Would You Hire Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

November 30, 2016 Marlo Hertling

Avanti was proud to sponsor DisruptHRYYC a couple weeks back. The presentations were both captivating and thought provoking. We’ll include the videos in this post when they become available, in the meantime here’s a recap of the great talks that were given.

Would you hire Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?

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'Even made men and women get whacked sometimes'

Corey Allard – Founder at ChangeYourGame

Corey’s presentation was a Sopranos style lesson in terminating employees. He told the story of Moe Dalitz, the mobster and visionary who is credited for shaping Las Vegas. He then drew a parallel to how many organizations today choose to protect employees who have a long history or have grown complacent instead of just “whacking” them the way the mob would have.

He challenged the practice of progressive discipline and described how this model allows companies to take months to terminate a poorly performing employee. He described how this way of handling terminations often leads managers to play a game of “pass the turkey” because the process to terminate is so painful that it is easier just to move the underperforming employee from manager to manager rather than go through the lengthy termination process.

Corey argued that providing under-performing employees with working notice can take employers from a bad situation to worse. Employees who have been given working notice can now open the floodgates – they will no longer represent your brand well and all of their bad habits will be amplified in their last working days leading to bad experiences for your customers.

Corey closed in saying that the best way to deal with employees who bring down morale and don’t perform is to make a quick, clean break. He said “handling the business of handling employees means that sometimes even made men and women need to get whacked.”

'Why have we lost the ability to just do?'

Tariq Elnaga – Manager, Talent Development & Diversity at Spectra Energy

Tariq started out his talk by saying “we are facing a crisis because we can’t get anything done in Canada!”. He then went on to provide some great local examples of initiatives that aren’t going anywhere:

  1. Pipelines – we can’t get them built
    (editor's note: at time of writing Line 3 and KinderMorgan were not yet approved)
  2. Calgary Next – we can’t get it done
  3. 14th street bus lanes – we can’t get them implemented

He then went on to ask the question “why can’t we get things done?” and set about explaining passionately that a big part of the problem is conversation, conversation, conversation! He went on and challenged us to “stop conversing and get things done!”

To make his point he asked: Has this ever happened to you? You have a great idea and are met with one of these responses:

  •  Let’s start with a pilot project!
  •  Let’s get the consent of 20 more people!
  •  Let me tell you why we shouldn’t do that!

And to drive the point home he asked the crowd “Why has HR become so risk averse?”. He went on to explain that he believes that our major industry (at least here in Alberta) focuses on safety – after all no one wants anyone to be injured or harmed. Safety is important, but we’ve let that way of thinking seep into our corporate cultures, creating risk averse work environments.

Tariq then went on to address “How do we fix it so we can get things done?” He described how he had entered the words HR & Policy into Google and couldn’t believe how much content there was for this topic. He then entered the words HR & Entrepreneurship into Google and to his dismay found very little content.

He are five ways Tariq believes HR can become less risk averse:

  1. We need entrepreneurship in HR to get things done
  2. Resistance to starting projects needs to be addressed
  3. Please don’t pilot, try it and if it fails learn fast from it
  4. You need to spend money to make money
  5. You need to stand up for what you believe in

So let’s start getting things done!

'Recruitment is Dead, Long Live Recruitment'

Will Van Middendorp - Founding Partner / Introduction Expert & Incruit Xpert

Will started out telling us about how recruiting has been around for the ages, after all even Julius Caesar provided incentives to any soldier recruiting another into the Roman army.

He explained how technology has changed everything when it comes to recruiting. And he supported that statement by adding “everything I need (to hire) is right here in my phone” and went on to point out that he could reach out to Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple right now if he wanted to.

Will told us how he has seen the world of recruiting become one of fierce competition and lowered quality of service. He challenged us to ask “why do you still do what you do in the recruiting process”? He drew a comparison of recruiting to cigarettes – even though you know the current practices are bad for your organization you just keep on doing it the same way.

He shared with us how companies like Uber who can provide viable alternatives to traditional models are the true disruptors, a good reminder that we have the power to make a change to how we recruit. He also pointed out that recruitment is no longer a service – it’s sales and marketing, making it more important than ever for HR to be able to calculate the value they are getting, and because recruiting is made for analytics there’s no reason not to!

Will closed with the comment “Workopolis and Monster are dead, welcome to the future – recruiting is changing!”

'Humans, Non-Renewable Resources'

Joy Monsma - Consultant,Teneo Consulting Inc.

Joy started with a story of a man who was being told he was being laid off as he looked at a photo of his family on his desk. He asked if he could please take his photo with him, but was told no, all his belongings would be boxed up for him and sent to him later on. The neutral language making the experience a little less human.

She then went on to talk about the 3 Ds that she sees as barriers in people management:

  1. Depersonalization
  2. Distance
  3. Dehumanize

Joy talked about how at one time there were promises of culture and rainbows perspectives have now changed and people are now looked as renewable and replaceable. She points out that everyone talks about onboarding, but no one talks about overboarding. She sees the solution as closing the distance gap with employees. By having less distance employees become less replaceable. She also warns of the global workforce crisis that is coming saying that by 2030 the world will have a 2.3 million person labour shortage and that it would be foolish for everyone to race off the face of the earth together.

