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November 2010

I'm Harassed By Your Affairs With Others: A New Legal Threat Emerges (Gender Plus)...

Mark Hurd... David Letterman... <Fill in the Blank>...

What do all those guys have in common?  They all made choices related to relationships in the workplace Gender plus that were ultimately leveraged against them.

I'm a big advocate of avoiding workplace relationships of any kind if you're a manager of people.  I know, many of you met your former spouse at your company.  I get it.  It worked well for you and I'm happy for you.  The thing is, for every you, there are 5 people it doesn't work out as well for.  Especially if they're managers of people...

Here's what I've traditionally told managers about workplace relationships starring them:

1. If you choose to have a relationship in the workplace, you at least need to ensure it's not with someone on your team.

2. Even if the workplace relationship you choose to engage in isn't with someone on your team, you're still held to a higher expectation of judgment than employees without direct reports.  You represent the company.

3. Your willingness to have a relationship with someone in your company always presents greater risk that you'll be held hostage at a future date.

How could you be held hostage, especially if your fling was with someone from another team?  

Repeat after me.... Down economy + Employees worrying about their jobs = Complaints against your behavior...

BECAUSE.... Complaints against your behavior = Job protection because your company wants to avoid the expense and drama of a retaliation claim.

It's called leverage, and it's been around since cavemen were grunting instead of having 3 martini lunches.

Third party claims - meaning those filed by employees who weren't even involved in the relationship in question - are on the rise.  Take a look at the logic behind the "Gender Plus" claim now on the rise related to office romance:

"Third party discrimination claims have helped further the rise in retaliation and develop the legal theory of "Gender Plus." Regarding the latter, courts have ruled that when a romance enters the office, an employee can prove discrimination based on gender "plus" another particular characteristic. If a manager's failed office romance forces him or her to focus more heavily on the work, his increasing demands on, for example, a pregnant underling could give her the grounds for a lawsuit. Under Gender Plus, the pregnant woman could allege that the office romance had provided an underlying basis for a separate act of discrimination. "When the courts find in favor of the client, then interpretation of the law gets expanded," says Dr. John A. Pearce II, an endowed chairman at Villanova School of Business. "We're seeing the emergence of more and more third party cases. Attorneys go to court and say, 'Following the logic of these laws, we think that you ought to find in favor of our client in this particular new twist.' And that's exactly what's happened."

Did your head explode after reading that?  It's like 6 degrees of separation to follow, but there you have it: "Gender Plus" claims.  One more way that managers of people who elect to engage in workplace relationships can cause themselves pain.

As for you HR pros out there who now have something else to worry about?  You're welcome.  I'm a giver....

The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #91 is from Fast Times at Ridgemont High: "Learn It, Know It, Live It..."

New series at the Capitalist: The Top 100 Movie Quotes of all time for HR Pros.  In no special order, I break down the 100 movie quotes that resonate most for me as a career HR pro.  Some will be funny, some will be serious... Some will tug at your heart like when the Fox voice-over guy said, "Tonight - a very special episode of 90210"... You get the vibe... I'll do it countdown-style like they're ranked, but let's face it - they're ALL special..

#91: "Learn it, Know It, Live It..."

That's right, the #91 Movie Quote of all time for HR Pros is from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  I'm Fast times sure this movie will be back later in the series.  

The scene is pretty simple. Jeff Spicoli comes into the fast food joint where straight-laced Brad Hamilton is working, leading a crew of stoners to remove their shirts in a willful challenge to the "no shirt, no shoes, no dice" policy.

Hamilton, who's an assistant manager as a high schooler and clearly on the fast track, shows why he will live in corporate America and be successful well into his 50s.  He sees the Spicoli crew come in, and rather than avoid the problem, he engages said stoners in an effort to get them to put their shirts back on.

HR people have to be cops sometimes.  The key in being a cop is how you approach it.  People break some rules and you're the one who has to deal with it.  You can be formal and stiff, which is the approach many HR pros take.

