« July 2013 | Main | September 2013 »

August 2013

Players Play/Ballers Ball: Simple Rules for Determining Succession.. (of the young ones)

Heard in a coffee shop this week...

Me: Yeah, but he's a 29 year old kid, so that's pretty good.

Client: Really? What did you expect?

Me: What do you mean?

Client: Well, what you're outlining isn't that special, is it?  After all, what were you doing when you were 29?

Me: (Silence...Thinking)

The point to the conversation was really centered around what the world expects out of kids in their late 20's in the workplace.  I was referring to the late 20's person who was working for the client.  He was a good, not great performer, and I was telling the client it was OK because he was 29.  There's still time for him to be great.

Except there isn't.

The client wasn't having any of that.  She has a high expectation, and knowing me a little bit, felt comfortable in providing the contrast and pushing back by saying, "what were you doing when you were 29?"

Ugh. She was right.

You're going to know if someone is promotable 2+ levels in your company by the time they're 29.  You'll also know if they are capable of running your freaking company someday.

You'll know it because it will be in front of you.  They'll have the presence, command and creativity to separate themselves from the pack.

They'll be able to fake it until they make it when you put them in jobs they don't have the ability to do.  The people around them will believe they belong until their knowledge and skill catches up.  

Making more buses run on time or handling more transactions? Good performance.  Not great performance.

The late 20's person who is promotable 2+ levels in your company has already shown it by the time they hit 28 or 29.  Don't kid yourself into believing that more age and experience is going to make them more promotable than they are today. The stuff that makes them promotable 2+ levels has nothing to do with more age and experience.

It's in their DNA.  You know it by the time they're 29.

Players play, ballers ball.  Regardless of age.


Stuff the Capitalist (aka KD) Likes: Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Capitalist Note: I'm on the road in Ohio today, so you're getting a best of HRC post - about who I rent cars from and why.  Tell me who you rent cars from and why in the comments.  Bonus points if you work the old OJ commericals into your logic...

Who am I?  Who cares?  Good questions.  It's my site, so I'm going to tap into road days once in awhile by telling you more about who I am - via a "Stuff I Like" series.  Nothing too serious, just exploring the micro-niche that resides at the base of all of our lives.  Potshots encouraged in the comments.

I'm on the road a lot.  It's all glory and rock star stuff out there, right?  No.  It's a grind you hope to get through without catching the bird flu from the guy from China who sneezed next to you at Houston Hobby.  Survive and advance.

You know what makes the road a little more tolerable?  Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  Here's why they're on the list:

1. The recruiting strategy.  OK, this one is bad for the old folks. Enterprise doesn't hire Enterprise-rent-a-car-deals anyone but young people.  I think their college recruiting program is bigger than all the Division 1 programs put togehter - across all sports.  Before you think that's a bad thing, see the other reasons I like them.

2. Energy and a plan to get you in and out - Enterprise has a personal greeting model, where someone comes out from behind the desk and gets you out of there.  That takes energy and focus, and they're pretty good at it.

3. The gift of gab.  All the Enterprise kids have the ability to build dialog with you without it being forced.  Compare that to the hourly folks at the counters of the other providers - it's night and day.  You either want to feel like you interacted with someone who gives a #### or you don't.  I get that sometimes we simply want a transaction with no smart talk, but these folks are good at the gab.

4.  The right way to upsell.  See #3.  They just weaved an upsell attempt into their dialog focused on whatever pop culture event they were talking about.  I said no, but nice attempt.

5.  It's great to recruit from people like Enterpirse.  I can't say that I've ever made a bad hire - either for myself or the clients of Kinetix - when we've grabbed someone with more than 2 years of experience from Enterprise.  In addition, every time I rent from them it reminds me how targeting companies with great approaches to recruiting is a winning strategy.

He got that ambition baby look in his eyes
This week he mopping floors next week it's the fries

-Kanye West, Gold Digger

Enterprise kids have ambition... PS - Did you know the Kanye lyric is a reference to dialogue in the the classic movie Coming to America?  The main character marvels at the chance to make it from a floor mopper to a fry cook.  Damn, that was a great movie when I was a kid.

The road sucks.  Maybe you just want a transaction without a soul- who could blame you? But if you want to see how a recruiting strategy plays into service, Enterprise is the place to go.

