« November 2015 | Main | January 2016 »

December 2015

A Very Special Christmas Eve Story From the HR Capitalist...

Capitalist Note: This story is a Christmas Eve tradition at the HR Capitalist. Merry Christmas...

It's Christmas Eve. Time for anticipation. Time for reflection.

Time for an outrageous demand towards a candidate that could only occur from the bowels of corporateGrinch3_18101208 America.

Gather round the tree kids, because it's story time, HR Capitalist style. Bring me a Diet Mountain Dew while you're at it, because this eggnog sucks. 

Everyone here? Good.

The year is 2002 and it's Christmas Eve.  The Capitalist has just become a VP of HR in corporate America, and just got a new boss, who let's say - is a little INTENSE.  The Capitalist finds himself at home on Christmas Eve, piddling with some work, etc.  His cell phone rings.  The Capitalist flexes his bicep (remember, phones were much bigger then), picks up the phone and answers the call.  It's the boss of the Capitalist:

Capitalist: Don, what's up?

Bossman/EVP (1B Line of business): Kris, glad I got you.  I'm ready to make an offer to the Director of Finance candidate we like.

Capitalist: Sweet.  I'll call her today and let her know.  Nice Christmas present.

Bossman: Great.  Just one little catch.  I need to know today that she accepts.

Capitalist:  You need an answer today? You know it's Christmas Eve and it's 12:30pm right now, correct?

Bossman - Yeah, I know.  But I just got word from a friend that corporate is thinking about making me take Sparkman from Atlanta as part of a succession plan, and you know what I think about him.  So rather than wait on that, we're going to move on Carol, and we need her to accept today so I can go into the next week and tell them that it's already filled when they call me.

Capitalist: Why don't we just say we have an offer out if that happens and give her a couple of days to think about it?

Bossman: Not good enough. Corporate will make us retract the offer.  Get it done today.  Gotta go! We're opening some presents!  <Click>

After the call, the Capitalist gathered himself on the reality of making a demand like a three hour window to accept an offer on Christmas Eve, and you know what he did?  He made the freaking call, boys and girls.  It went a little something like this:

Capitalist:  Carol!  How are you?  Kris Dunn from <company name retracted>.  Got a couple of minutes to talk? I've got good news...

Carol: Kris, can you repeat that?  I'm at Church with my three kids.  They always get so excited around Christmas.. (Church bells ringing in the background)

Capitalist:  You bet Carol, got great news for you going into the holiday.  We want you to join the team, and here's some detail for you... (Capitalist outlines broad specs of the deal, selling as hard as he can)

Carol:  Well Kris, that is great news.  Send me the offer package and I'll look it over on Christmas Day and call you back the day after Christmas.

Capitalist: Well Carol, it's funny you say that.  Because I'm in a little bit of a pinch here (long, apologetic intro into the issue), and well, I need you to decide by close of business today to accept the offer or not.

Carol: Kris, you know it's Christmas, right? That I'm with my kids? I'm currently in church?

Capitalist:  I know.  Still, you're the one we want and we have to close it today to ensure we can bring you aboard. 

Carol: <silence for 10 seconds>.  Send the package.  I'll look at it.  Goodbye. (Capitalist trying to apologize again but unable to before hearing <Click>)

And that, boys and girls, is how you know you've arrived in the show.  Cost of a Monster posting? $200-$400 depending on volume.  Cost of a third party recruiter placement? 10-15K..

The realization you've just crossed a line on Christmas Eve that only Gordon Gekko and Ari Gold could appreciate?  Priceless...

PS - Carol accepted and rocked the house at our company.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays....


5 Things You Need to Make People Hate You As Much As They Hate Duke...

Capitalist Note: Enjoy this one from the archives.  I'm in the car for 14 hours today.  #holidays

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".

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...


Proposal Writing Pretty Much Sucks...

Ever read a proposal? Of course you have. 

The suits pretty much run the norms that are expected. To the point where the standards aren't related to legal necessity. They're really related to conformity and being boring as hell.  Don't take chances, don't take risks. Don't stand out.

It's awful. Do people really prefer talking like that?  The people I know don't.

Maybe I don't know enough people.

So that's why I'm trying to spice it up.  Here's what I have in my last proposal for travel costs:

"Travel will be passed through at cost.  We’ll travel somewhere between Lear jet and greyhound, which likely means Southwest, Courtyard by Marriot, two Diet Mt. Dews and a rented Malibu."

If they don't like that, then they probably won't like us.  Just sayin...


Stuff the Capitalist (aka KD) Likes: Silent Night At Taylor University...

Who am I?  Who cares?  Good questions. It's my site, so I'm going dig in once in a awhile by telling you more about who I am - via a "Stuff I Like" series.  Nothing too serious, just exploring the micro-niche that resides at the base of all of our lives.  Potshots encouraged in the comments.

