Is It Better to Be Feared or Loved in Corporate America?

I know, I know.  The cliche is that it's better to be feared, right?  Would you believe that an expert along the lines of Machiavelli disagrees at times?  Here's what Machiavelli has to say about protection against conspiracies in the Prince, which are plots to hurt someone on some level and reduce their power.

Being feared, Machiavelli says, is an important protection against a conspiracy.  But the ultimate protection, he says, is to be well liked.  Not simply because people who love you are less likely to take you down, but because they are less likely to tolerate anyone else trying to take you down. If a prince guards himself against that hatred, Machiavelli writes, "simple particular offenses will make trouble for him...because if they were even of spirit and had the power to do it, they are held back by the universal benevolence that they see the prince has." The prince

The problem with power on any level in an organization is that you have to make tough decisions.  Tough decisions ultimately hurt someone and cause enemies to be made.  In that circumstance, having the vast majority love you does seem to offer some protection against those who would want to harm you career-wise.

But Machiavelli is a bit of a thick read and contradicts himself from time to time, including this additional passage on the being feared vs being hated:

Here a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved. . . . Love endures by a bond which men, being scoundrels, may break whenever it serves their advantage to do so; but fear is supported by the dread of pain, which is ever present.

I'd add to this and say that if it's power you want to hold in an organization - it's better to be in the extremes - you either want to be feared or loved.  The middle isn't going to do you much good.

Which brings us to who you are behaviorally, right?  If it is power you have and it's easier for you to be hated than loved, than you should go with it.   Nice guy or gal? Let your benevolence shine through like the flashlight on your iPhone.

Do you want to be loved or hated?  Do you and don't be someone you're not.

 


POWERPOINT MBA: Font Sizes In Your Presentations

Let's face it - Some of you suck at PowerPoint.  Heck, I've come to realize that being a good presenter and being good at PowerPoint at times are related and at times are not.

Case in point - you can be a great presenter and use PowerPoint in a very minimalistic way.  Great presenters tell stories, and the best way to use PP in that regard is often slides that have nothing but pictures.  

In that arena, you can be an artist.  But 99% of the population struggles to do PowerPoint in that way - because they can't READ the slides as a presenter. Pp

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your presentations have to serve as leave-behinds or informational/educational vehicles within your company after you present on the topic of choice, pictures suck in that regard.  The leave-behind means nothing. You gave a great presentation and dazzled some people with your art, but nobody knows what the #### you are talking about if they fire up your deck without you there.

Not doing what's expected is a quick way to get beheaded in the corporate world.  So you need some words - but how many words?

A blast from the past - Guy Kawasaki - had a 10/20/30 rule. A presentation should be no longer than 10 slides, should last no more than 20 minutes, and the font size should be at least 30.  He's covering a lot of ground there, including deck size, presentation length and how big the font is.  Feels right for presentations in your company where people already have directional ideas and understanding of the business issues at hand.

Kawasaki also has another formula for the optimal font size: The age of the oldest person in the room, divided by 2. Which means you can go smaller than a 30 font - and put more on the slides - if you don't have a 55-60 year old in the room.

Is that right?  I'm not sure.  It's clever, but in this case clever doesn't mean right.

For best results, I recommend the following:

1--If you're presenting outside your company, do more slides with pictures only and tell a story.  If you can't go all pictures, make every second slide "picture only" - which means in between you'll have some word slides to lean on.

2 -Beware of your culture if you're doing an internal presentation.  We know you saw a Ted Talk.  You're not a Harvard PhD talking about a cute topic to support your book.  You're here to tell us about the new accounting software.  We don't need the picture from the Matrix (even though I would love that), just put your implementation plan on some slides (no less than 30 font!) and let's slog through this.

For every presentation, there's a reality.  Let your strategy follow that.  Let your freak flag fly when appropriate and most importantly, don't get fired.  Or have someone make a mental note to fire you down the road if they have a chance.


The Art of Rejecting/Approval: Automatic Action Means You're a Complete ##$ - Or a Robot...

The problem with tech, machine learning and A.I. is that we can at times do things too fast.

This seems like a good problem to have in a world where most candidates for jobs go into black holes and never get feedback, right? Delete

Never getting action on something important to you is a HUMAN problem.

Getting action within 1-5 minutes on something important to you is a TECH/A.I problem.