PS - The Chinese guy told me he knew a family who was impacted by bird flu.  Perfect.  I'm sure Vincent Chase/Matt Damon and I have the same set of experiences on the road.

(PSS - the list of stuff I've profiled in this series: The NBA, middle tier options, Taco Bell, Diet Mt Dew, the Fat Guy dancing with the Mighty Mightly Bosstones, Adidas, Rage Against the Machine, Panera Bread, Venti Mild with a Gatorade chaser, the Goldfinger Channel on Pandora.  #hanginginAmerica)

Using Cat Sounds For Corporate Recognition....

I've been selected to be the "voice" of my son's 4th Grade Football team, which means I rock the PA system with the golden pipes.

It's preseason for the football players, and it's preseason for new PA guys as well.  So when I got home from a scrimmage earlier this week (where I saw my first live PA action), I noted the need for a sound that I could play when significant positive events (like first downs for our team) occur.

We're the Panthers, so the sound embedded below was a perfect 2 second clip for us.  Click the play button to hear it (email subscribers click through or enable images to see the player):

Of course, once I found that sound, I decided to be a huge dork and play the sound from my iPhone anytime I heard something from my family that was the slighest achievement.  Here's kind of how that went around the house that night.

Me: How did you day go?

Son #1: Good. I got a 22 out of 22 on a science quiz.


So far so good.  Next up:

Me: What happened that was good today for you?

Son #2: We got to go outside for recess.


And finally, Ms. Capitalist.

Me: And you Mom?  How did your day go?

Mrs. Capitalist: Fine.


You get the drift. The panther sound was played 20+ times that night, which made me think there's a tounge-in-cheek, fun, yet real opportunity for sounds to celebrate achievements in meetings as a part of your recognition strategy.  And the panther growl is probably perfect. 

Short, fun, new media and worthy of becoming a mixture of recognition, tradition and satire at your company.

It's noted, however, that the sound could be interpreted as cougar-like, which means strong women leaders over 45 years of age might want to find a different sound.

Maybe a bear.  You can figure out what's appropriate. Just find your sound ciip signifying achievement and recognition today.  

What's the "Uber" of HR?

Let's stretch your HR muscles today.  There's a service called "Uber" that some of you are incredibly familar with, and some of you have never heard of.  Here's the simple rundown:

Uber is a service that uses an app to set up a luxury car, cab or ride-sharing service in 35 cities in the US.  Cars are reserved by using a mobile app. Using the app, customers can track their reserved car's location.  Users of Uber open the app in the city they're in, schedule a car to pick them up and don't need cash - the entire fee is handled via a credit card registration that's required to have an Uber account.

So it's an app that handles setting up a car in major cities. Big deal, right? Uber shots

Here's the big deal - recent news on venture capital investments and Uber from AllThingsD:

"According to a Delaware filing by Uber Technologies, it has sold stock in the fast-growing privately held transportation service to private equity giant TPG. In addition, according to sources who have seen other stock documents, Uber has also taken a major investment from Google Ventures.

The overall valuation for the San Francisco company, according to the document — filed on August 1 — and also sources, is $3.5 billion."

Let that soak in a bit.  It's an app that serves as a middle man to scheduling luxury cars, cabs and ride-sharing.  It's an app and it's worth 3.5 BILLION people.

3.5 Billion.

Which begs the question - is there anything in HR or recruiting that could be disrupted to deliver a market opportunity along the lines of Uber?

I don't know, but it's a question worth asking.

What's the Uber of HR?

I've been thinking a bit on this, and it's hard to come up with something.  You can think about recruiting and its subsequent location of jobs and candidates, and that's obviously something, but so many people are already chasing that.

Me?  I think the Uber-sized opportunity might be putting random employees in need of advice with a upscale HR pro in their time of need.

Think about it.  You're an employee in trouble and you need advice on how to navigate any type of situation in your company.  And like a luxury car/cab/ride-share, you're willing to pay for it - you just need to be connected.

Uber for HR puts you in touch with a HR pro who will be your hidden agent in that situation.  You fire up the app, deterimine the people available for a call, say you want to connect and boom...

We charge your card and the HR pro is calling you to counsel you and make sure you don't get thrown in jail - to the best of their ability - with all the necessary liability waivers.  It's a one time deal - just like a car ride - no committment beyond that.

