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March 2013

PREACH IT: Developing Your Talent Is About Being OK with Sucking...

If you read this blog regularly, you know I'm a child of the grunge music age.  So when one of my grunge idols speaks about talent, I think we should listen.   Foo+Fighters

So much so I typed a quote from Dave Grohl (drummer for Nirvana, founder of the Foo Fighters) out of a freaking Delta Air magazine on my way back from Canada this week.

Check out the quote - It's money, baby:

""When I think about kids watching a TV show like American Idol or The Voice, then they think, "Oh, OK, that's how you become a musician, you stand in a line for eight f****** hours with 800 people at a convention center and then you sing your heart out for someone and then they tell you it's not f****** good enough.'  Can you imagine?"

"It's destroying the next generation of musicians! Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy an old f****** drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in, and they'll suck too.  And then they'll start f****** playing and they'll have the best time they've had in their lives and then all of the sudden they'll become Nirvana.  Because that's exactly what happened with Nirvana.  Just a bunch of guys that had some S***** old instruments and they got together and started playing some noisy a** s***, and they became the biggest band in the world.  That can happen again! You don't need a f****** computer or the Internet or American Idol."

Soak on that last paragraph a little bit.  Wow.

Buy some tools to do something you kind of enjoy and suck.  Get together with others who suck and have a blast.  Become the next Nirvana becauase you weren't focused on being glitzy.  You were focused on the craft.

Go find what you love to do.  Start playing some noisy a** s*** with others. 

Be orginal.  Maybe you'll become your industry's Nirvana.  Why not you?


Ambition: Value The Folks In Your Organization Who Are Dissatisfied (In a Good Way)...

"You go out to eat, can't pay, y'all can't leave
There's dishes in the back, he gotta roll up his sleeves
But while y'all washin', watch him
He gon' make it to a Benz out of that Datsun
He got that ambition, baby look in his eyes
This week he's moppin' floors, next week it's the fries.."

--Golddigger, Kanye West

Ambition.  As much as many of us are uncomfortable saying it's a value/feeling/potential factor we Ambition want in our organization, ambition is needed in your company in order to get good stuff done.

Here's the golden nuggett last year from Paul Hebert over at Fistful of Talent:

"Mad Men Season 5 started this past week.

Full disclosure, before this past week’s episode, I’ve watched a total of 6 minutes of Mad Men.  But the hype was too much for me to bear, so I DVR’d it and sat and watched it the other night.  It’s awright.

But… I liked it a lot more when I heard this line…

“Dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition. It’s the coal that fuels the fire.”

The more I thought about it, the more I liked it and the more I figured there was a lesson in it.

And here’s the lesson IMHO:

If you work too hard to make every employee happy and satisfied, you create a group of people who never want anything to change."

Interesting and true in my eyes.  If everyone's satisfied with how things are going, who pushes the envelope and tries to change things for the good at your company?

Backstory: A few years back, I was doing a classic "section 2" in performance management for the company I was with.  As part of that exercise, we were trying to change the traditional company values we were rating people on (hard to do and pretty ineffective) to "potential factors", which are more like "DNA" strands you want to evaluate all your people on.  The things you value most across all employees, regardless of role.  

As part of that exercise, we did broad brainstorming as a leadership team - coming up with 37 potential factors to whittle down to the 5 or 6 we would eventually go live with.  The ones you would expect were there - innovative, driven, etc.

2 members of the leadership team came up with - and were adamant about including - ambition in that list.

You would have thought that they did something unmentionable to the American flag.

As it turns out, the rest of the team couldn't get past the fact that ambition comes with some negative baggage - sometimes people act in self-serving ways, a zero-sum game mentality can be rewarded, etc. No matter how the 2 leadership team members came back to the positives associated with ambition, the others couldn't get over the negative attributes associated with its use as a potential factor.

But ambition is real and gets results, just like Mad Men and Paul outline above.  

