Transform HR. Transform the organization.

May 29, 2014

Psychologists have discovered that humans have a limited amount of self-control to exert each day. Self-control isn’t just about cutting out carbs or going to the gym. It’s about the energy we need to make choices, manage fear and frustration, experience change, learn something new or control stress.   As employers, every time we require employees to use some level of self-control, we’re depleting their energy. And, when our energy’s gone, we’re less creative, we lose our focus and we lack the drive needed to bounce back from frustration or failure.

It occurs to me that Human Resources should be responsible for harnessing and maintaining human energy. In the world of business, the majority of our energy should be focused on doing our jobs – not filling out reports, attending meetings or responding to hundreds of emails. We’ve all heard companies say that people are their greatest asset and yet most do little to protect their employees from the countless distractions that turn work into drudgery.

Think of how efficient and effective an organization would be if its employees could actually do what they love — their jobs. Recruiting costs would plummet, attrition rates would fall, healthcare costs would decline and productivity and engagement would rise exponentially. I believe HR should look for every opportunity to increase and protect their organization’s greatest asset – human energy. Of course, many employees would say that HR is the biggest self-control abuser.   They’re seen as the gatekeepers, policy setters, corporate bureaucrats and time wasters. That’s all the more reason for HR to take on this transformation.

Here’s how to start.

  • Know your employees: Find out what activities or experiences cause employee dissatisfaction and which are motivational. Start by looking at Herzberg’s Hygiene and Motivational Factors for clues.
  • Remove roadblocks within HR: Make the decision to reduce non-job-related distractions by 25% within 12 months. Get rid of redundant paperwork, simplify forms and processes and reduce the number of initiatives that require employee time and attention outside of their jobs.
  • Look beyond HR: Seek out and find those areas within your organization that zap energy. Educate leaders, managers and supervisors on how to maximize energy and reduce employee dissatisfaction. Enact a zero tolerance policy for unnecessary initiatives and programs and build a culture that simply won’t abide employees who create chaos and dissatisfaction.
  • Increase energy: Be a resource to help your company identify ways to energize and motivate employees.   Unless you’re dealing with a sales force, money isn’t a motivator. Pay people competitively and then focus on those things that truly matter. Read Drive by Daniel Pink for more ideas.

Employee engagement results when we reduce the things that deplete our energy and increase the things that energize it. It’s that simple.   A single focus – increasing energy – should drive every decision HR makes, every single day. It will reduce choices and illuminate a path that will lead everyone in the department, and ultimately, the organization to something truly important.

For more information, contact Sue Keever Watts at

Why Not You?

February 6, 2014

Originally posted on The NACE Blog:

sue-keever-wattsSue Keever Watts
Owner, The Keever Group
Twitter: @SueKeever

It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Latino, Asian…it doesn’t matter if you’re 5’11″.  It’s the heart that you bring.”  Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks Quarterback

Russell Wilson, quarterback of the Super Bowl winning Seahawks has had his detractors.  squareThe 5’11’ QB was a third-round-draft-pick whose 2013 salary was less than what his Super Bowl opponent, Peyton Manning, makes per game.   He shouldn’t have won the Super Bowl.  In fact, he shouldn’t have even played in the Super Bowl.

When asked how he accomplished such a feat, Wilson said that when he was young, his father would tap him on the shoulder and say, “Russ, why not you?” Those four words became his mantra and his message to the Seahawks team.

We’ve all had set backs, we all have detractors, and we all have bouts of self-doubt…

View original 126 more words

Your next hire may be at an industry event

December 17, 2013

I recently served as interim global events manager for a large corporation and attended conferences all over the world. It was a fascinating experience and what struck me was how many qualified students were in attendance. Many of them had been sent by a company they had interned with or had received a scholarship from a student organization so that they could attend. And, the overwhelming majority were highly qualified, diverse students with undergraduate degrees, master’s, or Ph.Ds. They were all interested in finding a job.

Organizations spend millions of dollars each year at industry conferences. If yours is already planning to set up a booth, I strongly suggest that you consider sending a few university relations team members to staff it. Here’s why:

Why industry events?

