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November 2009

Obama and the Jobs Summit: Look at Your Campaign for the Answers, Mr. President..

You know, even as a moderate Republican, I like President Obama.  I'm a free market kind of guy, so that means I respect the tsunami of public opinion that got our current president elected.  I just wish/hope he remembers the free market power that got him elected.  It's easy to worry about the socialization of heathcare, the liberal use of the term Czar, etc.  I'm no expert in those areas, so I follow along the best I can.

Then I hear that the President is going to hold a "Jobs Summit" this week.  The premise is simple enough - to figure out how to create jobs during a recession and recovery, where jobs growth always lags other recovery indicators.  While theDont-tread-on-me-black-shirt President has few (if any) levers at his control to actually control the creation of jobs, summits are what sitting presidents should do.  Get together and talk, show you care, while the Adam Smith matrix works it out behind the scenes as we move in the years to come.

So, I'm always tolerant of our President holding summits and talking about what we can do collectively. Then I read what some of the people with access to the administration are pitching.  That's when my teeth start to clench together. 

Here's what the far left has to say Obama should push.  From Thomas Kochan at the Huffington Post, whose day job is Professor of Management at MIT:

"A number of ideas for job creation have been proposed. Among them are a work sharing proposal that would provide unemployment benefits for reduced hours of work, an employer tax credit for creating new jobs, use of TARP funds to provide credit for small business, additional stimulus funds for local and state governments, and expanded investments in infrastructure and construction.

Getting wages moving again will require a new social contract between labor and business to replace the one that has been broken since the 1980s. The president should call on workers and their unions and associations to work in partnership with employers receiving taxpayer funds to build the high performance workplaces and work processes needed to generate high productivity and high service quality.

To do so, the president should announce his intention to work for speedy passage of a reframed and expanded Employee Free Choice Act, a labor law reform bill currently stalled in Congress. The reframing would state the objectives of the Act are both to restore workers' ability to join a union and gain access to collective bargaining and to transform labor management relations in ways that get wages once again growing in tandem with productivity and economic growth."

Damn.  Couple of thoughts.  First up, I'll give anyone the right to wonder, in economic times like the ones we're currently experiencing, if the government should double down on infrastructure projects and other levers that can create jobs.  Of course, the deficit is there to keep everyone honest.  Potential bankruptcy has a way of doing that with countries as well as households.

But job sharing?  Are you kidding me? The way to create jobs is to hunker everyone down on the co-op and share jobs, limit hours and give everyone 1/2 of an apple?  Really?  That's the road to economic recovery?

And then there's unions.  Kochan sees that as the way to get wages growing with GDP and build high performing workplaces.  I'm at a loss for words. Then I remember that a lot of people in the president's ear think that kind of social design is probably a good idea.

Thanks for listening to me rant.  Obama is our president, which means he's my president. I'd like him to succeed, and I think he's a smart guy.  But if he mentions job sharing as a method of helping resolve high unemployment, I might have to start my own tea party.  How many of Obama's top 100 people during the campaign were job sharing or members of unions?

That's your answer to the crazy talk, Mr. President.  It's called competition, and regardless of where we find ourselves, it's the best medicine for a recovery.

2010 elections for a little balance, anyone?  I'm always happiest when neither party has a huge numbers edge and moderates/independents hold the true power. 


Managers Who Suffocate Stars...

You've seen it before - the manager who likes to keep everything under their control.  They want to check off on all decisions and have a tendency to be the one to communicate all good news upward in the organization, which makes a lot of onlookers think they love to take credit for OPW (Other People's Work).

That might be true, but I usually think something else is at play.Manager_note

I think that manager is scared.  Scared about the upward mobility of those they manage.  A little insecure about their abilities.  And most of all, unsure if they can compete in the marketplace of innovation.

Direct report showing some initiative and innovating?  For most of us, we celebrate, pushing the emails detailing the results and innovation around the organization as a means of recognition - and promotion.  It's our job to tell the world we have great people working for us who are capable of great things.

The scared manager?  No such communication happens.  Maybe it's been awhile since they viewed their business or function with a fresh set of eyes.  Maybe they're capable of innovation, but have decided to mail it in.   Maybe they're just scared that they don't have "it" anymore.

So they don't celebrate the success of their employees.  They don't promote.  They don't view themselves as a talent agent.  They're a bureaucrat.

And they're dangerous to any organization that wants to grow.   

