Job titles are the vanity license plates of the workplace.
Beware of title-first people.
People who lead with “what’s the title?” not “what’s the problem you’re solving?” are people to watch very, very carefully.
👉 They will ace your interviews.
👉 They will dazzle you and have all the right answers. 👉 They will have compelling backgrounds and seemingly been the lynchpin at each role they worked in before. It’s a wonder those companies didn’t do more to keep such an individual. 👉 Euphemisms like “rockstar” and “ninja” follow them like groupies at a mall concert. 👉 They will have had some “bad experiences” in the past as well, perhaps short-durations in jobs here and there but have the charisma to dismiss them well enough that you will dismiss them as well.
You will want to hire them and, even when the Rewards and People teams question why they deserve XYZ title, you will find yourself using the same justifications they deftly gave you. You might even let slip that they might be a rockstar or ninja, and that we’d be foolish to let this one slip through our fingers.
The title matters. Dont mistake me. But people who are title-first are actually money-first and prestige-first and self-first.
I’ve never seen anyone who worried first about their title in a new role care about their people, their team, their work output or their company more than themselves.
And they will choose what adds to their prestige, influence, and power every. single. time there’s a choice to be made.
And some of them are in your company right now.
One of them might be who you looked at in the mirror this morning.
A lot of entrepreneurs talk about the power of “and”. It’s a mental shift where you walk someone through the journey from “I hate work. I need better life balance” to “What work can I do AND have better life balance?”
See that? Subtle, but powerful.
We do it all the time in our lives. Eggs AND bacon. Dinner AND a movie. Peanut butter AND jelly. Two is better than one, economies of scale and all that.
So it’s natural when i see companies who need their first HR teams/experts because they need good policies, but they’re also hiring a ton so they need good recruiting, so they naturally combine these roles into a People AND Recruiting function! Problem solved!
Not so fast.
Reality is, in our bacon and eggs example above, you would never ask the chicken to make both eggs and bacon. They are fundamentally different things.
(Follow my logic here one more second)
We love the outcome of the combo. But precisely because they are so different do they pair so well together! “Eggs and Chicken” is just not as appealing, although the supply chain and scaling opportunities would be exponentially simplified!
In the end, it’s a little silly to ask one person to be in charge of such vastly different things and do them all well:
Care about all employees. Make them feel valuable.
Write policies for all employees. Make sure things are fair and everyone’s rights are maintained.
Hire new people to the team. All the teams. Make sure they are the best people, too.
Onboard and hire everyone. That employment paperwork is the worst. Make sure we don’t get in legal trouble.
Oh, make sure we cut costs, too. Gotta keep and eye on the bottom line.
We have to keep up our hiring in sales or we won’t hit our sales numbers.
An engineer left. Can you find another replacement?
We think an internship program would be great. Mind slapping one of those together. Has to be awesome.
Ah, there’s some questions about remote work and office expenses. Can you do a thing about that? Make it fair but not too generous.
This person needs a work visa renewed? Can you make that happen?
We always did annual reviews around this time of year. But they suck. Can you fix that and make them not suck, but make sure we also do them?
I think we need a better PTO policy. Will you get me some options?
Are we paying people fairly? We can’t break the bank, but let’s check into that.
I want to hire this person in Minnesota. No problem, right? I told them you’d get them the offer. Oh, they started last Monday, actually.
I’m not sure the employees are getting enough attention. Can you make sure that happens?
Going a little bonkers yet?
Though this is the life I see many “startup” HR, people and talent individuals go through. (And burnout from)
It’s mind-numbingly complex and each of the above scenarios is fraught with legal, logistical and other socially complicated issues.
Do you really want to hinge the legal liabilities AND success of your company’s growth on asking one person to be an expert in employment law, interpersonal relationships, management coaching, all the whole sourcing, screening, attracting and closing top talent across your company?
Would you ask your operations leader to also sell and do tech support? Of course not. But HR people are tasked with these disparate duties all the time
In short, having one person do all these things well is, ridiculous.
For years now, my team and I have been helping companies manage these complexities through a blended, hybrid model of embedded/external consulting and work.
We provide a proven Senior level HR person to directly work with the founding team/C-suite on high level issues. This is often your “point person”, allowing one-point of contact to drive progress and get results/reports.
Backing them up is a team of HR certified professionals who have their hands on all the best, state of the art policies and procedures across the spectrum of “full stack HR”. From vacation policies to workers compensation. Soup to nuts.
We also can consult with your HR system vendors (or find you one) and implement systems and tools to automate your world.
We can work with your attorneys (or ours) to ensure you and your people are compliant and protected.
We are a very, very good recruitment agency too.
Your hiring managers get ONE PERSON to work with, a senior recruiter with many years of experience recruiting the people they are looking for.
Engineers? We compile the best .
Accountants? We’re all credits and no debits.
Operations? We’re well documented leaders here.
Sales & Success? We’ve got your number.
Tech support and customer service? We’re standing by.
C-level executives? We’ll corner-office the market for you.
We can place one-off or multiple roles.
We work under various models ranging from hourly or retained to contingent direct placement, all with an eye on growth, speed, agility and cost-controls.
Got your own internal recruiters? We’ll augment your team and even train them up if you like.
We can start providing you all these services immediately, with a cost structure that would be comparable to hiring just one senior person to your team.
Need more flexibility to control cash? No problem. We start with what you need. AND can provide everything else on demand.
Your company AND ours, we can do great things for your people AND you can get back to business.
