiring needs to a recruiter. The team isn’t big enough, we don’t have the budget, and we can do it ourselves. But, what a pain! So many resumes and so many mismatches out there. Here are some tips to make the process easier.

1) Get a clear picture of the role. Stop! Take time to really understand and document the hiring need. Meet with the hiring manager (or sit with yourself) and the people who will work with the new hire. Capture what the role will accomplish in the next year to be considered successful. What tools will they use and who will they interact with? Why would the right candidate want this job? Will it be a career move, will they be shaping a new product, is there an exciting new tool they can work on, or will they work with a notable team they can learn from? Create a job posting with this information. DON’T list every detail (e.g. must be a good communicator, do projects as assigned). Come on now! Of course you’ll consider those things, but sharpen your posting down to the bare bones of what really matters. DO keep it short, snappy and focus on what's in it for them. DO take time to do this. Very few people spend time here, but it makes for a much more efficient resume review and interview process.

2) Nail down the interview team. Understand clearly who will be interviewing the candidates and when that will happen. Get the interview team together to confirm their roles and what each of them will be looking for. Come to an agreement on the top 3-5 factors you will assess. It's much better to learn this at the beginning of the process, rather than after you've sorted through 100 profiles.

3) Create a filter.  For many roles, it makes sense to put a filtering question right in the job post. "As a product manager, tell me about a time you had to say ‘no’ to a new feature and you explained that decision to stakeholders" or “Please tell me what you built during your last Java project and your role on the team.” Be creative. The filter doesn’t have to be used to assess the candidates, it could just be including specific words in the subject line. Requesting anything merely separate those who read your posting and want the role, from those who are spamming their resume everywhere. You can also indicate that you’ll only respond to applicants that comply with your request.

4) Post the job. Pretend you are the ideal applicant, and do a web search for a new job. What sites do you gravitate to? Maybe it's LinkedIn or Glassdoor, but perhaps there is a niche job board, or forum, where you can be contributing, meeting people or posting the role. Post your role, and refresh it every so often.

5) Use templates. Create a template email you can use to reject candidates that don’t have the right skills and experiences. Let them know you appreciate learning about their interest, but didn’t see a specific crucial skill on their resume. Encourage them to tell you if you are wrong. This takes a second, can help get relevant info if it’s out there, and closes the application loop. Importantly, this creates a good candidate experience and positive feeling about your company (your employment brand) - which is the right thing to do.

You can also use a template to get more info on ‘maybe’ candidates. Thank them, tell them you are interested, and ask for more info about why they are leaving, how they fit on the team, their role on a project, etc… This can give you the info to move them in or out of the process, without  taking a lot of time.

Finally, use a template for interviewing candidates. Have a question for each assessment factor the interview team agreed to, and use those questions to guide your interview.

6) Always Be Recruiting. Ask others on your team if they know someone for the job. Tell your neighbors and your contacts at other companies about the role you are looking for. You never know where that candidate is, and talking to others helps make them ambassadors for your cause. It’s important to remember, referrals are easier to onboard, tend to be better performers, and stay longer.

Email matt [at] hitolabs dot com if you have questions, need some help with your templates, or have any comments! Good luck!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

You're quitting? I'll pay you more to stay!

As an HR Leader, I once had a key employee tell me about her dissatisfaction with her role and the desire to leave the company.  Without thinking much, almost instinctively, I told her about other companies I knew with open roles matching her skill set she might like, and actually made an introduction to one of them. We went to an Open House at this company together. 

I wanted her to be happy, progressing in her career and to feel rewarded. I suppose I don't want to work with people that I know aren't happy. I also wanted to support her.  By genuinely listening and trying to help her, I believe I became an ally and could help address her concerns at work. She could explore her options and learn more about her desires and current situation and solutions. She didn't quit. I've since moved on, but she's stayed at the company, worked her way up, and is currently leading the department. 

I don't belief a counter offer is a good practice. No company or team should be hamstrung by one person. Business operations should be able to adjust to a loss on the team. Perhaps there are work conditions that are driving the employee away that you can address, but throwing more money at the problem won't fix things. 

If an employee is willing to leave, or threaten to leave, they'll likely do it again. More money can delay the problem, but the true lure that drove those employees away will come back around again.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Respond to Applicants!

We have 100's of candidates apply for each position we open. I have a tough time reviewing all of the resumes and doing the rest of my job as well.  I'm not perfect, but I do try hard to get back to every applicant. I think many employers just don't do it. I'd imagine they think it's unpleasant and a time consuming task that doesn't offer much return. But, it's worth it to step up your game. It is time to invest in replying to every applicant you get. Here is why...

