Get "The People Thing" Right or HR Tech Is Useless

by Nathaniel Plamondon | Posted | Industry Buzz

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"Energetic" is one word I'd use to describe popular internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk. The serial entrepreneur, speaker and New York Times bestselling author spoke at HR Tech World this year, and true to form, he injected a lot of energy into an arguably controversial topic: businesses that focus on dollars and cents but ignore the people working for them are doing it all wrong.

We pulled together some great Gary quotes from the keynote. Or watch it yourself, below. Regardless of how you feel about Gary's usual stuff, there are some absolute gems in here. 

Quick note: Gary "Vee" uses strong language throughout the video which may be offensive to some viewers.

HR is all about people


"It's insane to me how excited I am about the future of the world because as technology commoditizes (expletive) that doesn't matter, all of us are going to be forced into the things that actually do matter, which is people."

Why this matters:

People are why we have dedicated our careers to talent management. Ask yourself: are my people dodging inter-office politics to get their jobs done? How can I help them? Even if you are a single contributor, what action can you take today to help those on your HR team?

"I am terrible at everything other than intuition, empathy, gratitude, EQ. It's actually all I've got."

Why this matters:

Sometimes in HR, our obsession with all things metrics can start to seem myopic. Gary shows us that soft skills can change things in a big way.

Follow the money


"I stand up here as somebody that's obsessed with HR, obsessed with people. Look at it as a financial offense because I believe in retention and continuity, which then is a gateway to speed which is then an advantage when you compete against any other business."

Why this matters:

Taking care of your people well is a competitive advantage. Create programs that help your teams or watch them walk across the street to the competition.


"I think this conference next year needs 150 CFOs in the audience. Let me explain. I don't think about HR and people and all of this warm and fuzzy stuff...because I think I'm Mother Teresa or the nicest guy that ever walked the earth. I think of it because I'm an assassin entrepreneur who's trying to buy the New York Jets and I think it's financially viable to actually give a (expletive) about people."

Why this matters:

Gary doesn't pull any punches about how he thinks CFOs have it wrong. In your organization, how you can make things right? What data can you show your manager to promote better policies and programs for real humans?


"The only tech that you should give a (expletive) about is the one that gives you the most data on an individual basis for every single person that works for you that is in real-time."

Why this matters:

Data matters, but only if you can make a connection at the personal employee level and how it connects to the business.

Tools are great, but...


"So, the energy that I'm most passionate to bring to this audience today is, are we having the right macro conversation? Are we going to spend a lot of time talking about crossing the T's and dotting the I's in here? Are we going to talk about all the (expletive) semantics that we love to pander that are just so disproportionately secondary to the punch line which is: I can give you the greatest (expletive) HR SaaS tools of all time, (but) if you don't actually give a (expletive) about people or you're not in a place where you financially have the ability to make a judgment call once you decide it and give a (expletive) about people, it doesn't matter what tool you have."

Why this matters

Tools are only as good as the organization that purchases them. A great tool can't fix a company that doesn't care about its employees.


"I stand here in front of you today to be very frank, to get one (expletive) person in here to have the bravery to have the real conversation, which is you either make and run your organization on short-term financial decisions or you don't. And when you don't, an amazing thing happens. You start having air cover to making human decisions. You have the ability to actually start making decisions that think about the impact of that person has on culture in a 36-month macro not on how much revenue they're bringing in tomorrow."

Why this matters

There is a tremendous financial reward to be had for companies who offer their workforce forward-thinking learning and development tied to business goals.

Your turn: What did you think of Gary's talk at HR Tech World? Let us know in the comments below!

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