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Twas the Night Before Christmas

Five HR Short Stories for The Holiday Season

Goodie #1: Bocks Goodie #2: Diane Goodie #3: Neil Morrison
Gift of Googleyness Gherson & The Funkiness & The World of a $3
to Google of Modern Analytics in HR Billion Merger

Goodie #4: Natalie Bickfords Goodie #5: Tony Galbato;

Fight for the Christmas Oh, How the Black Sheep
Miracle of Gender Diversity Reigns

Hello Friend.
Its hard to separate Clement Clarke Moore from
Christmas, at least with staple Christian families. Theres
just something about the American writer and Professor of
Oriental and Greek Literature something that aspired to
rise above history and time. Here, we talk about the
poem, Twas the night before Christmas. A Visit from St.
Moore wrote the poem, also titled, A Visit from St.
Nicholas in 1822, and it is this poem that now reigns as by Clement Clarke Moore,
traditional recitation material in several families during well most of it anyway.
Christmas Eve. It was a signicant push in terms of literary
and sentimental intelligence, which saw denizens
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane y,
everywhere redene their image of Christmas and Santa
Claus. When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they ew,
You ought to read it, yes. And of course, we havent
forgotten about Human Resources and the short stories
With a sleigh full of HR Stories, and St. Nicholas too.
we promised. We just wanted to let you know that we
decided to let St. Nicholas deliver it to you, not Santa
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on my roof
Claus. The prancing and pawing of each of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
To pique your interest, heres a paraphrased version of
two stanzas from the poem: Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

Well, maybe we wouldnt really want St. Nicholas down your roof. Perhaps a friendly appearance on your
laptop would do.

What do we have for you? Five HR Leaders who made changes worth knowing about. Good reading material,
correct? These are men and women, who have in some way left a mark in the fraternity and sorority. Also, at
the end of the day, its always good to receive a gift. Heres ours for you!

So, without further delay, lets make a push into the ve goodies we have in store ahead.

Bocks Gift of
Googleyness to
Theres a saying that the engineers in Google dont really value
Human Resources. They knew of the concept to a certain degree, yes,
Fun Fact:
In a company that receives 2,000,000
but failed to see its fruitfulness in a company of crme de la crme
applicants on an annual basis and hires merely
employees the very best even among the best. However, Google is a
a few thousand, Google ranks more selective
giant, and giants tend to do things differently.
than Harvard, Yale or Princeton by 25 times.

This is visible in their transformation of Human Resources into

something called People Operations. Lazlo Bock, Former SVP, was
According to him, Google looks for four attributes in future employees
among the crme de la crme of recruits Google often managed to
as their success predictors at the company: Cognitive Ability,
unearth. Under the mans leadership, Googles HR department
Leadership Ability, Role-Related Knowledge, and Googleyness. Add
functions more like a rigorous science lab.
freedom into the mix, and you have a recipe to the hiring practices of
one of the most inuential, dynamic, and progressive organizations in
Were talking sophisticated employee-data tracking programs, an
the world. [1]
effort to gain empirical certainty about every aspect of a Googlers
life not just the perfect level of pay and benets, but also trivial
Bocks Philosophy can be summarized as the following:
sounding details such as optimal size and shape of cafeteria tables.
1 Trust Your People,
But lets talk about Bock, the man who added more oomph to an
already spectacular Google, who during his stint managed to
2 Hire Only People Who Are Better Than You Are, and
revolutionize and even shape several HR policies in the industry. Hes 3 Dont Confuse Development with Managing Performance.
done a lot, but we should probably pick only one of his many
accolades for this piece the hiring process.

And this right here is your rst goodie.

Bock pioneered the idea that HR is all about science and data. It was
this ideology that saw him transform the hiring process at Google an
arduous, gimmicky one that relied on math to a well-researched and
dependable machine.

