The Clue in the Puzzle

The Clue in the Puzzle

Over the holidays, I hung out with one of my most inspirational friends from my adolescence. We spent many hours together reliving her many escapades (and the ways in which she inspired me to ride along on her adventures), even though I will never be as brave as she is. We even giggled about her hairdos and fashions. Don’t worry, we were socially distant the whole time—Nancy Drew was safely ensconced in the covers of her mysteries that made up this year’s holiday puzzle.  

Unlike last year’s ridiculous puzzle undertaking, this year’s was not frustrating—it was fun. While no one else in my family helped, many other things did help with this puzzle. Intimately knowing the artwork of many of these covers, the ability to discern the difference between fashion across the decades, and then of course, an eye for fonts.   

At some point in the endeavor, I was struck by a thought that differed from last year’s insight.  It was at the point when you have done enough of the hard work that you notice a piece, recognize the color scheme or font, and remark, “Oh, I know where this belongs.” I started thinking about the types of Aha! moments that only come from long hours and deep thinking—a shortcut won’t get you there. It is only from studying something and understanding its nature, from having the patience to get to that point, that you can make a break-through. My mind immediately went to the scientists who developed the Covid vaccines in record time. They have spent careers doing the equivalent of 20,000 piece jigsaw puzzles. Their knowledge base far exceeded color schemes and fonts, but at the core of the development, patience.

So, I spent the rest of my time with Nancy pondering patience. What in our lives today (pre-Covid) fosters patience? In an age when many kids grow up with knowledge, entertainment, and transportation, amongst other things, at the tip of their fingers, how do we impart the value and lessons of patience to them?

We should all be extremely grateful to all the scientists who developed the Covid-19 vaccines in record time. Their patience and deep thinking was the key to solving the world’s biggest challenge.

Finding a way out of the childcare desert

Finding a way out of the childcare desert

Everyone predicted it back in the spring. We even addressed some of the childcare issues that concerned people back in May on our blog.

But, we’re still here. Summer is ending, some schools have started (even if only virtually), and the picture isn’t any prettier. Are you willing to lose one of your best workers over two hours a day? Have you ever had someone resign when their mother died? Well, get ready…

An executive was stunned by the number of times that female employees resigned when their mother died. He couldn’t figure it out. Fortunately, other females connected the dots for him:  their mothers had provided essential childcare; without mom/grandma, they could no longer work. This executive then connected other dots too. Leaving children at home, with no way to get to and from school, or no way to get to after school activities, was worth losing income and childcare.  

And all of this was Pre-Covid.

This article from HR Executive provides some ways to start thinking differently, so that you and your company might be able to be as prepared as possible, and put all those agile thinking skills to use when your star performer comes in ready to quit. Read More Here

Summer Rerun:  Geographic Differentials

Summer Rerun: Geographic Differentials

Back in May when we first warned of the quicksand that awaited employers flirting with basing pay on where people lived, we approached it from a technical compensation perspective.  When I came across this article last night, I knew we had to revisit the topic from the right point of view—corporate strategy.

I had never heard of this CEO or company before, but looked up both after reading this article.  Ian White has many quote-worthy quips in this article, but up front he reminds ALL employers that:

Companies have a responsibility to pay their employees fairly and on time, but that’s where their control ends.  The manager who chooses to move into an expensive high-rise downtown doesn’t deserve to make more money than their peers who choose to buy a modest home in the suburbs or live with their parents to save on rent.

He echoes many of the sentiments we made back in May, but most importantly he reminds all of something that we often stress—don’t copy a practice that another company is doing if it doesn’t fit with your culture. Read More Here

Base on Balls

Base on Balls

Maybe it’s my mom’s fault. When I was only six months old, she discovered that watching the Detroit Tigers on TV captivated me and gave her time to get things done. Then again, maybe it’s my dad’s fault because when he took me to games, he taught me how to keep score, the old-fashioned way, the way that you can go back and check which field a batter hit a pop fly in the third inning. (Foreshadowing my work with performance management tools?)

All blame aside, I love baseball. I still keep score whenever I’m lucky enough to go to a game; mocked until the seventh inning when someone does want to know what that guy did in the previous at-bats. So perhaps it was because I cannot go see a game in person this summer, that over the weekend I picked up Moneyball by Michael Lewis. I loved the movie when it came out and couldn’t imagine enjoying the book even more. But, I did.

