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November 2011

THE JIM BOEHEIM RULE: Leaders Should Never Attack an Alleged Victim's Credibility...

Who's tired of reading about perverts and predators roaming the sidelines of college sports?

Everyone?  Better get used to it, because the biggest fear of Athletic Directors everywhere is that this is going to end up looking like the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, which have caused the Vatican to start selling jewel real estate to pay all the bills and settlements related to the claims.

Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but you can advise your senior team to learn one thing from the latest case - Jim Boeheim of Syracuse University - that transcends all employee relations claims, from the most shocking to the most minor allegations.  That lesson is this:

"When someone makes an allegation against someone you know, respect and trust, your job as a leader is to be balanced.  If you lash out against the person making the claim out of emotion or because you think the person making the claim is a slimebucket, you lose.  You've already screwed up an investigation that hasn't even started."

For those of you who don't know, Boeheim is the head men's basketball coach at Syracuse University, and has an assistant that has been accussed of abusing a former manager in the program.  Boeheim reacted instead of leading when the story first broke, being critical of the alleged victims.  Now he's in a world of hurt, as is his employer. More from ESPN:

"When the allegations against Fine first became public Nov. 17, Boeheim adamantly defended his longtime assistant and attacked the accusers, saying he suspected they were trying to get money.

"It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told," Boeheim told ESPN, referring to Davis. "You don't think it is a little funny that his cousin (relative) is coming forward?"

Those comments prompted a swift backlash from victims' advocates, who were outraged by Boeheim's attitude.

Boeheim, who had been sharply critical of the accusers, has softened his stance 10 days after an impassioned defense of Fine, who spent 35 seasons on the bench next to Boeheim and was fired Sunday.  The Rev. Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, a group that supports victims of sexual abuse, said the dismissal of Bernie Fine was appropriate but didn't go far enough.

"I think Jim Boeheim should be fired or resign as well," Hoatson said Monday. "These boys were members of the basketball program. Jim Boeheim's responsibility is to oversee that program, and the children were not safe on his watch."

As supporters of victims of sex abuse called for Boeheim to be fired, university trustees were largely silent."

It happens more often in corporate America than we care to admit.  Woman makes a claim of harassment against the VP of Marketing.  The CEO or Line SVP reacts and puts pressure on the HR Lead or General Counsel to make it go away.  They refer to the less than stellar performance and reputation of the alleged victim.  They make statements related to the case that are way too public.  All those things come up in the legal proceedings that follow.

As Al Pacino once said in Glengarry Glen Ross, "You just cost me $6,000" (great link, click it - some language...).  Except you should probably substitute 60K for the 6K.  Inflammatory statements before the leader knows any facts cost money.  Big time.

But - if you have a renegade leader who likes to make big statements and make the calls before they know all of the info, share this post.  We're increasingly living in a world where that type of leader is going to be asked to fall on their own sword in nasty employee relations issues where they didn't lead.

Life imitates art.  Business is going to imitate sports in this area.

Dress Codes: Is Your Ban on Iverson Jerseys and Stretch Pants More About Control Than the Customer?

You've got a dress code at your company.  You say it is because of the customer.  But is it?  Or is it more about your need for control?

Case in point - The kid pictured on the right is wearing a retro Allen Iverson jersey in the Dunn household to celebrate the end of the NBA lockout/strike.  Now normally, you know that would never be allowed.  We generally don't celebrate anti-authority figures, regardless of race, gender or religion.  No Courtney Love t-shirts.  No John Rocker throwbacks.  

Why?  I say it's not about my need to control, it's about the behavior that the personality stands for. BDiverson

Charles Pierce would beg to differ.  He'd tell you dress codes are meant to exert control, just like lockouts of unions are designed to show labor who the boss is.  More from Grantland:

"And the third and most important reason why you know that the lockout was not really about economics is that there was a lockout at all. Lockouts occur when management believes that unions are too strong, and they occur when management believes that unions are too weak, and they occur when management doesn't want a union to exist at all. Lockouts are not devices of economic correction. That's just a byproduct. Lockouts are attempts by management to exercise control over their workers. Period.

