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December 2012

NEW YEARS RESOLUTION: To Hell With the Zero Summers...

2012 is almost gone, and my resolutions for 2013 are pretty short.  So short I can sum them up in one sentence:

"To hell with the Zero Summers."

You know the Zero Summers. They are the individuals that think if you win, they lose. They believe there's a finite sum of good things that can happen in the world, and when one of them happens to you, that's one ZeroSum less that can happen to them.  They believe for every gain there is a loss. For every winner, there's a loser. 

Competing is fine. Being competitive isn't the primary issue with Zero Summers. The real issue is that zero summers withhold the following due to their world view. Zero Summers:

-Withhold praise and recognition 

-Won't collaborate to save their *** because they're too worried about who is going to get the credit

-Won't work on ideas that have clearly been created by someone else for the same reason outlined above

-Are generally snake-like when it comes to anything related to teamwork. They actually bring team chemistry down because of the negative vibe they bring to the table. Did you hear that silence in the meeting? That's the team reacting to the selfish vibe that the Zero Summer put out there. The team's probably not even fully aware of who's putting off that vibe. That's how under the radar the Zero Summers can be.

So I've got some decisions to make about the Zero Summers related to my 2013 resolution. I can either just say I'm not going to work on things with Zero Summers, or I can go off the grid and decide that I'm going to try and call out Zero Sum behavior when I see it, with all the social and professional discomfort that goes with that choice. Not sure yet how far to take it.  It impacts what I'm involved in away from work as much as it impacts my professional life. 

Zero Summers - they're killing your ability to collaborate in your personal and professional life. They should get called out on it.

Happy Holidays! I know, I'm a ray of freaking sunshine. You thought that I was going to give you a resolution on writing a haiku once per week, and all the sudden I'm throwing red paint on someone in a meeting.

Good times. PS, there's a band called the Zero Summers.  There's a cello and Green Day influences and they hail from Utah. Click here for the website, it's the only positive I've ever seen related Zero Summers in my life.

IPAD/KINDLE: And Thoughts About Veering From a Single HR Platform...

So he did it.  Santa brought one of our kids a Kindle.  

We've got 3 iPhones and an iPad.  Still, it was cool to see the Kindle under the tree. Then, I started seeing the pings to my Amazon account for App downloads and I thought, "what the hell are we doing?"

Santa gave us a new platform. All the start up costs associated with that are going to flow to support that new platform. We have the Apple Platform, and last time I checked there was a Kindle app that you can use on Apple devices. Name the feature of the new Kindle platform (books! video! music! games!), and we already had that on Apple.

It's not that one is better than the other. It's the fact that we already had one platform supporting 4 people, and through digital rights management, much of the content across that platform could be shared.

How many times did you introduce a new platform in HR in 2012 because it was the shiny new thing? 

Which is a fancy way of asking how many passwords you've pushed on your employees, right?

The higher the number of passwords, the lower the adoption rate/business results related to your HR platform.

I love the Kindle. But all it did was introduce complexity and ensure that the platforms we use don't talk to each other.  Need to remember that at work in 2013.

PEOPLE ECONOMICS: Regression to the Mean

I've got a theory I've written about here before - EVERY MANAGER and INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTOR HAS A SHELF LIFE AT A COMPANY.

What's a shelf life?  Shelf life means that you come into a new opportunity with lots of fresh ideas, and you're engaged and ready to kick some ass.  And you do that.  Just as importantly, the people around you - the receptors of all that wisdom - view you as at least somewhat fresh and innovative.

Like the Eagles once said, you're the new kid in town. Average-employee-skills (1)

Until you're not.  I think every manager has a period of about 2-3 years in the company, then they either need to get a different team in the same company, change companies or do what is hardest - reinvent themselves and the personal value proposition they bring to the company and their teams.  

I call it shelf life.  Others might call it regression to the mean, and smart people realize it impacts companies as well indviduals. Here's some notes on how a VC thinks regression to the mean is the biggest threat to Facebook:

"What's the biggest threat to Facebook?  Some things leap to mind: GoogleTwitter, the shift to mobile, government regulators.  But a top Facebook executive says those aren't the real problem.