Or you be like Brad Hamilton.  Conversational.  Making fun of the rules a little bit while you enforce them.  Without question, Brad is the one who put up the sign.  Instead of going with the standard, "No shirt, no shoes, no service" line, he spices it up with the "no dice" tag.


Then, he does what great HR pros do when they see a problem:  He engages immediately, but what makes him different is the fact that he's not stiff as he does it.  He points it out, then comes out from behind the counter.  At this point, he's not looking to simply kick them out, which is the approach the stereotypical HR pro would have.  Instead, he even mocks the seriousness of the rule in the big scheme of things a bit with the "Learn it, know it, live it" tag.  Is it life and death?  No.  Do I need you to put your stoner shirt back on?  Yes.  I'm mocking the rule a bit to give you a wink and tell you I get it.

So put your freaking shirt back on and help me out...  

It's a lesson in problem resolution for HR pros.  And a great stoner scene to boot....

Business Lesson: Go Where The Big Guys Won't Go...

Taking a break from things pure talent to talk a bit about business strategy, namely the power of finding your niche.

Example:  Birmingham-based Hibbett Sports.  They're growing, and a big part of the market opportunity they have is knowing who they are and where they can play, then doing that better than anyone else.  More on the growth at Hibbett's from the Birmingham News:

"Birmingham's Hibbett Sports Inc., fresh off a robust third-quarter performance, is increasing the Hibbett number of stores it'll open next year as it launches a major expansion of its store base. Hibbett CEO Jeff Rosenthal said the retailer expects to open about 40 new stores in its current fiscal year, 10 more than previously projected. And the company has identified 400 additional small markets that could be home to stores in coming years. 

Rosenthal said the company could have more than 1,200 stores in its 26-state area, up from 789 today. He didn't put a time frame on that store count. 

The ashes of one retail chain with Alabama ties could help spur further the growth of Hibbett.  Rosenthal said several new Hibbett stores will open inside the shells of former Movie Gallery locations, giving the sporting goods retailer the opportunity to look into freestanding locations. He said it makes real estate available for Hibbett, providing it a chance to grow. 

Movie Gallery, based in Dothan before moving to Oregon, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, and won court approval last month on its liquidation plan. Once the nation's second-largest movie rental chain, Movie Gallery closed down all of its more than 2,500 stores across the United States, most of them in the same kind of small markets that Hibbett likes to operate in."

Here's the cool thing about Hibbett's:  They sensed a hole in the market and they've filled it.  Big sports retailers like Sport's Authority and Dick's Sporting Goods open huge stores in the richest suburbs. Hibbett's, for the most part, doesn't try to play that game.  They locate most of their stores in the next population circle, in the small towns 30-40 miles outside those suburban centers.  They have stores that are the size of - you guessed it - a Movie Gallery or Blockbluster.  They offer greater sports selection than general retailers like Wal-Mart can in the same small town area, and as a result, the local population is thrilled to have them there.  

Now, based on that strategy, they're about to be the beneficiary of the death of the movie rental chain.  They can expand and get great terms in those small town slots vacated by Movie Gallery, because let's face it, no one else is going to grab that space.  They'll get great deals on space with easy opt outs if it doesn't work out, meaning they have a clear path to book lots more revenue with limited expansion risk.

Know who you are.  Know who you can be, then exploit the hell out of that position.  Sounds like a good lesson for your company's employment brand, and maybe for the HR profession in general. 

The 3 Stages of Using Video in Your Employment Brand...

Let's face it - using video to enhance your employment brand is easy and hard.  Let's break down the reality:

--It's Easy- You've got cameras like the Flip Mino out there, which just so happens to be perfect to deliver web-quality video, which is how you're going to use video in employment branding anyway.  With that in mind, video has never been easier.  You don't have technology excuses, the only excuses left are related to...wait for it...you...

--It's Hard - You want to weave video into your employment branding efforts?  Then you need to have your flip camera with you daily.  It takes discipline, and that's not even mentioning the fact that you have to be enough of a culture hound to stick the camera in someone's face without apology.  The discipline and extroversion required make weaving video into your branding efforts hard, even if the technology is there.