OD 101: When a Lifetime #1 Brings In a #2 - For the First Time In His Career...

Here's an interesting tidbit from my life.  The church I attend has a pastor who's been there for almost 20 years. While he wasn't the first pastor of the church in question, he's obviously been there longer than anyone else and due to his knowledge, skills and abilities, has really become the face of the church.  He's widely loved for his gifts, his passion for his work and his sincerity related to all things faith based.  He's good.  An A player for all practical purposes, if God has a succession planning replacement chart.

He's a #1.  He's been a #1 for a long time.  There's never been a spiritual #2 for the organization in question.  So there's never been a question of who the man is.Foam-finger-big

The church has grown, and the organization made a growth-based staffing decision.  If we're going to grow, the pastor needs a number #2 - an associate pastor.  Interviews ensued, the process dragged out over months.  Finally, the smoke came up from the chimney.  We had an associate pastor.  The number #2 was in place.

Churches are like any other organization.  Because they're filled with people, they're imperfect and riddled with issues - same as your company.  While much of the church organization celebrated the arrival of the #2, a portion of the organization positioned it as a dramatic challenge.  Could the existing star pastor - the #1 in question - give up some control to fully utilize the skills and capacity of the #2?  Or would he be a control freak and fail to utilize the skills and potential of the #2 the organization hired?

The point?  #1's who are used to being lone wolfs are widely perceived to have difficulty giving authority and organizational oxygen to strong #2's.  In those situations, the arrival of a capable #2 can split an organization.  After all, many of the flock (employees within companies and members within churches) are going to connect with a capable #2 to an equal or greater degree than they do the #1.  That's just the way the organizational dynamic works.

So, how can the #1 show the organization that he's fully utilizing the #2?  Here's my list:

1. Share the presentation oxygen.  You don't have to split the repetitions in front of the flock, but you can't bring in a solid #2 and not give him some reps in front of the base.  You don't have to split the spotlight, just provide a little access. The naysayers in this situation believe the #1 won't be capable of giving up any of the sermons in question within the church program.  I think he will.

2. Talk about what the #2 is working on and how they're doing great at it.  This one's pretty simple - give the #2 important stuff to work on, then talk about how great the #2 is doing.  Shows you can delegate and appreciate.

3. Repeat #1 and #2. Early and often...

A short list, no?  Churches, like companies, are organizations.  That's always been my challenge with organized religion - I always expected more.  I no longer do, thanks to the perspective shared by the #1 in question, who also happens to be a reader of this blog. 

Good luck #1.  You'll need the #2 to accomplish the big goals you have in mind.  Position accordingly.



You Know You're A Leader When People Start Mimicking the Stupid Stuff You Do...

You know you're a rockstar in your company when your stupid habits become trends that others follow.  Examples of seemingly meaningless stuff in companies I've worked for that become trends when initiated by the right person in a group:

1. Parking in the back of the parking lot when good spots are available upfront.

2. Removing Voice mail as a feature from your company provided phone (any gSneezeruesses on how that one turned out for the pack in question?).

3. Putting the Jack "deep thoughts" Handy quote underneath your email signature (gotta show the depth people).

4. Pulling your title from your outlook signature as a sign that you're just not that into the status that titles provide, especially now that you have one.

5. Walking in the parking lot at lunch for exercise.

6. Instead of giving a small gift, providing a donation in my name to the charity of your choice. 

It's the epicenter of cool, if you think about it.  The right person starts doing one of these things in a group of a couple of hundred people, and all of a sudden, it's a flipping trend.  Of course, it's a trend that no one in the special group will admit to, and they certainly won't admit that Bob in marketing is the "sneezer" that they're following because they think he's cool.

Damn - Is the workplace high school?  In many ways, yes.  But, you always said that you wish you could go through high school again knowing what you know now.  You can - it's called your company, and you are the <insert one - leader, follower, pretty girl, jock, geek, townie, etc.>.  Start influencing now within your role in the ecosystem.

What are the trends you see people following in your company?  Imagine if you could use that sneezer/follower mindset to do things that were useful in your company.  Of course, to do that, you need to know who the sneezers are in every area and market accordingly.

The Lebron James commercial below got me thinking about sneezers and followers.  Talcum powder ritual?  Why not?  I think I'll do it in the morning before I start cranking though emails....

