« April 2013 | Main | June 2013 »

May 2013

How To Know If A Manager/Coach is a Psychopath or Simply Has a Hard Edge...

It's one of the oldest questions in the books, and with the news of Rutgers hiring an Athletic Director only to find out one of her past teams performed a mutiny to get her ran out of town (and she's the target of a 2008 harassment suit), let's ask it again:

"How do I know whether a manager/coach who has a reputation for being tough is a psychopath or Neil_reed_AP404539727391_620x350 simply has a hard edge?'

First, some facts - at least facts to me:

1. You can't burp in a high profile job without the media running with it and making it a week-long news cycle.

2. Media scrutiny has made it much tougher to be a hard @SS manager or coach in America.  See #1. You're guilty until...well, you're guilty.

3. It doesn't matter if your manager/coach is obscure and will never be the subject of media attention for being tough. He or she is still going to be impacted by that media coverage.  Employees, parents, kids - everyone - has a different threshold for what's acceptable ever since Bobby Knight threw that chair - or choked a kid out.  

So - as a HR pro, or a parent - you're tasked with figuring out whether that hard #$$ manager/coach is a psychopath or a good coach with a tough love side.  How do you figure that out and not bite on what the media is feeding you - that everyone who is hard, critical at times is ruining the company/your child?

It's simple. Simply measure the positive/negative feedback ratio that's provided by the manager/coach.

Sure you hear the tough stuff. You're conditioned to be sensitive to that these days.  The world has changed, but that doesn't mean your managers/coaches should tell the talent in question that everything is OK.  Their job is to make the talent better, and it's not always pretty.

So measure the positive/hard feedback ratio.  If you have less than one positive, reinforcing comment for every harsh critique, odds are the manager/coach needs more balance.

But - if that ratio is at 1:1 or higher, maybe you need to back off and observe a little more, giving the manager/coach credit for the positive feedback that's provided in the circle of coaching.

Some of the people in the news may have been monsters as managers/coaches. Or they may have been trying to get more out of players and more balanced than they're given credit for.  Circumstances vary.

You should look at the positive/negative feedback ration before you chase the news headlines and consider your manager/coach a monster.

Like Flavor Flav once wrote in a poem to America - Don't Believe the Hype. Make your own decisions.

Observations on the Top 3 Professions Where Employees Hate Their Boss...

OK - there's a lot of people who hate their boss.  #fact

But, if you really put science behind it, some professions hate their bossed more than others.  Case in point - PayScale recently asked their users what they wanted to change most about their current job. There seemed to be a trending answer among certain professions — they wanted a new boss, at a higher rate than average. 

Check out that top three below (see the entire breakdown here), observations after the jump:

1.Chemists and Material Scientists
Percentage who hate their boss: 19.4%
Median pay: $56,500
High stress: 54%
Low job satisfaction: 16%

2.Dental Hygienists
Percentage who hate their boss: 18.2%
Median pay: $67,700
High stress: 54%
Low job satisfaction: 9%

Percentage who hate their boss: 17.9%
Median pay: $26,300
High stress: 64%
Low job satisfaction: 16%

Observations on the plight of Chemists, Dental Hygienists and Bakers:

1. Chemists - let's face it, they're complicated. They've got big brains, and managing people doesn't necessarily build acceptance across direct reports with big brains.  I could kill you 20 different ways in the next 5 minutes. Get out of my face with that coaching methodology.

2. Dental Hygienists - Did I miss the memo on pay for dental hygienists?  67K?  WOW.  I'll stop there, but you don't have to - <insert astute observation here>.

3. Bakers - Like the chemists, but with slightly smaller brains.  You got into the game for the love of pastries, now some numb###s is pressuring you to crank more production.  Where's the love? Remember when you asked for an easy-bake oven as a young boy, and your dad gave you a baseball glove two straight birthdays before finally giving in?  Remember how it was about the art? About the texture? Now some guy that eats Wonder bread is asking you why you can't work faster.  

Did I mention Dental Hygienists average 67K? I may not recover from this fact until next week.

FIRE FAST: Too Many People In a Termination Decision Can Be Hazardous to Your Career...

