Make it Happen

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This week marked the beginning of the 2012 HR conference season with the Transform HR Conference in Austin, TX.

As a confession, I attended the conference on a press pass which helped defray much of the cost of attending.  This certainly was not the first time that I was able to attend a conference on a press pass, and I hope it is not the last.

But, it made me think about expectations.

I assume the conference organizations are looking for something in exchange for that press pass.  Is it several blog posts?  Significant presence on Twitter?  Promotion of the event prior to it taking place?  Does the expectation change if "compensation" increases (e.g., covering the cost of hotel room and/or airfare...or more)?

What is the obligation on the part of those comped for conference registration?  Should conference organizers be clearer about said expectations before offering free registration (let alone other forms of compensation)?  Are conference organizers looking back after the event is over and reviewing the contributions they comped to see a return on the investment compared to the "lost" revenue (then again would those comped be willing to pay to attend otherwise)?  Should there be an ex post facto reward to those who made significant social media contributions during the conference?

Are those who are receiving the benefit going above and beyond what they would otherwise be doing?  Should they as a result of receiving this benefit?

What say you?

#transformHR day 2 - Jennifer Benz (@jenbenz)

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jennifer Benz, Founder & CEO of Benz Communications, brought the Transform HR Conference to a close with her session "3 Steps to Success: How Benefits Can Help Drive Your Strategic HR Transformation."

Health care costs are a significant part of compensation spending (20-30%).  They are a significant part of employee engagement.  Impact of lack of physical activity costs businesses $150 billion a year.  Compounding the problem is the lack of financial planning: 1 in 3 are not saving for retirement nor have more than $1,000 in savings.  75% of people look to the employer as a source of health information, and 89% of people want their employer to assist them with 401(k) planning.

Unfortunately, HR is often a barrier to assisting employees in both these efforts.  HR's job, Benz argues, should do the opposite.  So, how can HR do this?

First, "get the information online."  HR would typically say many employees are not online.  However, many employees with the growth of smart phones are closing this gap.   Most information is online already, why not health benefits, Benz notes.  The best and easiest way to get health info to employees is to put it online.   Further, employees want this information; 75% of Gen Y and 80% of Gen X are begging for this info.

Second, "get employees talking."  Communicating with people year around is key.  Social media is the perfect way to engage with employees and their dependents.  A micro blog, for example, can highlight conversations some people might be missing.  Web sites also need to be dynamic, Benz argues; unfortunately, most tend to be static.

Third, "work smart."  There are a ton of free resources that make it easy to communicate benefits information all year long.  Check out Benz's own site (,  for example.  Text4Baby which promotes maternal and child health is another.

In sum, such an approach can transform HR.

#transformHR day 2 - Fran Melmed (@femelmed)

by Matthew Stollak

Kicking off the afternoon sessions of Day 2 of the Transform HR conference is "The Second-Generation Workplace Wellness Program" with Fran Melmed, Founder of Context Communication.  Given that wellness affects all employees, its important to not only learn about the continued barriers to effective workplace wellness, but the trends, innovations and successes that mark effective wellness programs.

Melmed asserts there is no better time to be discussing wellness.  Companies that are investing in wellness are seeing eight times more return in terms of employee engagement.  Companies are also offering 23 programs on wellness on average. 88% of all companies cite controlling employee health care costs as the #1 health care priority.  Incentives are being offered for screenings, etc., in an effort to get data to understand why some (many?) employees are not engaging in proper wellness behaviors.

Employees are spending 7.7 hours sitting.  Further, one's day job is extending into the night, which leads to greater stress, depression, etc., as they deal with caregiving.  This is compounded by stress of making ends meet, and not being able to find the time to, or even afford to, see a doctor.

