What I Hate About SharkTank...and How to Deal With It...

And as you might suspect, it's linked to leadership and talent.

I love SharkTank as a show - when I'm not sure what to watch, especially with my teenage sons around, SharkTank is the go- Shark-tank-to.  It's entertaining, educational and conversation-provoking with my sons able to think about deals, negotiation, etc.

But there's one thing that drives me crazy:

I absolutely hate it when a shark makes and offer and tells the target he/she has to decide RIGHT NOW!!!  Without entertaining other offers...

I know what you're thinking.  "That's why they call it SharkTank, KD."  "Grow up, KD."  "Sucks to be them, KD."

You're right.  BUT - the very things people like Mark Cuban value most in a partner are the things they're trying to bully them out of.  Standing up for yourself - keeping deals/offers afloat why you shop for something better, etc.

The sharks in SharkTank would never be bullied like that.  But, they have people in front of them that value their involvement, want to go away with a deal, etc.  I'd say over half the time the strategy works.  The other half of the time the entrepreneur fails to deal with the expiring offer/bullying tactic in an effective way.

That's why it's about time for the pitching entrepreneurs to wise up and have a strategy to deal with the bully.  Here's the strategy they should use whenever a Shark makes them an offer and tells them it goes away unless they accept immediately without hearing other offers:

1--Thank them for the offer.

2--Remind them of the type of partner they want. "Mr. Wonderful, I know you're going to expect me to negotiate for you/us if we become partners, so please allow me to hear any other offers.  Since you were first, I'lll guarantee I'll come back to you and give you the right of counteroffer/first refusal if someone else makes an offer that's better than yours."

3--Proceed.  If they go away, they go away.

4--If you proceed and there aren't any other offers or you want the original offer, come back to the Shark who tried to use the bullying tactic and say, "Mr. Wonderful, your offer expired and I told you why I wanted to do what I did.  I'd love it if you came back in with that offer.  While I didn't heed your ultimatum, you now know I'm a partner that can seek the best deal for our business if I'm in a environment that requires negotiation."

I'm shocked more people aren't prepared for this tactic when they appear on SharkTank.   

The only time entrepreneurs who appear shouldn't use this talk track is when the Shark gives them 100% of what they asked for, or when 3 or more Sharks are already out.  That's common sense. 

But if a Shark gives you a lower than expected offer (as the first or second one in) and tries to bully you to accept right then and there, have some spine people.  Be prepared and use the talking track above in your own words.  It effectively turns the energy against the Shark and forces them to publicly confront what they want in a partner.

Oh, and never take an offer from Mr. Wonderful. 


Is Behavioral Interviewing Dead? The Internet Said So...

Deep thoughts today, people... Deep thoughts.  

Was at a conference last week and heard a keynoter basically proclaim the following (I'm paraphrasing):

"Behavioral interviewing is dead.  Just google the term and you'll find thousands of pages designed to help candidates beat behavioral interviewing."

OK.  Let me break that general thought process down a bit.  There's one word that comes to mind when I hear a thought leader proclaim that behavioral interviewing is dead with that logic as the reason. Rationalize

Rationalization.

People are tying to help candidates beat behavioral interviewing!!  That means it's ineffective as an interviewing technique, right?

Um, no.

When behavioral interviewing doesn't work well, it's because you haven't giving your managers the training they need to be successful.  Actually you might have given them the training.  What you haven't done is given them the gift of failure.

For anything related to manager training, failure=role play as part of your training.  You've got to give them real practice using the skills you're teaching them.  If they don't fail as a part of your training, there's ZERO chance they're going to try and use the skill in the real world.

If you don't force people to fail in your training, they'll never be effective in their real lives as managers.

Is behavioral interviewing the end all/be all?  No.  But it's an effective way to drill down on candidates (no hypotheticals! What did you do specifically in that situation?  Not the team - you!) if you give your managers the training they need.

I'm cool if you don't like behavioral interviewing - shine on, you crazy diamond.  Just don't fail to give managers what they need and then blame it on the Internet.  That's called rationalization not to train.

PS - If you're in the market for cool training your managers will actually like, check out my training series called BOSS - Leadership Skills for the Modern Manager.  It's full of stuff that will engage your managers and give them the skills (and initial failure) they need to get better!  Bonus - below is the first video we show as part of our behavioral interviewing training - featuring Vince Vaughn and Owen Willson (email subscribers click through for the video).


