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January 2013

YOUR MONEY QUOTE: On Displaying Zero Individuality at Work (Per Company Request)...

“I am expected to portray a canned personality that has been found to be least offensive to the greatest amount of people.” 

-Fired waitress from Applebee's Receiptgrab
(fired after she took a picture of a credit card where a pastor stiffed her on religious grounds) 

That quote pretty much sums up a lot of what I don't work to be - wherever I work and whatever orgs I'm a part of of molding.

Let you be you?  Hell,no. Be who we need you to be.  Conform.  Don't be interesting. Offend no one.  Thrill no one.

What an awful way to feel at work. The entire story on the viral credit card receipt at the Consumerist is pretty good as well, check it out.

h/t to Matt Stollock, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett and Steve Boese via email thread.


Is Giving Employees a Yes/No Vote in Firings a Better Way to Go?

Ah yes - let's give your teammates a say in whether you get fired or not.  A vote, if you will!

Check out the video below from the Minute MBA series.  It's featuring a company called Valve, a maker of the video games your kids love to play (Left for Dead, anyone?).  The focus is on the Valve way of firing - everyone on the team gets a vote.

Sounds progressive, right?  I like this in theory, and I think the deeper you get into organizational history of where this has been the case, the more serious employees would take the responsibility.

The bigger issue for me?  It's not show friends, it's show business. I'd be worried that I don't get enough votes to fire someone because they're a nice person.  We hear it all the time in employee surveys - what do you like best about working at ACME?  The people. I love the people I work with.

Unfortunately, liking someone doesn't equal results. I'd be more worried in this system about not getting people fired than the people who actually got fired, because let's face it - if 10 of your 12 teammates voted to kick you to the curb, you had it coming.

It's the other way I'd be worried about.  What about you?

(email subscribers click through for video below) 

DOWNLOAD: 5 Keys to Better Goal Setting in Performance Management...

It's January and a lot of you probably are still trying to get started making sure everyone has goals that tie into how you do performance management at your company.  That's normal - January slips by quickly, doesn't it?

But you're looking at the goal setting tip sheet you want to send out to managers - you know the one - with SMART goals and a bunch of other things that are true but seem like Remove the supspects cliches at this point because everyone has heard them so many times, right?

Never fear - I'm hear to help you with the latest whitepaper I did over at my company (Kinetix - check us out if you didn't know) entitled, "REMOVE THE SUSPECTS: 5 Keys to Better Goal Setting in Performance Management".  You should download it, because here's what I'm slinging your way:

1. Real words to replace tired buzzwords like “goals” and “goal setting”, that will actually resonate with your team and set you up to clearly define what’s most important in their role. We call them “the five most important things”

2. A roadmap to help you create goals that are conversational in nature and position you to become a career coach for your “A” players and help weed out your suspect “C” players. There's a clear path to talking about the difference between good and great performance and what's in it for the employee that sets your managers up to be coaches.  I'll give you what I would do if I were you.

3. A simple one-page worksheet that allows you to set goals for your employees in a way that doesn’t feel like another big process for the corporate database in the sky.  Give me a shout if you need more detail than what's included in the whitepaper.

If you want to read more, go get the whitepaper here (registration required).  Not a sales pitch, just interesting reading and a great way to help your managers out.  I wrote it, so if you like what you get here, you'll like the whitepaper...

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...

Coffee’s for closers. Download “Remove The Suspects”, because that cup of Joe just looks better in the hands of an “A” player. 

QUOTES FOR HR PLAYERS: "Lazy and Crazy Isn't Going to Work"

As always, a public service brought to you by the Capitalist is to identify terms, definitions and catch-phrases you can use to make your client groups love you.

Today's mantra to make you look like a bottom-line focused HR pro?   Lazy crazy

"Lazy and Crazy isn't going to work"

More on the origin from Yahoo Sports:

"It's got to be brutal being an NBA coach. You've got the most talented athletes in the world at your beck and call, and sometimes they just. Won't. Play. Ball.

