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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!!

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? 

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.

Salary.com: Friend or Foe to the HR Pro? As it Turns Out, Both....

(Caplitalist Note - Salary.com didn't pay me for this.  Like many HR pros, I don't have a great relationship with Salary.com, but what I learned at the HR Tech Conference has me opening my mind.  For a full rundown of my conflicts, check out my Frauenheim Disclosure.)

Ask any HR Pro with operational experience to react to the following words:Salary


The reaction you get will range from sighs to fists shaking in the air.  Most HR pros don't like Salary.com, and if you're in the business, you know why.  It's because Salary.com represents the first line of salary transparency to employees, the most readily available information for any employee to get their hands on to determine if they're being paid fairly.  Here's how it works - the employee prints off some information from Salary.com, brings it to you and says, "I think I'm worth more".

Many of you not in the field are now saying, "ah-hah!  I knew HR was soft! They can't cut it when an employee is armed with information on their own worth!  Soft!  Weak!  Bureaucrats!"

Hold on there, sparky.  The best HR pros will tell you that the following is the reality when it comes to salary conversations with employees who pull info from Salary.com (pulled from this column of mine from Workforce):

"No one ever looked at a salary range and focused on the minimum, even if that was where they belonged". You sit down with your employee and provide a brilliant discourse on your compensation philosophy, including an explanation of the range and the fact that most people migrate to the midpoint after five years in their position. You’re waxing poetic like James Taylor on VH1 Storytellers. Nice job. Now flash to the employee’s mind. He sees the salary range and wonders, "Why am I not past the midpoint? I’m the best service rep they have." The employee automatically feels undervalued. Additionally, no one has ever looked at a list of company-wide salary ranges and felt contentment. There are comparisons with the midpoints, the maximums, and with higher ranges to breed discontent. Your best training and explanation won’t transcend the employee relations issues you’ll cause."

So Salary.com = Tough, many times un-winnable conversations with employees for HR pros.

That's where I was at on Salary.com until my time at the HR Tech Conference in early October, where I took in a competition called the Talent Management shootout.  Each year, HR Tech pits software providers in similar spaces against each other, having them walk through the solution their software can provide to common business problems that HR pros and companies face.

This year, four companies emerged as finalists in this competition, which focused on their Performance Management solutions - those companies were SAP, Lawson, Plateau and yes... Salary.com...

I didn't even know Salary.com had a performance management solution, and I'm in the market as a buyer for my current company. 

Here's the other thing - not only does Salary.com have a performance management solution, it's also a good one.  Salary.com won the shootout, and they outperformed the other software providers in all three scenarios, that included individual performance, merit distribution and succession planning scenarios.  Salary.com had the least eye candy of all the providers, but it excelled at one thing - creating views where you could see all the information you needed on ONE PAGE (on one employee, but also multiple members of a team).  It felt more usable in every scenario.

I had no idea Salary.com had all the functionality under the hood from a Talent Management/Performance Management perspective.  I'd love to see their relative cost vs. the others, because as a pure SaaS company, I'm guessing they're the most affordable as well.  I'll let you know.

Salary.com - now doing more than setting false expectations for employees, actually being the friend of HR - who knew?

The Myers Briggs of the Capitalist: The ISTJ Don't Live Here No More...

Here's an interesting nugget.  I just took the Myers-Briggs (personality type test) for the first time in about three years.  You always hear that your MBTI can change based on life, career and other changes, but for a period of 6 years (from the first time I took it in 2000, through the last time in 2006 - a total of 4 individual tests), I was a solid ISTJ - it never changed.  Here's a flavor for what an ISTJ is and what the MBTI had me nailed as:

"The one word that best describes Inspectors (ISTJ) is superdependable. Whether at homeMbti or at work, Inspectors are extraordinarily persevering and dutiful, particularly when it comes to keeping an eye on the people and products they are responsible for. In their quiet way, Inspectors see to it that rules are followed, laws are respected, and standards are upheld.