Over time, we'll even have the equivalent of luxury car/cab or ride-sharing for the type of HR pro we connect you with.  But you'll pay for the luxury model.

Uber for HR.  Coming soon to a messed-up situation near you.  

(UPDATE - Uber's revenue is projected to be at a run rate of $125 Million - so you can throw that in your head when you think about the 3.5B valuation...)

HR Playbook: UPS Does Spousal Benefits "Carve Out" on 15K Families

One of the games that HR Leaders of all shapes and sizes (company size, not body size) have to play is medical cost. How can I manage the cost of my medical plan?  Whether you're fully insured or self insured, you're still left to tweak the design of your plan to manage cost increases. Don't kid yourself, you'll still be doing this when and if Obamacare becomes official.  Unless you decide to stop providing benefits at all and take your Obamacare penalty. Good luck recruiting if that's your approach.

The normal flavors of these medical plan design tweaks are pretty obvious. You're basically looking to cut the quality of the plan to keep your costs under control. Flavors of that include - increase the deductible, raise the co-insurance, alter your prescription meds program, etc.

One heftier option was in the news last week - the spousal carve out, which means that you start denying coverage to spouses that have viable medical plans available where they work. Here's more from the New York Times:

"United Parcel Service has told its white-collar employees that it will stop providing health care coverage to their spouses who can obtain coverage through their own employers, joining an increasing number of companies that are restricting or eliminating spousal health benefits.

In a memo addressed to employees, U.P.S. said, “Limiting plan eligibility is one way to manage ongoing health care costs, now and into the future, so that we can continue to provide affordable coverage for our employees.”

The memo also estimated that about 33,000 spouses were covered under its insurance plan for white-collar employees and that “about 15,000 of these would have health care coverage available through their own employers.”

I did a spousal carve out one time at a mid-sized software company. Things you'll need to think about include:

1. The communication plan so you don't look like a total ###. You're going to look like an ###, but you don't want to look like a total ###.

2.  Certification - in order for you to really execute this, you're going to have to make all spouses ineligible, then only add spouses that bring you certification from their company that no viable medical option is available.  Open enrollment is really the only time to do this without causing a riot.

3.  You'll have to define what a viable medical plan looks like at a spouse's company so you can easily determine whether the spouse is eligible to join your plan.  My definition of viable is communication related to quality of the plan (what does it cover) and cost (how much comes out of the spouse's paycheck to get coverage).  Needless to say, there are a lot of decisions to be made with this.

Having said all of that, the number of employers who have executed the spousal carve out on their medical plans is fairly low.  The Times article goes on to outline the following:

"While the percentage of employers adopting changes in policies like U.P.S.’s new limits remains in the single digits, it is growing. According to a corporate survey by Mercer, a consulting firm, 6 percent of companies with 500 or more employees excluded coverage for spouses in 2012 if their spouses could obtain coverage through their own employer. That is double the percentage in 2008, Mercer found."

Notable - The new U.P.S. policy does not apply to the children of those employees. Nor does it affect the company’s 250,000 unionized workers, who belong to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. At the end of last year, the company had around 399,000 employees, which means 3-4% of it's employees are impacted by the change.



The WWE's Triple H on Moving Into Management: Your Company and Wrestling are the Same...

I'm always shocked how many closet wrestling fans there are out there.  You know who you are, whether you comment or send me an email offline to tell me the reality (emails allow you to stay in the closet).  The way it usually comes up for me is the fact that a former college roomate of mine and the best man in my wedding is the brother of the Undertaker.

Nothing draws out the closet pro wrestling fans like that throwaway comment.

And if some slightly greater exposure than normal to the pro wrestling game through the years has taught me anything, it's that the WWE works like any entertainment company does, and a lot H of times it looks like any average company.

For example, a wrestler name Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H) has emerged as the organization's Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events.  It's a real job and has limited the amount of wrestling he actually does.  Check out these clips from an interview with Triple H on Grantland:

Triple H on how he got connected with decision makers that ultimately drove his career into management:

"Starting a year after I got to the WWF, Vince would say, "Hey, you have an opinion on this, what's your opinion?" And I'd give Vince my opinions. Sometimes he liked it, sometimes he didn't, but we kind of established that working relationship so that when Russo left in the middle of the night to go to WCW, I went to Vince and I just said, "I understand how creative works. You can't bounce ideas off yourself. So if you want to bounce ideas off me, I'm happy to just hear you out and give you my opinion. Not saying you need it, just saying it's there."

