So Harry Potter is Out of Work…now what?

Well I think the cast and crew knew this day would come probably before we did, but we all knew that the series would come to a close. I am sure you all can appreciate how hundreds of people who were specialists in creating goblin masks, animations, and so on are not longer working on Harry Potter films, and have had to move on to other projects. And they did so many months ago.

But many people are not in the position of 1) knowing that they are in a job that will last for several years and 2) they actually know when it will end.

Employers and employee can talk about this. Really – you can. Its not illegal, immoral, or a bad practice. The relationship between employer and employee should be open enough to be able to talk about expectations, future, and stability.

Here are a few practices for employees and employers can use to open up the dialogue about future employment and stability:


  1. Have a performance review process that discusses past performance, and then communicates what development needs to happen for either improvement or increase productivity. Once a year or twice a year is good. This is pretty standard. I would also recommend you have one about 60 days after the start of a new project, initiative, or job. Dig into how people are doing early on new things.
  2. Avoid using weekly meetings where you review status and everyday stuff as a time to review the future. Have separate meetings and agendas that talk specifically about performance, training, and future. Have an open dialogue about problems, successes and so on. Make those “weekly meetings” into briefings, where you can review operations, every day activity and status.
  3. Communicate to teams about rumors and realities involving your group, the business, and its future. Your teams are probably freaked about their job security. Sometimes you may be in the know, and sometime you are not. Communicate what you can with direction from leadership and control the unnecessary and likely inaccurate spin that is developing by the water cooler.


  1. Practice talking with your boss and be prepared when having these discussions. There is no harm in preparing questions, practicing in the mirror about what you want to ask, or even talking to a mentor, close friend, parent, etc about what you want to talk with your boss about when it comes to your job stability or career or future – especially when a major change is on the horizon.
  2. Ask for permission to talk about the pending change or event and its effect on you personally – but PLEASE set an appointment. Even if that means “boss, can I talk to you tomorrow about some stuff I heard about the business” – give them a heads up. You don’t want a reaction or an on the fly answer to your serious questions, so try and avoid soliciting that type of response.
  3. Think carefully about what is important to you, and what is important to them, and figure out which is critical to a conversations. What you think is important to your life may not be critical to your employer. That does not mean you should or should not be emotional or sharing. You make the call on sharing based on your boss and your culture. There are no rules anymore, except maybe this one – be germane. It means be relevant to the theme or be closely or significantly related. So indicate you have concerns about how a future merger and new team dynamics may effect work/life balance and productivity for you and you want to get ahead of it…don’t talk about how you are concerned how you can’t pick up Johnny after school.

In the meantime, check out Daniel Radcliffe in the broadway play – How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – he was thinking ahead 🙂

Functional Support and the Employer Value Proposition

Functional Support is how much and how well various departments assist a person execute their role and responsibilities.

Typical functions include Procurement, IT, HR, Finance and Legal. The names you use internally may differ, but these organizations support the activities of the research, manufacturing, sales, and customer service organizations.

How these organizations support people actually vary greatly from one organization to another.

This factor can be overlooked during the recruiting / retention processes. How a company supports it’s team members can be a great advantage over it’s competition.

Recruiters should be able to learn about the support that candidates are coming from to help compare or prepare, and then leverage.

HR managers should be able explain to employees the different dynamics, but especially understand how powerful that service is and how it enables people each day.

Candidates should be asking questions on how these areas support their role, and compare to previous environments where they have been successful – and ask themselves if they have the same, more, or leas resources in order to be productive.

Employees should fins out how these areas support them, and start using them to their fullest. If you see something missing, ask about it and see if it can be changed. If it is, you may find that the organization is more enabling than you thought….but if it doesn’t respond…

The roles that are defined by an organization are always connected with others. How they connect and enable each role can have a significant effect on a persons success.

Place this into your consideration as you hire, promote, evaluate, or search for a new job.

Functional Support is part of Work Experience, one of the four corners of the Employer Value Proposition.

Appropriate Complexity and the EVP

Transparency in a job – its duties, responsibilities, and its interactions with others is becoming more important than ever. Jobs are on the rise, contingent labor is up, and small businesses are slowly starting to expand. All in all, people are starting to ask certain questions about each job, and employees are asking themselves if they should stay.

As companies build and maintain an employer value proposition, an overlooked area that we advise them on is COMPLEXITY. Not the complexity regarding their EVP philosophy, but the complexity of a role, and how it is part of a candidate’s consideration, or how employee’s view their job.