5 Ways To Determine If You'll Be Leading an HR Function in 2022...

The world is changing, and the people paying the bills want different things from HR.  Here's five things to look inward at and determine if you've got what it takes to lead an HR team and be a viable partner to the business leaders who will hire you in 2022. Remember, I'm talking about leading HR, not participating in running it:

1. You've got a mack daddy processor upstairs.  Meaning you can take large amounts of information in and make quick, accurate decisions.  Not IQ.  Speed with accuracy. 

2. You're as assertive as the salespeople in your organization.  Great HR people have always needed to be assertive, but the need for comfort with confrontation continues to escalate.  Bonus points if you can sell.

3. A comfort with no rules at all.  HR people have always been good at creating structure, but HR leaders are being asked to value structure less as we get further into this century.  You might hire people to do that for the function, but valuing structure over figuring stuff out on the fly for future HR leaders?  Things change too rapidly these days for the old status quo to stick.  High challenge, slightly ADHD HR leaders are on the rise.

4. You are organized enough at the leadership level to execute.  You'd think low rules means low details.  Actually, low rules with mid to high level detail orientation is in vogue.  It's called the ability dream AND to execute, baby.

5. You've got skin like a fat, old rhino (low sensitivity).  When you receive bad news or the rare glimmer of negative feedback, you're down for about 30 seconds and then you're moving on.  Companies are increasingly looking for HR leaders who aren't afraid to fail.  Failure is a necessary byproduct of attempting to add value.  Safe sucks increasingly these days.

Want an easy way to to score it?  Say yes or no to whether you really deliver each of 5 features, add up the yes votes and use this key:

+5 - Welcome to the club.  If you are who you say you are, I'd like your resume for my clients, even if you're 28 freaking years old.

+4 - Yes, please.  You missed on one thing - you're still a player.

+3 - I'm going to call you an HR "citizen".  Good enough to get what the business line owners are talking about. Missing a DNA strand or two, but servicalble.

+2 - The world needs ditch-diggers too.  There's still something for you to do in most HR departments with any size, but it's not leading the function.

+1 - Darwin called. He said the kids these days are growing the HR equivalent of opposable thumbs, and I don't see any thumb buds on the sides of your hand stumps.  Too bad.

That's my list of the behavioral traits I see in play as we move toward the middle of the decade.  Will there still be +1 and +2 HR leaders?  Yes.  

Will the replacements for those leaders look like their predecessors?  My intel says no way.  


What World Class HR Looks Like...

Was working on a webinar deck this morning related to this title. Here's what I came up with, take a look and let me know what you think.  I'll share the webinar link when it goes live....

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WHAT WORLD CLASS HR LOOKS LIKE

You know them – they’re the HR pros that make it look easy, flowing from meeting to meeting with style and grace – but not in an empty way.  These HR pros look and sound great, but actually get things done as well.  They’re loved by their peers on the leadership team, routinely talked about with equal parts fear and admiration, and seem to love what they do.

What makes these people a part of the ruling class in HR?  I've got 15 attributes of the world class HR pro, broken down across the following DNA characteristics:

--The Ability to Be a Talent Agent – The best HR pros know that getting the best talent is key.  We’ll show you how they do that as an individual recruiter, in how they build a recruiting function and build an employment brand.

--A Knack for Street-Smart People Development – Forgot the training department.  The HR pros we look up to bootstrap their own training resources for both individuals and managers while serving up spend on development based on performance – always taking care of the top performers.

--Financial Chops that Rival PWC – The real players in HR budget with a purpose, are keenly aware of other department’s strengths and weaknesses from a P&L perspective and apply their FTE power in a direct relationship to financial strength and opportunity within the companies they serve.

--A Willingness to Jam All Transactions Down to Their Lowest Possible % - The greatest trick the devil ever played was making humans feel satisfied when they mow the grass.  We’ll show you three ways the best HR pros counter this trait of humanity by ensuring the value of their team isn’t linked to transactions.

--The Ability to Say Yes AND the Skill to Negotiate Like a VP of Sales – We saved the best for last.  Top HR pros know how to negotiate – we’ll show you two ways they excel at negotiation and cover how the ability to say yes inside your company is key to this strategy.

Does that sound like any HR pro you know?  I hope so!


The Elon Musk Test For Whether You Deserve a Raise....

You're going to love this one...

