Five Ways You Could Be Undermining Your Talent Management Strategy

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There is nothing more reassuring to a jobseeker than hearing that opportunity abounds in the company you are interviewing with. It isn’t the most important aspect for everyone, but for a good majority- it is the defining factor next to compensation and other candidate bait. There’s very little reason for candidates to doubt your claim of endless upward mobility. That is until they get burned. When they start a job and  find out the yellow brick road to career greatness is more like quicksand; it leads to initial disappointment-but they haven’t lost hope in every employer yet. They start to search again and find another seemingly good company. To ensure that they don’t make the same mistake again, they ask your recruiter better questions during the interview process. They join your company with hope and promise beneath their wings; but this time there is a new set of tricks that halt their career progression. Now, it hits the candidate like a ton of bricks that there’s something wrong. Either they are really bad at choosing companies or they aren’t as great as they thought. To put it plainly it is utterly frustrating.

At a time where retention and talent management are all the rage, you would think companies would be more intentional about looking at practices that may be undermining their efforts.Whatever your sentiment is about how employees progress in the company, you have to agree that the following practices are pretty lame and counterproductive to your talent management strategy.

1) Bogus Job Postings– Here we have those highly-coveted positions where you have quietly identified your candidate of choice, but decide to waste your employees’ time, energy and emotions as they fawn over a job they have no possibility of attaining. The worst part about this is the imposition you put both your recruiters and candidates in. Both parties know how it’s going to turn out, but instead they have to go through the motions because you want it to appear that you conducted a competitive search.

2)  Sneak-Attack Promotions- When you feel the need to confidentially promote employees followed by a celebrity-worthy press release announcing your decision- morale is going to plummet. It doesn’t say very much about your leadership ability, when you don’t think enough of your team to give them a chance to apply and interview for positions they are qualified to do.

3) Hold em’ and Fold em’- Are your managers undermining your employees’ ability to transfer by creating performance issues and personality narratives that never existed? This is typical when opportunity presents internally, but the manager does everything in their power to keep the employee from progressing further by sharing off-the-record performance fodder that influences the selection process. The problem with this is the employee catches on eventually and realizes they’ve been blacklisted.

4) The Relic on the Shelf- Poor tenured employee who has done well in becoming the go-to gal or guy in their department, but can’t seem to get any further. So you mean to tell me that this person who has been with the company for 30+ years with nary a bad performance review and happens to be fluent in the company rules, norms and culture is suddenly not good enough for any other opportunities in the organization or even their own department? Stop the madness!

5) Give Me More… more education, more experience, more skills, a third arm, the stem cells from your first child- I get it-you don’t have time to train and you need them up and running like yesterday. How do more KSA’s help when you haven’t established what is absolutely essential to your operation? In addition, why is it necessary when you have promoted and continue to promote people with no credentials? If you’re going to ask someone to go back to school or learn more, the request needs to be consistent and operationally-warranted. Last time, I checked Jesus Christ already has a job.

Here you have five scenarios where there is likely a disconnect between your intention and practice. The moral of the talent management story is this: if someone isn’t performing well, don’t promote them. However, have the decency to have a conversation about how they can fix it. When they do fix it, don’t hold their past performance mistakes and deficits over their head indefinitely. Strike a balance between what you want and what is needed. You may think you “need” someone with a PH.D and the ability to read minds for that receptionist role, but does it have to be so?

For God’s sake be thankful for your tenured employees, if not for them many of your triumphs and financial gains would not be possible. If they aren’t trained to the standard of the current workforce, blame yourself for not investing in them and insisting that they continue to grow professionally. Speaking of growth, stop hiding and withholding opportunity from your workers. Be transparent about present and upcoming opportunities. Allow your employees to apply for internal opportunities aligned with their backgrounds and interests. The best case scenario is you could find out you have been missing out on some unknown strengths of your employees. The worst case…you hire the right person and your employee carries on knowing that you at least gave them a chance.

Lastly, no more bogus searches. External and internal candidates alike know when you are full of sh%&! Stop putting out external postings knowing you want a qualified internal candidate and stop posting internal positions knowing there’s a VIP in mind. Interviewing for a job is stressful and we have all been there. There is nothing considerate about making someone go through the scrutiny that is synonymous with the interview and selection process for no reason. Being honest about opportunity is just one more way of building rapport with your employees. It also ensures that prospective employees aren’t deterred from joining your company because you haven’t committed to a consistent and fair talent management strategy.