Still, the only excuses left are related to you and to your hangups.  So, once you acquire the discipline to treat video like email when it comes to tools you use, and get over your hangups with sticking the camera in someone's face, you'll go through the following 3 stages of using video in your employment brand:

Stage 1 - Rookie: You film some testimonials of employees saying your company is great.

Stage 2 - Culture Capture: You film actual events and conversations within your company in a non-scripted fashion, giving the external audience an actual taste of what your culture is like.

Stage 3 - You start making fun of yourself as an entity, meaning you have a sense of humor and don't take yourself too seriously.

Which one is best?  I'm still learning, but it's clear to me that companies that never migrate past Stage 1 don't ever fully realize the potential of video, and the testimonials can be counter-productive if they don't appear spontaneous enough.  Stage 2 is the sweet spot - companies that do a good job of capturing "a day in the life" within their company have the best chance at making video a tool that allows candidates to feel like they're involved in the conversation.

Stage 3 is a graduate level course.  The ability to make fun of yourself and be looser than your competitors can make a big difference, but you can't do ONLY Stage 3.  You've got to rely on the day-to-day stuff captured in Stage 2, then mix in some Stage 3 content.

So, if you're starting out, get to Stage 2 quickly, then mix in some Stage 3.

Want some examples of Stage 3?  Here's a clip from NBA all-star Steve Nash, where he's asking for your all-star vote, with clips of him making AWFUL plays mixed in.  Nice. 

The point?  You should watch videos like this and think about what you can pull off in your own environment to get to Stage 3 when it comes to employment branding via video. 

Get to work in 2010, Tarantino...

Who Got Their Last Job Through Social Networks? College Educated Ys and High-End Professionals

Short post today but good stuff nonetheless...

We hype social media and social networks a bunch as bloggers.  But does anyone really get a job through contacts and conversations had through social media? JobSeekerNation_293x280_7

As it turns out, yes.  But not everybody has the same level of success.

Jobvite just released "The Jobvite Survey: Job Seeker Nation 2010".  Go check it out, they're doing stuff like breaking down job hunters into three categories - Active job seekers, stationary employees and proactive career managers.  

Proactive career managers - the ones who aren't actively looking but would leave you like you had leprosy if the right job came along - make up 53% of all job seekers.

Good stuff.  But what I find most interesting in the survey is who has the most success finding jobs via social networks... Check out the chart to the right, and you'll see that those landing in $100K+ jobs and those landing in jobs paying $25-49K have the most success using social networks to find a new gig.

Which confirms what I thought I knew, which is as follows:

-100K candidates are most likely to use LinkedIn effectively, thus the effectiveness %...

-College educated Gen Ys (they'll make $25-49K out of the gate) know how to use all technology...

-Middle managers and middle career folks are slow to uptake new technology because they're comfortable, and it's just too much effort...

-The low end worker doesn't have the tools and perhaps the skills to compete in the digital world.

My observations based on the chart from the Jobvite survey to the right.  What's your take?  

Go check out The Jobvite Survey: Job Seeker Nation 2010 today...

How Non-Competes for Execs and Lebron James Are Linked...

"We wanted you to be who you said you'd be".

That's the money quote from a Cleveland resident in the video response to the new Lebron ad below.  Go take a look at the video and then come back.

You're back?  Great.  Did you hear the quote, the one that truly matters?

"We wanted you to be who you said you'd be".  

It's at the :57 mark of the video, and it's followed by audio clips from the past of Lebron saying he's got one goal, to bring a championship to Cleveland, and he won't stop 'til he gets it.

Sucks to be living the dream in the micro media age, where everything you say is recorded.

My point?  I'm generally a hands off guy when it comes to non-competes in the workplace.  I think you ought to be able to complete for talent, and feel the pressure to retain that talent, without relying on the billy club of a non-compete that threatens to freeze an employee out of working in an industry for a year or more.

Then I watched this video and thought to myself: Lebron's a lot like a CEO.  He's had the mic for years, and he's willingly taken a leadership position and the benefits that come with that.  Like your CEO, he's been the face of the franchise, charting the course, drawing the people into the mission and creating emotional ties with all stakeholders.

