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January 2010

A Simple Way to Show an Online Portfolio For a Resume... Or Be a Complete Smart***

That's right, today I've got a simple way to show an online portfolio for a resume... or be a complete smart***

Either way, you know I'm good...Google screen

I ran across the following site - Let Me Google That For You.  Never had seen this until I got a LinkedIn request from RPO pro Rob Jannone, who includes it in his LinkedIn profile as a portfolio of his work.  I did one as a portfolio of my work, the tiny url appears below:


Clearly this site came into play to make people, who ask you for information they could clearly look up themselves, feel foolish.  Sometimes you need a tool to make those people feel like morons.  Mission accomplished here.

But if you're looking for a tool that can show a portfolio of your work and you've done a good job over the last couple of years related to owning the SEO for your name, this tool does the trick as well. Simple yet elegant, the mouse moves, types in your name and presto!  Your own online portfolio... As long as you own the first page for your name.  If you don't own the first page for your name and plan on being a candidate anytime soon, it's a good idea to start becoming active in online activities that can help you raise your profile.  That's a good idea at any time, and this tool and the portfolio possibilities just reinforces that need for all of us from a career standpoint.

WARNING: It's going to be hard to ever use this tool if your last name is Palin, KaczynskiFederline or Jessica Lee

Warning on Culture: The Cynics Are Out With Their Knives...

Officespace_chotchkies Trying to build a great culture at your company?  Think culture can give you a competitive advantage?  You're right.  But there's something you should know about the process of trying to build a great culture.

The cynics are around every corner, and they don't like what you are doing.  They'd rather blade you than look at you.  They think you're a cheerleader, and it pisses them off.

It's a necessary conversation to have, and it's on my mind because of a thoughtful piece by Chief Culture Officer Grant McCraken (you should check out his blog) over at the Harvard Business Review:

"Visitors touring the Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas are greeted noisily. Staffers blow horns and ring cowbells to bid them welcome.

This sort of thing puts my teeth on edge. Call me a grinch. Call me a humorless, life-hating, stick in the mud, but commandeering personal emotions in the interest of forced conviviality seems to me wrong. I believe emotions are mostly a private matter and should not be controlled by the corporation.

Comedians have long made fun of the airline staff member who wishes everyone farewell with real feeling, in very quick succession. Can sincerity be serial, we wonder?

Our culture cares increasingly about authenticity. Indeed, thanks to the work of Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, authenticity has become a watchword in the world of marketing. In this new cultural convention, being really excited all the time is patently inauthentic, not least because we know that peak moments of emotion are by their nature occasional. So when we ask our staff to roll out the bonhomie, some employees now believe they are being asked to be inauthentic."

Those are deep thoughts that would resonate with any cynic of culture-building (and there are many) and fair in some circumstances. But as a team member who just joined a company (DAXKO) who cares about culture, the devil is in the details for me.  We (DAXKO) don't do the cheer-leading described above, but still the cynics, mostly internal, are there and the thought process goes something like this:

--Why are we spending so much time on culture?  We need to be focused on results!

--Stop promoting the culture.  Life is tough here (we're asked to work hard) and the promotion doesn't match the reality.

And that's in a company with no Zappo's-like culture/cheerleading.  So, how do you look to build culture AND build authenticity at the same time?.  How do you silence the critics who say you're a cheerleader?  The answer is pretty simple for me.

Make your culture operational in nature.  Figure out what you want your Talent DNA to be so it matches your culture, and then be unyielding in your drive to hire only those who have the DNA chromosome your're looking for, and be willing to fire those who lose that DNA once they're in the door or faked you out in the interview process. 

Put your money where your mouth is by defining who fits, then hire and fire accordingly.  My guess is that the cynicism goes waaaay down if you're willing to do that.

UPDATE: Grant McCracken will be the guest on this Thursday's HR Happy Hour show with my friend Steve Boese (Click here for details).  You should check it out...

Hell Hath No Fury Like Someone Scorned In the Digital Age...

Blogs. Twitter. Facebook.

Ever wonder why we don't see more people, who think they have been wronged by someone, set up a micro-site/micro-account to tell the world about that person's transgressions?

It doesn't happen often, but every once in awhile when it does, I'm always surprised we don't see more of it.  Need proof of the potential?  Just ask Oracle President Charles Phillips.  Brace yourself, because this one has some sting:

"Over the course of several days this week, a series of mysterious billboards popped up in NewOracle York and other cities showing romantic photographs of the co-president of Oracle with a woman.