You Want to Talk About Our Infighting and Politics? You're Fired... (A Cautionary Tale)

You can't write them better than this.  A disgruntled customer of American Airlines writes up a hard blog post on what's wrong with the AA website.  Even goes so far as to draw up a new design for AA.  Posts that on blog for the world to see.  Interesting from a social media perspective, right?  More from the guy in question at dustincurtis.com.

"A few months ago, I wrote an article expressing my displeasure with American Airlines‘ hideousAmerican_airlines_logo online presence. I also spent some time mocking up a redesigned version of their website. To my surprise, a user experience designer at AA.com emailed me an amazing response describing some of the design problems faced in large corporations. You should read my original article here and the response from Mr. X here."

Go read Dustin's original post - it's a good read.  Then, take a look at Mr. X.  It's an actual employee who comes in to talk about the issues, but also to give Dustin some perspective on how difficult it is to turn a big ole' battleship like American Airlines from a design perspective, basically talking about all the layers, the silos, etc.  - and how hard it is to get things that make sense done in that environment.  Here's part of the reply from Mr X:

"I saw your blog post titled “Dear AmericanAirlines,” and I thought I’d drop a line. Sorry for the length of this email, but let me sum up the gist of what I’ve written below: You’re right. You’re so very right. And yet…

First, an introduction. I’m Mr X, and I work here at AA.com. I’ve been doing UX design and development for about 10 years with a variety of companies in a variety of industries, and I work with a team of other UX specialists on AA.com. I like to think I’m decent at what I do, and I know the others I work with here are all pretty good. The problem with the design of AA.com, however, lies less in our competency (or lack thereof, as you pointed out in your post) and more with the culture and processes employed here at American Airlines.

But—and I guess here’s the thing I most wanted to get across—simply doing a home page redesign is a piece of cake. You want a redesign? I’ve got six of them in my archives. It only takes a few hours to put together a really good-looking one, as you demonstrated in your post. But doing the design isn’t the hard part, and I think that’s what a lot of outsiders don’t really get, probably because many of them actually do belong to small, just-get-it-done organizations. But those of us who work in enterprise-level situations realize the momentum even a simple redesign must overcome, and not many, I’ll bet, are jumping on this same bandwagon. They know what it’s like.

OK, so it’s not all bad. The good news is that we have a lot of UX improvements coming down the line, most of which we’ll incorporate over the next 12 – 18 months as new projects go live. Some of our slated efforts include improved navigation; 16 column grid-based layouts; a lighter, more airy visual design; improved user interactions; and an increased transparency to fares and sales policies across the board. We’ll work it all in organically, as the site evolves to include new features. But it won’t be done via an explicit, massive redesign. Can’t be.

So, since it won’t all get done overnight, don’t give us a bad grade if you don’t see it happening fast enough for your taste. Even a large organization can effect change; it just takes a different approach than the methods found in smaller shops. But it’ll happen because it has to, and we know that. And we’ll keep on keepin’ on, even if most of us really and truly would prefer to throw it all away and start over."

Read the full note from Mr X. at DustinCurtis.com.  Guess what happened to Mr. X?  American Airlines did a text search off the Microsoft Outlook Exchange Server to identify Mr. X and promptly fired him in the same day.

So the question regarding social media and transparency is this - can you handle the Mr X's of the world engaging dissatisfied customers on behalf of your company?  I look at the note provided by Mr. X and think, wow, that's so much more effective in terms of engaging Dustin Curtis than the PR shop would have been.  My first reaction would be that he needs his own blog on behalf of American Airlines.

But I'm an outlier with social media usage.  What about you?  Good firing, bad firing, or somewhere in between?

Its' a brave new world out there for companies trying to control the message rather than honestly engaging customers.

Hat tip to Capitalist reader JC...

Belichick on Culture: Sometimes You've Got To Say "What The..."

You've been there before.  People around you are playing the odds.  They're shifting lanes on the freeway, following up on emails after a textbook two days silence and <gasp> electing not to challenge incoherent thoughts in meetings for political reasons.

Everyone's doing it kid.  Work the odds.  Survive and advance.  Play it by the book.

Of course, if everyone is playing the odds, the collective experience of the pack is, well... AVERAGE.Belichick_and_brady

Sometimes, if you want to build or maintain something of significance, you have to say "what the <...>" and do something to challenge the status quo.  To let the team around you know that your tribe is different.  Like Bret Michaels of Poison once crooned, you might have to give them something to believe in.

