Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute advisory board member David Creelman, chief executive officer of Creelman Research.

Like many of you, I love Stanford Professor Carol Dweck’s work on the growth mindset. Her research shows that, when people think a talent is fixed (e.g., “I’m naturally good at learning languages” or “I’m naturally bad at learning languages”), they learn less well than when they think a talent can be developed (e.g., “If I work at a language, I’ll get better”).

But what if Carol’s research isn’t correct? Marc Effron of the Talent Strategy Group has bravely and carefully documented the fact that the evidence backing Carol’s ideas is not strong. Other researchers have failed to replicate her findings. Furthermore, if the growth mindset just means that when you try harder you learn more, then it’s not much of a finding.

Carol’s work has enormous emotional resonance because:

Alas, all our positive feeling gets washed away if we accept that research doesn’t support the idea that convincing people to have a growth mindset is the best way to improve learning.

So, what do we do?

Since we want to be evidence-based professionals, we need to back off promoting the idea of a growth mindset — as much as it hurts to do so. If we mention it, we should do so with the caveats Marc documents in his article. If we were thinking of investing in training specifically on the growth mindset, then the evidence suggests that’s not the best use of funds and we should invest the money elsewhere.

However, there is something deeper here. It seems whenever we find a cool research finding that promises easy steps forward (e.g., a growth mindset, the Wonder Woman pose, personal learning styles), then we find out a few years later that it’s not true. Maybe we need to accept the broad lesson that we need to resist the lure of such findings.

In a world where the quick fix, the shiny object, and the wonder diet are all beloved and constantly promoted, it’s hard to buck the tide. However, a true professional will learn the research, treat claims of attractive new cures with skepticism, and do their very best to teach their organization to base decisions on the best available evidence.

A Final Thought

I asked Marc if he had any final thoughts and he wanted to share a story. He writes:

“I had been using the ‘unfreeze, change, refreeze’ change model for many years and attributed it to the great psychologist Kurt Lewin. I recently found an article in an academic journal that explained that not only did Kurt Lewin not create that model but, given the nuanced way in which he thought about the world, he would’ve never have suggested a blunt model like that.

After reading that article I decided to post online that I had been using this model for years and thought it was true, but it turned out not to be. We have to recognize that many things that we think are conclusively proven to be correct, may not be. As long as we admit that we were wrong in the face of new facts, then it’s just a moment for growth.”

This month, The Workforce Institute Weigh-In addresses the critical topic of pay equity and, more specifically, working to “close the gap.”

The Workforce Institute Weigh-In for March 2022: “What do organizations need to prepare for as they actively move to tackle the pay-equity challenge?”

“Well-run organizations need to be prepared for the fact that there is probably not gender pay gaps. Organizations with effective compensation teams have spent decades addressing unfairness in gender pay. Hopefully, by now, they will have fixed those problems. This creates its own challenge because the PR message you want to give is, ‘We found an inequity and fixed it,’ and not, ‘We have managed comp in a professional way so that there were no inequities.’” — David Creelman, chief executive officer, Creelman Research

“The principles of compensation and total rewards can be tricky, so organizations need to partner with experts in this field. It’s easy to ‘fix’ one aspect of total rewards and unknowingly create another problem at the same time. If your organization doesn’t have a compensation expert on staff (and many don’t), reach out to your local SHRM or WorldAtWork chapters to find one.” — Sharlyn Lauby, author, HR Bartender blog

“Tackling pay equity is actually a great opportunity to partner human and machine talent in a technology-driven, ‘human in the loop’ process. It’s well-known that AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms can assist in setting pay in a way that eliminates subjectivity and removes bias. However, given how closely managerial input on performance reviews (for instance) is tied to pay, we cannot remove people from the equation and are more likely to achieve greater pay equity if we leverage both resources.” — Alexandra Levit, author, Humanity Works

“Tackling this challenge requires a multistep strategy. In addition to addressing systemic cultural issues, here is what one might need in order to prepare for this journey: 1) Ensure a genuine buy-in from the C-suite to address this challenge. 2) Obtain the organizational data that identifies and validates specific positions and people where the gap exists. 3) Create a financial model for the best-case scenario, where addressing 100% of the gaps is the stated goal. 4) Develop a priority listing and timeline to apply the fixes. This timeline might span more than one budget cycle, depending on the funds needed to apply the fixes and available resources. 5) Examine and revise structural components of pay policies to mitigate creating future gaps, and include budgetary components. Finally, check your work, and validate that the fixes you applied and that the modified structural components actually addressed the current pay-equity issues and will help avoid future issues.” — Dennis Miller, assistant vice president of HR and benefits administration, The Claremont Colleges