In case you missed it, Rutgers University is in the news again for another questionable hiring/firing decision - this time related to hiring a new Athletic Director, Julie Hermann.  Here's a quick rundown from NPR:

"Over this past weekend, New Jersey's Star-Ledger reported that in the late 1990s, when Hermann was RutgersRiceBasketball091225 coaching the women's volleyball team at the University of Tennessee, players had accused her of ruling "through humiliation, fear and emotional abuse."

The Star-Ledger's report has, understandably, put pressure on Rutgers to explain how it came to hire Hermann if such allegations had been made about her. In Tuesday's Star-Ledger, columnist Steve Politi argues that the school is giving Hermann "the benefit of doubt that Tim Pernetti never received."

In his statement, Rutgers' president says the school's search for a new athletic director "included a thorough background check conducted by one of the world's leading private security firms." And, Barchi adds, "Julie's record established her as a proven leader in athletics administration with a strong commitment to academic success as well as athletic excellence, and a strong commitment to the well-being of student athletes."

It goes without saying that a deep background check of legal channels probably isn't going to uncover a internal investigation 15 years ago, right?  Hermann has stated she was never notified of the run her players made to have her fired.

But wait - there's more. Rutgers has hired Hermann to replace Tim Pernetti — who stepped down in April after it was learned that Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice had been videotaped assaulting his players and spewing homophobic slurs at them during practices. Pernetti lost his job because he had learned about Rice's misconduct last December, but agreed with the recommendations of the school's lawyers and human relations staff to only suspend the coach for three games and fine him $50,000.  Rice was fired in April after the videotapes went viral.

Buried under the reports and videotape of Rice treating his players like crap was this little nugget of gold from Pernetti, who had plenty to say when asked why he didn't fire Rice immediately after seeing the tapes that showed Rick acting like an abusive moron towards his players.  From Pernetti's resignation letter:

"As you know, my first instincts when I saw the videotape of Coach Rice's behavior was to fire him immediately. However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel. Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal. I have admitted my role in, and regret for, that decision, and wish that I had the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved."

Holy ####.  Which is to say that if you catch someone throwing things at employees and generally being abusive, you probably need to move to fire that person and not be talked into "we don't have enough".

Don't have enough power to make that happen? Go to your boss and have them sign off on retention of said abuser.  In writing. That always loosens up the term process a bit.

Rice was awful to his players. Pernetti got the tape, brought lots of people to rubber-stamp the term and group-think ensued.

The moral?  Group-think can be hazardous to your career. Fire morons fast.

FRIDAY CHILL: Introducing My Latest Before and After Performance Makeover (PHOTOS)

Yeah, I'm a volunteer coach at the local park, which has about 1,000 kids all vying to be the next Derek Jeter.  This year's team was the 9YO Angels, which started off a little something like this (email subscribers click through for photos):

Angels 1

That's an actual photo. Equal parts happy, tired and a little distracted.  Waiting for me to get out of the cage with the last player to arrive for the photo. I saw this photo and was reminded of this team:


Anyway, we worked hard and turned it into this:

Angels 2

Yes! League Champs! Congrats to all the Angels, including the ones that saw reduced playing time if their parents didn't subscribe to this blog.  I'm joking - as far as you know.

And yes, we had a brother roll up with one of the players on an off-road dirt bike:

Bears 2

If I'm lucky, once they get a little older that will turn into a late roster addition like it did for the Bad News Bears (pictured above).  

Congrats to the Angels - fun season.  And yes, the little guy who appears in profile shot on the sidebar of this blog is one of the Angels.  Like Vince Vaughn once said, he's all growns up.

Meet Another HR Capitalist - Jeff Lucier (Ottawa! HR for Non-Profits! Rock and Roll!)

The best part of my job as a HR Leadership blogger is I get to talk to some really cool people.  I'm going to do a better job at sharing some of those conversations with you.

Hell, let's do that today... I do a podcast over at Fistful of Talent called The CYA report, and on today’s show we have Jeff Lucier, Director, Human Resources and Organizational Development at United Way Ottawa, on human resources in the non-profit sector.

