Page 3 of 3

To Be an Effective HR Pro, You Have to Be Tech Savvy


HR Tech

When I started in HR, everythingwas paper driven, from employment application, personnel action notices, benefits enrollment, etc.

I was fortunate to learn every competency in HR, including payroll, and my experience has revealed the myriad ways in which administrative functions evolved with technology.

I can honestly say that my HR expertise evolved alongside the supporting technology…from the birth of electronic forms, to HRIS, Applicant Tracking Systems, online benefits enrollment, and automated billing reports from insurance carriers.  I am both a self-taught HR Pro and a self-taught HR techie. I learned HR systems hands-on in one organization after another. In some cases, I took part in the design and customization of those systems.

Many young HR Pros, especially those working with integrated systems won’t have the same experience. As a consequence, they may not have a chance to learn the technical underpinning of the applications upon which they depend. In addition, they may be saddled with products that were configured without tech-savvy HR input.

As we gear up for AI’s increasingly prevalent role, it becomes increasingly important for HR professionals to become technical conversant in the decisions that govern the way HR systems function. There is simply no other way of ensuring that they’ll work well enough to enable rather than hinder.

I am hopeful that AI will enhance our ability to deliver value as HR practitioners, but this is by no means assured. To see why this is the case, let’s think about the way the typical HR task load breaks down. About 80% of what it takes to excel in HR involves the inherently human aspects of our role, from recruiting to exit interviews. Most of AI’s value lies in that other 20%, the aspects of our jobs that are more dependent on organizing facts or crunching numbers, rather than composing strategy or judgement calls. The HR systems created in the 90s helped eliminate redundancy in data entry—a function clearly lying in that computational 20%. The next generation of products focused on eliminating paperwork and streamlining administrative processes. This left practitioners with more time and energy to provide work at a strategic level and provide face-to-face customer service.

In more recent years, the focus of HR software changed. Instead of a tight focus on the 20%, they began to include features that encouraged HR professionals to depend on them for the 80%, the aspects of the role requiring carefully considered judgement calls and nuanced interpersonal interactions. This includes functions like recruiting and onboarding—even exit interviews. This creates a new and fundamental challenge—we must avoid the temptation to depend on software for the activities most urgently in need of wisdom, humanity, and a personal touch. I fear that a lack tech-savviness on the part of those newer to the profession may make it difficult to meet this challenge. Mastering Snapchat requires a technical acumen much different from what is needed in an AI-driven enterprise. We must be prepared to deal with the impulses of automated systems that are prepared do our job for us, and not do it badly.

It is critical that we seek ways to change the equation. Training and education has to be provided that will prepare HR professionals to face these challenges. We as a profession need to protect organizations from purchasing systems that promise to “solve” the 80% of HR for which automation has little to offer. You don’t have to be a programmer to achieve this, but you do need to be able to look behind the curtain instead of buying into a slick sales rep’s unsubstantiated claims.

In additionto the challenges posed by the escalating role of AI, there are other critical technical issues that HR practitioners should understand. For instance:

  • Understand the cost gap separating “off the shelf” and “build to suit” systems. All-in-One systems may not be the best fit for your organization.
  • When you buy a-la-carte systems, make sure they can integrate with each other, and with existing systems of records in the organization. Failure to do so may lead to disastrous data integrity issues.
  • Understand data security issues and assess risks of data breaches. Don’t collect certain data before you need them. HR collects so much valuable employment and personal data from pre-hire to exit.





We Know Sexism Exists! How do we fix it?

Exploiting Sexism is not the answer!

Kate Bischoff (@k8bischHRLaw) a fellow HR Pro, who is also an attorney, tweeted an article about female entrepreneurs who created a fake male co-founder to dodge sexism (here’s the link to the article:  Kate acknowledged that this was a gutsy move, but believes that it carries a fair amount of risk. She and I also agree that the entrepreneurs’ actions don’t pass ethical muster.

