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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Workplace Trends


Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Workplace Trends

Here’s the latest on workplace trends, hiring and culture. Kick-off the last week of Summer with this mashup. Enjoy!   

1) 17 Proven Morale Boosters That Won’t Break The Bank from SnackNation

“Believe it or not, some companies are still skeptical about the value of morale boosters. Sure, morale is nice to have, their argument goes, but it’s not critical to our business, and therefore not something I need to focus on. Right? Well, Doubty McDoubterson, you couldn’t be more wrong. The benefits of high employee morale in your company can be summed up in one word: performance…”



Talent and HR News Roundup: How to Be Better Edition

Ever have one of those weeks where you got some great feedback on how to be better from multiple people?  They are rare, but fantastic. Most of us know what we're good at, but we're not always aware of how we can be better. And unfortunately one of those things most of us aren't good is giving developmental feedback. So this week, we've pulled together some really relevant pieces on how you can be better. You know, in case no one will tell you. 1) The Best Kind of Entrepreneur to Be from Inc.

"Maybe you're afraid to start a business because you feel you could never compare to the brightest stars in the entrepreneurial firmament. Or maybe you shrink from the thought of having to work and sacrifice and struggle towards a goal you may never accomplish. Or maybe you think other people have some intangible entrepreneurial something--ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity, etc.--you just don't have. If that's the way you think, you're wrong."

2) How Your Team Can Stay Nimble While Growing from OpenForum

"When your team is small, your biggest barriers tend to be external in nature: needing more funding, press or market traction. Internally, though, you can turn on a dime. Yet as you grow, keeping your team aligned and coordinated becomes increasingly challenging. The single best tool you have in keeping your growing team agile is building a culture of effective communication."

3) Dealing With Difficult Employees When You Don't Have the Time from exaqueo

"As founders or leaders, we’re always on the fly. I’m writing this blog post from an airport lounge! But that doesn’t mean I should text an employee if there’s a problem, or shoot off an email, hit send, and shut down the computer. Feedback has to be a two-way street real-time. A ten-minute phone call now will save you five emails later and an employee so frustrated, stewing about the feedback that he doesn’t focus for the rest of the day. Always direct, always in-person (or on the phone)–the only way to give feedback."

4) Staying Calm is Important from SmartBlogs

"Yelling, screaming and berating others is not acceptable behavior from a leader. If you have a tendency to “go off” on others, you set a bad example (people are watching you and copying your poor behavior) and make the objects of your rage feel terrible. Motivation is killed. More importantly, your employees will avoid and abandon you when you need them most to knuckle under and get the work done or to go the extra mile."


exaqueo is a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.



Thursday Lunch Break: Mr. Rogers

Here at exaqueo, Thursdays often feel like the days we get the most s&#t done. They're packed call after another with barely any breathing time in between. And while I actually love feeling amazingly productive, that pace, all day long, isn't healthy.  So when I do have five minutes to take a lunch break, I need something totally brainless.  Enter #ThursdayLunchBreak. It's our way of sharing the lighthearted break we all need that usually ends up in some sort of #startuplife lesson anyway. Today's #ThursdayLunchBreak? Mr. Rogers. Remixed. I am not kidding.

Just mentioning his name makes me smile and calms things down.  And while this totally cracked me up, there's also an awesome lesson at the end on reflection. As entrepreneurs we're all about action. There's a reason Amy Jo Martin introduced the #ReadySetPause--I love it. And Mr. Rogers is an awesome, old school reminder.



Why Start-Ups Matter to HR

Last week, my colleague Rajiv wrote about why start-ups need to care about HR.  Newsflash--that sentiment goes both ways. HR needs to care about entrepreneurs too. If you're in HR, you've heard of SHRM--the Society for Human Resource Management. You might even be a member. While I'm certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), I've let my long-time SHRM membership lapse even though my home office is only a few blocks from SHRM. Here's why--I'm an entrepreneur. My company, exaqueo, is in the business of talent. And yet I still decided the value from SHRM wasn't worth it for me personally. Or anyone on my team.  We're in the business of helping start-ups and high-growth companies solve the talent problems that impede their growth.  They need advice. They need HR. They need help. And right now, SHRM isn't the answer.

As I prepared to write this post, I turned to my colleagues in the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only membership organization comprised of hundreds of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. I asked if they struggle with HR issues.  "Who doesn't?" one answered. "Talent is everything," said another.  When I walked around the entrepreneurial event Day of Fosterly, a few weeks ago, I asked if the founders and entrepreneurs had heard of SHRM. Few had. And those that did weren't members. Fellow members in my DC Tech Facebook group were mixed on whether they'd heard of SHRM, but all saw HR as hugely important to their business growth.

It doesn't surprise me.

This morning's rotating flash on the SHRM page touts the conference and a webcast on HR departments.  The emails I keep getting throw the carrot of a tote bag if I join. I'm an entrepreneur. I don't have time for a weeklong conference. I don't have an HR department. And I certainly don't want or need a tote bag (NPR, I'm talking to you ,too.)

But, it does scare me.

In HR and recruiting we've become a content nation of boring. We cater to the middle man, the average HR gal. We talk about the same companies over and over. We rely on lists and rankings that mean nothing beyond a fluffy press release. We write the same articles over and over (with the same advice). And we do all this without regard to our audience -- small company, large company, hourly, managerial, tech, union -- it doesn't seem to matter.

