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Revealing the ‘HR Professional of the Decade’ – Laszlo Bock of Google

by Mar 30, 2015, 5:45 am ET

LaszloBock576GreenA Case Study Compilation of the Amazing HR Practices That Make Google the Benchmark to Learn From

Using any set of assessment criteria, Laszlo Bock of Google has been in the vanguard in creating revolutionary change in the profession of HR to the point where he has earned the title of “HR professional of the decade.” Under his leadership, Google has literally led the way in innovation in all aspects of HR and it has become the world’s only data-driven HR function. Its willingness to continuously try completely unique approaches has resulted in Google being rated the No. 1 best place to work by numerous independent groups (Fortune six times, Fast Company, Glassdoor, Universum, and LinkedIn).

Working at Google has such a powerful employer brand draw that it receives an unparalleled 3 million applications a year, even though applicants only have an estimated 0.2 percent percent chance of getting hired.

But it’s more than just image that Mr. Bock has helped to create, because Google’s workforce productivity is simply amazing at $1.23 million per employee each year.

Not only has he molded the HR function at Google in nine short years into the benchmark model that everyone admires, but he has been extraordinary in his willingness to share his knowledge with both HR professionals and potential job applicants. Even though I have been writing and speaking in the HR field for three decades, I have never come across a leader who deserved the title of HR professional for an entire decade. HR is a unique field where very few corporate HR leaders are known by name throughout the profession but Laszlo Bock is clearly the exception, primarily because he openly shares what he has learned, even when it runs counter to standard HR thinking.

An Overview of the Amazing People Management Practices at Google keep reading…

Workforce Speed — the Most Impactful Talent Factor That No One Is Managing

by Sep 15, 2014, 12:50 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 2.22.46 PMI work in the Silicon Valley, where we have a long-established mantra of “faster, cheaper and better.” But now no matter where you work in the world, almost everyone can sense the fact that every aspect of global business now seems to move significantly faster than it did even 10 years ago. You could even label the 21st century as “the century when speed dominated.” This increased speed means that new products and product features come to market at an amazing rate, copying is almost immediate, everything you rely on seems to become quickly obsolete, and long-established businesses routinely lose out to faster moving startups.

In this environment, even notable fast-mover firms like Google and Apple occasionally don’t move fast enough. This was the case where they both failed to effectively seize on the amazing social media and microblogging opportunities that the faster-moving startups Facebook and Twitter quickly dominated.

In the past, the business domination rule was simple … Large and established firms will dominate the smaller ones.

However the new rule has become “It’s the fast-moving and rapidly adapting firms that now dominate the slower ones, whether they are large or small.”

If Your Firm Changes Slower Internally Than the External World, it Has No Future keep reading…

LinkedIn’s Job Suggestions Will Show Jobs at Your Own Company

by Apr 10, 2014, 3:47 pm ET

Internal_JYMBI_ModuleWhat’s now an old standby — the “jobs you may be interested in” on LinkedIn — is getting a tweak.

Companies with 100 or more job slots can now do what LinkedIn’s calling “Internal Job Recommendations.” keep reading…

Hire for Bench Strength or Brace for Failure

by Mar 25, 2014, 5:29 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 8.25.05 PMBaseball spring training is here, so it’s a perfect time for us to talk about the importance of an organization’s bench strength. When you think about all-time greatest baseball players, near the top of the list are legends Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Ernie Banks, Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn, and Harmon Killebrew.

Guess how many World Series championships those Hall of Famers won combined? As many as you and me: Zero. Those players all set individual major league records, but their teams never won the ultimate prize.

Tying that point to our organizations, we can’t be satisfied having just a couple superstars on our team and no bench strength to support them. Ultimately, we won’t win. Our organizations won’t achieve key goals in a timely manner, and we run the risk of sliding backwards if we lose one of our superstars.

Too often, we hire people whose full potential and ambition are invested in performing the jobs they’re hired for. Then, when we need more from them, they’re not able or willing to go the extra mile.

Your goal should be to have at all times (or be working toward) at least one employee with the skills, personality, character, ambition, and technical competence to take over each key position in your organization right away. Without this, your company will be unable to attain its growth goals quickly, reducing future profits and opportunities for your co-workers to achieve their career goals.

