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August 2011

UNREAL: Hey Comrade: Don't Forget the Mandatory NLRB Posting...

My wife's a career prosecutor.  She reminds me when I don't think my vote will matter that the appointments that happen when you elect a president or governor are often more important than any actions the president or governor can enact on their own.

So elect your officials with the king-like appointments they'll make in mind. Clinton

Example - Appointed officials to the National Labor Relations Board.   You probably didn't catch this, but the current leadership has appointed people to the NLRB who think you should have to do a mandatory NLRB posting that reminds your employees that they have the right to unionize.

I kid you not.  Really?  That's what the leadership of our country thinks is a good idea?  UNREAL.

Here's the full rundown, which you should read because this is going into play soon.  Not into reading that kind of message?  Here's the cliff notes courtesy of Jon Hyman:

  • It is mandatory for all employers who are subject to the NLRB—union and non-union (which is nearly all private sector businesses).
  • Beginning November 1, each NLRB regional office will be able to provide a copy of the notice free of charge, or employers can print it directly from www.nlrb.gov.
  • The NLRB will also make translated versions available, which must be posted at workplaces where at least 20% of employees are not English-proficient.
  • Employers also must post the notice on an intranet or an internet site if they customarily post personnel rules and policies there.
  • The rule has no record-keeping or reporting requirements.
  • The NLRB may treat any failure to post as an unfair labor practice.

What more can I say?  I'm sure the economy will really take off if we just do this posting...

Remember the power of the appointed official next time you vote.

Is a Presentation From Tony Hsieh of Zappos Enough? (#HRFL11)

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh keynoted HR Florida this morning.  Before I go off on a rant, let me say this – I’m a fan of HR Florida, Zappos and Tony Hsieh.

Tony Hsieh has done it – he’s built a great company and a culture at Zappos that can actually generate business and opportunity unrelated to the core business of his company – by talking to people about culture. Zappos   He’s a great speaker and the thoughts he shares on culture, building a company and chasing a bigger purpose are compelling.  I’m a buyer when he speaks.

HR Florida is a great conference.  I put it in my top two in the HR space:  HR Florida and the HR Technology Conference, which will be in Vegas in October.  Both shows do a great job with content, logistics and the thousand details that go into putting on a production of this size (HR Florida has 1,500+ attendees this year and in addition to Tony, also has Daniel Pink coming in on Wednesday).

The problem, as it so often is, is what people do once Tony pumps them up to change the world.  You want to be like Zappos.  I want to be like Zappos.  Let’s start with a couple of simple tweets I put out this morning while listening to Tony to see if you’re ready to do what it takes:

“Test for building your version of the Zappos culture: Are you willing to list every employee you have that’s active on Twitter on your company website?  #hrfl11”

“Be real and you have nothing to fear – Tag for transparency at Zappos.  #hrfl11”

What about it Sparky?  Are you willing to put up the 500 most active employees you have on twitter on a rolling widget on your corporate website and control none of the message?

No? Then you’ve got some work to do before you can be like Zappos.  Apparently people are real in your company – so real that you can’t tolerate the transparency of the exercise described.

If you won’t show off your team members in that way, it’s usually because you think some of them are not ready for prime time.  And that’s the point.  The naysayers to me claiming that a keynote from Tony isn’t enough will say, “Kris, Tony doesn’t advocate being like Zappos.  He thinks you should build it in the way you want.”

The naysayers are right.  But I suspect Tony would be a huge advocate of doing whatever it takes to reset your culture and have actual values you are willing to hire and fire by.  That doesn’t mean you have to copy what Zappos has done.  It does mean that you should take down the plaque that espouses Integrity, Communication and Teamwork and see if they really drive your culture.  Of if they’re just hollow values written on paper that no one can recite, and certainly no one lives by.

The real issue with having a supernova like Tony deliver a keynote at a great show like HR Florida is the lost opportunity.  Other keynotes are simply aspirational.  They're present to pump you up, often with stories that have nothing to do with HR.  Not Tony.  Culture is in the wheelhouse of what HR is supposed to own.  But no one really knows how to get started.  How do you reset a culture that's driven by your founder being around for the last 20 years and doing it the way he (and his wife) wanted?  Scary stuff for most HR pros to think about taking on.

I’d love to see a conference track after a Zappos keynote that really challenges and develops those who are interested in taking the pain that’s necessary to reset their corporate culture.  I’d love to see that track arm HR pros with tools that can help them make the case.  First conference that really tries to dig in and make HR pros who volunteer uncomfortable after a big meaty keynote wins.  Big.

