Never Give Up, Never Surrender – The Clarion Call of the Hiring Process

Posted by Richard Moran.


The movie Galaxy Quest was released in 1999.  It was a big success as the crew of the Protector battled the aliens to save the Thermians.  The film parodies classic science fiction films like Star Wars and all the sci-fi television series like Star Trek.  The cult following of those space shows does not escape lightly either.  In short, it was a great film.  It may be a stretch, but the film includes lessons about the hiring process.

The hiring process lessons in the movie are summarized in the immortal words of Captain Nesmith, the hero of Galaxy Quest. “Never Give Up, Never Surrender.”  The call from the Captain applies today – to both who are hiring and those who are seeking a job.

Although hard to understand for those seeking a job, organizations are often desperate to fill positions.  The process can be incredibly frustrating for a hiring manager.  Often, when the need is greatest, a job will go unfilled.  I have heard more than one hiring manager declare, “I know there are thousands of people out there looking for a job exactly like this.  Why can’t we find the person to fill it?”  This is exactly the time not to settle.  As I often say, “availability is not a skill”.  But when the waves are crashing, the bombs are exploding, the customers are barking and the boss is threatening, any hiring manager might let the guard down to fill the job.  Although instincts might tell you otherwise, you settle for less than what you really wanted to fill the job.  Don’t do it.  Never give up on what you are really looking for in a candidate.  Never surrender to the pressures and settle just to fill the job.  We have all done it and we all suffer the consequences of a poor performer – sometimes for years.

For the job seeker, the same clarion call to action applies.  Even after sending out more resumes than seems possible without ever receiving a response; even after dressing up and going on dozens of “informational” interviews; even after those unpaid internships that were supposed to lead to a job, even after moving back home with Mom and Dad and little brother; even after your friends all get jobs at Google; even when your career seems on a track to no where – Never Give Up, Never Surrender.  But that doesn’t mean sitting on a couch watching “Lost in Space” re-runs.   What “never give up” means is stick with it.  The job you are seeking will happen.  But “never surrender” may require a new strategy and asking some hard questions like:

  1. Should I develop a different skill set so that you will be hired? The skill might be as simple as learning about spreadsheets or how to give a better presentation.  Or the skill could be much more technical or require a return to school.  Even if learning the new skill may not fulfill a lifelong dream, the new skill can get you the job that will allow to get in the proverbial door.
  2. Should I keep waiting around until an organization is desperate and willing to take a chance on me? This usually does not turn out well. There is the possibility that something good will happen once you are “in”, but it’s a long shot.  Hard as it might be for job seekers to understand, waiting is not a good strategy.  Waiting is sort of giving up/surrendering.
  3. Should I change directions by choosing a different career? This is not giving up, this is being practical.

I suspect Captain Nesmith (Tim Allen) never knew the far-reaching impact that he would have on all parts of the galaxy.  He saved the Thermians, satisfied his adoring fans and, taught us something about the hiring process.

Happy Postscript – it was recently announced that the Galaxy Quest crew has found a new home.  Amazon Studios is developing a series based on the film.

About Stealing Office Supplies…

Posted by Richard Moran.

Or, How Red Licorice Can Kill Your Organization


I was waiting in the lobby of a cool high tech company.  Or, at least they thought they were cool.  The company was a high flyer just a short time ago but now it seemed stuck – not big enough to go public but not small enough to be a startup.

Lobby waiting and observing can reveal a lot about a company.  While sitting there I watched a young man duck into the break room, reach into the Red Vines tub and stuff a big batch of them into his backpack.   Then he reached into the cupboard and stuffed a few packages of Cup-a-Soup into a different compartment of the backpack.  Maybe he was about to hike the Appalachian Trail but it looked like he was stealing the free stuff in the break room.

While still waiting, a young woman on her way out of the office, helped herself to a few notebooks, pens and, while we’re at it, how about a printer cartridge.  Maybe she was delivering office supplies to another office.  Or, maybe she was contributing to a remote village in Africa.  Or, maybe she was stealing office supplies.  It was clear to me that both employees had just taken advantage of a their employer by stealing.

