Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Monday Funday

For years I've questioned research that reflects 3 of 4 people dislike their job. From the trenches in Silicon Valley, I'd say the majority of the people with whom I work enjoy what they do. Sure, we'd all prefer to be on the beach but sand between your toes gets annoying too. Most people when asked aren't going to jump for joy at the prospect of explaining "what they do (for a living)". Still, we all get up, get out and make it work.

I'd say disengagement doesn't necessarily spell complete disdain. I am of the opinion that human beings are reasonable enough to accept their working contract and make the most of it.

Call it Engagement or Happiness or Purpose: there are a few very simple steps in the ladder to finding a way to Love Mondays.......

Believe In The Buzz
I remember my first International Sales Meeting at my first real job. I was mesmerized! I held those up on stage presenting in the same light I did Iggy Pop or Jerry Garcia. They were Rock Stars with a mission they believed in and a whole lot of verbal confetti to go along with it. I recall being at the bar talking to a few of the more seasoned salesfolk who politely kept from rolling their eyes as I re-read my notes.

With experience tends to come apathy. But the more you allow yourself to believe the corporate speak, the closer you'll get to achieving your goals. At the very least, let the kids believe in it!  

Love Your Boss
I've had 3 bosses for whom I knew I couldn't work. They replaced people who hired me with all the grace of an alcoholic step-dad. Not only did these individuals not support my career path, they genuinely disliked me. People don't leave companies they leave managers who have replaced the managers who used to like them.

If you and your boss have a common mission, success is certain. If your boss hates you, QUIT!

There is nothing worse than going into a job you hate. If your boss was brought on to deter your success, enjoying your job will be difficult!

Don't Be Annoying
The aforementioned boss hatred was likely deserved. I used to be the guy in the room who opposed every point for the sake of doing so (turning a 30 minute meeting into a 2 hour meeting).

We all want to make an immediate impact on any organization we join. Here's how to do that:
  1. Hit your revenue goal
  2. Follow leadership direction
  3. Be a good teammate
  4. Shut your butt with a coconut
 In contrast, here are the ways to drive yourself directly to the doghouse:
  1. "Replay All" to emails with "ideas"
  2. Consistently share information that doesn't apply to the tactical line to production
  3. Ask a ton of questions or comment at length in team meetings
  4. Make your Manager's job harder   
Focus on You   
If you are failing at your job it is the direct responsibility of one individual:


Keep your head down and do work that benefits goal attainment. Don't gossip. Don't listen to workforce veterans about "the way things are done around here". Don't feel that you have to share to contribute. Do not compare yourself to others. If you are going to question the current state of things, you better have data and action planning to support your suggested re-direction. Separate yourself from negative people. Don't pretend to be smarter than you are. If you are wrong, own it. Get better every day.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, August 9, 2019

The Fast Lane to Failure

I have the rare privilege to observe organizational culture from the periphery. In essence, I am trusted to visit historical constructs and identify areas of concern.

It gets easier every day.

Whether it is my work with college students or global corporations, there are a few very certain red flags that assure broken culture:
  • The loudest voice is the negative voice
  • Any iteration of change is viewed as enemy
  • Tenure is automatically associated with influence
  • Excuses are given greater attention than performance

I had a ton of success very early in my career. I wasn't great at my job, I was simply unwilling to fail. Sooner or later, reality caught up with raw motivation and I had to learn to adapt. I struggled with the intensity of a baby having his toy taken away. I abused my social clout to shade my inability to perform. I don't lack sympathy for those in a rut, I've been there and it sucks. One usually works their way into a rut when they lose focus. 

As I abused my social influence to gain validation from my peers, one unspoken truth hung over every conversation like a chandelier:

I knew I wasn't evolving and I was unwilling to take action.  

Organizations with entitled cultures always fail. For some, the fall is more-gradual, but those who empower inadequacy only deter those willing to try.

There a million different ways to accomplish your goals. If there was a silver bullet to success, everyone would be successful. There is, however, a laser-tight way to fail....

If you allow negativity any audience, your odds for success grow less-certain.     
We can be guided by our lack of willingness to give in to the things that distract us.

I've never met anyone with a bad attitude who has been successful. The great news is that negativity is fixable.