My analysis, as a result of this video: Executives at the C level, maybe next level down in your company, should be tied to a higher standard when it comes to non-competes that limit their ability to work immediately for other companies in your industry.

This standard is already there, for many through employment contracts that create a clear tie and trade for the limited mobility, and also in caselaw that naturally seems to enforce non-competes for execs to a greater degree.    

Still, there ought to be a specific law.  You can't take the mic repeatedly as a C level, whip up emotional connections and think you are the same as the developer or the project manager who has a non-compete.  You're different.  You started being different when you displayed the ego necessary to drive strategy and chart the course of the company.

"We wanted you to be who you said you'd be".  

My Strategic Guidance for SHRM - Have a Take X2

I recently contributed to a series at Voice of HR designed to give strategic guidance to SHRM for 2011 and beyond. I focused my advice on one thing - have a take, have an opinion.  Here's a taste of what I shared at Voice of HR:

"My strategic guidance for SHRM is pretty simple.  Have a take.  Share your opinion. Opinion-logo

SHRM's full of smart people at headquarters.  I know because I've met many of them in person or talked to them over the phone over the last couple of years.

But I digress.  My strategic guidance for SHRM is to identify the 30 people in the organization who have the ability to share opinions with the world related to their view of what's going on in the business world.  HR is included in that world, by the way.  

Find 30 people who have professional credibility, strong opinions and aren't afraid to share them with the world. They can be from any part of the organization, doesn't matter.  Get those people writing opinions and talking about their views on what's going on.  Promote the hell out of them, see if they're better than the HR voices that are out there now.... Put a Huffington Post feel over the top of all that basic content."

The main reason I focused on the need for SHRM to start brokering in opinions is the fact that HR people get paid to have opinions, to have takes.  HR people can't afford to say middle of the road statements like, "we're not anti-union, we just.... blah, blah, blah...."  

The best HR people tell you what they think.  If SHRM wants to find new energy, they're going to have to start having a take, they're going to have to model that behavior.  They have the talent to pull it off.  The question is, will their culture allow it?   

Sadly, the answer is probably no.  

Case in point, I got a note from SHRM last week that was intended to give some great news to someone like me:  HRCI (the certification arm of SHRM) has opted to give recertification credit to bloggers like me.  


Hold on, let's look at the fine print from the message I received:

"We plan to send out a release about the fact that the Institute has updated its Research/Publishing recertification category to allow for blog writers to get credit for fact-based blog posts. I thought you might be interested in hearing about it now, however, since you are an active blogger.

The new policy requires that the posts not be considered editorial-opinion, must be on a website that is accessible to the public and be at least 700 words long.  If you are planning on coming to next week's SHRM Leadership Conference, it would be great to meet you and to get you in touch with <name removed for privacy>, as it was <name removed>'s team, along with a task force of HR professionals, who put the new policy together."

It's a classic case of not understanding what it takes to be an HR leader.  Some smart people at HRCI have done a cool thing for people like me, and by allowing blogging to qualify for recertification credits, they've taken a step into the digital age.

But, by putting the restriction of "fact-based blog posts", they've shown one of two things related to what it takes to be an HR leader in the field:

A. They don't understand that HR leaders get paid to take the facts they're referring to, and have opinions about the best way for the business they support to proceed; or 

B. They can't get their head around allowing that behavior to be credited in the certification process, which is a cultural, risk-adverse position that shows they'd rather be administrative than strategic.

To SHRM staffers reading this:  I know you're sharp and smart.  What can be done to change the culture and get the organization to start taking some risks and have opinions?

I Love Rewards, But I Love Public, Viral Recognition More...

I'm the first one to tell you that all HR pros have strengths and weaknesses.  One of my weaknesses is the landscape of rewards and recognition.