Did I just go all Poison on you?  Freakin' A.  So did Bill Belichick of the NFL's New England Patriots when he made, what many consider to be, the worst call of the decade.  More from the Boston Globe:

"For those who were looking for a candid explanation or an emotional mea culpafrom Bill Belichick the morning after his already-infamous unconventional decision late in the game contributed to the Patriots' shocking 35-34 loss to the Colts . . . well, you haven't been paying attention to the coach all these years.

Last night Belichick surprised -- OK, shocked -- Patriots fans with his decision to go for it on fourth and 2 from the Colts 28-yard line with 2 minutes and 8 seconds remaining and a 34-28 lead, a decision that backfired when the Patriots failed to convert and the Colts quickly responded with the winning mini-drive, culminating with a touchdown catch by Reggie Wayne and the extra point with 13 seconds remaining."

That call has been panned as one of the worst ever in the media blitz that followed.  I didn't get it either.  Then I saw the quotes from the Patriot's locker room:

Carrying the most weight is Tom Brady himself, who unequivocally stated after the game, "I love the call."

“I love the fact that we’re out there with a chance to win. The coach has confidence that we can make it. I had confidence. We all did.’’

Ah ha... right.  "Our leader believes".  "Our leader is different".  "We play to win".  And so goes the flip side of any unconventional, play to win decision you make in your business, especially when your survival is not in doubt.   Being willing to do something unconventional, against the book, can be a stroke of genius that can galvanize your team.

What are the examples in the business world?  What would send a message that it's NOT business as usual with you as the leader?

Would firing non-profitable customers send a message?  What about spending resources to go after customers the previous management team never dreamed could be landed?  Fill in the blank.  What blows up the status quo and sends a message for a team that needs leadership?  Can you take the chances without putting the survival of your company at risk?

Then you might want to channel Bill Belichick and Bret Michaels - and give 'em something to believe in.  If it goes well, you're a hero.  If it blows up, you're a maverick worth following into battle.  Used sparingly, not a bad outcome either way...

HR Pros: If You Can't/Won't Recruit, You're a Secretary...

I said the following last week on a show called the HR Happy Hour: "There's a word for HR pros who don't recruit - they're called secretaries".

I thought about what I wanted to say for about 10 seconds before I said it.  I pondered "administrators".  Didn't get the effect I was looking for, so I opted for secretaries. I got some emails and tweets that said I called all HR pros secretaries.  That'sMale secretary not true - I called HR pros who can't/won't recruit secretaries.  Big difference.

I'm a HR Generalist.  My definition of that is that I do it all - recruit, employee relations, benefits, performance management, etc.   I'm also a firm believer that Generalist roles span the globe of HR titles - Generalists can be found at the Rep/individual contributor, manager, director and VP levels.

So, here's the deal - The death of the generalist is overblown.  Sure, specialists are alive and well in bigger companies that get press, but in the guts of the American economy, companies still hire generalists to take care of HR business.  That will continue.  As Flavor Flav once said, "don't believe the hype", especially when it comes to the death of the HR generalists.

In fact, there's only one thing that can prevent you from being a thriving HR generalist along the lines of my definition - an unwillingness to chase the most valuable aspects of your craft - whether you're asked to or not.  Those aspects generally revolve around talent management - starting with recruiting - not administrative activities. 

You're good at the administrative side of the business?  Congratulations.  You allow it to suck up 95% of your time and you say you don't have time to do any recruiting or other talent management activity?  Allow me to withdraw my back-pat.  You have an efficiency problem and/or you're simply settling for the things you are most comfortable with. 

And the world views you as a secretary whether you are a male or a female.  Do a 360 on yourself with tough questions and learn the reality.  Tell the CEO what you're focused on and what you don't have time to do.  See what she says.  If she's honest, she'll agree with me.   Or she'll start looking harder to outsource the transactional side of your business.  Which you just told me is what you focus on.

The best HR pros, especially on the generalist side of the business, don't allow themselves to be defined by transactions.  They commit a certain percentage of time to transactions and protect time to go after the most valuable contributions they can make to the business.  Chasing true talent issues (or not) is a choice that every generalist makes.  It's there for you to focus on.

What are the most valuable things for you to work on as a generalist?  It all starts with your ability to go after talent from the recruiting side.  I've come into departments whose definition of that was posting a job on Monster and then forwarding 100 resumes with no screening to a hiring manager.