Wendy Dailey (@wyndall93) a fellow HR Professional mentioned that that there was a similar article recently where a male and a female employee switched names for emails and received similar outcome.

Above all, these approaches improve nothing. Yes, we exposed sexism (again), but are we headed in a productive direction?


If anything, this move only serves to perpetuate the idea that we need a male to get things done. It even creates a scenario in which it becomes easier to sweep sexist attitudes and outcomes under the rug. How would we feel if a male entrepreneur faked a female co-founder in order to pose as a champion of diversity, or appeal to those seeking role models in male-dominated fields?

(This is already happening, by the way and it is not ok.)

If the people you hired are sexists, fire them and make the reason for their dismissal clear. Call them out on it. If they represent an organization, report them to their employer. Anti-Harassment applies to vendor’s action toward their clients and vice versa. Stop tolerating it. It’s your business.

Pretending to be a man is not the solution. If you can’t get respect from male web designers, hire a woman. There are female web designers, DB/software developers, and graphic designers. As a matter of fact, my daughter is a web & graphic designer who has helped female & male entrepreneurs in the past. They’re out there, seek them out.

Sexism exists, and will continue to exist if we treat the threat it poses as a game. Women need to stand up and resist the temptation to perpetuate old patterns by engaging in sloppy workarounds rather than direct confrontation.

That said, it’s also important to resist the temptation to exclusively hire women, when faced with such challenges.  An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. Be an equal opportunity employer, not because it sounds good, but because it’s the right thing to do. You can’t change the rules to an unfair game by playing along.

Move on and be better.

There are decent male professionals in the start-up game. If you need a VC and you can’t get funding because you don’t have a male co-founder, either you partner with one, or keep looking for a VC who will fund you anyway. Creating a fake co-founder is a blatant misrepresentation, fraudulent and unethical. False pretense is a lousy foundation for a fledgling business.

Women finding success in business is not new.  Find them here:

For an example of the pitfalls of exclusively hiring one gender, take a look at this:


I Call Bull on Culture Fit

“Culture Fit” seems to be the key to hiring the right candidate, guided by the shopworn premise that you can train for skills but not attitude. Despite the prevalence of this notion, many hiring managers are complaining about a skills gap rather than an attitude gap.  We often hear complaints about lack of training, no time for training, or budget for training. In the end, you end up with workforce full of attitudes but no skills.  In this tight job market, why are we playing with words instead of focusing on substantive challenges?


When the recruiting world starts talking about culture fit, what the heck does that really mean? It’s almost a pass for possible discrimination. When I read about culture fit, they’re talking about culture fit within the entire org.  How do you check culture fit in a one hour interview? If your process for culture fit is truly working, why is turnover still a problem?  Why is the tenure for employees a lot shorter than those in the past?

Besides, how do you conduct culture fit when ATS automatically rejects applicants? I don’t know of any ATS that can actually detect culture fit either.  Many of the ATS I’ve used have been problematic when it came to the rudimentary process of qualifying candidates, forget about anything more complex or nuanced. Many of those ATS were configured incorrectly. So if you’re a recruiter and relying on an ATS, do you understand its configuration? If not, how do you know that it’s working correctly?

ChemIt wasn’t that long ago that the keyword we used for finding the right talent was “chemistry” between the hiring manager and the candidates. As with any relationships, we can work together despite our differences. We weren’t focused on culture fit, we were focused on job fit.  Our job as recruiters was finding the candidates who met the job requirements (skills, education, experience, salary expectation, etc.) It was up to the hiring manager to determine whether or not the candidate had the workstyle and personality that mesh with his management style and his team’s dynamics. Sometimes, when the candidate seemed/sounded too good to be true, we would check our gut, employing instinct to identify sketchy individuals who contrived a positive image for an interview.