Also, if a key player is incapacitated for a couple months or longer, your organization could be damaged. I learned that lesson the hard way when I was diagnosed with cancer. But I was fortunate that we had hired several high-potential people who filled in for me when I was sidelined by my surgery and chemo treatments.

Here are four important actions I suggest you take to improve your bench strength:  keep reading…

Why Are You Losing Talent? Because They Don’t Know You Care (and You May Not)

by Mar 19, 2014, 12:02 am ET

Why quit linkedin surveyWith the rate of voluntary quits in the U.S. approaching pre-recession levels — 22.8 percent in 2013 — it’s no surprise that in a survey last year HR professionals and talent acquisition leaders identified retention and its twin “internal mobility” as one of the five top trends.

Nearly 40 percent of the 553 U.S. recruiting leaders who took part in LinkedIn’s global recruiting survey last year said they are increasing their internal hiring volume. Globally, the percentage was even higher.

“Internal candidates are typically higher quality; plus their skills, performance, and cultural fit are known,” LinkedIn’s Leela Srinivasan told SHRM in a report the society did on the survey. The report observed that 51 percent of the talent leaders acknowledged a “need to increase candidate awareness of relevant in-house opportunities.”

Now, just a few months shy of a year later, comes a new LinkedIn survey of workers who changed jobs. And what they told LinkedIn is that the No. 1 reason they left was the opportunity for career advancement.

Shockingly, 75 percent of the U.S. workers were unaware of their previous employer’s internal mobility program. We can’t tell if awareness would have made a difference, but the statistic does point up a very significant disconnect between what workers know and what HR thinks they know. keep reading…

Winning ‘the War to Keep Your Employees’ Requires Re-Recruiting Your Top Talent

by Oct 21, 2013, 6:28 am ET

If you expect to win “The War to Keep Your Employees,” you must continually assure that the best offer that a top performing employee receives comes from inside your own firm.

In order to assure that, management must periodically approach top talent and recruit them again (re-recruit) just as if they were a new external prospect. Although I coined the term “re-recruit” more than 20 years ago, it is still an effective retention tool today. keep reading…

Implementing Actionable Predictive Analytics in Talent Management

by Oct 7, 2013, 5:01 am ET

metrics scanI’ve been espousing the need for predictive metrics in HR for over 20 years, so I am pleased that more talent leaders are now beginning to realize their value. Unfortunately, most of what is written on the subject tends to be very general and instead what is really needed are some how-tos and some implementation tips.

In my first article on the subject, I covered the benefits of predictive metrics and the need to add actionable components, so that predictive metrics drive action and actually improve people-management decisions. In this article I will outline those actionable components and highlight the specific areas where you might need predictive metrics. keep reading…

Advanced Items for Your Recruiting Agenda — What Should Google Do Next?

by Apr 22, 2013, 5:37 am ET

PhilipsDuring the newly reinvigorated and exciting ERE conference, two attendees posed related but powerful questions to me. The first was “What advanced topics should be on the agenda of recruiting leaders at elite firms?” Or as another put it “What should Google be planning to do next in recruiting?”

At least to me, future agenda items are an important topic. Because after visiting well over 100 firms, I have found a dramatic difference between the agenda items that are found on 95% of the firms (cost per hire, ATS issues, req loads, etc.) and the truly advanced subjects that only elite recruiting firms like Google, DaVita, Sodexo, etc. would even attempt to tackle.

So if you have the responsibility for setting agendas or recruiting goals, here is my list of truly advanced recruiting topics that elite leaders would find compelling but that most others would simply find to be out of their reach. If you want to be among the elite, you should select a handful for implementation. However, even if you are currently overwhelmed by your current agenda, you might still find them to be interesting reading.