I'm talking to him about running a HR shop inside a non-profit, which is something I haven't done, but some of you have pondered for sure.

He's a HR Capitalist - just like you.  Take a listen now, on your way home tonight - whatever - it's perfect smartphone fodder for when you can't look at the screen.  See player below for the podcast (email subscribers may have to click through)...

PS - Connect wtih Jeff by clicking here...

HOW MANAGERS BECOME CAREER AGENTS - They Help Employees Build Portfolios...

We did a FOT Webinar yesterday with our friends at Halogen Software entitled, "Get My Agent on the Phone - How Smart Managers Position themselves as Career Agents."

I'm a big believer that the best managers aren't the best because they parrot what they've read on the business bestseller list - they're the best because they attend FOT Webinars.

I kid - they're the best because they serve as a career agent for the employees who report to them.  They're not authoritarian - "do this because I told you so"... They view and commuincate everything they do through the lens of the employee.

One of the things we shared and talked about - managers who are truly agents for their employee's careers have a way at measuring performance goals by getting employees to do cool things towards that goal - that they then can market internally and externally to the broader world.

See the slides below and ping me if you want to throw it around. (email subscribers may have to click through to view)

GROWTH CAN BE UGLY: LinkedIn Clarifies that Working Girls Aren't Welcome...

I called the use of LinkedIn by professional escorts back in March. Check out the data from that post below:

"The keyword "sexy" generated 13% of my profile views generated by a keyword search. Search keyworlds

Sexy.  Boom.  That just happened.  See the graphic to the right."

So 13% of the keyword searches that led to a click-through of my profile started with the word "sexy".  I later found that the following text in my profile (talking about my other blog, Fistful of Talent) was the source of the keyword in question. Here's what it says:

"The origin of FOT is simple to trace. In late 2007, Kris Dunn (KD) got a call from a major conference company: “We want to hire you to create a Talent Management blog for our new website”, the suits said, “Like the HR Capitalist but without all the boring HR stuff like legal issues and employee relations tactics – just the sexy stuff.”

I thought that proved that lots of people are using LinkedIn for... Let's say "interesting" reasons. Check out what I wrote in March:

"VP of HR" produced 1% of the profile views from all total keyword searches that ended up on my profile. "Sexy" returned 13%.

You tell me what people are using LinkedIn for.  I'm out."

LinkedIn announced yesterday that working girls/guys are specifically prohibited from using its platform to market services.  More from The Verge:

"LinkedIn has set itself up as one of the premiere sites for professionals to connect and look for employment, but one controversial category of workers appears to be getting the cold shoulder: sex workers are now prohibited from using the service to advertise their wares or their experience. This new restriction appears to cover both larger agencies like VIP escort services as well as individual workers. The change comes through an update to LinkedIn's user agreement that rolled out last week; it now states that "even if it is legal where you are located, [users may not] create profiles or provide content that promotes escort services or prostitution." It appears that even those whose sex-related careers are legal, LinkedIn doesn't want to promote such content on its site.

Unsurprisingly, there's been a bit of an online backlash from sex workers who used the site to connect with clients — and there's a sense of discrimination because of the more risqué nature of their businesses. "I'm fully legal," says Madison Graham, a prostitute at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch North in Carson City NV. "I'm a legal business, and I should be treated with the same respect as any other legal business." But as a private site, LinkedIn is well within its rights to make these decisions, and it's not really a change from its earlier policy. "To be totally clear, our policy has not changed," Madey said. "We didn't allow profiles to promote these kinds of activities before, and we still don't."

The moral of the story? Growth is ugly. Provide a way to network and connect, and you never know how use of your service is going to evolve. 

LinkedIn has an escort problem, and it's likely that they'll have other problems related to splinter groups they don't want broadly identified with their service. Tumblr, just acquired by Yahoo, is widely reported to have an adult content problem. Gotta be proactive related to killing that type of stuff if you're going to keep upselling corporations with recruiting accounts.

No word on whether the escort InMail response rate was higher or lower than that of Java Developers.  

On the plus side, even though lots of people found me this way, no one ever "reached" out.

