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December 2011

The Capitalist Reading List for the Holiday Week...

Here it is:


Ambitious to say the least.  Background on each book:

The Alchemist:  It's the Kinetix holiday book for our customers and friends.  I've never read it, so I might want to get with it to be conversational with the folks we sent this out to.  I hear there's a homie named Santiago, some treasure, etc.  I'm down.

Free Darko's Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball:  The NBA has kicked off, and Free Darko's a place I go for the writing - regardless of the focus on sports.  I figure this book is a nice alternative way to be less pissed off about the NBA lockout.

Arguably - Essays by Christopher Hitchens:  Love him or hate him, Hitchens was one of the giants of political opinion in our lifetimes.  I'm about halfway through this 700 page monster, and I've already learned a bunch I didn't know historically about the founding fathers and Nazi Germany.  Hitch is great, passed away late this year though.  Nice one to pick up since it's filled with short essays and features that appeared in mags like Vanity Fair.  RIP Hitch, you will always be a giant in my eyes.

Have a great holiday week folks.  If you're in the office, no doubt you're kicking #@# because there's no one there to bother you.

Why I'm In This Game...

Capitalist Note:  I'm posting this story again as I reflect at the end of the year.  I heard again from the candidate below (a guy named Kevin Williams - LinkedIn Profile here) and while he missed his record year from 2010, he again went over the million dollar mark in 2011 and blew out the previous record by 40-45%.  Great hires make you feel good.  Here's to a fast start to 2012 for all of us...

Some days suck.  Lots of days suck, as a matter of fact, but you've got to keep it in perspective... I got an email yesterday that gave me that perspective.

Why do I do what I do?  For the payoff, my friends.  What type of payoff, you ask?  For me, it's the Arigold payoff that says I was part of getting something right that lots of others would struggle to see.

Case in point - I got an email yesterday from an Account Executive I was involved in hiring a while back.  While the AE had some background in sales, he had no industry experience and would have been considered a risky hire by most.   The AE in question shot me a note of thanks yesterday, saying that not only did he reach quota for the year, but he blew up the prior all-time high by about 50% (my math, not his).  The quota all the AE's had repeatedly bitched about (A million dollars?  There's no way an AE at this company can get that...NO WAY!!) had been achieved by a mere mortal.

A mere mortal with off the charts persistence and the skin of a rhino.

He emailed me to say thanks for giving him the chance to prove in to the role.  At the time he was interviewing, we had a change in sales leadership, so he was in a state of flux for about 3-4 weeks.  The dude called me every day for three weeks to check in.  I told him I was fine with him checking in, and he continued to do it - EVERY DAY.  Lots of days I didn't pick up.  He kept calling.  He wanted the job, and the behavior was exactly what we needed in the role.

The new VP of Sales started in his role.  I pushed the candidate to him and told him about the behavioral traits.  I gave him a nickname so the VP of Sales would have an emotional attachment.  That nickname was "floorburn", because I told my Sales leader that on a team of 10, there was room for an experiment with no industry experience, and this candidate was that guy:  a guy who might not have the pedigree, but would out-hustle and out-work those around him.  The VP of Sales smiled and said he'd take the interview even though the background wasn't what he really desired.  

He came back from the interview and made an offer.

My candidate accepted in under 1 second.  The rest, as they say is history.

Looking back, I didn't do anything special. I valued and pitched what could make the AE great, but the special traits were his, not mine.  I kept an open mind and made a placement that made a difference. That's my job, and I'm OK at it.

But being involved in that kind of story and getting that email from the AE?  Priceless.  That's why I'm in the game.

One million dollars in recurring revenue.  Many said it couldn't be done.  A non-traditional candidate nicknamed "floorburn" delivered it.

Keep an open mind out there.

Capitalist Note - the guy in question is Kevin Williams - LinkedIn Profile here.

The Best Performance Management/Coaching Photo of ALL TIME!!!

Coach dunn1
Dateline:  Baseball fields in Birmingham.  Couple of years back.

Who's in the photo:  Me and a friend of the family.

Situation:  Hot day.  Kid was dragging, I'm out in the field (because you can do that with 5-year olds) as a coach encouraging him to stay with it, because you know - we don't go sit in the shade just because you're hot.  Suck it up kid.

Why I'm on one knee:  Frame before this, the player in question was leaning on my knee.  Then he fell to the ground in a sloppy mess.

What I didn't know:  He was actually sick.  He ralphed a couple of minutes later.  His parents were encouraging me to make him go.

Coaching outcome: A first team all-star two years later.  Born or made?  I'll let you decide.

Hilarious memory of a great kid who's a gamer.


It all ended OK.

Coach dunn2

VIDEO: Patty McCord (Chief Talent Officer at Netflix) on Judgment....

Here's a great 11 minute video of Netflix Chief of Talent Patty McCord talking about the culture at Netflix.