On one of the billboards that appeared in New York on Times Square, the words “Charles & YaVaughnie” were posted along with “You are my soul mate forever!” The note was signed “cep,” referring apparently to Charles E. Phillips Jr., the Oracle co-president.

Last night, Mr. Phillips offered something of an explanation: he was having an affair, which he said had since ended. The woman in the photographs is not his wife, Karen, but his former mistress, YaVaughnie Wilkins, and he acknowledged a long-term relationship with her.

The billboards are apparently an attempt by Ms. Wilkins to embarrass Mr. Phillips. Ms. Wilkins could not immediately be reached for comment last night."

Billboards in Times Square cost 10's of thousands of dollars, so I get this avenue's not available to the accounting clerk who got termed for performance reasons but feels your controller is too loose and free with the expense account.  Still, billboards wouldn't do that individual much good anyway.  You know what would?  A microblog that is set up via Blogger or Typepad that either features that person telling the world why they think they were wronged or simply dishes dirt in an unrelated way.  The digital tools are actually better than a billboard in that the links to the site end up going viral and the media isn't a "one and done" proposal - instead they can be updated whenever the scorned has a new thought to share.

Need proof on the value of media in this area?  Ask former CEO Chuck Jett, who is stil getting hammered by a hate blog.

So authoring tools are available to anyone, and people feel like they got jobbed every day.  Why don't we see more of these types of acts via blogs, Twitter and Facebook?

I suspect it's because most of us have to work, and setting up a blog to strike back at someone or a company tends to be the equivalent of career Harikiri.  After all, if I'm looking to hire you and your rant blog at a former employer comes up in the Google search, what's to say you wouldn't do the same thing to me?

That, my friends, is the great equalizer...

Stuff the Capitalist (aka KD) Likes - Rage Against the Machine....

Who am I?  Who cares?  Good questions.  It's my site so I'm going to tap into Fridays once in awhile by telling you more about who I am - via a "Stuff I Like" series.  Nothing too serious, just exploring the micro-niche that resides at the base of all of our lives.  Potshots encouraged in the comments.

"The movie ran through meRage-against-the-machine-evil-empire
The glamour subdue me
The tabloid untie me
I'm empty please fill me
Mister anchor assure me
That Baghdad is burning
Your voice it is so soothing"

It's true.  If you see a White Sequoia rolling down Rodeo

Lakeshore Drive in Birmingham and hear a big booming bass, it's probably not Josh Groban.  It's Rage Against the Machine.

And, it's me driving.  Strange beats for a white guy VP of HR who lives in a county that votes 90% Republican?

Why's it strange?  For starters, I can't post the lyrics I'd like to share because they focus on:

-how "the man" (my words, not theirs) keeps us down (they say it a little stronger)..

-a general distaste/hatred for law enforcement (oops, my wife's a career prosecutor)..

-the need for revolution and an overwhelming respect for socialist icons (I have a tshirt on my wall that reads "Capitalist")...

But I digress.. The reason I love Rage is because regardless of the lyrics, the riffs are golden and the lyrics tell you to get off your *$$ and challenge the status quo.  You don't like something?  Things are feeling lame?  Mommy didn't love you?

Stop whining and do something about it.  Call it for what it is - something that sucks - then do something about it.  Don't be a victim. Here's a thought - start outworking someone to create something that makes it better.

And if you start a revolution and happened to get capped.. Well, that's just the cost of doing business.  There's always someone with a PistolGrip Pump on their lap at all times.

But at least you weren't a victim.  Testify.

(note - one of the most underrated CDs of all time is the RATM CD of covers, where they feature remakes of Eric B and Rakim's "Microphone Fiend" and Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm")

"I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
No, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more
Well, I wake up in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain.
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin' me insane
It's a shame
the way she makes me
scrub the floor"

Word.  How can good not come out of RATM covering that? Happy Friday.

Recognition on Small Scale: It's Not About Rewards, It's About Team Chemistry...

One of the things that I'm interested in and probably a little jaded about is the topic of recognition.  You see, I've never needed praise to be motivated, so I naturally am a little cynical when it comes to the topic of recognition.  That's not a great fit for a VP of HR, but hey - we all have strengths and weaknesses.

My natural disposition of not needing a lot of recognition makes me especially skeptical of formally celebrating small things that happen daily in an organization.  After all, the feeling goes, if we celebrate EVERYTHING, how can we truly distinguish between the little things and what REALLY matters.  Then I saw the video below at my friend Steve Boese's HR Technology Blog

Watch the video below and then let's talk.  REALLY watch this basketball player (Andrew Bogut of the Milwaukee Bucks) after he makes a free throw:

For those of you that don't know the culture of basketball, it's now common and customary for teammates to come up after a free throw and give the shooter a high/low five before he shoots his second shot.  Being the old school guy I am, I've from time to time moaned that the guys on TV don't need to celebrate everything.