So, how can organizations do wellness better? Melmed argues that there are seven levers that organizations can use to address this question:

  1. Personal - What's in it for me in terms of benefits, communications and career arc?
  2. Social - People are incredibly influenced by their networks.  Networks can influence weight gain or loss, quitting smoking, etc.  Health activists can serve as mentors for those apathetic or disempowered and bring them along.  HR can be the many tentacled group that serves as connectors to the different levels of health within the organization.
  3. Mobile - With a mobile workforce, how is HR helping employees to find the time to take care of others, let along a work/life balance?  Smart phones provide an "ATM of health."  According to Susannah Fox, not only do smart phones allow us to look for health information, but people want to share their health knowledge with others.  
  4. Emotional - Melmed says we are missing the boat here in terms of the connection of mind and body  For many employees, some health needs are hidden.  
  5. Financial - Money is a huge stressor for individuals; wellness is linked to compensation.  Can we tie financial to employee health and wellbeing?
  6. Environmental - Need to ferret out where we are inconsistent - offer sundaes in the cafeteria, but healthy items in the vending machine.  Can we put red, yellow, green stickers regarding the level of "healthiness" of the items offered at the cafeteria and in vending machines?  Should the "prestigious" parking spot that is awarded to the employee of the month be farther away?  What can we do to make the environment "fun" to climb the stairs?
  7. Political - How can employers use their leverage to influence federal, state, and local policies?
Wellness, in the end, has an impact on the bottom line and has a transformative effect on the workplace.

#transformHR day 2 - @joegerstandt and @jasonlauritsen

by Matthew Stollak

Closing out Day 2 of the Transform HR conference was the Talent Anarchy due of Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen (or is it Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt) on the topic of Social Gravity and the future of HR.  As noted in this blog a couple weeks ago, Joe and Jason recently published a book coincidentally called "Social Gravity," which focuses on the power of relationship in one's life.

Joe and Jason rev up the Wayback Machine and begin talking about the roots of Talent Anarchy back in 1998.   One would watch several video tapes and when finished they were deemed a recruiter.  They were given a phone, a phone book, a fax machine, and a stack of resumes and told to do their job.  How has the workplace changed 14 years later?

Technology has been the catalyst that has caused a sea change at work according to Lauritsen.  Look at Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica.  Despite a much smaller workforce, Wikipedia has beaten Encyclopedia Britannica at every turn.  Similarly, Nobel prizes were being run by teams, instead of individuals; work was becoming a team sport.

Social capital is critical.  It is those resources available to an individual through one's relationships to and connections with others.  Social capital is a tool for making things happen, just like financial or human capital.  What are the information, ideas, expertise, goodwill, trust, and cooperation that can make a difference?

Talent is an equation that equals the product of human and social capital.  Unfortunately, they argue, we are too often caught up in our own silos.  According to Lauritsen and Gerstandt, Silos vs. Culture, Brand, Speed, and Innovation often don't play well together.  They stand in the way of utilizing social capital.    As a result, HR must go from structuring work to facilitating it; from managing talent to unleashing it.

Lauritsen and Gerstandt then turn to the 6 Laws of Social Gravity.  These laws can help HR draw more social capital to the organization:

  1. Be open to connections - Too often, we judge a book by its cover.  As humans we are not naturally open.  To be a social architect, we need to assist employees in determining how relationships form.  Where do our friends come from? Who are our strong ties?  Who are three best friends?  How did you meet?  The number one predictor is physical proximity.  As a result, HR can leverage proximity by moving employees frequently to grow networks as well as embracing social technology.  Similarly, HR professionals should teach, coach & hire for social skills.
  2. Get involved in meaningful activity - What are employees passionate about?  The organization should be a safe place for people to talk about their passions.  In conjunction with the above, passion is the root of proximity, which is the fertile ground for planting the seed of relationships As a result, organizations should support "causes" at work and help people create "passion" projects.  Perhaps meetings should be optional as they kill passion, according to Gerstandt.
  3. Always be authentic - we throw authenticity around like its a common thing, but it is rare.  It is a source for social capital.  Authenticity requires should let your freak flag fly.  HR should prioritize authenticity, help people develop a personal manifesto and vision, and create a new approach to conversations and failure.
  4. Stay in touch - Lauritsen uses the metaphor of a garden to show how to cultivate relationships.  Connection is not enough; it is an opportunity to be further developed.  Overlap is where the quality comes - it is what creates strong relationships.  As a result, HR needs to build internal and external social networks. as well as design and encourage socializing at and through work.
  5. Use karma to your advantage - It is our human wiring for our reciprocity.  Favors are the currency by which social relationships are built.  HR should thus encourage "team-based" work accountability.  We like to help people; give us the opportunity.  Similarly, we need to make it easier to determine who to ask for help - create a LinkedIn style social network internally.  Finally, managers need to connect employees with customers and the community
  6. Invest in connecting - In what ways will we transform HR to capitalize on social capital for our organization?  HR needs to create time for social in people's day.  HR needs to map the social network in the organization to show its value
In sum, Gerstandt and Lauritsen's talk provided an excellent companion to their book, which can be purchased at the link above.