It takes a gutsy company to include ambition in a performance system.  But, whether you put it on paper or not, you're likely rewarding ambition behind the scences in your company.


5 Things You Need to Make Everyone Hate Your Success (The Duke Haterade Primer)...

Capitaist Note: Duke is in the Sweet 16 and angling for another Championship.  How's that working for you?  I'm running this post from a few years back, because the teams I really wanted to follow this spring - Gonzaga and Ole Miss - are out. That leaves me with the boys from Durham.  I watched them last night in the second round and was... like.... meh....

I kid.  But I'm guessing that if you polled all the serious college basketball fans in America, you would find that around 80% hate Duke.  Just flat out hate them.  At one time, I didn't like Duke either, mainly because I thought they won because they usually had 8 high school All Americans, spread the floor and let the natural advantages they had dominate. It wasn't a complex thing for them to win.  I changed my mind and became a Duke fan awhile back, because I thought they were actually over-achieving based on the talent they had.  For those of you scoring at home, that makes me a "flip-flopper", or as the Duke haters like to say, a "scum-sucker".

Why do the masses hate Duke so much?  Here's one of the million primers from Cory Smith at the Samford Crimson:Coach K

"Let's start with one of the most obvious reasons that no one can explain, and that is the players and the coach. The coach with the last name spelled like a first generation Icelander that you have to wear an oversized retainer to pronounce. You know the players, too. JJ Redick, Bobby Hurley, Greg Paulus.

I have heard people say they do not like Duke's players because they are pasty white. I have a hard time with this one since I am of the Caucasian persuasion myself. I don't like Duke's players or Coach K because they come off as just plain smug. Much like most of the students accepted there, the players seem as though they think they are better than the opponents simply because they are at Duke. From Coach K's American Express commercial where he all but declares himself the Gandhi of college basketball to the look of disbelief on his and his players' faces when they are called for a foul while the victim crawls out of the third row of cameras, it is very clear that Duke loves Duke, and they cannot understand why everyone else doesn't as much as they do. That is with the exception of the media, namely Dick Vitale."

The Duke hate started me thinking about other teams and corporations that, over time, the masses love to hate.  You know the targets of this hate - it's sports teams like the Yankees, Duke and the Lakers, and corporations like Microsoft, Apple and yes Dorothy - even Google these days. 

These teams and companies are good at what they do and provide value, so why do people hate them?  Here's my the Capitalist list of the top five things you need to have in place to make people hate you as much as Duke or Microsoft:

1.  Lots of Sustained Success - Let's face it, it's not enough to win one title or launch one killer product.  No, you need to be successful for a long time - a decade seems to be a nice round number for starters.  Think about Microsoft, the Yankees and Duke - they all have success that's measured in decades, not single digit years.  You hate them because you're tired of seeing it.

2. A Leader That Gets So Much Press You Can't Help But Hate Them- Coach K and the American Express commercials.  Bill Gates back in the day.  Steve Jobs in the mock turtleneck - again. George Steinbriener in the luxury box with the Magnum P.I. shades.  These images, combined with the other factors, make us pray for an alternative to rise out of the ashes - and eject the golden franchise back to the pack - not for one year, but for eternity. 

3. Aggressive and Demonstrative Behavior Designed To Snuff Out the Competition and Keep Them On Top - Here's where it gets interesting.  You think all that success is easy to maintain?  Nope, in order to stay on top, you've got to be alert and ready to try and dismantle all comers - and everyone else is ALWAYS going to give you their best shot.  So, you do what champions do - you dig in, get aggressive and try aggressively to maintain your position.  For Microsoft, that meant embedding the browser in the operating system and killing Netscape.  For Duke, it means their guards are trying to get themselves ready to play by slapping the floor on defense (like nails on a chalkboard for all the Duke haters) or holding the follow-through on their shot for an extra two seconds.  You're on top, you compete to stay there.  Sometimes it looks really cocky.  Enter more hate...