In his 2015 book, "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future," Ashlee Vance shares the story of how Musk stopped working with his longtime executive assistant in early 2014. Elon musk

According to Vance, the assistant, Mary Beth Brown, asked Musk for a significant raise after she'd been working with him for 12 years. In response, Musk told Brown to take two weeks off, during which he would assume her responsibilities and see whether she was critical to his success.

When Brown returned, Musk told her he didn't need her anymore.  

Whoops.  

OK, couple of things.  While Musk generally is on the record as saying this book is accurate he strongly denies the reporting of this encounter.  Brown also denies the reporting that she lost her job through the rigid efficiency study conducted by Musk.  Also, after Brown was no longer in the role, Musk says he needed the position, as evidenced by the fact he hired 2-3 specialists (PR, etc.) rather than a generalist executive assistant.

Still, where there's smoke, there's fire.  My take is that Musk probably did consider whether the position still worked for him based on the way his business has changed.

Add this to the list of things to be careful asking for.  The most common error employees make is taking an offer to their boss expecting a counteroffer.  The boss, rather than countering, wishes the employee luck in the new position.

Want a raise?  Interesting.  How about you take a couple of days off while I determine how vital you are to the organization?

Elon Musk.  The most interesting man in the world.


VIDEO: How Sleazy Lawyers Trap HR Pros in Depositions...

If there's one thing HR Pros hate, it's taking on unnecessary risk.  After all, you're the one that thinks about legal things, and more often than not, you're the one left to answer for what happened when the lawyers come in.  Could that by why there's so much CYA going on in our profession?

One of the things I've never thought about in my years writing as an HR pro is how lawyers on the other side (i.e., the ones that are suing your company) approach a deposition. That's why this post by John Hollon over at Fistful of Talent is a must share.  John found a piece of video gold from an employee-side attorney that gives the playbook on his general game plan to take down HR pros in depositions.

That's right - the complete game plan on how he's going to circle around and trap you, formatted neatly in 5 things all layers should do when taking a deposition from HR. Watch-better-call-saul-online

I can't share the video since it's hosted by the firm and not on YouTube, but below is John Hollon's rundown of what the video says. Click through to see the video and also see John's analysis as a non-HR pro who's covered our industry at a high level for years:

Yes, I think HR would love to see how employment attorneys plan to wring information out of them.

In the video, Lawrence Bohm talks about the five (5) things lawyers should do when taking a deposition from HR:

  1. Get the Goods. From Bohm: “Instead of focusing on the bad things your client allegedly did, always start your deposition with the human resource professional, to have them point out the good things that your client has done. Have them go through the performance evaluations were they talk about your client doing a good job. Have them explain that putting an employee as “meets” or “exceeds expectations” is an indication that the employee is doing a good job. … Make the human resource professional agree with you on the record about the good things that your client did to contribute to the workplace.”
  2. Paper Policies. From Bohm: “Almost every workplace has policies but they don’t follow them. This is a gold mine for HR depositions. … Have the human resource manager confirm that these rules existed; and then have the human resources manager confirm that the rules were not followed. Then point out in a kung fu fashion that these rules could have been followed, but somebody made a choice not to follow the employer’s workplace rules.”
  3. Core Values. From Bohm: “The human resource professional more than anybody else in the business should know what that business’ core values are. Core values are really important to juries and HR should know them. If they don’t know what the core values are, what an amazing testimony you get when you ask the person in charge of 1000 employees, “What are the company’s core values?” and they look back at you say, “I don’t know.”
  4. “It wasn’t me!” Syndrome. From Bohm: “Take advantage of the “It wasn’t me!” syndrome that seems to plague every human resource manager I have ever met. And it’s because it usually is true! The human resources department is trying to keep these managers from doing very stupid and malicious things. And when the case happens where they couldn’t stop management from doing that stupid thing, the human resources professional is always ready to tell you under oath, “It wasn’t me!” You want to take advantage of that finger pointing.”
  5. Prevention. From Bohm: “This is the kryptonite of every human resource witness I have ever deposed. It’s on the subject of prevention. This is your ultimate kung fu power. Talk about what the human resources manager could have done, should have done, or did not do, to prevent the illegal conduct from happening in the first place.”

The bottom line to this other than it feels sleazy to everyone on our side?  You can't protect yourself from all of this, but awareness of what the game plan is by you can raise your awareness and probably save you from looking like a total moron - because you're not.