Computer battery running down.  More this afternoon.

#transformHR day 2 - Margaret Morford

by Matthew Stollak

Margaret Morford had the tough task of following Billy Beane with her presentation "HR Fiddles While Organizations Burn!"

Starting off, working HR, she notes, should be measured in dog years, given the challenges HR managers face on a daily basis.  To meet this challenge, Morford discussed her strategic six things HR needs to do: be different in your thinking, ignore fads, get brave, develop talent & skills, outrun the pack, and get out of HR (temporarily).

The HR reality today Morford cited was that only 23% of corporate leaders see HR departments as playing a crucial role. Further, HR was seen as the least agile function by 31% of global respondents.  HR services need to change regarding leadership development, onboarding, and recruiting, the supposed strengths of HR.

"Being different in your thinking" is the familiar criticism of HR- not seeing yourself as HR but as a business professional in HR. To wit, one needs to discuss issues in terms of the financial impact on the organization, a challenge some HR professionals do not want to adopt.  Similarly, outsource appropriate functions to save money and build expertise. And, develop an HR strategic plan that underpins the organization's strategic initiatives.

As noted above, the second of Morford's Strategic Six is to "ignore fads."  Too often HR gets involved with items like metrics without truly understanding their proper use.  HR shouldn't use metrics to justify the presence of HR; instead, forward the organization's agenda.  Instead, HR should let the specific needs of the organization drive training needs, for example.

Third on Morford's list - "Get brave."  Quit saying, "You can't, we'll get sued."  Further, as with Tim Sackett's talk yesterday, Morford says to stop focusing on equal treatment and focus on performance and equitable treatment.  HR should instead view legal issues in terms of the likelihood of getting sued (for statistics fans, what is the expected value?).   Further, HR should make "it" happen for managers by eliminating obstacles that stand in their way. HR should also figure out how to change their "two-legged liabilities" if compliance is not working.

Morford then discussed her fourth item - "develop talent & skills." One cannot buy talent, it has to be built.  You can recruit talent, but you build skills.  To address this, Morford argues HR needs to keep a "talent hit list" to fill future vacancies.  In addition, a real mentoring program is warranted.  Also, HR needs to fill today's jobs with what they'll need 10 years from now.

Fifth, Outrun the pack.  HR MUST stop benchmarking.  Those we are benchmarking against started off with a whiteboard.  Hence, HR leaders need to screen HR hires for innovative thinking, including hiring non-HR people into HR.  Further, change policies that employees routinely work around.

Finally, one needs to get out of HR.  Know the financials, products, strategic goals, ROIC, margins, etc.  HR should read non-HR business publications and books, as well as develop HR staff for other organizational responsibilities.

In sum, Morford echoed much of the needed HR changes that were found in the SHRM Foundation video "HR Heroes" published several years ago, but provided a strong follow-up to Billy Beane.

Coming up next are those Talent Anarchists, Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen.

If you are not in attendance, you may follow the conference on Twitter at #TransformHR or follow it live where it is streaming at

#transformHR day 2 - Keynote speaker Billy Beane

by Matthew Stollak

Day 2 of the wonderful Transform HR conference kicked off with Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland A's, and focus of Michael Lewis' "Moneyball."   Given the emphasis on managing talent with an uneven playing field, having Mr. Beane as the keynote speaker couldn't be more apropros (especially given the multitude of blog posts on Moneyball (self-promotion alert: check out a couple of them in the 2011 season of the 8 Man Rotation)).

Beane started off with some stories about working on the film, saying Brad Pitt was a better option to play him than Zero Mostel or Ernest Borgnine.  He also shared travel stories about people next to him on planes asking him if he read the book or watched the movie.