Control always has been important to David Stern. For example, in the past, he's sought to maintain control over both Allen Iverson's rap lyrics and over what the citizens of Seattle ought to do with their tax dollars.  In 2005, following proudly in the footsteps of generations of American nuns, Stern instituted a "dress code" for his players so that the various corporate wolverines in the VIP seats wouldn't think that Yo! MTV Raps had broken out in the lower bowl. And, no, you don't exactly need the Enigma machine to decode what that was all about.

No detail is too insignificant. Nothing is so small it cannot be monitored. Last season, the NBA — which is to say David Stern — came down with a rule that states, and we are not making this up, that headbands cannot be worn upside down or inside out. This nonsense got on the last nerve of Boston point guard Rajon Rondo who, rather than abide by official foolishness, ditched his trademark headband entirely. Not even Roger Goodell, the most anal of anal-compulsive commissioners, ever came up with anything this petty and stupid.

The lockout was nothing more than the headband rule writ large. It was an attempt to demonstrate who was in charge here. Stern saw the "perception" building that his players were less "dedicated to the game" than they were to their various "outside activities," and that the hired help was "out of control." The NBA's kept press had been harping on this loudly ever since LeBron James took his talents, and his disappearing act in big games, to South Beach. And, again, you don't need a microscope to read between the lines there."

Back to the Iverson jersey.  How did it get in the house to begin with?  He's labor, I'm management.  What's up?

First up, it's a sweet retro version of the Iverson jersey, in the style of the 76ers when Darrel Dawkins and World B. Free were roaming the sidelines.  Stars on the side.  Stitched.  Very Nice.

Secondly, it came home for $10 from the consignment store.  Nice style and I started thinking about what Iverson stood for when I saw it.  Played hard every night (games only).  Took a beating.  Durable. Willed a bad team to the finals.

The jersey stayed.  I gave up some control, but I've got my eye on the behavior.  If he ever says, "We're talking about practice, man", I'll burn it in a heartbeat.

Ask The HR Capitalist: How Do I Get the Money I Want During the Offer Process?

A question older than time.  Cavemen once wondered how to get more food and fire for themselves and the mob they called a family back at the home cave.   The tradition continues:


I just completed the interview process and am eagerly awaiting a a job offer. I have a question regarding how this process works from the HR perspective. At my current position my salary has been stagnant over the last three years due to economy, not performance. How can I approach this offer, so I can negotiate the highest salary possible, while not coming off as a money hungry ingrate."
I will folllow up with you next week to discuss my progress.
Thank you again,

Hi Ricky - 

A lot of what you can expect at this point in the offer process depends on what's happened before you got to the offer.  Did the recruiter/manager/HR pro do any of the following things?
-Ask you in detail your current salary?
-Ask you what it would take from that point for you to make a move?
-Give you a number range in which a prospective offer would likely come in at, and ask you to commit to whether you would accept an offer in that range?

If they did all of that, you don't have a lot of wiggle room.  You've been closed by an effective negotiator before you started negotiating.   However, if none of this happened, you've got wiggle room galore.  If none of the above happened, you can take the offer and counter offer by saying, "I really want to work for you and your company.  In order to feel great about the move I'm making, I need $xx,xxx.  Can you help me get there or close to that?".  

Important ending to that - ask for help.  Don't be a ##$ or be stiff as a board.

Only you know the vibe from the company who you're talking to, so proceed, but know this - no one gets more who doesn't ask for more.  It's rare that a company will pull an offer for you countering, but also know this - if you ask for more and say you need it, you're going to look weak by simply accepting if they hold steady at what they originally offered.  But you can always do that.

Get a talking track that sounds like you similar to what I've outlined if the recruiter/manager hasn't pre-qualified you via the bullets I laid out above.  Be natural and ask for something, knowing that you'll accept the mid-point between the offer and your counter.

Good luck Ricky-Bobby.  Remember, if you ain't first, you're last.

Let's Rush Christmas By Voting on My Jaded Note to go with the Kinetix Christmas Book...