People who present themselves as negative may just be having trouble framing their intensity. Their intentions may be good, they may just be allowing their drive to look like a car wreck.

You might choose to surround yourself with people who validate your negativity. But. here's a newsflash:

They are not laughing with you, they are laughing at you. 

The more your negativity fills the room, the easier it is to ignore. 

If every day you wake up with the intent of replacing challenges with action planning, you will win the day.

If you enter the day under the impression that the day is going to suck.... it will!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tracking Employee Lifecycle

We who study Employee Engagement are consistently looking for trends in hiring and the direct effect on retention. The Human Resource landscape is slippery, no other profession is tasked with such a diverse cycle of management skills. The ability to find great talent, train, engage and promote are an unenviable set of tasks. Recruiters mirror sales people, Total Rewards professionals have to have an acumen for numbers and the disparate technologies that represent the progression from hiring through promotion can make one's head spin.

So, we stare down the inevitable:

How do we create an synchronized strategy from recruitment to retirement.... ????

Let's start with the job market....
As a new generation of talent enter the workforce are expectations changing? 

Are those escalated in age better equipped with irreplaceable experience?

Is a recession coming?

Do elite talents have any interest in job hopping?

Those who are great at what they do are probably not interested in switching jobs and there are others who simply do not have the proper qualifications. So, staffing professionals are tasked with finding people who are qualified, able to engage and humble in their entry level financial expectations. 

Prospective employees have a few simple expectations:
Sounds simple enough but the ability to pull together these traits under a common mission is difficult. Companies are often great at producing quality products but lacking in employee development. Again, our staffers are called upon to sell the good qualities of the company while side-stepping what isn't working.     

Sustaining Engagement....
Getting them in the door is one thing. Delivering on promises is another.

Once employees are trained they need to develop the confidence to acclimate to the culture. Our extended HR team has to sustain the attraction of the hiring process with technology that is accessible and intuitive. HR is then called upon to make sure there is a vessel for strong manager/employee communication while keeping leadership abreast of the action in the trenches.

Take inventory:
  • Does training scale to specific functional traits while enhancing soft skills?
  • Is your Human Capital Management technology integrated and engaging?
  • If employees and managers aren't on the same page, how will you know?
  • Does your CEO recognize general employee goals?
Train, Reward, Challenge and Eliminate Silos!
Seeing departures before they happen.....  
If exit interviews are part of your engagement strategy, you are a step behind. The popular counter is to have HR integrate "stay interviews". If you need to administer a survey for employees to validate your existence, your workplace relationships might be fractured. 

Managers should have an accountability plan for their employees that is more parts celebration of achievement than calling out deficiencies.

Recognize in public, discipline is private.

If in every day you leave people with a firm understanding of what is working and where they need development, there is no guess work. People know when they haven't performed to their fullest potential, calling them out twice a year doesn't work.

Ask yourself: do our hiring enticements continue through our day-to-day engagement propsition?    

We all just want to represent something we believe in among people we respect and an ever-evolving challenge cycle complete with rewards at every step of progression.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Saturday, August 3, 2019

We Are Not Giving Up

With all the difference that surrounds us at the moment it is getting difficult to avoid disengagement.

The political climate is crippling us. Everyone has a published opinion. Negativity seems to have won. We are seemingly further from one another than we've ever been.

What happened to us? What happened to love? Where do we go from here?

My life moves in uncommon contributions to humanity (some more inspiring than others):
The aforementioned assumptions would mean that the work to which I've dedicated my life is a huge waste of time. Good thing I believe none of it!

The wonderment in everything we do remains firmly planted in a simple ideology:

The easiest thing in life is to disbelieve and join the negativity

But, not us, we're not going to let that happen!

In spite of all the practice we've had, it's time to relinquish arms in an effort to get a little closer.

There are people who will advise that life comes down to a few crucial moments. I think life comes down to a few songs.