The complexity of a role changes from business to business, meaning the actual role of a marketing analyst at Pepsi could be more complex than say at Coca Cola. Sometimes roles increase and decrease in complexity during a short period of time, especially as businesses role out initiatives, merge with other companies, install technologies and so on. The trick is figure out what type of complex environment does the employee (or candidate) have successful experience in, and do they want to have the same, more, or less complexity in their next role.

Some jobs are straightforward – notice I did not say simple. But the procedures and processes are defined, the goals are defined, etc. That particular level of complexity may not be appropriate for a candidate. They may want something more sophisticated. Conversely, they may have other parts of their life that are already complex (or have become complex) and then actually want to reduce complexity. You know, we work about a third of the week, so sometimes enough is enough.

You know when a person says “I’m not happy” or “I need something else” and then a manager says – “what are you, crazy?” or says “they don’t get it, this is a great job” – PAUSE. Ask yourself if the complexity of the role has been changing. Could be the complexity of the candidate’s / employee’s life, but look at the job. Maybe its changed more than you know, and you have to get through the job psychology with the person.

When recruiting or retaining, find out what level of complexity candidates and employees are looking for. The question is hard to ask directly, so try and piece it together. You can use complexity as a closing technique or a retention technique, and a powerful tool in your EVP.

Complexity is part of the Development, one of the four corners of the employer value proposition. Personal Match, Financial, and Work Experience are the other three corners, and across all four, there are dozens of elements that make up a strong EVP.

Mentorship – No…its not important to have it…

Okay – that was a sarcastic remark. Of course its important – but that importance varies person to person, and as you design a role for people in your organization, design the sell of a position to an employee, or think about what you are going to talk to your boss about come review time – MENTORING should be a consideration you are making.

As an HR / talent exec it starts with your employee value proposition, and how important mentoring is to your culture. Do you have a program? Is it formal? do YOU have a mentor? Does the employee take responsibility? Is it frowned upon? Who are the examples of two people with strong mentoring relationships? If you can’t answer some of all of these questions, realize that there are candidates where mentoring is important when considering your job, and there may be top performers who are frustrated with their current job because of the lack of mentoring.

Employees – speak up. Find out if there is a program (if you want a mentor) Are you involved? Do you know any of your peers who talk about their mentors?

Recruiters – find out how important this is to the candidate. A strong mentoring program may actually get you through a tough negotiation for the right candidate, while it may mean ZERO to another. But find out. During recruiting, ask them about what empowers them daily and what resources they use for advice and counsel. If they have a mentor that is an employee at the current job, they may actually lose the ability to talk with that person – especially if the work is highly confidential or competitive. This can make your opportunity not as attractive.

Mentoring is part of the Development category of the employee value proposition. There are Four Corners to every employee value proposition, and a balance across the four is desired to make a strong match from employee to employer. The Four Corners are Development, Work Experience, Personal Match, and Financial.

Location, Location, Location

This idea may never go away. Where the work is always a consideration for people when a new job is in question. That goes for people outside the organization as much as inside the organization.

As you build the employer value proposition, realize that location and it’s sale changes for every candidate, and actually changes for each employee as time goes by. It’s easy to forget that new roads, restaurants, services, and transit are always changing, not to mention the lives of the people you are considering for the job.

Start with the location of the work and the building itself. What are the advantages of the facility? Is is green? Do you have neighbors? Is it stand alone? Does it have free parking? Transit access? Many of these may or may not be important to each particular candidate.

Then move to the services around it. What’s it like to be around the facility? Close to shopping, food, services?

Now think about the candidate and how they get there. Closer? Easier? Shorter? More traffic? Closer transit stop? More frequent transit?

Now realize that what you are considering now will change for employees and candidates as time goes by. A planned construction project along a commuting route can derail someone coming to you OR be a way to close them. Weather can be a serious factor, especially if you are good at knowing what your candidate has experienced previously.

Last thing…know where your candidate or employee lives. The actual address. The conveniences, services, and location of their home may be an indicator of how your location may or may not be an advantage. It your location is the opposite way of the school they drop the kids at each morning, it’s a consideration THEY are making that you may not realize.

Location is part of the Personal Match category of the employee value proposition. There are Four Corners to every employee value proposition, and a balance across the four is desired to make a strong match from employee to employer. The Four Corners are Development, Work Experience, Personal Match, and Financial.