Tony Hsieh: +1.  HR Florida: +1.  What HR pros do next after hearing Tony speak:  Not registering a score at this time.

(check out all the tweets from HR Florida by searching the hashtag #hrfl11)

The Best Hard*$$ Quotes of Outgoing Apple CEO Steve Jobs....

You've probably already heard - Steve Jobs is leaving Apple, meaning one of the all time greats related to innovation - as well as being direct and hard on people - is leaving the leadership ranks.

We love the dichotomy of Jobs here at the Capitalist - creative and numbingly hard on people - so here's a rundown of our favorite post to say thanks, and to remind you that the best leaders are many times perceived as incredible harda$$es by folks like you and me.

Posts on Jobs at the Capitalist:

S*** Steve Jobs Says: The Difference Between a VP and a Janitor....

S**T STEVE JOBS SAYS: Still Proving Great Leadership Isn't Always Pleasant...

Steve Jobs and the Holy Grail of Hostile Interviewing.....

Play on Steve. Sometimes you've got to be hard to show you care...

...And That Was When I Started Coloring My Hair... (One Experienced Candidate's Job Search)

I can't remember where I got this clip, but as a guy who is now past 40 and has some gray coming in, it presents an interesting question:

Be the Silver Fox in a couple of years or start dying your hair like Ronald Regan did?  Check out this story... Jpeterman

"I kept abreast of all the current thinking on resumes and job searches, and edited my resume to take out all hints of age (I was 54-56 during my job search). Though my resume talked about a lot of varied experience, it had no dates other than my last 10 years of employment. That created a funny situation—I’m in the lobby of a major cell phone manufacturer, waiting for the hiring manager to come retrieve me for an interview. She came out, I was the only one in the lobby.

I have a bit (okay, a lot) of gray hair. I look my age. She expected someone in his 30’s, I guess. She tentatively called out my name and when I stood up, she was literally dumbfounded and speechless. To her credit she did at least continue on with the interview, and the rejection came via email weeks later. And that was when I started coloring my hair."

I'm not aware of a lot of ladies who just put up with the gray coming in until they get well past 50.  Macho men like me don't like to consider things like hair dye.  It goes against everything we know, but still... The age question persists.  It's almost better to be balding,so you can just buzz it off and go for cue ball look.

White guys with gray - can you relate?  Ladies - don't judge, we see the roots coming in.  Time for a touch up, methinks...

HR MBA: At Groupon, You Have to be a Little Insensitive to do Market Share Hiring...

OK Kids - let's roll out a little HR MBA lesson courtesy of hot daily deal/venture capital play Groupon. You don't have any reason to know this, but Groupon is the poster child for the daily deal segment and is growing like gangbusters.  Growth that can only be described as "market share capture".  Why do we call it that?  They're hiring sales people out the wazzo, and in doing so, they've gone from break even to losing 102 million a quarter in 2 Years.

Look up "market share capture" and "market share hiring" in wikipedia and it should have the Groupon Groupon logo there.  More from TechCrunch:

"Daily deals juggernaut Groupon managed to significantly slash marketing costs last quarter, but its net loss in the second quarter of this year has almost tripled compared to last year as it hired more than 1,000 new employees, according to an SEC filing published this morning. Basically, the company is still growing like gangbustersbut losing money like crazy in the process.

The updated financial details show that Groupon increased revenue from $3.3 million in Q2 2009 to $878 million in the second quarter of 2011, while net income swung from $21,000 for the second quarter of 2009 to a staggering net loss of $102.7 million for the second quarter of 2011.

The reported net loss is in line with the first quarter of 2011 but nearly triple the $36 million loss from Q2 2010. Groupon hired more than 1,000 employees in the 3-month period – growing its sales force to more than 4,800 people – which caused a serious bump in ‘general and administrative expenses’.

In total, Groupon grew from 37 employees as of June 2009 to 9,625 employees as of June 2011.

Groupon serves 175 North American markets and 45 countries as of June 30, 2011. The company accounted for 115.7 million subscribers at the end of the second quarter of 2011 and says over 23 million customers have purchased Groupons through the end of Q2 2011."