Let's explore the leadership ideology of Kate Tempest in a time when leadership is defined by those bold enough to stand up for their belief that humanity is at our best when we are not divided

I felt it clawing at my clothes like a grieving friend

Getting old sucks: You think you've learned all you can, your body breaks down and your worries are kept silent in your bedroom at 3am. We hide from expressing our vulnerability for the sake of keeping up defenses, choose a side and use our emotion to fuel aggression. Maybe we could acknowledge that we are all dealing with the same frustration. Are we pretending to be too busy to admit we could use a little help?

The other part about getting old is that your friends begin to die. Last week, I lost another friend.

There is no way to tell a person that their hang ups in the moment are not worth their agony. Indeed, we tend to power through the difficult human struggles to get past them. We look at the faults and failures of others as something that didn't happen to us then count our blessings. What we don't realize is that our friends failures are distinctly our own.

We just don't care enough. Embracing the short comings of others would only serve to bum us out.

What The Fuck?

More empathy, less greed, more respect 
... you heard it from yourself when you were lying in your bed (and couldn't sleep), thinking:

Couldn't We Be Doing This Differently? 

It's hard helping people who need a friend. We tend toward celebration more than picking a friend up off the floor. People keep their heads down and their hackles up.

The worst advice I ever received was: you have to look out for yourself

That's backwards. Those who put their personal privilege last so as to engage others always win. There is little competition in doing the hard stuff. 

Think of the last time you talked to a friend who genuinely cared about your struggle. I'd venture to guess at the times when you really needed someone to listen, all they could do was talk.
Regrets lie in words unsaid, time diverted and the priority of self. Self-confidence is an affect of helping others.

Don't let the millions of unauthorized authors destroy you with their inability to embrace collectivism.

Don't allow the voices of the negative to be the loudest.

Don't give up hope!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Summer Slump

We workforce engagement types seem to have been advocates for flex work for many years.... mostly because it's about the most sensible form of Employee Engagement. The fear in offering flexible work from a Human Resources perspective rests firmly in the line between necessary down time vs. abuse of flex time. It is a conundrum that has found no silver bullet.

We don't need to reference a workforce study to conclude that people who sit a desk 10 hours a day are less-healthy than those who work on their feet. Allowing employees unlimited work from home hours makes tracking efficiency equally difficult. There are employees who spend 7 of their 8 hours in the office on facebook. While those who work from home might log on at 5am and log off 10pm.

When Are We Ready to Work from Home?
When I graduated college I went directly to work for one of the world's largest companies. I was given a phone book and told to place vending machines anywhere anyone would need one. I was hung up upon 97 out of 100 times a day leaving me with 15 new accounts a week and a $1,000 weekly bonus. These statistics may seem miserable but I was one of the top producers in the company.

87% of people who attempt a career in sales quit after 3 months because the 97% "no" rate is too crushing to their ego. When I was 24 years old my tenacity to accept failure was far more resilient than it is in my 45th year on earth. I was either too dumb to care or too cocky to give up. Either way, it worked.

I did not receive corporate training, there was no real expectation for my performance... hell, the Internet barely existed when I started my career. It was, however, expected that I would show up to the office and make 100 calls a day. Some days it took me 4 hours, some days it took me 8.... the days that were extended on the phone created far more sales.

In simple terms, if I had been faced with navigating the aforementioned career challenge from my apartment in San Francisco, my odds for success would have been far less dependable.

After 10 years of working the phones from an office I accepted a job that allowed me to work from home. The same discipline I put into waking up, getting to the office, preparing for calls and progressing the sales cycle at age 22; I still practice at age 45. I've elevated myself from an inside sales rep to an Enterprise Sales Executive, but the process never changed. The discipline I learned early in my career has guided my approach to turning activity into results.

There are a thousand sales trainers out there that have a "bullet proof" plan for producing results who are the worst mentors one could care to follow.

Success comes down to 1 thing: 
  • Resilience     
You can get a degree from Harvard, read 10,000 books or attend 100 sales seminars. What they don't teach you in the classroom is the pain of falling on your face and the often unrewarding slog of getting back up.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

3 Vessels to Cultural Engagement

It was a lively Pre-SHRM19 NextChat last week as we addressed the topic of Organizational Culture. We've been tackling culture within organizations since the turn of the century when the pendulum began to swing from Micro-Management to Employee Empowerment. Companies like Zappos and Google put their brand on the map by offering corporate campuses that resembled summer camps. Suddenly HR was being heard as creators of Employee Experience as opposed to the employee police. As Benefits budgets swelled, compensation and medical support became qualifiers. As we entered 2010, recruitment was driven by office tours by way of scooter.

