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March 2012

We've Recently Started Training Our Managers: A 3.1% Surcharge Has Been Added to Your Invoice...

Can you imagine the backlash you'd get if you added that title to the bottom of all your invoices to customers?

"We've Recently Started Training Our Managers:  A 3.1% Surcharge Has Been Added to Your Invoice"

Of course, you'd never do that.  But I was in San Francisco last week and saw the following footer on a menu at a place I was dining.  Take a look and we'll talk after the jump.

Bay Area Healthcare

You could never pass along that cost to your customers in that direct of a fashion.  San Francisco did.  

To be sure, there's merit to what they're trying to do - provide healthcare to everyone.  I'm conflicted about the whole universal healthcare approach.  I'd love to think the government could get costs down and properly manage the program, but there's just this one little problem...

The track record of the government (local, state and national) at managing programs in a progressive, customer-focused fashion leaves a little something to be desired, and of course, their ability to keep costs down makes me feel the same way.

If they don't manage it right, most people don't seem to understand that one of two things is going to happen - cost of care (taxes) is going to go up, or quality of care/quality of the plan is going to go down.

I think we need more messages like this one to remind us what we're paying for, and what we're getting.

And I agree - $62.95 for the Lobster is crazy.  Fish and Chips looks to be the best option.

SOCIAL MEDIA 101: There's No Such Thing As a Neutral Social Media Profile Picture....

There's a lot of fear out there in the HR World related to social media.  So it makes sense that I'm going to add to the fear, right?  I'm not talking about legal risk, grabbing candidate's Facebook passwords for deeper background checks or the fear of your company's IP being broadcast worldwide.

No - I'm here to scare you with the obvious risk that's in front of your face every day.

There's no such thing as a neutral social media profile picture.  

Allow me to explain.

Check out LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.  You've got a small 50x50 pixel (100x100 max) that is your avatar, and you usually load a pic of yourself there.  On almost all the platforms, if someone clicks on that small picture, it's blows up way bigger if the source image has the resolution to support.

Most of the small pictures are neutral enough to the human eye - you can't really make out what the person looks like.  But, when you click on the pic and it blows up, your reaction is almost never neutral. It's either better than you expected or worse than you expected.  It's rarely neutral.  Your brain had some type of expectation related to the picture, and that expectation was either shattered or exceeded by the bigger pic.  

Your brain has set an expectation based on your experience related to the smaller picture.  My experience with this says that I'm only neutral (got what my brain expected) 10% of the time when I click the bigger picture.

My small photo/big photo appears below.  Lots of you clicked at some point in the past and said, "Wow - minimize that as quickly as possible".  One person said, "Like George Clooney, but more approachable" (at least I hope).  Some saw stubble on the blow up picture and thought, "unemployed".  Others thought "securely employed - why else would he be comfortable with stubble?". 

The brain.  Like the Geto Boys once said, "my mind is playing tricks on me".

Your goal?  Get positive reviews on the click through.  I can't tell you how to do that.

KD profile

MBOs, Performance Management and Innovation for Regular People...

You're putting together a performance management system.  Which would you rather have as a means to force the highest % of your employees to think about ways they can innovate within the scope of their job?

--MBOs that you've agreed with them on and probably helped them brainstorm related to what to do Innovate-black and how to deliver it.  They'll knock out the project.  You get the widget.  Then it's done.  Everyone agrees completion of the task is good.  (Example for HR Managers:  You recruit, so we decide together that you're going to get us started on social recruiting.  We agree on a MBO on what needs to happen by when, with enough specifics for you to know what to do...)

--A performance management system that outlines the big blocks of your job, outlines what you're generally responsible for, and then tells you that in order to crush that area of your goals/objectives, you're responsible for thinking differently and innovating within each area to exceed the company's expectations.  Your manager is there to help you stay on track with what that might mean, but you're responsible for coming up with ideas, chasing projects and proving that innovation that helps the business has actually happened.

Which one do you choose?  Think carefully - the goal is to force the highest % of your employees to think about ways they can innovate within the scope of their job.

The Top 25 HR/Recruiting Blogs List From FOT and the Capitalist...

Short post today - check out my other blog at Fistful of Talent, which is a multi-contributor blog featuring some of the best voices in HR, recruiting and Talent Management - where we are doing a Top 25 Blog poll in HR/Recruiting/Talent Management.  

We used to the do the rankings 2-3 times a year, but haven't done it for awhile.  Here's how it works - all the FOT contributors rank their favorite industry blogs 1 through 25, then we add up the points and create the FOT-Top-25-March-2012-300x172 Top 25 from that.

Simple, yet effective.  You're bound to find some voices in the poll that you weren't aware of, and make sure you check out the links to the Fistful of Talent contributors who have their own blogs - we declare them ineligible for the poll (The HR Capitalist isn't eligible either, which sucks, but necessary) but they'd undoubtedly be part of the Top 25 if they could play.