25 Advanced Recruiting Topics for Bold Corporate Recruiting Leaders keep reading…

Why ‘Source of Hire’ Should Drive a Company’s Talent Acquisition Strategy

by Apr 12, 2013, 12:56 am ET

Source and Sequence Hidden Job Market R3I decided to ask 1,582 U.S. company employees how they go their last job. I gave them four choices:

  1. Internal move or promotion
  2. Some type of proactive networking activity, or referred by someone within the company
  3. Contacted by a recruiter or hiring manager who found their resume or LinkedIn profile
  4. Responded to a job posting

I also asked if they were actively looking for a job at the time, or not. The results of this survey are shown in the graphic. Here’s a link to the survey itself if you’d like to take it and/or pass it on, and the preliminary analysis. Even though the data is not perfect, here are some obvious conclusions: keep reading…

Bold Approaches for Successfully Retaining Every Innovator, Part 2 of 2

by Mar 25, 2013, 5:58 am ET

A retention toolkit for innovators

As the economy picks up and unemployment rates continue to drop, I can forecast with a good deal of certainty that the turnover rates among all employees will increase. The value of and the demand for innovators will increase even more rapidly. In addition, innovators who have felt “stuck” at a firm for several years during the downturn may now have a reduced need for job security. And even if they have been treated well, they may simply be in the market for something new.

It is possible to retain almost every employee (many top firms like SAS have a 2-3 percent turnover rate), provided that you have the right tools and you are willing to be aggressive.

In the first part of this retention toolkit for innovators article I covered retention tools and approaches that could be implemented solely by innovator’s managers. In this second part, I cover numerous additional bold and aggressive retention tools and approaches for innovators but each of these requires some outside support from HR or senior managers.

Part II — 17 Bold and Aggressive Retention Tools and Actions for Innovators That May Require Senior Management or HR Support keep reading…

Talent Diversity Isn’t Just About Demographic Data

by Jan 22, 2013, 6:45 am ET

On the way home from the diversity career fair, while writing job ads for the diversity publications, hiring the diversity consultants — while taking those positive steps forward you may, meanwhile, be doing things that cause you to take two steps back.

Some examples:

The Cliquishness keep reading…

Try Using Employee Referrals for Filling Internal Openings

by Jan 14, 2013, 12:22 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 9.47.26 PMEveryone knows that employee referrals produce high-quality external hires, but what most don’t know is that employee referrals can also be used to improve internal movement and placement. This boost is often sorely needed because most corporate job posting and promotion processes are poorly designed and managed.

Smart HR managers should use Internal Employee Referral Programs (IERP) to provide high-quality employee names for internal transfers, promotions, and even openings on part-time project teams. The concept for internal referrals is the same as for external referrals, which is that great people know other great people and that most employees want to help the firm by contributing to the recruiting effort. The focus just shifts from external hires to using your employee’s internal network to finding top candidates for internal movement and promotions. An IERP has many advantages and benefits.

Benefits of Using Employee Referrals for Internal Openings

The many potential benefits of an IERP include: keep reading…

The Top 10 Strategic Talent Areas … Where Most Firms Do Nothing

by Jan 7, 2013, 5:15 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 10.49.22 AMThere’s no better way to start out a new year than to take one or more strategic actions. On the surface, selecting a new strategic area may seem to be difficult because at established firms, it would seem as though all of the important talent management areas would have already been addressed (i.e. with a full-time leader, a written plan, a permanent team, a yearly budget, and a set of metrics for assessing its strategic impact).

However, I have still been able to identify 10 potentially high business impact strategic areas in talent management where almost no firm has a permanent company-wide strategy, plan, and team. The fact that almost no firms do these things isn’t because they lack a potential impact (most agree it could be high), so the lack of action must be because either no one has been trained in the area or because the strategic area is highly complex or highly political. Even if you don’t have the bandwidth to take action in any of these areas, review the list to see if you see the potential for a high business impact.

The Top 10 Strategic Talent Management Areas That Firms Ignore keep reading…

Adopt a “Whole Career” Strategic Hiring Model

by Nov 26, 2012, 5:44 am ET

If you are a recruiting leader, I would like to introduce you to a concept that many are not familiar with, which is “whole career employment.” The premise of this hiring and workforce planning model is that instead of the traditional expectation that employees will work at a firm continuously from their hire date until they retire, leaders need to plan for the eventuality when top employees may come and go from your firm several times throughout their whole career.

This new model is necessary because it fits both the changing loyalty levels and expectations of workers and the evolving way that work is done. The average tenure of the American worker at a single firm is just over four years and Americans may hold between 5 and 10 jobs throughout their career. This process of hiring, losing and bringing back employees requires a hiring model that is more flexible and sophisticated than most firms currently have.

