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June 2012

Print This For Your Managers: Old Leader Vs. New Leader

From today's post by my friend Kathy Rapp at Fistful of Talent:

Harvard Business Review Blog ran an article titled, “What Does Professional Look Like Today?” and I’m going to use the chart from the article in my class.  Instead of “professional”, I’m using “leader”.  See what you think:


  • I am closed to the world
  • I can’t make mistakes in public
  • I don’t reveal my personal interests to the world
  • I am expected to have the answers to questions
  • Power is taken and held


  • I am open and accessible to the world, strengthening my relationships with people
  • I am human, when I inevitably make mistakes, I apologize quickly and sincerely
  • My interests, hobbies, passions make me interesting and attractive
  • I am searching for answers with my network of colleagues and supporters
  • Power is shared and grown

#Word.  Transparency and authentic nature is the new power.  

HR and Marketing: What HR Departments Can Learn from Murder Burger..

Murder Burger is a burger place somewhere in New Zealand (I orignally became aware of them via the gang at Sonar6) - which is not Australia, or really even close to Australia for all you geography-challenged ugly Americans out there.  For a primer on geography, see this YouTube of Jim Rome dismantling the former Miss South Carolina.... wow...

But back to Murder Burger.  What we can learn from them is to write copy and market ourselves with a little personality.  Maybe you can't do it like Murder Burger, but what can you do to stand out from the crowd?  Check out their site here, and see their contact/location info from their site below:

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HRCap WEBINAR: How HR Pros Can Be Strategic in Performance Management via the "Talent Review"...

I know.  You’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff around HQ.  At the time you and your boss met to discuss your HR MBOs/goals for the year, a talent review as a first step towards succession planning seemed like a great idea. 

Then your Director of Customer Service involuntarily “resigned”, your VP of Sales took off his shirt in Halogen-Badge the monthly sales meeting as a motivational gesture, and your VP of Tech Ops emailed your CEO a report of every employee who had visited TMZ.com and Facebook from work in the last year. Good times.

Don't sweat it - I'm here to help you figure out how to make your performance review process feel more upstream and strategic - because I think you should be viewed like that.  

That's why I'm teaming with Halogen over at my other site - Fistful of Talent - for a quick, street smart webinar (register todayon how to bootstrap a talent review and get started with Succession Planning.  Attend Zombies, Grinders and Superstars:  The FOT Talent/Succession Review to get the following goodies:

  • How what you do with performance management at your company is directly related to how you approach talent reviews and succession
  • How items called “potential factors” add flavor to your approach to performance/talent/succession, and how to create potential factors for your company to use in the talent review
  • How to use the talent review process to calibrate performance ratings across your company, box in managers who are soft on performance and create a greater sense of pay for performance in your organization
  • An outline and best practice notes on how to run a talent review meeting, with formats that differ for your company’s Leadership Team, a division/departmental group, or a high potential employee program.

The biggest thing you're going to get out of this webinar is how to run a Talent Review based on the data you have from your performance review system, and that's key.  Only by running a Talent Review can you get out of the "did you get the performance review forms completed" slump you always find yourself in.

Do a Talent Review right and you're in charge of the overall picture of performance as an HR Pro leading your company or client group.  It's the obvious way to take what has become a transactional process and look great as an HR pro.  Join me on this webinar and I'll get you started and on your way to running a great Talent Review - one that will open up some eyes among your peers running other departments at your company.

Register Today! 

NSFW HR: "But Kris, That's the Way We've Always Done It!"...

This is a re-run spurred by recent conversations about empty calorie background checks.  Ask these questions for real background info - if you dare...

Here's a blast from my past.  Topic: Lame reference checks. Dateline: Birmingham.

Me: "Hey gang, I know you dig into references, but candidly, we've never rejected anyone based on information we've uncovered through those reference checks.  So I think we need to discontinue doing that and either a) use a commodity vendor who can do the basics so we say we have done it, or b) get someone who really specializes in getting us quality info so we get better data."

Team: <paraphrased>.  "That's bull****, Kris.  Doing those is core to our team and part of our cultural check.  It's who we are."

Me: "When's the last time you rejected someone based off of your calls?" 

Them: <crickets>

Me: "If you want to keep it, we need to institutionalize our ability and willingness to go after negative information in reference checks.  For example, I'd start with a pretty simple question:  "What type of environment would you never put this person into and why?  What type of manager would you never put this person working with and why?"