4. Media Coverage of the Success and Culture - Apart from the press coverage of the Coach K and Bill Gates leader types, sustained success also brings one thing for sure - 24 hour coverage of the culture of the winning company/program.  That means at one point, we heard so much about the Redmond campus we could scream.  We hear so much about how the Duke program is different due to the academic mission of the University, we're rooting for the diploma mill instead.  America loves an underdog, and in the 24/7 media world, Microsoft, Apple and Duke are overexposed from a media perspective.  As a result, we hate.

5. The "They Only Win Because They're Rich" Objection - What follows sustained success?  Money.  Lots of Money.  So when Microsoft, Apple, the Yankees and Duke win, they've got resources to throw at problems and competitors.  If you're a Royals, Netscape or a NC State fan, what do you point to as the reason you can't get a win against the established power?  Money, dude.  We hate the winners because they're rich.  We're not. We're unlikely to be rich anytime soon.  HATE!

It's human nature to hate the winners - the BIG winners.  May your hate keep you warm in the winter of your career and help you raise your game.

Or you can just hate without regard to your own performance.  Either way is fine with me...


BEST BUY: We Ended ROWE/Work From Home Because It Defines Leadership as 100% Delegation....

You probably saw all the on-line drama recently about Yahoo's CEO ending remote/work from home arrangements.  Lots said about that one with people agreeing/disagreeing across the board.  

What a lot of people missed was that Best Buy took a similar, if not as extreme step, by ending it's ROWE program last week.  ROWE stands for Results Only Work Environment, and under ROWE an employee can work whenever and from wherever they want.  While Best Buy didn't eliminate working from home entirely, it now has to be negotiated on a case-by case basis rather than existing as a right at Best Buy HQ.

The CEO of Best Buy, Hubert Joly, took a lot of heat for his decision, so he came out with some clarifying notes.  More from Joly via the Star Tribune:

"Finally, there is the execution of leadership. This, of course, is closely related to Best Buy’s recently cancelled Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). This program was based on the premise that the right leadership style is always delegation. It operated on the assumption that if an employee’s objectives were agreed to, the manager should always delegate to the employee how those objectives were met.

Well, anyone who has led a team knows that delegation is not always the most effective leadership style. If you delegate to me the job of building a brick wall, you will be disappointed in the result! Depending on the skill and will of the individual, the right leadership style may be coaching, motivating or directing rather than delegating. A leader has to pick the right style of leadership for each employee, and it is not one-size-fits-all, as the ROWE program would have suggested."

So Joly says that 100% delegation once objectives are set is madness.  Interesting.  In the spirit of equal time, check out this link from the founders of ROWE responding to what they consider to be ROWE myths, including the assumption that's it's all delegation, all the time.

Take a look and soak - it's an interesting conversation.  My gut tells me that the delegation angle is window dressing, and when times are bad, people want butts (plural!) in seats.


I'm Digging How People Find Me On LinkedIn (the keyword rhymes with "Lexy")...

My friend Frank Roche over at KnowHR recently posted on something that didn't feel great - one of the top ways people find him on LinkedIn is to keyword search "Hewitt A$$".  You see, Frank Linkedin search keywords for KD used to be at Hewitt and...well... (see comments on post for the real explanation)

Which made me take a look at how people find me.  

First way?  Kris...

Third way?  Dunn.

Second way?  The keyword "sexy",  which 13% of my profile views generated by a keyword search started with.

Sexy.  Boom.  That just happened.  See the graphic to the right.

Rod Stewart. LMFAO. KD.  

But then, I decided to dig deeper and actually clicked on the keyword "sexy", which immediately busted my bubble by showing the following returns:

Linkedin search keywords for sexy

Ah... All FOT people showing up.  Run through the profiles and you'll see the culprit - our FOT profile, which says the following:

"The origin of FOT is simple to trace. In late 2007, Kris Dunn (KD) got a call from a major conference company: “We want to hire you to create a Talent Management blog for our new website”, the suits said, “Like the HR Capitalist but without all the boring HR stuff like legal issues and employee relations tactics – just the sexy stuff.”