Instead, it's reversion to the mean, according to Chamath Palihapitiya, who's now a venture capitalist at the Social + Capital Partnership. Reversion to the mean, or regression to the mean, is a concept from statistics. It basically says that exceptional performance can't last forever."

Here's how that works according to CP:

"When companies work, the biggest thing that happens is you revert to the mean. The mean is every crappy company out there. And we all work at crappy companies. We've all done it. We all look at our boss and think, "This guy's an idiot. How does he have this job? This company is so stupid. I hate my job. Is it time to leave yet?"

We've all been in that position.

And so the real question that I was asking myself at Facebook was, "What happens and how do companies end up in this situation?" And my realization was every company gets there eventually. But that last word is the most important.

And the challenge of a senior executive team is to prevent that regression to the mean. And culture is the only thing that does that."

Regression to the mean for companies and shelf life for managers.  It's going to happen eventually.  Your job is to prevent the regression from happening as long as possible.  When you think about it, preventing good talent from that regression is probably the most important thing a HR pro can do, right?

TRAINING TOOLKIT For January: What To Do When Your Team (or you) Sucks at LinkedIn...

I've got your first New Year's Resolution right here - start taking care of your career by connecting and promoting who you are before you really need a strong professional network. There's no better tool than LinkedIn to help you accomplish that goal in 2013.  LI2

Let's face it.  You - or someone you love - has a WEAK approach to LinkedIn. Maybe you don't love them. Maybe they're just a direct report. Still, the facts are there. Their LinkedIn profile is awful. They need some game. You don't know what to tell them to do, so you tell them to "spend time on it".

Great advice, coach.  Next time tell them to "try harder". With that kind of coaching, what could possibly prevent better results in 2013?

Good news. I'm here with the only training package you'll ever need to get yourself or others ramped up on LinkedIn and getting better results.  t's a whitepaper my team at Kinetix created with my help called "Are you a LinkedIn Benchwarmer? 12 Steps to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile Today".  Click on the link to hit the download page and we'll hit you with the following:

1. A breakdown of the three most common types of LinkedIn users including "The Franchise" and "The Scrub" as a baseline for you to determine where your profile falls in the LI game. LI1

2. Our 12-Step Playbook for updating and enhancing your LinkedIn profile. We'll give you all you need to improve your LinkedIn profile dramatically with 20 minutes of work.  12 Easy Steps.  What I love about the toolkit that each of the steps intros with reasons why you need to complete the step, has pictures of what success looks like, some friendly advice from our recruiters at Kinetix and then an idiot-proof call to action called NOW YOU DO IT that tells you what to click when to complete the step.  We've made this #$#@ real simple.

3. A checklist we're calling the LinkedIn Leaderboard for you to use when updating your LinkedIn profile or training your team on this, complete with coach's notes and a scorecard to track your progress. Got a team that needs work on LinkedIn? Use this whitepaper and checklist to make it simple related to what they need to do. It's a perfect companion tool for your next meeting focused on individual development.

This is the tool to use to run a professional development session on how to better use LinkedIn for any team. It's going to make you look smart.  It's going to make you look like you care. It's done in a way where the kids on your team won't laugh at you, Brontosaurus.

So download it and roll it out already - CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD.(registration required). Not a sales pitch, just interesting reading and a great way to help your team and employees out.  I helped write it, so if you like what you get here, you'll like the toolkit...

If you find registration for content personally appalling, I don't even know who you are anymore.... Just kidding, just email me or hit me in the comments if you're hiding from the authorities and are naturally suspicious, and I'll send you the PDF...

MATH: How Much Would Banning "Reply All" Save Your Company?

Reply all?  It sucks, right?  But does it really cost your company anything?  Do the math on some numbers that I spotted recently in BusinessWeek:

"At least 15 percent of a typical office worker’s day is spent on e-mail, and 5 percent of e-mails received are replies to all, according to data from VoloMetrix, a Seattle startup that tracks, minute by minute, how its clients’ employees use technology at work. While that might sound like a small number, spread those stats over a 10,000-employee company and “you rapidly get to a pretty big number in terms of dollar cost—in the tens of millions of dollars [per year],” says VoloMetrix founder Rya 452688_ReplyAll09 (1)n Fuller. For worker productivity, he says, “It’s death by a thousand cuts.”