Exhibit A: JaVale McGee. As skilled a big man as there is in the NBA, his highlight-to-frustration ratio is probably a solid 1:1. He's a Denver Nugget, which puts him in the purview of George Karl, and he's making the nightly sports roundups for both admirable and boneheaded reasons.

Leave it to Karl, then, to give the most concise line yet on McGee's difficulty. As the Denver Post notes, Karl summed up McGee's issues thusly:

"He's got to understand that lazy and crazy isn't going to make it work," Karl said. "We want solid and we want fundamental, and we want spectacular but only when it happens, not forcing the action where sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't."

Translation #1 in the corporate world:  You can have amazing potential.  You can have great talent.  At some point you have to produce results.  If you have great potential and are perceived to be lazy, the mothership starts becoming less patient with your "quirks".

Translation #2 in the corporate world: You can be crazy and be an amazing producer.  Just make sure you keep producing, because as soon as your production lags, that craziness starts looking a lot less tolerable.

"Lazy and Crazy isn't going work."  Be great or be hard working with a lack of baggage.  That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

h/t to Capitalist reader/correspondent K.P.


ASK THE CAPITALIST: Do I Have a Legal Case Against This Recruiter That Sold Me Out?

Oh boy - here we go.  Fasten your seat-belts for a slimy recruiter story kids...


KD - 

OK...here's an interesting dilemma for you. The doctor is in

I recently contacted a recruiting company. I've been at my current job for 3 years, and thought I'd check out the market.

Then, less than a week later, my boss calls me into his office. He asked me, "So who have you been talking to at [recruiting company]?"

It turns out that my contact at this recruiting company CALLED MY BOSS to tell him I was looking. He also contacted the HR team at my current employer to let them know I was looking, too.

When I first contacted this recruiter via email, I had explicitly asked for confidentiality. 

So...do I have a legal case against this recruiter? Should I go to his boss with this information? 

Kind of lost in this mess right now.



Hey Jen - welcome to the wonderful world of scummy recruiters, of which there are many varieties (full disclosure, I'm a recruiter too).  In this case, I'd say you're dealing with the "dual desk" species of recruiter, where the recruiter gets paid to sell searches to companies like yours as well to fill those searches (which is why that recruiter fielded your call).

There are a bunch of great recruiters out there - dual desk included.  Just like any profession, there are some real jerks and shortsighted folks as well.  Any recruiter worth their salt would not have done what this recruiter did, even if they were currently working with the company when you called.  Instead, they would have told you about the conflict, promised confidentiality and then delivered just that.

A good recruiter takes your call, tells you why they can't help and their conflict, then releases you back into the wild.  They then track you to congratulate you for where you land and use the fact they did you a "solid" to potentially ask for business referrals into your company.

Unfortunately, this recruiter was a troll. You really don't have any legal grounds to pursue.

You could always be like a professional or college coach and have a third party present you in the future - at least by doing that you have plausible deniability.  

Stay strong - KD

I Like People Who Don't Suck - That's Why I'm Celebrating Paul Hebert Day...

Last year, a group of HR bloggers banned together to do a tongue-cheek-dedication to a guy named Tim Sackett.  It was basically a roast, designed to play off the fact that Tim works his ### off and can't ever make a list - best bloggers, best HR people to follow on Twitter, Top 5 Dads in his neighborhood - nothing.  If there's a list, Tim's not on it.  So we roasted him with his own day.

Flash forward a year to the day, and we're a little more serious, honoring someone we love and Paul think you should know about - a guy named Paul Hebert from Greenville, SC.

Paul is a nationally known expert in influence, rewards, recognition, etc.  You get the vibe.  Check out his LinkedIn Profile here and his company website here.

But he's got his own day, and this year we're actually being serious. 

Which begs the question - why does Paul Hebert get his own day?  What makes him special?

Two things make Paul Hebert special in my eyes (having known him for 4+ years now):

1. He's constantly trying new things.  To be Paul Hebert means that you experiment with anything you think might have merit professionally.  Paul's older than me, and probably older than you.  Still, he's experimenting with things before anyone else.  I see this through the realm of his blog, social media and other forms of technology, but I'm sure it transfers into other areas of his life.  Paul is unafraid of things that are new.  Most of us have that fear.

