Sunday, December 09, 2007

When a union comes knocking - part 2

Having already said that Unions are not necessarily all good or all bad, I am going to continue this topic on the premise that you do not feel that a Union is in the best interests of your company (if that's not the case for you, please tune out now)

There are so many things you can do when a Union tries to organize your workforce that we cannot explore them all - so I want to focus on a list of Do's and Dont's to help you understand what might work best for your company.

  • Openly acknowledge the presence of Union Organizers with your staff - both those the Union is trying to organize, and everyone else as well. They won't make their presence a secret and you will only look silly if you try to pretend they are not making a play.
  • Provide an open and retaliation free forum for employees to discuss their feelings and ask questions of management relating to the Union.
  • Be honest! Even if it hurts. If you have a track record of not being good (define that as you will) to your employees, own up to it. Acknowledge management mistakes and any sore issues that may be leveraged by the Union to sway the vote.
  • Hold open forum meetings on company time for ALL employees (not just those being approached by the Union) to explain pertinent information about both your business and the Union. Tell your people the facts about your business. Tell your people the facts about the Union. Most Unions will tell your people about how much your top Execs make (because it's normally on your official filings and is easy to find on the web), but the wont tell your people how much their leaders make! You can find out loads about any Union on sites like UnionFacts.
  • Make sure that your people understand that Unions can PROMISE anything, but that they can GUARANTEE nothing! If you want to get your employees to see how the Union really operates, suggest that your employees ask the union to guarantee the results they promise. Trust me, they wont!
  • Have your people ask what the employees who started the campaign are getting for supporting the union. Usually, the ring-leaders of a union campaign are granted special perks like union office or super-seniority (a guarantee that they will be the last union members laid off). Just like in any good spy movie, if you want to know what really motivates people, follow the money!
  • Get outside employment law advice to ensure you don't violate any laws!
  • Make threats of any kind, to anyone. Saying something like"If the union gets in, we'll have to lay some folks off" is a sure-fire way to ensure that the union will indeed get in!
  • Intimidate - don't make people feel pressured or frightened about how they will vote. Let them make up their own mind based on the facts alone.
  • Make promises. The union will sell that as you trying to buy the employees off cheap.
  • Spy on the union organization efforts. Your people have a right to meet privately with the union and go through whatever process they need to do come to the best decision for them. Spying on the organizing activity will erode all trust between you and your folks, and once that is gone, a union will be the only logical next step for them.
Finally, no matter how the campaign turns out, remember that you only have to do what is right for your people AND the business.

A good, quick primer on how to keep Unions from getting their foot in the door in the first place. Most of this is just common sense, but we know how uncommon that can be.

I'd love to hear your war stories on this - comments anyone??

Here's to a wonderful 2008!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What to do when a Union comes knocking at your door - Part 1

What to do when a Union Comes knocking - Part 1: Employee beware

In the spirit of my good pal, the Evil HR Lady, I am writing this post in response to questions I've been getting about Unions approaching employees in union-free companies.

Let's start out with a few very basic facts here; Unions can and often do serve a valuable role. Historically, Unions have helped shape the current state of the employment landscape. They have played a key role in the development of many important labor-friendly laws that have eliminated workplace hazards, provided excellent benefits and generally made the world a nicer place to work in.

Even though all of the above is true Unions are not perfect either. Unions survive on the dues that they extract from their members and some have a pretty bad reputation for not being good stewards of those funds. Further, some Unions have a great track record of forcing their way into companies where employees dont really want them through scare tactics and outright threats.

The first thing YOU need to do as an employee or manager is GET THE FACTS before you sign anything. Unions will almost invariably try to get you to sign a card, form or petition saying you want them to represent you. What most people miss out on here is the fact that electing a Union means that you are effectively making them your agent; you are turning over your power to negotiate your terms of employment to them. This is like signing a power of attorney. Imagine if some lawyer confronted you in the parking lot of your company and said "Hey, sign this form and I will get you a better deal" - would you sign it, just like that? Well, that's what the union is asking for when they come to organize.

The first time somebody swindled you out of your peanut butter and jelly sandwich for tuna fish on rye in third grade, you learned two valuable lessons - First, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And second, the grass is NOT greener on the other side (although that tuna fish probably was - yeech!) - That lesson will serve you well when a union comes to town.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Is your "secret sauce" in jeopardy?

Have you ever thought about the risk to your company from the practice known as poaching. This is the practice where firms effectively raid their competitors to hire away their top talent, you know, the folks on your team who know how to make the "secret sauce". The competitive advantage gained by doing so comes from the double-whammy of your company gaining a top notch player, while simultaneously removing a key player from the competition.

There are very distinct concerns and considerations to this as highlighted in John Sullivan's Inc article on poaching.

I want to focus on poaching as a competitive threat to your company for a moment. You have to understand how poaching works and develop a strategy to recognize it and defend against it if you want to be successful in a competitive industry.

First off, all you really need to know about poaching is this: Unless you work in an industry where NO ONE competes with you, it IS a threat to your very livelihood. Every enterprise, from your local motorcycle repair shop to your local school district poaches at some point. Maybe it's the tight labor market; maybe it's the sadistic vein in the CEO.... whatever the reason, it is real and headed your way eventually.

Now, as to how to head it off; You need to understand that no solution is perfect for all situations and you are not likely to avoid losing staff this way. Knowing how the law on this point works (remember folks, I am NOT a Lawyer - this is solely based on my opinion and experience).

Employees in the U.S. are bound by a common-law duty not to compete with their company. This means that while they are under your employ, they are not permitted to solicit your customers, influence your staff to leave, or take any action to steal your intellectual property. You can use this common-law as an educational point to your staff - having them understand their obligations may help them avoid the temptation in the first place.

Many employers try to protect their secret sauce by having key staff (Executives / Officers, top sales people, strategists, programmers, etc....) sign a non-compete / non - disclosure / non - solicit agreement in which the employee promises not to directly compete, disclosed confidential information to, or lure other staff to work in a competing company. This is not a bad approach and it can be VERY effective in the short run. These agreements have a couple of major drawbacks though; First, you have to get the employee to sign them in recognition of something of value you provide to them - usually a bonus payment . Second, they have to be specific and reasonable. I wont bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the limits have to be short in duration (generally less than 12 months), specific to known and named competitors in specific geographies and reasonably not preclude the employee from working in your industry in some non-competing way. Not a perfect fit, eh??

In my opinion, these methods are mere adjunct tools in a larger strategy which is much more basic and incorporates all the "little things" that make you a great employer, make your employees loyal to the cause and forms the basis of the real "secret sauce".

Take a look at your exposure to poaching. Resolve all the obvious details like pay equity (internal and market based), truly open lines of communication, fair and consistent performance evaluations, constant and constructive feedback and most important of all - show the troops that you really care. If you get all of this right, you are doing more to protect your business than ANY non-compete agreement can do.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Carnival of HR

It’s carnival time in HR-land and those fools – er, kindred souls in the Village have entrusted me with hosting it this time. Cue up the Calliope and summon the clowns.