It is so amazing to read how recruiters (scouts) with so many statistics at their fingertips, even before the advent of personal computers, still relied on gut and feel instead of cold, hard math. Getting on base and scoring runs wins games. Looking good in the uniform and having “the face” does not. I absolutely love Billy Beane’s line: “Are you selling jeans?” 

The biases in business do not differ very much from those exposed in professional baseball. I have been lucky enough to work with the sort of organizational development professionals that design robust competency-based selection tools, yet managers still need to be coached around their empty biases about how a candidate “seems” and “he’s got that look” like he would do well here. 

Even though Michael Lewis’s book is now seventeen years old, it really is a great summer read—especially this summer of fan-less baseball. While remote working has eliminated some of baseless management habits that sluggish managers have relied on for decades, if not centuries, if not millennia, there is plenty of work still to do. Perhaps diving into the lessons in this book will remind us to eschew bad old habits, and develop good new ones, grounded in stats, like your coaches used to drill you on every summer. 

He’s Not Wasting his Shot, Again

He’s Not Wasting his Shot, Again

So last weekend, I was probably the only person I know who wasn’t ready with popcorn and our newly purchased Disney+ waiting anxiously for Hamilton to premiere. I don’t have every word memorized. Much to the dismay of my husband and daughter, I did at one point put on headphones to watch a Tik Tok during the viewing party (do I at least get points for knowing what Tik Tok is?). But for all of you Hamilton fans out there, I want you to know a few themes and a few lines have finally sunk in! 

That’s why when I came across this article yesterday, I thought, how timely. As we struggle as a country with rising COVID-19 numbers, and some are quick to blame other countries, it’s important to be reminded of the hard work immigrants have put in during these trying times. Much like in Hamilton, Peter Tsai, the man who invented the N95 mask, is “Non-Stop” finding ways to use, and RE-use, them to their full potential and continue to work for the safety of others in his adopted land. 

As we continue to find new ways to run businesses, care for our employees, and see our families during this pandemic, we can look to Peter as an example of how to take something we’ve already succeeded at—and know that we can always be improving it. When in doubt, remember, “Immigrants, we get the job done.” Read More Here

Dangerous Territory

Dangerous Territory

For many years, we have been working with clients to explain the difference between labor market differentials and cost of living differentials, two related, but different numbers.  Obviously, Mark Zuckerberg has never called us to ask for a tutorial. Put simply, it explains why a cold Midwesterner might give up a 4,000 square foot house to live in a 1,000 square foot home in San Diego—yet pay the same for both dwellings. While a basket of goods might cost more in San Diego, that same former Midwesterner will gladly pay it because they intend on never wearing a parka again, and spending more time outdoors, in the sun, than inside sheltering from the cold.

Labor costs, on the other hand, are all about the supply and demand of certain skills. If too many former Midwesterners with the same set of skills move to San Diego all at the same time, the labor market floods, and the price for their labor goes down. Perhaps the newly warm people don’t care?

Labor markets have been shifting along geographic lines since the US began to emerge from the 2008-2009 financial crisis. CHRC began to see it when clients would call with one-off jobs that were suddenly experiencing turnover, and they couldn’t believe it was due to an increase in wages, but it was. One project, in particular, clearly painted this new picture. We examined roles at various income levels across the entire US expecting all geographies to converge to a national geographic differential of 0% at some point; for all these geographies, north, south, east, west, rural, urban—they never did. The correlations that compensation consultants had typically seen to explain geographic differentials no longer held.  

Our observations are well explained by the writings of economist, Enrico Moretti, including his book, The New Geography of Jobs. He uses examples to explain how the concentration of industries and human capital in certain areas leads to innovation (e.g. Detroit at the beginning of the 20th Century or Silicon Valley at the end of the century).  

So, what will happen if tech talent is incented away from the Bay Area? Will this de-concentration dilute both talent and innovation? Perhaps it could drive down housing costs and the cost of living (but probably not proportionally). Our advice to Mr. Zuckerberg is that the law of unintended consequences will probably take over; the labor market pricing for talent will hold, people will take their talent to other firms, and move wherever they like.  The new recipients of their talent will innovate with it. Mr. Zuckerberg might very well be left with those workers whose skills are not nearly as in demand, who are less likely to innovate, and who are very grumpy about their cost of living. Read More Here