They called that recruiting.  I called it being a secretary.  And it happens more places than you might think.

You think you belong in the NextGenHR classification?  You better show some passion towards the pure talent side of the business.  While I'm focused on recruiting, you could easily plug in performance management, organizational development, etc.  But you've got to do those things while you keep all the other balls (administration) in the air.  If you are mad as you read this, that's OK.  I'm challenging you to really think about what's meaningful in an HR practice.

Don't hate.  Be a player.  Don't be a secretary. 

Special Note to Those Upset at the Blurring Line Between Work and Life...

Stop whining.  The revolution will not be televised - or at least that's what Flavor Flav told me.  Beatings will continue until morale improves.

Fights will go on as long as they have to....

Work/Life balance was one of the topics for a recent roundtable sponsored by Halogen Software (the HR Raging Debates Roundtable), one of my favorite vendors in the Talent Management sotware space.  The roundtable participants include thought leaders: Josh Bersin, President and CEO, Bersin & Associates; Peter Cappelli, Professor of Management at The Wharton School; David Creelman, CEO, Creelman Research; Kris Dunn, VP of People, DAXKO and blogger at HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent (WHO?); RichardRaging_promo_badge_250x250 Hadden, author of the Contented Cows leadership books; Lance Haun, Vice President of Outreach, MeritBuilder and blogger at Rehaul; Sharlyn Lauby, President, Internal Talent Management Group and blogger at HR Bartender; Ed Lawler, Distinguished Professor of Business at the Marshall School of Business; Laurie Ruettimann, Blogger at PunkRock HR; and Libby Sartain, former CHRO of Yahoo! Inc. and Southwest Airlines, author, and HR advisor. 

It's a cool series, so go check it out.

Back to the topic - we discussed work/life balance and even coined a new phrase - "weisure".  Here's the question for today from the series:

Is "weisure" good for business or do we need to maintain boundaries between work and leisure?

Here's what I said:

"Unless you are an hourly worker in America, boundries between work and leisure are dead. Work bleeds into life, and life bleeds into work. People have the smart phone, aka the “digital leash”. Work will never be the same. It’s already gone.

For those of you who say you’re going to enforce your own boundries and not work when you’re out of the office, I hope you’ve already made your bones in your career. Why? Because if you’re competing against others, the boss getting a response from a team member within 20 minutes vs having to wait until the next morning to hear from you means one thing: You’ll be in the job you’re currently holding for a long, long time.

Perception is reality.

As for the talent, “weisure” means one thing. You’re going to be working away from the office, so find something you love for a career — otherwise you’re going to hate your life. For the company – if you have any smartphones in your workforce, PLEASE stop making your talent that holds a smartphone take 3 hours of PTO to go to the doctor. You’re trying to have it both ways, and it’s lame. You may think you’re hardcore on this, but trust me – the managers who get it have already stopped tracking PTO for stuff like this - regardless of your policy. <written during Sunday night with football in the background>

My favorite part about the response is that work/life balance is a choice, as is working 50 vs. 40 hours. You can do it.  There's also someone out there more than willing to outwork you or be responsive on the weekends.

Choose wisely, my friends.  And check out the other responses in the Raging Debate series by clicking here....

Should You Tell An Employee That They Are Part of a Talent Pool For Succession?

Only if you feel like retaining them, which is an honest, if somewhat ironic answer.

Anyway, this question was one of the topics for a recent roundtable sponsored by Halogen Software (the HR Raging Debates Roundtable), one of my favorite vendors in the Talent Management sotware space.  The roundtable participants include thought leaders: Josh Bersin, President and CEO, Bersin & Associates; Peter Cappelli, Professor of Management at The Wharton School; David Creelman, CEO, Creelman Research; Kris Dunn, VP of People, DAXKO and blogger at HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent (WHO?); RichardRaging_promo_badge_250x250 Hadden, author of the Contented Cows leadership books; Lance Haun, Vice President of Outreach, MeritBuilder and blogger at Rehaul; Sharlyn Lauby, President, Internal Talent Management Group and blogger at HR Bartender; Ed Lawler, Distinguished Professor of Business at the Marshall School of Business; Laurie Ruettimann, Blogger at PunkRock HR; and Libby Sartain, former CHRO of Yahoo! Inc. and Southwest Airlines, author, and HR advisor. 