Them: <crickets>

This was a great team.  But they were so caught up in how they had always done it that they were emotional about giving up their process.  Plus, they didn't want the confrontation needed to add value.

Good team.  But in this case, it was NSFW HR.  No tough questions, no confrontation and valuing activity over smart activity that yields results. We're all better than that, including this team of mine in the past.

HOW TO GET FIRED: Miss a Deliverable and Come to the Meeting with Urkel Glasses with No Lenses...

You know the drill.  You missed in a position of authority.  A pretty big miss.  There's going to be meetings about your miss.  Your ability to perform and focus, whether it's discussed directly or not, is going to be at question.

What should you do to prepare for that meeting?  Get some history behind how it all went down.  Anticipate the questions and have some answers ready.  Have a plan for what you're going to do now.

Oh yeah - don't forget to grab your Urkel glasses that have no lenses and wear them to the meeting.  It's really a time to show the powers that be how focused you are on bleeding edge fashion (email subscribers, click through for picture below if you don't see it).


Yeah - that's Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat after a Game 5 loss that put them on the brink of elimination for the second year in a row since Miami brought the magnificent three together - Lebron Jame, Wade and Chris Bosh.

Tough loss, almost out of it.  You were yelling at and had to be restrained from your coach in the last series.  You're meeting the press, which are the folks who are playing the "who's to blame" game.  You came to the arena in Urkel glasses without lenses and got a bunch of compliments from people who don't have your responsibilities.  You think you should wear them at that moment.  Interesting.

The Miami Heat have $340 million invested in the aforementioned trio, which got on a stage after getting together two years ago and talked about winning 7 straight titles.  At this time, they have 0.

Let's say you're a CEO that has missed estimates for the 3rd straight quarter and you're getting ready for a board meeting.  Or, you're the VP of HR that just took a huge lawsuit surrounding your hiring practices and you're meeeting with your CEO.  Or, you're a marketing coordinator that just emailed a personal note to 300K prospects in a error of massive proportions.  

Do you wear the Urkel glasses with no lenses to that meeting? I think not.  Not if you want to keep your job.  

It's a call for help really..."please remove me from this company." 

BIZZARO: The Obama Administration's NLRB Gives "Guidance" on Social Media Policy...


That's all you can say.  Download the NLRB's recent guidance to it's Regional Directors on Social Media here

You can judge it overall on your own.  I'll give you one highlight (hat tip to Dan Schwartz) that shows how clueless appointees are to how things work in the real world.  Read it and weep:

"Sample Social Media policy cited: Use technology appropriately* * * * *If you enjoy blogging or using online social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube, (otherwise known as Consumer Generated Media, or CGM) please note that there are guidelines to follow if you plan to mention [Employer] or your employment with [Employer] in these online vehicles. . . Don’t release confidential guest, team member or company information. . . .

What the NLRB said:  We found this section of the handbook to be unlawful.  Its instruction that employees not “release confidential guest, team member or company information” would reasonably be interpreted as prohibiting employees from discussing and disclosing information regarding their own conditions of employment, as well as the conditions of employment of employees other than themselves--activities that are clearly protected by Section 7."

And you wonder why production of all types is going offshore.  So, you're telling me that you would strike down as illegal any language that says confidential information can't be shared because of your view on conditions of employment?  Without attempting to clarify and parse further?

Right.  You have no clue on how companies actually work.  It's the kind of thing that makes a business-focused moderate like me decide that the Libertarian path doesn't look so bad.  

Twitter's VP of HR: Here's What the New Wave of HR Looks Like

Disclaimer: I don't know Janet VanHuysse at all.  But she's the VP of HR at Twitter and as such, a rockstar for HR people who like tech and all things social.  That would be me.  Probably you as well if you're reading this blog.

So, I ran across her profile last Friday on Twitter and saw a couple of things on the profile that I thought were cool, so I thought I'd share.  I think they kind of show where this HR thing is going for companies that are trying to do interesting things with people.

Let's break it down!  Notes below, and I've circled and numbered the references by number on the profile that follows the notes.  Enjoy.

1.  Ultra-Casual profile pic.  Like the HR version of Zuckerberg, if that existed.  Formality to the wind.  Says approachable.