Stealing supplies at the office is a common practice. Anonymous surveys show that between forty and seventy five percent of workers steal everything from post-it notes to toilet paper.  (Really people, toilet paper?)  The surveys say the items most often taken are pencils and pens.

It’s terrible in so many ways.  (Forget about the toilet paper.)  Besides the stealing thing, there is the cost to the employer.  And, no you don’t deserve it because you worked late last week.   It is not a victimless crime.  In a workplace where stealing office supplies is a regular occurrence, the biggest problem is the culture that is created.  Stealing those pencils is not OK.

Think of it this way.  When you board an airplane and the seat pocket in front of you is stuffed with used tissues and candy wrappers, doesn’t it make you wonder?  If the cleaning is so lax, what about maintenance?  Is the crew that handles the fuel and the brakes as sloppy as the crew that handles cleaning?  It might not seem like much but it is not ok to have airplane cleaning poorly done.  It sets a tone and perception (culture) in the organization.

The same is true of office supply stealing.  A few pencils missing may not seem like much but it sets the standard and tone of the organization.   (Stealing printer cartridges is another matter.) It’s not ok.  Corporate cultures are formed by what is accepted as well as what is prescribed.  Plus, who wants to work with thieves?

Take a look around.  Each of us helps create the corporate culture and pilfering a few supplies sets a tone of loose standards.  Keep the sticky fingers off the sticky notes.  And remember, eating too much licorice is not good for you.

Death to Performance Reviews!

Posted by Richard Moran.



HR professionals may be rolling the eyes with a sigh.  Controlling managers may slam a fist on the desk.  But cutting annual performance reviews out of the organizational psyche makes a ton of sense.  It makes business sense and, why do something year after year that everyone hates?  Ask Accenture.

In an announcement that sent shivers through the world of “we’ve always done it this way”,  Accenture eliminated the annual performance review.  The act was compared to eliminating a bout with the DMV each year or never again going for the annual teeth cleaning and check up. On the “can this be true?” side, when the review process was eliminated it was like, ding dong, the wicked witch is dead.

As a former Accenture partner I can attest to how the annual review process was viewed.  For those receiving the review, it was viewed as a make-or-break annual assessment that may or may not be accurate and took an enormous amount of time.  For those giving the reviews, it was seen as an annual series of torture-like meetings and sessions with results that may or may not be accurate and took an enormous amount of time.  There was plenty of agreement about the onerous nature of the process and not as much agreement on the actual assessments that were given.  So why continue to do it?  Now we know that Accenture will not continue the process, and good for them.

I wasn’t in on any of the meetings but the list of reasons why Accenture would make such a bold move is probably long.

First, there is a real business reason – do the math.  Accenture has 330,000 employees.  Assume that the time spent on each performance review is one hour (a low estimate) and that two people (the reviewee and the reviewer) are involved.  Next, assume that since Accenture people bill their time and that the billing rate is $100/hour (way low).  Then the annual cost (at the very least) looks something like this formula:

333,000 employees x 2 people in each session = 660,000 hours x billing rate of $100/hour = DO THE MATH.

Second, and more importantly, why continue a practice that no one likes? A practice that is seen as an annual ritual of pain and may or may not be effective. Finally, someone asked the really hard question, “Why are we doing this?”  And the answer was truthful.  So the annual review is dead there.

This is not to say that feedback is not a good thing.  We should all look for some sort of feedback every day.  The best source of feedback is our own inner self.  People generally know how they perform and what should be improved.  Feedback is still critically important.

We should ask others for feedback too but that doesn’t have to be in a formal review situation.  The best feedback is usually in the hallway after a presentation or in the car on the way home from a sales call or after a meeting.  Listen to that feedback and add you own inner analysis and you will be a better performer.

I am proud of Accenture for doing what everyone knows should be done in all organizations.