It's a cool series, so go check it out.

Here's one of the topics that interested me - not because we haven't talked enough about it, but because I was interested to see what the others would say:

Should you tell an employee that they are part of a talent pool for succession?

Here's my answer:

"Yes. You should also tell them you like their teeth better than the others as well.

On a serious note, I think you need to tell talent they’re included in the succession plan if you have one. One of the big benefits to succession planning is retention if people know they’re on the list. Imagine the following conversation:

You: Rick just resigned.

Your CEO: Wasn’t he the next up for the controller role?

You: Yes.

CEO: Why did he leave if he knew he was up next and Pirkle (current controller) is getting ready for the stretch role in strategy?

You: Well, because we wanted to be fair and ensure that people who aren’t a part of the succession plan feel OK about themselves, we decided not to tell people who are a part of the succession plan that they are on the list.

CEO: What if I didn’t tell you you’re in danger of being fired? Would that be fair?

So, here’s the bottom line. I know there are lots of employee relations issues related to telling talent they’re a part of the succession plan, but you have to do it. You have the plan (at least partly) for them. So tell them."

Go check out the responses of Sartain, Cappelli, etc. for this and other questions at the Halogen Software HR Raging Debates Roundtable.  See how I stack up. And vote me up while you're there. 



Do You Really Need to Manage the Different Generations Differently?

I was recently included in a panel of 10 HR Experts in the Halogen Software  HR Raging Debates Roundtable. This virtual roundtable brought together industry leaders including HR analysts, practioners, authors, social media pundits and academics to weigh in on some of the hottest HR and talent management topics currently faced by HR pros, including appraisals, succession planning, managing the generations and weisure.

If it's focused on experts, why was I involved again?

The roundtable participants include thought leaders: Josh Bersin,President and CEO, Bersin & Associates;Nixon Kennedy Peter Cappelli, Professor of Management at The Wharton School; David Creelman, CEO, Creelman Research; Kris Dunn, VP of People, DAXKO and blogger at HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent (WHO?); Richard Hadden, author of the Contented Cows leadership books; Lance Haun, Vice President of Outreach, MeritBuilder and blogger at Rehaul; Sharlyn Lauby, President, Internal Talent Management Group and blogger at HR Bartender; Ed Lawler, Distinguished Professor of Business at the Marshall School of Business; Laurie Ruettimann, Blogger at PunkRock HR; and Libby Sartain, former CHRO of Yahoo! Inc. and Southwest Airlines, author, and HR advisor. 

It's a cool series, so go check it out.

Here's one of the topics that interested me - not because we haven't talked enough about it, but because I was interested to see what the others would say:

Do You Really Need to Manage the Different Generations Differently?

Here's my answer:

"I’m a big believer that you might need to tweak your employment branding to message to the different generations in an effective way. For example:

Gen Y – “Our soda is free and we’ve bought a carbon offset for the lights. Damn it feels good to be green”.

Gen X – “Check out the pictures of our outing to the Pearl Jam Reunion Tour this summer. Good times. Did we mention we’re holding the boomers to the original retirement dates they gave us? Can’t have the Gen X ceiling because those boomers won’t retire.”

Boomers – “Be sure to see our “best in class” employee contribution rates towards our medical plan, as well as the quality of the plan as evidenced by the low deductibles. Did we mention we’re stack ranking those cocky Gen Y kids?”

I kid, but I think the time to manage generations differently is in the recruiting process. Sell what you got, my friends. Once the talent is in the door, I think everyone wants to know what’s in it for them, and I also think every generation starts out their careers by wanting to fast-track. So I think you have to address that with the younger folks in your organization, but I’m not sure that’s much different than it was for the young Gen Xers I used to know.

A funny thing happens to young folks from every generation that turns their focus from Mt. Dew to stability: Kids and mortgages. When a generation stops having those two things enter their lives, call me. I might change my stance. Once you get beyond the youth equation, I think every generation has stars, role players and low performers. I think the most effective approach is to manage talent based on their talent level rather than their age.

Except for Gen Xers.  You should always treat those people special."

Go check out the responsesof Sartain, Cappelli, etc.  And why you are at it, vote my response up!  Feel free to vote Laurie Ruettimann down, because it's gone all bloods vs. crips between the two of us., Actually, it's probably not bloods versus crips.  It's more like West Side Story before the finger snaps weren't considered macho enough for someone with my muscle tone.