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February 2017

Here's 3 Things You Can Do With Talent Claiming "Disruptor" Status...

If you're in the business of thinking about management and leadership, you'll get this post.

We love to celebrate the disruptors, right?  Big ideas, crazy results, etc. Rainman

Of course, the dirty little secret is that we only love the disruptors that don't get capped at the knees by the cultures they are trying to change.  The disruptors who don't make it?  We hate them.

We only celebrate the disruptors who make it.  The ones who don't are freaks/abnormals/cancers.  To tell the difference, you probably need to focus on the ideas rather than the behavior.

On my mind today related to this great post on LinkedIn by Bob Lyons (read it all, but here's a snippet):

"The legend of Steve Jobs is immortal. There have been countless articles, books and movies made about him and the way he founded and ran Apple. He was such a hard ass, he got fired from his own company in 1985. The establishment people he personally hired and surrounded himself with said they wanted him out. These were not strangers he inherited. How bad did it have to be for that to happen? In 1997 , on the verge of bankruptcy, Apple acquired the company Jobs created and made him CEO once again. Shortly after, products like the iPod, and iPhone started to hit the market. Apple even created a phenomenal customer centric experience through its Apple Stores unlike any consumers had experienced before (and some say since). Jobs certainly goes down as one of the great disruptors of our time, but going through it during its formative years was considered "hell on earth."

Bob's got some other great examples in his post so go check it out.

I'll leave you with this from my notebook after thinking about Bob's post:

Shit stirrer + no good ideas = fire immediately.

Shit stirrer + good ideas = incubate from rest of company and find mentor to round the corners.  Fire later if experiment fails in epic fashion.

Shit stirrer + good ideas + ability to execute through others = execute employment contract and find handler similar to Tom Cruise handling Dustin Hoffman in Rainman.

KD out.


The Goodell/Trump Handshake: Don't Let Someone Play You...

If there's one time-honored tradition in anything related to Human Capital, it is the handshake.  The handshake is both a formality, a throwaway, and yes - one of the most important non-verbal communication forms available.

Hello there! Are you a human being, a limp fish that someone on my team is going to tire-track next week and I'll have to clean it up or... and incredible asshole?

The handshake is our first chance to determine any and all of that - and more.

That's why the recent stuff related to the Donald Trump handshake is so fascinating to me.  I didn't pick up on this until last week, and before I was aware of the Trump handshake, saw something similar when Roger Goodell sought out Tom Brady on the field after the SuperBowl.  

Let's just agree to call it the alpha asshole handshake.  Here's your playbook if you want to use it on someone:

  1. Reach out and get your hand close to their body - that means you are waaaaaay past the half way point to them, almost touching them.
  2. Grab their hand hard.
  3. Pull their ####er ####ing hand in a seated row fashion direct to your hip in a way that makes their whole body rotate. If one of their feet doesn't almost come off the floor, you're soft.  Sad!
  4. If you feel like it, pump it furiously.

The whole secret to this handshake is that you win when you get your hand into their body, get their hand and then jerk the hand forward.

I knew this handshake long before Trump.  It means you mainlined some bad fake Zig Ziglar stuff and are convinced this is how you play to win.

It also means that once you do it to me, I'll trust you as far as I can throw you.  And I'm more of an aerobic guy, so that's not far.

 


Stuff the Capitalist (aka KD) Likes: The Trailer for "Logan"...

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.

I'm not a big comic book movie guy, but I have to say, the trailers for "Logan" (supposedly the final Wolverine movie in the X-Men series) look fantastic.  Take a look (email subscribers click through to see the video) and let's discuss it after the jump.

 What's it take to make a movie trailer like this?  

--Dystopian feel to the color and landscape. Check.

--Characters that are flawed yet cool. Check

--Great music over the trailer - aka, Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nails.  Check.

--Huge Jackman.  ##@#*@# @#@@ing Check people!

OK, now to the serious comments.  If you're over 40, how can you watch this trailer and not see yourself from a career standpoint?  You're a hero and talented, but tired.  You've got a mentor or two that's always in your grill about something - and they're usually right.  And yeah, you still have a lot to give, and probably a responsibility to lead some young folks that are coming up.

True - you and the equivalent actors in your life are nowhere near as cool as these characters, but there it is.  You're flawed. The world's going to keep coming.  Might as well flex the claws and get to the business of impaling some bad guys.

(Bonus - the trailer used for the Super Bowl was a cool version of Amazing Grace - click here to see that one)

We are all Logan.  


