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.