Which provides relief on two fronts:

1. LinkedIn's algorithm returned Steve Boese before me and both of us before Kathy Rapp (both examples clearly disputable).  But we are in front of Tim Sackett, which brings a bit of order back to this little world we're viewing.

2. At least some of the people are also seeing a former Dollar Store associate from the south named "Raven Sexy", who is now looking for part-time work in the state of Louisiana after a 8-month stint at the Dollar Store.  She's back in school - Good to hear.  I'm pulling for Raven...

The moral of the story?  The words on your LinkedIn Profile matter (my profile has a few) and lots of people are using LinkedIn for... Let's say "interesting" reasons.

"VP of HR" produced 1% of the profile views from all total keyword searches that ended up on my profile. "Sexy" returned 13%.

You tell me what people are using LinkedIn for.  

I'm out.


CAPITALIST WEBINAR: 7 Ways to Get Real With Your Employee Referral Program...

There's two realities when it comes to Employee Referral Programs in most of our companies:

1.  It's widely accepted that one of the best sources of hire is the employee referral. Registration-Badge

2.  HR pros market and position their Employee Referral Programs more like ACME than Apple.  We're not effective marketers for the most part, and it shows in the results of our employee referral programs.

It's the marketing piece that's key to Employee Referral Programs, and you know you need a marketing boost when you look up and your team finds themselves dealing with the following related to referrals:

1. Too many B and C Players - One of the biggest problems with referral programs (especially those that pay employees to refer) is that employees with questionable networks are often the most active.  That means you have Duds -  Lots of Duds - being referred.

2. You have way too much referral flow from a certain college/university or company.  It's like the Cornell Mafia example described here (click on the link).  An over-reliance on hiring only people from your school/company of choice means you're dating your cousin.  Again, nothing against developing a referral pipeline, but watch the feedback loop when you have a referred candidate from your favorite college/company going up against an outsider.  Are they picking the known entity for firm, or soft reasons?  Can you hear the banjos playing in the background?

3.  Your top performers don't refer anyone - The most important people to your referral program are your top performers.  They're the ones who know other stars in their areas of expertise.  Too often, it's crickets from the high performing group when you make the call for referrals.  But the group who's on a performance improvement plan?  Active as hell in giving you referrals.  Hmmmm.

All of these realities are why the gang over at Fistful of Talent (my other site) is ramping up our March webinar entitled The SuperFriends: 7 Strategies to Get Your Superhero Employees to refer Their Arch Nemesis! (Wednesday, March 27th, 1pm EST).  Click the link to register! 

Here's what you get if you join Tim Sackett and KD for the webinar (sponsored by the cool folks at Zao):

  • Seven surefire ways to engage your best employees and increase referrals (while ensuring your employees don’t refer SuperDuds!)
  • How to develop an internal communication strategy for your employee referral program.
  • The keys to sustaining your program long-term.
  • How and why trends like gamification can lead to better employee referral results.
  • The top three reasons 99% of employee referral programs fail and how you can make sure your employee referral program is delivering the goods all year long.

The title really says it all.  While referrals from the masses worked out well for America ("give me your tired.. how 'bout some huddled masses..), you want referrals from the superheros at your company.  

Your Superheros are the ones with the networks that matter.  We'll dig into how to get them to refer other superheros to you on Wednesday, March 27th, at 1pm EST with our webinar The SuperFriends: 7 Strategies to Get Your Superhero Employees to refer Their Arch Nemesis! Click the link or hit the form below to register (email subscribers - click through to see form or just hit the link)! 

See you there.


How Do You Tell If Someone Has the Ability to Innovate?

Loaded question for sure.  Let's think about this one out loud.