And speaking of Clowns…. I’ve been following the continuing saga of Mr. Alex Rodriguez, and his now infamous demand of a $350 Million Dollar offer just to begin negotiations with the Yankees…. Who does he think he is, Robert Nardelli? How’s that for chutzpah??

Our friend over at Ask A Manager has some good advice that could have saved Home Depot and the Yankees a lot of trouble by managing the performance of people like these two “stars” upfront and properly.

And why is it that sports (and other) stars always put management in difficult positions by being the spoiled people that they are? Kris at the Human Capitalist has some pretty good insights on managing such stars without killing your business.

Maybe we could be better at influencing the behaviors and performance of our stars by having a results-tied compensation plan. Ann from Compensation Force may have the answers in her brilliant post on Incentive Principles.

It’s a pretty good bet that if the Yankees had a decent performance assessment process and a candid Talent Assessment plan they might have headed off the blow-up with A-Rod. Gautam Ghosh came up with a thought provoker about Assessing Potential – how it can be done well, and how we all tend to stumble through it usually.

Peggy at Career Encouragement raised a seemingly unrelated topic, till you look below the surface. She refers to a post on how employees feel about being referred to EAP. Now I’m not making any accusations here, but A-Rod demands $350 Million at the same time Peggy brings up an EAP article…. Coincidence! You decide!

Lisa at HR Thoughts raises a real value perception question that relates nicely as well. So you’ve got a Hero on the team and you reward him for his clinch hit in the bottom of the 9th to win the game – but do you ever hold him accountable for striking out in the first 8 innings and getting the team into a clinch in the first place??

Maybe the problem isn’t all with A-Rod alone. Maybe a better leader could have inspired and engaged him to play well for less cash – at least that’s a theory that fits Anna’s post from the Engaging Brand. Besides – I cannot deal with the Image of Steinbrenner reading anybody’s palm – yech!

Wally over at Three Star Leadership has a great viewpoint on selecting and developing leaders that touches our theme here as well. Maybe George Steinbrenner should have read this last year??

This topic really had me steamed and I was starting to rail against these smug little sports brats. Wayne Turmel (the host of the Cranky Middle Manager show and President of pointed out that maybe this generation of spoiled brats isn’t really so bad after all – maybe the kids are alright after all.

And finally (ironic, since she was the first to my door with her post – well done!) Carmen over at Race in the Workplace reminds us that as we move on post this drama and trauma and begin our search for a new bat-wielding hero to propel the Yankees back to the playoffs, we have to acknowledge that talent comes in all form, sizes and colors. We do ourselves and our team a grave injustice when we claim not to notice the color of our teammates.

Phew! – an entire carnival all tied (however loosely) to a topic that I don’t even really care about! Perhaps I have uncovered a hidden talent in myself – maybe I’m a free-style Rapper trapped in an HR geek’s body? NAH!!!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

So how much do you think YOU are worth?

I've been struggling to find a topic that gets my blood hot enough to blog about while still being related to all the management voodoo we cover here. Thank you Mr. Rodriguez!

I read this little bit of insanity in today's New York Post while waiting in the oil change place yesterday. Everyone there from the baseball junkie to the suburban soccer-mom had something to say about the unmitigated gall of A-Rod to seek such a kings ransom despite having been in a virtual coma for the playoffs. While it's an extreme example, it gave me the jolt I needed to bring up a topic we've not covered before - compensation.

As an HR geek, I have seen more than my share of self professed super-star employees come in with some pretty outrageous salary demands and it always gets to me to the point where those otherwise silent voices in my head scream out, "what the heck is she thinking?". Honestly folks, we have all done or at least seen it before. For some reason, you get it in your head that you are not being adequately paid for what you do. Maybe you have had an increase in responsibility or maybe you still do the same job, but have heard about someone else making more, or seen a salary survey indicating that people who do what you think you do make more money for doing it.

I'm not going to suggest that you are (or are not) properly compensated for you job, but I will challenge you to think about your pay this way;

- Are you really underpaid? If you think so, how do you define it?
  • Being paid less than you feel you need to live on is not the same as being underpaid. I know lots of outstanding burger flippers at McDonalds and some of them seem to be struggling to make ends meet. They are great at what they do, but despite their personal financial challenges, Burger Flippers make $7.25 per hour, period.
  • Being paid less than others who do the same job you do, with the same quality results and without any difference in seniority (if that applies in your world), IS something you should speak with the boss about.
  • Comparing your pay to "survey" data is a complex game and you should be careful how you go about it:
    • Does the survey job you are comparing yourself to really match your job?
    • Are you doing all the components of the survey job?
    • Is the survey data from your area, or is it from a national or regional average?
    • How current is the survey data ?
    • And most important of all, does your company even care about survey data???
The fact is that we are living in a great job market. Companies are finding it harder to find the talent they need to get the results they need and there is already stiff competition for the best players. If you really feel you are underpaid, why not look around the job market to see how much other companies are willing to pay for your expertise? I know that sounds a bit militant, but hey, you are in the Guerrilla HR page!

If you feel that you are underpaid, talk to the boss about it. If the company isn't willing to be open and up front with you about your compensation, it may be time to brush up that old resume and float it out to a few companies to see what the rest of the world will pay you for your expertise.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Welcome to the team!

Think back to your first day on the job. It's funnythat even though that “first day” may have been years ago, you can probably remember it quite vividly. It’s an important day and one that can set the tone for your tenure with the company.

There are loads of studies that show that a good orientation plan is critical to getting new employees productive and keeping them on the team. Some real world examples:

· Texas Instrument determined that employees who completed an orientation were fully productive two months faster than those who did not.

· Corning Glass determined that 69 percent more employees stayed in the company after three years if they completed their orientation program.

The unfortunate fact is that most employers don’t handle this first day, or the process of orientation very well. I find that the reasons for this are lack of understanding of the importance, confusion about whose responsibility it is, and a lack of accountability for the results.

Let’s take this one reason (or excuse) at a time:

Understanding the importance: We all know how costly and painful it is to have to recruit new or replacement staff. Even when they are hired, they take a while to get up to speed. No matter where you are in the organization, the lower productivity of new staff is a real business issue that you need to address.

Confusion about who is responsible for orientation:

No matter how large, complex and well staffed your HR team is, they are only a small part of the solution to orientation. As a manager, you should view orientation as your responsibility, because the most important things a person needs to know about working on your team, are not things HR will know or understand. Whether your HR folks prescribe some form of orientation program or not, you need to have a plan that ensures your new staff have a way to learn from your existing staff, and from you. This will make the new person feel valued, and give them a chance to become assimilated to your ways of getting things done quickly. This can also be a way to show your current staff how much you trust and value their experience.

Accountability for business results:

This one is simple - you are the manager; the buck stops with you!

A good orientation process will make your new staff productive faster and make them feel welcomed, valued and important. All of those things will help you develop and keep a productive team. It’s not hard to do and there are loads of good examples on the net of how simple it can be to arrange a good orientation experience.