Netflix got the hell beat out of it for the recent pricing/product communication flow, but it's still a unique culture that you can learn a lot from.

If you don't have 11 minutes, go to 5:09 and listen the story on a critical talent factor at Netflix - Judgment.  Patty's using a story of an admin deciding it was OK to stay at an expensive hotel to illustrate the fact that's all they needed to know about that employee.

Good stuff, and true.  Check out the video, it's a good one.  Hat tip to Dave Kashen at The Awesome Culture Blog via Robert Hatta.

What a Robotic Reference Check Means to a High-End Candidate...

Here's the scenario:  High-end professional friend of mine is thinking about making a career move, and I happen to be a professional reference for him.  He's going through the process and is proud/confident to give me as a reference to the team that's responsible for interviewing and hiring for the VP spot in question.

My friend emails me.  "A call is coming to you", he says.  He's pumped and he thinks it's a change he Call center wants to make, great company, etc.

The call comes.  It's from an outsourcer that does stuff like low-end reference checks for companies like the one my friend is interviewing with.  I also get an email from the reference check company, which walks me through all the basic stuff.  

I email the basic low-end form to my friend.  He's disappointed.  Feels way too robotic to him and not high-end at all.

"Why wouldn't the two primary people I've interviewed with pick up the phone and call you for such an important hire?", he asks.

One of three things:

1.  They've already made up their mind to hire him.  The reference check is an afterthought, a box to check.

2.  They don't want to do the refernece check and would rather trust their gut than interact with me for 15 minutes.  Dangerous, but all too common.

3.  They're a combo shop.  They do the transactional background check to see if my friend has a criminal record, and references are included.  Once they get to the point where they're going to make the offer, I'll get a call.  Meantime, if that falls through for any reason, they're covered legally by actually having done a reference check, even if a $10 per hour person in Akron did the thing.

Me?  I'm a fan of #3.  Get coverage in case it slips through the cracks, and you don't make the call as a hiring executive.  No way to tell which one is in play at the company my friend is thinking about joining. Or, go with a much higher end service including forms of automation like SkillSurvey, which digs very, very deep with references into the candidate's past performance and contributions.  

In any case, how you handle references affects the candidate experience, espcially on the high end.. Better to have set the candidate's expectations so it doesn't hurt the company's brand or likelihood to close the deal.

PODCAST: What To Do When Everyone is Getting 3%: Ann Bares on Pay for Performance...

We're doing a podcast called The CYA Report over at Fistful of Talent - Dawn Burke (VP of HR at DAXKO) and I co-hosting, Tim Sackett chiming in here and there and the kid, Holland Dombeck, reading the news headlines from Workforce.com for us to react to.

Our latest podcast is up - see the whole thing here...

But, if you're interested in something you can use now, listen to the segment below.  We interview our favorite compensation professional, Ann Bares of Compensation Force.

The big takeaway?  If you're at a company where managers are giving in and just giving everyone 3% (or 4% if you're lucky), you don't have to take it.  Create a little "carve out" pay for performance strategy and trick your flock of managers into rewarding the best.  

That and other topics in our interview with Ann, which appears below (email subscribers may have to click through to see the audio player....)

Why I Love the Salesforce Acquisition of Rypple...

One word:  Yammer.

(note: Yammer is a twitter like product for companies to use, but the outside world can't access the stream)

You know what the problem with Yammer is?  Yammer suffers from a chronic adoption problem. Everybody thinks Yammer is great for a week, then 99% of your company stops using it.  It's a great product, but it's not a destination in your company.  That means people won't go there after a week. I've witnessed 5 or 6 quick deaths to Yammer in corporations.

That's why the Salesforce acquisition of Rypple makes so much sense.

I wrote a while back that Rypple had to build out more traditional performance management flow to really get traction.  That was true as a standalone product.  That's no longer true with Rypple embedded in Salesforce.

Salesforce is the cloud CRM backbone of choice for thousands, if not tens of thousands of companies.  It's in the cloud.  Once Salesforce is in a company, it's pretty strong in gaining contracts and adoption for customer service, marketing and other departments in addition to its original promise as a Sales CRM.   They've taking advantage of that cross-departmental CRM feel by launching a product called Chatter, which is a CRM flavor of twitter.  Max interaction and collaboration through Chatter, the sales promise goes...

Does Chatter have greater adoption and staying power than Yammer?  Of course.  Chatter has to have much greater adoption than Yammer because, let's face it, your employees have to use Salesforce.

Which is why the acquisition of Rypple makes so much sense.  Rypple is about feedback loops on how you're doing as a part of a team.  Salesforce can plug the functionality of Rypple into Chatter and the core product in a bunch of ways.  Adoption is a given.  The beatings will continue until morale improves.  Rypple can remain cutting edge and not worry about traditional performance management to pay the bills.  