You're hiring for what you want in your culture.  You say you have a culture of innovation and thus, want to hire someone with the ability to innovate.  You could make the mistake a lot of people make and do the following:

-Ask them to tell you about a time they innovated to solve a business problem, or 

-Think that only certain types of people have the ability to innovate, that it takes high energy to innovate, etc.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a behavioral interviewer, so the fact you're asking for examples is good.  The problem is that most of us won't dig deep enough on those behavioral questions.  We'll accept answers that sound great without really digging in.  Were they really in charge of the innovation?  Were they just part of a team?  What happened after they innovated?  Did it work?  Is it innovation if nothing really changed as a result?  

Interviewing is hard and false positives are everywhere - especially when it comes to factors like innovation.

For me, you really need help to figure out if someone has the ability to innovate.  Start with how they view the world.

How do you do that?  I've used an assessment that talks about "Rules Orientation".  People who are high rules actively look for the operations manual on the shelf when they're dealing with issues.  Doesn't matter what they're annual salary is, high rules people want to be told what to do.  As you might expect, you really can't expect a high rules person to have a jones for innovation.  They're looking for the Ops Manual, people...

Low Rules people, on the other hand, cringe at the thought of having to comply with a ops manual.  Low Rules people love the chaos, and they want to be the one to figure out what to do given a specific set of circumstances.  They'll help you build the ops manual, but you better have another challenge for them once it's built, because they'll refuse to be managed by that manual, or have a job that could be handled by that low level of protocol.

In addition to Rules Orientation, add a couple of other factors - cognitive processing speed and assertiveness - and I think you've got a pretty good platform for having directional information on whether someone has the capacity to innovate.  

And no, someone simply using a Mac rather than a PC doesn't mean they're an innovator. Trendy? Yes.  Jeans over khakis means little as well.  

You laugh, but you'd be surprised the factors people include in their head to measure the ability to innovate.  


"I LOVE THE WAY YOU BALL"... How to Write a Crazy, Sports Influenced Recruiting Note To The Best Candidates...

Let's start with a couple of assumptions:

1. Your recruiting marketing consists of job postings and a boring careers site.

2. You don't do any customized outreach to special candidates you'd like to hire in the future.

3. You really aren't into looking different.  Blending in feels good to you.

If that's you and you don't dream of shaking that up, this post (as Eddie Vedder once said) is not for you.

Regardless of your business, there's a handful of candidates out there who can really get it done.  In any functional area to be sure, but these days the difference makers to you company come in one of two flavors - creators and rainmakers.

Creators are the people who create what you sell.  In a lot of companies, those are software developers.  Rainmakers are people who sell your stuff.  

Not everyone who creates or sells for a living is special.  In fact, most are average.  BUT - when you find a top tier creator or rainmaker, they are different.  They can drive results for your company in ways that others can't.

So why wouldn't you customize your recruiting process for them once they're identified?

To do that, you're going to have to think more like a college football/basketball recruiter.  Check out the following outlandish letter from a flesh-peddler at NC State:

NC STATE recruiting letter (2)

Here are the elements that matter in this letter.  Don't laugh, it's true:

1.  Not typed.  Looks handwritten, so it's designed to say I cared enough to write this out for you.

2.  I'm crazy.  You don't see crazy a lot, do you?  I'm calling you Big Time, referring to you as a Baller, and I'm telling you that I'm a fan.  No apologies - I'm crazy, and that makes me interesting.

3.  It's all designed to be over the top. Example - my equation: NC State Needs = Ballers.... You=Baller.

Take a second and think about the percentage of your candidates, or even new hires annually, who are really difference makers.  If you can't point to any, there's a problem.  If you can point to some, you need more.