We released 6-25 yesterday, so check them out here.  Steve Boese, Fistful of Talent contributor and creator of "The HR Happy Hour", is doing a radio show tonight to run down 1 through 5 and talk to some of the bloggers live as well.  Tune in, show info below.....

HR Happy Hour Episode 141 - 'The HR Blog Power Rankings'

Sponsored by Aquire

Thursday March 22, 2012 - 8PM ET

Call in - 646-378-1086

Follow the backchannel onTwitter - hashtag: #HRHappyHour

ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) and the Holy Grail of Discretionary Effort...

My friend Tim Sackett has a nice post up at Fistful of Talent regarding ROWE - the Results Only Work Environment - if you're  not yet familiar with the ROWE concept – check it out here (www.gorowe.com).  The simple explanation is that ROWE workplaces don't do office hours or have any expectation on where you are - they simply care that you get results.  

Go check out Tim's post, as he's interviewing the experts - the comments are as informative as the post. Results-e1332168642319

I love the concept, but like a lot of people, see challenges from a traditional talent perspective.  But my big challenge isn't with the fact that no office hours won't work for some roles and companies, it's the concept of discretionary effort.

How do you get discretionary effort and performance that exceeds the expectation of the company from the highest percentage possible of your employees?  

It's a question as old as time.   I have a hard time opening up the entire organization to ROWE.  My experience tells me there's just too many people that due to a variety of factors, will do the minimum or be happy with average.  

But - I love the concept of giving everyone who performs at high level a ROWE experience via a 6-month pass.  Why not give everyone who's a great performer the freedom?  Would it cause others on the fence related to discretionary effort to give more - to get to the freedom and the 6-month ROWE pass (if they maintain, they keep it)?

Coffee's for closers.  Give your stars ROWE, challenge the ditch diggers to raise their game.  

Of course, to do that you have to have your stuff together from a performance calibration perspective.  

Good luck.  You're going to need it if you experiment with ROWE.  But it's a worthy cause....

Just Ask and Keep a Straight Face - You'll be Glad You Did...

Too good from a reader not to share.  Becki writes in off the post last week "#Winning - Win Your Next HR Negotiation By Being the First to Name Your Price":

"Tried something like this last week. Got a quote from a vendor for expanded services. Replied back asking for a 70% discount. Ended up getting a 60% discount. TOTALLY INSANE. I work for a small organization (one woman HR). It not only saved us some decent $$ but it made me look good! My 2012 goal is assertiveness. Thanks for the post (totally encouraging to read)."

Retail, as they say, is for suckers.  Too many HR people respect the retail sticker price.

If you don't ask, you can't win.  I know, you came here for strategy... When is the last time you tried to shock someone with your first offer in a negotiation?

Right.  So maybe you need the reminder.  We all do.  

Thanks Becki...

March Madness at Workforce.com - I'm Picking Talent Management over Jesse Jackson.......

Hey - did you know that Workforce Management magazine is celebrating it's 90th Anniversary?  What type of service award is available for that?   A Ford Taurus?

Better yet - Workforce.com is celebrating the anniversary by putting up some March Madness style brackets, where they pit things like outsourcing vs. Title 9 - NCAA bracket style based on your view of which one had the most workplace impact.  They also did a pop culture bracket with TV shows and movies with workplace implications as well.  

How do you play?  Enter the challenge and make your picks, then Workforce will use crowdsourcing to move through the 6 rounds of brackets over the next two weeks and tell you who won via consensus.

Me?  I'm playing the role of Dick Vitale over at Workforce - picking the upsets.  See all my upset picks in the first round here.  Here's a taste of how I'm approaching it (and a taste of the matchups that Workforce is providing in this version of March Madness):

"Talent Management Systems (13 seed) over Jessie Jackson (4 seed): This one is for the selection committee. Putting Jessie Jackson in as a 4 seed is the hoops equivalent of giving an at-large bid to Northwestern and letting them host a regional bracket of the NCAA March Madness. If this was Martin Luther King, there's no upset possibility. He'd run the regional table and be a lock for a trip to the Final Four. He's largely responsible for Title VII and a lot of other good stuff in American history. He'd be the favorite to win the whole thing. But it's not MLK; it's Jessie Jackson folks. A 12 seed for Jessie? Maybe. A 4 seed? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a 3 seed; Jessie's a 4? Are you out of your mind? Look at some of the 5 through 10 seeds in this bracket. True, I wish I had a stronger dark horse than Talent Management Systems as a 13 seed, but I'll take it and the upset."  (KD note - remember, you're picking based on the Workforce impact these people/items have had...)

Go over and check it out - should be fun over the next two weeks!  Happy anniversary Workforce!

Atomic Resignation Letters and the Disconnect Between Corporate Values and Performance...