Basketball. Rowdy Student Sections. Jesus.  

FTW (for the win).

Have you seen the Silent Night event at Indiana's Taylor University?  For those unfamiliar with how it works, it's pretty simple: The Taylor students dress up in, well, whatever they feel like and pack the gym. The crowd stays silent until the Trojans score their 10th point. Then ... pandemonium. The game finishes with fans joining together to sing "Silent Night."

Silent night at Taylor University -- an NAIA school in Upland, Indiana (population 3500) -- is not a new thing. It has been happening for 19 seasons, and Trojans fans are quick to point out they have never lost the annual game, played the Friday before finals week.

You have to watch the video below (email subscribers click through for video). Any thing that combine general quirkiness with rowdy students, costumes and then brings the house lights down at the end to sing Silent Night with sneaker squeaks in the background is OK by me.

Merry Christmas, people of HR. If you don't do Christmas, that's cool. Happy Holidays. Even non-Christians would have a blast at this Christmas event.


Is That Fourth Round of Interviews Actually Beneficial? No...

In two words: hell. no.

If you've every had the feeling that your hiring process is slower than ever, some new research from CEB actually quantifies that your gut was right.  Check this out:

"More complex hiring requirements have, in turn, complicated recruiter workloads, recruiting processes, and hiring decisions. As a result, average time to fill is at 63 business days—21 more days than it was Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 10.15.20 AMfive years ago. This slowdown exposes organizations to the risk of losing talent to competitors and costs an average of US$8.5 million per 1,000 vacancies in lost productivity and additional recruiting work."

We've tricked ourselves into believing that taking longer and involving more "stakeholder" or "hiring decision influencer" types is the path to better selection.  We believe that by having 4 to 5 rounds of interviews, we can better determine things like cultural fit.

Simply put, it's not true.  Consider:

Let's say your Hiring Managers suck at interviewing and selection.  Your best path here is NOT to let your 5 round interview process muddy up already chum-infested waters, it's to allow that hiring manager's next level boss contribute to the process and grow this hiring manager over time.  It's also time for you as the HR leader to stop the 5-round interview madness.

Cultural Fit?  Make sure you're not losing out on diversity of talent (defined broadly) by allowing people to decline candidates who aren't "like us".  I love that one. Here's a whitepaper I did on that very topic.

Stop the 5 round interview madness. Do an initial round of interviews and involve as many people as you'd like.  Bring back two candidates, have them work through final inbox exercises, etc - AND MAKE A DECISION.

You're killing me, Smalls.

What's that?  You need stats?  OK nerds, here you go - more from CEB:

To improve time to fill without sacrificing quality, stop focusing on enabling hiring teams, and start streamlining the hiring workflow. The best companies do three key things:

--Realign existing recruiter resources to speed up hiring for current and future requisitions.

--Identify and remove hidden process inefficiencies that slow down hiring.

--Better manage the information and stakeholders that influence hiring decisions. (capitalist note - try my Area Code Hiring process from Kinetix - click for whitepaper)

Streamlining the hiring workflow increases recruiting efficiency more than three times than simply enabling hiring teams, as it cuts time to fill by nearly half. By shaving eight weeks off the average requisition’s time, Recruiting can save an organization over US$16,000 per hire.

Take that back to the salt mine, people. That means for every week you shave off of your time to fill by eliminating additional rounds of interviews, you save $2,000.

Take the offensive and tell them your time to fill problem isn't about HR or Recruiting, it's about the number of interview rounds.  


Rajon Rondo, Slurs In The Workplace and "Maim Tom Brady"...

Ever stop and think about all the things you heard/said as a kid, and how the world has changed?

Kids used to play "smear the queer" with a football on the playground back in the day.  Those kids had no idea what they were screaming could be considered a slur.  

Today, that would be a problem, and that's a good thing. Take Rajon Rondo (a professional basketball player) as an example.  He yelled a slur at an official earlier this month, was suspended and the official in Kennedyquestion has officially announced his sexual orientation as a result.  More from the New York Times:

"An N.B.A. referee disclosed in a statement to Yahoo Sports that he is gay after Rajon Rondo, a Sacramento Kings guard, directed what the league called a “derogatory and offensive term” at him during a game this month. Bill Kennedy, who is working his 18th season as an N.B.A. referee, told Yahoo Sports, “I am proud to be an N.B.A. referee and I am proud to be a gay man.”

He added: “I am following in the footsteps of others who have self-identified in the hopes that will send a message to young men and women in sports that you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are.”

Rondo, a four-time All-Star, was ejected after receiving consecutive technical fouls during a losing effort against the Boston Celtics in Mexico City on Dec. 3. Rondo delivered an increasingly animated tirade toward Kennedy before his teammates had to physically pull him away.