Trying to get home today from Houston and my hotel is, of course, putting up the Christmas stuff.  Day before Thanksgiving.  It's just wrong.

Made me remember that I brainstormed some taglines for the Kinetix Christmas book, where our company sends out a book to close friends and customers of the enterprise.

So, here are the taglines for the stamp that will go inside the book.  Imagine the Kinetix logo at the top, then a quick one-liner that is either sentimental, or maybe we just go with jaded to have some fun.

Vote in the comments on what you like.  When I see Christmas stuff go up before Thanksgiving, I think jaded as the bottom of these will attest...

Reminds you that Santa is real.
2011 Holiday Book

Thinks reading is fundamental
2011 Holiday Book

We’re asking you to put the remote down – for once
2011 Holiday Book
You friended us in 2011
At least you got our Holiday Book out of that

Reminds you that the Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes that day.
2011 Holiday Book

Santa asked if our RPO could handle elves. We said hell yeah.
2011 Holiday Book

Santa asked if our RPO could handle a s***load of elves.  We said hell yeah.
2011 Holiday Book

You did what to the eggnog?
2011 Holiday Book

Nice sweater, dork.
2011 Holiday Book

Your nose is red because you’re drunk.  Not because you’re Rudolph.
2011 Holiday Book

Suck it, Whoville.
2011 Holiday Book

We don’t want to crush you, but Santa’s not real.  But Ed in Accounting is.  Does that help?
2011 Holiday Book

Telling People What To Do Isn't Coaching...

In Houston this week to do some training on the performance side, namely taking a great group of Carrey managers through the 6-Step Coaching Tool that was the baseline for the Please Shut Up webinar and whitepaper...

Here's your nugget for today.  No one grows or is accountable for themselves when you simply tell them what to do.  That's you taking a shortcut, not being a coach.

It's like I tell people who are interested enough to ask about my youth basketball coaching philosophy (and really, who's not interested in that, right?  hahahahaha...)

Them: What plays do you run?

Me: We don't run plays.  That limits their ability to read and react, and to be responsible for adjusting....We go in with a general idea, then tell them what their options are against the different types of defense - they're responsible for the reads.  If something goes wrong, we ask them what happened and let them tell us.

Don't tell 'em what to do.  Make an observation and make them react and come up with an answer and where they go from there.  It may take a while to get to where you want to be, but you'll be happy you did it that way.

That's why I said hey man nice shot - what a good shot man....

LEAPFROG: What to Do with the Long-Timer Who's No Longer Performing at a High Level...

Had a conversation with a friend who owns his own company this week.  He requested the meeting, the topic was how to communicate with a long-term employee who's done great work in the past but has fallen behind the grade of talent the company has hired recently.

It's called the Leapfrog effect.  You hired him 8 years ago.  He was instrumental at helping you get ramped up when you were a 4-person shop.  You're at 50 team members now, and while the long-timer can still knock out the tasks you tell him to do, you really need him to be more proactive and strategic about his area of responsibility.  Translation - you shouldn't have to tell him what to do, but you've trained him early to wait on instructions and can't break him of the habit.

There's only one thing you can do if you've coached, prodded and talked until you're blue in the face.

You have to throw the fastball at his head.  Performance management 101.  "Tim, we've been talking a lot about the extra things I need from you and how I need you to think differently.  It's review time, and this one is going to feel different.  Because of those conversations we've had and the fact that I'm not seeing a lot of change, I've giving you a rating that says you're not meeting the expectations in the role.  We're gong to spend time today talking about what you can do to turn this around.  I'm here to coach you, but I can't guide you every step of the way.  Rather than waiting another year to really talk about this in a formal sense, we're going to come back in 60 days and really evaluate a) if you've tried to make a change, and b) if the changes you tried to make are of high enough quality and consistent enough to change my view of how you're performing."

"I want you to make it.  But time's running out to make the changes we need."

The bottom line is this: You've got a long term employee whose performance doesn't fit what the company is and needs today.  They were fine for the role yesterday, but today it doesn't work.  There's too much going on, and simply knocking out tasks doesn't meet the need anymore.  You need them to knock out the tasks and ask "what's next?" and answer their own question, then take action.