Uber, Harassment and HR Business Partner Coverage - Let's Look at the Numbers...

By now, you've heard about this post accusing Uber of creating a hostile, harassing environment for women.  Rather than rehash the claim, I'm going to go to the numbers in this post.  See this post by Tim Sackett for analysis of the situation and see my commentary on Uber's former HR Leader leaving the company before all this stuff broke by clicking here.

Let's run some numbers.  Most of the allegations claim that Uber was focused on recruiting above and beyond all else.  But this post on HR at Uber from Recode gives us some interesting numbers to think about related to HR staffing:

"It’s most glaring overall problems seems to center on how the human resources role was conceived at Uber by its brash and commanding leader Kalanick. UberThe issue: He felt the function of HR at Uber was largely to recruit talent and also efficiently let go of personnel when needed, according to sources.

During the first half of 2016, sources said, the company had fewer than 10 representatives — called human resources business partners — who served to train managers or handle things like sexual harassment for its close to 6,000 employees.

Leadership coaching or training is especially important at Uber and other tech companies, where many of the department heads or top execs are often younger staffers who would work their way up at the company. According to sources, Atwood spent considerable time defending the need for more HR business partners.

But, according to one source, there was one HR business partner handling the entire Asia Pacific region; two handling Europe, the Middle East and Africa; three in corporate functions handling engineering, finance and marketing; and only three working in operations and with city teams.

Uber disputed this and says the company had around 20 people dedicated to that role at the time. Today, the company has 35 and plans to add between 30 and 40 more under Hornsey."

Credit to Recode for being sharp enough to think about employee count vs HR staffing as a potential source of the problem.  

Unfortunately, the numbers don't tell us enough.

10 HRBPs for 6,000 employees.  Is that a heavy workload or just right?  You know the answer if you're an HR leader - it depends what their role is and what other HR resources are available.

If you've got specialists working recruiting, benefits, admin and more, it's possible for HRBPs to be effective with a 600/1 count.

If these same HRBPs are responsible for recruiting and more in addition to employee relations, they are screwed from a workload perspective.

Add the flavor of Kalanick prioritizing recruiting over everything else, and the status of the HRBP doing it all with a 600/1 ratio moves from "screwed" to "total screwed".  Qualifying questions like "did he say he liked your blouse alone or the way it made your body look?" become rationalizations for not digging deeper because the HRBP didn't have time and the organization didn't want to hear about it anyway.

600/1 for an HRBP?  It all comes down to what's behind that HRBP in terms of specialized support to determine if that ration is fair.  

Going to be an interesting investigation.

 

 


Trump's First Labor Nominee: Burgers, Bikinis and Mocking Low Wage Workers...

Puzder

In case you missed it, Donald Trump's original pick to become Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, dropped out last week citing he was tired of the abuse that such a nomination brings.

At the heart of some of the resistance to Puzder's nomination was a domestic abuse allegation from an ex-wife and some immigration concerns related to an undocumented housekeeper.

Puzder pulling out hurt the timing of this post - I was planning to write about him in the context of his ability to lead Labor - but from the perspective of how he viewed labor, not personal events/issues.

Let's explore that topic anyway - as a moderate Republican, I would tell you this pick didn't work for me to lead Labor.  I feel like you can be anti-Union as lead Labor in a GOP administration, but you've got to be progressive about the workforce you're supporting in America - all the workforce, not just part of the workforce.

The best illustration I've found of the challenges Puzder had in that area is a recent BusinessWeek article titled "Trump's Labor Pick Loves Burgers, Bikinis and Free Markets." Let's explore some of the content and I'll give you color commentary as we flow though it related to Puzder as a potential Secretary of Labor:

“What’s more American,” the Carl’s Jr. narrator asks in a 2015 advertisement for the Most American Thickburger, “than a girl [swimsuit model Samantha Hoopes, biting into a potato-chip-stuffed cheeseburger that’s topped with a grilled hot dog] in a bikini [camera zooms out to reveal she’s wearing a stars-and-stripes string bikini] in a hot tub [covered with stars and stripes] in a truck [a Crew Cab pickup with an American flag paint job] on an aircraft carrier [with fighter planes taking off] underneath the Statue of Liberty?” Final shot: Hoopes biting into the huge burger, then #mostAmerican.