2. Paul's a patient guy who meets people halfway. One of the things I love about Paul is that conversations are two-way.  He listens to you.  He responds to what you said with your feelings and position in mind. It's a two-way conversation, and yes - that's rare enough in today's world to be notable.

Today is Paul Hebert day.  I'm proud to call him a friend and a colleague in the game we call HR/Talent Management/Whatever the heck we're calling it today.  You should get to know him as well - check out his coordinates below:

LEADERSHIP: Why Are We Surprised Lance Armstrong is a Dysfunctional Bully?

Lance Armstrong.  Say the name and you get a lot of emotional tags back.

Liar! Cheat!  

But the one that gets me is this one - "I'm just Disappointed in Lance."  


Why are we shocked that Lance Armstrong was a dysfunctional bully who blew up everything and everyone in his path en route to becoming a 7-time Tour De France champion?

Here's my point.  Think about the people you know or are familiar with who have scaled to the highest point in their profession.  I want you to think really hard - don't just stop with the public face/brand.  Think about what you really know about that person.

In most cases, you're going to find a flawed human who buried some bodies on the way to the top.

Life is hard. Life at the top is easy, until you see what's required to get there.  Politics. Sports.  Business.  Find someone at the top and dig a bit, and you'll find a ruthless streak buried just underneath the surface.

It's a bitch to get to the top. There's too much competition. One of the things that separates those who get to the top from those who were close?  The ability and willingness to plunk a knife in someone's back. To burn that innocent city to the ground. To do what's necessary.

Lance Armstrong is an amazing story for being a cancer survivor and finishing the Tour De France.  Right?  But to finish first?  He had to take PEDs (everyone else was doing it). To win multiples and not be branded as a cheater?  He had to bully everyone around him in a way that was 180 degrees from the corporate brand presented by Livestrong and all the other marketing channels.

Do you want your kids to grow up to be the best? Think long and hard before you answer - it's a loaded question.

Manti Te’o, Notre Dame and the Art of the Crappy HR Investigation...

When bad stuff happens, who's left to sort out fact from fiction at your company?

More often than not, it's the HR Manager/HR Director that leads the client group and is Manti-teo-3 responsible for the employee relations scene as part of that responsibility.  About 50% of the biggest HR leadership job (5K FTE count) I ever had was pure play employee relations, and I have to say there are times when I miss going into a pure, high stakes, "he said, she said" situation, preparing with data and interviewing the people involved.

Conducting a fair, yet aggressive, investigation of bad stuff in your company is a hallmark of a great HR Manager and up (director, VP) generalist.  People who can aggressively interview and figure out who's lying are worth their weight in gold.

Of course, there's the wrong way to conduct an internal investigation of bad stuff.  The Manti Te’o/Lennay Kekua/Notre Dame affair is a great example.  Notre Dame decided not to interview anyone or get aggressive in any way before they pronounced Te'o a victim.  More from the Big Lead:

"The South Bend Tribune published a thorough accounting of Notre Dame’s reaction to the Manti Te’o/Lennay Kekua affair. This accounting revealed Notre Dame’s “investigation” to be cursory, almost designed not to find anything unsavory. It confirmed what Te’o intimated in the ESPN interview. Investigators, hired a week after speaking to Te’o, conducted no interviews. Investigating something that happened on the Internet, they did not examine e-mails, cell phone records or any other form of electronic correspondence.

The investigation ordered by Notre Dame was limited to the electronic search, Brown said. Investigators did not interview Te’o or his family, nor did anyone attempt to contact Ronaiah Tuiasosopo or any of his relatives.

In response to questions, university officials said the investigators did not examine cell phone records, e-mails or other electronic communication to determine the length or extent of Te’o’s communication over the past few years with the person claiming to be Lennay Kekua, nor did the university ask Te’o to take a lie detector test."