There are a couple of reasons it's a weakness of mine.  First up, I know based on experience that the Iloverewardslogo stickiest recognition play an organization can have is a manager who has shown he/she really cares about the people who work for them.  It's just true, and that reality makes me naturally cynical of big rewards programs. The reason is pretty simple and can be conveyed in the following formulas:

--great manager + quality rewards programs = good to great retention and employee satisfaction

--bad manager + quality rewards programs = below average retention and employee satisfaction

What's missing from those formulas?  Recognition.  And I'm not talking about service awards.  I'm talking about recognition that, in addition to telling someone 1-on-1 how well they're performing, tells the company and the world how well the employee in question is performing.

Great managers recognize people one-on-one and publically.  It's an art.  It's in their DNA.  Average to bad managers can't do that nearly as well.  They're socially awkward in that way.

So, it stands to reason that any rewards vendor that's serious about truly helping companies needs to help the awkward managers figure out the recognition piece.  At the HR Technology Conference in late September, I found the company that best fits my world view when it comes to rewards and recogntion - It's a company called I Love Rewards.

What makes I Love Rewards different to an HR Pro like me who usually starts yawning when the rewards companies start calling?  It's certainly not the rewards catalog, which is online and allows employees receiving awards to amass points and choose their own gift.  We've all seen that.  I'm sure it's a world class online catalog of gifts, but they all seem the same to me.

No, the secret attraction of I Love Rewards is the social integration they've created that can help the socially awkward manager recognize team members publically.  Here's the recognition workflow that I Love Rewards uses that makes them different:

1. Employees log into their company’s internal rewards program and access their recognition via the rewards summary page (FaceBook like newsfeed) and share whichever recognition they choose from either their peers and/or higher-ups to their entire personal and professional network.  

2. When they choose to share the recognition, they choose the social options that matter (FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn).

3. Once they choose which network with they wish to share their recognition, their entire network has access to it (meaning all followers see the recognition as a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn update).

But wait, there's more.  And this round is for the company...

4. The company logo is always visible on the left and a tidbit of the reason for the recognition on the right. The recognition can be fully accessed by clicking the reason for which the employee was recognized.

5. The reason opens in a new window with a customizable banner ad, which can be used to drive recruitment initiatives and direct potential candidates back to the company’s website.

Think about that.  Instead of an employee just redeeming their points for a new smartphone, they're actually opting to share recognition inside and outside the company by allowing the I Love Rewards feed to update their social networks.  Then I, as a part of your external network, see the recognition, and decide to click through to read the whole thing.  I think, "damn, that sounds like a cool place to work", see the banner ad for open positions at your company, click on it, etc.

That's cool stuff.  Other smart, nimble vendors in the HR space like Sonar6, Rypple (performance management) will get to this, but to my knowledge, I Love Rewards is there first.

I wasn't paid for this post.  I Love Rewards has simply done something so cool that you needed to know about it.  And anyone who can influence me to write about rewards programs is someone you should check out.

My New Company: Kinetix!

Some of you might remember that I announced at the end of August that I was leaving a great job to do something purely entrepreneurial with my career.  It's been busy since I left DAXKO, but I've made some big decisions along the way.

First up, I wanted to let you know that as part of my strategy, I've elected to buy a piece of an KIN-Logo-NoTag RPO company based in Atlanta named Kinetix.  I've known the sole holder of the company for awhile (Shannon Russo - check her out here - she fits the vibe at both the HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent), and I think she's a great match for me as a business partner.  

Kinetix is a RPO firm for growth companies that does 3 things - Recruitment Process Outsourcing, where companies outsource all or big chunks of their recruiting needs, single position recruiting/staffing on a contingency/retained/contract basis, and HR Consulting.  Our company is the perfect size for growth moving forward, thus my purchase.  I'm excited about continuing to practice what truly energizes me - HR and recruiting - and hope to help more people as an owner of my own firm than I could as a corporate guy.

You can find our V1 of a new website at www.kinetixhr.com.  The site will mature over time... But take a minute or two to read some pages on the site.  If you like the Capitalist and/or Fistful of Talent, you'll like what you see on this site.  We're dedicated to telling clients the truth, and we're not afraid to take risks in doing so.