Need some examples? Here you go:

1--I wrote a review on Amazon for Tim Sackett's book last week.  It may have been the first review I ever completed on Amazon.  What was interesting about what happened when I clicked "submit" was the speed at which approval moved.  I was surprised to get a landing page and a follow up email from Amazon telling me that my review was pending approval.  After all, this is Amazon - can't they figure out that I'm not a evil-doer by a systems/computer/IP scan of my review?  My surprise was soon muted when 5-7 minutes after I submitted the review, it was approved.  Think about that for a second.

2--I was speaking at a Jobvite function in Atlanta last week to a room full of recruiters, and I asked the following question - "how do candidates judge you as a recruiter?"  One quick answer that was provided was "speed".  My audience said what you already know - that candidates expect speed from recruiters.  But one voice was quick to point out that in the art of rejection, too much speed could be harsher than never hearing your status at all.  Example - recruiter has manageable workload and is committed to keep her ATS workflow clean.  Candidate comes in that is obviously under-qualified and not right for the job.  You see the application 4 minutes after the candidate pushed send.  Do you reject them that soon?  My audience said no, you needed to wait to spare the candidate's feeling. I agree.

In both circumstances, world-class speed to the next action was available.  Amazon's tech obviously approved my review - there's too many reviews flowing through the system for it to be handled any other way.  But someone decided that auto-approving my review didn't show the proper level of consideration.  Same thing with the recruiter - rejection within 5 minutes was too harsh.

Someday soon, your ATS will scan a resume and tell you whether it's good or not, much like Amazon did to my review.  You won't have to decide on whether to reject each candidate individually, but you will have to decide on how much time passes before rejection feels like you gave a resume proper consideration.

What's proper consideration mean time-wise before you reject a candidate?  I'm thinking 4 hours minimum.

What do you think?

 


"I Am Not Uncertain" - Why Some Hidden Phrases Illustrate Your Culture To Perfection...

“I am not uncertain.”

The phrase is a workplace culture feature from the Showtime series Billions.

"I am not uncertain" is what employees of the hedge fund Axe Capital featured in Billions say to their boss, Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), when they’ve got potentially incriminating inside information they are about to trade on and Axelrod asks them if they are sure: the goods on a scandal about to topple a car company, or a tip that the Nigerian currency is weak.

Framing this assertion in the negative insulates whoever’s saying it from liability from prosecution, which seems unimaginable, from a legal point of view. But that’s the point that Billions has hammered from day one: The rules that govern the world of big money are strange and easily sidestepped, provided you know the script. Billions

Does your company have catchphrases that allow your employees to communicate directly, yet sidestep accountability from forces inside and/or outside your company?

Of course it does.

In the South, there's a cultural catchphrase inside companies and outside in the general community:

"Bless his heart", defined as the following by Urban Dictionary:  "This is a term used by the people of the southern United States particularly near the Gulf of Mexico to express to someone that they are an idiot without saying such harsh words."

When used in the workplace, "bless his heart" isn't generally spoken directly to the subject.  It's used when people are discussing the ramifications to the subject related to a certain course of action:

"What about Tom?" (asked because a budget request your team is making for the next year is going to be in direct competition for resources with Tom's department)

"Tom's still holding onto the opinion that he'll get funding for his department." (Both parties know what Tom doesn't - everyone feels that Tom's initiative is dead on arrival at this point)

"Bless his heart. Move forward and put our budget proposal in." (Code for this - The boss who speaks this doesn't even think she has to talk to Tom about it because he is so out of touch.  Speaking the words "bless his heart" gives permission to the direct report to move forward, to not worry about Tom and also sends the subtle message that the boss thinks Tom is out of touch at best, an idiot at worst.)

Phrases that are seemingly small mean big things in your company.

Discussing probability?  "I am not uncertain" means a lot while saying little - it might also protect you from overcommitting.   Discussing someone you consider a poor sap in the New South?  "Bless his heart" gives you permission to be brutal while saying a little prayer for the target of your action.

Words matter.  What's the catchphrase that means the most while saying the least at your company?

 


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 here boss's role 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 once that period is up.

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

 


When Your Last Job/Company Was So Terrible You Can't Get Hired Again...

There's a lot of opinions about the companies around you - in your city, in your industry, etc.  When recruiting, some of these companies are net positive for candidates related to their ability to be the final candidate, some are net negative and most are neutral - because you've never heard of them in your life as an HR pro or recruiter.

"Wow, she worked at Google.  That is so cool"

"Ugh.  He worked at HealthSouth - didn't the FBI raid that place for fraud?"

"What the #### is Zenecom?"