Salesforce paid exponentially less (than SAP paid for SuccessFactors) and got exactly what they needed. Rypple made a good choice.  They obviously got paid.  Everybody wins.

What's it mean for you as an HR Pro?  If your company uses Salesforce, you need to track the Rypple integration and offering into Salesforce.  HR always says they want to be embedded in the business. This is a pretty good chance to do that.  It's Salesforce, people.  If your company uses it, trust me - that's where the action is.

Congrads to Rypple.  

Murder Via Performance Coaching: This isn't Going to Help Those Who Avoid Tough Conversations...

Confrontation sucks.  That's why most of your managers don't do the coaching they need to.

This isn't going to help.  Someone got murdered in my city while they were delivering performance feedback.  More from the Birmingham News:

"A 50-year-old Birmingham man has been charged with murder in this morning's fatal stabbing of a supervisor inside a Center Point grocery store, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

John Boyd Jr. is being held in the Jefferson County Jail on $75,000 bond in the death of Edward Shane Hammett, 26, of Center Point. 

Chief Deputy Randy Christian said the stabbing happened in the butcher shop of Food Giant of Birmingham as Hammett was talking to Boyd about his job performance. "He had counseled the suspect about work performance yesterday and apparently today they had an argument culminating in the suspect stabbing the victim to death," he said.  Hammett had worked at the grocery store for 18 months, Christian said. Boyd had worked there three months, he said.

Officials with Food Giant said despite the performance review discussion, Boyd had not at the time of the incident been in danger of losing his job.

"It's a tragedy ... especially at this time of year," said Wade Payne, operations director for Food Giant in Birmingham. "Our thoughts and our prayers are with Shane's family."

Don't even know what to say about this one.  Get away from areas that include items that can be used as weapons, etc.  You think I'm joking, but I'm not.

Be careful out there.  Keep giving feedback.

h/t: @MikeVanDervort

"BARs" (Big Audacious Rewards) in the Social Media Age....

"Nancy!  Get payroll on the line.  I want to cut some $5,000 spot bonus checks for my senior team so I can hand them out tonight at our Christmas dinner..."

Used to be you could do that and have it be your little moment with your team.  That's no longer the case in the digital era.  Consider this AOL story from Business Insider: Humanfund

"AOL hosts a "global operating meeting" twice a year.  It's holding one right this very moment in New York to firm up the company's plans for 2012.

A couple sources tell us that Tim Armstrong just opened the meeting by giving everyone in attendance – about 150 execs – a $10,000 bonus on the spot.

"About $1.5 million just for showing up!" says our incredulous source.

An AOL PR rep declined to comment."

Ugh.  Your little moment in the digital era can be tipped to an industry insider whose job it is to create 20 posts a day on anything - and I mean anything - that's going on in your industry.    This story was tipped as the checks were handed out.  How's the rank and file feel about this one?

Layoffs, schmaoffs.  Things are good at the top.

My suggestion?  Give your team a note that says a donation has been made in their name to the "Human Fund".  Money for people...

LEADERSHIP & DAMAGE CONTROL: How to Communicate When Something Goes Terribly Wrong...

If the Penn State and Syracuse scandals have taught us anything about leading in a crisis, it's that you need to get out of the denial business and show you're accountable in any damage control situation.

In case you missed it, there was a big old jailbreak of a brawl in college basketball on Saturday night (Cincinnati at Xavier) including sucker punches, stomping of downed players after said sucker punches and a host of other crazy stuff.  Remember the Ron Artest malay?  College basketball is pretty lucky this one didn't spill over into the stands.

How do you communicate when it all goes to hell at your company as a leader?  Do this for me - watch the video of the fight below, then we'll talk after the jump about how the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University communicated after the game.  Lots of lessons in leadership and communicating after a negative event in this one.

First the fight (email subscribers click through for all videos):

Now, for the reaction.  First up?  Xavier University, who put their players in front of the media after this brawl and got the results they deserved - the players claiming to be gangster and telling everyone if you challenge them, this is what you are going to get.

Next up, the University of Cincinnati put head coach Mick Cronin up in front of the media, and got the results they deserved.  A leader of a program saying that he and the program he represents is accountable, and that he told all the members of a team that he would decide who's still a part of the program after the full review:

Wow.  See any contrast?   Who's the rocket scientist at Xavier who let the kids who were in the middle of craziness express their thoughts?  

Leadership - fail.  Wow, that was weak.

Cronin, on the other hand, did well.  "I took everyone's jersey".  "We'll decide who's still part of the program".  "I took some of the jerseys off some of the kids myself". 

When it doubt related to communicating in a crisis, go for accountability.  Oh, and don't let the employees who helped create an epic situation be the ones who communicate for your company.

It's called leadership.  Get someone in front of the cameras or print reporters who can handle it.  The last thing you need is an inflammatory quote that damages the brand even further.