This video puts me in my place.  The small encouragement for a teammate isn't recognition at all.  It's team chemistry.  I'm wrong to have felt the way I did.

Let's look at what Bogut did.  His team (the Bucks) are in the dramatic minority in that the two teammates on the side of the lane did not come up to encourage him after the first shot.  I'm guessing Bogut is used to this, because instead of staying on the line, he comes forward and is either trying to give himself encouragement or is mocking the fact that his teammates won't give him encouragement that has become customary at the college and pro level.  Get with the program, he seems to be saying. Either way, it's bad.

Is there any doubt after viewing that the Bucks are in decline as a team?  If they refuse this level of chemistry, what happens when teamwork and chemistry is really required?

Small recognitions in the day-to-day workplace.  It's not always about recognition, sometimes it's about encouragement and chemistry.  Don't be jaded (like me) and kid yourself that it doesn't matter.

Using the Trailer Park Industry for Your Next Company Video Spoof...

Every year, we do a "Kickoff" meeting at DAXKO to get the year started.  Mixture of several things, including talking about the strategic thing, breakouts, entertainment, and yes...

...parodies.  Often of the video kind.Cullman-liquidation

This year's target?  Trailer parks. Sweet.

If you spend time watching videos on YouTube, chances are you've come across some from Rhett & Link.  They're the guys who did the hilarious Taco Bell drive-thru folk song, the Facebook Song, and dozens of others, which together have generated well over 25 million views. 

Their latest target was Cullman Liquidation, a mobile home company in Cullman, Alabama.  For them, Rhett & Link have made a commercial which is billed as "painfully honest and epic."  Take a look at the local spot that went viral through YouTube (email subscribers click through for video).  I love it:

With that in mind, when the DAXKO swat team was looking for a parody target, our own Jere Chandler targeted the...um...Cullman retailer.  As luck would have it, someone at DAXKO knew one of the players at the Cullman Trailer Company, which explains her guest appearance in the resulting parody.

Sweet stuff.  Take a look below.  Or don't.  I don't care.

Brain Flex: You Own a McDonald's Franchise - How Much Would You Pay For 10% More in Revenue?

Skin in the game - a ubiquitous term to describe the fact that someone has a vested interest in the outcome you desire - would seem to be a worthy goal of any incentive comp plan.  Of course, things like figuring out how much impact someone has on business outcomes are usually the biggest barriers to truly linking performance with pay.

Once in awhile, though, you get a clean shot at what someone is actually worth.  Take the example of McDonaldsthe Manager position at McDonalds, responsible for all operations of a single McDonalds location.  BusinessWeek sets the stage for evaluating the value of the high-performing McDonalds manager as follows:

"Inside the McDonald's (MCD) off Interstate 270 in suburban St. Louis, manager Sadie Travis is hustling. Amid the beeping and buzzing of fry timers, Travis at any given moment is voiding orders at the register, handing out cups for drinks, wiping trays, or stuffing toys into Happy Meal boxes.

If only the fast-food titan could get more people like her to run its 6,700 company-owned restaurants. While an average McDonald's grosses $2.2 million a year, seasoned managers who motivate employees and keep customers coming back can add more than $200,000 to that total. "Restaurant managers are in the most important position in our company," says Richard Floersch, McDonald's chief human resources officer. Yet despite generous salaries—up to $62,000 plus bonus and company car, say insiders—turnover is a constant concern in an industry that typically sees 43% of its staff leave each year."

So, a high performing manager who cares nets you an additional 200K in revenue (roughly 10% more revenue) per location, if you own a franchise or a block of franchises.  That sounds good.  The real question is what would you offer that manager above and beyond the 62K salary, bonus and car (total package 80K) to hang around and help you access the additional 200K?

To come up with a good answer to that question, you need the net income figures for the average store.  McDonald's locations are widely reported to have an average profit margin of 6-8%.  With that in mind, I'm going to assume that the profit margins for the additional 200K in revenue are higher, since most of the embedded costs (lease/mortgage, labor, marketing, franchise fees) are already booked, and it's the skills of the manager that deliver the additional 200K.  I'm going to guess the margins on the last 200K, above the store average, are at a profit margin of 12%, although it could be higher.