This commercial is the marketing vision of Andrew Puzder, the chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants, owner of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, and now President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor. Puzder’s appeal to
“young, hungry guys” and their version of what makes America great helped two struggling fast-food chains become, if not top contenders, at least contenders. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American,” Puzder, who’s 66, said of that ad to Entrepreneur magazine. “I used to hear, ‘brands take on the personality of the CEO.’ And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality.”

Capitalist color commentary - It's OK if Puzder likes the Carl's Jr. campaign that showcases models in bikini's eating a big a## burger.  It is, as the commercial describes, America. But if you routinely produce content that potentially alienates women and openly say it takes on your personality, it's kind of hard to picture you running Labor.  Can you be a capitalist? Sure, as long as the market supports the approach. Can you lead Labor?  Probably not.  There's no question had he got to confirmation hearings the ads play in those hearings, right?

"In the late 1990s the company bought Hardee’s, a struggling chain of about 3,000 restaurants located mostly in the South and Midwest, where Carl’s Jr. hadn’t established itself. The acquisition strained the company’s finances, though, and Karcher was forced out. In 2000, Puzder was appointed CEO. “Well, I think they really just said, ‘Let’s see if the cocky lawyer can fix it,’ ” he recalled in a 2009 oral history of the company conducted by California State University at Fullerton.

The first memo Puzder wrote to Hardee’s managers was direct: “No more people behind the counter unless they have all their teeth.” He closed some restaurants and directed the franchisees, who owned about half of all Hardee’s, to remodel, but that wasn’t enough to revive the brand. “You go into a store, and there’s a guy with a dirty shirt who is rude, and then you remodel the store, but the customers still go in and find a guy with a dirty shirt who is rude,” he later recounted to a trade publication. Slowly, Hardee’s came around. Sales in established restaurants increased in 2004 for the first time in years. Still, Puzder’s estimation of the workforce remained low. Hardee’s was “hiring the best of the worst. It’s kind of the bottom of the pool,” he said in a 2011 speech CNN recently dug up."

Capitalist color commentary - "I grew up in an area of Missouri with a lot of Hardee's.  It is the dregs of fast-food for sure, with brands like Wendy's and McDonalds looking like Tavern On The Green in comparison.  I also spend a lot of time these days on the road, and when I duck into any fast food place I suddenly realize that whether I'm a 1% or not, I'm incredibly blessed and there's a whole section of America that should view me as an aristocrat. Some of those people don't have all their teeth.  You can long as a CEO of a company like Carl's to upgrade your workforce, but the focus of someone to lead Labor should be less about mocking that section of society and more about how to help them improve their circumstances through work. 

Puzder’s business experience has been largely in a low-wage, low-margin industry built on a franchise model that tends to shift profits upward and responsibility downward. He claims 75,000 people as employees in the U.S. when presenting his qualifications for a cabinet position. But, like other fast-food executives, he tends to deflect blame for their treatment by franchisees when workers complain.And many complain. About 60 percent of the U.S. Department of Labor’s investigations into CKE restaurants turned up at least one violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to data compiled by Bloomberg BNA. Most other fast-food chains were even worse.

Capitalist color commentary - "Hard one here. There's going to be a lot of claims in a business like this. If you had a Secretary of Labor from this type of business, you'd still see claims, but you'd want to see some type of progressive workforce planning that would reduce claims over time."

 
Closing - Puzder is out, and Acosta is in as the Labor nominee.  The fact that Puzder made it to the nomination stage shows how tone deaf the Trump administration is at times.  The GOP won the election, so it's rightfully going to stock the cabinet with - you guessed it - Republicans.
 
How about we find some Republicans that don't alienate women and aren't flippant about low-end labor, many of whom voted from Trump?

Should You Fight Age Bias By Only Showing Your Last 15 Years On Your Resume?

Old people. The problem with them is there's just so much...well...experience...

You know I'm kidding. But it raises a good point - should older workers looking for their next opportunity show all of their work history and graduation dates from college, or hide it to a certain degree?

I've come to the opinion that you have to hide it a bit - lest you get caught in a bias-filled resume screen process that says things like "What's the Clinton administration? I didn't know she was president before she lost to Trump last year..."

More on the topic of marketing yourself as an older worker from Fortune: De niro

"The new administration h as put some wind in the sails of the market and, some would say, the economy too—which is potentially good news for job seekers. But if you’re one of those seekers and you’re of a certain age, career guru Marc Cenedella has some critical advice: “Don’t list any dates on your résumé before the year 2000.”

Just zap it. Erase it. Pretend those years never happened.