In my next post, we’ll talk about one particularly simple, but effective tool – The Buddy.


Talk to your team about this at your next team meeting (you are having weekly team meetings with your direct reports, right?). Ask each of them to think about what went right with their orientation, and what could have been done better. Then have them draft a simple plan to make sure that every person you hire has a great orientation experience

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The first step is admitting that you have a problem!

Time for the Guerrilla to take a lesson as well as passing it along. Work is to workaholism as a beer is to alcoholism. It can be hard to tell when you have crossed the line between a healthy work-life balance and working just too damn much.

Oddly enough, this family-wrecking, hair greying, blood pressure raising addiction is actually referred to in some cultures as an honorable addiction! There is nothing honorable about working yourself to collapse. There's a great quote from Confucius to help reorient you on this point: To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.

Your mission -
Take this quiz and be honest with yourself. If you fail you really need to take a long hard look at yourself and figure out where your priorities really lie.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The truth will set you free, if you can get past the campaigns

Ok, chalk this one up in the category of "they have GOT to be kidding, right?"

The ongoing Union vs Non-Union battle is fun to watch, but THIS video was posted as part of a Union campaign to defeat a move in the Indianapolis legislature to allow employees to chose whether they want to support a union or not.... It's basically an argument with no reasonable defense, but the Unions and their "spokespeople" (read lobbyists) chose to strike as many nerves as they could to distract from the real question.

Take a look at this little gem - it's a great example of how a special interest can distract you from the truth to keep get you to vote for their plan, no matter what the facts may say.

Now if you are done crying for poor little Maggie, let's consider the facts the Unions left out... yep, Maggie's got a fair chance of making less than her peers in non-right to work states, but those states have cost of living factors WAY higher than Indiana. They also left out the bit about Right To Work States having much higher job growth, higher median incomes and let's not forget the ever popular right not to pay dues to a union that is funneling your dues to political campaigns without your consent!

I'm not out to bash Unions here, but I just HAD to call them out on this blatant line of B.S.


No matter the topic of debate, get beyond the hype and drama to get to the facts and make your decision based on the facts alone!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

How will the troops perform after you have left?

It's a common bit of wisdom in the military that the best time to judge a commander is not when he's in front of his troops, but by watching how his troops perform after he has left.

Let's put that to the test. Let's assume you are a good manager (and the fact that you are reading says that you probably are). Your team is known for getting the job done well and everyone thinks you area solid leader for it. Now let's suppose that you are taken out of the picture - maybe you get promoted, maybe you hit the lottery, whatever... you are gone. What is your successor going to find?

Was your team's success due to you taking control, or because you let your team manage themselves effectively? Did they succeed because you coached and trained them well, or because you plugged the gaps they left behind. Did you have a competent, intelligent and resourceful team capable of handling exceptions, or did you shield them from change and just keep them focused on their silos? All the truth behind the performance will come shining through when a new boss takes the helm - this is why the military changes unit commanders so frequently (and maybe your company should too?)

The truth is that the best managers build great teams of fully capable and confident people who really don't need their manager on-hand to deliver success - they could basically do it without the boss in tow. Now that's not saying that the boss has no play. The fact is that the best bosses use the "free time" they get from not having to ride shotgun all day to continually refine process, preempt emergencies and constantly invest in the development of their people.

If that seems painfully simple - it is! Now, you ask if it is so simple, why don't more bosses "get it"? Answer that and the Harvard Business School will let you teach a course on it!


Review this post with your team and make this pact with them: "If you will help me be a better manager, I will make you the most effective and successful team in our business." This partnership is your first step towards becoming an outstanding leader of an exceptional team.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

"C" words form the backbone of great recruiting

I'm a former Army guy - I have to keep stuff really simple. Quick check-lists help me remember steps and key parts of a process. Here's a little list I developed to ensure that I have the proper focus on my role as a recruiter - oddly enough, this list could also be applied to many management roles!

Client Focus: View every interaction as though you were dealing with a client. No matter if you are speaking to a hiring manager (clearly your client), or a candidate (who could be a client) always focus on their needs as part of whatever outcome you are trying to achieve.

Communication: Communication with every audience - internal, external, up the chain or down must be concise and accurate as well as specifically tailored to the needs of the audience. You simply cannot over-communicate!

Coach: The hiring manager knows the needs of the business better than you do, but you know the strategies that yield results. The best coaches ASK more than they ANSWER. Ask questions to get the manager to draw their own conclusion and they will normally land on the right answer.

Consideration: You are asking managers to consider the needs of the role and of the candidate. You are asking the candidate to consider the opportunity. All this consideration needs to play out along with some real personal consideration for all involved. Don't forget that at the heart of the process they are all still people with needs.

Consistency: Aside from all the compliance risks in not being consistent, lack of consistency means you will never be able to replicate the magic when you finally get the recruitment process nailed down. Consistency with candidates, managers and even your team is foundational to being able to grow and consistently deliver great results.

Compelling: You HAVE to be able to tell a compelling story about your business, the opportunity, and even the candidate. Your offers must be compelling to the candidate to effectively convey the desire to have them join and the importance your company places on the role - note that "compelling" does not have to mean heaps of money - if you have followed the points above, you will know what is important to the candidate and THAT's the compelling part!

Candor: Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy - sure you can soften up the feedback, but if the hiring manager is a dolt who does not understand the basics of the business or managing people, SOMEONE has to tell them. Just continuing down the recruiting path with someone like this just means you will have to do it over, and over and over and .....etc! The same holds true with candidates. If Johnny shows up to interview for a VP of Sales job, but has the personality of a librarian.... you REALLY have to tell him. Just using the standard Recruiter's dodge of "it's not the right fit" serves no one. You get off cheap and he doesn't learn why he's not qualified... big missed opportunity there. In practice, I find that candidates really like being told the truth - wouldn't you??

And Finally...CLOSE!! Time is money, so get to the point and close the deal. Force managers and candidates alike to act with a sense of urgency. You have invested time and money going through endless assessments and interviews, now it is time to remind everyone that this process is about business results! If you are not going to hire them, tell them AS SOON AS YOU KNOW. If you are, make the offer NOW! Too many searches go belly-up because we lose candidates to competing offers that came in while we pondered.

Ok, enough for today... I could go on for hours, but then I'd have nothing for future posts.


Hold this little diatribe up as a measure of your practices on recruiting (or managing in general). See any opportunities??? If so, act on them. If not - write a book and I will buy it!!!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The missing ingredient in business plans? TALENT!

The lack of the right talent at the right time can hamstring even the best laid business plans, so why is it left out of so many of them? Let's look at a hypothetical case to illustrate the point.

Imagine you are running a business and your business plan calls for a shift from your normal product line of industrial widgets - now you want to get into the widget customization business. The key to success is your ability to crank out a new and better series of widgets that can be adapted to meet your customers varied widget needs. So you ramp up your business plan - You build out your factory to handle the variations and increased production. You get your suppliers on-board to ensure you always have inventory to produce widgets. Heck, you even got yourself a slick custom widget ad-campaign! Now all you need are some super talented, consultative widget subject matter experts / consultants / salespeople.