Can sleazy lawyers still take what you say out of context?  Of course - but when you're forced to give details that make you or the company look bad, being aware of what the other side is after can ensure you get context into the record of the deposition.  

And getting context into the record is something that might save your reputation - or job.


A CHRO Reader Sounds Off: Have HR Vendors Lost Their Ever-Loving Minds?

If you choose to click through and read this, you have experienced a large uptick in the volume and aggressiveness level of pitches from HR vendors.  I could say more to introduce this post, but the best path is just to allow a CHRO friend of mine tell you how he feels.

"Dan" is a CHRO for a large employer in the US with thousands and thousands of employees.  He's a good Sales memesand talented guy is not moved to overreaction.  He sent me and a few other friends this note last Friday to say WTF related to what he's experiencing related to outreach from HR vendors... I changed the names to protect the source and the vendor, see his note and enjoy:

Fellow “Really Cool” HR Friends,

Well, you may object to my sneaky inclusion of myself amongst the hipsters, but I digress . . .

So, my Friday RANT which has been building for years . . . the NUMBER OF ACTUAL SALES (or even sales visits) TO ME THAT HAVE RESULTED FROM INITIAL “MARKETING” like you see below?  Free craft beer if you guess correctly . . .

ZERO.

Who are these people?  I guess they’re at least getting a sniff or two from maybe a .001% population who just cannot say no to a “live” sales call when they read the Oh-So-Compelling email.  But it still bewilders (read: angers) me that the most likely millennial group of sales types have deluded themselves into thinking that with a carpet bomber email blast – from an email list that the “receiver” DID NOT approve – will endear them to the prospect.

Besides, I know who’s behind the “keyboard” on sales emails like John from Schwing below, which now forces me to hit the delete button nigh on 25 times a day, or if I’m feeling Catholic guilt, spend 30 seconds (it adds up) replying “no thanks” politely.  It’s a lovable millennial, who hit send on the mass marketing email from his smartphone while he’s on break at the violent Berkeley protests against free speech (if said speech happens to be lean right).

I have a new personal rule . . . if you prospect me with inane “first approaches” like the below email (and his Co, Schwing, I’m sure is just swell), I will permanently black list you from ever being granted a live audience with me or my team.

Harsh?  No.  Short-sighted?  Probably, but the B.S. marketing has gone too far.  You want bi’ness?  Hold a happy hour in our fair city, and pony up to our SHRM chapter for access.  Let us confirm that you’re not a Watson computer “marketing” to us.  That you actually drink beer or wine. 

And the folks who sell the contact lists should be publicaly hanged in the the park here on our campus so that there’s a good view until the bodies decompose.

Oh, by the way, HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!  And get off of my lawn.

That's an epic rant.  And correct.  His frustration is felt by most of you, who note an uptick in the number of emails, but also in the number and brazenness of the follow ups.  My favorite follow ups to the cited initial emails and calls include:

  1. Did you get my note?  
  2. Did I make you mad?
  3. Please choose one of the following related to why you haven't responded (always includes a playful or fun answer.  Schwing!)
  4. PHONE Only - "This is John, I'm calling you back on the message you left me.  Call me back at XXX.XXX.XXXX".

What I love about America is this - anyone can start their own company.  That includes the HR Space.

What I hate about America is this - anyone can start their own company.  That includes the HR Space.

Honk if you feel Dan's pain.  HR vendors, take note. If you're part of the problem, it's probably time to pivot on your approach.

BONUS - including one of my 100 Best All Time Movie Clips for HR - pitch scene from Boiler Room included below (email subscribers click through for the video):


My Intro For A Friend - Tim Sackett - at Halogen TalentSpace Live....

If you read this blog, chances are you're reading The Tim Sackett Project.  If not, you should.  Great writer, good guy, down to earth, etc.  I'm speaking with Tim at Halogen TalentSpace Live this week and thought you might get a kick out of the speaker's introduction I wrote for him.  Part serious, part tongue-in-cheek.  Enjoy and check him out by clicking here...

Puppies. Hugs. Recruiting. These are the things that make Tim Sackett tick. Sakcett

Tim Sackett is one of the hardest working HR pros in our business.  He grew up in the hard HR shops of Applebee’s and Shopko, mixing HR practice with common sense as he sought to influence Gen X managers more likely to tell their employee to shut up than think about engagement.  He parlayed that experience into a great career in recruiting, first in big healthcare before landing as the president of HRU Technical, a leading provider of contract engineering and technical talent.