ISTJs are quiet, serious, and earn success by thoroughness and dependability. They are practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible. They decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. They take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized – their work, their home, their life. They value traditions and loyalty.

A lot of that was and is true.  The rest of it sounds like classic HR, which I never thought I was from a product produced and delivered standpoint.  One thing is for sure, I've made a lot of my bones with project work that's thorough and dependable.

Anyway, it appears the inspector/ISTJ is gone. I took the MBTI again, and everything's changed since I last took the test in 2006.  It should be noted that I started blogging daily and generally entering the world of social media as a HR Pro in December of 2006, so it makes sense that it's all changed based on my experiences and the way I have to deal with the world these days.  Ready for what I am now?  Here you go, sparky:

"Inventors(ENTP) begin building gadgets and mechanisms as young children, and never really stop, though as adults they will turn their inventiveness to many kinds of organizations, social as well as mechanical. There aren't many Inventors, say about two percent of the population, but they have great impact on our everyday lives. With their innovative, entrepreneurial spirit, Inventors are always on the lookout for a better way, always eyeing new projects, new enterprises, new processes. Always aiming to "build a better mousetrap."

Inventors are keenly pragmatic, and often become expert at devising the most effective means to accomplish their ends. They are the most reluctant of all the types to do things in a particular manner just because that's the way they have been done. As a result, they often bring fresh, new approaches to their work and play. They are intensely curious and continuously probe for possibilities, especially when trying to solve complex problems. Inventors are filled with ideas, but value ideas only when they make possible actions and objects. Thus they see product design not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end, as a way of devising the prototype that works and that can be brought to market. Inventors are confident in their pragmatism, counting on their ability to find effective ways and means when they need them, rather than making a detailed blueprint in advance. A rough idea is all they need to feel ready to proceed into action.

Inventors often have a lively circle of friends and are interested in their ideas and activities. They are usually easy-going, seldom critical or carping. Inventors can be engaging conversationalists, able to express their own complicated ideas and to follow the ideas of others. When arguing issues, however, they may deliberately employ debate skills to the serious disadvantage of their opponents."

So what's changed in my life?  Has to be the blogs and things associated with that. There's no question that starting the Capitalist and writing daily, then starting FOT and building a team of contributors has changed my perspective on the world.  I've had to engage people to a much greater degree, both proactively and when they ask to be engaged, than at any other point in my life.  The branding aspect of the blogs has also made me think about positioning to a much greater degree, and I'm clearly much more entrepreneurial than I've ever been at any other point in my life.

ISTJ to ENTP?  I think it's a good thing.  I doubt I ever return to the ISTJ world.  Maybe I'll just revamp the handbook to stop in and say "hi" to the ISTJ world. 

Rat Out the Boss (Or Why You Don't Get Career Advice from Pop Culture Magazines)

Career advice time at the Capitalist.  Let's say you're kicking *** and taking names at work, but you've got this boss - maybe he's a boomer or she's an Xer (how old are you again?), and they just aren't getting it done.  You've felt the pressure of picking up the slack for them over the last 6-12 months, and while you work longer hours, they appear to get more and more detached.

You've covered for them because they hired you, promoted you, or maybe just because you were worriedReservoir_dogs about your own performance being viewed in a suspect manner if you didn't pick up the slack.

Now, you're tired, and you've had it.  You want to do something about it. What should you do?

The dangerously simplistic answer from Conde Nast's Portfolio Mag:

I like my boss, but he's seriously mismanaging a vendor, and the only reason it's not blowing up in our face is because I'm working overtime to cover his missteps. What can I do to get out of this mess?

Try to get an audience with your boss's boss—the classic entrée is under the guise of asking for advice—and simply outline what you're doing. If you lay out the process clearly enough, any smart general manager will see there's a hole in what your direct manager is doing.

An answer like that is why you never rely on career advice from a columnist who has 250 words to determine the fate of your career.  NEVER....

