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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Several new opportunities with Pinnacol...

I just posted two new opportunities with our company. The first is for a Learning & Organizational Development Director. For those who follow this blog you may have seen this position posted before in its prior incarnation at the Manager level. After reviewing our L&OD needs we have concluded that we need someone at the more senior Director level to really help us chart our future L&OD Strategies. The Director will redesign and build our L&OD function from the ground up and will develop L&OD strategy and ensure its alignment with Pinnacol's business strategy and goals. A key aspect of this position will be overseeing the assessment of organizational needs and the design and implementation of trainings, initiatives and interventions that enable the execution of business strategy and goals in the areas of leadership development, change management, training development, performance development, succession management and organizational design. 

The L&OD Director will also build, direct, manage and coach the learning and organizational development team and will be responsible for measuring performance to gauge the success of programs and to drive continuous improvement in organizational development and learning. A Bachelor's Degree in Human Resources, Organizational Development, Organizational Effectiveness, Business, Communications or a related field and 7+ years progressive experience in L&OD strategy development and execution in a professional business setting are required along with strong relationship management skills and the demonstrated ability to effectively partner with all levels of management. Candidates should also have experience with large and small group classroom facilitation and managing and leading a team of L&OD specialists. MBTI, Emergenetics, Social and Emotional Intelligence, PDI certifications are preferred.

The second position (which we have not posted in any former incarnations!) is on our Finance team and will report to our CFO and CEO both. We're looking for a Financial Analyst - Special Projects to be responsible for analyzing and modelling possible future initiatives to provide perspective and to assist in the making of sound investment decisions in light of the Company's strategic and tactical direction and growth objectives. This position conducts quantitative analysis of complex financial data related to strategic projects/investments, mergers and/or acquisitions or business alliances. The Financial
Analyst - Special Projects role performs due diligence, industry research and financial modeling with the main purpose of informing executive-level decision making with data-driven analytics.  Working at the direction of the CEO, CFO and other senior leaders the analyst should expect to work multiple projects spanning various topics simultaneously. A Bachelors Degree (MBA preferred) in Accounting, Finance, Economics or Business required along with a minimum of 3-5 years of related financial analysis or financial modeling and valuation experience in a Corporate Finance/Corporate Strategy.

As with all of our positions we do ask interested candidates to please submit their information via our company website. We look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


One of our managers, Paul, just sent me the following comic which he had found interesting and thought it applied to what I do in terms of getting great people into our organization.

Strategic Humor from December 2014 Harvard Business Review

I'm always joking with our employees when they occasionally bring their children in that they (the kids) must be my next interview so I  also got a chuckle when he sent it to me. It did get me to thinking, however, of what the work world will look like when this baby reaches the age of entering the job market. When we meet with candidates interested in working at Pinnacol we look not only at can they do the specific job they applied for but whether they have the skills necessary to move into other roles over the next 5-10 years. The average tenure with our organization is about 10 years and I'm the first to admit that I'd hazard only a fuzzy guess on what the world will look like in a decade let alone the 20 or so years it will take today's babies to enter the job market.

In a recent Workplace Matters magazine sent out by the folks at Mountain States Employers Council (which is celebrating its 75th anniversary) one of their research consultants tried to tackle this topic in an article titled "The Future of HR". The author was hypothesizing what the work world might look like some 75 years from now, about the time our comic baby might be looking forward to whatever the future of retirement looks like. Some of their prognostications wouldn't come as much of a surprise: technology - specifically web or cloud-based - will continue to change and influence how we all interact with each other and our perceptions of reality. The good news for all those folks who text while driving is that they'll likely be doing so in self-driving cars which should prove safer for all of us.

The increasing use of robots, Big Data, wearable (and surgically implanted) technology, health care, environmental concerns, and changing corporate cultures  all made the list of things to watch for over the next 70+ years. The article's author of course has no way to know if the world he envisions will become reality. I always get a kick out of watching Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey (filmed in 1968 - just a few short 46 years ago...) to compare how much of what they thought the future would look like has actually transpired. One thing that will likely not change is that we cannot lose our focus on the "H" in HR. The ability to interact effectively with those around us will continue to be a critical aspect of life at work. That's my prognostication. While I won't be around 75 years from now to see if this comes true I do know that a world without the Human in human resources
would be a sadder place. So good luck little comic baby and may you reach your full potential!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Looking for a Scrum Master to join our PMO!