The most popular articles on SHRM will make any entrepreneur's eyes glaze over. Today's "most popular" list included HSA, pension, e-Verify, FMLA...most entrepreneurs don't care or want to care about these things. It's up to us as HR professionals make them care in a way that matters to them--money, risk, talent, growth. A Q&A on social media policy? Entrepreneurs don't have time for that. They don't even have or need policies.  Content needs to cater, to be specific to this audience.

They are HR's future customers.

Entrepreneurs need to care about HR and we need to both make them care and show them we can actually help them. I did find a few entrepreneurs getting value from topics like training and employee relations with SHRM:  "I like HR people who like to do lots of training and education. So they get a good resources from SHRM," said one founder. Yes! Many start-ups hire novice or neophyte professionals who want to learn HR and can do it on the go as the start-up grows. But they have to be drawn in.

One entrepreneur shared her perspective on SHRM this way: "Keep in mind, they tend to take the most conservative stance on HR matters so it may or may not be relevant to start-up issues." This is the perception in the marketplace among entrepreneurs who do know SHRM.

HR organizations like SHRM need to think more deeply about the future of the profession and not just coast along appealing to vanilla audiences. There's a place to support entrepreneurs and their work style. Content channels? Sub groups? Communities? Places to show the value of HR to entrepreneurs so they don't ruin their businesses over talent issues.  Believe me--this is more common than you think. (A client recently told me: "I don't understand how I ended up with a group of employees who are incredibly smart but all hate each other.")


Don't you want to be relevant to organizations in the early stage of the organizational life-cycle? If you don't, you should. Ask me how. I'm just down the street...I'll even buy you a Misha's. In the meantime, our little boutique consultancy will continue our mission to build cultures, employer brands and talent start-up at a time.


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Please Stop Hiring Rockstars

When I think of "rockstar," I think of Mick Jagger, Slash, James Hetfield, Ozzy Osbourne, Adam Levine. I think of long hair, tattoos, decibels, backstage mayhem, and decibels. "It's Freedom Rock, turn it up."  When I search "rockstar," I get energy drinks, Rolling Stone, a gaming company and "rockstar abs." To be a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rockstar, think talent and longevity. To be inducted you had to have been in the business for at least 25 years. Your latest junior developer? Not a rockstar. This is news to many of our start-up and high-growth clients who are just looking for a hip way to say they want the best talent. Stop doing this. Now.

I'm talking to you: a search for "rockstar developer" brought me 24 job ads with this meaningless moniker.  Search for just "rockstar" and you get over 1,600 gems.  Hey, I've taken the quiz to see if I have what it takes and I don't. I rated "Roadie." But none of you punks do either (except you punk rockers, maybe you do.)

The bottom line is you're not going to get the right talent if you're looking for rockstars, ninjas, brilliance, special forces or any other breathless pie-in-the sky terms. No one you know marries the girl on the cover of Maxim. And there's a reason.

You're not looking for amazing in one, and only one way.  And if you think you are, you don't know your own company well enough. Finding talent is an exercise in self-reflection first. And by that, I mean the organization.  Look inward--who are you? What makes you different? What are the commonalities among your employees who are both high performers and stick around?

It's easy to find someone who can develop code or create a marketing strategy. What's hard is finding one who can do it:

  • in your industry
  • for your company
  • on one specific team
  • dealing with a specific project or set of projects
  • playing a certain role on that team
  • within a specific culture
  • working for a specific leader

Then, it becomes harder. Much harder. Especially if your job description just wants AMAZING.  No one person is amazing. But there's a person who's amazing for you. (Yes, this sounds like dating advice. Hear me out, here).

It's not just about the task at hand. It's about the set of criteria and factors that make a job unique. I love the conversation here about rockstar developer versus cowboy coder, but it's so much more than just a descriptor.  It's a recipe where a set of ingredients are all required for the end result to be tasty and worth cooking. Again and again.

Think about it from a job seeker's perspective. When you're brought in for an interview, it means they already think you have the skills needed to do the job. Now, it's about the fit. The same goes for the company. If you describe your job in vague terms like "rockstar" you're going to get a vague set of candidates that respond. They may be able to do the job but they'll have no idea whether they fit any of the other elements of success.

How to fix this? Simple. Encourage self-selection. The more you honestly share about all of the factors of the job, the more likely it is you'll get candidates that fit all of those aspects. Oh, and then you can actually interview and look for them. Be honest, be authentic. But most of all, be clear.

It doesn't have to be a thesis--you can be clear and straightforward in a few short paragraphs. You can also weave your culture in like Woot does. Hilarious, but for a reason. If you don't find it funny, you won't be happy there. If you think the crossword puzzle on the Zappos application is annoying, same deal. I also like Logik's honesty.

Talent is the single most important ingredient to growing a business. Let me say it again. The most important. I don't care if you have the most innovative, efficient, value-add piece of technology the world has ever seen. If you don't have the right combined team to take it to market, you will fail.

Entrepreneurs take note. Take some of that VC money and invest it in a real, grown-up talent strategy. You don't want real rockstar developers (the ones with talent + longevity) to talk about you like this.


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