Beane states that people want sports to be romantic, and don't want to be swayed with the numbers behind the scenes.  By trusting the data and numbers, Beane says the Oakland A's were able to compete with people making emotional decisions.  Meeting with Michael Lewis, Lewis said he understood what was going on with the A's, arbitraging undervalued assets.  Discussing his assistant Paul Palmer who argued, "in baseball, the math will work for you if you let it."

in the story that has now become familiar, Beane discussed the economic constraints Oakland operated under.  After being one of the leaders in payroll in the early 1990s, the A's would go bankrupt unless something changed.  Oakland had to change their approach to talent given limited payroll.  Looked for the statistic with the greatest correlation to winning - on-base percentage.  Other teams did not value this as much as the A's, and they were able to buy this asset at greatly reduced prices.  On-base percentage is now the #1 metric in baseball (was 7th or 8th 12 years ago).

Beane then delved into some heavy baseball statistics, such as "net expected run value," and "What % of drafted players get to MLB within 2 years" to highlight the kinds of detail needed for the A's to compete effectively.

Beane noted the impact of media on decision-making.  The 24-hour echo chamber, he argued, would clearly affect his decision-making if he paid attention to it.  Similarly, he can't react to emotion during the game and micro-manage it by calling the manager to take a player out of the game.  Beane waits until to the end of the game to make decisions.  Similarly, good decisions do not necessarily coincide with popular ones, Beane said after trading away Mark Mulder.

In sum, Beane provided an interesting perspective on the challenges of talent management.

Coming up next is Margaret Morford with the intriguingly titled "HR Fiddles While Organization Burn."

If you are not in attendance, you may follow the conference on Twitter at #TransformHR or follow it live where it is streaming at

#transformHR - Early afternoon with Kim Roden and Tim Sackett

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, February 27, 2012

The afternoon session of Transform HR kicked off with Tim Sackett discussing "What You Wished HR Would Do."  Sackett first highlights his several trips flying on a corporate jet with his CEO; it gave him a new way of thing about things.  Some of the points noted were:

  • CEOs want to see metrics that lead to a course of action
  • HR pros need to take off the HR Hat, collaborate, and understand the business
  • HR need to be creative as traditional HR forecasting is not effective
  • HR should hire out of their comfort zone; get people that "scare the crap out of you."
  • People perform at different levels, don't be afraid to treat them differently
  • CEOs want to have HR develop a true talent mindset; it is the source of competitive advantage for the organization
  • HR needs to treat CEOs like any other person in the organization; don't be afraid to meet with them and just talk; CEOs carry heavy stress, and this can serve as a relaxer
  • HR should be prepared to have a 15 minute conversation with the CEO at any time
Sackett closed with a 5 step program to show its worth to the CEO
  1. Don't say yes, be yes. Say yes when appropriate 
  2. Step into the vacuum -HR needs to step up in areas where they may be uncomfortable
  3. Give your "a" card away - HR needs to slough off programs sometimes (for example, give dress code to operations)
  4. Become an evangelist - be enthusiastic about the organization and getting excited about owning the program
  5. Go to lunch - talk about grass roots change with the right people

Kimberly Roden tackled the ever popular topic of appraisal in her session, "Performance Reviews: Why They Do More Harm Then Good."  Roden argues that humans are too complex to fit in to a simple 5-item Likert Scale.  Initative, for example, can't be categorized easily.   Appraisal, she notes, needs to be a verb, and not a noun.  It needs to be ongoing.

Roden argues that the appraisal process if fraught with error.   Managers are often subject to the halo error and sins of recency that can diminish the validity of the process.  Similarly, it is often misused, such as being a source for termination.

As an alternative, HR should go back to SMART goals.  It should be a process, not a project.  Further, managers should use technology based on goals to remove subjectivity.   People need feedback often, not just when they screw up.

Roden struck a nerve with the audience by proclaiming that raises are often based, not on budget, but on budgeting.  Given the different cycles, raises may be granted months ahead of the actual review.

In the end, how do we change the culture of review?  Can we change it like a diet, as if we are on Weight Watchers?