Chemistry involves various elements that mix to form a bond, allowing the creation of something bigger and/or better than constituent building blocks. If you put in the same element(s), nothing changes. If you put in the wrong element, it can create a negative reaction, and ignoring the possible for such reactions can be devastating. When it comes to hiring, the same principles apply. Sometimes, when we don’t know for sure, we experiment. We take the risk. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.


There is a wide variety of behavioral and/or EQ questionnaires that have been used to test for culture fit.  You can find them on blogs, on Glassdoor, etc. This means that anyone can be coached for these questionnaires and deliver the “correct” questions with a smile.  There’s rational reason to believe they’re actually are a fit.  If you’ve been in recruiting long enough, and have made hiring decisions in the past, you have come across a fraud.

Dr. Sullivan just published a post on “When Hiring for Attitude – ‘Catch Attitude Fraud’ Because Candidates Fake It” (  He stated that attitude fraud is a major problem and few in recruiting make any attempt to detect or avoid it. He estimated that as many 40% percent of candidates use some combination of acting or lying.corevaluesSome claim that culture fit consists of sharing a set of common core values.  Most organizations, regardless of size and industrial affiliation, share the same core values, with slight variations. Any respectable person can attest that they expect these core values from their employers as well.  But, how many times have we found some of these employers under investigations by EEOC, SEC, BBB, FTC, etc.?

Seriously, how do you expect candidates to truly embrace your core values when recruiters and organizational leaders don’t? There’s plenty of complaints from candidates who, based on their experiences, know that these core values are not exercised by the recruiters and/or hiring managers who often sometimes blame one onother for lack of communication, team work, and trust.


@Lars wrote about ‘The End of Culture Fit” in March 2017A hiring process built around an undefined notion of “culture fit” is fraught with bias.  In some organizations “culture fit” has become a weaponized phrase that interviewers use as a blanket term to reject candidates that don’t match the hiring manager’s view of the ideal candidate; and as such, it has become the embodiment of unconscious bias. Most interviewers are more likely to hire people like themselves and discount those who are different. This type of thinking hinders diversity and leads to homogenous cultures. The notion of hiring for culture fit was established as a foundation of many corporate recruiting processes. The term was embedded in career sites, integrated into interview processes, and touted as a competitive advantage for many organizations in the tech community. Over the years, the term has taken on more of a tribal meaning. People who think like us. People who work like us. People who live like us. People who look like us. Companies are beginning to drop the idea of culture fit altogether. As more companies shift their recruiting focus towards intentional diversity and inclusion efforts, they’re reframing their thinking to how diverse candidates can add to their culture – not fit into it.


So, if you’re still hung up on “Culture Fit”, it’s time to drop it!  If you want to achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it’s time to change the focus! Get back to hiring candidates who meet your job requirements.  You can still check for attitude, but do so with trepidation.  Make sure you know how to spot attitude fraud. We won’t really know about culture fit.  That will take some time. It depends on many levels of transformation that can take place (organizational, technological, economic, personal, etc.).  What may fit now, may not fit later.  If you want your employees to embrace your corporate core values, you must engage, communicate, train, and develop your workers to be productive members of your organizations. Don’t rely too much on your ATS to find your talent. Most successful recruiters will tell you that they review resumes and connect with candidates in real life. Keep that communications/feedback going – start building trust and showcasing your organizational core values to your candidates and keep them interested. You may need those candidates later or they may know someone that they can refer for one of your openings.  Stop ghosting them! Your lack of communication/feedback may result in negative social media backlash!




#HR #Culture #Leadership #SHRM #Recruiting


Diversity: Inclusion not Exclusion

Diversity Program Backlash!

googleIf you’re in HR or Tech, I’m sure you’ve read about the now former Google employee’s ten page anti-diversity Manifesto. This was obviously a hot topic even in my household! We discussed it even though none of us had read the manifesto and discussed what little we knew. My husband who has been in tech is not happy about a diversity program that seems to exclude men. He strongly felt that Google’s Diversity program was promoting reverse discrimination.  My 17-year-old daughter’s utopian mindset feels that people should be hired based on skills and abilities regardless of gender, race, etc.  My point of view, as a long time HR professional, was different. I’ve seen more of the reality & ugliness in the workplace and been subject to racial discrimination in the past. This made me a bit more skeptical about objections to Google’s policies. Given what I’d read from a fellow HR pro, the manifesto was more about the author’s sexist opinions than the diversity program.