They like you and are used to you.  You're a good person.  But you've been too patient.  

If you want change, you've got to draw the line in the sand.  The ball's in your court.

Can an Evangelical Christian Ask For a Religious Accommodation? (re: Sharing His Faith)

Imagine this.  You're an evangelical Christian, and that means you're called to spread the good word to anyone and everyone.  It just so happens that you're a manager of people, many of whom don't share your exact beliefs.  Probably not going to end well if you're convinced that you have to spread the word as a manager, right?  Just happened to a guy I'll call "Mr. Weathers" at Fedex.  Read it and brace for impact - More from HR Morning:

"Weathers described himself as a conservative evangelical Christian. He was a member of an internal organization of Christian FedEx employees, and he spoke at company sales conferences about his faith.  But his beliefs apparently caused some conflict in the workplace. One of his direct reports filed a complaint Heston alleging that Weathers discriminated against her.

She alleged that Weathers quoted scripture to her on numerous occasions, and that he had recited a portion of the Bible that says a “slave should be obedient to his master” — meaning that the employee should be obedient to Weathers."

Slave reference rationalized through Christian beliefs. Ok!  I'm guessing this is where the boot is going to come down on Weathers, because let's face it, you can't have that.  FedEx did what you would probably do, which is to tell Weathers he managed people of various beliefs and probably needed to tone down the rhetoric and just manage:

"FedEx officials investigated, talking to a range of employees about Weather’s behavior. Some employees raised questions about Weathers’ leadership style, but the general consensus was that he treated co-workers fairly. 

FedEx concluded that Weathers hadn’t violated any company policies. But it issued him a letter of “counseling” — a form of discipline that’s less serious than a letter of “warning” — and told him discussions of religion with other employees “must cease.”  The reason: FedEx felt that allowing Weathers to continue to talk about his religious beliefs would create a hostile work environment for his co-workers."

But it's never that easy, right?  Weathers tested the waters and asked a loaded question related to what he could do based on his religious beliefs.  He was later fired and then sued, saying he was fired when he asked for a religious accommodation he never got an answer to:

"A short time later, Weathers sent an email to his supervisor and an HR rep, asking for clarification on the ban of religious discussion. As an evangelical Christian, Weathers said, he was obligated to answer any religious questions he was asked.  Weathers didn’t receive a response to this email, which he characterized as a request for religious accommodation.

A few months later, Weathers was demoted for performance reasons and later quit. He then sued FedEx for religious discrimination, failure to accommodate his religious beliefs, hostile work environment and emotional distress.

The court tossed all of Weathers’ claims except religious accommodation."

That's a doozy.  An evangelical Christian who is also a manager of people.  A cease and desist from the company related to discussion of religion.  A request for clarification on what he could discuss that later was positioned as a request for religious accommodation.

This is where your head explodes as a HR pro on a Wednesday afternoon.  You're welcome.  

WEBCAST: The 5 Faces Your Managers See During Performance Reviews

Hey Kids - told you about this last week, but wanted to get it in front of you one last time since it's a great offer for you and your company.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, November 15), G5 Leadership is teaming up with the HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent for a webcast/Leadership mashup on how to help your HR team and managers bridge the perception gap between how a manager thinks the employee is doing and how the employee actually perceives their own performance.  We call it the 5 Faces Your Managers See During Performance Reviews...(click to register)


Don’t miss this street-smart session designed to help your managers cut through the smoke and get to what’s real related to performance management

Now for the big finish.  Because G5 and The HR Capitalist dig each other, if you sign up for this webinar you'll actually receive a free one-year subscription to G5 Leadership.  Go check them out now, and hit this page for the speakers they feature which shows you all you need to know: Speakers/trainers/coaches you get access to from a leadership perspective when you sign up include David Allen (of Getting Things Done fame), Marshall Goldsmith, Bob Sutton, Dave Ulrich, Guy Kawasaki and more.  

