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October 2009

Leaks, Snitches and Company Responses in the Age of Transparency...

It's scary out there folks.  Remember the old days when people had to pick up the phone and identify themselves to a human being in order to file a complaint on your company culture?  Well...I don't remember those days either, but I'm told they used to exist, and it was SWEET.  Companies held all the power.

Then this web thing happened.  Then the web took performance enhancing drugs and became social media and...BAM!  Everyone's an editor, everyone's a content providerSteve phillips and if things go wrong or are messed up in your company....everyone's a snitch via glassdoor or just dropping an anonymous email to their favorite blogger.

Can't we stop these employees from being so transparent?  Can't we put the genie back in the bottle?

Probably not.  But if the leaks or full disclosure from your company gets out of hand, you can always put out a memo saying that those who talk about your culture in an unauthorized way are subject to the "immediate termination" provision in your handbook.  More on such a note that recently went out at ESPN from Deadspin:

"A Message from George Bodenheimer

Top Story 10/23/09 @ 4:19 PM

ESPN is clearly one of the most dynamic companies in the world and we take great pride in our work. Our success often leads to media stories about our business and people. Those stories are often very positive, but not always.

During the last few days, we have received a fair amount of unwanted media coverage, including a series of Internet posts where the editor expressly stated that many of these items were based on rumor and that they had not attempted to verify their accuracy. Compounding this issue is my disgust that some of our own unidentified employees are leaking materials to the media thereby contributing in a significant way to these destructive efforts. As you know, we have policies that govern how and who should be in contact with the media regarding the company. I feel it is very important to make clear to all employees that violating these policies is a serious offense which can, and very likely will, result in the immediate termination of employment of the offending employee.

ESPN has a hard working, creative culture that produces outstanding content every day. Our culture and our people are the keys to our continuing success. I also want to reaffirm our commitment to maintaining a workplace where all employees have the opportunity to grow, are free from harassment of any kind and are respectful and positive toward each other.

If anyone feels that we are not living up to our commitment or that your work environment, either in our offices or at any remote location, is of concern, you can and should bring that to the attention of your supervisor, your HR business partner, our HR Leader Paul Richardson, Ed Durso or to me personally.

Our mission is to serve sports fans. Our values call for us to show care and respect for all employees. I want to assure you the leadership of ESPN is committed to achieving both."

The memo is in response to Deadspin getting tons of info regarding the Steve Phillips' saga directly from tips originating from the ESPN campus.  Read this on that situation if you haven't already.  ESPN did a nice job of working the "environment free of harassment" language in.  Is the threat of termination regarding leaks fair or foul?

I'm not sure.  Regardless of your view, you can bet the leaks will continue in the age of transparency.  It's a brave new world for companies out there...

Calculation of Bad Turnover - Don't Forget to Count Your Hiring Misses, You Sandbagger..

I'm not trying to get all high and mighty on you by bringing this up, but…

You're a sandbagger of sorts when it comes to calculating "Good vs. Bad" Turnover.  That's right - I called you a sandbagger.  An appeaser.  One who sucks up at the expense of the truth.Sandbagger

You wowed them when you broke out the cool kid metric and started reporting “Good vs. Bad” Turnover.  Nice job, Billy.  But at the end of the day, you were a hack.  Just like the administrative hacks who came before you.

What’s good vs. bad turnover?  Let’s define them like you did for your Sr.Team:

--Good Turnover – Includes all terminations that included employees who you’re generally happy to see go. This would include all the people you fire involuntarily, but also includes voluntary terms involving employees with performance, behavior and fit problems, and any other criteria where you look at a voluntary term and say, “that’s probably for the best”.

--Bad Turnover – Assuming you would never fire someone you don’t want to lose, Bad Turnover includes all voluntary terms where you say, “Man, I wish we weren’t losing them”.

You just went upstream and changed the game.  You had them patting you on the back with your Good vs. Bad Turnover slide.  There's just this one little problem, you sell out.  In fact, you're such a sell-out that Bob Seger called to personally thank you for providing the world with a bigger example of a sell out than him licensing "Like a Rock" to Chevrolet and subjecting us to 2 straight years of the same ad.

Here's what you did - you failed to classify every new hire who left or was asked to leave in the first 12 months of their career with your company as BAD TURNOVER.  Don't talk.  Don't rationalize.  If you hired someone and they were gone in the first 12 months of their tenure, it's BAD TURNOVER.  You missed.  The hiring manager missed.  The employee had faulty expectations when they joined.  You couldn't train them.  Marge from accounting freaked them out with that scab thing.