“Organizations must be prepared to spend a considerable amount of money initially and every 3-5 years to address issues of pay equity. The initial review of pay for equity will reveal inequities to correct, and the natural course of hiring, terminations, and other employment changes will create gaps every few years that will have to be addressed. Correcting pay equity costs money. There’s no other way out.” — Sarah Morgan, chief excellence officer, BuzzARooney, LLC

“Organizations will be faced with the critical challenge of right-sizing pay, not only within their organization but against competition. With more and more states pushing for pay transparency, employees will not simply ask, ‘What does my coworker make?’ They’ll be asking, ‘Why don’t we pay as well as [insert competitor]?’ Be ready to tackle pay equity with agility, candor, and an honest look at your organization and where it falls in the greater competitive landscape.” — Joey V. Price, co-host, While We Were Working podcast

“You can’t tackle the pay-equity challenge unless you are willing to do both a data and a behavioral audit to understand behaviors, policies, and practices that define your organization up to this point. The data audit is the easy part. The easy part is to look at the numbers and see where gaps occur. The harder challenge is to look backward, understand how you got there, and create a plan of action moving forward to prevent and address future inequities in your company.” — Laurie Ruettimann, host, Punk Rock HR podcast

“When working to correct the salary gap, be sure to watch out for pitfalls, especially from an HR or legal perspective. It is important to calculate the gap first, and then figure out how to fix it without ballooning your wage bill, while maintaining the incentive structure and avoiding the creation of new legal liabilities.” — Ivonne Vargas, author, ¡Contrátame! (Hire Me!)

Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member David Creelman.

Resumes play an odd role in recruiting. No one likes them, yet everyone feels they are essential. The main problems with resumes are that they are not reliable predictors of performance, and that they unfairly screen out talented people who lack the “right” education and experience.

Assessments are a potential alternative to resumes. This isn’t to suggest resumes would be completely replaced — just that they would play a minor role in the recruiting process. A suite of assessments could potentially cover technical skills, soft skills, and personality in a way that would more accurately predict performance than traditional screening and selection methods.

Normally, when we talk about assessments, we think in terms of tests such as cognitive-ability tests, personality tests, or tests of technical skills. However, in the context of this blog, we should include interviews as a type of assessment test. The point in question is whether we can move resumes to a minor role in recruiting.

Here’s how an assessment-focused approach to recruiting would potentially work:

  1. A company posts a job.
  2. Anyone interested must complete the online assessments. (If they’ve done an assessment before when applying for another job, they won’t need to do it again. They can re-submit the results, which are presumably stored on some kind of blockchain service).
  3. Candidates are automatically short-listed, and the hiring decision is made based on some further assessment, probably an interview.

You can imagine some issues that need to be worked out, but none of those issues is a showstopper.

If assessments actually work and are widely adopted, then three stakeholders would be affected: organizations, candidates, and universities.

For organizations, it would be a clear win. They would reach a wider talent pool and do a better job of identifying the most qualified candidates from that pool.

For candidates, the big winners would be high performers who had been overlooked because of bias, lack of educational credentials, or a lack of obvious experience. Imagine a grocery store cashier who never went to university and never had a job in public relations. However, he or she is an excellent writer who is extremely well organized and adept at deeply connecting to their community. While nothing on their resume would qualify them for the job, they might excel at any assessment of their ability to work in public relations. The assessment-based approach would be life changing for them.

For universities, well that’s where it gets interesting. If a university did a fabulous job of building abilities, then people graduating from that university would ace the assessments. The degree itself would be worthless, but the abilities developed would be golden. Do most universities excel at developing ability to the point that the degree itself is irrelevant? You tell me.

It’s worth noting that Tesla already leans heavily toward assessments (including tough interviews) rather than relying on a resume. Perhaps a future based on assessments rather than resumes is already upon us.

Introducing a new recurring feature on our blog: The Workforce Institute Weigh-In. Each month, we’ll pose a top-of-mind question from the world of HR and include several perspectives from our advisory board. These are meant to be succinct actionable insights you can start implementing at your organization today. In some cases, you’ll see full articles from board members discussing the topic in proceeding weeks.

The Workforce Institute Weigh-In for February 2022: “What are two ways companies can create a culture where employees feel safe speaking up, asking questions, and/or providing feedback?”