So two days later, my phone rang, and Vince said "Hey, pal, you got a minute? You talked to me about bouncing around some ideas. Can I run a couple things by you? See what you think?'' And that started it. Shortly thereafter, it was, "You want to start coming to production meetings? I could really use you in there." And I've been doing it since probably '98, '99."

More from Triple H on why his co-workers (read: other wrestlers) didn't get jealous of him gradually growing more involved:

"There were guys that looked at it like, "Well, that's bullshit." There were a few guys who went to Vince and said, "Hey, I'd like to be involved like that too." What they didn't get was — I'm not trying to put myself over, but there's a level of additional work that comes with it. So when everyone else's call time is one o'clock, I'd be there at 10 o'clock. Even if we had to drive in from the last show and I got in at four in the morning, if I told Vince I'd be at that production meeting at 10 a.m., I was at that production meeting at 10 a.m., bleary-eyed but ready to go. And those other guys would do that once or twice and be like, "Well, I'm not doing that. I'm not making more money from that, no one's paying me extra." I never looked at it that way. I've heard this saying before: Success is not a destination, success is what happens along the way. I dig what I do every single day. Everything else takes care of itself."

Pro Wrestling.  Your company.  It all comes back to discretionary effort, often for periods of no extra pay, to advance.  Share with your kids and the closet adult fans you know who are hooked on pro wrestling.

The Common Sense Solution to Unpaid Internships...

So common sense it will never happen, mind you.

Cue the big budget movie voice-over voice: "In a world where the FLSA has deemed that the only unpaid internship that can exist is one where the intern in question can't actually be exposed to real work, a challenge has risen in the Southeast..."

Here's your common sense solution to unpaid internships.  Rather than write bad guidance (only Interns internships that don't include real work can be unpaid) and keep people guessing on whether they're going to get sued or not, write into law the following regulations on interns, which are pro-business and pro labor:

1. There will be such a thing as unpaid internships.

2. Create a classification similar to non-exempt and exempt for interns.

3. Create a schedule based on company size (either revenue or number of employees) that shows exactly how many unpaid internships a company can have.  Example - a company can have 1 unpaid internship a year lasting for 12 weeks for every 500 employees in the company.  Make the number less than the estimated number of unpaid internships that go on now, but still pro-business.

4. Establish a hefty fine that will be charged to a company for every unpaid internship uncovered beyond what is legally allowed - something like 20K.

5. End crazy ### language that says a company can have unpaid internships as long as they don't perform real work, which is the type of guidance you get when you don't solve the problem.  The only unpaid internships that can exist fall under the guidance above - no other exceptions.

5. Let all the other labor law guide everything else from an employment perspective.

Want to know why that would work?  Because you are legally defining what's acceptable from an unpaid internship perspective, and you're allowing the unpaid interns who fall under this guidance to actually do real work and get real benefit from it.  You're also protecting the labor side by attempting to close loopholes that create gray areas that don't make sense.

Let's make a certain number of unpaid internships legal and attractive.  Watch the competition for these spots if you went this route - it would be unbelievable, and it's actually something the government could do that would be incredibly career-development focused.

Imagine if you allowed every small business to have a 12 week internship that provided real work experience to college grads or people looking for experience in an industry.  

Why are we bullsh**ing about unpaid internships by talking vaguely about the type of work they can do?  Let's just limit the number that can exist and make it totally visible.

5 Steps To Show Everyone You’re Freaking Awesome In Your Career…

I'm doing some career-focused writing for my friends over at Halogen Software.  My latest post is all about helping you figure out how to broadcast to the world that you're a player - a highly talented professional capable of doing great things.  I'm giving you 5 things to do to make people know you, and when the time is right, want to hire you.  

You can get the 5 things you need to do by clicking over to the post here.  Meanwhile, here's the intro to those five things.  Check it: Awesome

"Professional awesomeness. You’ve got it. The world needs to know about it.

In my last post related to career development, I mentioned that you needed a plan if you want real career traction.

The final point in that rant was the reality that you have to be willing to tell the world about everything you’ve accomplished. If you don’t do it, no one else will.

Now here’s the tricky part — you have to share your awesomeness without looking like a jerk, or someone without any redeeming social skills.