Whatever.  Doesn't matter.  If they left in the first 12 months, It's BAD TURNOVER.  Stop acting like it's not.

10 Ways The NBA Is Like Your HR Career....

Let's face it - there aren't that many readers of this blog who are fans of the NBA (pro hoops for the uninitiated) like I am, so writing anything with "NBA" in the title is risky from a standpoint of watching readers walk to the door and hit "unsubscribe".

Still, it's a personal as well as a professional blog.  With that in mind, screw it - I'm writing how I feel andChris-anderson-birdman with the NBA season starting up on Tuesday night, I bring you these 10 ways life in the NBA is like your HR career.  Enjoy, you closet NBA fans:

10.  The Birdman works for you and you get complaints daily.  Sure, he's got tats everywhere, and once had a 3K crack habit.  He can rebound so he stays.  Plus he's clean and works hard.  Random drug tests take care of the rest, right?

9.  You've got a salary cap as well,, and based on the economy, like a lot of NBA teams you aren't using everything in the budget either...

8.  You keep hearing that the best candidates are taking less money to go with a proven winner.  That's OK - you don't need an attitude like Rasheed Wallace on the 4th floor anyway...

7.  That last visa you sponsored didn't work out so well.  Kind of like my man Sasha coming off the bench for the Lakers...

6.  You don't work for a company, you work for a King who is the founder and so wealthy he does anything he wants regardless of your advice.  At least he's not in the lunchroom in a t-shirt yelling about no calls like Mark Cuban... Wait - it's worse than that?  Nevermind...

5. Your top salesperson just had photos of him, on a company junket,; show up on Facebook like the Miami Heat's Michael Beasley.  Wait - it's OK - he said he didn't drink from any of the bottles on the table and the lady sleeping on the sectional next to him is his life coach...

4. You were proud of your city and your plush headquarters, then the C-level recruit you had to have slapped you in the face because his wife said your city wasn't European enough.  Didn't you tell her about the reputation for great BBQ?  I mean c'mon...

3.  Moonlighting is now accepted in your company.  You saw the light when one of your customer service managers started making some wholesome CD's on the side. Seems like a nice kid...

2.  Everyone at your company is the same.  See?  The CEO even sits with the team - if you squint, you'll barely notice the fact that his chair is elevated 11 inches higher than everyone else's...

1. Your VP of Engineering just married Khloe Kardashian.  That's not going to cause a focus issue, right?

Tip it off, because this is the league for which I'll stay up to watch meaningless games until 1am.  It's all about the culture, right?

Spurs win the championship, over the Cavs in 6.  Bank it!!

Spice Up Your Harassment Training: Screen "Fatal Attraction", then Share This Letter and 911 Call...

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that the Office Hook Up = Lifetime Threat of Being Leveraged as we took a look at the Letterman case.  The point was that if you choose to do office hookups, you've got that right as an American, BUT you'll give someone leverage against you if they ever need it.  That's just good ol' American politics, workplace style.

Of course, I realize that probably didn't cause any behavior changes anywhere.  With that in mind, I'm backSteve phillips with materials you can easily insert (I'm really not joking) into your Harassment training to bring it home to everyone, especially the guys. Just screen the relevant clips of Fatal Attraction, then distribute the timeline of events that is going to cause ESPN to fire on-air personality Steve Phillips.  More from Deadspin

"Reports out of ESPN headquarters this morning say that "Baseball Tonight" analyst Steve Phillips is on a "leave of absence," after an affair with a 22-year-old production assistant turned into a special edition DVD release of Fatal Attraction.

According to the New York Post's rather lengthy deconstruction of events, Phillips had a brief fling with a fellow ESPN employee named Brooke Hundleythis summer. He ended it rather quickly, which did not go over very well. She allegedly began harassing Phillips, his wife and even his teenage son—who she friended on Facebook by pretending to be a classmate, and then grilled him for personal information about the family.

The final straw came when Phillips' wife arrived at her home to see a strange woman coming down her driveway and getting into a car (which she promptly smashed into a pole while trying to make a quick getaway.) The woman had left a very creepy letter in the front door, addressed to Phillips wife. The full original letter is available on the Post website[PDF]"

If you really want to go shock and awe in your harassment training, just play this - TMZ has the 911 call from Phillips' wife after Hundley showed up at their house. Ugh...I'm serious when I say this - do your normal stale harassment training, then print the post article, the letter from the woman, then end the training with the 911 call.  Have them sign your acknowledgment while they listen to the 911 call.