“Rather than focus on aggregate corporate culture, ask where in the organization this is a problem that is impacting business results, then look deeply at the individual cases to determine the root cause. Be careful about assuming speaking up and asking questions is the natural and correct way of being. There are many ‘good’ reasons why managers may not want employees to speak up, and we need to be open to understanding — not merely dismissing — those reasons.” — David Creelman, chief executive officer, Creelman Research

“First, start early by conducting candidate experience surveys. Not only does the organization make sure its strategy is on target but, when done right, it sends the message that the organization values employee feedback. Then, practice empathetic listening. This will help to reduce misunderstandings and create better connections.” — Sharlyn Lauby, author, HR Bartender blog

“Leaders should look at their new hybrid cultures as an opportunity to boost employees’ sense of belonging and take diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts to the next level. Consult your employees — especially those in marginalized groups — before establishing new rituals to ensure they are as fair and inclusive as possible. Additionally, hybrid-workplace communication must be more frequent and purposeful, with employee-listening mechanisms built into the daily experience, so people can provide opinions and feedback on their needs and wishes. Scheduled digital messages and verbal check-ins are standard protocol top to bottom, but what about side to side (peer) and cross-functionally?” — Alexandra Levit, author, Humanity Works

“First, start with trusting your employees and train managers to trust their employees. Consider this sentiment from Aron Ain, the CEO of a well-respected worldwide company: ‘employees have to un-earn my trust.’ State clearly to employees that you trust them and also state the kinds of actions or events that will likely result in losing your trust. Second, develop managers in such a way that they communicate with their employees whenever they are on the pathway that will result in a loss of trust, unless the respective employee changes their path. Clearly state (to an employee) how to change the path in such a manner that will avoid the loss of trust. It is only from a position of mutual trust that we can expect employees to be open in their communications to management and each other, such as asking questions, making suggestions, or providing feedback.” — Dennis Miller, assistant vice president of HR and benefits administration, The Claremont Colleges

“Employers create a culture where employees feel safe giving feedback by 1) asking for it and 2) responding positively and transparently to it. Asking for feedback should begin from their first interview encounter with the company. Ask candidates about their experience: what went well, what could have been improved, whether or not the experience makes them more/less excited to work with the company. Within their first 30 days of work, ask about their onboarding and orientation experiences, as well as how the job is measuring up compared with what was shared during the interview process. Ask about their benefits, their compensation, the systems being used, the processes being followed, their managers, the coworkers — everything you can think of! Solicit their feedback as early and often as possible. Once you receive their feedback, respond to it. If you send out a survey, publish the results. If you ask an employee for their feedback, thank them. If your employees make suggestions, acknowledge them, especially when you use those suggestions as a factor in business decisions. If you cannot use their suggestions or take action on something they’ve requested, explain why the petition isn’t possible at the time (or ever). When we treat our employees like capable adults who contribute value to our organizations, they will feel the safety and support they need to behave as such.” — Sarah Morgan, chief excellence officer, BuzzARooney, LLC

“Vulnerability goes a long way in creating a culture where employees feel safe speaking up or asking awkward questions. For example, leaders shouldn’t be afraid to anticipate what’s on the mind of employees, go first, and ask and answer the tough questions that people are thinking. Technology can also aid in the creation of a culture where employees feel secure providing feedback. Using surveys and communicating the anonymity behind the questionnaire can be one way to ensure workers that employees’ psychological safety is a priority.” — Laurie Ruettimann, host, Punk Rock HR podcast

This post is submitted by Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of the Workforce Institute.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing David Creelman and Peter Navin, authors of the new book The CMO of People: Manage Employees Like Customers with an Immersive Predictable Experience that Drives Productivity and Performance. David is a longtime Workforce Institute board member, speaker and author focused on leadership and HR. Peter is Chief Human Resources Officer at Grand Rounds, a leading provider of employer-based technology that connects members and their families to high-quality healthcare. Peter joined me for a podcast in 2017 to talk about why more executives should consider the role of CHRO as a career path.

In this book David and Peter propose a new model for HR leaders to consider that borrows heavily from marketing disciplines and urges them to think about talent management in terms of maximizing the lifetime value of employees. Just as the CMO thinks in terms of the acquisition and lifetime value of customers, Peter Navin's Talent Funnel "cocktail napkin" chart here summarizes the analogous concepts for how CHROs can think about talent.

