Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An HR Entrepreneur in the Navy

When I was a kid my dad told me being in the Navy was all about hurry-up-and-wait. As he explained it you were always supposed to quickly move from one place to the next, but once you got there you typically had to stand around and wait. Hurry-up-and-wait.

As an entrepreneur in HR (probably not unique to HR) I feel like this sometimes. Everything we do is urgent, but when we get there, we typically have to wait. Wait on software development, wait on investor funds, wait on sales prospects, and wait on customers.

Our product Referral Link was over a year in the making and finally went live in November. I felt like a Formula 1 race car sitting at the starting line ready to roar into high gear. 0 to 180 MPH in practically no time. We are ready to win the race.

Thing is, products that break old boundaries and introduce new ways to do things are rarely a race. Maybe a marathon, but never a sprint. Good ideas take time to take hold.

We have started to introduce the Referral Link product to the market place. Like any company full of more smarts than cash, we are following a Lean Start Up model. We are well beyond the MVP, but we are well into Lean Marketing. No Super Bowl ads for us. (Although I do think Jennifer Lawrence would be the perfect person to endorse our product at halftime – fiery and fierce, yet innovative…yes we do have an inflated image of ourselves). Instead though, we are slowly bringing the product to market by introducing it to certain targeted customer groups. We are getting a feel for how customers respond to the product, how the product performs and where the product best fits in the value chain.

So I guess taking over the world with our new innovation in recruiting is going to have to wait. In the meantime, I need to hurry up and get some things done. World domination takes preparation.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Can I Refer A Co-Worker

I think the guy I go to lunch with everyday really would be great as a business analyst in the IT department but I don’t think anyone over there takes it seriously when he applies for a job. I want to formally refer him next time they have an opening.

We've been having an interesting dialog with some of our customers about whether or not they would include current employees in their referral programs. Our application, Referral Link, automatically searches an employee’s network and prompts them about potential candidates they could refer. Everybody has lots of their co-workers that they are connected to in various social and professional networks. Should we filter out those names?

A few customers say absolutely yes. Filter out all current employees. That was not too unexpected.

But what is more interesting is the companies who are saying, NO: do not filter them out. Their argument is that a co-worker’s opinion about a fellow employee is valuable input and, when you are a fairly large organization, it can be hard to stay close to everybody’s interests and skills (even when you believe you have a good program to promote internal movement and career growth).

This can freak out employees too. When they get a name forwarded to them as a potential candidate for referral and that person is someone they already work with, they usually discount it as a bad recommendation. But is it?

How many of us know employees who languished in their organization for years and then finally left for better opportunities elsewhere. Don’t we wish someone would have let us know they were well suited for a new job within the organization?

"I work in PC support but what I’d really like to do is work in customer service, but no one over there seems to take me seriously when I apply."
Maybe a little “internal referral” help would push this along before the company, pushes them out. 

Hey buddy, can you spare me a referral!