A trend that is becoming pretty exciting right now is recruitment automation. Likely accelerated by the tools that are more readily available like integromat and zapier, and more open APIs between HR apps and Applicant tracking systems, recruitment automation is a brave new world of growing and improving your HR and Recruitment Systems and keeping your human interactions exactly that, more human.
The most important item to stay focused on when considering recruitment automation is the candidate. What is the end-result, and what is the purpose of what you are trying to automate.
As you consider what you are trying to automate and why, this is an important piece of the puzzle. Just because something can be automated does not mean it should.
Another way to look at this has become my unofficial axiom for recruitment process automation in general:
Automate the things computers do well, so you can do the things humans do well.
This means rethinking the old standbys like calling candidates personally to book calendar appointments, but then sending blind, generic emails from “noreply” email accounts when they are no longer considered in the process.
Perhaps, automating your calendaring time could help candidates feel in some control of the process as well as allowing you to let candidates know they are not being considered any longer for a role with a personal call, not a heartless “thanks but no thanks” message.
I have a mug that says this on the side in cute, right-aligned, lower case serif letters:
let the adventure begin
The alignment, the blatant disregard for conventional spacing, capital letters and punctuation give it a playfulness I love and I find makes my heart smile a little each time I read it.
Does ‘work’ feel adventurous to you?
In a small way, isn’t this what work could feel like, too? I can hear the voices of droning mall-store bosses lecturing well-rehearsed ted-talks on the merits of hard work and thats-whats-wrong-with-your-generation speeches, but aside from all of those sounds, let’s just ponder for a moment.
What if work actually did feel adventurous?
I think, if you look around at the people you admire in your field*, the ones who make it look effortless, I think you will find one thing they have in common is, almost a sense of wonder that they get to do what they do and, perhaps, a sense of awe as if the things that seem to just “go right” for them, they never would have expected.
*Side note: If you don’t see anyone in your field you admire, that might be your sign ?
Now Is the Best Time to Have an Adventure
The world is freaking out right now, and, well, they should be. There are some seismic shifts happening in the world today.
But you don’t have to freak out and wring your hands
Let me show you why:
As I write this, the world is trying to re-awaken economically from the COVID—19 pandemic. We still don’t know what will happen and, in the United States, with official unemployment numbers topping 14% (as of May 8, 2020), people estimating the real number is much higher and could climb as high as 25% before this is said and done, there is a lot to be mindful about. The first part of that is it means we are undergoing a once-a-century forced reset of how our economy works at all.
Many of the great companies of our time have come about during times of economic downturns. Facebook, Microsoft, Disney, Trader Joe’s… its a long list. And, look, you don’t have to be the next Warren Buffett to see an opportunity to work on something you feel passionate about and, since some of the people you trust to work with you are also out of work, why not!?
Passion Doesn’t Mean Travel OR Entrepreneurship. It Means Being On Purpose
Don’t get me wrong, there’s something deceptively alluring to packing your bags and moving to Taiwan for a year and hoping everything works out financially, but you don’t have to start a company or go traveling the world to match your work with your passions.
If you can choose, purposefully, the things you will do and will not do in your life from this day forward, you will have a singular advantage over every other person working for a buck in the world who does whatever they’re told, won’t say no, then complains to everyone about how their life feels soul-sucking and useless.
Your advantage? You will be doing things on purpose.
But—that doesn’t mean glamorous, either.
But it does mean actively choosing.
I know plenty of people who purposefully do very difficult things today so they don’t have to do those things forever.
I also know several who gladly give up certain perks and benefits of a cushy white collar lifestyle so they can have other things more important to them, like family time or being able to volunteer when and where they want.
So… What Do You Love?
For me, this question surfaced recently in a raw and powerful way. I made the choice in 2005 to fully dive into recruiting as a way of life and I have not looked back.
Now, 15 years and recruiting for fantastic companies and meeting thousands of incredible humans later, I find myself asking what is next? The next job req? The next placement? Those things still bring passion and fire in my belly, but I find myself scratching at something more… something just beyond that which I still have not quite uncovered but it has me, and this is critical—
I realized that I have mastered a series of recruiting behaviors in my career that can both help anyone become a master recruiter and can help any recruiting team do their best at keeping hiring more human, solving the problems of bias in their workplaces, being more inclusive, and welcoming.
Finally, I realized that my true passions lie around recruitment automation and helping companies minimize the processes that computers can do and instead maximize the things humans are best at doing.
All of these things do not take me away from recruiting, and I will never stop having candidate conversations as often as I can to fill those interesting roles, but I do think I can have even more excitement in my work as I follow these paths to more adventurous outcomes than simply keyword searching for candidates and repetitively busting out linkedin messages will get me.
These are the things I love… now your turn
Perhaps you need to take a walk or a hike, sit on a mountain or in a quiet room and think about the things you want and the things you love.
How can you marry those things with the things you do? When you step back, what is it about the things you get very excited about which you can replicate? Is it process management? The chance to be creative? Closing a deal? Seeing the balance sheet work out perfectly? Consider these signals and follow them closely.
Follow my lead and work to proactively choose to say YES to the things on your list of things you love and NO to the things you don’t.
Write down your things. Each time you feel you are forced to sacrifice one of your long-term loves because of a short-term necessity, write it don on a sheet you can recall. Go back in a month, three months or six months. Have things changed? Ask for them to change again and see what happens.
If you consciously push on these boundaries of things you’re asked to do versus things you love doing, and do this for five years straight, you will be living a MUCH DIFFERENT LIFE than you are now.
Which is good, since the world has changed, too.
— Written by Robert Merrill 5/18/2020 from near Salt Lake City, Utah #blog #askrobertmerrill