At some point, Culture started to become an enigma....

How do we measure the ROI of beer pong?

Does everybody want to meet in bean bags chairs?

Let's explore what we've learned and how to improve culture.

Leadership Endorsement
Our CEO's have jobs that encompass legal debate over ticket items beyond the average pay grade. Most Executive discipline exists behind the scenes. Your CEO has larger concerns than keeping every employee happy.... it's simply an occupational hazard.

.... So Then .....

We expect only one thing from our Chief Executives:

The ability to articulate Vision with undeniable confidence to a crowd of millions!

Culture starts with aforementioned articulation of vision, then it's the responsibility of unit Managers to take the Mission into the trenches and tactically apply it.

There are four distinct corners of culture, all of which require technical application:

Events on campus can be a blast, but these experiences need to connect to organizational directives. It does not need to be forced, there simply needs to be a connection from the message to the strategy of implementing it.

Employee training should be direct and limited to 5 to 10 minutes a day. This way, employees get snacks to chew upon in succession that elevate them at their own pace.

Badges, Missions, Leaderboards and virtual competitions work because individuals have an Intrinsic need to compete. Internal competition driven by ego kills culture! Designed on a level playing field, game dynamics can propel every employee to over-exceed their potential. Those who say they care not for competition think differently when they win.

Don't want to put your employees in the octagon against each other? No problem, you can use gamification to reward contribution in community format. This can be in the form of a blog post, use case sharing or contributions to role assigned skill sets.

I've been in the rewards and recognition space for 12 years.... one certain rings true:

Cash is an expectation, rewards that incentivize behavioral development create advancement.


Killing Entitlement
Want to test organizational culture? Ask to sit in on a team meeting before you take a job. If the loudest voice comes from the guy in the back of the room who has consistently been in the bottom 50% of performance throughout his 10 year tenure... run for the exits.

No CEO in the world can control the reverberation of negativity in the trenches. It is up to everyone on the team to negate the influence of employees who assume themselves culture regulators.

Managers need to stop allowing interface with negative employees to their new hires. It is further important to limit the interaction in team meetings that drive vision to blindness. If managers allow their worst employees to be the voice of the organization, raising stars will quit and you'll be left with mediocrity.

When those who cannot control their impulse to criticize are given the conch you create a Culture of Can't.... the only result is failure!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, May 30, 2019

The State of Human Capital Management

A recent study by HR.Com showed increased focus on the replacement of HRIS, Payroll and/or Performance Management systems. The intent to overhaul points to three specific trends:
  1. System Consolidation is afoot
  2. Rule Structures are changing 
  3. Systems that remain unchanged will be complimented by others
Installing Human Capital Management technology can be a journey: the qualification process is lengthy and once the system is adopted we care not to steer employees in other directions.

Which is why we tend to put up with aging technology.

As legacy systems remain the backbone of hierarchy holding, you'll see a move toward system consolidation to improve program access and create ease in the user experience.

The emphasis on system consolidation through integration and middleware programming can improve the user experience across all platforms without overhauling entire systems.

Strategy & Scale
Too often, technology is deployed with half baked initiatives through an off-the-shelf solution. Piloting programs can yield actionable data but turning baby steps into a marathon can tarnish long-term engagement.

Technology needs to allow for self-administration, the ability to add/delete function with relative ease and a path to development to ensure users are incented for continual participation.

Steady as She Goes
The aforementioned study showed Employee Recognition programs remaining unchanged throughout most organizations.

Is this because programs are allowing for scale?

As employee recognition becomes an integral spoke in the larger Employee Engagement cycle, we are seeing these programs evolve through functional integration and gamification. You'll also find goal setting and real time feedback to start moving their way onto ER platforms.
Technical integrations can enhance the look and feel of an employee site while increasing adoption through communication and challenge architecture. Before you attempt to re-write history, you might want to explore how you can give your existing deployments a face lift.