But wait!  There's more fun and games to the Groupon hiring story.  Sure, they're hiring lots of people in a market share drive, but - revenue per merchant and deal size is actually going DOWN.  Check out this chart:


Your HR MBA mission: Sell the promise of Groupon but forget to tell your candidates that deal size and revenue per merchant is down. More from Silicon Alley Insider:

"Groupon's business faces significant challenges as competition becomes more intense according to an analysis by Vin Vacanti of deals aggregator Yipit.

Vacanti took a look at the latest S1 numbers on Groupon's Boston business, which is its second oldest market. It's good to look at a mature market like Boston because it could be provide a window into what will happen elsewhere in the world when the competition catches up.

On the face of it, things look good in Boston. The number of subscribers was up for the second quarter of the year versus the first quarter. Revenue was up on a quarter over quarter basis. Featured merchants grew as well.

But beneath these numbers lies a troubling trend, according to Vacanti. Groupons sold per subscriber was down. And revenue per merchant was down as well. These two metrics suggest that Groupon's bottom line is in trouble.

Vacanti summarizes his analysis by saying, "Groupon is spending considerable money to acquire subscribers but those subscribers are buying less Groupons. Groupon is also spending considerable money to acquire merchants but are making less revenue per merchant. That’s not good."

HR MBA lesson: Market share hiring means you don't worry about whether the business can support the people you're hiring.  You hire revenue producers knowing that they'll either sell, or by the very nature of sales performance management - they're gone.

It's not your problem.  Fingers crossed at Groupon as they hire those 1,000 sales pros based on the numbers above.  Go read it again - HR MBA for those who take the time...

4 Reasons Google Doesn't Have to Fix Pay Issues In The Motorola Acquisition...

You may have seen this - Google bought the mobile business of Motorola for 12.5 Billion last week, and one of the things that has come up is a sizable gap in the pay of software engineers between the two companies.  See the chart at the right from Business Insider...

So, the first thing the inexperienced HR Pro would do is start hyperventilating.  A 40K difference? Summon the comp experts!  We've got to fix it! Chart-of-the-day-google-motorola-salaries-aug-2011

Hold up.  You don't have to fix it.  Here's why:

1.  The company with the larger average salary is the one doing the acquiring.  This automatically takes the pressure off of this pay gap in the transition.  If it were the other way around and you had Google folks starting to collaborate with the new guys, and they found out the NEW GUYS earned 40K more a year, there would be hell to pay.  Doesn't work the other way around.

2.  Physical proximity is distant.  San Fran vs. Chicago.  That space reduces the pressure as well.  Geographical slotting from a comp perspective are at play for sure.

3.  Google intends to run the acquired unit as a seperate company.  More pressure release.

4.  AND THE BIGGEST REASON YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE GAP:  The jobs aren't the same.  Google code jockies change the world with web based products, starting with search, then moving through all the other products/services they're developing.  Motorola code jockeys develop software for phones.  I'm not saying the gap needs to be that high, but it's not the same job.

Plug those four factors into any salary issue as a result of an acquisition to figure out what to do next. Turns out, all of them favor Google in this scenario, which means they have years, not months, to deal with this comp perception issue.


Bad HR Stock Photo of the Week...Capitalist Style...

Frank Roche over at KnowHR has a great series called "Bad HR Stock Photo of the Week", where he shares some AWFUL photos that are used in HR promotional materials.  Most of them are worse than clip art.

In the biggest hat tip I can give, I'm adding to Frank's stash of bad photos with these gems I picked up from an old WalMart employee handbook.  I should say that the cover is actual associates from back in the 80's, which is cool - using their own people - so this is inherently better than most that Frank profiles...

No truth to the rumor that's Larry Bird at 11am on the Handbook cover.  Greenbar inventory - check. Feathered hair, middle part - check.

But check out the "associate enjoying vacation" clip!  Nice!!!

Photo 1

Photo 2

Portability of Social Media Accounts: Here's Your Poster Child Example...

For the most part, I'm a "live and let live" kind of guy when it comes to the social media accounts of your employees.  I'm a believer in a limited social media policy that espouses common sense, and I believe that in this free agent nation, employees should own their own social media profiles and those profiles should be portable (meaning they should be able to take them with them to their next employer).

There's one big exception: When naming conventions of social media "handles" (think twitter account names) actually help your employees build a huge following.  Here's an example from Sirona Says, take a look and let's discuss after the break:

"Laura Keunssberg. She is an active Twitterer with over 62,000 followers. ITV said that they they considered these followers as an 'additional benefit' when going through the recruitment process.

This now brings a whole new dynamic to the phrase social recruiting, doesn't it?