HiddenFiguresI reminded my daughter of the movie, “Hidden Figures.” It not only focused on women in tech, but people of color who excelled in the face of discrimination and segregation in the workplace. Unfortunately, we haven’t advanced much in our thinking. Inequality and inequity still exist in professional environments. If programs such as Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity hadn’t come into play, would we even be where we are now? She has the perfect mindset, if only we could convince everyone to think the same…sadly, the better candidate often faces a hiring manager whose mindset denies them the opportunity they’ve earned.

After reading the anti-diversity screed, I agree with Google’s decision to terminate the author (Damore). Google released a memo from Pichai to employees in which the chief executive made his reasoning clear: while the company values critical discussion of its diversity programs, parts of Damore’s essay crossed the line “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” Pichai wrote.

The author of the manifesto made sexist statements and promoted a view of women that created a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is a workplace situation in which an employee cannot reasonably perform his or her work due to certain behaviors by management or co-workers that are deemed hostile. Google will be in violation of California Labor code if the author continues to be employed. His view on women in the workforce will not likely change in the near future. Even after his termination, he remained steadfast in his views and showed no remorse. Who would want to work with him? I know I wouldn’t! His views will only result in discrimination for women in the workforce, especially in tech.

However, the termination of Damore is not the end of Google’s problem with their Diversity program. It is only a chapter in their growing problem with diversity, which unfortunately plagues other industries as well, not just the tech industry.

DiversityConversations about diversity in the workplace are not new. They’ve been around for at least 30 years, but we’re still talking about diversity like it’s a new thing.  Jackson, S. E. (Ed.) cited descriptive case studies from prominent organizations such as Xerox, Digital Equipment, Pacific Bell, American Express, Coopers & Lybrand, and Pepsi-Cola International.  The case studies cover international diversity and merging corporate cultures, as well as ethnic, gender, and lifestyle differences (The professional practice series. Diversity in the workplace: Human resources initiatives. New York: Guilford Press, 1992).

Over the last 30 years there has been progress, but serious challenges remain. Thousands of business case cite the reasons that diversity matters, and establishes the ways in which it drives revenue, motivates employees, and fosters innovation. Yet, somehow, it often leads to unsatisfying debates without advancing diversity.

Many large companies invest in diversity efforts and appoint chief diversity officers, yet are frustrated with the inadequate results.  Studies have shown that this is often a result of poorly designed plans.  Diversity is not just about hiring people who are in a protected class. It is certainly not about excluding those who are not in a protected class.  Doing so will be considered reverse discrimination.  According to J. Greenberg, “Diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background, etc. Diversity not only involves how people perceive themselves, but how they perceive others. Those perceptions affect their interactions. For a wide assortment of employees to function effectively as an organization, human resource professionals need to deal effectively with issues such as communication, adaptability and change.” (

Diversity2Diversity should be about inclusion and not exclusion. It’s about avoiding stereotypes and biases. It should be about focusing on individual’s strengths and capabilities. Perhaps rather than reinventing the wheel or looking at old formulas for diversity, we need to look at those who succeeded in fostering diversity and explore the reasons for their success.  The latest example of the power of inclusiveness can be seen in the 2016 Best Workplaces for Diversity list.  Diversity is not just about numbers. It’s not about having an equal number of each group represented. Diversity is about having an inclusive culture where everyone can have a potential to be successful, included, valued, and respected regardless of differences.

#HR #Diversity #Leadership #SHRM #EEO #AffirmativeAction #Tech