Your learning at #SHRM19 is complimented by a wide-reaching solution set displayed in the Exhibitor Hall. Inventory your HCM systems before arriving in Las Vegas. You may find there are ways to improve upon your current solution set without spending $1 million or re-tooling your entire HRIS technology stack.

Learn, Apply and Improve!


Friday, May 17, 2019

In Commencement

To The Class of 2019 -
You sit now in a place where possibilities are limitless, your ambition is boundless and there is not a single barricade before you.... why should there be?

When tomorrow's sunshine hits your hung over head, the reality of the life before you will really sink in... There will be more foggy mornings, and as sure as they come and go, the roller coaster of life's achievements and failures will dip and turn.

You'll find a job and lose one. You'll secure a major partnership, close a huge deal, rectify an accounting mishap, develop a patent, found a company, save a life, or develop a new technology that improves human engagement..... and through it all there will be songs that make you smile and movies that make you cry and books that bring you back to this very moment... when the world opened it's arms to you.

There was a man who stood before a class like yours on a day like this and told them that they were not special....


As you sit in your cap and gown today, you had better believe that you are special!!!! There are people born addicted to drugs. There are those who were born into lifestyles where college was simply not an option. The opportunity you have is not just about you, it is about those who have not (and will never) have the privilege that you have.


You'll sit in your car 10 minutes early for work wishing you were back here with these wonderful people who gave birth to your ambition. Then, you'll shut off the engine and walk into what will be another of the 7,500 days of work that absorb the greater part of your life.

7,500 days. That's 30 years of work with 2 weeks vacation.

With that statistic in mind, you might want to take a moment, right now, to ask yourself one very important question:

Are You Prepared to Love What You Are Going to Do for the Rest of Your Life?

The most miserable people I know dedicated 100 hours a week to their first job and lost their family in the process. They then started another job (and another family) and lost them too.

If the standards for your happiness relate to financial gain at any cost, you will never succeed!

One of 3 things I can tell you today is that:

Those who put money first, fail!

You might fall in love with the girl in accounting or the boy from the warehouse. Don't ever allow a person's position on the occupational hierarchy to dissuade you from loving them. Judgment of one's trade has no contribution to the collective (and highly unprofessional) human agreement called love.

What got you here today?

Do you remember the little league championship you won or the first boy you kissed. Each are equally important.

Which brings me to my second recommendation:

The respect you extend your waiter is far more important than folding your hands in-front of your CEO.

You may feel as though you are at the top of your social hierarchy at the moment.... please believe.... you will fail miserably, lose friends, find yourself less-attractive in the mirror and struggle to put your perfect resume in the right hands.

The same people you see on the way up, you will see on the way down!

Long before your beautiful heads emerged from your mother's bodies, there was a man called John Lennon. He had a smack problem and was a bad drunk, so don't let your Dad tell you he was the second coming of God. But  before we talk about him, let's reflect on that fact that each of you emerged from the body of the woman.

Gentlemen - take one second to thank the woman nearest you.....

They are the reason we are here, the reason we will strive to achieve greatness, and the people who will bail us out if all the dreams that fill our heads today fail to reveal themselves.

Be willing to take any job offered you and to elevate yourself through the hierarchy.

Be OK with the next decade of your life mirroring a flight tasting..... try a few different things and see what sticks, where you find intrigue, and how you find your individual gift contributing to the greater good. NOW is the time to experiment. You'll likely not have that luxury when you are my age.

The degree that is soon to hit your hands is massively important.... you carry the hopes of those who were not fortunate enough to earn one.... experience is important.... try, fail and try again... creativity is important... try to see that other side of everything.

You will succeed!

You will fail!

... and in the moment when you least expect it, when life's frustrations seem to have derailed you, your eyes will lock with those of a person across the room and all the worries you've ever had will turn into the motivation of serving a higher purpose.

Beyond professional advice or the validation of the journey that brought you here, I leave you with the words of the aforementioned forgotten hero, John Lennon:


Congratulations on your remarkable achievement! Remember that you ARE special! Go now and find what you love!