A marketer as well as an HR guy, he named his blog The Tim Sackett Project – how the hell did we not see that coming?  Tim also writes for Fistful of Talent, where his first two posts submitted included 1) an opus on something crapy like lowering turnover and 2) a throwaway piece on “where surplus corporate logo clothing goes to die”.  Kris told him the logo piece is what 95% of the audience wants and to never write about the first topic listed again - the rest is history as Tim’s become a sought-after writer and speaker.

In his spare time, Tim organizes pictures of his dog “Scout” and wonders why so many people bend at the hips when hugging to avoid body contact.  If you hug him, just know he’s judging you.  You’re probably judging him as well.

We're up at Halogen in a Tuesday debate -  5 talent topics in classic point/counterpoint style, then on Wednesday we'll do a presentation I originally called "First, Kill All the Managers", which the smart folks at Halogen wisely asked me to water down a bit.

See my epic takedown of Tim that went along with the picture you see in this post by clicking here.


The Increasing Tinder (For Vendors) Vibe of LinkedIn...

When I accept your LinkedIn invite, I'm not swiping right.  I'm just doing something slightly less than giving you a business card.

I use LinkedIn a lot.  I don't put myself out there as a Lion, an open networker, etc, mainly because I'm not even sure what those Linkedin things mean.  But I do know that LinkedIn is traditionally a great tool to network and make sure you know who people are, read things they share, etc.

LinkedIn has always had a bit of a meat market feel to it.  I think that's to be expected based on the amount of career games/recruiting that goes on across the tool/solution.  You're connecting with people for a reason - mainly because you think there's a reciprocal benefit to that connection - they can help you at a later point or vice versa.

But I'm starting to notice a HUGE uptick in outright "I'm here to sell you my service/solution" behavior from vendors.  As with recruiting, the vendor element has always been around LinkedIn - but I'm not sure it's ever been as quick to the pitch as it is now.

Can you at least say hi and thank me for connecting before you drop your pants?

The increasingly aggressive pitch goes like this:

  1. You get an invite from someone who's a founder or biz dev professional at a company that sells something in your space.
  2. You accept the invite, because you're an open networker and hey, vendors are people too.
  3. 10 minutes after you accept that invite, you receive a note back from the new vendor contact with a not only an deeper explanation of who they are, but a call to action and a request for a meeting.
  4. You wonder why the hell you accepted that invite.

I'm OK with being connected to vendors, but wow - the percentage of vendors that do what I describe above used to be 10%, now it's 60-70%.  It makes it hard for me to accept these types of invites from vendors if I think the outlined behavior is what comes next. 

LinkedIn has always paid light lip service to telling you that you should only accept invites from people you know.  But let's be real, their network effect is only in play if you accept as many connections as possible.

The Trojan Horse of Corporate America was LinkedIn selling itself to companies and HR pros watching the flock as "professional networking".  Turns out, it was a resume database.  Gotcha!

Now, the Trojan Horse of white collar America is LinkedIn telling you as an individual that it is "professional networking".  Turns out, it's lead generation for bad business development people.  Or maybe good ones- depends on where you sit.

LinkedIn could stop the madness I describe above in a very simple way.  If you invite me and I accept, but you try to sell me your service in the first __ months of our connection (you tell me what's reasonable), the connection gets voided or you lose the ability to invite people to connect for __ months (again, you tell me what's reasonable).

But that will never happen because LinkedIn isn't professional networking.  I was cool with that when it was recruiting.  I'm less cool with it now that it has bit me in the ass and everyone wants to sell me something within 10 minutes of accepting their invitation to connect.

When I accept your LinkedIn invite, I'm not swiping right.  This is how people start deciding to stop using the tool on a daily basis.


Sucking Up to HR Is Like Tipping Your Blackjack Dealer...

Can sucking up to HR protect you from layoffs?

No. Sucking up needs to be in this order:

Client -> Boss -> Boss’s staff -> Accounting -> (50 other things) -> HR

Kissing HR ass is like tipping your blackjack dealer. They can’t cheat for you even if they wanted to.

OK - I wish that was mine. It's from a comment on this string at Gawker about how Twitter fired 300+ employees in 2015 via email. And by removing them from Twitter.

Comments are better than the post sometimes...