Now ask yourself the question - how do the difference makers get treated, receive proactive outreach, etc. that makes them different?  Are you brave enough to recruit them like colleges recruit Top 100 players?  What would happen if you recruited them like a college does?  Don't rationalize yourself into saying it's not possible or doesn't matter.  That. Is. Rationalization. Designed.  To. Avoid.  Putting. Yourself. Out. There.  

Think about the note above and what top candidates/difference makers see from you.  There's a sweet spot in the middle of this letter and what you're currently doing.

PS: I love the way you ball.

Kinetix Needs - Ballers
You = Baller 


5 Things Hiring for "Fit" Really Means...

We love our culture.

We protect our culture.

We want new hires to "fit" our culture.

There's been a lot written about hiring for cultural fit.  My man Steve Boese has the latest here.

I get you want to build culture.  But when you start talking about "fit", too many times it's code for the following:

-You have to be young to work here...

-You have to look good to work here...

-You have to have gone to school where I went to school to work here...

-You need to have "energy" to work here (which is code for a lot of stuff)...

-You have to be able to work 80 hours a week to work here...

So cultural fit is something that a lot of people talk about, but many really mean something else.

A better way?  Look for motivational fit.  Where have you worked where you've been the most and least satisfied?  Spend 10 minutes on follow up to each flavor - positive and negative.

Do that and you'll find a much better "fit" than you're currently getting, with better performance long-term.

You'll also hire more ugly people.


SOCIAL HYGIENE: Here's How to Get Your Social Media Game Together in 15 Minutes a Day (Whitepaper)

Let's face it.  If you're an HR/Recruiting/Talent pro reading this blog, you're already different from a lot of other HR pros in the market.  You're looking for things to read, ready to engage. That's cool.

What a lot of you wish you had more time for is involvement with social media.  The advent of social media has shifted the way you should think about branding yourself professionally. But if you’re like most people, finding the time to manage your social media efforts can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task. Social hygiene

What if I told you that you didn’t have to invest hours posting tweets or status updates?  With the right plan, you could do it all in just 15 minutes a day? 

You would take a flyer on that plan, right?  I get asked all the time how to approach this stuff. That's why I commisioned our latest Kinetix whitepaper, "Social Hygiene: Professional Branding via Social Media in 15 Minutes a Day".  Click on the link to download and here's what you'll get:

1. A quick look at how social media is impacting your professional brand online, and the tools you’ll need to deploy in order to claim ownership and develop that brand in a compact amount of time daily.

2. Our 8-step pre-rinse to help maximize your professional branding via social media efforts, packed with screenshots, pro-tips and navigation cues for you to dig in and get dirty with the tools we’re outlining. We're giving you the goods to get started on your professional branding campaign, but it’s what you do with them that will make or break your online brand.

3. “The Plan”, aka your professional branding roadmap via social media in 15 minutes a day. Once you’ve got the tools in place, we’ll tell what to do when to make your social media footprint look credible, complete with a simple worksheet you can refer back to. Just lather, rinse and repeat daily for a stronger online brand.

One of the things you'll see in this whitepaper is how mobile platforms has changed the social media game.  The chain of events that we'll walk you through in the whitepaper goes as follows - 1. get your accounts/2. aggregate content your tribe would want to read via a reader/3. use a smart service that allows you to cue up content to share sociallyat future times/4. spend 10 minutes with your smart phone a day to look huge (and smart) on social media/5. Repeat Daily.  

Dude - you already spend waaaay more time that that on your smartphone.  Might as well get your social media act together while you're tethered to the phone and Starbucks, Taco Bell or whatever addictive retail establishment you frequent.  I don't judge, but you're standing in line or waiting somewhere daily - and I can show you how to take advantage of that time.

Start claiming your spot via social media as a trusted peer in your profession by downloading “Social Hygiene” today. Boom.  I just gave you the plan to get your social game together.  

If you find registration for content personally appalling, I don't even know who you are anymore.... Just kidding, just email me or hit me in the comments if you're hiding from the authorities and are naturally suspicious, and I'll send you the PDF...