To be clear, Cenedella, who is 46, isn’t saying that age bias is okay. He’s saying that it exists. The first person who reads your résumé will be an HR department screener who will be right out of college. “They’ll say, ‘Wait, this guy was working in newspapers in the 1980s? No way will he understand Snapchat.’ ”

Boom, like that, your paperwork goes into the trash. Sure, this is biased and unfair. But these are the gatekeepers, and you need to get past them.

Trimming the early experience from your résumé might feel dishonest, but the document isn’t supposed to be comprehensive. “Your résumé is an advertisement, not a product manual,” Cenedella says. Confining a résumé to a single page is good advice for anyone."

That's good advice.  Of course, the key is to not be accused of being too old when you get the first call on the job in question - the one that comes for a brief phone screen before you'd be selected to come in and interview live.  

When that call happens, you're probably going to be identified as part of the the older portion of Gen X - or dare I say - a Boomer.

Someone younger than you is going to be screening you.  The best way around any objections to your age is the following path:

  1. Connect with the person phone screening you - if you have a chance to research them, know a little bit about their background and ask them about it.  Because you're interested and see the value, not because you're skeptical if they're capable of interviewing you.  Be interested in what they do for the company and how they feel about the company they work for.  Making them feel like their opinions matter to you is a great track to them giving you a break for being "over-qualified".  
  2. Have work product available to share as a follow up to your call.  I've written about the portfolio effect for candidates before, so click here to see those thoughts.  You should follow up with something that displays your work - hopefully in a contemporary fashion.  Do it at the end of the business day you talk to them so they have to reconsider you before they make their final determination about whether you're going to move forward.

Most older workers are rightfully paranoid about resume reviewers and phone screeners being dramatically younger than them.  Take some years off your resume and be ready to loosen up and show your interest in your phone screener.  Put all your misgivings aside when that call comes for best results.

Good luck out there.  Peak economic cycle has never felt so hard for so many.

 


ASK THE CAPITALIST: Are "Acting" or "Interim" Titles Ever A Good Idea?

A reader asks...

Hi Kris -

Do you have an opinion on the use of “acting” in title?  A situation has come up where two ppl in an org would be made “acting”…one person – we’ll call her Abby - would be moving into the other person’s (Abby’s bosses’) position and the boss (Maggie) would be moving to a higher level position.  Maggie didn’t seek out the new role, it was offered to her when the position opened up.  It’s fair to say that Maggie has already been somewhat serving in the higher level position, but without the title or pay, which is why she is the CEO’s pick to fill the role.  As part of succession planning, Abby has been groomed for Maggie’s role for years.  The rub is that the CEO isn’t sure whether she’s the right person to take over for Maggie so he wants to make Abby “acting” and feels it would be cleaner if Maggie is “acting” too.  FWIW, the CEO asked Maggie to commit two years to the role and Maggie has agreed to one year and reevaluating at that time.  Any strong opinions on this?

--Sarah from Syracuse

----------

Hey Sarah - 

Well, you've got a lot going on, don't you?

Here’s my take on the use of acting in this situation. Lucy

1. “Acting” in any role is a crutch when you either aren't sure someone can do the job, or 100% know that it won’t work out, but you need the butt in the seat.

2.  In the scenario you’ve laid out, your CEO’s use of acting for Abby seems appropriate, but if the CEO is sure that Maggie is a fit, he should place her in the role without the interim tag.  She’s already got a commitment issue to the role you want her to move into, and the “acting” tag is going to allow her to bail mentally if times get tough.

3.  I’d put Abby into the “acting” role for a quarter and make definitive call at that time.  If you drag it out past that, odds are you’ll end up with commitment and employee relations issues from Abby as well.

4.  What happens at the end of the one year period for Maggie if she doesn't want to stay in the job? I’d avoid talking about periods of commitment for specific jobs, it just leads to the aforementioned commitment issues to the role their in.

5. Will you take care of Maggie if she’s key and it doesn’t work out?  Sure. I’m just not convinced that talking about a one or two year commitment is the right way to go.  Stalin had a 5-year plan – that didn’t work out well for him.

Bottom line – put Abby in the “acting” tag and make your call in 3 months, at the same time put Maggie in the higher role with no “acting” tag and stop acting like she has the ability to come back down the org, even if she secretly does.

It’s all Jedi-mind tricks and Doug Henning-like illusions in the show.

KD

 


Preferred Methods of Communicating with KD, Ranked...