So let's roll with that math.  Let's say you have a 1,000 person white collar company and the average salary is 50K.  If 15% of a worker's day is spent on email, and 5% of that email glut is reply all, then you could make an arguement that about 15.6 hours a year are spent on reply all types of emails.  Do the math - $24.03 per hour on average X 15.6 hours X 1,000 FTEs, and you've got an intereresting total - $375,000.

But the math is really only part of the equation, right?  It really comes down to how productive - or unproductive - you feel the reply all button is.  

Answer that question and you're ready to answer the big question - Do you believe that reply all is so unproductive that you would remove the functionality from Outlook to prevent it's misuse?

Well?  Do you feel lucky, punk?  Would you do it?  Geek posts like this one say it can be done.

What would you do if you ruled the world?  Or at least your division?

Employee Nickname of the Week: "KGB"

If you know anything about me, you know I love to give nicknames to employees, candidates, etc.

They're a face in the crowd until we give them a nickname that's ripped from pop culture.  Which means they've arrived.KGB

Past examples:

"Boots" - the guy that wears the ankle boots to the interview.  Kenneth Cole had a sale? I didn't see that.

"Teeth" - corrective work needed. Dental plan doesn't cover orthodontics.  Great talent anyway, that's why she gets a nickname.

This week's top nickname:

"KGB" - given to an edgy sales guy. You know KGB.  He dresses in black for the most part and always looks stylish.  Most importantly, he goes with the shadow beard.  IT ALWAYS SEEMS LIKE IT IS 2-3 DAYS OUT.

Picture of KGB to the right.  You know him.  You love him.  The ladies love him.

He's KGB.  

Ways HR People Say They Didn't Get The Work Done...

I love to write about HR people finding ways to squeeze administrative work down to the lowest possible percentage of time so they can spend time on what matters.

But let's face it, sometime S*** happens.  And then, you've got to protect yourself.  That's why I'm priming the pump today with some MBA one-liners for why the work didn't get done, then we'll find some pure play HR versions.  More from VentureBeat:

"The key to getting away with not getting everything done is to talk like a businessperson. MBA degrees are optional, but helpful. Pull out those banal MBA one-liners and you can circumnavigate your way through any missed deadline or incomplete spreadsheet. Whether you’re too busy or just a little lazy, here are ten surefire lines that will cover your butt and earn you some corporate cred to boot:

  1. I didn’t have the bandwidth this week Detour
  2. We were trying to boil the ocean
  3. I had to prioritize other deliverables
  4. It wasn’t the right high-level strategy
  5. It fell below the line this week
  6. It’s really a time and distance problem
  7. There were other low-hanging fruit to attend to
  8. It’s just not quite in my wheelhouse
  9. It didn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel
  10. The problem was that we were working in silos
  11. It’s an issue of scalability"

So that's the MBA world.  Got any from the HR world?  Here's my short list, hit me with yours in the comments:

  1. Four letters and a word:  EEOC suit.
  2. You want me to put out the fires or work on succession planning?
  3. I value recruiting.  I just value not getting sued more.
  4. Remember that technology we didn't invest in?  I was conducting the orchestra via forms as a result.
  5. Interrogations on bad stuff was my entire week.  I feel like an overworked cop from "The Wire".
  6. Our comp plan is not competitive.  That's why time to fill is up.
  7. I could get my team around the mission a lot faster if they were bonus eligible.
  8. The last time I avoided these employee relations issues to do the fun stuff, the person in your role before you got canned.
  9. I can't get anyone to respond to basic requests for information.  Can we have the CEO send out an email?

Boom.  That's what I got.  What other one-liners are gold for HR Managers, Directors and VPs to say they didn't get the work done and live to tell about it?  Put it in the comments.

Let's crowdsource this sucker.

GIVE ME ANOTHER HIT: LinkedIn Endorsements, The Lab Rat and Lowest Common Denominators....