In a game officials’ report described by Yahoo Sports, Kennedy and a fellow referee, Ben Taylor, said Rondo’s outburst included an anti-gay slur."

What's most interesting about this to me is how the workplace is changing related to casual language that at one time was commonplace, but now considered to be unacceptable slurs.

Track back through the history of protected classes (or non-protected) and you'll find slurs that were once part of the common day to day vernacular.  Over time, race and gender-related slang was moved to the slur category.

At this point in our evolution, slurs related to sexual orientation are now a focus point.  That's a good thing, but it also begs a question - what's next on the slur horizon?

For me, it has to be be slurs related to mental disability.  A friend saw something over at Fistful of Talent related to the word "retarded" and gave me a quick, easy and selfless tutorial as a parent of a child with a cognitive disability.  It was a gift I needed, and based on that conversation I have an increased awareness of that word as a slur.  

I think the trend to thinking about how we use words that could be consider slurs is positive. I don't consider it to be political correctness. It's all about how that one person feels, and if that wasn't your intent, why not just stop using the word?

Smear the queer?  "Maim Tom Brady" will do just fine.

 


The Best Way To Ask Direct Reports To Give You Feedback On Their Own Performance...

I'm up over at Fistful of Talent talking about the best way to ask your direct reports to rate their own performance.  You should go read that if you've ever thought the following related to performance reviews:

“This #### would be a lot easier if someone would write it for me.”

Which leads to this moment of rationalization:

“I know what to do: I should ask my employees to give me feedback on how THEY think they’re doing.”

Which leads to the following moment of honest reflection:

“Of course, I’m doing that so they’ll write their performance review for me. But what am I? Malcolm ####ing Gladwell?  I’m not a writer.  I need this.”

Turns out, you can sell out and still keep control. That's why I did the post at FOT on 5 things you should do when requesting an employee give you feedback/notes on their own performance. Go read it if you've ever said any of the things above by clicking this link.

 


What The HR Capitalist Learned From His First Job...

What I learned from my first job:

1. I didn't know anything.

2. The world was a much bigger place than I had imagined up to that point.

3. The best way to make a mark in the world was to show up and when given a chance to specialize, basically throw yourself into learning everything you could about the area of speciality in order to make yourself somewhat valuable to the organization you were in.

My first job was as an Assistant Basketball Coach in college basketball, at a place called UAB.  It featured a hall of fame coach in Gene Bartow, as well as a pedigree created for the program when it was formed out of nothing in the late 70's by Bartow.  When I arrived, it was already known as a basketball school.  Here's a picture of the kid at work in his first job (email subscribers, enable pictures to view):

Photo

Could you find me in that picture?  I'm the dapper guy.  Not the white suit (yes, you are hilarious), the navy blazer with taupe slacks on the bench just to the right of the action.

UAB is in white uniforms in this picture.  The guy challenging the shot for us is a guy named Frank Haywood.  He was a kid from the inner city of Birmingham, who was an undersized big man, who got great results because he would absolutely grind on a nightly basis.  Every forward we brought in was supposed to take Frank's minutes.  It didn't happen.  There were lots of lessons with Frank and some of the other kids as well for me.  The world is a big place, and the most talented aren't always the ones who get the best results.

But the main lesson for me is #1 and #3 above, and it's what I would impart to my kids.  Find a great place to learn, and don't be scared when you find out you know nothing.  Realize you know nothing. Learn from everything, but find something you can own and do it better than anyone has ever done it at that organization.  It doesn't have to be a big thing, just something that's in the daily operation.

For me, that was advance scouting.  I did all the scouting for upcoming opponents by traveling to watch them play and watching about 24 hours worth of film on everyone we played.  No one knew the tendencies better than me the years I was there, so as a 24-year old I was actually involved in meaningful conversations.

Find a niche while you learn, youngsters.  


That Time You Needed to Fire Someone - But Just Hired a Boss For Them Instead...

Performance issue?  You can do three things:

  1. Deal with it.
  2. Ignore it.
  3. Create a brand new position to do some of the work of the person in question (without firing the incumbent), which is a form of #2.

Do people actually loathe dealing with performance issues to the extent that they create new positions to avoid the tough decisions?

Why, yes they do.  Got a high profile one for you today.  The Philadelphia 76ers (professional basketball) just made a high profile hire in Jerry Colangeo, who is the architect of the men's national basketball program, which has had unbelievable success.  They made the hire in part because the current executive in charge of strategy (Sam Hinkie) has had limited success and patience is running thin. More from ESPN.com:

Since the summer of 2014, NBA owners have been lobbying the league's front office to step in with Tankadelphia-02regard to the direction of the Philadelphia 76ers, sources told ESPN.com on Monday night. It was that effort that helped lead to the hiring of Jerry Colangelo to a senior position earlier Monday, the sources said.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was instrumental in forming the partnership between Colangelo and 76ers owner Joshua Harris, according to the sources.

