Appropriate or Not?

There’s no doubt that the Malaysian Air story has been one of intrigue and disaster for the past several days. For the casual observer, it has been one where imaginations have run wild and theories abound. For the families involved though, I can’t imagine how they have processed all of the information, and lack of information, that has been spread.  This obviously has been a grueling time for them specifically.

News broke last week that some debris was located off the coast of Australia. Weather was an issue and searchers were having trouble getting to that location to verify it. Finally, news today says that it is debris from the crash of the flight in the Indian Ocean. Families were notified by the following text message…

Malaysian Air Message

I’m curious to gain the thoughts of others on this, but to me, I question if a text message is the most appropriate way to communicate this information? If an employer decides to terminate an employee, and does so by text message…we cry foul. If a boyfriend breaks up with his girlfriend by text message…we berate him for being insensitive or a coward. These are not nearly as important as informing someone that their loved one has been lost. Maybe speed was the issue here and the airline wanted families to know before they heard or saw it on the news…but that seems to be something the airline could address by having people on standby ready to call those families personally and share this news. Maybe the airlines had families elect how they wanted to be updated with any new information and a text message was one of the options…but I still believe this is information that should be shared in a more personal way.

Look, I know these are difficult circumstances to deal with. I don’t know that there is a perfect way to handle this when these situations arise. I have no doubt that those making the decisions are doing the very best that they can, and I would not want to be in the role of deciding these types of things. It’s hard enough for me to call someone and tell them that they didn’t get a job, much less something far more personal and devastating like this news.

What are your thoughts on the appropriateness of this way of communication?

My prayers go out to all of these families and those involved in other ways. May God bring comfort to them during these days.


The Easy and Quick $3 Million Fix

money down drainDid you know that there is a glaring hole within many companies that contributes to their overall turnover? This hole can cost your company big bucks too, but people seem content to just let it occur. Did you know that it can also be fixed pretty quickly, easily, and cost effectively?

Walk down this journey with me – and I promise – I’ll make it quick. Employee Bill works for your organization and has done a great job. He has proven that he deserves the opportunity to be promoted and climb the ladder a bit. He is tasked with several new responsibilities, one of which is having to interview potential new employees and make hiring decisions, or at least contribute to who will be hired. The problem is, Employee Bill has never had to interview before and has no idea what he can ask, what he can’t ask, the best ways to probe for information, or to evaluate multiple candidates against each other. He thinks up a few random questions when the candidate enters, and just sort of “wings it.” He’s done the best he can based on the knowledge that he has, but wonders if he has made the best decision possible for the company.

Unfortunately, this is the model that business after business after business has in place. And time after time, what I hear from them is that they are hiring the wrong people or that their turnover costs are too high (if they even measure turnover costs). Did you know that every time an employee leaves your company (whether on their own or asked to leave), it costs your company 5X the employee’s annual salary? SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) says that an average company will lose 12% of pre-tax income due to turnover alone. That means that a company that does $25 million in pre-tax income will lose up to $3 million because of employee turnover.

Wow! It amazes me how many companies are willing to just accept that it’s okay to lose $3 million and do nothing about it. Making better hiring decisions will reduce the overall turnover within a company, and a big portion of making better decisions is to make sure those internal hiring managers are prepared and confident in their abilities to conduct a strong, legal, and honest interview of potential candidates before making a hiring decision. By providing Interview Training for your managers, this will give them the knowledge and confidence to make better hires, therefore, reducing turnover and the unnecessary financial drain it places on your company. 

I was able to provide training yesterday to a great company in Austin yesterday. They saw the value that this would bring to their organization and made their managers available for about a 4 hour block of time. The word that I received afterward was that the whole office was buzzing about it and that they felt excited about this new knowledge gained. One of their managers is interviewing 3 candidates this week and has already taken the information from yesterday’s training and prepared himself for these interviews. He is much more confident and comfortable with the task of interviewing others now. And I am confident that he will make a great hiring decision as a result!