A whole career model is a hiring and workforce planning strategy that focuses on the reduced loyalty and retention levels among top performing employees. Instead of focusing on hiring a top person only one single time, it plans on targeting them for rehire at several different points throughout their entire career. Smart firms will plan to recruit and hire the very best back into regular or contingent jobs at points in their career when we need them and when they are willing and able to work for us in some capacity. The goal is to get as much high-quality work from top performers whenever they are available throughout their career.

Lifelong Employment Is Coming to an End keep reading…

Solving the “Candidate Sharing Problem” Using a Social Media Approach

by Oct 8, 2012, 5:15 am ET

NASA artist - black hole

There is probably no more misleading statement in corporate recruiting than “we will keep your application on file for six months.” While such a statement may be factually true, the reality is that at most corporations, hell will likely freeze over before anyone will review that application again.

Not only is this misstatement damaging to the candidate experience, but it may also mean that the corporation is missing out on a great opportunity. And that opportunity is to rapidly share exceptional “not hired” finalists with hiring managers located in other areas of the corporation so that a higher percentage of these highly qualified candidates can be hired. The best solution to this problem is a “top 100 candidates sharing list” based on a social media model.

It’s a sad but common corporate occurrence in recruiting. Your employer brand and recruiting process have worked wonderfully and you get an abundance of highly qualified applicants for a key opening. However, after you make your selection, even though the remaining finalists are outstanding and are interested in your firm, nothing happens to them and they disappear into your “ATS black hole” database.

Instead, what should happen is that these top candidates should be marked as “recruiting opportunities” and then proactively shared with other managers from one end of the corporation to the other. This candidate-sharing problem is so frustrating but pervasive that it consistently appears on my list of “major talent management problems without a workable solution.” Nearly every corporate talent manager is aware of this lack of top candidate sharing, but almost no one has found an effective solution. But fortunately, now that we have learned about the tremendous effectiveness of using social media approaches for sharing information, it now makes sense to revisit this problem and to design a proactive social-media-based candidate sharing process to finally solve the problem.

Examples of the Candidate Sharing Problem keep reading…

20 Reasons Why LinkedIn Will Be the #1 Recruiting Portal of the Future

by Jul 2, 2012, 6:09 am ET

This week on, there is a unified focus by a wide range of authors on the use of LinkedIn. To me, this focus is justified because LinkedIn has the potential of becoming the #1 corporate recruiting portal.

I’m the first to admit that LinkedIn still has many flaws, but even with them, the power of the portal in the recruiting field is unmistakable. If you are a corporate recruiter and you are looking for a database or source that includes a large percentage of passive prospects, LinkedIn is simply alone at the top. It is superior for many additional reasons, including that its profiles are accurate and consistent, it allows your employees to find quality potential referrals, and it enables a firm to conduct phenomenal talent management research. In this article, I will highlight what I have found to be the top strengths of LinkedIn.

The Top 20 Reasons to Use LinkedIn keep reading…

Referrals on the Rise at eBay as it Ponders How to Handle Pipeline

by May 29, 2012, 5:30 am ET

Employee referrals are up at eBay, the owner of such brands as PayPal and StubHub, up enough that it has candidates in a pipeline that is hasn’t gotten to yet.

The percentage of hires coming via referral is about 32% at eBay, up about 5-8%, according to Debbie Roeder, the global talent attraction programs manager who oversees branding and messaging activities, referral and other programs, and works with the company’s recruitment advertising agency, TMP.

Roeder’s basic belief is that employee referrals are generally a better source of hires for all companies, hers included. She says people who know someone on the staff are typically “more suited to the culture,” more likely to fit in, and have quicker ramp-up times, partly because they may get help from the friend who referred them. Also, she says, they tend to stay longer. Part of the reason for all that, she says, is that the candidate wants to make it work because their friend gave them the lead. And, they’re probably going to be good or wouldn’t have been recommended. “I don’t just refer anybody,” she says. keep reading…

An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page — Action Steps to Avoid or Turn Around a “Great to Good” Slide (Part 2 of 2)

by Apr 30, 2012, 8:59 am ET

Excellence matters, and technology advances so fast that the potential for improvement is tremendous. So, since becoming CEO again, I’ve pushed hard to increase our velocity, improve our execution, and focus on the big bets that will make a difference in the world. Google is a large company now, but we will achieve more, and do it faster, if we approach life with the passion and soul of a startup. — Google CEO Larry Page

With these powerful words, Google’s CEO Larry Page demonstrates that as Google grows in size, it must take actions in order to maintain its speed and startup-like attributes. If he fails, Google will slide into what I call “the Great to Good downward spiral.” It has already happened to notable firms like Kodak, Xerox, AOL, HP, 3M, Sears, MySpace, and Yahoo. In part 1 of this article I covered the 25 factors that can be used to identify if your organization is already in a bureaucratic slide. This Part 2 covers potential action steps that corporate leaders can take to prevent a slide at newer firms or to turn it around at more established firms.