I don't want to go on a rant here, but LinkedIn went total lowest common denominator a few months back with the launch of LinkedIn endorsements.  Here's the press release description of this brave new world from the LinkedIn Blog:

"Starting today, we are introducing Endorsements, a new feature that makes it easier to recognize them for their skills and expertise.

With just one click, you can now endorse your connections for a skill they’ve listed on their profile or recommend one they haven’t added yet. Think your connection is great at programming AND project management? Let them know!

Here’s how you can endorse your connections:

  • On the top of a connection’s profile, you’ll see recommended endorsements for them. You can suggest additional skills as well.
  • You can also endorse them from the new Skills & Expertise section that now showcases these endorsements."

The dirty little secret? The system serves these up to you in a window at the top of your page, with four profile pics and a suggestion on what to recommend that person on.  Click on one to endorse, and the space is automatically replaced by a new person/suggestion.

Like a test lab rat, the system will allow you to click endorsements ALL DAY LONG to your connections.  It won't stop you.  If you're willing to click, it's willing to call the action you took an endorsement.  Here's what my "endorsement" board looks like.

That's right suckers.  I've got 270+ endorsements.  Total time taken by my posse to endorse me across all these "KD kicks #@@" actions?

Under 5 minutes. Total.  

Which is the problem and where LinkedIn talks out of both sides of it's mouth.  They shut me down a few years back when a couple of people said they didn't know me when I wanted to connect.  But - they're all to willing to allow meaningless banter when it fits their engagement/adoption/feature road map.

It's OK for LinkedIn to be superficial.  But if you try to be superficial?  You'll get banned from sending any more invites.

PS - I would have rolled out the same feature.  Anything I could do to give you that endorphin rush from LinkedIn, I would do it.  I'd let you draw bad mustaches on people you didn't like and have the world see it (but the person it question couldn't) for a period of 15 minutes if it would help the business plan.

OK - I wouldn't do that.  

Hold on - maybe I would.

In the time it took you to read this, I just endorsed 55 people.  For things like "Building Relationships"  I endorsed you.  You're welcome.  It's special.

Endorse me today.  Don't cost nothing


Some of you probably know that my role at Kinetix is primarily focused on recruiting, and at times I help recruit great HR leaders and professionals for Kinetix clients.  I love that part of my job.

I'm going to start sharing the best HR roles that I'm currently recruiting for at Kinetix, because let's face it, there's no better pool of HR leaders out there than the HR pros who seek to stay on top of their game by consuming digital content and engaging in the social conversation that results.  That's you, BTW.

Masonite logoThe next role I'm going to share with you is a great one - I've been retained to help Masonite International find a great HR leader to join its team as a Sr. Director of Human Resources for North America.

I'm going to share it with you two ways:  First, I'm going to trickle info out to people I'm connected with on Twitter and LinkedIn over the next couple of weeks, so follow me or send me a request to connect if we're not already connected.  Then, I'm going to give you a long form position description, complete with my commentary, known as "KD Comments".  I know, you can't wait.  Check it out:


Kinetix and Kris Dunn (HR CapitalistFistful of Talent) are working exclusively with Masonite International to fill the critical role of Senior Director of Human Resources - North America.  This role will be a member of the Masonite HR leadership team, located in balmy Tampa (stay warm, my friends) and reporting directly to Masonite’s SVP of Human Resources, with close interaction with multiple line of business owners within the company.  Compensation and rewards will be competitive/compelling for the right candidate.

Who is Masonite?  Great question and we've got a great answer – Masonite is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of interior doors and entry door systems.  Throughout the company’s 80-year history, Masonite has maintained its focus on leading-edge innovation, manufacturing excellence and superior customer service.

KD’s comments:  Some people say manufacturing is dead in American.  If you think that, then you’ve already self-selected out.  Masonite is proof that the manufacturing game is very much alive in the U.S.  You have to love that as an HR Pro.  But if you don’t, this isn’t for you. 

What’s Masonite looking for in their next Sr. Director of HR for North America? 

A group named the Who once asked (America should have seen this coming), “Who Are You?”