Positive/Negative/Neutral.  Those are really the 3 choices related to the impact a current or past company has related to a candidate's prospects to get hired at your company, unless you're a complete ass and are skeptical of companies you've never heard of - in which case you should unsubscribe to this blog and/or delete this page from your history. Haspel

Eventually, even a negative perception of a company fades into something neutral over time, which is good for all the decent people that get branded by working at a company that goes through a big scandal, fraud or court proceeding.  HealthSouth DID get raided by the FBI one fateful day in the early 2000's.  The company survived and now no one blinks an eye at hiring someone with HealthSouth on their resume.  Even decent folks working at the Weinstein Company (true company, 150 employees, I'm sure not everyone there is answering the door at their office or hotel in an open bathrobe) will eventually be forgiving for working at a place where bad stuff happened.

Are there any companies or positions you can't recover from?  Probably, but they have to be really bad.  I found one - how about running a black-site prison where torture was the normal?

Oh boy - here we go - more from the Daily Beast:

"Long before Donald Trump ever nominated Gina Haspel to run the CIA, a memoir from a former CIA top attorney contained a line with the power to do serious damage to her chances.

Haspel’s informal nomination ran into immediate jeopardy last month over her 2002 supervision of the agency’s first secret black-site prison, located in Thailand, where two early detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, were tortured. (She directly ran the black site, though after Zubaydah’s most intense period of torture that year.)

But in his 2014 book, John Rizzo, a longtime senior CIA lawyer, indicated that Haspel was responsible for the incommunicado detention and torture not of two men, but of dozens, potentially. Former intelligence officials interviewed by The Daily Beast have portrayed Haspel’s experience similarly.

Haspel, if confirmed, would be the first director to rise from the CIA’s operational ranks with uninterrupted service since William Colby in 1973, which helps explain her depth of support from within the agency. But she’s also the first potential director from the CIA generation involved in post-9/11 torture, making her nomination inescapably a referendum on a dark period of history that the agency wants definitively resolved and human rights advocates say demands vastly more accountability than it’s received. 

Imagine that resume making into one of your searches.  "RAN BLACK SITE OPERATION DESIGNED TO MAXIMIZE INFO GATHERING FROM DETAINEES.  EXCEEDED ANNUAL MBO BY 39%. INCREASED EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT SCORES BY 17%"

The whole Haspel for the CIA job underscores the art of hiring the candidate who's operated in tough backgrounds.  We value people who have been in tough environments who have done tough things, but at some point they get branded to the extent we might not be able to hire them.  

You've ran an outsourced call center?  Hey, you might be the gal to help us get more accountability and rigor in our "customer success" center (code for call center with no discipline).

Wait, you spent 3 years in Bangladesh developing sources of information and you can't provide the address? 

We're going to have to get back to you about this position. [Says something generic about keeping resume in system if something good comes up]

 


Merging In Heavy Traffic On Your Commute: A Guide

Rant time people - This topic will be emotional for many of you - Merging on your way to work.

There are rules. You're antisocial and a bit of a moron if you don't follow the rules. Merge

Let's do this:

  1. If traffic is moving, you don't necessary owe anyone the ability to merge if they're at a standstill.  If you're moving at anything above 10mph, you're doing a disservice to anyone behind you by stopping and letting someone merge that was completely stopped.  That's their problem and the problem of the traffic planners.
  2. That being said, if you're moving at 10 mph or below, the right merge activity is to allow one car in front of you before you proceed.  If everyone allows one car in, we'll get this thing done and everyone will be fine.
  3. If you're behind the person I let in, DO NOT THINK THAT I'M PREPARED TO LET YOU IN TOO. I'm not.  Don't be that guy.
  4. IF you're approaching the people trying to merge, a light flash is the right way to tell them you're a human being and you're going to let them in.  They've got two seconds to get going, or you should move.  They've gotta be alert.
  5. If someone allows you to merge from a standstill, THE CLUTCH MOVE IS TO ALWAYS GIVE THEM A WAVE WHERE THEY CAN SEE IT.  You know they didn't have to do it. They did.  Much respect as indicated by the wave.  PRO TIP:  Don't put a single finger up - it can be misunderstood.

Are we good? Can everyone chill the #### out and follow the rules?  

Cool.  I'll be attacking other important work-related guides in the future. Be sure to see this one on the rules for holding the elevator for others approaching.


WEBINAR: I GOT YOUR TEXT: 5 Ways Smart HR Pros & Recruiters Use Technology and Communication Style to Close More Candidates

OK, stay with me here HR friends...