Talent Funnel Model
Peter Navin's Talent Funnel Model

In our wide ranging conversation, we talked about:

  1. How HR leaders can use this model to up their brand from Personnel Department to strategic partner.
  2. Why HR should approach curating the employee experience the way a Chief Marketing Officer does the customer experience.
  3. Why the “predictable and immersive employee experience” is so important and what tools an HR leader can use to achieve this.
  4. The need to find unconventional people to staff this unconventional model.

You'll learn a lot more by listening to the podcast below, and even better, by reading the book. And please consider adding your own thoughts by commenting on this post.

TWS23.600.pickupshiftToday's post is from our board member, David Creelman.  David is CEO of Creelman Research, and a frequently published expert on human capital management issues.  Following is his take on why organizations should balance the productivity benefits of scheduling software with the needs of the human beings whose schedules are being managed.

In Leslie Perlow's book Sleeping with your Smartphone she relates the tale of Boston Consulting Group consultants who recognized that one of the major drawbacks in their life was that they never knew when they'd have to work late. They decided to fix that by committing, as a team, to having Wednesday as a predictable night off.  Not only did they succeed in improving their work-life by sticking to this commitment, they became more productive as they figured out how to avoid the kind of crisis that might lead to a late night.

Hourly workers might have a good laugh about consultants complaining about unpredictable hours. Hourly workers would agree that it can be a real drag never knowing when you will have to work. Unfortunately, unlike the consultants, they can't just make their own rules about when they work.  Setting schedules is up to management.

Managers are often tempted to set up schedules that minimize visible costs without worrying about how it affects employees' lives. However, optimizing on visible costs while creating high hidden costs isn't really optimization at all. The hidden costs show up in fatigue, turnover, low morale, and unplanned absences. Ignoring these costs hurts the bottom line.

Technically, modern scheduling software has the power to optimize on both visible and hidden costs. If for example, you want to promise employees predictable time off, well that is easy enough to do. The only challenge is someone coming along and saying, “Hey you seem to be costing us money by pampering employees.”  To counter this there needs to be at least a back of the envelope calculation on how much value is created by setting employee-friendly schedules. For example, one doesn't have to improve much on turnover to pay for any sub-optimization of visible costs. It is also worth noting that customers like seeing the same faces, so employee-friendly scheduling is probably customer-friendly as well.

Managers need to recognize that intangibles like fatigue and morale have tangible costs.  Failing to include consideration of intangibles in scheduling is fiscally irresponsible. Let's do the right thing for employees and for the organization by making the extra effort to set up scheduling so that it really optimizes work.

What's your organization doing to balance worker rights and productivity?  



53millionfreelancers1One of the most important issues we help our clients address is the need to match their workforce to a changing workload. One way to do this is to use workforce analytics and scheduling technology to make data driven decisions about how to deploy talent. That talent often consists of a mix of full time, part time and contingent (temporary) workers.  The chart here from Harvard Business Review notes that the different categories of temporary workers  represent a significant portion (31%) of the US workforce.

The rise of the freelance economy has been predicted frequently in the last 15 years or so.  When I worked at talent management vendor BrassRing  (now IBM Kenexa) years ago, we frequently discussed whether the resume was dead, whether the internet would remove the role of the recruiter altogether, and whether the freelance economy would replace the traditional model of employer-employee.  While the resume is still with us, social tools like LinkedIn have made it easier than ever for recruiters (yup, still with us) to find great talent.  And yes, the freelancers continue to become a more important part of the overall workforce.

In a new blog post on Harvard Business Review, Workforce Institute board member David Creelman and his co-authors John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan write about the emergence of talent platforms that help organizations hire and manage freelance workers. The examples in this article are focused on creative talent for project-based work at ad agencies.  Read on to learn about how some of these new talent platforms are enabling the connection of freelancers and those who need their services in "Tongal, dLance, and Topcoder Will Change How You Compete".  The question the article raises is how easily this model could be extended to other types of freelance work.

What's going on in your organization?  Do you use a lot of freelancers?  Do you use talent platforms like the ones mentioned in the HBR post to engage and manage them?







Yesterday I chatted with our board members David Creelman and William Tincup about what organizations need to do to create HR analytics that matter to the business.  Big Data is one of the linchpins of the big 4 SMAC themes in technology today: Social-Mobile-Analytics-Cloud.  Deployed alone and in various combinations, these technologies continue to transform the way work gets done. For many people,  harnessing the power of big data remains a new frontier.  In this podcast, David and William share their thoughts on some of the following questions:

You can listen to our conversation here:

What have you done to embed more data-driven decision making into your organization?