The 76ers' struggles on the floor have been readily apparent -- they've gone 38-148 over the past two-plus seasons and 1-21 to start this season -- while they undergo a long-term rebuilding process under general manager Sam Hinkie. But it was not the bad basketball as much as the hit to the business side that weighed on the rest of the league.

Owners routinely complained about the economic drag the 76ers were inflicting on the league as the revenues of one of the largest-market teams -- a franchise expected to contribute more robustly to league revenue-sharing -- sagged. For many teams, games featuring the starless and woeful 76ers as the visiting team have been the lowest-attended of the season, sources said.

Last year, the 76ers fought a proposal against reforming the NBA lottery rules because it would've disrupted their rebuilding plan, which is a transparent attempt to gain the highest draft picks possible by maximizing lottery odds over several seasons while developing young players.

So Colangeo was hired to adjust the strategy.  There's just one little problem with that strategy - the low performer (Hinkie) remains employed.

Part of the problem is Colangeo's age - he's in his 70's and probably not interested in doing the day to day work that's required in Hinkie's role.  So to address the issue, the owners made a decision to bring in a new boss and give him authority over strategy and check off rights on all decisions.

But Hinkie remains. So the 76ers have a more expensive cost structure and a lame duck leader who's strategic direction has just been invalidated by the call to bring in a new boss for him.

In corporate America, these decisions go a couple of different ways:

--We bring in a peer employee at the low performer's position, citing "business is great".  It might actually be great, but that's not why we're bringing in a peer. We're hiring another one because the one we have isn't doing great.

--We hire someone to manage the person in question, because we don't have the stones to deal with it.

--We bring in a consultant to do some of the work in question so we get results why we figure out an exit strategy with the low performer.

It's hard managing through performance issues.  As a HR pro, when you see these management decisions related to a low performer, you have to ask yourself if the decision to bring in new talent while the incumbent remains is avoidance (they don't want to deal with it) or smart business (they need to get someone trained up before making the call to fire or get better results via the consultant route as they work through the issue).

Shades of gray with no easy answers.  Good luck deciding whether your management team are cowards or just freaking smart when it comes to low performers.


Should You Let Your Employees Vote About Where To Move Your Offices To? Probably.

I'm p*ssed off but I'm too polite
When people break in the McDonald's line
Mom and Dad you made me so uptight
I'm gonna cuss on the mic tonight

I'm rockin' the suburbs
Just like Michael Jackson did
I'm rockin' the suburbs
Except that he was talented
I'm rockin' the suburbs
I take the cheques and face the facts
That some producer with computers fixes all my sh*tty tracks

--Rockin' The Suburbs, Ben Folds

It's a classic example of "don't ask the question unless you're going to honor the answer."

Let's say you've decided that you're going to move your offices to another location - due to space needs, effective rent issues or other reasons.  You're in the market, looking at 5-6 different locations and you've cut it to two,both with a fairly even number of pros/cons.  

Do you let your employees vote on which location they'd rather be at?  HealthSouth, headquartered in Birmingham, recently did just that. More from AL.com:

"HealthSouth CEO Jay Grinney surveyed all of his corporate employees while looking at potential sites for the new headquarters: Would you rather work in Liberty Park or in downtown Birmingham?

The company had narrowed down the move to spots in Liberty Park or in an area near Regions Field downtown. But the answer from the 500 employees who work in the corporate headquarters was resounding.

"Something like 70 percent of our employees preferred the [Liberty Park] site over downtown," Grinney said. "A lot of people and other leaders in the community were really urging us to go into the midtown location. I, personally, did not want to make a move where 70 percent of the corporate employees would not be happy."

How do you view that information?  55/45 probably doesn't tell you to go to one location or another.  60/40 might, but 70/30 closes the deal.  I think it's a good idea to ask people how they feel, but only if you're OK with giving that opinion weight in the final decision should the majority be clear and you're willing to report back.  Otherwise, don't ask.  

Grinney went on to take a shot at regional planning in the Birmingham metropolitan area:

"About a decade ago, officials suggested building an elevated toll road over U.S. 280, igniting a years-long controversy over the project. Communities including Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills protested the highway. Years later, the project lost momentum. 

"It's sort of ironic," Grinney said. "If we, as a community, had chosen to proceed with the elevated toll road that was being contemplated several years ago, that toll road probably would have been completed by 2018. Had that been the case, we probably would be going downtown, because traffic congestion would be a moot point." 

It's a good lesson that a lack of regional government will effectively slowly choke out the urban core of any city (in the case of Birmingham, affluent suburbs the toll road was going to have to be built through effectively killed the project).

As a result, HealthSouth will be rocking the suburbs - like Ben Folds.