Diane Gherson & The
Funkiness of Modern
Analytics in HR
Everyone has heard of IBM and their analytics. One of the major When asked why HR globally are yet to adopt such technologies,
sponsors for the Association of Tennis Professionals, including the Diane Gherson answered with three points:
Grand Slams, the company could reveal detailed analysis on what it
would take in numbers and percentages for a player to win a match. 1 Unavailability of tools, as they are still not commercially
In a company driven by data analytics, Diane Gherson remained at 2 A hesitance for people in HR to pursue analytics, and
the forefront of the HR functionality for 13 years. Working for the
technology giant that IBM was, what excited Gherson most was the
3 The rejection of analytics for people-related items.
idea of technology in HR, especially analytics.
To explain the third point better, one example would see how
managers are often surprised to see their employees leave despite
It revealed itself like a breath of fresh air, for a department that relied
analytics having pointed to it all along. [2]
for much of history on intuition. Ghersons intent was to use
outcome data such as revenue, productivity, hiring yield, individual
Now, owing to Ghersons contributions in leading organizational
performance, or employee engagement to better understand the
transformations in IBM, HR Executive cited her as one of 2015s Fifteen
probability of success in certain key decisions.
Most Powerful Women in HR.

In 2009, IBM suffered from high levels of attrition when their salary
model fell to an uncompetitive state in India. The company spent more
with replacements, but Gherson gambled her version of modern
analytics to receive huge funding from the CFO in a promise to retrieve
every penny invested. This right here was your second goodie.

A concentrated effort with data helped reveal employees with a high

propensity to defect, and IBM in turn offered these people
opportunities such as increased pay, career interventions, or even
global experience. It was a program that helped the company save
about $300 Million in the years that followed.

Neil Morrison & The
World of a $3 Billion
Lets cut to the chase here. At the helm of transformational technology, Creating a Recruitment Buzz for Just 500
Neil Morrison is a man who lived through a $3 Billion merger as
Group HR Director of Penguin Random House. Penguin Random Houses talent strategy had always hovered around
driving internal talent capability, which unfortunately catered to their
This, during a time when the industry was in turmoil from the effects of recruitment problems. This gave birth to whats now widely known as
heavy discounting by online retailers such as Amazon. The problems The Scheme a baby from Morrisons determination. Does it not
only continued to aggravate with the publishing houses struggle to remind you of the miracle of Christ and Virgin Mary?
adapt to new eBook technology and piracy issues.
Wait. You question its nature as a miracle? Well, in an effort to hire
Against such adversity and a need to acquire, or rather nurture talent four entry-level marketers, Penguin Random House emerged with a so-
for this new era of publishing, Morrison embarked on an ambitious cial-media led recruitment campaign to solve three problems at the
digital transformation program at Penguin Random House. He set core of the publishing giant:
about to build new capability in the organization, which in the process
raised the prole and reach of his 30-strong HR department. 1 Lack of an entry-level scheme despite their title as the
worlds largest publisher,
How did he do it? 2 Inability to attract new talent who hadnt previously
For Morrison, utilizing technology in publishing, and for HR in a wider
thought of working in publishing, and
sense, was about understanding and choosing a mindset more than
deep technological knowledge. Digital transformation required a shift 3 Recruiting a fresh breed of talent who understood the new
in talent strategy to develop new skill sets internally and attract a small ways of marketing books.
element of deep technical ability.
This was The Scheme.
The rst signs of transformation appeared in a scheme one that
served to revolutionize. Morrisons team targeted social-media campaigns at the 18-34 age
range, launching teasers on Twitter, Facebook, and using Tumblr to
host its website.

WEBSITE VISITS ONLINE APPLICANTS FILTERED TO STAGE II The campaigns second stage-entrants were asked to pitch a marketing

26,000 800 50 campaign for Alice in Wonderlands 150th anniversary, before 20 nalists
emerged for a two-day assessment. [3]

The thing about The Scheme is that it was an event. It created a level of noise and excitement both in
publishing and marketing. It cost just 500 because we did it ourselves. The excitement helped
increase the HR teams brand value. This is when HR becomes sexy, when you do something exciting.
Director, Strategy, Culture & Innovation at Penguin Random House

Just as were giving you your third goodie, the publishing house handed goodie bags
to those unsuccessful at stage II, while the nal 20 received solid feedback.