This is such a simple step that any company can take. It doesn’t take much time. It doesn’t cost much to have me come in and lead this training. Each attendee is provided with a manual that they can refer to over and over after the training has ended. And quite honestly, if I thought it would help my company to keep some of that $3 million rolling down the drain, I’d jump on this in a heart beat. What are you waiting for CEO / COO / HR? Do something about this today!

The Consequences of Decisions

consequencesLast night, around 12:30, lives were changed at SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin. From what I have read to this point, a drunk driver was pulled over at a gas station for drunk driving and he decided to escape. He drove off from the scene with police chasing him. He headed downtown and drove through some barricades and directly into the crowds for SXSW. Witnesses say he was traveling at a high rate of speed – one person estimated 70 mph. He hit a moped, killing both of the people on it. He injured 23 others, 5 of them critically.

Not only were the ones who were struck impacted by this event, but the ones who witnessed the event. I have seen video of the early aftermath with people administering CPR to victims in the street. I can’t imagine the mix of emotions one might feel after watching such an event happen. Families of those directly and indirectly involved in this event have been thrust into it as well and will spend the coming days helping others try to make sense of something  that was senseless.

Whenever there is an incident of a single person using a gun to go on a rampage, officials vehemently cry that we should ban guns. The school shooting in Newtown. The movie theater shooting in Colorado recently. In the immediate days afterwards, politicians used it as a platform to state their case. Even the President threatened to enact legislation on his own and to go around Congress. 

I’m curious if we will hear vehement cries for the banning of alcohol or of cars after last night’s incident at SXSW? When we hear of stabbings, nothing is said about banning knives. People die from drugs all of the time, and now we legalize them instead of banning them.  Video games often glorify killing and desensitize individuals from the act of killing, yet no one goes after that industry.  Film makers and artists create movies that are bloody and filled with death – again, desensitizing people to the reality of death and sometimes even making it a funny act. Then they have the gall to come out and criticize the violence around them, and then go sign a deal to make yet another violent movie.

The point is…anything could be used for evil in the hands of evil doers. Guns would not kill anyone without someone to put ammunition in them and pull the trigger. Knives kill no one without a hand firmly grabbing the handle. Drugs don’t kill anyone unless injected, smoked, swallowed, etc. I’m sure a popsicle stick, in the hands of someone, could be made into an instrument of death. The issue is not the instrument itself, its the heart of mankind. Some people just are intent on killing others and if you take the gun away from them, they’ll go find something else to accomplish their goal. The heart must be addressed – ethics, morality, integrity, right from wrong. Our society glorifies bad decisions and makes light of them. Until this changes, expect more of the same.

The man at SXSW last night, if I had to guess, hadn’t planned on killing anyone and things spiraled out of control. It’s no excuse. He should pay a severe penalty for his act of selfishness and stupidity.  Decisions have consequences. And most often, someone else’s decision force others to deal with consequences.

My heart and prayers go out to all of those who have been impacted by the events of last night.

That Chip Drives Me

something-to-prove640x360-640x360You can almost recognize it when you see it, can’t you? It’s that look in someone’s eye. The way they carry themselves. The determination that they seem to ooze. It’s that person who has a chip on their shoulder…something to prove.

I grew up attending a very academically challenging private school from 6th grade to 12th grade. The school like to boast that if we could graduate from there, we could graduate from any university in the world. When I started college, I saw first-hand how this was true. My high school was much more difficult that the college I attended. I was going to a small, private college and studying music (what was I thinking). I was a double music major and attending on a full vocal scholarship. I was singing 5 hours a day every day, including weekends. I knew that I was going into ministry as my vocation, so music seemed to be a great decision at the time.

In my second year, I began to have some trouble with my voice from the strain that I was putting on it. I had shredded my vocal chords and could only sing for less than an hour before my voice would be gone and I could taste the blood in my throat. Obviously, this was a serious concern for someone who was attending on a vocal scholarship. I had already auditioned at a much larger and prestigious university where I planned to attend my final two years, but now that was in doubt as well. A scholarship was offered there, but ethically – should I accept it knowing that I would not be able to physically meet the demands of my scholarship? For me, the answer was no.