Attend this leadership session and get a one-year subscription to G5 Leadership for your trouble.  Pass the offer around your company, because the G5 sessions cover all the leadership/manager development areas you need, and let's face it, you're not doing enough from a leadership development perspective. So use this offer, get yourself and your team signed up for the webcast and get a year's worth of world class, on-demand leadership training for your trouble.  

Join Kris, Tim and G5 Leadership for "The 5 Faces Your Managers See During Performance Reviews":

  • Date: November 15, 2011
  • Time: 11 am, ET
  • Join us: Register now, use the code g5FOT to get comped and receive your free year's subscription to G5 Leadership (HR Pros - use this around your company - all managers can use the same offer, just use the code provided...)

Retention of HiPos: You Don't Have to Tell Them They're HiPo to Retain Them...

I'm pretty much on the record in favor of telling high potential employees (HiPos) that are part of a formal succession plan that "they're on the list".  John Sullivan gave 20 reasons last week over at ERE why releasing the names in some fashion makes sense.  It's a good list, if a little long.  The length makes it comprehensive, so check it out.

But - what do you do if you agree with the concept of telling people they're on the list, but your culture Hipo won't allow it?

You don't have to tell the HiPos that they're part of a Succession Plan to retain them long-term.  But doing nothing - having no special plan for the HiPo - is a sucker's play.

Bottom line - you better run, not walk, to pair the HiPo with someone that gives a #### about their development and about keeping them at the company.  For some companies, that might mean a formal mentoring program.  For others, it might mean a customized development plan that gives the HiPo some access to training that others don't get.

Yes, Dorthy...  Both mentoring and customized development plans are common components of Succession Plans.  You can run the programs and include people without the formality of telling people they're on a list.  But you're really telling them by including them in these types of programs.  Still, stopping short of telling people that they're part of a list is the preferred approach by many.

The bigger question is this...  The small to medium size company in America generally doesn't have a succession plan, nor do they have a formal mentoring program or the availability of customized development plans and the dollars it take to run them.  What do those HR pros do?

Match the HiPo up with someone who cares, preferably their manager or the skip-level director.  Talk to them about what "being interested" looks like.  Conversations about what the person wants to do, special projects to develop them and an eye on accelerated comp goes a long way.

Informal Succession Planning = Giving a ####.  Just a little bit.  If you don't care enough to recognize the HiPo in some way, then you get what get. 

Why I Like Candidates Who Have Worked In Hell...

Dateline: Interstate 20, en-route from Birmingham to Atlanta.

Spotted:  Sign for the Exit to Anniston/Oxford. Anniston Weapsons Depot Exit

Memory Triggered:  When a credible candidate has worked in an absolute hell-hole where no one likes them, their organization or what they represent, guess what?  They're probably going to kick #$$ in your company, because your piddly little troubles and drama actually look appealing to them.   They're battle tested. They've been in the depths of hell, and your company's not hell - it's just El Paso in the summer.

Background: I used to be a Regional VP for Charter Communications, a major cable company that was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.  No one likes the cable company, and for candidates who have to work in jobs interacting with the public in a cable company, they need to prepare for....the venom.  Wearing the company shirt in the grocery store?  You're going to hear about the unburied cable drop or the terrible service story.  Comes with the territory.

It just so happened that I had to hire a peer on the leadership team to be our Director of Government Relations (PR, city councils, etc.).  After a long search, I found our candidate - a guy who had actually been the PR director for a chemical weapons incinerator in Anniston, AL.  Think about that for a second - a facility near a heavily populated area that was charged with destroying a stockpile of chemical weapons over time.  If a small cloud comes out of that facility, it probably kills 1,000 people.  In your backyard.  My candidate's job was to tell everyone it was going to work out.  To position the potential death facility as a jobs creator.

Wow.  Anyway, the selling point of the candidate during the process was that "if I can take the heat required to calm people down related to mustard gas and other crazy weapons that do god knows what in their backyard, I can probably calm people down about cable".

Working in hell creates transferable skills.  And if you see a yellow cloud emerge from the factory, please get in your car and turn on the air conditioner.  That should take care of it.