Natalie Bickfords
Fight for the
Christmas Miracle
of Gender Diversity
Women who want to re-enter the world of work
after having children are struggling, and
businesses need to do something about it.
Group HR Director of Merlin Entertainments Plc

This one quote perfectly sums the Bickford struggle, especially the
urgent attempt to get stay-at-home professionals to come back into
business. This is not a pool organizations want to miss out on after all,
considering the ongoing war for talent. and formalized Sodexos commitment to diversity. All this in her nine
years there.
Per WMRI, the three most important factors affecting a mothers return
to work were exible work hours, the ability to use sick leaves to care She cites enhancing maternity benets for all staff and introducing
for their children, and predictable work hours. Even Lazlo Bock fought inclusion training for all UK managers as her weapons for victory
this problem in Google, often known as the best place to work in the against the problem. Additionally, Bickford also played a huge role in
world. creating a womens network, which currently seats about 1,000
members across the UK.
This, however, is Natalies story, and from her time with Sodexo. In
September of 2012, Bickford found herself promoted to HR Director for Sodexo is careful to manage its metrics now, and Bickford reveals that
Europe within the company, and was then responsible for 150,000 about 33% of the UK Executive Committee and 30% of UKs Senior
employees across 24 countries. Manager population are female. At the end of the day, keeping an
eye on the pipeline of female talent is critical. [4]
One of Bickfords personal passions lay in diversity gender diversity
to be more precise. A chair of Women First, which promotes the role of
women within the services and hospitality sector, Natalie championed This right here is your fourth goodie.

Tony Galbato; Oh,
How the Black Sheep
The Amazon brand has often been synonymous with innovation, put- 2 No Mercy
ting undue pressure on their strategists to maintain a robust talent pipe- Per former employees, Amazon relies on a system of anonymous
line and a rich culture. It had to be done, for talent and culture are not evaluations that can be made through the company phone
words Jeff Bezos Founder, Chairman and CEO of Amazon took directory. Its called the Anytime Feedback Tool.
lightly. The man assigned to handle these tasks? Why, Tony Galbato, of
course. In an environment that culls low-performers annually, employees
reportedly learn to make informal pacts to collectively leave
Tony was entrusted with Amazons Global HR Operations, and like negative critiques of certain co-workers and positive feedbacks of
Lazlo Bock, drove many forward-thinking HR practices that have now each other.
set the chinning bar for CHROs of the future. However, while Amazon
brings delight to millions of customers worldwide, the tale inside their 3 Nothing Gentleman About It
castle is of a gruesome kind. Why? Well, were here to report the story
Employees are often encouraged to debate and criticize colleagues
to you.
in a way that made the work environment hostile. In fact, Bo Olson
former book marketing employee said it was commonplace to
1 No Middle Ground
nd co-workers crying.
In a recruiting video cited by the Times, one young woman explains
that you either t here or you dont; you love it or you dont. This is You would walk out of a conference room and see a grown man
an environment that does not want a middle ground. covering his face. Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at
their desk.
To support this claim, Jeff Bezos reportedly promotes this
all-or-nothing attitude. He summed it up rather nicely in a 1997
letter to shareholders,

You can work long, hard or smart, but at, you cant
choose two out of three

4 You Take Your Work Home, Literally
Accounts from former Amazon employees reveal that lengthy conference calls on holidays, working at night and on weekends from home, and
criticism for not being available during vacation were standard.

Noelle Barnes, a marketer at Amazon for nine years, quoted to the Times,
Amazon is where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves.

This was their saying on campus.

These are merely reports, of course. Who knows if its either all dandy or horrifying in there? Wait. Did you think we would give you all happy goodies?
Sorry. Warnings are a must. So, we dont forget, even during the holidays, even during times of peace, that there is still room for improvement.
Greatness is always at the horizon. [5]

However, that doesnt mean we dont expect you to wrap this piece up and walk over
to your family for a nice glass of wine. We do. Rest and relaxation is necessary, and
we love to see everyone happy. Thus, we hand to you, your fth goodie of warnings!

Wait. You were expecting us to write more? Sorry. Wed like to enjoy the holidays, too. But, heres to hoping that you
enjoyed our little gift!

Just as we started, let us end with two stanzas once more. Paraphrased, of course. From the poem of St. Nicholas yet

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And lled all the stocking with stories, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his nger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, out of your laptop he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they ew like the down of a thistle.
But expect us once more when the holidays reach out of sight,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good weekend!

Thats right. Merry Christmas!







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