20 Action Steps for Stopping or Preventing a “Great to Good” Slide Into Mediocrity keep reading…

Which Are More Valuable: Internally or Externally Sourced Candidates?

by Apr 27, 2012, 5:16 pm ET

The science of recruiting is years behind our peers in other disciplines, but when I see research like this journal article, ”Paying More to Get Less: The Effects of External Hiring versus Internal Mobility,” I know we’re beginning to catch up.

This study was published in the Administrative Science Quarterly in September 2011 and recently described in detail by Peter Cappelli (my favorite Wharton Professor), in his column for HR Executive magazine, Paying More to Get Less.

It is perhaps the best work I’ve seen in years.

In the original research, the author describes how he dug into the data of one financial services firm to identify and track a number of jobs filled by both internally and externally sourced candidates over a protracted period of time.

He then compared subsequent performance ratings of the incumbents (over years) and found statistically significant evidence that:

  • Internal candidates performed better than those hired from the outside.
  • External candidates took as long as three years to achieve the performance levels of their internally promoted peers.
  • External candidates were paid 15% more on average.
  • The performance of individuals who were externally sourced was higher if they were not brought in through search.

Now this is science I enjoy … not because it is necessarily true beyond the one firm in which the study was done, but because it is transparent, describing methodology openly and in a way that we (dear readers) would be able to improve on and replicate within your own firms.

As someone who is getting tired of tons of unsupported opinions stated as fact and megatons of research by vendor content creators with serious conflicts of interest, this is refreshing. Give me more.

Unless No One Gets Sick, Quits, or Dies, A Plan’s in Order

by Mar 13, 2012, 5:24 am ET

Does your organization have a succession program in place? Too many organizations and small businesses default to the practice of reactionary assignment of a successor amid a now-glaringly-vacant position, or embark on a rushed external hire that often ends up as a high cost disappointment from a ”hiring misfire.” The consequences are not only expensive but are also a missed opportunity due to lack of focus and the inability to support fast growth.

And this is the challenge for recruiters: urgent hires, and the inability to explain the succession process (i.e. growth potential) to candidates, as well as to current employees who are looking to build their career. Recruiters can have an important role in helping leadership address the issue of succession readiness.

A succession strategy is about having an identified plan to fill key positions within your organization. A succession program is the implemented process of identifying, developing, and transitioning potential successors for the company’s present and future key roles, aligned with the talent and ambition of its current employees and talent network.

A common error that we see in succession planning is to target only the key executive roles (CEO, COO, CFO). This is a significant risk unless you are a micro business. For example, if you are in the construction or transportation industry, a logistics manager may be critical for the success of your business. Having a vacancy in this position could quickly result in a decrease in service and an increase in customer complaints, and possibly a decrease in customer retention.

This is why critical positions across the business need to be identified and replacement processes planned.

In our work with companies we hear some common arguments and justifications. We repeatedly see that the president or key executive doesn’t believe there is an immediate need for a succession plan. Their stated arguments are, “we’re too small,” “we’re too new,” “we already have good people in place,” or “I’m not going anywhere soon!”

In an unlikely static environment where no one leaves, no one gets ill (including the owner, president, or senior managers), growth isn’t that important, and performance is exceptional — these arguments hold true. But, we don’t live in a static business environment. People do leave, they do get sick, the executives need to focus on growing the business verses operating it, the employees are not all good performers, and some roles are hard to fill!

There is also a tendency to hold on to marginal performers because there is no clear plan on how to replace them. The impact: the business suffers, the executives suffer, employee morale and productivity decreases, the customers become less than satisfied with their service, and new candidates are not attracted to your company.

When organizations do not have a succession program in place, consequences include: keep reading…