Race Relations and The Workplace: The Role of Human Resources

Disclaimer: This post was co-written by Steve Levy of the uber awesome, Recruiting Inferno blog and Janine Truitt, Chief Innovations Officer of Talent Think Innovations, LLC and Founder of The Aristocracy of HR.

If you haven’t recognized the surge of conversations and bickering about race lately you have either been ignoring it or have living under a rock. For most people, having a discussion about race relations is the equivalent to standing in a public place with twenty people where there is a remarkable stench, but no one wants to be the one to say aloud that the room stinks. Talking about race stinks, but it has to be done.

Despite the front-page awareness brought by the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and Eric Gardner in Staten Island, NY, there’s one place that has yet to directly embrace the discussion.

The workplace.

For all the sensitivity training mandated by corporate Human Resources with their PowerPoint decks and contrived “can’t we all just get along” group exercises, practically all diversity and inclusion sessions can be boiled down to lyrical statements such as these from the Diversity and Inclusion in the VA Workforce presentation from Department of Veterans Affairs:

Diversity is the mosaic of people who bring a variety of backgrounds, styles, perspectives, values and beliefs as assets to the groups and organizations with which they interact

The “melting pot” theory of American society has evolved, instead consider a vegetable soup metaphor

Members of various cultural groups may not want to be assimilated, they want their tastes, looks and texture to remain whole.

These present a sanitized and easy-to-deliver message that diversity and inclusion can be learned by all employees in a few hours.

Yet they never mention the phrase, Race Relations.

In some instances, participants are even asked to shout out words and phrases that further marginalize the recipients, like:

Jews are great with money; Blacks are great at sports.

Feel better now? Great, now get back to work and make some money you silly goose…

The bigger question is where has all of our diversity and inclusion training gotten us? As HR people, have we had the truly difficult conversations surrounding race or have we just chosen to do what’s comfortable for everyone involved – the 50% solution?

I can comfortably say we have done the latter. We’d much rather have employees overhear the whispers in cubicles or the clandestine rumblings about race at the water cooler than to have an open and honest discussion in the context of our corporate mission and values.

When we speak about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we usually give it the backdrop of tolerance. We can’t make people love one another but is tolerance of one another enough? Our sentiment is that just as parents teach their kids about racism so does a company “teach” its employees how to treat those from other races within the company.

However, you can’t have bigots “protectively” draped in the veil of Human Resources prancing around your organization. It doesn’t work to insulate racially insensitive behavior because as we are witnessing, racism always manages to rear its ugly head. Take Sony Pictures: None of those fools saw a hacking of their emails coming and so they happily cracked racial jokes about the President of the United States along with bashing other notable artists. Where was HR?

It will be interesting to see if and how their HR department deals with the racial joking in the context of any policies they have on the books. The likely scenario will be that the public will play the role of HR and “force” Amy Pascal to resign because the public remedy of chopping off the head of the stinking fish – at the expense of fixing the deeper reason for the stench – carries more weight to company “leadership” than addressing the issue as a violation of a company policy which of course is predicated on the presence of an actual company policy that deals with racially charged actions.

Working in HR, we have found out that policies stating that there is “Zero Tolerance” for discrimination and/or racist discussion in the workplace are bull. While most companies have them to cover their behinds, HR issues such as internal inequity run rampant with minorities making disproportionately less money than their white counterparts (want more? search for “do minorities earn less”). Zero Tolerance policies notwithstanding, employees in general are free to spew their racial epithets company-wide, because they can without any significant repercussions. Heck, kindergarten children who point “finger guns” at other classmates are suspended more frequently than employees sending around racially-insensitive emails!

We have a major issue in the US around race and it has been fermenting in business and the workforce for a long time. You can thank race relations for your EEO-1 reports, for your Affirmative Action Plans, and for all the data you have to collect to prove your applicant pools have adequate ethnic and racial representation.

The world is laughing at us.