Scrum..., there is a term that many may not be familiar with but its been around since the late 80's/early 90's. Wikipedia defines Scrum this way:
Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development. It defines "a flexible, holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal", challenges assumptions of the "traditional, sequential approach" to product development, and enables teams to self-organize by encouraging physical co-location or close online collaboration of all team members, as well as daily face-to-face communication among all team members and disciplines in the project.
If you understand all that you may be interested in our opportunity for an experienced Scrum Master who will be dedicated to multiple Scrum teams as determined by our Manager of Project Services. The Scrum Master will be responsible for enforcing the rules of Scrum, removing productivity impediments for their teams, developing each team's self-organization and self-management skills, and constantly improving Pinnacol's standards of work. 
Candidates  for the Scrum Master should bring an excellent understanding and knowledge of Agile SDLC methodologies, in particular Scrum, and must have extensive knowledge and experience overseeing the design, development and implementation of quality assurance standards and practices for software testing. A Bachelors Degree in computer systems design, computer science or related field and/or 10 years equivalent work experience along with 5+ years experience in Project Management is required. Certified ScrumMaster desirable. 
Scrum Alliance

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Congratulations to our new Governor... Whoever he may be!

As I write this the 2014 Colorado Gubernatorial election has yet to be decided. As I went to bed last night I thought for sure I would wake up today and know who our next Governor would be but apparently we'll have to wait. This election was Colorado's first all mail-in ballot. I'm not sure what that tells us - American culture today turns up its nose at anything to do with snail-mail yet we deem it a step forward when we elect to choose our civic leaders that way.

Akron Weekly Pioneer Press Front Page 
Back in 1914, the year leading up to the legislative session that would create our company, voters didn't have the option of voting by mail. Most Coloradoans didn't even have the option of climbing into their own vehicle and driving to the polls.

Most of us this year were not thrilled with the amount of political advertising on T.V. but my sympathies go out to those voting in November 1914 - they had 45 propositions on the ballot, including whether to make Colorado 'dry' by implementing Prohibition.

The Prohibition proposition passed, although like the current vote for Governor it also was too close to call for several days after the election, and Colorado was scheduled to become completely 'dry' on January 1, 2016. National Prohibition didn't become effective until 1920 so Colorado was ahead of its time. Colorado would also repeal Prohibition and legalize alcohol ahead of the nation in 1933, and of course we led again in November 2012 by being the first state to eliminate marijuana prohibition by making its recreational use legal. This year's election cycle saw Oregon and Washington D.C. pass marijuana initiatives and Alaska's vote on the issue is still being counted.

For those Coloradoan's who could afford a car in 1914 they had a choice of gas or electric; given that any thought of global warming was still decades away the makers of the 1914 Fritchle Electic Car were really, really ahead of their time. Given that November weather in Colorado can be somewhat cool the proud owners of the Fritchle could have sought accommodations at the Denver Albany Hotel (17th & Stout Streets) and waited for the election results to sort themselves out. A room at the  Albany, which was demolished in 1976, would have set you back $1.50 per night.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What's your greatest weakness? Perhaps the most dreaded question asked in an interview...

Candidate strengths are relatively easy to to assess during an interview. The interviewer has a more than willing partner in the candidate to discuss at length all the things the potential employee does really well. Determining weaknesses is far more challenging, both for interviewers and candidates alike. Part of the problem is that the goals of the candidate are different than the goals of the interviewer when it comes to dealing with weaknesses. The candidate has some pretty obvious goals during the interview:

Candidate’s goals:

  • To sell themselves to the interviewer
  • To portray themselves in the best possible light
  • To make it appear they are the ideal, perfect candidate for the job
  • To not disclose any weaknesses or shortcomings
  • To tell the the interviewer what the candidate thinks they want to hear
  • For the interviewer to hire them rather than anyone else

The interviewer, at least at Pinnacol, also has some specific things we are trying to accomplish:

  • To understand what the candidate has actually done in their current and prior positions as an indicator of what they will really do if hired into your opening (the essence of "Behavioral Interviewing")
  • To understand both the strengths and weaknesses realizing there is no such thing as a perfect candidate
  • To hire the best candidate based on accurate, meaningful job-related information

When it comes to discussing weaknesses there are specific reasons, from the interviewer's perspective, why this is important:

The first is fairly obvious - If we know what the weaknesses are and they are critical enough to preclude the candidate from further consideration, it helps form our hiring/not hiring decision. This is probably the single biggest reason candidates don't like to disclose weaknesses.

More importantly to Pinnacol is whether the candidate is self-aware to the point of being able to candidly acknowledge where their weaknesses lie and to discuss the steps they are taking to address those weaknesses. Pinnacol does a tremendous amount of training of its employees and the reality is that training is done, in large part, to specifically help our employees overcome their weaknesses.