It’s never been harder to gain the attention of the best candidates on the recruiting trail. After all, we are in peak economic cycle, the best candidates are gainfully/happily employed, and it’s easy for them to ignore your pitch for the open positions you’re working.

Never fear, the gang at Fistful of Talent (my other blog) is here to help. If you’re not getting FOTcanvasthe response rate you’d like on your initial candidate outreach, join us April 24th at 1pm ET/Noon CT, 10am PT for “I GOT YOUR TEXT: 5 Ways Smart HR Pros and Recruiters Use Technology and Communication Style to Close More Candidates,” and we’ll hit you with the following goodies:

A rundown on how the smartest HR pros and recruiters are bringing Text/SMS and other tech platforms to their game to provide the immediacy every candidate, generation, and recruiting department craves.

How the best HR pros and recruiters take it a step further and maximize their image by letting technology take care of early stage process and screenings.

How world-class HR pros and recruiters use recruitment marketing elements (from their company and under their individual brand) to show candidates they are a “recruiter of choice”

Why the best HR pros and recruiters never forgot to spend time looking great on more analog tools – voice mail, email – and a plan to stay connected with candidates between offer acceptance and start date.

The hot economy we’re living in means it’s hard to get the attention of the candidates you need. Join us on April 24th for “I GOT YOUR TEXT: 5 Ways Smart HR Pros and Recruiters Use Technology and Communication Style to Close More Candidates” and we’ll show you how to interrupt the pattern and get the talent you need for your open reqs.

REGISTER NOW BY CLICKING THIS LINK!!!


POOL OR THE POND: When Candidates Insist On Coming To The Office - But You Just Want a Phone Call...

You've been there if you recruit for a living or as part of your role.

You make contact with a candidate to set up a conversation.  The candidate is really friendly, maybe even a little too frisky.  He/she wants to come into the office to have a conversation - it's like they just got out of a sales/career seminar and have been told they need face to face conversations to break through the slump they're in related to finding a job.

You have more experience than that. You know that having them in before you determine whether they are a potential fit over the phone is a sucker's play.

Still they push to come in.  You deflect and encourage them to take the phone call without dismissing them entirely.

I call this the "Pool or the Pond" moment from a classic scene with Billy Murray and Chevy Chase in Caddyshack (note, the aggressive candidate would be Carl, you are Ty - see diaglog below):

Carl: But, seriously, no b.s...if you ever want to rap or just get weird with somebody...You know...buddies.
Ty: I'll drop by. You drop by my place any time.
Carl: What's your address? You're on Briar, right?
Ty: Briar, yeah. Number 2.
Carl: Do you have a pool?
Ty: A pool and a pond. A pond would be good for you. Natural spring water.
Carl: Anything would be good.

The pool is what the candidate wants - a live visit to your office.  The pond is what you want - a phone call to make sure you're not dealing with someone that can't do the job or fit what you need - before you have to offer them a Fresca and an hour of your life.

The pond would be good for you - Natural spring water and all... 

Classic video below - email subscribers click through for the video.


Gary V. on Negative Glassdoor Reviews at VaynerMedia...

"Jonestown on Vitamin Water"

-anonymous Glassdoor reviewer on life at Vaynermedia...

--------------------------

Admit it.  You read that quote from a reviewer on Glassdoor and thought, "yep, that could be one of our disgruntled ex-employees on Glassdoor, but they aren't that witty."  

Glassdoor is an interesting beast.  It used to be that it was all disgruntled people you fired reviewing you on Glassdoor, but that's no longer the case.  The review economy via Trip Advisor, Yelp and 1,000 other review sites has normalized who reviews you and other industries in the smartphone era.

I found the video below from VaynerMedia CEO Gary V - a noted thought leader in the digital and entrepreneurial space - which finds him digging deep on his company's Glassdoor reviews.  His company is a hard charging company and he's a hard charging leader.

Find the VaynerMedia home page on Glassdoor by clicking here - overall rating of 3.0 and 46% of reviewers approve of CEO.  That means Gary V is polarizing (duh if you know him) and the culture he's built is polarizing as well.

Video below, email subscribers click through if you can't see the player.  Worth your time as you'll find a 5-minute video talking about the mindset of the Glassdoor reviewer, his refusal to ask existing employees for positive reviews and his hope that those who left scathing reviews got the poison out of their system and are ready to move forward.

Gold - take a look, you won't regret.

 

 

  VaynerMediaGlassdoor