  • ROI—Opportunity to leverage your organization’s current participation in industry events, resulting in enhanced ROI.
  • Marketing—Opportunity to announce to a global audience of highly targeted, industry professionals that your organization is a viable, successful company that is hiring.
  • Expanded presence at the booth—Opportunity to field career inquiries that would otherwise tie up technical and sales staff.
  • Name generation—Opportunity to capture names of highly qualified graduates (for use post-event) via badge-scanning technology.
  • Career discussions—Opportunity to market to and network with potential candidates before, during, and after the event.

Ways to participate:

  • Staffing the stand—Recruiters (and possibly hiring managers) staff the exhibit stand throughout the conference to field questions.
  • Collecting names—Recruiters collect names from participant lists and/or badge scanners (or similar technology) to build a list of potential candidates for follow up post-event.
  • Marketing openings—Use event marketing opportunities prior to and during the event to drive candidates to the stand for career discussions or to your organization’s career website for further information.
  • Preselecting candidates—Market to attendees prior to the event and set up interviews during the conference.

Getting started:

  • Reach out to your business to discuss participation:
    • Staffing the exhibit stand
    • Marketing
    • Sponsorship
    • Graphics, handouts, and giveaways
  • Reach out to conference representatives to identify opportunities and restrictions:
    • Badge scanners
    • Recruiting restrictions
    • Marketing and sponsorship opportunities
  • Establish goals and budget
  • Determine marketing strategy (before, during, and after event)
  • Select team (recruiters and hiring managers)

Why should your organization consider you consider sending university relations team members to staff your booth at an industry conference? The heart of recruiting lies in creating a strategy that balances tried and true recruiting methods with less-traditional techniques.

Sue Keever Watts is founder and president of the Keever Group.

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Let’s Be Real (Posted on NACE Blog)

November 12, 2013

I began my career in public relations and learned the fine art of “packaging” content. My friends still tease me about my ability to take negative information and turn it into a tidy, if not murky, message. “I hit your car” turns into “While the circumstances of our meeting are less than ideal, I’m so glad we had the opportunity to share our contact information.”

I got out of PR as quickly as I could, but I still recognize BS (business-speak) when I hear it. Unfortunately, most companies still use business-speak on their websites, in presentations, and even during one-on-one discussions with students. It’s the number one reason why candidates look outside an organization to find out what’s really going on inside of it.

Recently a new radio station was launched in the Dallas area. It was named the best radio station in the city and when I tuned in, found that the reception was a little dicey. I turn it on occasionally and when I tuned in yesterday, I heard the announcer say, “KHYI – if you can’t hear us, then move!” No apologies, no BS – just the truth, but in a humorous way.

A few years ago, I worked with a company that was in the middle of fall recruiting when their CEO announced that the company was being bought. Recruiters wanted to know if they should discuss the merger and how to respond to student questions. The answer was simple. Yes. Bring it up to students, professors, career services and all of your campus contacts because I can assure you that your competitors will be using it to their advantage. Be honest. Avoid using packaged responses. Tell them what you know and admit what you don’t. Showing a canned video from the CEO about the merger won’t cut it. The best way to deliver difficult information is in person.

Keep in mind that you still need to give students a compelling reason to join your organization. Part of that involves giving them the language they need to explain why they accepted an offer with an organization in transition to their parents and friends. You’ll also need to be prepared to answer the following questions:

-What will change and what will stay the same?
-Will there be a shakeup of leadership?
-Why did the organization decide to merge?
-What’s the upside of joining the organization now?
-If I join the organization, is there a chance I’ll be laid off after the merger?
-Will you be able to keep your job?
-Is there a chance that my position, reporting structure or responsibilities will change after the merger?
-Will my benefits package, compensation and training/development be impacted (negatively or positively)?

Feel free to use humor or to speak candidly about why you’re staying with the organization. But, whatever you do, leave the BS out of it.

Motivate your team! Now.

September 20, 2013

The Heart of Recruiting: Motivate Your Team, Now!
by Sue Keever Watts
Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
September 18, 2013

It’s week four of college football, classes have begun, and campus recruiting is officially under way. By now, most of you have set your goals, established metrics, determined your strategy, and brought together your campus recruiting teams for a kick-off meeting. Like any other season opener, we feel a sense of anticipation, excitement, and energy. And, following every new beginning, there’s the dreaded middle. The middle is the most critical part of the journey, and yet it receives the least attention.