CAPITALIST WEBINAR: Teach Your Managers to Be Career Agents For Your Employees...

Authoritarian managers? Sure, they get things done. They get results.

But as they grind away for results from a position of power, there's a dirty little secret. At some Ari-and-lloyd point, the talent that works for them is going to walk away. For a better, or even lateral, job. For hope that there's something better out there.

The managers who get the best results over time aren't authoritarian. They look and feel like career agents for the people who work for them. They approach everything related to performance from the lens of the employee's career.  Like this:

"I'm not here to just grind on you to get results. I'm here to make you better, so you're going to have fun, make more $$ over time and accomplish your career goals while we get results for the company."

"I'm willing to do that even if it means you promote yourself by taking a better job with another company because we made you better."

Think about that last statement for a second. Powerful. Only a handful of managers out of 100 make their employees feel that way.  And they're the ones employees are most loyal to - no coincidence, my friends.

It's called the manager as a career agent.  Do you buy it? 

If you want to buy the concept but really don't know how to guide your managers to become career agents for their employees, send them to the webinar I'm doing with Halogen software entitled “Get My Agent On The Phone: How Smart Managers Position Themselves as Career Agents Via Performance Management” (click to register).  Join us next Tuesday, May 21st at 1pm EST, and we’ll hit you with the following ways you can help your managers become career agents for employees:

  • By making sure the goals they set represent the Five Most Important Things (5MIT) for the employee in question. Smart managers skip discussing the busy work and get to what’s going to change the game – for the company and the employee. We’ll give you the 411 on how to do that as an agent for your employees.
  • Offering up ways each of the Five Most Important Things might be measured in the months that follow. You want measurements – we get it. We’ll show you how to set the expectation your direct reports are going to be measured on, without actually taking performance or development off the table. PS – They’ll love you for this if you deliver it in the right way.  Think “employee portfolio”…
  • Having Thoughts on what “Good” and “Great” performance looks like in each area. That’s right – we’re going through a goal setting process not because HR told us we had to, but because it can set us up to be a great performance coach for the rest of the year, and help us get the employee where they want to go with their career.
  • Including a section that details “What’s In It for Me?” for each area of focus. Being an agent is about talking about how chasing great performance in the area in question could be great for the employee’s career. We’ll show you how to frame this as the agent/coach. It’s the most important thing you can do.
  • Putting it all in an easy to follow, informal format. If you go beyond one page, you’re making goal setting too complex. List everything we’ve described to this point in one page, and make the headers conversational in nature, and you win. We’ve even got some formats we'll share with you.
  • Having a plan that screams "career agent" when you coach on a daily basis and maybe even start having 1-on-1s on a regular basis that you don't dominate, you authoritarian #$#$!

You can be viewed as a career agent for your employees rather than a run of the mill corporate bureaucrat. Join us for Get My Agent on the Phone and we’ll show how the secret sauce to goal setting and follow-up conversations can dramatically change the positioning of what you do in performance management.

See you next Tuesday!


ASK THE CAPITALIST: How Long Should Hiring Managers Have To Give Feedback on Candidates?

Hi KD - 

What's a best practice related to how long a hiring manager should have to give you feedback post-submittal or post-interview on a candidate you've provided to them?

Signed - Ignored in Texas


Ah yes - hurry up recruiters! Give us candidates! Feed us!! 

Then once we have them, we'll be sure to....um....<crickets>

Hiring manager feedback is tough to get.  Should it be that tough?  No.  Will it remain tough to get? Yes.

Feedback - especially from a hiring manager who has openly claimed they need and expect help - should come within three days of you submitting a resume/submittal and two days of a live interview.  If it's more than that, it's way too long.  It should actually be two and one respectively, but let's walk before we run.

Best ways to get compliance with that - get everyone to agree that the clock is always ticking for top talent (pitch that candidates start to think something is wrong and scatter regardless of the reality), then get agreement that you're going to start reporting that as a metric, just like you would Time to Fill and Cost Per Hire.

Then embarrass the outliers. 

Have fun with that.  Remember - you're doing it for the kids.