But what about the legality?

While at the BBC her Twitter name was @BBCLauraK - clearly a representation of the BBC. When she left she changed the account name to @ITVLauraK.


The question is who 'owned' the account and the followers? Would she have built that following if she wasn't working for the BBC?"

For most of us, adding the company name to our twitter account in this fashion wouldn't make a huge difference.  I could go with "@KinetixKD" instead of "@kris_dunn" and it wouldn't make a huge difference in my Twitter following.

But for a correspondent of a huge news organization?  A couple of years of pitching "Follow Laura on Twitter @BBCLauraK" and boom - you're in the 10,000+ follower range, which actually becomes a marketing channel at that point.

For the BBC to walk away from that channel when Laura had a willingness to give it up?  That clearly shows the BBC doesn't know what they're doing with social.  They could have taken the account and plugged the next correspondent into it and boom - they're still rolling with that marketing channel and micro news outlet.

I coach people from time to time in companies that the naming covention outlined above - @BBCLauraK - is the way to go if you want to protect yourself from portability after investing in social media.  You use that naming convention (company first, employee name second) and set the clear expectation with the employees working the account that it's part of their job, and the company - not the employee - owns the presence.  Then, if they leave, you rename the account and play on.

Interesting example of the portability issue here.  If social is a big part of your strategy, it's time to think about naming conventions for accounts and setting clear expectations on ownership.

Employment at Will: Why Coke People Won't Get Caught Dead With Pepsi...

Driving down the street the other day, I needed a product that a big Fortune 1000 routinely sells.  My flippant reaction was to pull into the location that I'm used to, until I remembered: We're in the final stages of potentially getting business from their competitor.

Result: I won't test Karma, I went out of my way to find and patronize the competitor.  And if we get the business, I'm gone from the Fortune 1000 in a big way for a while. Mike-gundy  

You don't tug on Superman's cape.  You don't spit into the wind.  And you don't buy the brand of your sworn enemy for any reason.  Unreasonable?  Maybe, but the fact remains for every person inside a company that thinks it's OK to buy a competitor's brand, there are 5 who would classify you as an unloyal backstabber.

Think about Coke vs. Pepsi.  A $1 purchase means something much greater to players on both sides.

Here's another story about brand loyalty.  Oklahoma State football coach, Mike Gundy, was having work done on his house and a worker showed up in an Oklahoma Sooners t-shirt.  Let's just say it didn't go well; more from Yahoo Sports:

"A contractor is suing Gundy, Oklahoma State's head coach, and his wife Kristen, claiming the couple fired him for wearing an Oklahoma shirt to their house. Brent Loveland, a trim specialist who was hired to do work on the Gundy's new house in Stillwater, showed up to his first day of work in an Oklahoma baseball T-shirt.

The suit states that Mike Gundy and Loveland verbally agreed in February that Loveland would perform trim installation at an overall payment of $80,600. The alleged confrontation occurred on what would have been Loveland's first day on the job.

According to the suit, Gundy approached Loveland and said, "How dare you come into my house and offend my wife?" The suit states that when Loveland asked what Gundy was referring to, the coach replied by saying, "That (expletive deleted) shirt you have on."

Loveland claims that he dressed in the dark that morning and was unaware that his shirt had an OU logo on it.

Gundy was asked about the incident after practice and said he couldn't comment and that he would let his attorney handle it.

Loveland is seeking damages in excess of $10,000 and said in the suit that he lost as much as $30,000 in potential money by turning down other jobs to work on the Gundy's house."

I know - $80K for trim.  You and I live in different worlds, as does the contractor.  The type of world where you don't use lights to get dressed and you have low awareness of logos on your apparrel.

But - the world's the same in this regard - patronizing the wrong brand can get you fired - directly or indirectlly - whether it's an 80K per purchase world or a $1 per purchase world.

This post does not alter the employment at will relationship with your employer.  It just makes you more aware of how thin the ice actually is.

BONUS TRACK - Classic Video of Mike Gundy's "I'm a Man" video here... 

Money Quote of the Month From the HR Capitalist - August Version

"It's not discrimination if he treats everyone like S##t"

Does it make him a caveman?  You bet.  But discrimination?  No.

Treating everyone like crap makes you poison, a cancer and someone the organization has to deal with.

But he's not discriminatory.  He's an Equal Opportunity Ass###e.  Advise those wishing to pursue EEOC claims accordingly.

Then do something about it.