So, with the 12% profit margin number, the additional 200K means 24K in additional earnings to you the owner.  How would you bring the store manager into that?  Me?  I'd determine the baseline for the store, and assuming it was similar to the national averages, I would implement profit sharing on the 200K that delivered half of the earnings to the manager.  That would equate into an additional 12K in earnings for the McDonalds manager above and beyond the 75-80K in total comp they now receive.

Why such a high percentage?  I want them to stay.  Sure, I want to keep some of the earnings myself, but getting the revenue as high as possible is important for the valuation of the business, an important factor if I want to sell at some point, which every business person has on their radar.

Your thoughts?  Too much, not enough?  It's a Retention 101 question.

SHAMWOW ALERT: I'm Not Here to Help You Sell Your Product, Mr. Voluntary Benefits Provider...

Warning - HR Capitalist opinion ahead which many HR professionals will not agree with....

Topic - "Voluntary Benefits", defined as benefits in which the employee pays all of the cost, providesShamwow employees with options for benefits and insurance coverage they might not otherwise be able to afford.  The affordability of such benefits is usually enhanced by the fact that employees can often pay for voluntary benefits with pre-tax dollars.

It's back on my mind again after reading this from William Strahan at Human Markets:

"The first offer was to offer free administration of our health and welfare plans.  The administrator would also provide access to their suite of voluntary benefits (auto, home, pet insurance and the like).  They say this with a straight face.

The second offer is even more insidious.  They will provide my employees discounts on electronics – their focus is on computers.  They will help our employees bridge the digital divide.  The employee can even pay for the merchandise over time.  How?  Through payroll deductions.  In a variation on this theme there is no direct purchase of merchandise but there is a debit type card set up.  Again the payments come directly through payroll deductions.

Reasonable people can disagree.  All of these pitches came with lists of current clients that are very impressive.  In my view however, this is a pretty clear market transaction.  I am selling these companies access to my employee base as a sales channel with a built-in collection agency.  The economics 0f this for the vendor seem amazing.  The employer does the heavy lifting of branding and marketing to a group of people with steady jobs and provides an authorative mechanism to provide payment.  The normal risks of extending credit and running a retail operation vanish.  By lowering the risk profile of the sale, the vendor gets a much more profitable operation.  As for the administration vendor – they provide a real service but also get marketing access to sell more services to the employee group."

Sounds noble, right?  Read William's entire post for his view of the drawbacks. Here are a few problems from my view that are often overlooked:

-Voluntary benefits usually include benefit classes like supplemental life insurance, long-term care and auto/property insurance that can have wildly variable cost structures based on the provider and the demographics that are insured.

-HR shops don't do RFPs that closely canvas each class of voluntary benefits.  They usually are hit by a comprehensive provider like an ADP, which provides a package of voluntary benefits with some high margin products built in.  If an HR shop doesn't do a comprehensive provider of the benefits, then they are usually assaulted by the bank or insurance agent with the most aggressive marketing strategy.  In that scenario, HR people are often bad at saying no.

-Everyone, including the employee and the voluntary benefits provider, loves the concept of voluntary benefit costs being automatically deducted from their paycheck.   Employees love it for the convenience and the fact they don't have to track it.  The providers love it because they don't have to collect money.  Once the automatic deduction is in, it's hard to get out.

Put all that together, and it's complicated.  Here's the biggest issue I have, and one of the reasons I haven't opened my shop up in a big way to voluntary benefits since I arrived at my current company - I feel responsible for the solicitation.  If I'm going to open up our employee base to a voluntary benefit, for which the employee is going to pay 100% of the cost, I feel like I am VOUCHING for its quality and value across the marketplace.

And there's no doubt that employees expect you to be looking out for their best interests.  So, they take the voluntary coverage, if available, often without shopping. 

If I am going to allow an auto insurance product to be marketed to my employees through our normal channels, I feel like I need to say the quality/price combination is the best in the marketplace.   And that, my friends, is hard to do.

And that's why I traditionally have said no to the concept of voluntary benefits. 

Comparing Candidates: Sometimes You've Got to Turn Into a Group Therapist in HR...

Hey everybody!  It's time for a candidate breakdown/comparison session!  Let's get the gang together and nitpick some candidates to death!

Seriously - if you're an HR pro who recruits and want to cut your time to fill, it's time to get the hiringTherapy managers/influencers together and compare the candidates. Push them already.  Otherwise, the trail goes cold, and it's hard to get anybody to move - and you'll be 30 days removed from today.

Step one: Get the hiring manager(s) and all people who interviewed the candidates together in one room. Harder than it looks, and let's face it - if you don't do it, no one will.