Then say, "Don't be Steve Phillips".  Then drop your microphone and walk out of the room like Randy Watson, leaving the stage in Coming to America.  Watch the clip here for the how to...

Vetting the Candidate's Spouse For Fun and Profit...

So, you're a seasoned pro and know what you can and can't ask in an interview.  Good for you - you're a legal eagle.

Ever drift into a conversation about spouses with a candidate?  Happens all the time, especially withLiedetector1 candidates you've developed a good conversation flow with who are...well...married.

Let's hope you didn't hear the following:

"Yeah, life with Sheryl has been great, except for":

1. "She's got a life threatening disease that may cause me to miss a year in the near future.  So obviously I like the quality of your medical plan."

2. "That episode where her expense reports were misinterpreted by the authorities.  We had to move to get a fresh start."

3. "The booze. And at times, the pills. It tends to make our family a bit of a roller coaster."

To be fair to HR pros who recruit and hiring managers everywhere, I've heard versions of all of these from candidates during my time as a HR player.  To be fair to me (like you), I didn't ask - I guess I made the candidate comfortable enough where they just told me all this stuff.

What's a HR pro to do?  Be thankful that for most of your positions, vetting the stability and skills of the spouse isn't a requirement, but the higher you go in corporate America, the more it matters. 

More on vetting the spouse from the New York Times:

"IMAGINE the plight of the modern corporate director: you want to find the perfect chief executive to lead your organization, someone with top credentials and impeccable character. You know there is a heavy social component to the job — dinners, fund-raisers, travel — and so there is just one last thing you want to know.

What is the candidate’s spouse like?  It is an all-too-common situation that pits Miss Manners against decades of labor and anti-discrimination law. No, in states like New York, a board of directors cannot even legally ask job candidates if they are married.

But yes, this sort of vetting goes on regularly.

The spouse has always been a silent part of the executive package, with committed partners doing everything from packing overnight bags to throwing client-entertaining dinner parties. Sitcom spouses of the 1950s and 1960s were assumed to be job appendages for their husbands: Lucy cooked and ran the home when she was not trying to horn in on important business meetings, while Samantha on “Bewitched” tried not to cast too many spells on Darrin’s advertising clients.

Today, it is still widely understood that a charming and organized spouse can be a boon to an executive who must rub elbows and raise money. The demands may differ from field to field — in academia, for instance, the spouse may play a different role than in politics, corporate America or the nonprofit world — but in each case it is a big help if the spouse fits in."

Can you imagine having to go to dinner with the spouse of every candidate you hired?  WOW, or as they say in the Hindenburg business, "oh the humanity". 

It's hard enough to get the sign-off on one person as the primary recruiter, so I'm glad the spouse doesn't have to be approved in most circumstances.  Still, if you're a player and bound for that Fortune 500 EVP of HR role, brace yourself - there will be some candidate with spouse dinners in your future. 

Let's just hope he or she doesn't have 3 Kojaks down before you're halfway done with your tea.

(Hat tip to friend of the Capitalist, Meg, for the vine to the NYT story...)

VPs of HR and Jury Duty: The World Thinks I'm An Outlier...

Had jury duty this week, first time in my life.  With that in mind, I joined 200 or so of my peers in a courthouse in Shelby County, Alabama to be divided into jury panels and be considered for inclusion on a jury that would decide whether someone was guilty or not guilty.

The only problem: The world doesn't think I have peers when it comes to Jury Duty.  I don't mean that in aJury_duty high and mighty way, either.

The world thinks I'm part of the unwashed masses when it comes to serving on a jury, an untouchable that can't be trusted to be impartial.  You see, I'm a VP of HR.  I've also got other things in my life that probably make me more toxic to a Defense Attorney than a FOX News reporter at an Obama White House Christmas party.

So Monday was the first day of Jury Duty.  I reported to the courthouse and, through the luck of the draw, was segmented into a panel of 47 citizens from which a jury panel would be struck for this murder trial involving a former Pastor and his wife.  First thing up?  Tell us who you are and what you do:

Me: I'm Kris Dunn, I'm a VP of HR, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Defense and Prosection: (Silent.  No follow up questions.  I suspect one really liked that and one really didn't).