And that's when it hits you - you never determined if that kind of talent even exists in your market! Turns out that you didn't know that there are very few people who can really sell customized widget solutions, and they all work for your competitor! Wow - don't YOU feel silly?? All ramped up and no one to sell it! Try explaining that little oversight to the shareholders.

The key to your widget “secret sauce” was people with the specific talents you need to get the job done, and you forgot to include them in your business plan. Living proof that if we fail to plan we’re actually planning to fail!


Take a look at your business planning process. If PEOPLE are not accounted for early on in the process, change your process. The best ideas, technology and products are all useless unless you have the right people working on them.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Surviving organizational change

Organizational change - whether it be an internal reorganization or a change in ownership, can be a good thing, but if it is not properly managed, it can become a major distraction to the work at hand.

Think about the last major change you faced at work. I'll bet that while it generated a lot of buzz, it did little to drive progress to results. Faced with change and uncertainty, people tend to pull back into their shells a bit. Rather than pushing that big project ahead, folks begin to "circle the wagons" in an effort to protect their jobs.

The sad news is that while keeping one's head down is viewed as a way to survive change - in great organizations, it's a great way to highlight the value you are not bringing to the table! Career Journal takes one particular spin on this which I think is spot on. You have to focus on the opportunity to show the value you bring to the company rather than hiding under your desk to avoid detection - you might not be seen, but your name shows up on payroll reports!

While the Career Journal article seems pointed for upper level muckity-mucks, those of us a bit lower on the corporate food chain should also take heed. Educational / Tech blogger Doug Johnson has some really practical advice - note in particular point 2 - It's all about doing something meaningful and valuable rather than just relying on your title.


No matter the source of the change, your best chance at succeeding is to establish a credible reputation as one of those go-getters that your company just cant do without, rather than being known as "that guy with the bad suit in accounting"! So, start making yourself indispensable TODAY!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Life lessons from a young Marine

I normally don't let too much of my personal life bleed into this blog, but this is a different case. My family is mourning the loss of my nephew, Corporal James Mazza Jr. Jimmy was a great kid who grew up to be an outstanding young man and a proud Marine. In his passing, I have come to realize some of the great lessons I can learn from him.

  1. Don't cry because it's over, smile because is happened - Jimmy loved that line, and I can now understand how well it truly fits. Life is way to short to spend it in regret. Enjoy the gift you have today fully - consume all the adventure and joy around you....
  2. If you are going to do something, do it all the way. Jimmy took every new challenge as an opportunity to kick it up a notch. He applied this in sport, study and service - every day. That is a view most of the best and brightest share and it is what makes them so successful.
  3. The bonds we form with those who share our struggle and adversity are stronger than any challenge. While Jimmy served only a few years with his unit, his Marine buddies were as close a family as the one he left at home. His buddies all came up here for his funeral and, as hard as it is for a former Army guy to say, these were some of the finest young men I have ever had the privilege to meet.
  4. The seeds we sow can bring a huge return, IF we sow and tend them well. Jimmy was a great person and he truly had a positive impact on just about every life he touched. His Dad is a Police Officer and his Mom is a Teacher. Together, the three of them have touched and saved or improved countless lives. When Jimmy died, the community responded in a way that can best be described as heroic. Sort of like the folks of Bedford Falls all chipping in to help George Bailey, the community delivered a crop of compassion from the seeds of service they planted.
  5. Organizations are only as strong as the devotion they show to their people. The Marines are an extraordinarily tough organization and they draw all the dirtiest and most dangerous missions, yet they are still viewed as elite and membership in their ranks is considered to be an privilege - hard to earn and with you for life if you get it. In seeing the respect, dignity and compassion with which they treat their fallen comrades and the families they leave behind, I now understand how the bonds of this fraternity are formed and the loyalty they share amongst themselves is a reward in itself.
So, with these lessons added to our arsenal and a long road of healing ahead, let's salute this exceptional Marine and try to continue the good fight.

Semper Fi

Monday, July 16, 2007

A good old fashioned rant!

Frequent readers will know that I normally grouse about bad management practices and then whip out a little bit of advice to overcome the bad behavior.... well today is going to be a bit off that track. Today I am going to take a few pot-shots at Job Seekers!

We've all been job seekers before, but there are some ALARMING new trends I see among those who want to work for my company, and many of my fellow HR trolls tell similar tales around the cauldron, so I figured it was time to act.

First, if you want to get a job selling widgets at my company, you better know a lot about my company; exactly what type of widgets we sell, to whom we sell them to and why our widgets are better than the competition's. Honestly, this doesn't require a lot of work on your part - just read our flipping website and you can articulate all that pretty well - even if you don't really understand it. As simple as this sounds I am appalled at the number of candidates who don't even know what our widgets do! Kind of like me applying for a job running a cruise ship and not knowing it's name, size or even where it sails!

Second - I am the HR geek trying to help the Manager identify, qualify, assess and potentially hire you - treating me like a bellhop ain't such a good idea. If you treat me like crud I might imagine you'd treat colleagues and {gasp} even customers that way! There's NO quicker way to earn the dreaded "Thanks, but....NO thanks" letter from me.

Third - Be realistic. You'd be blown away by some of the unrealistic expectations candidates can have. YES - we do want to woo you, but we are NOT going to give you the keys to the castle on the first date. For example, remember that we are in business to make money - demanding half the profits from a new product is not realistic and will set you apart in a VERY BAD WAY! A corollary to that is, if this is your first or second job, please dont expect to make as much as that 20 year vet sitting next to you - we are not paying for longevity, we are paying for experience, not attitude.

Yes, this was a grand old rant, but it's needed!


As and when you start interviewing - remember these basics:
  1. Be prepared - Know all you can know about the company
  2. Treat everyone you deal with in the process as you'd like to be treated. Remember, the HR person you crap on in the interview process may well handle your payroll record some day!
  3. Be realistic about the company, the role and yourself - you may be good, but you are NOT the only person who can do the job - understand that no matter how sexy that job looks, somebody has to do the dirty work..... you will likely get your share of that along the way.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Who can you trust?

I recently blogged about how non-HR folks can be greatly effective recruiters IF you company has a well designed and executed Employee Referral plan. Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership commented on that post about how he hears that folks feel there are not getting the truth from recruiters. Let me get this straight - is Wally saying that recruiters might actually lie? You betcha they do! Especially those for whom there is a payday hanging on your decision to take on that new role.

Let's be clear here - I AM a recruiter and I know how the game is played - we convince ourselves that we are not lying.... maybe we call it "optimistic view-shaping", or "tactical fact withholding" or some other euphemistic term - all of those variants are lying in my book. And while I confess to having done such things at points in my past, I have long since realized the benefits of just being candid, so as a reformed recruiter, I have earned the right to this soap box.

Put aside for a moment the basic fact that such behavior is possibly illegal, is surely unethical, immoral and probably going to cost them some Karma points... beyond all that - It's just plain STUPID!