KD’s comments:   Why the classic rock reference?  Other than seeing the classic footage of the bassist half-heartedly singing studio backup while smoking (1:24 in the video, check it out.  He’s also super-chill all the way through the video) and the realization that the drummer has headband-taped his headphones onto his head (3:11), you need to answer that question at 30,000 feet before you raise your hand and say you’re interested. Who are you?  Who do we need you to be? Let’s break it down:

We’re looking for a HR leader with deep experience in running the talent function for a large-scale, multi-site manufacturing environment.   We’ll also talk to HR leaders with heavy employee relations experience in a multi-site environment in different industries.  Is that you?  Keep reading.

But wait – If you fit that profile, but you’re a senior level HR professional with who’s looking for a strategic role where you can think and let other people do, you can stop reading now.  This role is not for you.  The right candidate for this role is going to have the capability to be strategic while always looking for what’s necessary to get things done – and often be the one to do the things in question.

To sum it up – Experience outlined above + brainpower/processor to be strategic + small ego and personal bias wired toward taking action = a great candidate for Masonite.   Is that you?  +1. Keep reading.

Let’s Dig Into the Details, People

Four things we want you to know about this role:

1. The Scope of the Job

Codeword:  Meaty.  There’s a lot here, and it’s not a small job.  Consider:

  • The HR Team:  As a member of the Sr. HR Team at Masonite, you’ll report to an ultra-capable and established SVP of HR.  You’ll also have two upstream peers, one running talent acquisition and one running all back-office functions, including payroll, compensation and benefits.  So you’ve got strong people to hang with and bounce ideas off of.  Which is nice.
  • Your Direct Reports:  You’re the tip of the spear when it comes to executing the people/talent strategy in the field.  You’ll have seven direct reports deployed across North America to help you get it done.  We hear they’re good.
  • The Facilities You’ll Be Responsible For:  24 of them, including locations in Canada and Mexico.  A big enough sandbox to have a lot of fun and not run out of challenges - ever.  We’ll validate your I-9 when you join the company with your passport due to the travel.  Wait, we can’t tell you what to provide.  Of course, you knew that. Just know there’s a good bit of travel involved.
  • The Business Partners at the Home Office Who Need You To Be Great: In addition to interacting with your field HR team and the operations leaders at each of the facilities, you’ll have access to four Operations leaders at HQ who are looking to you to be their peer.  Not someone handling transactions, their peer.  Making bad stuff go away and good stuff that’s not expected be developed and implemented daily.

KD’s comments: We just took any concerns you had about the scope of the role off the table.  It’s the real deal, with enough complexity to keep you challenged for the long term and some great people we’ve already met to keep it fun. 

2. What’s In It For You, What You’ll Be Doing in this Role and as a Result, What You Need to be Good At

This is where most marketing documents for open positions show a long list of things they want the right candidate to have.  We’re going to give you six things you need to bring to table, how you’ll use them and how you’ll grow as a result.  Here’s what we need you to have:

  • Strong Employee Relations chops.  As you might expect with 24 facilities, there’s always a need for a steady hand when it comes to all things employee relations-driven.  We need you to be able to handle the scope and volume of employee-relations issues this type of scale drives, and do it in a way that limits risk but is still viewed people-oriented.
  • Deep Labor Relations Experience and Expertise.   A few of the facilities are organized, so we need you to be fluent in labor relations, contract negotiation, dispute resolution in an organized environment, etc.
  • Experience managing, overseeing and mentoring a large HR staff in a manufacturing environment.  In this role, you’ll have 7 direct and 20+ indirect reports helping you get things done in the field.  That means we have a huge need for the hire we make to have great experience coaching, mentoring and growing the HR pros that report to them in a progressive type of way.  Do you have experience making HR Managers and Directors better professionally and ready to take on more responsibility?  If so, you might be the right hire.
  • Labor Law Expertise at the Local, Process-Driven Level.  We’ve got plants.  There’s a lot of labor law that’s related to that.  We need you to be the expert in this area, but in a local, process-driven way that allows us to be in 100% compliance while driving the time spent by your HR team and the plants you serve in this area to the lowest amount possible.  Doing that gives everyone more time to spend on revenue-generating activities.
  • Strong HR Generalist Background Allowing You to Develop and Deploy Programs as Needed.   Employee Relations will always be at the top of the list for this job, but we need you to have a strong generalist background in HR Leadership, with the knowledge and demonstrated capability to sense what’s needed, develop programs as necessary (with and without the help of your peers in Talent Acquisition and Comp/Benefits) and execute those programs for business results.  Performance Management?  Leadership Development?  Managerial training at the plant level?  Yes, please.  And more.
  • Specific Understand of Recruiting Best Practices and Execution in a Manufacturing Environment. Good news – you’ve got a peer as part of the HR Leadership team who is an expert in Talent Acquisition.  That’s a great reason to take this job, but we’ll still need you to be an expert in what it takes to go into a specific geographical area surrounding a plant and help develop and execute a plan allowing Masonite to get the local talent it needs to reach its production goals.  We’ve got 24 plants.  That means there are 24 different formulas you’ve got to figure out since each plant is unique related to the talent market in which it resides.
  • Experience in Making Managers of People at the Plant Level Not Need You (as Much).Let’s face it – your Employee Relations platform is only as good as the managers/supervisors you have in the plants.  With that in mind, we’re looking for a partner who can craft a short/intermediate/long-term plan designed to make our “managers of people” better.  We know you’re probably great at putting out fires.  We want you to show us how to prevent them through building better managers and supervisors.