What's missing from Notre Dame's action plan in this investigation?  What can you learn for your company?  When bad stuff happens, you investigation plan is basically as follows:

1.  Find as much data as possible about the situation - emails, phone records, etc - any thing in print or digital that help you get your head around what you're dealing with.

2.  Create a list of people you need to talk to/interview.  Order them in a way where early interviews are really about collecting data to add to #1.  As you get later in your interview schedule, you're talking to people closer to the issue in question.

3.  When you start interviewing the primaries in the situation (those who know what the truth is, you just have to get it out of them) you do the following:

a. Use the data you have to gradually box them in to agreement on the general situation in question.

b. Use critical data points to test if their telling you the truth - you generally need data from #1 to do this.

c. If you catch them in a lie related to 3b, use that fact to leverage them to come clean and give you more than they were going to.

d. Rinse.  Repeat. Don't be scared to stay in an interview for a couple of hours.

Welcome to the world of the effective HR investigation.  If it sounds like nasty business, it is.  Only the best HR Managers and Directors are really good at what I've outlined above.

But at the end of the day, you want an HR Manager/Director who knows how to leverage investigations and the people in them to get to the truth.  You want them on that wall.  And yes, you need them on that wall.  Who else is going to do it?  You?

If Manit Te'o was an employee, Notre Dame gets an F for how they handled it.  And a bunch of internal onlookers feel less certain about the Notre Dame brand as a result.

When to Hire a Jock...

That's right - there's a right time and wrong time to hire a jock.

Check out my post over at Fistful of Talent for my roadmap on when it makes sense to opt for the jock among final candidates assuming other things are relatively equal.

Hint - it all comes down to a mixture of elements - what level they played out (D1, D2 or D3), whether they were a star or benchwarmer and meeting a relatively healthy GPA (which might be lower than you would expect) during their time at the school in question.

Check out the full post here, it's probably not exactly what you would expect from me...

Mark Zuckerberg Would Eliminate Your Company Email Problem By Charging for Preferred Access...

We all know that email is a huge corporate problem, and the need to CC: your boss, her boss and someone else's boss is sucking pure $$$ out of every company.

We know that, but we haven't done anything about it. Think-misinterpreted-tone-friendship-ecard-someecards

Maybe it's time to figure out a way to charge people for sending email to more than one person.  Crazy idea, I know.  But what if you assigned a true cost to sending a CYA email to multiple people in the organization.  

As it turns out, Facebook is already experimenting with this as a revenue source.  Take a look at the pilot via Mashable:

"We knew Facebook was eager for new revenue streams. We just didn't know they were this eager. If you try to send founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg a message on Facebook, Mashable discovered Thursday, the social network may offer to keep the message out of his "Other" Inbox — for a cool $100.

In our tests from multiple accounts, it appeared to be the case that users only get this message if they're not one of Zuck's 16 million followers. That, however, could still be coincidental.

Keen Facebook observers will recognize this as a variant on the $1 pay-to-message plan that the social network has been experimenting with for months. The company indicated at the time that it would be experimenting with other prices, so it's possible we're starting to see the fruits of that.

There were sporadic reports in December of Facebook charging various people $100 for the service, but this is the first time we've seen it — and certainly the first time we've seen it applied to the founder.The "Other" inbox is Facebook's dumping ground for all messages it guesses you won't want to read urgently. It's been controversial for some time, as most users are entirely unaware of its existence — and many have been known to discover messages they really wish they'd read at the time, such as job offers."

So... Let's think about that when it comes to corporate email.  What if you gave each employee a credit of $100 per year, then started charging various rates to send email to people outside of your direct workgroup?  Couple of things would happen - people would at some point become aware of their balance situation and would automatically start making decisions about who to spend money on for email access, and those receiving emails would receive fewer messages - and might actually pay more attention to someone they knew had to pay for the concept/chance of getting their attention.

Crazy? Maybe. Or maybe it's crazy enough to work.

If I'm an HR Manager in Fargo for a Fortune 500, I'm probably saving some credits for when I really need access.  True to models like Indeed, you could even spike the system to keep it on top of someone's inbox for extended periods.

Charge more, email less.  Get better results.