Your reputation is a critical asset to manage and protect. If you, as a recruiter, treat people well, honor your word and commitments and generally look out for your candidates and prospects, you will gain much more than the momentary rush (and potential payday) of the quick win. If that "win" is achieved by selling the candidate a bill of goods, they will figure it out, quit the job and your name will become three levels lower than pond scum! No candidate with talking to will be willing to speak with you or anyone at your company if the word gets out that you mislead candidates.

Great candidates are in short supply, so it's extremely important to be honest with them. Treat them as you would want to be treated and they will respect you AND your organization. No, you probably wont enjoy such a stellar batting average and some great talent will go for other opportunities, but the folks you do hire will be happier in the near and long term because you will not have held back on them and they will know exactly what they are getting into from the word go! Your personal and organizational reputation will be enhanced and the folks you hire will tell folks about the refreshingly honest approach you have afforded them.


Do you know what your HR friends are telling your candidates? What are YOU telling your candidates. If you are being any less than open with them, shame on you. Bad Manager! No Donut for you! Now... sin no more and go tell the truth!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The best recruiter in your company DOESN'T work in HR

Boy - is THAT gonna get me shipped off to the HR dungeon! But it is true - I"m a recruiter and I humbly admit it. Now let me clarify - I'm not talking about someone whose full time profession is talent acquisition - I am talking about people in your company with other jobs. Salespeople, Accountants, Technicians, Admin Assistants and Widget Producers - all of these people can be (or already are), pound-for-pound, better than most recruiters at finding great talent to fill your company's needs!

With a properly designed and managed Employee Referral Program, these folks will understand the importance of their role in helping the company find and engage the most talented people they know. While some will argue that Employee Referral Programs are not the best solution, I say that they are one of a few critical weapons in your arsenal and will pay back many times the investment you make in them - IF they are properly oriented and managed - this article gives some great insight into what I mean. Just look at the success that some companies are getting with Referral Programs and you will agree that there's something good to work with here.

The items linked from here offer great advice, but the first move on this is up to you! Of all the weapons in the guerilla arsenal, this is probably one of the best to roll out because of it's relative low cost and it's potential to drive morale and hiring fast!


Consider your organization's stand on Employee Referral programs and see if what you are doing works. If it is working well (as referenced in the links above), keep reminding management and HR to help it evolve - if it's not working - refer your HR Geeks to this post and we'll get them on track!


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Acquisitions... oh MY!

MAN!!! I just cannot seem to catch a break. Just 6 months after my company was wholly acquired by Dow Jones, now News Corp has made a bid for Dow Jones.... and the "big fish eats smaller fish" theory applies again.

So while I'm honestly a bit weary of the operational tempo associated with this I am neither worried or disheartened by it. In fact, if this sort of activity doesn't get you worked up just a bit, you should really check your pulse! It's natural for this type of thing to be polarizing, exasperating and more than a little exciting (like being chased by a pack of rabid wolves maybe?). I actually find this a great opportunity - let me explain...

The good guerilla knows that effectively managing in a time of change can open new doors. As I blogged in an earlier post about managing
within the vortex of M&A you can either lead the process and show the company your value, or you can shrink from the challenge and demonstrate what you don't have to offer. Given the choice, it's ALWAYS better to lead! Don't leave your fate in the hands of others who may not know your talents and desires. Step up, speak up and let everyone around you know what you can do, as well as what you want to do in the new world order.

Now, some of the more timid in the crowd will think this approach a bit brazen, but the battle is usually one by those who take it by the horns - Like the top guns of
the British SAS say - Who Dares Wins!

Take a look at the competitive space your company is operating in. Are you on the market to acquire, or be acquired? Don't wait for the news to tell you about a deal in the works.... start planning out now - what will you do if you are being bought? Plan your next steps and ensure you have everything ready when the storm hits - because you won't have time after the news breaks to make up for missed opportunities along the way.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Measuring your candidates - ask the right question to get the right answer

Interviewing is the topic today, and for good cause - it seems that most of us basically stink at it. Not having the right process and questions is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. But fear not intrepid reader - for you are in guerrilla-ville and we have a cure for this too.

The first key step in measuring your candidates is to decide what's important and ask questions that really gauge how well they can do it. There are loads of methods out there, but we are Guerrillas and we like to keep things simple. I found this great and amazingly simple article which explains how to do this. A much more thorough peek behind the curtains on this topic is here. Either way, I'm sure you will find this really helpful the next time you have to hire someone.

Don't wait for that key role on your team to open up - start developing an interview process for the role now - heck you can even help the person in the role develop by having them help you write the interview questions because they probably already know exactly what it takes to be successful in the job.


NEWSFLASH - Publishing smarter job ads gets you smarter candidates!

As a recruiter, I often find myself arguing (strike that... "persuading") my hiring managers to be very realistic when specifying the educational and experience requirements for a job they want to fill. You have no idea how many job posting requests I shoot down because they want a person to have an MBA and 15 years experience to take on an entry level sales role.... ?!?!! Ugh!

What we all need to think about is what are the experiences and education that are really necessary for someone to perform the job well. Doing so we can avoid the legal risk associated with posting for 15 years experience with an MBA, then finding our perfect candidate with only 5 years and a BA, or just plain looking stupid to our candidates for not knowing what it really takes to do the job. We need to get up to speed on this fast because the days when you could get talented folks to respond to a poorly constructed job ad are over - talented people are smart and can smell a line of bullcrap a mile away. They want to know more about the job and less about the price of entry.

Setting clear and defensible minimum qualifications up front will allow your candidates to self-select out if they don't measure up while not unnecessarily limiting your candidate pool. Remember, this isn't just a convenience issue - it's a potential legal problem. The US Department of Labor takes a VERY dim view of employers who post one standard, then allow someone below that standard to get the job. It's especially bad if someone in a protected class takes offense at being on the short end of that deal.


Take a long hard look at the job postings you are putting up. Are they a realistic statement of what it really takes to do the job, or are they some dream sheet? Get down to the basics of what job REALLY requires, then sell the finer things about the role, your team and your company to the candidates to ensure that smart, properly qualified candidates fill your pipeline!


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Winning the War for Talent: Part Two - Grow your own!

Having explored how to make your company an effective "talent magnet" through building a talent scout mindset and leveraging your brand, we are ready to move on to part two of this series - growing your own talent.

Everything in life takes balance, and talent management is no different. There are always going to be times when you need to fill role and you recognize that the skills, knowledge and abilities required for success just don't exist in your organization - in most of these cases, you will opt to bring in fresh talent. This is particularly important when a fresh perspective is needed. This is an accepted practice, but it can be risky if you overuse it.

The "buy it" option's biggest risk is that the existing workforce will become stagnant and not see the trickle-up impact of promotions and cross-functional assignments. While many employees are not ready to take a promotional, or cross-functional assignment today, you can ensure that you have a ready pool of deployable talent by developing them today for the future. While the main benefit of the "build it" or "grow it" option is to ensure you have the next generation of leaders on deck, there is an equally important ancillary benefit - RETENTION! When your staff sees that you are serious about helping them develop themselves to make ready for new opportunities within the company, they are likely to be more engaged. In organizations where such talent assessment, development and succession planning is not evident, there is a huge competitive risk that some of the best players on your team will be willing to answer the siren call of the recruiter trying to steal them away!