Coming up next is a panel on social media in the workplace - Where is it today, where is it going tomorrow?

If you are not in attendance, you may follow the conference on Twitter at #TransformHR or follow it live where it is streaming at

#transformhr Day 1 Libby Sartain - "The New Consumer of Work."

by Matthew Stollak

In "The New Consumer of Work," Libby Sartain, author of "Brand For Talent," examined the new way in which workers are now approaching and engaging with work.  The American Dream, Sartain argued, "is no longer moving up, but moving out."  Employers should no longer be concerned about losing talent to competitors, but to their dreams.  Even with the best approach to retention, high performing employees may still leave.

The current challenge to employers is that many employees continue to be unhappy at work.  Over 25% of employees are not satisfied at work, Sartain claims.  People are not excited or motivated by a job description.  So, how do we create a compelling experience for workers?  Should we treat employees like customers?

Sartain used the example of Google to find employees.  A billboard was placed where the web site was the "first prime 10 digit number in e".com   Programmers able to write the code and solve it, and entered that info, were directed to a site that informed them that they were smart enough to work at Google.  It dawned on Sartain that the world of work and the view of talent had changed.

With social media, Sartain argues, HR is no longer just HR.   HR must be joined at the hip with marketing.  One's profile is now always online.  HR needs to better target itself to consumers; in this instance, those customers are potential employees.  Similarly, social media are enabling employees to create their own job descriptions.  Employees are looking at "what's in it for me?" and using social media to explore these answers.  Sartain cites the use of "Living Social" as an opportunity to share one's experience; the world of work is no different.

Sartain argues that their is a new talent marketplace.  Baby boomers are retiring, but not necessarily wanting to leave work.  Government workers are aging.  Technology is requiring new skills and new ways to work.  There is a new uncertainly, with numbers not reflecting the fundamentals.  Despite unemployment being high, many jobs, such as sales reps, engineers, and technicians, are difficult to fill.  As a result, their is a war for targeted talent to address this mismatch.  Consumer, employer, and talent brands need to be tied together.  An employer brand can connect with the employee, for example.

Sartain closed by challenging the audience in how do we create the appropriate candidate experience?  What are you currently doing to keep your best employees?

Coming up next are breakout session featuring Tim Sackett asking "What your CEO wished HR would do" and Laurie Bassi on "Business Success in the Worthiness Era" at 2:00 Central.

If you are not in attendance, you may follow the conference on Twitter at #TransformHR or follow it live where it is streaming at

#transformHR - Day 1 morning

by Matthew Stollak

Some 200 passionate HR people made their trek to Austin for the first Transform HR conference sponsored by

Ron Thomas, Principal Consultant, Strategy Focused HR, kicked off the introduction of the conference talking about how attendees are all transformers.  He noted that HR needs to be people focused, scalable,  repeatable and analytical

Jim Knight, Senior Director of Training for Hard Rock, and the morning's keynote focused on how to build a team of "rock stars" for your organization.    He focused on 10 types:
1.  Develop a crystal clear, brand-specific recruiting strategy
2.  Ensure leaders are singing off the same song sheets - Hard Rock uses a three interview process for every staff-level potential hire in the hopes of gaining interrater reliability
3.  Be the chocolate - create employment differentiation - Have to avoid lipsynchers to differentiate one's workforce from everyone else
4.  Serve the brand koolaid through compelling storytelling.  Look at onboarding.  It matters who and how onboarding occurs.  General managers can reduce turnover by 15%. Don't just give onboarding responsibilities to just any employee.  That story matters.
5.   Communicate in the language that employees dream.  Staff materials with photos/graphics, less text, white space, bullet points, consistent font, and humor (where appropriate) key.  Job aides are awesome.  Videos are extremely helpful. Using to gain instantaneous responses with small groups (n < 30)
6.  Create an army of giants around you - It starts with performance appraisal.  Simple performance form with a performance grid creates consistency in assessing performance.  Appraisals should be done more than once a year.  Managers have to give the "Why" behind the "What."
7.  Incent employees like they're rock royalty and treat them like volunteers.  Public, daily recognition of positive performance helps develop morale and repeat positive performance.  Lots of interesting perks you could offer (Hard Rock has Rolex Watch for 10 years of service; GM of the year gets a Harley-Davidson).  Employees expectations today - they want both money and work/life balance, and are only loyal to those that inspire.
8.  People quit individuals - love the ones your with - Employees have an "emotional bank account" - the more deposits the better the interest and health of the account.  Peer recognition is critical.
9.  Let love rule - support an employee volunteer philanthropy group.  Philanthropy helps employees become valuable community partners.  It galvanizes employees and gives employees an emotional connection to the brand.
10.  People only repeat what they like.  Positive experiences are critical.