Next up, the prosecution asked their set of questions designed to help them figure out who to strike from the jury so they had their best shot at winning the trial.  The Amercian system at its best. I didn't have to respond to any of their questions, because I didn't have any issues related to their questions that would cause me to be unable to be "fair and impartial".

After lunch, the Defense took the podium for the same purpose - to figure out who to strike to give them the best chance of winning the trial.  It all started going to hell when this question came up:

Defense Attorney: Do any of you have members of your family who work in law enforcement?

Me: (raising hand and called upon) Yes.  My wife's a former prosecutor for the DA's office in this building that's trying this case for the state, and she was in that role for 10 years.

Defense Attorney: I thought I recognized your name and her name when you said who you were married to! (writing notes and smiling..)

Defense Attorney: Thank you, Mr. Dunn. (noticeably absent: the follow-up question that everyone else got - whether, with that background, I could be fair and impartial and serve on the jury.  He didn't care, because I was out...)

Later that afternoon, we were brought back in to watch the strike proceeding, in which the prosecution and defense take turns calling out the ID number of jurors to remove from consideration for the jury.  They go back and forth until only 14 are left, which becomes your jury (12 + 2 alternates).  I happened to figure out my overall number from a general count I made during role call when we were with the overall pool of 200 citizens, and I'm 99% certain that I was the first "strike" for the Defense. 

Kind of like a fantasy football draft.  But the stakes are much higher and you don't get to name a team "Belicheck Hoodies".

Good luck to the jurors who have to decide whether a shooting was an accident or murder.  Makes an employment call as a VP of HR seem like small potatos, doesn't it?

Skipping Seniority and Rewarding High Performers - Darwinian or Genius?

Let's say you have a large group of employees in the same job/position (we'll say more than 10 for the sake of argument, but in manufacturing and call center environments, it could be hundreds).  How do you handle scheduling?  The time-tested way in most environments is to use seniority - the longer you've been at the company, the earlier you get to pick your shift relative to your peers.

That usually meant that the newbies had to work nights and weekends, while the more experienced gotAnn_taylor_450 nights and weekends off.  Pay your dues, talented newbie, and perhaps you'll hang on long enough to get the hours a "normal" person works.  Seems like that usually happens at the 6-12 month mark based on turnover in most environments.

I've been in environments with hundreds of employees in the same position, and we always talked about changing up the scheduled procedure to focus on performance rather than seniority.  The main reason we didn't tweak it was employee relations.  At the end of the day, we didn't want to risk alienating more tenured workers with average performance, which heightens the risk of unions organizing in many shops that fit this scenario.

Of course, there's always someone who's ready to mix it up, which is healthy.  That someone, in this case, is the Ann Taylor retail clothing store, and Knowledge at Wharton gives us the rundown:

"Ann Taylor Stores -- a New York-based retailer of upscale women's clothing -- is using a new computer scheduling system that assigns the busiest and most desirable hours to employees with the strongest sales numbers. Those with less success on the selling floor get far fewer and less desirable hours when new schedules are posted.

While Wal-Mart Stores, Payless ShoeSource and other major retailers have moved to computer-driven scheduling systems that put more workers on the floor at the busiest times, Ann Taylor has added the dimension of individual sales productivity to the equation. Employees who were interviewed by The Journal say the system has resulted in sharp cutbacks in hours for some employees and has diminished morale. One worker who typically was assigned a regular 34-hour-a-week schedule before the system was installed had been cut back to just eight hours in some weeks. "Computers aren't very forgiving when it comes to an individual's life," one former Ann Taylor employee told the paper."

Hat tip to Ann Bares, who checked in on the topic over at Compensation Force, gives her thoughts:

"Ultimately, perhaps, this system has the desired effect of shaking out the less talented workers and leaving behind those with the most sales competency.  While this churn is happening, however (and I would imagine that it happens on an ongoing basis as the workforce turns over), you have the likelihood of serious morale issues as employees who are struggling to achieve sales targets see their schedules shift and their hours drop, presumably until either their expenses or their frustration levels drive them to quit.  Where does coaching and training come into play here?  Or does it?  As the article points out, information technology is no substitute for sound management."

Of course, most (if not all of us) will agree with Ann, when she says that a scheduling system that focuses on performance over tenure is no substitute for coaching and solid performance management (before the annual review). 