While I normally try to give you simple things that you can immediately act on to better your situation, this one is a much more involved process. Developing the organizational intelligence to know when to buy vs build is not easy, and developing methods to assess your team to understand your succession picture and what's needed to develop folks to meet that mission is a major undertaking - requiring a virtually religious zealot approach. But, as a I said in my very first post, the journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step....

Start the conversation with your leadership about ways to assess your folks, plan for succession and begin developing those in-house destined to become successors, or begin building relationships with folks outside your company who you think would be great successors if no internal folks are, or can be made ready.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Winning the War for Talent: Part one - Building the better mouse trap

Editorial Note: So much for the "next posts will come out faster" comment! It's been a month, but I am back, so strap in and let's roll

Your company relies a constant inflow of talented folks to help drive the business. So how do you ensure that you are getting enough of the right talent? The answer is the same as that tired old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall - practice, practice, practice! The practice you need to do is actually some simple stuff though, and I can spell it out in just a few bullet points:
  • Be a CONSTANT TALENT SCOUT. Always be on the lookout for folks who have the kind of talent you need for your team. Whether at a trade show, seminar or at your mates backyard BBQ.... talent is ALWAYS around - you just have to keep looking.
  • Demand that your company develop an excellent EMPLOYEE REFERRAL PROGRAM. But make it measurable and meaningful! Use it to get your team to be on the lookout for great folks to refer to your company. But not just when a job is posted... they should be referring folks who impress them all the time.... it's hard enough to find talent, waiting till you actually need it on hand is only adding troubles.
  • Make hiring good people who become successful on your team a goal. Make sure your recruitment effort and spend was worth it by measuring how long those new folks stay, how successful they are in 90, 180 and 365 days. See how they are doing against goals and track their path to promotions. Replicate the efforts that worked and ditch the ones that bore no fruit.
  • Become an EMPLOYER OF CHOICE. It's hard enough to get candidates to answer the phone when you have a good name, but if you are not recognized as a great place to work, it's a whole lot harder. Being a recognized great place to work (and there are LOTS of ways to get there) will give you something to crow about when pitching your opportunities to prospects. Heck, even if your company isn't a top rated company - you can make your team the most desirable place to work within that company... and that leads me to our next section.... developing internal talent to meet your needs. But that'll have to wait till next time....
Get cracking on these pointers and start up a "bar napkin list" of the 10 people who most impress you in terms of how they could help your team be more successful and START CALLING THEM! Just call to say "Hi, John... I was reading a geeky HR blog about finding talent, and you came to the top of my mind. Let's talk about where you are with your career and where you'd like to go... I just might be able to help you out... " and let that conversation flow to become the first step in a long and prosperous relationship with your next best employee!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The war for talent - Win, or GO HOME!

We've all heard about the terrible War for Talent we're facing. Predictions are that in many locales, there won't be enough available workers to fill the jobs. I say the problem is actually much worse than the predictions.... and it's already here. Before we ever get to the problem of not having enough people to fill the jobs, we are already deep into the problem of not having enough TALENTED people to fill key roles.

Now I'm no seer, but in my interview with the Cranky Middle Manager quite a while ago, I brought up the idea that it's not enough to have flow of candidates for your company's jobs... you need the best and brightest candidates if you want to be competitive, but do the math; not enough people to fill the roles in general AND hot competition fueling the hunt for the scarce "Fabulous 15%" equals a recruitment and business execution nightmare.

What can you do when faced with this situation? Well, you cannot change the environment, but you CAN change how you address it.

Having the talent your company needs to succeed requires a two-part strategy. Part one is based on ensuring that your company attracts it's fair share of REALLY TALENTED people. Even in a world where you are competing with companies like Google for great talent, there are ways to differentiate yourself to find, attract and engage talented people. The "buy it" approach to talent.

Part two focuses on finding and developing great talent within your walls by identifying internal talent through assessment, development and deployment techniques. The "build it" approach to talent.

I will remind you again (and again and again!) in this series, that neither talent acquisition (recruitment) or internal talent development alone alone will win the war, but in the right proportions - they can be a devastatingly effective weapon.

I normally blog once a week, but for this series, I will probably roll things out a WHOLE LOT faster..... stay tuned intrepid warrior....

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Time to go; When turnover isn't really a bad thing

All of you card carrying HR trolls in the audience, plug your ears for this one.
Turnover is NOT a bad thing!
There, I said it, and my HR training tells me I should go wash my mouth out with soap for spewing such treason. After all, page 96 of the HR Secret Code Book clearly states that turnover is an indicator of problems and brings huge costs to the company - right??? BUNK!

Sure, turnover is a critical stat for any organization to watch, and I fully acknowledge that the cost of turnover can be something like 150% to 250% of a person's salary, and some will argue that these costs make higher levels of turnover unsustainable. But while these are basically true, they sort of lead you to believe that lower turnover is better always better - and that's not always the case either. There are some general rules that apply; Too much turnover, for too long can be a bad thing because it causes instability, poor moral and prevents the development of individual expertise and organizational culture. Too little turnover can denote stagnation, complacency and a weak performance culture.

Let's look at an example of where a short burst of high turnover can be just what the medicine man ordered.

You run a sales organization with 50 salespeople, each of whom is paid a base salary of $100,000 has a $1 million annual target. If they are on average only hitting 50% of goal, you are only realizing $25 million in revenues against a $50 million goal. How long can you sustain that??

The truth is that while turning over half of your sales force at 250% of their annual salary will cost you over $6 million in turnover costs, you are just cutting your losses.... the costs in lost sales from that group is over $12 million! I'm no math major, but that sounds like a pretty good start. And if you follow our prior lessons about hiring talented people, you might actually have a shot at them actually making their sales goal and turning a profit along the way. And if most of those who leave do so after having been counseled about their poor results, coached on how to improve them and still not getting it done, you get the bonus prize of having established a performance baseline so EVERYONE knows it's time to put up, or move out. Combined with the potential for better hires due to turnover, you've now got the makings of a very solid and performance focused workforce.

Yes, it all sounds pretty cut-throat, and we all know I am a proponent of the "try to develop rather than replace" approach, but let's face it; not everyone is in the right place to grow and perform at a given moment, so the "manage them up or manage them out" approach fits best sometimes.

Get your HR folks to help you dissect your turnover. Compare your turnover against performance results. How is your turnover spread across groups (job, tenure, age, gender, ethnicity, supervisors, locations, etc). You are looking for evidence that
you are holding on to your top performers and exiting your worst. If that's not the case, get HR to help you dig deeper and find ways to make it so.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Who needs to know about the Family Leave Act? YOU!!

Just when you thought I'd dropped off the face of the planet... here I come, rebounding back into the blogosphere.