I left college after two years with no degree and entered the workforce full-time. Because I didn’t finish my degree, and I had no previous work experience in ministry, I took a job at a bank and volunteered or did part-time ministry work for several years. No matter what job I applied for, everyone expected a degree. Very quickly, a big chip began to appear on my shoulder as I had to out-work, out-think, and prove lots of people wrong in order to move forward in my career. I knew that I was just as smart or smarter than most of the people in an organization. I knew that I could do the job. None of that mattered though…they wanted me to have a little sheet of paper nicely framed that verified it in some way.

After 18 years in ministry, I entered the corporate world. Again, regardless of what position I applied for, a degree was required (or at least highly sought after). As a minister, I would propose to you that I had developed strong customer service skills as I dealt with people all different walks of life. I could tell you about the large numbers of people that I managed. We could discuss the budgets that I had to develop and adhere to. I certainly had a significant amount of experience with public speaking, presentation skills, and leading training efforts. I had one potential employer interview me and ask, “Do you have any sales experience?” I quickly replied with, “Absolutely! For the past 18 years I sold people on the idea of having a relationship with someone that they couldn’t see, hear, feel, or smell (God).” Despite all of these areas where I had real experience, the only company that would hire me was a restaurant chain to enter their management training program. There is nothing wrong with that line of work, it just wasn’t for me. Instead, I started my own graphic design business and it became one of the fastest growing in the southwest.

Eventually, I had an acquaintance who owned a recruiting firm here in Austin who asked me to come learn his industry and believed in the skills and abilities that I had developed over the years. He hired me and gave me a shot. I quickly rose within the ranks of the company and did very well in recruiting. Again, I had this chip on my shoulder that I knew I could do the job well and I would do whatever it took to prove it to everyone else. I worked really long hours. I asked tons of questions and became a student of my industry. I’ve been in recruiting for about 10 years now. I’m now seen as an expert and have thousands of recruiters and HR leaders from around the world who want to hear my thoughts on modern day and next generation recruiting. It’s funny…HR leaders have to earn credits towards their PHR, SPHR, etc. certifications and now they listen to me to earn some of those credits. Me! The guy that none of them would give a shot when he was looking for a job because I wasn’t well educated.

I’ve had people ask me before if I could do it all over again, would I go back and finish my degree. Hypothetically speaking…I don’t believe that I would. See, I don’t think I would be the same person without that chip on my shoulder. It drives me. It reminds me that I have something to prove every time I walk into a new environment. It prods me to out-work others around me. I don’t believe college is the best route for every person. I also don’t believe that a degree should be required for the majority of jobs. A Customer Service Rep answers the phones and provides information on a product or a service – and a degree is required to do that why? A Recruiter finds people who can fill a need within a company – and I’ve been doing that for 10 years without a degree. Tell me again why I’m not qualified? I wholeheartedly agree that there are some positions (a very short list by comparison) that DO require a degree…my doctor being one.

I don’t believe that I’m unique. I believe, and have seen, other very successful people who also never received their degrees. What I have seen in all of them that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, is that they all have that chip…just like me. We all had something to prove. We all wanted to work hard. We all wanted to succeed because of the effort and passion that we placed on our work. You can share your statistics of how people with degrees are more employable and make more money…no argument here! That’s the way the system is set up…they should be getting more jobs if every position out there requires a degree. They should be making more if we declare that only those who went to class (or didn’t) are worthy of this job or that job. You show me your statistics, and I’ll show you people who are driven to the point that they will out-work and out-produce everyone around them if just given the opportunity.

Prefer a degree all you want, just don’t require it unless it is absolutely necessary. In shrinking talent pools for some segments of our workforce, by requiring a degree, you have eliminated half of your talent pool. Not wise. Give some without degrees a chance…just look for the ones who have that look in their eye. You’ll recognize it.