2.  Background is good, but other than Sony, no heavy pedigree needed.  Ballers get judged on their ideas, and willingness to take risks.  She was at Twitter 3 years ago, so she took a risk back in the day - something not all HR people do.  #winning

3.  Education - University of Illinois - no ivy necessary.  Again, sensing someone who has ideas and has built a good reputation based on merit, not pedigree.  English Education.  The best man in my wedding has an English Education degree, and he's now a professional wrestler.  She runs HR for Twitter.  So there you go, your answer for whether you need a degree in HR, kids. 

4.  Twitter Account - She has one.  +1.  Wait, wrong company.  Plus, she works at Twitter, so that's not something she should get credit for...

5.  Generalists rule - Companies don't start with specialists, they start with generalists, which is not a career level.  It's a mindset.  Read JVH's summary, and you'll see she's a generalist.  Jack of all trades?  Enough said.  

6.  Career path - Changed ladders (companies) every two years or so before Twitter (assuming she's staying awhile at this one).  Like the Jeffersons, moving on up.  On to the next one.  

Make of it what you will.  I think the profile shows that the biggest growth engine for an HR career is to not be afraid to take risks and not to specialize - or if you do, don't specialize too long.  The work available at interesting early stage companies is as a generalist.

Take risks and seek change and you might mess around and get a triple double.  Or end up leading the next Twitter.


Some Hiring Managers Rate the Attractiveness of Your Spouse...

As a candidate, you know that people considering you for employment judge you on everything, right? Clothes.  Your Car.  How you talk.  Whether your spouse is smoking hot.

Hold up, what was that last one? Trophy-wife

Your spouse - he or she needs to be smoking hot - you didn't get the memo?  

I made it gender neutral becuase I'm a long term HR guy and that's how I roll.  But let's face it, men are pigs.  So it stands to reason that men, not women, would be the ones to judge the ultimate accessory held by a candidate - the wife.  Don't believe me?  Here's the rundown from Coachingsearch.com (hat tip to a blogging friend who doesn't want his name on this), which covers comments made by the Vanderbilt head football coach on the topic:

"Breaking: Do not apply for a job on James Franklin's staff if your wife is not a smoke show.

While in Destin on Wednesday afternoon, Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin told Clay Travis on 104.5 The Zone that he evaluates the appearance of coaches' wives during the interview process.

Franklin, in a relaxed mood near the beach, explained, "I've been saying it for a long time, I will not hire an assistant until I see his wife.  If she looks the part and she's a D1 recruit, then you got a chance to get hired. That's part of the deal.  There's a very strong correlation between having the confidence, going up and talking to a women (sic), and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being articulate and confident, than it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling him."

Does this apply to more than football?  Probably.  The general rule of thumb is that the spouse starts becoming a factor once you start getting into leadership positions, especially with smaller companies where great sacrifices might be required on the part of families - that's when the hiring executive wants to meet Mrs. Candidate, more often than not to guage whether she'll be supportive of the sacrifices required, and also to sell her in to the promise of the role, etc.  So it stands to reason that a high attractiveness level might be a plus in that situation, if not a requirement via the progressive views of James Franklin.

Women - does this ever hold true for the male spouse of a key female candidate?  That would explain my wife's amazing career success before she opted out of the game.  I'm just sayin...

Why Your Company Should Make You a Free Agent Every 3 Years...

Been wanting to share this one for a while - Andy Porter checked in over at Fistful of Talent with the idea that companies (and employees) should embrace the idea of a free agency period for every employee at the 3-year mark. Check out the starting point for the logic from Andy:

"If I decided tomorrow that I wanted to explore new job opportunities, I’d have to set up the FreeAgentNation equivalent of a Navy SEAL, top-secret military operation, so that my current employer wouldn’t know what I was up to. And I would bet I’m not the only one – I think most of us would prefer NOT to have our current employer know that we’re out there “looking.”

I think we should shed the secrecy and as organizations take it even one step further: Make all of your employees eligible for to become free agents every three years."

Andy goes on to describe the benefits... It keeps everyone honest.  The employee gets a pass to shop their relative value in the marketplace for their skills every couple of years.  The company can't be lazy about undervaluing the employee.  After 3 years, the company gets an opportunity to release the employee or not re-sign them if there's not enough value or there's other talent to bring in.

I know, I know.  Employment at will - yadda, yadda, yadda.  Just go read the post to find out more - it's the freshest piece of thinking I've seen in the last couple of weeks on the web.