Amanda Augustine
A lot of books on interviewing suggest turning the weakness question on its head by saying things like "I work too hard", "I'm too much of a perfectionist", I pay too much attention to detail", etc. For any seasoned interviewer this turning a weakness into a strength technique is painfully obvious and really does the candidate no benefit. Companies really do need to know candidate strengths and weaknesses because, as mentioned above, there is no such thing as a perfect candidate. The question companies are simply trying to assess with this question is whether they can live with the weaknesses identified (will the weaknesses impact the candidate's ability to succeed in the role?), and secondarily though perhaps more importantly, can they help the candidate overcome these weaknesses to maximize their future success in the role. Amanda Augustine, in a recent bog on The Ladders,  has some great pointers for candidates to consider. She talks about the STAR method as a good way for candidates to address this, and other interview questions. Here are a couple of Amanda's tips:
  • Think of a Situation or Task that you’ve struggled with in the past. This could be anything from having difficulty remaining cool under pressure, being afraid of public speaking, or getting too caught up in the little details of a project and missing deadlines.
  • Identify what Actions you’ve taken to improve your skill-set or overcome this shortcoming at the office. For instance, if you’ve been too efficient for your own good in the past and ended up cutting corners, you can explain what measures you’ve taken to ensure you produce a high-quality, error-free product now.
  • Discuss the Results of your actions. Are you no longer struggling with this skill at the office? Have your customer scores or employee assessments improved? Are you performing better at your organization? Prove you’re an accomplished professional by explaining the final success.
At Pinnacol we frame our interview questions around this same STAR format so for candidates interviewing at Pinnacol Amanda's tips are great advice!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Information Fatigue Syndrome?

I was perusing the newspapers from October 1914 as I have a lot of curiosity about what was going on around the time in which Pinnacol as a company was created. This week in 1914 wasn't too different than some of what is going on now. The election cycle for Governor was in full swing and there was a fair amount of negative campaigning then as there is now. Our then future Governor, George Carlson, who would be instrumental in passing the first Workers' Compensation Act for our state, was loved or hated, depending on the source, about as much in 1914 as Governor Hickenlooper and his opponent Bob Beauprez are today.

Scrolling through the news of the day I came across an article, totally unrelated to politics, that I thought presented a stark contrast between then and now. The subject? The importance of staying informed in a changing world. The article, from the Routt County Republican, dated Friday October 9, 2014, argued that people should make the effort to not just read a monthly magazine to stay abreast of what was going on. Instead they should be reading a good weekly magazine to keep up with what the article called "the march of events".

I had to chuckle because in today's world anyone who only read something on a weekly or monthly basis to stay current would be badly out of step with current events. The article did get me to thinking that back in 1914 people might have thought that weekly information might be information overload, which is something that I think we all deal with today. An article on the blog Digital Intelligence Today from November 14, 2013 written by Paul Marsden made the contrast quite clear:

IFS (information fatigue syndrome)

Definition:  When the volume of potentially useful and relevant information available exceeds processing capacity and becomes a hindrance rather than a help
90% of all the data in the world has been generated over the last two years
Information consumption in the US is in the order of 3.6 zettabytes (3.6 million million gigabytes)
The average American consumes 34 gigabytes / 12 hours of information per day – outside of work
“Between the dawn of civilization through 2003 about 5 exabytes of information was created. Now, that much information created every 2 days” (Eric Schmidt – former Google CEO)
In the US, people who text send or receive an average of 35 texts per day
28% of office workers time is spent dealing with emails
The typical Internet user is exposed to 1,707 banner ads per month
The human brain has a theoretical memory storage capacity of 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes)
The maximum number of pieces of information a human brain can handle concurrently is 7 (Miller’s Law)
Information (over)load is linked to greater stress, and poorer health
Overuse of social media can lead to short-term memory loss

Much of this would have been absolute gibberish to someone back in 1914, but its interesting that even back then there was a perceived struggle as to how to effectively stay informed regarding the "march of events"...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sr. Maintenance Technician opportunity is a great chance to join Pinnacol!

Construction is booming in Denver and most of Colorado right now but around the corner is old man winter and outdoor construction activities that are weather dependent may start to slow down. We're looking for a Senior Maintenance Technician to help us maintain our Lowry headquarters.

Our 130,000 sq. ft. building demands a dedicated maintenance team and we're looking for an experienced candidate capable of performing skilled journey level work in one trade or craft and semiskilled sub-journey level work in several other trades. This position requires the general knowledge and mechanical aptitude to perform a variety of tasks, using the methods, practices and materials generally associated with the building trades industry.

Some of our Facilities team hard at work!
Candidates should have a minimum of a High School Diploma or GED along with 3 to 5 years of progressively responsible building maintenance and repair experience, or satisfactory completion of a formalized apprenticeship-training certificate in the building trades industry. We'd love a candidate with certification in one or more of the following specialties - Basic Air Conditioning and refrigeration, Electricity for HVAC, or Locksmithing.

Our Maintenance Technicians must able to work a flexible schedule including evenings and weekends and be available on a rotating schedule for emergencies by telephone and/or cell phone.

If you know of someone who might be interested in this opportunity please let them know we are looking. Better yet, if you are interested we'd love to hear from you! For consideration please apply online at