As the post title hints, this little rant is about a topic that may make some of you roll your eyes, but take this as firsthand testimony... you need to get a grip on this subject. I found a pretty solid and concise site on this matter that I think will give you some bearings on it, but the basic premise for those of you too impatient to follow that link is this - if your company employs 50 or more people, you have to permit employee who qualify with a job protected leave of absence to care for themselves or a qualified family member, for a period of up to 12 weeks.

Even if your company does not have the legal obligation to comply, it's a good idea to consider it because as the talent pool gets tighter, the folks you don't offer this to are going to find it more attractive to go work for your competitors who do.

I'm an HR geek, so you'd naturally expect me to raise this issue somewhere along the line, but I am writing about it now because I am currently on such a leave. I can tell you that I have arranged hundreds of these Leaves for employees in my career, but never appreciated exactly how important they could be till I experienced it for myself.

Take a look at your team - who has ailing parents, kids or spouses? Who is ill? Who is having a child? Even better - consider who MIGHT fit any of those descriptions? What will you do when they come to you and say "I need time off to take care of my critically ill child"?
Scary prospect, I know, but you'd better prepare for it now because I can assure you - this situation is going to come your way!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The secret sauce of building your team - PART 3

Part 3 in the series on how to build your team focuses on three areas; establishing your hunting ground, choosing your weapons, and defining your tactics.

1. Defining your hunting ground -

In this step you define where you want to hunt for your talent - this "hunting ground" is going the place(s) where you think you are most likely to find the talent you need. For example, if in setting you laser focus on the target, you determine that an advanced degree in widgetology was the key requirement, you'd probably want to hunt in the schools that teach widgetology, or the national association of widgetologists. You should also define where you don't want to hunt - are there competitors, clients or partners you should not annoy by poaching their talent away?? Consider whether the types of folks you want belongs to a professional association, are alum of certain schools, or are bloggers. All these vehicles can be prime

2. Choosing your weapons -

No - I am not talking about guns (thought it would be fun to muse on that). I am referring to which of the various recruitment weapons you would like to employ; Networking, Employee Referral, job board search, niche advertising, diversity recruiting, research recruiting, contingent or retained search... or some combination of these or others. Knowing which weapon to use, as well as how and when to use it is more art than science, and this is one of those places where I have to refer to the counsel of your resident HR person. If, however you don't have one of those, remember this - Of all the weapons to use, Internal Transfers (Promotional or developmental assignments), Employee Referral and network hires tend to have the highest success rates, longest tenures... and are VERY inexpensive ways to go - you should always try to exhaust these two methods before moving on to the others.

3. Defining your tactics -
This is the simplest part of the equation, and the one we most frequently get wrong! The tactics I refer to are how you will actually attack the search. Key decisions like who will be involved in the interview process, how many interviews will be required, how long you let candidates wait, who communicates with them, how and how often.... all the key decisions on how you manage the candidates you search for.... I know that many of those points seem self-evident or perhaps a bit too nitty to focus on , but I can assure you - the tactics you employ in dealing with candidates can derail the best search process and leave you with no talent, no pipeline of candidates, and a bad organizational reputation to boot!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Secret Sauce of building your team - Part 2

Part 2 - Setting a laser focus on your target

Now that we have defined that we need to fill the position and the results we need this position to achieve, we can start setting our focus on the target of our recruitment efforts. Again, we're going to operate guerrilla -style here so we have to focus on working smart with the resources we have.

STEP 2 - Defining your target

  1. With a clear understanding of the results we need this position to achieve, look within the organization to see if anyone has accomplished such results - and think a little more broadly here; If we need someone to sell 50,000 widgets this quarter, and no one else in our company has sold that many widgets before, consider:
    • Do we have someone who has sold an outstanding amount of a similar product?
    • Do we have an expert on widget marketing who has sales skills?
  2. If we find someone who appears to be a good model, let's dissect them to see why they were successful. Exactly what is it that sets them apart from the crowd?
    • Is there something about their training, background or development that helped them get where they are? If so, can we find others with similar talent by looking in the places where this person "grew up"?
    • Do they belong to professional associations for widget sellers?
    • Did they attend a college or other educational program that focuses on the widget sales profession?
  3. Recognizing that our world is imperfect, we have to plan for the fact that we may not find what we are looking for in our company. In fact, they could be working for our major widget competitor. We're not going to dig in deep on this point here, but competitive hiring (aka raiding the competition) is a real tactic and you better be aware of in terms of both your talent hunt, and protecting your valuable talent from being poached.
  4. With this clear picture of the DNA of a person who can do what you need done, do a sanity check on your view - get other managers and leaders to review your model. Do they find it accurate, reasonable and feasible? Do they have any ideas to add?
  5. Knowing the results you need and where folks capable of such results might come from, it's time to start staking out our hunting ground, our weapons and our tactics... and those points are what we will focus on next time.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The secret sauce of building your team - part 1

While I normally try to keep these posts short, I am moving into a topic that will take a bit longer to cover. I promise it will be worth it.

Having a successful team starts with finding the right people. The problem is that most organizations don’t get this process right – and they pay dearly in terms of turnover and the lost productivity that comes from this sort of misguided “ready, FIRE, aim” approach. This is a big dilemma, and we are going to solve it - Guerilla-style

Step 1 - Gather your Intel:

Intelligence gathering is what keeps the guerilla warrior alive. If you are going to get invest the time, energy and money to recruit someone, you better have your facts straight! Your intel sources include your boss, your customers, your team, your finance person and of course, your HR person. Before you even think about kicking off a recruitment effort, you need to ask and answer some questions:

a. Do you really need to fill this role? I know this sounds like blasphemy – of course you need to fill this role – your team is too short staffed to get it all done – but do you really need this role, right now? Is this an opportunity to re-shuffle the deck – maybe replace the role with something more in tune with your current and future needs? Perhaps to bring in new talent of a different stripe to help fill your talent bench? This is actually a whole topic in itself for another day….

b. EXACTLY what are you looking for? Define exactly what your ideal candidate will be able to do for the team…. Focus on the results first, not on the “requirements” … the results wild define the requirements for you.

c. Once you know exactly what you need from this role, consider if there is anyone inside the organization who can achieve the results you need. Notice that I’m not asking if there is anyone who could “do the job”…. Don’t let people divert you from the focus is on results.

d. Now that we know what the role is supposed to achieve, we can move on to figuring out what the right candidate will look like - and we’ll pick that up in our next post!!

NEXT TIME - The laser focus on your target.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Do you YouTube?

Technology - the great enabler, right?? Well, maybe not. I am going to go off on more of a rant than usual because this is an issue that really bugs me.

Everybody with an Internet connection has heard about You Tube. I admit that I visit You Tube pretty regularly and have a lot of fun watching some of the clips. The problem is that at it's base, this is a pretty benign thing... then some whack-job has screw it up!