Here are a couple of reasons why doing a skip level session with your boss's boss may not be a good idea:

1.  People chronically overestimate their own performance.  You might be in that grouping.

2.  Direct reports often don't have a great line of sight in terms of what's being asked of their boss from above.  She might be cranking out some very valuable work - you don't really know, and if you think you do, you're already way too overconfident, unless you share an office with them.

3.  All politics are localAre you confident that your boss and her boss (the one you're planning on skip leveling to) aren't friends, or at least don't have each other's backs?

What's my solution if I don't like the brilliance from Conde Nast? How about talking to your boss about your concerns (in a light, non-accusational way) and how you've been impacted by them being "elsewhere" or working on other things?  Too heavy for you?  How about telling them what you have on your plate and having them help you on what to prioritize?

Or you can just drop the dagger into their back, like Conde Nast recommends in a 200 word opus that will determine your career in its flippancy.

Good luck.   

Recruiting MBAs into HR: Tough to Do When They Grab a Copy of "HR Magazine" for a RJP...

RJP = Realistic Job Preview.

So, here's the story behind the title. I'm an advocate for HR.  I like the biz, and I plan on being in it the rest of my life.  With that in mind, I'd like to contribute to greater good by convincing sharp people who are thinking about a career in HR that this is the profession they need to be in.

With that in mind, I've had the experience to run across someone I'll call "Kathy".  Kathy's a smart person, anHRMagTopgraphic MBA who's still trying to figure out what she wants to do.  She's had some cool jobs already, and she's recently been placed in a position on the outer edges of HR.  We know each other through LinkedIn, among other professional points of contact.  As part of my communication with her, some of it face-to-face based on our professions, I've told her she should consider a career in HR.  She's thought about it a good bit, then came back to me this week and told me there's no way she's going into HR. 

The conversation went something like this:

Kathy: I've thought a lot about it, and there's no way I can do a career in HR.

Me: Why?  I thought you liked the idea.  What's changed?

Kathy: Well, I went home this weekend and got HR Magazine from SHRM as part of the membership you encouraged me to do with SHRM.

Me: <cringing> And?

Kathy: I read most of the magazine, and the bottom line is that if that's the type of subject matter that is required to excel in HR, I'm not a good fit.

<five minutes of discussion goes by as I make excuses, asking her "what about the cool blogs" I turned you towards, etc.>

Me: OK, do me a favor, send me the top three observations you have about HR Magazine and how it's influenced your take on whether HR is a career for you.  I need to share it.

So, here's what she sent me:

"What I learned from reading HR Magazine… Don’t work in HR.  Here’s what stands out to me…
--I’ve read multiple editions of HR Magazine, and the information always sounds the same – recycled ideas, traditional thinking, dated approaches.  Where is the creativity?  Where’s the applicable and unbiased information that’s going to help me do my job more efficiently and effectively?  Where’s the cutting-edge, making you rethink your job, question your approach, and redefine the industry ideas?  Not in this magazine.

--Keeping up with employment law (yawn) and constantly changing regulations, requirements, and red tape seems too much to handle.  It’s overwhelming.  It’s boring.  And it sounds like it would be a full-time job in and of itself.  I guess I’m not jaded enough for this stuff yet.  Wake up, right?

--If HR Magazine content is a reflection of a day in the life of an HR Pro – 90% employee relations and employment law, 10% recruitment and development – then I pass.  I don’t want to read about how to avoid a lawsuit.  I want to read about finding the best people, growing my people, and providing them with such an amazing employment experience that I don’t have to deal with a lot of ER issues.  Think proactive… not reactive, HR Magazine.  Naïve, I know."

I'm a SHRM member, will be for life.  Fan of China Gorman and the rest of the team there - the more you get to know the people behind the curtain at SHRM, the more you realize how talented they are.

But, can we take the flagship magazine, the one that folks like this MBA look to as our beacon - our Time, our Newsweek, our Sports Illustrated, and sexy it up a little bit? 

Please?  I'm trying to sell this thing out there.