You'll start seeing me affiliated with this company, so I wanted to let you know.  I'll be listed as the Chief Human Resources Officer, but make no mistake, I'm also an owner.  It's amazing how different it feels when you make the commitment required via a big investment.  

Energizing?  Sure.  Scary?  You bet.  I've apparently got more fear than Eminem does these days.

As far as how the HR Capitalist or Fistful of Talent fits into any of this, it's pretty easy to describe. Neither the Capitalist or FOT will get rolled into Kinetix, both will remain independent voices.  My bio will obviously say that I founded FOT and I write there and at the Capitalist, but we won't co-opt either into Kinetix, etc.  

One thing that's pretty obvious to me is this:  Shannon's just like our readership at FOT and the Capitalist - lots of energy, opinion, etc.  When I look at Kinetix as a company, Shannon's done a great job to date.  We think the challenge moving forward will be how we command a voice in the market that's differentiated from other RPO firms. 

If you know me, you probably already know my answer to that question, and Shannon agrees:  We think the way to differentiate is to grow the company in a way that looks and feels a lot like the team and readership of FOT and the HR Capitalist.  Call me a dreamer...

I'd be a lame owner if I didn't remind you that I'm looking for ways to help people like you individually and collectively moving forward.  All you have to do is call...

Google and Pay Raises: Turns Out, She's a Lot Like You....

I got a new girl now
And she's a lot like you...

--Honeymoon Suite

You know and love Google.. You use their products every day.  You've read about their culture and longed for the day that your company could be like them.

Turns out, you're more like them than you know.  They're a lot like you, and that doesn't make them less special.  It just means that even at the pinnacle, the issues you have to deal with as an HR leader are the same. Facebook_vs_google

Don't believe me?  Check the news - Google is giving all employees across the board a 10% pay raise to try to solidify the base against turnover and retention issues.  It seems that a rising company in their space (this little thing called Facebook, you'll hear about them in the next year or two) is picking off their employees like a hawk picking up field mice.  

The Google culture is deemed as special.  No doubt you've written and suggested your culture is special.  Still, people left you, just like they're now leaving Google.

Google tried to do other things to stop the turnover.   They didn't stop the bleeding.  So they did what more pedestrian companies do.  

When push came to shove, Google attempted to do what your company either 1) has done, or 2) would do if you had the means:

1. You would try and buy your way out of a retention problem by giving everyone an across the board raise.  Turnover is hard to figure out and stop.   Sometimes you just have to throw money at everyone and hope that the turnover stops.  It rarely does.

2. You've fired people for breeches of confidentiality. So has Google.

Here's the text of the memo from Google CEO Eric Schmidt courtesy of Business Insider:



I'm pleased to share some very, very good news with Googlers worldwide. But first let me say, on behalf of everyone on the management team, that we believe we have the best employees in the world. Period. The brightest, most capable group of this size ever assembled. It's why I'm excited to come to work every day--and I'm sure you feel the same way. We want to make sure that you feel rewarded for your hard work, and we want to continue to attract the best people to Google.

So that is why we've decided...to give all of you a 10% raise, effective January 1st. This salary increase is global and across the board--everyone gets a raise, no matter their level, to recognize the contribution that each and every one of you makes to Google.

There's more. We've heard from your feedback on Googlegeist and other surveys that salary is more important to you than any other component of pay (i.e., bonus and equity). To address that, we're moving a portion of your bonus into your base salary, so now it's income you can count on, every time you get your paycheck. That's also effective January 1st. You'll be receiving an email shortly with further details about these changes to your compensation. And one last thing...today we're announcing that everyone will get a holiday cash bonus, too.

Googlers, you are what makes this company great, and our goal here is to recognize you for your contribution, in a way that's meaningful to you. Thank you for all that you do, and for making Google a place where magic happens.


Translation:  It's a hard knock life, y'all.  We've got the best culture and workplace in America in terms of trinkets, and we still have a turnover issue.  We can't figure out who's going to leave, so we're going with straight cash to everyone. This proves that motivation and satisfaction are tricky things.

I love Google.  But she's a lot like you.