KD’s comments:   I know. Just six things listed we need you to be good at, but they cover a lot of real estate, don’t they?  What’s in it for you if join the team?  Unlimited opportunity to lead and build what you’ve always wanted to build related to a field-focused HR practice.  Read on.

3. Who You Have to Influence on the Business Side

As we mentioned earlier, who you have to influence on the business side of the operation is pretty simple.  You’ve got the operations leaders at each of the facilities and you’ll have four Operations leaders at HQ who oversee that group that are looking to you to be their peer.

KD’s comments: The most important thing here?  Like most operators, these folks don’t want someone in HR to dictate from a policy manual.  That’s necessary at times, but what they really want is someone who can help them figure talent-related issues out. Not someone handling transactions, their peer.  Making bad stuff go away and good stuff that’s not expected be developed and implemented daily.  We’ll be digging into your approach related to how you do this in the interview process.

4. Who You Have to Coach, Grow and Mentor on the HR Side

Last but certainly not least, we want you to know that there’s a need for the hire we make to have great experience coaching, mentoring and growing the HR pros that report to them in a progressive type of way.  Do you have experience making HR Managers and Directors better professionally and ready to take on more responsibility?  If so, you might be the right hire.

KD’s comments:  It’s a great role.  I think the right candidate could come from a couple of different places, most likely a company with a large scale manufacturing base and great human capital strategy who feels like things have gotten just a bit too bureaucratic over the last couple of years, or an up and comer who’s built similar infrastructure and wants to do it again in an even bigger environment.

Legal Said I Had To Break Out Some Qualifications and Requirements In a Bulleted Fashion: (plus some of you need this, so here you go)

  • Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources, Business, or related field required; Master’s Degree in HR, OD preferred
  • 20 + years HR experience including 8-10 years of management and senior leadership experience
  • Significant experience in a manufacturing environment
  • SPHR / PHR certification is a plus
  • Must have experience in a union environment negotiating labor contracts
  • Experience as a strategic HR business partner developing HR strategy in conjunction with senior leadership. Ability to move from the strategic to the tactical seamlessly.
  • Strong executive presence and presentation skills
  • Ability to collaborate and work with all levels in the organization
  • Excellent communication skills (written and verbal), strong interpersonal skills, time management skills, and team-building skills are essential for success
  • Training, facilitation, coaching, and leadership skills
  • Proficient in the use of Microsoft applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)
  • Ability to handle multiple priorities, a high level of initiative, strong problem-solving skills and good judgment.

Submittals for this opportunity are being handled by Kris Dunn. Please apply here and Kris will have direct access to your resume. Be sure to ask him for a packet of company information and intelligence that you can use to separate yourself from the pack in this search.  If that sounds like too much work, you’re probably not right for the role.  However, if you’ve made it this far and are energized by the opportunity, hit us with your resume and ping Kris on Twitter.