The bigger play for me?  Time is running out for companies to take a chance with systems like this.  The potential passing of even a watered-down version of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is going to make the change, the management related to a switch like this, impossible.

Why?  There's employee relations risk any time you switch from a seniority scheduling module to something more progressive. 

And that means you don't take risks that alienate average performers.  Kind of stinks for the high performers, doesn't it? 

Two Things That Bond Rush Limbaugh, The Dixie Chicks and Your Employees....

What do your employees, Rush Limbaugh and the Dixie Chicks have in common?  Easy - these two things:

1.  It's America baby, so they can say whatever they want about anything, and;Freedom-of-speech

2. The market, framed in various ways, can embrace what they say or turn from it. 

It's one of the cool things about living in our country.  Free Speech is alive and well, but at times, people confuse free speech with the right to say anything without ramifications from others, who by the way, are free to frame your thoughts and statements via their own reality.

So say anything you want.  Just don't think that gives you the right to be immune from you losing various opportunities because you chose to exert your right to free speech. It happens with employees all the time across America (whose statements run afoul of harassment and anti-discrimination policies, as well as general good judgment).  It happened with the Dixie Chicks when they dared to question the post-9/11 American response (they got pulled from the airwaves as a result of their rants).

Free speech - yes!  Free speech with no potential ramifications - no!

Now Rush Limbaugh is feeling that reality.  Regardless of your feelings about Rush, his recent failed bid for partial ownership of an NFL team is a perfect example of free speech at work in a capitalist marketplace.  More on why Rush couldn't be a NFL owner from a fellow renegade owner in the NBA, Mark Cuban.  From Cuban's blog, Blog Maverick:

"The problem with Rush is that its his job to take on all of life’s partisan issues and problems.  Not only is it his job to take on these issues and problems, its key to his success that he be very opinionated about whichever issues he feels are important to him and/or will cause his very large audience to tune in.  Given that we will never know what the “next big issue ” in this world that Rush will be discussing on his show is,  its impossible for the NFL to even try to predict or gauge the impact on the NFL’s business if something controversial, or even worse yet, something nationally polarizing happens. There is an unquantifiable risk that comes with the size of Rush’s audience.  The wrong thing said on the show, even if its not spoken by Rush himself,  about a sensitive national or world issue could turn into a Black Swan event for the NFL.

Thats a huge risk that is not commensurate with the value a minority investment in a franchise brings.

This isnt about Free Speech. Its about the NFL protecting their business.  There is no reason to put it at risk.  If Rush were to retire from his show, or become a local DJ in Sacramento, or just about anything else he may want as a vocation, then I dont think they would have any problem with him being an investor in a team."

The Rush thing is a perfect learning opportunity for your employees.  Let them know they've got the right to say anything they want as an America.  Then tell them since they live in America, the market may vote "thumbs down" as a result, which could mean a lost promotion, being froze out by co-workers at work, or getting terminated because you might have to thin the herd as a result of what they say. 

The market is the great equalizer to the right of free speech. 

"Closing Time...You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here"...

Rush Limbaugh and the NFL: Cautionary Tale of Managerial Transparency....

I'm a St. Louis Rams fan.  I was living in the area when the Rams moved from LA, and they sucked, but they were ours.  Then, the greatest show on turf came along, and Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and the rest of the gang won a Super Bowl and looked to be on a run of several titles until the following happened:

The freaking New England Patriots ran out during starting lineup introductions AS A TEAM in the 2002 SuperRushrams Bowl. 

If you were watching that game like me, you kind of paused when you saw that.  The Patriots went on to upset the Rams and went on a run of their own behind some snot-nosed kid named Tom Brady.

Since that time, it's been a little sparse as a Rams fan.  After an 0-5 start to the season, we could use some good news.  How about a new owner with deep pockets?  Sure, that sounds good - we'll get our own Jerry Jones and join the arms race.

Check that. It appears the guy with the money is named Rush Limbaugh, and let's just say he's got a reputation that might hurt him on the Talent front.  From the AP:

"The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson attacked the bid by Rush Limbaugh to buy the St. Louis Rams on Monday, saying the conservative radio host's track record on race should exclude him from owning an NFL team. Sharpton sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, arguing that Limbaugh has been divisive and "anti-NFL" in some of his comments.  Jackson said in a telephone interview that Limbaugh had made his wealth "appealing to the fears of whites" with an unending line of insults against blacks and other minorities.