I encourage you to take the time, now, to motivate your team. The best way to do that is to be very intentional in your communication. Look for little ways to keep the momentum going, offer words of inspiration and gratitude, and remind the team where you’re headed. Go to to see a sample of a tactical communications plan that I created for a large employer.

It’s my experience that the little things are what truly matter to people. Participating on a campus team is time consuming and it’s rare that an employee’s workload is reduced to accommodate the extra hours. But, when you make people feel like part of something significant and acknowledge their contributions, then it’s worth the journey. The heart of recruiting involves keeping an eye on the end result, but never forgetting that the most important part is in the middle.

Keep it simple

August 13, 2013

The Corporate Executive Board reported that brands that simplify customer decision-making are 115% more likely to be recommended. By way of crowdsourcing, its time to let students inform organizations around the best way to simplify their decision to select one employer over another. Organizations want to be “employer of choice,” but research tells us that they might have more success if they find ways to simplify the decision-making process. By soliciting ideas, content and contributions from students via an online crowdsourcing campaign, an organization will show it’s technological savvy while soliciting ideas that may change the way they recruit students – for the better. New, improved and designed by students is a true differentiator. #NACESocial

If your company is unique then why are you hiring the same people as your competitors?

August 7, 2013

Flexible. Strong Communicator. Leader. Team player. Problem solver.

Do any of these competencies sound familiar? That’s because almost every organization lists two or more of these as attributes of a successful employee. It begs the question: If an organization goes to great lengths to differentiate itself from its competitors, why do they hire the same people?

Mission statement or corporate propaganda?

February 13, 2013

Corporate vision, mission and value statements. Why do we roll our eyes when we hear these words? It’s because so many employees will tell you that in their company there’s no evidence that the culture, processes or leader behaviors are aligned with the mission. A mission statement has to be created in a way that motivates employees to drive towards something important, believable, relevant and achievable. It should meet the human need for relatedness and meaning. While it should be ambitious, the mission statement must accurately reflect a company’s culture. Processes that evolve into habits over time have to be designed to reinforce the mission. Further, employees and customers have to witness behaviors that support this mission every single day. Employees (humans) want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to feel connected and they want to do work that is significant. This is why a mission statement is important. It’s aspirational in nature. It sets the bar. It sets the tone. It informs everyone in the company of why their work is important. And, it influences what habits and behaviors are necessary to succeed. Anything less is just corporate propaganda.

Final acts

January 7, 2013

My neighbor, Maurice Wilson died on November 30, 2012 at the age of 84.  What struck me about his passing was his final act.  The afternoon before his death, he was putting up Christmas lights.  I’m reminded of the quote by Martin Luther, “Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would continue to plant my apple trees.”  His beautiful Christmas lights were a testament to his life.  He made life brighter for others.  He’s inspired me to rethink my very self-focused new year’s resolutions.  Thank you for your life, Maurice.  They may be lofty goals and far out of my reach, but because of you I resolve to chose love when it would be easier to hate, to light the path of others and to leave a legacy of beauty.

A lesson from the lunch ladies

June 22, 2012

My friend Michael was bigger than life in sixth grade.  He was flamboyant, odd (by 6th grade standards) and had a wicked sense of humor.  Every month or two, Michael would ask the kids sitting next to him at the lunch table to pass down their trays.  He would pour all of the uneaten food onto his plate, stir it up until it was a corn, cutlet, mashed potato slurpee and then go stand in line to turn in his tray to the lunch ladies.    These hair-netted women had the distinct pleasure of disposing of our trash and putting the utensils and plates in the dishwasher.  Right about the time that Michael reached the front of the line he would lean forward into his plate and make the universal puking sound.  The corn, cutlet, mashed potato combo along with Michael’s retching threw us into hysterics, but must have been repulsive to the lunch ladies.  Until one day when the lunch ladies had their revenge.  Finally one of them figured out what he was doing and made him sit down at the table and eat everything on his plate.  In true Michael fashion, he did just that.  He sat down, put a napkin in his lap and began eating.  He didn’t cry.  He didn’t whine.  He didn’t throw a fit.  Instead, as he ate, we heard him say “Oh, my, this is delicious” and “Do you have any more in the back?”  What’s the lesson?  Don’t take crap from anyone.  And, if you do something wrong, accept your punishment and move on.   Michael had to eat crow — but he made us think he enjoyed it.


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