As our colleague and friend, Ron Thomas recently said in his article “Breathe Deep” about the world’s view of business and HR: “Every race imaginable, every language imaginable and everyone is too busy with their lives to get caught up in this racial mindset. We are too busy doing business to get caught up in this US kind of thing.” His point-of-view is framed by his relationships with business leaders in Dubai where he currently lives and works.

Here’s a thought…

If it is explicit (meaning in policy and action) that racism and/or discrimination will not be the basis for any business decision in company “X”, employees have three choices, (1) they can resign and find a company where their bigoted ideas are supported; (2) they will act accordingly and ensure that all people are treated fairly; (3) or they will be fired. Zero Tolerance should really mean Zero Tolerance.

However, anti-racism policies alone are not sufficient to solve the core problem. The real issues are Action and Accountability. Given the events of gross police misconduct in Ferguson, MO and on Staten Island, NY, are HR and C-suite leadership any more encouraged to offer corporate solutions for addressing race relations in the workplace? It is important to throw both company leadership and HR out in front because it stands to reason that the current model of HR wouldn’t write a policy or create education that will change this racial trajectory if it isn’t supported by leadership.

Much of the undercurrent of annoyance and fury surrounding the recent killings of black men in the media are not just about the killings, but how it is rooted in a build up of injustices felt in every corner of society by every category of a workplace EEO-1 report. Monochromatic leadership with monochromatic workforce planning when combined with the fear or inability to discuss complex socio-economic issues has led to an uneven playing field when it comes to the differences of upward mobility and opportunity for both whites and blacks.

We’ve steered clear of the word minorities as it is an all-encompassing “safe word” that frankly allows us in HR to downplay the impact our policies, procedures and ideals have on specific groups of people. With Diversity and Inclusion training, task forces, affinity groups, and even people of color on Boards of Directors, it sure sounds like we’re being inclusive when in reality the sanitization and compartmentalization produces even further misunderstanding and pushes conversation farther back into the closet.

Both of us have very strong ties to law enforcement; we’re quite aware that the job is dangerous and we do worry about our friends and family coming home every evening. We also know how hard-working, conscientious, and fair most of them are. It’s a small percentage of police officers who cross the lines into racist action, much in the same way we suspect that a similar percentage of companies create a culture of racism with divisive C-level leadership and non-existent HR oversight.

While “leaders” have created the problem, within the workplace, HR should have the knowledge, influence, and ability to change the deeply ingrained culture that is responsible for enabling the racism. Our thesis is that racism in the workplace continues to undermine the very purpose for why we exist in organizations and in so many instances HR has taken the easy way out.

It is time for a change.

When the death of black men in Ferguson, MO, on Staten Island, and in stairwells takes place so easily, then it really does become time not for a national discussion of race in America but a national call to action and change of culture. Surely we’re not naive to believe that either discussion or action will eliminate bigotry but since we’re in a profession that purportedly cares about the workplace, it is time to mobilize a new Human Resources to create new deliverables about Race Relations.

The workplace is not a community that sits on an island cordoned off from society but is in fact a microcosm of society. HR has failed either by fear, ignorance, or some bizarre take on professionalism to address racism in the workplace. If employees are the heartbeat of the company, then for certain HR is the pacemaker – and it’s time for some serious surgery.

People are now marching on the streets across the country – and it’s calling attention to racism in America but it’s time for HR to march into boardrooms. It’s time for HR to lead the discussion on racism at work, not as means for attaining a certificate of completion for diversity training but with a goal of creating a culture and all the necessary elements to root out racism in the workplace. It’s time for HR to look its recruiting and retention practices to see if we’re “bringing” racism into the workplace with bad hiring and “promoting” racism with bad management.

If all this talk about racism makes you uncomfortable to think or speak about, think of your “valued” employees who endure these racially-charged emails, water cooler jokes, and I-know-why-you’re-here smirks because you failed to create a culture that supports the value they bring to your company. If your talent chooses to leave or you can’t attract the best and the brightest because your company’s HR policies, procedures, and people aren’t fair and supportive, do you know what that makes you?



Corporate America Has Lost Another Soldier…Me

Medieval Soldier

When I graduated from college, I had a fire in my belly that you could see from miles away- I was hungry for opportunity. I purposely went into to HR having done my research on it as a profession. Additionally, I was told that there was an ongoing need for someone with this expertise in the future. My plan at that time was to become the CHRO at some big corporation- preferably a company in pharmaceuticals, healthcare or science.