Step two: Lead the session and tell everyone why they are there.  I recommend something like, "We're meeting because in the past we've delayed making a decision, and it's ultimately cost us the candidate we wanted.  So we're here to go through the candidates, figure out where we are and get an offer out."

I recently did this and had one influencer direct the paraphrased words to me:  "Let's stop messing around", which I think was said more in the spirit of "why are we wasting time with a meeting" than "let's make an offer, already".  The ego side of me might get defensive about that comment, since it implied I was a bureaucrat that valued meetings more than results.  But the more mature and experienced version of KD just sees opportunity in that statement.

Why?  Because I called the meeting because we aren't making offer decisions fast enough (and that person may or may not have been part of the problem). And that statement gives me the license to say the following: "Frank, I agree.  Let's freaking decide now and make people stop laughing at us."

Which leads directly into the remaining steps for the therapy session:

Step three: Compare the trade-offs between candidates, and if the meeting starts with a statement like "Let's stop messing around", it's my job to push the emotional button more. My style on this is to lead the review on a candidate-by-candidate basis, and make everyone talk (hiring manager and influencers alike).  I make each person walk me through the pros/cons of the candidates from their perspectives, then I compare and contrast thoughts and try to draw people out to discuss areas of conflict.  I'm like a marital therapist in that regard ("why don't you express yourself to her more"... ha).

Step four: Drag out the elephant in the room: Relative value for salary level and resulting fit for team and position.  Becky's great, but she cost 10K more than Ralph, who's not as good but is pretty good.  Who's better for us?  It's your job to drag the relative $$ value equation out in the open, or no one will do it.  Make them talk about it and give opinions.  Money concerns and the inability to reconcile the "talent for relative salary" between candidates is a major cause of delay in the hiring process.  If you don't lead this, often no one will.

Step five: Make people vote on the offer(s) they would make after hearing the dialog in question.  Start with the influencers, then end with the hiring manager in question, who will be making the final decision.  (Note: you should have a conversation with the hiring manager in question to ensure he/she understands what you are doing.  At the end of the process, if they are weak and go with the consensus rather than what you heard them say in the session, you might have to jump in and challenge that.  All a part of you driving a transparent process).

In the final stage of the recruiting process, you're one part closer, one part therapist, one part Mom, and one part shark.  You'll need all those things in your DNA to drive people to make a decision/offer at times. 

Be the ball, Danny.

The Secret to HR That Matters...

My friends Tim Sackett , Steve Boese and I are currently reading the same book - "The Book of Basketball" by Bill Simmons, which is a 700-page opus on the history of talent in pro basketball.

But wait - don't leave yet!  There's a secret I want you to know about HR that was highlighted via this book.  One of the early nuggets in the book is universally despised NBA great Isiah Thomas telling Simmons the "secret" of winning in basketball, which Tim Sackett captured from the book over at Fistful of Talent as follows:

"Don't worry about yourself (and your own success), worry about your team's success, that is, if you truly want to be successful."Book of basketball

Nice advice and easily transferred to any team environment.  Isiah means you shouldn't worry about how many shots you get, how many points you score, etc. Sackett followed that quote by sharing his Secret to Great HR over at FOT:

"The secret is extraordinarily simple, it's all about a few close relationships.  Depending on what type of organization you come from, it has to do with the relationship you have with those who are running operations. First, every organization has some type of operation - meaning every organization produces something - product, service, etc. Even in church, the pastor runs operations - sharing the gospel with people, for example."

Go read Tim's whole post at FOT, because it's a good one.  I'm going to throw my own two cents into the conversation and tell you what I consider to be the Secret to Great HR.  Here's my advice:

"Find a way to say yes."  

Period.  Next question

Find a way to say yes - that's the secret to great HR.  To build on Tim's thoughts, finding a way to say "yes" is how you develop relationships with the folks in operations.  For years, many in operations have been scarred by less than satisfactory relationships with HR types.  Ask enough questions, and you'll find that's because they're used to the "command and control" version of HR, one that specialized in saying no.

You want to be great HR?  Find a way to say yes.  Then watch how the operations folks start digging you.

To be clear, that doesn't mean you roll over on things that are harmful to the organization.  Instead, it means you pick your battles, say yes outright to as many small things as you can and don't sweat the small stuff.  Then, when the stakes are high and you need them to do "stuff" to make their solutions palatable, you say yes, then tell them the 1 or 2 things you need before you can agree with or implement their solution. 

Because you say yes as much as you can, the ops folks hear you asking for 1 or 2 things before they get to do what they want, and guess what - they'll actually want to help do the right thing.

The secret to great HR - find a way to say yes.