Case in point - there's a clip (actually a number of them) which depict teachers wigging out in the classroom. In these cases students conspired not only to annoy a teacher enough to provoke a response, but to capture and post it.... It's not bad enough that these little charmers chose to abuse someone who is there to help them grow and, these model citizens decided to publicly humiliate their teacher on a global basis... nice.

We wont get into the philosophical debate about whether these kids violated laws, or were just exercising their constitutional rights, but I defy you to show me any link between this behavior and any intent by the framers of our constitution which would permit this. In fact, I posit that had the Continental Congress seen such behavior they would have turned these kids over a knee and let them have it!

The point to my rant is that this disrespectful behavior has enjoyed a type of audience and celebrity never before imaginable at a time when restrictions on our society seem to show us abdicating our ability to "parent" our kids and ourselves to the electronic babysitter and public opinion. The perfect storm of ubiquitous technology, a sense of entitlement and a public apathy around demanding proper behavior and accountability is having unforeseen and troubling results.


Take a stand - In whatever venue you find this type of techno-misbehavior, demand that those infringing the rights of others stop doing so. If you agree to let your staff record your rant and post it on the Web, so be it... but if they do so without explicit permission - demand they take it down.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The game is social media "tag" - I'm it!

Ok, admit it. You have, at some point engaged in an e-mail chain. You know the type.... "send this to 10 people in 66 seconds or 20 starving children will perish"... or the ever popular " if you believe in God, send this to 10 people in 2 minutes - if not you will burn in the fires of hell". C'mon, you know you have done it at least once.

I get you to confess to this up front because I am about to (very ashamedly) cow to the peer pressure and engage in such nonsense myself. I do this not so much because I fear the blindness and eternal damnation I will suffer for breaking the chain, but because as Anna Farmery of the Engaging Brand podcast says; if you are going to connect with people, you need to give a bit of yourself first.

I have been "tagged" by a whole list of people, beginning with Wayne Turmel of Cranky Middle Manager fame. He fell victim to leadership coaching guru Rosa Say. I cant say where this began, but the basic concept of the game is simple - Someone tags you and you have to blog 5 things most folks don't know about you. I would normally pass this sort of thing up like a bad stomach virus, but this exercise intrigues me. I have followed the game back a few generations and am impressed with the candor of those who have been tagged - never wanting to be seen as shying away from a challenge.... here I go

5 Things most folks don't know about me:

  1. While I give big clues about my military service, most folks presume I was some sort of gun-toting warrior... actually, I was a "band-aid commando". I worked with a medical unit in the 50th Armored Division - yeah, I carried a gun (imagine the fun if I still did!), but my work was all about healing, not killing.
  2. I didn't come out of the black cauldron of conception wanting to be an HR drone. I actually went to college with plans of becoming a Biology Teacher! How I came to be in HR is a long sordid tale best recounted over several pints at the local pub..... if you are buying, I will tell all!
  3. In college I was so broke that I actually signed up for a psychology school study to measure the affect of alcohol on congnitive skills - not for the science, but because I thought it would be REALLY cool to get paid just for getting drunk!
  4. Back in my Army days, I taught Army Medics how to start IV's. To got them over the fear of doing it, I had them practice on me - really... I have the scars to prove it.
  5. In my impetuous youth I enjoyed rock climbing and rappelling - I haven't done it in years, but I used to rappel off of bridges and pretty much anything that was high and would stand still....I even spent some of your hard earned tax dollars rappelling out of helicopters in Fort Bragg... big fun! Eventually the medications kicked in and I got over that little bug!

Now for the second part of the game - This is the part where I am supposed to single out 5 bloggers and have them publish their 5 unknowns - the problem is that I got tagged before the holidays and by now everyone out there with a blog (or a pulse) has probably already been tagged - so.....

Whether you blog or not - find your "target audience" in your team, peers, neighbors - whatever, and give them a little deeper glimpse into who you are by telling them those five things that they don't already know about you and ask the same of them in return.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pay for performance, yeah -right!

Pay for Performance! The words carry such hope for the managers and HR drones among us. Even the "little guy" gets a glimmer of hope that under such a meritocracy, even they have a chance to cash in..... and then reality slams you in the face like a two-by-four when you read about the case of the Home Depot CEO who managed to cut a deal for himself that ensures he gets paid over $200 Million USD, no matter how badly he screwed the pooch! Gee, maybe I ought to ditch this HR gig of mine and take on that job - after all, I have probably spent enough there in the past few years to cover whatever salary I want.

I don't raise the issue to boil your blood (though that's probably happening now too), but I want to use it as an object lesson to get you to lead up. You cant directly control what wacky pay practice your Board will employ for your next CEO, but you can ensure that you apply a pay for performance process on your people.

The payoff for a real, honest and objective pay for performance plan will pay dividend well beyond the initial sweat investment needed to implement it - but only if you do it right. Now, the secret here is that doing it right isn't really all that hard. All you have to do is understand what good performance looks like, gain agreement from all concerned on that point, communicate the hell out of of it - then make everyone live or die by that standard.

See - now wasn't that simple? Maybe I should bottle this stuff up in a consulting package and sell it to the Board over at Home Depot.

If you don't have a pay for performance plan, talk with your leadership or HR about how your organization can benefit from one. If you have one, USE IT to differentiate rewards.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Regaining your motivation

Greetings intrepid (and long ignored) reader!

I've humbly returned to my post after too long an absence. I love to blog, but lately have fallen victim to the triple whammy of the dreaded corporate year end shuffle and a long run of household "opportunities" to improve !

Besides all that crazy stuff getting between me and the blog, I have to admit that I was really just not motivated to write anything. Not that there isn't always plenty to write about, but I just wasn't motivated to do so. Realizing that brought out a topic worthy of writing about - how to regain your motivation!

So, you find yourself in the dumps and unmotivated to do something you would normally be doing - writing, reading, going to the gym...whatever. How do you get yourself back in the swing? Well, you could find an interesting article on getting your motivation back,
or you could look for inspiration from trusty sources like The Cranky Middle Manager show!

The key to regaining your motivation is to find something you can get yourself all worked up over - passion is the potion! Yeah, I know.... passion is dangerous ground for an HR geek to tread upon, so I will rely on you to keep this above gutter...


Figure out what gets your blood pumping and DO IT! It doesn't matter if it is bowling, basket-weaving or brain surgery... get back in the saddle and RIDE!

Carry on!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Another Christmas in the trenches

Hello, fellow bloggernauts. Sorry I have dropped off the face of the earth for the past few weeks. No, I have not been abducted by aliens or sent to the dungeon by the evil overlords....just been busier than a one legged man at a butt kicking contest with the day job.

In prior posts, I mentioned that my company had been acquired and that has turned my 50 hour weeks into 60 and more.... but that is the worthy price of progress and I am actually having some fun and learning quite a bit in the process.

During my absence from blogging, I got "tagged" 4 or 5 times.... seems that in the blog world, just like meetings - if you are not there to say no, you get all the tasks! I'll be back to the table on that shortly. Needless to say, i can easily dig 5 skeletons out of my closet, but I will be hard pressed to name 5 new victims in the game.... stay tuned for my Tag Revenge!