From the day I graduated and landed my first career job, my focus was on driving results, being a game changer and going above and beyond. In my head, these were the things that were going to get me to the promise land of CHRO’s. As you have read in some of my previous posts, my career travels in HR have not been without challenges. However, through perseverance and that fire in my belly I kept pressing on- trying to find something different, challenging and unique in each progressive position.

Well…the buck has stopped.

You see something interesting happened in 2013. The first thing was my long-term plan of starting my own business became a short-term plan when one of my mentors/friends ran an assessment on me that reported me as being 100% entrepreneur. With several phone calls taking place between she and I plus others in my circle of trust saying “why start your business in 10 years, Janine?”- I took the leap of fate and started my talent management firm, Talent Think Innovations, LLC. Even with starting it, I made a plan to be working  full-time in it within five years. Again, a colleague of mine told me at a conference- “it won’t take you that long- you will be blown away by how soon you get up and running.” I appreciated her sentiment, but I had a plan. Then came, performance evaluation time last year where I figured I’d give one more shot to my company to promote me or at the very least have a short-term plan for my career. I wrote up a four-page summary of my accomplishments and achieved business outcomes tying them back to the overall strategic business plan of  the organization. Excited for the very first time in my career to have a performance conversation, I went in with my head high and hopes to hear that they liked my summary.

Instead, I was given a paper for my increase for the year (internal equity was the culprit- see my thoughts on that here). I was then told that all things are superb with my performance. Still things are good. Here’s the zinger and pay attention to this: “Janine, you are talented but I don’t know how to get you where you want to go.”

I could go on for days explaining to you, my beloved readers how damaging this approach is for your attraction and retention strategy, but this is not my purpose today. That one statement -along with the rest of the conversation that resulted in me having to justify my telework days for the thousandth time (again another post, different day) both angered and moved me . It moved me to rethink what that 22 year old so earnestly wanted early in her career and what this 31 year old woman needs and deserves today. What I decided was to take one year to rediscover what moves me. In under one year, I have realized that the 22 year old me was not well-informed about the business-side of things and the assessment was onto something important. Which is why, I happily put in my resignation over eight weeks ago and am sailing into my business full-time effective this Friday.

In hindsight, I was never prepared for the barrage of corporate politics, greed, the lack of ethics, the red tape, and the hierarchical crap that is so prevalent in today’s business environment. I handled and I survived it, but paddling in these murky corporate waters trying to anticipate fires, character assassinations and pleasing people that have built careers off of lucky breaks and breaking rules.

Plans fail, but new doors open…

When I say I was “both angered and moved” by what happened last year I was. In fact, I cried the whole car ride home trying to discern what my next move needed to be. What I’ve learned is it is not any company’s job to succumb to my career aspirations or professional requests; but it is absolutely my job to create the life and career I want for myself and my family. Since I made this decision to leave my gainful employment, I have received the following feedback:

“Janine, what will you do?”

“Are you going to work for another employer?”

“I’m so jealous, good for you.”

“You suck, I’m really going to miss you.”

” Sorry to see you leave, you were one of the good ones.”

All of these statements make me happy. For one, I am clear on the plan for now and even a few years out, but I am so open to new experiences-so those first, two questions just make me giggle. The latter three make me smile, because I know I made a great impression on colleagues at all levels and achieved lots of what 22 year old Janine set out to do.

Corporate America you’re losing a soldier on Friday. It may not be indefinite, but for now I can’t stomach you. I’m hard-working, caring, intelligent, forward-thinking and damn good at what I do. My only intention was to be of service and do meaningful work. I’m not mad at you per se- in fact I should thank everyone who has told me “no” for the past ten years. You have now ignited a new fire in my belly. Now my goal is to make an impact and it doesn’t have hierarchical implications but global ones. Thank you for helping me raise my standards and take back control of my career.

The future is bright…

To find out more about me and my baby, check out Talent Think Innovations, LLC  here.

Does Humility Have A Place In Business?

GIF Image courtesy of Tumblr

Humility is defined as “the quality and/or state of not thinking you are better than anyone else.” When you have made it to the huge conference room and are seated with the suits and powerful figureheads in your organization- what changes? Does the title and other executive accoutrements give you a license to forget the plight of another human namely your employees?

