Six Grumps

Topics: HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

Six Grumps - by John Sumser - HRExaminer

The rate of acceleration in technical change is, itself, accelerating.

  • I sat in on a Twitter chat session about ‘candidate experience.’ Lots of assertions, lots of speculation, no evidence that there is a real cost associated with bad candidate experience. My take continues to be that this is a solution that is in search of a problem.The costs associated with treating candidates badly vary with the economy (and the region).

    Any inventory in a massive surplus position gets treated roughly. Any inventory in a position of scarcity gets treated royally. These are the dynamics of the labor market. As long as jobs are the core of the labor market, inventory will be treated according to the laws of scarcity.

    I have a hard time imagining the day that migrant workers are treated to a ‘respectful’ candidate experience. The same holds true of many jobs at the low end of the economy. Candidate experience is an item that defines the difference between one class and another.

    That’s a way of saying that jobs in big companies (which are the ultimate relics of the industrial era) are now the exclusive privilege of the upper middle class. They may even define upper middle class in certain parts of the East Coast.

    Great candidate experience goes hand in hand with great health care benefits and extensive paid leave.

  • Big Data is the new oil. Most of what you see in HR, however, is a begrudging acceptance of the analytical tools that everyone else has been using since the beginning of the Total Quality movement in the 1980s.
  • I am a part of a team teaching Social Media and Internet Law at the local Law School. It turns out that the law doesn’t work the way I thought it did. My view was: legislature makes laws; executive branch enforces laws; judiciary sorts it out when things go crazy. Not so much.

    The rate of acceleration in technical change is, itself, accelerating. That means that what took Microsoft 15 years, took Facebook five; that the rate of change is leaving our 18th Century political system in the dust; that the new approach to government is using other countries as proxies; that the moment we nail it down, it gets screwed up again.

    The way that law actually happens is that two advocates fight it out in negotiations and courtrooms, while they try to define the metaphor. Once early precedent is established, the legislature acts. Usually, the early results are laws that wither under challenge. The first laws limp into their futures as skeletons of the original legislation. Meanwhile, the executive branch runs willy-nilly creating and enforcing regulations.

    Lawyers are the people who navigate this messy cauldron.

    Today, they have to understand technology. The most interesting lesson in this class was the judge in the Oracle-Google case. He informed his work by creating and working with computer code during the trial. With an adequate understanding of the core technology, he was able to guide the process with common sense.

    Meanwhile, we’re teaching this class how to think in advance of the emergence of the law. That’s the essential skill of 21st Century attorneys.

  • Rewards are punishment. The research is very clear; incentives (carrots) do not produce sustainable change. Mostly, they create an appetite (and a sense of entitlement) for getting incentives. Competitive incentive programs are the root of overcompensation for CEOs.

    The more an organization relies on incentives, the worse things get. Still, performance management (with its emphasis on incentives) continues to manipulate our work environments with a theory of motivation derived from lab animals.

    Rewards and incentives are ways of doing things to workers. As long as our management approach rests on objectification, we’re never going to see the sort of engagement people are fantasizing about these days.

  • There are two different HR conversations. When the CEO talks about people as the most important asset, he means those people who make a high value contribution to the organization. These are the people who create the core value of the company. When HR talks about people, they mean every single person in the company.

    Building processes that work for everyone makes the organization treat the core players badly. Because of their role in the value chain, they are entitle to better than what other people get. When HR proceduralizes and standardizes, it drives the company towards mediocrity. The answer is in the other direction.

  • The C-Level of most organizations is damagingly myopic. I don’t really have to tell you where most of them have their heads. You work with them. When HR tries to plan for foreseeable difficulty, they are derailed with executive intuition about people. The shortage of data in personnel decisions is a two way street in most companies

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