Coming up next is Libby Sartain on the new consumer of work.

If you are not in attendance, you may follow the conference on Twitter at #TransformHR or it is streaming live at

The 2011 Season of the 8 Man Rotation is here!

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, February 21, 2012

That's right!

365 days in the making, it's the 2011 Season of "The 8 Man Rotation."  We introduced you to the 8 Man Rotation last year, and because demand was so high, we've brought it back!  Featuring 45 stylings from Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, and me, as well as forewords from William Tincup and Trish McFarlane, you are not going to find a better collection of sports-related HR posts anywhere.

Check it out here or here

#popHR Turning Point

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, February 17, 2012

In the last part of the 1990s, and early part of the 2000s, like much of America, I was a regular viewer of "Everybody Loves Raymond."  Peter Boyle always was good for a laugh or two every episode.  But, is its humor translatable across cultures?  This is the challenge of "Exporting Raymond," a 2010 comedy by the co-creator of "Everybody Loves Raymond," Phil Rosenthal.

Wanting to maximize the success of the sitcom, Russian TV came calling to do their own version of the show, called "Everybody Loves Kostya."  However, Rosenthal meets resistance at every turn:
*A dark, dank studio ("is this where they filmed "Saw?" a nervous Rosenthal asks
*The Russians see Raymond as too wimpy
*The costume designer wants the cast to wear hip clothes, even when doing the cleaning.
*Comic setups, such as leaving one's luggage on the steps for weeks on end that turn into a power struggle among husband and wife (who will be the one to succumb and move it), fall on deaf ears.
*The actor desired for the lead can't get out of contract with the major theater company
* Writers toiling on multiple shows and can't dedicate their full-time effort on this sitcom

While a bit broad, Rosenthal provides a lighthearted look at cultural differences, a bevy of workplace issues, and the transcendence of comedy.

#popHR Review of @talentanarchy's "Social Gravity"

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, February 3, 2012

In "Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships," the wizards behind Talent Anarchy, Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen bring their immense knowledge to their first book.   Riffing off Sir Isaac Newton, our authors note that social gravity carries the same pull.  What is social gravity, per se?    Simply put, it is the power of relationships in your life.

The old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know" is given a new sheen by Joe and Jason.  One builds relationships through social capital: information about a job opening, opinions on finding a new dentist, expertise on a particular problem, access to unique resources.  But, social capital means more when looked through the prism of the network which develops and the power and influence one may be able to wield within that network. 

With technological advances, our network and connections have changed dramatically.   A long time determinant of friendship, for example, might be simple proximity.  Your best friend may have been on the same floor with you your freshman year of college.  With social tools like Twitter, social media has broken through many of the traditional barriers that might have limited a global network.

From there, the authors state their 6 Laws of Social Gravity that help the reader to begin harnessing their own social gravity.  Through end-of-chapter thought exercises as well as apropos personal anecdotes highlighting the particular law under investigation, Joe and Jason provide helpful guidance in building better relationships with others without it feeling like yet another self-help book that is easily digested but feels like empty calories.

The one area I would have loved to see the authors explore in more detail is in the area of cross-cultural differences.  Are the 6 Laws uniquely American, or do they have a more universal application?  In China, for example, the term guanxi refers to the benefits gained from social connections.  Does guanxi apply the same way with social gravity?  Perhaps we'll see it in the expanded 2nd edition or the sequel.

I can see "Social Gravity" being used in an undergraduate seminar in communications, sociology, or business class as a companion piece to Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point."  Yet, even the most seasoned of social media experts can glean some new piece of information from this welcomed tome.  Highly recommended!