Big-DataToday I discussed the implications of big data for workforce management with our board member, David Creelman and a Kronos expert on workforce analytics, Kristen Wylie.  David Creelman is CEO of Creelman Research and does writing, research and speaking on the most critical issues in human capital management. He also  leads a community of practice on evidence-based management. Kristen works in Kronos's product marketing group and is our analytics guru.

I asked David and Kristen to comment on the following questions:

  1. How you define big data?
  2. Big data can seem overwhelming to people.  After all, a lot of big data systems are built on top of huge amounts of transactional data.  What kind of tools can help organizations to translate mountains of information into digestible bits of insight?
  3. What kind of changes and opportunities is the big data trend creating for human capital management?
  4. Is big data just for big companies, or can small and mid-sized businesses benefit as well?
  5. What are the potential pitfalls of applying big data analytics to workforce issues?
  6. What is the future of big data? What will be discussed in 5 years?

If you'd like to hear their answers, you can listen to our podcast here:

Big Data Podcast

Other relevant information you might want to check out:

They're Watching You at Work - The Atlantic

Kronos Tools for Workforce Analytics

Just What is a Data Scientist Anyway?




Board members Ruth Bramson, David Creelman and I recently met to talk about the opportunities and challenges presented by the increasingly multi-generational workforce.  The picture here makes fun of one particular cliche about Millennials, but there are differences between the generations in terms of their assumptions, preferences and beliefs about how work gets done.

When I talked to co-authors Meagan and Larry Johnson a couple of years ago, they reflected on the significance of the cultural events that shaped the beliefs of workers from different generations.  Increasingly, attitudes toward technology have become another aspect of difference.  The newest generation, still doesn't have an agreed upon moniker or birthdate for that matter. Re-Gen,Gen Z,Pluralist & or Homelander are all in play.  But they'll start to enter the workplace soon and what we do know about them is that they've never known a world without smartphones and social media.  Email?  That's what their parents use to communicate.

Tammy Erickson posits that there are four main dimensions on which the generations differ in the workplace:

You can listen to our discussion about these differences by listening to this podcast:  Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce - Ruth Bramson and David Creelman

We'd also love to hear what you think?  How important are generational differences in your workplace?

Our board member, David Creelman, submits the following for your consideration.  I wrote about WaaS, Workforce as a Service, recently.  Is this the new reality?

In the current political campaign in Ontario, Canada, one of the candidates proposed that the number of temporary workers in any establishment should not exceed 25 percent of the total permanent work force.  The candidate is unlikely to win, but what is the thinking behind this?

Jeff Nugent, managing director of Contingent Workforce solutions, says that there is still a perception that temp workers are somehow a second-class add-on to the “real” workforce.  If they are second-class, a means of exploiting workers, then of course politicians will want to get involved.  Yet when one actually looks at contingent workers one finds most are free agents by choice. They are often paid better than permanent staff, enjoy being removed from office politics and like the freedom of being, at least in part, their own boss.

For their part, many organizations hire contingent workers not because they are cheaper than permanent workers but because it is the best way to get the skills they need for a project. In these cases it is just a better match between the nature of the work and the nature of the available workforce.  We have ended up in a fluid economy where people regularly change jobs. Contingent workers go from contract to contract, “permanent” workers go from job to job. Our thinking, or at least the thinking of some politicians, has not caught up with the reality.

So what do you think? Is it time to simply retire the concept of the permanent employee and the legislation that continues to enshrine the concept?

I chatted last week with our board member David Creelman about how companies can maximize the contribution of their frontline workforce and how they might report that value to investors in the future.  David has been deeply involved in a SHRM-led effort to develop an ANSI standard for what human capital information should be reported to investors.  As it turns out, some controversy has arisen about this effort between SHRM and the  Human Resources Policy Association, a lobbying group that includes HR leaders from more than 300 of the largest US organizations.  The former are lobbying for more transparency for investors when it comes to valuing an organization's workforce.  The latter argue that reporting these metrics would place an unecessary administrative burden on organizations.

As a special bonus, we also talked about David's chapter in our book, Elements of Successful Organizations.  Here he talks about what organizations can do to embrace employees' unique strengths to better their business, while balancing that against the needs for product, process and services standards needed for scale.

Listen to the podcast below and take our poll to let us know where you come down on the workforce metrics issue:

9.6.12 Chat with David Creelman

[poll id="21"]

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