She reminds us that we are all unique and that we need to alter our perspective, we need to put personal and heart back into people management so that we start to think of our people as non-renewable resources.

'Reindeer Games'

Tim Sackett - President, HRU Technical Resources

Tim flew all the way from his hometown in Michigan to speak at this event. His story, he told us, was about Santa, inclusion and a big red nose. He shared that Rudolph is one of the best stories to look to when it comes to values and inclusion because Rudolph was after all a B player. Certainly none of us would hire him.

Santa felt the same way, he only wanted to hire A players for his team. Good talent is hard to find so Santa used the reindeer games to find the biggest and strongest talent around – and it worked! Rudolph never did well at the reindeer games, he was a misfit and didn’t belong in Santa’s workshop.

But then a fog rolled in and that changed everything. Santa wasn’t prepared. Luckily Ruldolph was about to have his shining moment – and Santa realized he needed to hire Rudolph because inclusion works.

Tim then asked us all to consider “what if that fog never came?”

He went on to say HR’s challenge is to start the storm and bring on the fog. By working to present inclusive candidates to hiring managers, and helping them see that hiring outside the norm is good for the company you can bring change.

'Let’s Get Real About Performance Management'

Anette Ceraficki - Director, Talent & People Development

“Traditional performance management is dead” states Anette Ceraficki to launch her presentation. As the Talent & People Development Director of a fast growing company she has experienced implementing programs that allow people to grow and notes that the old ways of managing performance reviews don’t help build a strong culture or meet business criteria.

At Benevity they decided to created their own program, calling it NAPMP Rapid Growth Retention. Their program is designed to support the rapid growth they are experiencing as well as to facilitate great relationships between managers and employees. We all laugh as she puts up a slide that reads “It’s about the culture stupid”. She shares that they have committed the entire organization to meeting 8 times a year to share with everyone where they are going. And they have rolled out a plan to make sure their people are “communicating excessively”.

Four months into the program they are excited about their results. 85% of their employees are meeting with team leaders at least once a month. The best proof that it’s working though is their employee’s tell others how great it is to work there, it’s worth noting they have a perfect score of 5 on Glassdoor and that 100% of their employees would recommend Benevity to a friend.

'Sustainable Disruption: Building a Culture of Innovation'

Jana Taylor - Principal, TechSprout Inc.

Jana tells us she is a self-proclaimed people geek. And that tonight she is going to share with us why a culture of innovation is key to growth strategy. In today’s world innovation means survival. Company’s are scaling to Fortune 500 faster than ever before – and those companies have in common the following 7 innovative strategies in their sights:

  1. They ask: “why is our company here?” And can articulate their moonshot
  2. They keep their customers close
  3. They constantly seek employee input and encourage constant collaboration and communication
  4. They know that diversity equals getting things done
  5. They have a growth mindset
  6. They are amazingly agile
  7. They mind the westwinds

Jana goes on to remind us that in your people playbook HR is the catalyst for culture and that success means:

  1. Focusing on the right talent – never settle
  2. Getting rid of the rules – don’t unite on policy manuals
  3. Know your employee NPS (net promotor score) – create a workplace where employees promote your company
  4. Celebrate customer advocates

Jana reminds us that innovation is everywhere and that successful companies don’t just measure activities, they measure outcomes. They don’t rely on hope as their strategy.

She wraps up by declaring that “innovation is about people, HR is the catalyst!”

'Mental Models at Work'

Kristan Nielson - Principal, PeopleLead

Kristan started out describing how mental models shape our environment at work and then went on to ask “are they working for us? Are they creating motivation and employee engagement?”

She went on to explain that our beliefs and behaviors shape our reality and to challenge 6 beliefs that are present in companies today:

  1. Our sole purpose is results at any cost to our human resources and environment
  2. We need to do more with less, scarcity exists
  3. We need to have work-life balance
  4. You need to bring your happy face to work because you are replaceable
  5. We need to rules and policies because we don’t trust you
  6. Everyone needs to work harder / lean in

Kristan then described how we can overcome these 6 beliefs by changing our mental models as follows:

  1. Organizations are mission driven
  2. Let go of scarcity and think of abundance
  3. Everybody matters here, they will bring their passion and talent when they are in inclusive environments and have a sense of belonging

She ended with a call-to-action, asking us to challenge our current mental models and imagine a world where we all thrive. To create a world that is better for everyone.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to attend a DisruptHR event we recommend you do! For a schedule of upcoming events check here.

We also want to give a big shout out to Rob Caswell and Matthew Murphy for bringing DisruptHR YYC to us, this event wouldn’t happen without them

About the Author

Marlo Hertling

Marlo Hertling has worked with leading HCM organizations and has been helping Canadian companies implement HCM solutions for more than 15 years. Currently she is the Director of Marketing & Communications for Avanti Software Inc and serves as Avanti's HCM subject matter expert.

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