If you are going to be in Austin, TX on February 26-28 at the Transform HR conference, you can see the authors present their thoughts on social gravity (and other relevant items) in person. Check them out.

Visit Me

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, February 2, 2012

To some it is should be a national holiday.  The day?  Nation Letter of Intent day in college football.  Around the country yesterday, thousands of high school football players signed the all important piece of paper and faxed(!) it in to the college of their choice.  Accompanying the pomp and fanfare are stories about the recruitment process.

Several years ago, a highly-recruited Florida kid by the name of Willie Williams was allowed to write-up his recruiting diary, that gave a behind-the-scenes look at the process.  His exploits soon reached scandalous proportions as he regaled the about the private jets, lobster, steak, jerseys and girls her was given.

The best story from yesterday.   Let's look at the case of Cassanova McKinzy, a linebacker from Birmingham, AL, who was choosing between Clemson and Auburn.   Was it the academics?  The quality of the football program?  Check out his rationale below:

That's right!  Chick-Fil-A!

As Graham Watson points out in his Yahoo report:
Never mind that there is a Chick-fil-A on Clemson's campus. Clearly this crucial fact was not highlighted on McKinzy's visit. And if you've ever been to a Chick-fil-A, you can sympathize with McKinzy. There's no better way to start a morning than with a spicy chicken biscuit and no better way to settle into an evening of studying than with some waffle fries.
 Moral of the story: Know your candidate!  You never know when waffle fries could make a difference in the hiring decision

A New Religion

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Judge, T.A., Piccolo, R.F., Podsakoff, N.P., Shaw, J.C., and Rich, B.L.  (2010).  "The Relationship Between Pay and Job Satisfaction: A Meta-Analysis of the Literature." Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(2), 157-167.

Wealth continues to fascinate us.  From the Occupy Wall Street protests to offshore bank accounts, income inequality is at the forefront of most newscasts these days. Mime truly is money.  But, does money truly buy more happiness on the job in Corporate America?

In "The Relationship Between Pay and Job Satisfaction," Judge, et al, explore whether income dispersion pays off in terms of happiness.  "How does the pay we receive from our work contribute to our feelings about our jobs and lives?" (Judge, et al, 2010, p. 157). They study three important questions:
  1. At the individual level, is pay level related to: (a) pay satisfaction or (b) overall job satisfaction?
  2. At the organizational/sample level, are average levels of pay level related to (a) pay satisfaction or (b) overall job satsifaction?
  3. Do the following factors moderate the relationship between pay level and job satisfaction or pay level and pay satisfaction: (a) U.S., vs. international samples; (b) publication source (published vs. unpublished, and quality of publication outlet); (c) measure of job or pay satisfaction (d) common v. independent vs. independent sources of data; and (e) measure of pay?
To investigate these questions, Judge, et al, conducted a meta-analysis (a combined impact of many existing studies to produce a more statistically powerful analysis) of 86 studies to estimate the correlations between satisfaction and pay level.


To question 1, Judge and his colleagues found a statistically significant relationship between pay level and both types of satisfaction.  However, with question 3, there was no significant difference between U.S. employees and their international counterparts.  Similarly, no significant difference was found for publication source, measures used, sources of data, or measure of pay.

Question 2 provided the most interesting result.  Here, individuals with high income jobs were only slightly more satisfied than those in low income jobs, and, in some cases, those with lower paying jobs were more satisfied.  To wit, "For example, in 2009 dollars, a sample of lawyers earning an average of $148,000 per year were less job satisfied than a sample of child care workers earning $23,5000 per year." 


1.  For job seekers, other job attributes besides pay should be taken into account, such as intrinsic job characteristics (such as skill variety or task identity).

2.  While pay can be motivating, it may not be as satisfying as once thought.   Being a pay leader may not lead to a more satisfied rank-and-file

3.  Pay increases may only have a temporary effect.  Judge and his colleagues compare the thrill of a pay raise to being a newlywed; you get an initial boost once married, but it soon returns to pre-marital levels.

4.  High pay may only work in areas where there is significant pay dispersion within the organization.  If everyone else's pay is high around me, that increase loses some of its effect as well.