Because email's not dead, it's just been shoved to the side a little bit by a younger, sleeker option called Text...

Here's the preferred methods of communicating with me, ranked with color commentary notes:

1. Text - Took a little longer for me to get here, but there's now a chance a text may get buried before I respond, seems like it Leerules the day for the top 15 people I communicate with daily.

2. Email - Contrary to popular rumor, not dead yet. I'm Gen X, and professional Gen X people tend to run their lives off of email.  I've received admiration just short of a standing O for my folder system when projected on the big screen before I call up Powerpoint to do a presentation.

3. Phone - I'm of the opinion that if you're like a sports GM, looking for the asset that's undervalued, the phone is probably it these days.  Sure, some people will never answer it, but a lot will.  And there's not enough people still using the tool.  #moneyball

4. Crawling in My Window. Hey - what's up?

5. Slack - Only for the people at work, and since I'm Gen X, a message will hit my email box if I don't view it in 2 hours.

6. Twitter DM or Facebook Messenger - Kind of clunky and hidden based on how I live my life.  Use at your own peril.

7. Hiding under my bed for two days and then popping out an hour after I go to sleep.  We have to do this now?  OK.

8. LinkedIn Messaging - Nice move to take away replies from my email inbox, LInkedIn. You just guaranteed I'm going to use the system less. You used to be solid in the number three spot, now even the communication tactics of stalkers are preferred over your ecosystem.

Did someone say "stalker"?  That's a great reason to share this cut of Tenacious D (the series from HBO) and "Lee".

I'm out.

 


Twitter's New VP of HR (formerly at Uber) Departs in a Hurry...

In the hiring/candidate business, it's called a miss.  Interesting stuff from the interwebs a couple of weeks ago, as Twitter announced its Head of Diversity was leaving the company.  Of course, for me that wasn't really the news, as Twitter also used the announcement to state that a recent CHRO hire had left the company at some point before the announcement.

More from Techcrunch:

Twitter’s VP of diversity and inclusion Jeffrey Siminoff is leaving the company at the end of the month and its chief human resources officer Renee Atwood has already left, TechCrunch has confirmed.

“Renee has left the company for personal reasons,” a Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We thank her for her contributions during her time at Twitter and wish her all the best in the future.”

Twitter's departed HR Leader, Renee Atwood joined Twitter in August 2016 from Uber, where she was global head of people and places. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sent a note around the company letting employees know about Siminoff’s upcoming exit, one source familiar with the situation told me. The internal messaging around Siminoff was that he is leaving on his own accord, the source said.

Twitter hired Siminoff from Apple, where he was the director of worldwide inclusion and diversity, in December 2015 to replace Janet Van Huysse as vice president of diversity and inclusion. At the time of the announcement, some people were skeptical of the fact that Twitter hired a white man to lead its diversity and inclusion efforts.

These exits come shortly after Twitter unveiled its 2016 diversity report, which showed Twitter was making some progress around the hiring of underrepresented minorities. It’s not clear if Siminoff and Atwood’s departures are related, but the timing is interesting, to say the least. Update: A Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch that the departures are unrelated.

I wrote a piece a few months back about Atwood leaving Uber and the value of knowing what you're best at, where you fit and when in a company's lifecycle it might be time for you leave as an HR leader.

While I have no info about Atwood's departure from Twitter, I'm not sure it means anything for her as a candidate for future HR Leadership roles.  She's been an HR leader in some of the most interesting companies of our time, and let's face it - sometimes you just miss as a candidate.  The job wasn't what you expected, you were told things that weren't true or to no one's fault - you just got to the new company and found you weren't really a fit.

What's more interesting to me is that Twitter didn't announce the departure until they told the world a VP of Diversity of was leaving.  Have we come to the point where a diversity leader leaving mandates a press release, but the CHRO does not?

Maybe in the Bay area we have.  Strange times indeed.

 

 


VIDEO: 4 Tips From KD On Driving 401 Contributions Up at Your Company...

How do you drive your employees to do more of what you'd like them to do?  Even things that are in their best interest like participating in or raising their contributions to your 401K?

The answer - even in something as non-sexy as your 401K - is for HR pros to think more like marketers.

Check out the video I did below for AXEX - I'm laying out four simple, time-tested tips for driving your employees to take another look at their 401(k) contributions—and put a little bit more into the coffers for their future.

It's three minutes long, you'll definitely learn something...what's not to like?

(Email Subscribers click through for video if you don't see it below)