- Dave             

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Workforce Synchronicity

As we head into #SHRM19 , attendees are called to many tasks: keynotes, general sessions, the exhibitor hall, networking opportunities and a little bit of well-deserved YOU time.Your SHRM Annual Conference Experience can benefit from making the connection between that which is said in sessions and how it relates to that which is showcased in the Exhibitor Hall.

Technology may serve as the backbone of your workforce programs. YOUR ADVOCACY is the difference between financial drain and occupational necessity.

So, as you hear HR Professionals call for workforce change, do something about it!

1. Examine the gaps in your organization's Human Strategy
2. Crowdsource ideas from your peers
3. Find the appropriate solution

Here are a few technical applications that require Human Connection.....

Are we still talking about gamification as a Human Resource trend? 

No, we've come to realize that The G Word is a necessity to workforce motivation.

We start by examining intrinsic motivators, structure game dynamics and then infuse game mechanics.

If you think your organization is avoiding Gamification, think again. Any behavioral modeling that asks an employee to complete a path to a goal, then provides validation of goal attainment, is Gamification in practice.

Kick the G Word trend to the curb if you must,  but realize the strategic necessity of Behavioral Modeling.

Are we still buying that 75% of the workforce is disengaged?

Do we still believe candor can be present when employees receive an "ask for input" from the "people police"?

We've been asking for an alternative to the annual employee survey since 2007.

Find a way to engage workforce input from a place of trust, transparency and human interaction.

HR Technology 
You've deployed 12 different technical solutions to assist your workforce: an LMS and a CRM and a Recognition System and a Collaboration Tool and an internal social network and a pulse survey and a performance management system........ and each of them have 20% adoption while being difficult to locate with expiring passwords that turn employees away after 30 seconds of trying.

Your employees need a centralized access point to every technical suite offered:

One page.... one point of contact.... one pass word.

Once you've streamlined adoption, revolutionize engagement by setting up a comprehensive points program that inter-relates activity on all employee platforms.

Sound too good to be true? It's much easier than you think.

Think about it: would you enroll in every consumer loyalty program offered you if you knew your points from your hotel loyalty program combined with your airline rewards... and your on-line product purchases... and your retail credit card spend?

Wouldn't it be glorious if your every action served a centralized rewards model?

You can create this for your employees..... what are you waiting for?  

See You at #SHRM19 !


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

You'll Have to Risk Frustration

It was a sleepless night after the little league team I coach along with the local basketball and hockey teams all suffered losses. One who does not understand sports would think my mental anguish in such a predicament to be senseless.... it may just be, but let me try to explain.

I have always been a person who takes on commitments with the focus of 1,000 lions. I prepare by considering every possible outcome, am always early to appointments, accept extra responsibility, vocalize when things are off track and do my best to give others credit when things go well. I simply do not possess the human characteristic that allows others not to care. At times this is a curse.... the failures are not cured by the relief of victory.

The unfortunate part of trying is that frustration is eminent!!!!

That's why most people stop trying.... It's not worth the miles of anguish required to reach those few beautiful views on the way up the mountain.

I'd guess risking frustration is the very essence of what keeps us evolving. I guess when I get to the point of sitting on the sidelines while others influence, the future would seem debilitating. So as long as I am able, I'm going to be part of the game!

There will be more sleepless nights in the pursuit of finding a way to help others discover and exercise their true potential.

It's hard being critical of others, but we are not always speaking to those who have under-performed from a place of criticism. Some times, seeing people fall short of their potential is simply heart breaking. There are those who are infinitely capable who never find success because no one ever came along to help them find it.

It takes a lot to fill one's heart. It only drips slightly.

What is the true intent of your daily energy?

To succeed?

To conquer impossible?

Or is your drive simply to be left alone?

How long ago did you give up on your dreams?

Dear Friends - we'll have to put our personal comfort aside if we wish to help others and it may take them a while to learn what we have to teach.

Are you willing to keep what you have to teach in your pocket?

Is your fear driven by the all-too-real presumption that those to whom you give your love will abuse it?

Do you think that your time would be better spent with your hands in your pockets, on the sideline, watching others try?

All we can do is dive in and help those we seek to influence get better.

I'm sure you'll miss the game when you decide to stop having an influence on the outcome.

There will come a time when you will be incapable of trying... until then......

Don't Forget to Remember........... !