Did you see the world's most public and nasty resignation letter this week?  It comes from a Goldman Sachs executive who grew tired of the culture of greed (what did he expect on Wall Street?) and topped off his resignation with a column in the New York Times entitled "Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs".

Yes, that New York Times.  Here's a taste:

"TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer Darth intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.

It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact."

You should go read the entire letter.  As you might expect with this type of op/ed, it's generating opinion on both sides.  It's also generating some great parodies, like this one from Darth Vader - "Why I am leaving the Empire".  Hilarious.  

Some of you will read the entire letter and have raised eyebrows and maybe even a finger wag at Goldman.  You believe that culture can be preserved, even when hundreds of billions of dollars are on the table.  Some of you will laugh it off, saying that's life in the show.

Me?  Let's assume for a second that Greg Smith (the Goldman exec who wrote the letter) is accurate in his portrayal.  Let's assume the leadership of Goldman doesn't want the behavior that's described in the letter.

How do you prevent that type of culture decay and the behavior that follows?  

Start by repeating after me: "Your corporate/company values that you have on the wall don't mean anything unless they become operational in how performance is measured."

You have company values on the wall.  They're too long, people.  They're full of flowering phrases that employees don't understand.  98% of your employees can't recite what they are.  

If you want to make a value set operational in your company, start by determining "potential factors" that are one word or a phrase.  They can be linked to your values, but it's one word or a three word phrase, not BS language.  Examples:


Figures things out/Smart

Gets things done/Executes


Doesn't Screw People

You get the exercise.  If you want to really drive a culture and not let it slip over time, you've got to identify the DNA it takes for people to be successful in your company.  You''ll use the factors across all employees in your company.

Then you ruthlessly use the potential factors to HIRE, PROMOTE/REWARD and FIRE.

Have good results but terrible linkage to the potential factors?  You're fired.  You didn't get a raise.  We interview for it and you never got hired.  I'm reverse engineering here. If you want to build and preserve a culture, that's what you have to do.  It's hard, so that's why so many companies can't/don't do it.

Which is why most companies have a Greg Smith firing up a letter like the one you saw in the Times.  Most never send it, but a LOT of people write it.  

Check their drafts when you take over their email.

When to Bet Your Future on a Single FTE...

Much has been made in the last couple of days related to the potential trade of NBA Superstar Dwight Howard.  You want Howard, who's one of the best players in the league and in the last three months of a contract? (thus the urgency to trade him so the Orlando Magic get something for him rather than letting him walk in free agency) - you'll need to give us 3-4 key players/draft picks to get him...

What can you learn from this?  First, you have to ask the right question, which is not "what do I think Howardt
about this trade?"  The right question is: "When should I bet the future of my company on a single FTE?", or its close counterpart, "When should I bet my career at the company I currently work for on a single FTE?"

The answer is pretty simple.  You only bet the future of your company or current career on a single FTE when you think the talent that FTE has can redefine your business, when the skills in question are more art than science.  When you can buy creativity that leads to production that others not only can't produce, but they can't even develop thoughts around.


-A software developer who not only can sling code, but can conceptualize and develop features others can't think of.

-A designer who's going to stun those who visit your website with simplicity, visual appeal and functionality that your competitors can't touch.

-A marketer who can develop campaigns that consistently cut through the white noise that drowns everyone else out.

Other examples are out there as well, but one thing is for sure: It's a sucker's play to bet the farm on one FTE if there's not a combination of creativity mixed in with the production you expect.

Creativity + Production = Game Changer.  Don't bet your company or career unless there's a great track record of both.

Biz for HR: Bad Debt Vs. Subscriber Count...

Observation from the field..

Subscriber-based businesses (think wireless, cable, SaaS software) come with important decisions to make related to training customers to pay.

Customers, whether B to B or B to C, make decisions daily on who to pay first across all the people they owe money to.  Many customers are in a cash pinch, and if you don't squawk when you don't get paid, you're training them that they don't have to pay you on time, that paying you whenever they're ready is sufficient.

If you're a business owner, that's not going to feel good.  However, it's not as simple as simply saying, "pay me now".

It's deeper than that.  For the subscriber-based business, you've got to make the decision when you're going to disconnect the customer, taking them off your subscriber list.  

Disconnecting customers is the ultimate way to train them to pay you on time.  Of course, some of those customers won't come back.

The flip side of that is you allow customers to pay you when they want, because you don't want to lose a subscriber.  Do that, and AR buckets (AR as defined as 30/60/90 days out) and your bad debt (that ultimately gets charged off with the revenue reversed as an expense) go up over time.

Most subscriber-based businesses play a constant game of when to disconnect slow to pay or non-paying customers.They flip back and forth, trying to find the middle ground.  God bless you if you're in a business where you don't have to train your customers to pay.  That means you have automatic bank draft or a credit card on file.

Train your customers well.