Just last week I had a couple fruitful interactions with applicants during the rejection process. I got this from a prospective intern;
Thanks a lot for getting back in touch. I have spoken to other companies who have decided that I was not right for them this summer and they informed me of this by just never getting back in touch with me. So I really appreciate your email.
The intern wasn't right initially but in I've learned more in subsequent exchanges that might make him a good fit. If not this year, it will be next year! Furthermore, he is helping make an arrangement with his school program that could serve as a funnel for our internship program. Another unsuccessful applicant passed along a friend of hers that is a better match who is also considering a new job.

Yes, responding to every applicant is overwhelming and seemingly impractical, especially when a large percentage of applicants are irrelevant and just spamming their resume to employers. However, you can use a (free) ATS Applicant Tracking System  to take care of this for you. I generally have a template decline email reiterating the key aspects of the job, explaining that we've had lots of applicants, they weren't the best fit, and that we wish them good luck. Boom, you write it once and use it over and over with a click of the finger as you review resumes. It also gives applicants a chance to get back to you if they are tenacious, and actually do fit the job well.

Reply to the people wanting to be part of your team. It's practical - you might find a match after all. It's branding, it's manners, it's relationship building! Try it. You might like it. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Give People Nothing to Regret

I went to see Marissa Mayer at 92Y last night the other night.

It was a good event. I left feeling somewhat inspired, and a bit curious if the picture perfect childhood and range of ideal opportunities truly did unfold in front of her as she indicates. I'm sure she is brilliant and I'm sure she works hard ... so ... ok ...sure.

She has lots of good tales, quotes and take aways - "It's not what you think, but how you think." But what stuck with me most, as did it with others, was her nod to dealing with burnout.

Marissa claims people don't get burnt out from working too much. Rather, they get resentful. They resent not exercising, or missing a family dinner, or insert your *thing* here.

Thinking it over and talking with friends, this resonates loudly. If you are missing aspects of what is important to you in your life, you lose sight of why you do what you do. When work prevents employees from doing those important things, they resent, they detach, they want to

To counter this, know your people and listen keenly to what they need out of life - and address it. Marissa found that 1:00 am phone calls to China were absolutely fine with a working Mom on her team - what the Mom needed however was to arrive at her kid's recitals on time. Maybe one of your star performers is in a sports league and is bummed that he misses the early games.

Find the *thing* in the lives of your employees that might cause resentment, that make employees question their priorities - and help them to address it. It will lead to more fulfilled and focused work ... and less burnout.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Work Happy to Happier Work

I recently say a TED Talk by Shawn Achor, a Harvard grad and lecturer. He talks about Positive Psychology - and uses a bit of science to illustrate how being happy can create a better workplace and more success. Oh, and happiness.

Our surroundings create our reality. Achor claims external conditions we bring with us to a situation (like our family conditions or bank account status, etc...) only determine 10% of what we perceive as happiness. The majority 90% of our 'happiness' comes from how we process things - and this is not predetermined. We can control this.

We can see this translated into the workplace. Shawn's research shows that only 25% of job success is predicted by IQ. 75% of job successes are determined by optimism levels, social support, and ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.

When we are positive, dopamine flows into our brain causing a feeling of happiness, but also turning on learning centers - helping us to perform better. We are more intelligent, creative, and energetic.

Achor pointed to studies that asked people to report their condition, either 'positive', 'negative', 'neutral' or 'stressed'. He noted that when we are 'positive' our brain is 31% more productive than when we are negative, neutral or stressed. When in a positive state, sales achievement is increased by 37% and the accuracy of doctor's diagnosis increased by 19%. Every business outcome measured increases with people reporting a positive state. Productivity is superior, people are more resilient, there is less burnout and less turnover.

What can we do to get there? How can we be more positive in the present? Achor posits it takes only 2 minutes a day, for 21 days, in order for our brain to recognize and focus on the positive benefits from this behavior, and retain and use it going forward. Here are some suggestions to get started;
  • Journal. Write down 3 new things you are grateful for each day. Write 1 positive experience in the last day.
  • Exercise. When the body matters, the mind matters.
  • Meditate. It can help us focus and be aware of single tasks.
  • Do Acts of Kindess. Write one positive email praising someone in your professional/personal network.
It all sounds a bit simple (and perhaps corny?). Say something nice and get 30% better sales? Well, it seems worth a try. Just for the dopamine rush it's worth it. Worse case scenario you are nice and someone is a bit happier. It's also about being happy yourself. We tend to be very good at delaying gratification and moving our marker for success a bit further away. Enjoy the moment. Be positive.