Some of the best leaders in our history are remembered not mainly for their professional pursuits and contributions, but because of how they made people think and feel. For years, we have tried to get to the root of what makes for a successful leader. There’s the theory of emotional intelligence, there are 360 assessments, Myers-Briggs inventories- yet with all of this psychological insight- we still have the wrong people in leadership positions. Moreover, the poor underlings remain where they are to scribe the latest and greatest stories of poor leadership via water-cooler conversations, exit interviews, abrupt resignations etc.

How does humility help business leaders?

It allows your leaders to have compassion when an employee becomes terminally ill and needs flexibility due to failing health and ongoing treatment. Humility provides a different framework for viewing an employee that may be having the worse year of their life due to domestic issues. Additionally, it allows you to see your employees as fellow human beings that are deserving of fair treatment in all things pertaining to salary, upward mobility, development etc.- you know the kinds of things that draw people to your company in the first place.

More often than not, I continue to be approached by people that have never or rarely seen humility in their leadership.  What a shame! If you are bringing in business, laying out the new plans for company growth, all while seducing your investors with your witty charm- congratulations you have handily won over your investors, CEO and all the “beautiful people” at the top. The bigger question is how many chalk outlines lead to you? How many casualties have you caused on your road to leadership stardom?

If you have lost track, you may want to rethink your strategy as a leader. Here are some things I know to be true:

1) If you are a jerk and you show no interest in your employees, they will not be productive, they will not enjoy their work and they will use your time and theirs to find something better.

2) If you are a malicious jerk (the kind that goes after people for folly), your employees will not be productive, they will undermine any expectations you have of them. Additionally, they will likely leave and sue those beloved Brooks Brothers pants off of you.

3) If you are a leader and a passive-aggressive jerk, your employees will see right through you and everything I said in 1 and 2 will follow.

How is this helpful?

It’s helpful to know that you don’t have to be a jerk to be an effective leader. You need to know that showing compassion and humility will speak many more volumes to who you are and why you deserve that title where your employees are concerned. I hear the “but, Janine all the other leaders are like this- I can’t be the odd one out?” My answer: tough shit. No one said this leadership stuff was going to be easy. Sometimes you have to be willing to stand tall in your own truth as a person and as a leader. It may be possible that in you doing so, your counterparts will see the virtues of leading with humility and follow suit.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Just so you all know, I am dedicated to awakening  companies and leaders  to the importance of leading with integrity, intelligence and compassion. I’m also a sucker for companies doing it right. Let me know how you have been successful in ensuring your leaders lead with humility.

Why Focusing on Internal Equity Isn’t a Compensation Strategy?



is_not_3Outside of my love for both Recruitment and Talent Management lies a fascination with Compensation Strategy. It is the window of opportunity that every company has to compete for talent. Not every company can deal the same cards. Some will lag the market, some will lead and others will mirror the market. Even more fascinating is this sentiment that a person’s worth in an organization should be marginalized by the salaries of others- a.k.a. internal equity.

If you are unaware of internal equity, here is the breakdown in a story: you are courting a new Accountant from the outside. You already have six other accountants company-wide with varying levels of knowledge, skills, abilities and tenure. You ask the new Accountant for their salary requirements; but before you oblige their wish list- you check the salary spread across the six individuals you currently employ. In doing so, you find that the lowest paid Accountant gets $65,000 per year and the highest paid Accountant gets $85,000. Your rockstar Accountant candidate is making $85,000 plus a $10,000 per year bonus. To make him whole he is looking for $93,000- 96,000 per year. Despite your salary range of $63,800- $94,000, you decide to offer $87,000 because you would hate to disturb your internal equity among Accountants.

Here’s the issue with this strategy:

1) You are likely to either have your candidate decline your offer to move onto greener pastures or  he will counteroffer and you get to play that game.

2) This person has an MBA, CPA and has worked at KPMG for over 15 years. You only have one other CPA on staff and they don’t possess the 15 years of experience at a big firm or an MBA. How can you offer him less when he is more qualified?