In 2003, Limbaugh worked briefly on ESPN's NFL pregame show. He resigned after saying Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed.

Transcripts posted on the radio host's Web site also say that on a January 2007 show, Limbaugh commented: "The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."

The latest complaints came a day after executive director of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, urged players to speak out against Limbaugh's bid.

"I have asked our players to embrace their roles not only in the game of football but also as players and partners in the business of the NFL," Smith said in a statement Sunday. "They risk everything to play this game, they understand that risk and they live with that risk and its consequences for the rest of their life."

Quotes I'm not putting up, in the interest of space, based on Limbaugh's history of inflammatory statements, are probably the most important.  Multiple players, the talent equation in the NFL, have clearly stated they won't play for the Rams if Limbaugh is the owner.

Which brings me to this point.  The NFL players are reacting to very public statements that Limbaugh made.  What happens if technology and sites like Glassdoor catch up and start chronically indexing the questionable things you do as a manager.  You're not a racist?  OK, how about the time you made Marge come in when her kids were sick and you openly stated, "remind me not to hire people who have kids".

You thought no one heard it, and even if they did, it was a joke, right?  Wrong - in the new transparent world that's right around the corner, sites are going to start collecting information on your abilities as a manager - and yes, your biases - via user generated content.

It's right around the corner.  The NFL players won't play for Limbaugh, and someday soon, how you treated Marge is going to come back and haunt you when you need a candidate, and the best sources of candidates for your position are working moms.

Welcome to the new world of transparency Rush Limbaugh is experiencing. In short order, you won't need a nationally syndicated radio program to experience the scrutiny.

That's a good thing.  But, it still sucks to be a Rams fan these days.

Starbucks vs. Dunkin' Donuts: Here's What a Real Non-Compete Issue Looks Like...

We talk from time to time here at the Capitalist about non-competes.  They generate emotion from employees and are usually written so broadly that they're hard to enforce.  Most of the time, talent will sign a non-compete in one of three states of mind: They're A) in need of a job and will sign what you need them to sign, B) confident that you've written the agreement so broadly that it'll be difficult to enforce, or C) a combination of the two aforementioned states of mind.

So, non-competes are something we do, but messy to enforce on the back end.  Want to see what a real nonDunkin donuts -compete issue looks like?  Look no further than the following non-compete dustup occurring between Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, as reported by the Boston Herald.  I love the smell of decaffeinated non-competes in the morning:

"Paul Twohig, who had been in charge of Starbucks’ retail stores in the southeastern U.S., left the company in March. He received a severance package after signing a separation agreement in which he promised to honor an earlier noncompetition agreement that said he would not work for a Starbucks competitor for 18 months, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Twohig, who did not return phone calls to his South Carolina home, asked Starbucks in August if he could be released from the agreement to work for Dunkin’ Donuts, the lawsuit said. Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ has a large presence in the eastern U.S. Starbucks declined Twohig’s request. At Starbucks, he had "participated in and was responsible for formulating business strategies to grow Starbucks business and respond to competitors, including Dunkin’ Donuts," the lawsuit said

In September, Dunkin’ Donuts’ head of human resources and another former Starbucks employee, Christine Deputy, contacted the coffee company. Starbucks said it told her that Twohig was "not in a position to accept a position" at Dunkin’. Within the past week, Starbucks learned through Internet searches that Twohig had apparently accepted a job as Dunkin’ Donuts’ brand-operations officer.

Twohig worked for Starbucks from 1996 to 2002, then left and became chief operating officer of Panera Bread. When he returned to the coffee company in 2004, he signed the noncompetition agreement, the lawsuit said."

Conventional wisdom says a couple of things with this one.  First of all, it's standard procedure that if you want an enforceable non-compete, you need to list the competitors included and perhaps even the geography.  We don't know those details, but a couple of other things would seem to come into play.  First, if Twohig elected to sign a severance document that referred again to the non-compete, that's a form of acknowledgment that might be viewed strongly by a judge.  Add that to the fact that Dunkin' thought enough of their position as a primary competitor to call Starbucks to inquire about Twohig's legal ability to work for them, and Starbucks looks to be in decent shape on this one heading into the courtroom.

With his Panera experience, if only Twohig would have brought the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel (or i's equivalent) to Starbucks - he might have been CEO by now and the move wouldn't have been necessary.