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...


VIDEO: 5 Presentation Tips for HR Pros Who Hate Giving Presentations...

Let's face it, most of you hate to present.  Those of you that have to present occasionally tolerate it.  Those of you that fear it avoid it like the plague, right?

I think there's a couple of things you can do to get better at presentations, have some fun and most importantly, be viewed as a better than average slide jockey.

Check out the video I did below for AXEX on 5 Presentation Tips for HR Pros Who Hate Giving Presentations.  Next time you have to present, try one of these ideas - I think you'll see more interaction and take some of the pressure off of yourself.

It's four 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) 


Amazon's Getting Ready to Crush Another Industry Near You (aka Call Center Services Killer)

When you think about how the business world is changing and how those changes affect the workforce and talent issues, a good place to look first is Amazon.

First, the great marketplace in the sky made shopping online easy.  Then, it made shopping online preferable for many to shopping locally in a store through it's bundle of value called Amazon Prime. Amazon_one1

In the background, it's a been a hub of innovation through it's rollout of corporate services (look up Amazon Web Services to see how it's crushing cloud competitors) and consumer products alike (Kindle, Alexa).  It's so into investing for the future and innovation that it basically keeps it's profitability at zero by reinvesting all earnings into forward-looking ventures (click that link to see the chart).

Sometimes we forget that the advances cause big shifts in the workforce.  The giant sucking sound you hear is the slow implosion of the retail sector, with a lot of jobs going with it.

Next up after retail?  How about Amazon rolling up the call center industry?  More from GeekWire:

"Amazon Web Services is developing a suite of cloud-based tools to sell to enterprises that would help them manage their call centers, based on technology the online commerce giant developed for its own retail call centers, according to a report from The Information. 

According to the report, citing a person briefed on the plans, the programs will incorporate Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa to answer some questions on the phone as well as via text message. The report claims the service will also employ Lex, a chatbot building service that uses the same deep-learning technology as Alexa, and text-to-speech program Polly. All these aspects together paint the picture of a suite of tools that allows customers to build their own customer service programs using bots and voice control with the ability to learn and adapt to specific industries.

The Information reports that the new products could be announced as soon as mid-March and could jolt the call center software industry. It’s a market that features many players such as Seattle-based Spoken, as well as other companies like Cisco Systems, Avaya and Genesys.

Amazon Web Services has been in the news a lot lately for new products that it has announced and others it is considering. Amazon’s cloud service arm is reportedly considering bundling its email, file storage, and video conferencing apps into a productivity suite that would compete with Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365."

If there's any good news in this for current call center outsourcers, it's that Amazon seems intent on owning the technology part of the call center business model rather than owning actual call centers.  Of course, at one time it didn't have any interest in the shipping business either, and it's now getting ready to ramp up it's own fleet of planes and hub.  

Thanks for the memories, Fed Ex and UPS.  I'm sure Amazon will name a conference room after you to commemorate what you meant to each other at one time.

The good news for HR?  Amazon doesn't seem to have any interest in rolling up the HR industry.

#yet

 


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.

 

 


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.

 

 


The Best and Worst Markets For HR Managers....

Had a client at Kinetix ask me last week where in the US I would build out a presence if my goal was to hire capable software developers with limited competition.  Made me think that would be an interesting question for HR positions as well.

With that in mind, here's the best and worst markets to be an HR Manager in America, with data pulled from Wanted Analytics...

Hardest Markets to Fill the HR Manager Role (These will have the highest salaries combined with a limited candidate supply and high competition - Which means conditions are optimum for HR Managers in these markets):

Fort Collins-Loveland, CO 

Columbia, SC       

York-Hanover, PA              

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC         

Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro—Franklin, TN     

Wilmington, NC  

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA       

Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO      

Dayton, OH         

Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA 

Easiest Markets to Fill the HR Manager Role (These will have the lowest salaries combined with a strong candidate supply and limited competition - Which means conditions aren't great for HR Managers in these markets):

Charlottesville, VA             

Springfield, MA   

Peoria, IL              

Duluth, MN         

Boise City-Nampa, ID        

South Bend-Mishawaka, IN             

Colorado Springs, CO         

Visalia-Porterville, CA       

Tucson, AZ       

Surprised?  Hit me with a note and tell me more in the comments....