3) Depending on whether your ranges lag, lead or mimic the market, you may spend a long time trying to make this candidate whole- which may become old and eventually push the candidate to seek new opportunities.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to look at internal equity to give me a barometer for how people are situated salary-wise in the organization. Additionally, it helps you to make equitable decisions regarding both internal and external candidates. However, I have seen companies use it to drive their compensation strategy. It isn’t a strategy at all. If someone meets and/or exceeds the functional and strategic needs of your organization, you may have to bust the internal bubble once in a while.

It is foolhardy to believe that every hire will conform to the confines of your salary structures. The key is to make the right compensation decisions and burst that internal equity bubble only when it makes the most sense. However, inconsistent compensation practices whereby certain employees are paid more and unqualified or under-performing- will undoubtedly undermine any aspirations or hopes you have for a fairly compensated workforce. More often than not, I see under-performers that are better compensated than those who perform at or above their pay grade.

What does that say for internal equity?

If you truly care about a transparent and fair payment system, you have to start with the premise that every  person regardless of race, gender, ethnicity etc. is worth the value they provide to the organization. Salary is just one piece of the puzzle, how else can you leverage rewards, benefits etc. to improve your overall offering. I understand the reasons why internal equity is needed, but as a strategy it is stifling and only as good as your overall compensation practices.

“I am Revolutionizing HR” HUNITE – In Work, In Life, In The Moment




We are a company that believes trusting and supporting the power of individuals will lead to greater things in the workplace. After more than a decade of building HR portals, we realized it was time to revolutionize the way we work, because the reality is that traditional methods are simply not meeting the needs of today’s changing workforce.

Consider the thoughts of a worker: “My work influences who I am and what becomes of me, not only as a worker but as a person. So anything that supports me in being more connected at work and more effective in life is something for me”.

The workers of today are self-taught digital managers. Outside of our working hours, we are used to having all the information we want at our fingertips through apps on our mobile devices. It doesn’t have to be different at work. People also want to be connected and trusted to contribute, without being constantly monitored. Self-service combined with intranet tried to capture this, but is cumbersome for employees, particularly for remote employees without access to computers or email. Adoption is a problem, particularly in a generationally changing workforce where millennial’s represent a growing majority of the work population.

But how do you capture this as an employer? How do you relate to this and support your own goals–and theirs– in a cohesive and non-invasive way? The answer is trust. Trust both frees and motivates.

Trust is a backbone of relationships in work and life. It is often perceived to be granted from the employer to the employee through social collaboration tools, which however are generally attached to strict guidelines or monitoring policies. Employees in turn often view these limitations as undermining the purity of that trust. Facebook or WhatsApp are popular tools among dynamic workforces, but the enterprise cannot really utilize these platforms effectively. Corporate social tools implemented and monitored from the top down are all too often unsuccessful. Workers fear exposing themselves. At best, they use them cautiously; at worst they reject them wholesale. It is a key aspect of why many HR practitioners do not get the results that they would like out of intranet and collaboration initiatives currently.

Hunite sees itself as a connecter within the “black box” of any enterprise, especially among dynamic workforces. By actually entrusting them to a tool that promotes self-organization and growth, employees can become better at what they do and can be recognized within their teams or self-made networks. Employers can positively influence this disconnected realm where there is little reach or control. The key, though, is respecting the balance between control and trust for everyone involved.

Our mission: to access the potential of workers within enterprises for the good of all. By adopting this tool, that mission can be fulfilled for both individual and enterprise. Individual workers can effectively support themselves not only in work, but also in life, while enterprises can reach out to connected workers with meaningful information in a non-invasive way.

Free from fear, workers can begin to learn—and love—an unencumbered and self-organizing way of life, while employers and HR practitioners reap the benefits of increased employee contribution, motivation, efficiency & success.

Hunite will play an important–and revolutionary–role in transforming and building competitive workforces to drive revenue. Help your people be connected in work and more effective in life!

Author Biography

Kym Lukins works as an Industry Specialist at Hunite. He investigates the needs of workers in dynamic workforces. Previous work in customer focused industries such as hospitality and retail along with study in international HR management has spurred an interest in engagement and connectivity of workers on an international level. He is a firm believer that mobile will play a huge role in improving not only the ability for people to communicate in work and life, but also the chance to balance it in a more effective and cohesive manner. 


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