How do you do that?

By setting the broadcast of your awesomeness in a cloak of humility.  

Awesomeness in a cloak of humility. You think I’m joking with you. I can assure you I’m not joking with you. There’s a path you can travel where people will get to view your accomplishments and won’t think of you as a Dale Carnegie/Eddie Haskel blowhard/suck-up.

Put your helmet on — the first two methods/tools are the toughest one to get your head around."

Go to our friends at Halogen Software to get the rest of the post and the 5-step game plan to showing the world you're a rock star.  Share it with friends.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll reflect.  You'll plot.  Maybe even scheme.

Is There Ever a Good Time to Talk About People Who Got Fired To Your Employee Base?

In case you missed it, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong fired an executive while 1,000 or so fellow employees listened in last week - live.  You can check out the audio below, go to the 1:50 mark to hear the abrupt lead up to the firing at 2:00 in the recording:

In addition, here's a great rundown from Yahoo Finance:

During the first minute or so of the recording, Armstrong says things like: "If you don't believe what I'm about to say, I'm going to ask you to leave Patch…We have to get Patch into a place where it's going to be successful."

But then things go suddenly awry. At exactly two minutes into the recording, Armstrong addresses someone in the room with him. 

He says, "Abel, put that camera down, now."  Then, without taking a breath, Armstrong says, "Abel, you're fired. Out."

The person Armstrong is talking to in the recording is Abel Lenz, Patch's Creative Director. Obviously, Lenz is no longer with the company.

Armstrong picked an odd reason to fire him. We hear that Lenz, based in New York, would always take pictures of people talking on company-wide conference calls so that he could post them on Patch's internal news site."

It's an interesting scenario - Patch is a community-type of site where users uploading pictures is kind of critical to user adoption, so it makes sense that Lenz would snap pictures in his role.  Drink the kool- Abelaid/eat the dog food and all that.  Picture of the photo that got Lenz fired to the right.

I don't think any agrees that public firings are fair or in the best interest of any executive or manager from a reputation standpoint.  But It begs the question - is there ever a good time to talk about people who got fired to your employee base?

I think the answer is yes - there's a lot of ways that you should talk about people who just got fired - mainly to short-circut the rumor mill and reinforce what's required from a cultural/performance perspective.  Some ways that talking about people that just got fired to the employee base makes sense:

1. Gather your team up if someone just got fired - I'm talking about the team that they were a part of - and let the team know that you made the decision to end the relationship with "John".  You really have to do this.  Tell them what the decision was, then give them notes about what's important to you as a manager - which is code for what the person didn't do that got them fired.  

2. If the subject comes up in any type of random meeting - you get put on the spot or you hear people talking about someone who got fired - use the path outlined in #1.

3. Looking to really drive cultural fit?  In any type of all hands meeting you do in a company with specific size, talk about decisions that have been made in the scope of a few months related to firing people for violating cultural non-negotiatbles.  If you fired an ###hole in a given month, you can allude broadly to why you removed someone for these reasons.  A great way to put pressure on people and make co-workers stop feeling like they have to tolerate jerks.

4. If you're talking to someone who needs a wake up call, it's a great idea to talk broadly to that person on the cultural/performance side, comparing and contrasting their performance/behavior to people who have been fired in the recent past.  No names. Wake up, yo.

So don't fire people publicly.  But do talk about those who have been fired.  No specifics related to name, lots of specifics related to why you fired them.

The Peril of Tagging Employees With Corporate Values Without Their Input....

You've got corporate values.  They're really good.  You want to share stories about your employees who exhibit those values.  Would you believe that your employees aren't OK with that approach if it reduces the extent to which their individual identify is featured?

Work with me a bit on this one.  An employee does great work.  You see a natural fit to "ownership", one of your corporate values.  Your employee probably thinks it has less to do with Byu football your stated values and more to do with what's inside them - as an individual.

Which means that if you're going to feature them in a values campaign, you've got to celebrate that individual as much as your value set.  You can accomplish both, but don't forget the individual side of the house.

BYU Football learned that recently with the most visable communication space available in college football - the space where names are displayed on jerseys.  More from the Salt Lake Tribune:

"BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall has at times been criticized as an inflexible and stubborn leader who doesn’t listen to the concerns of his players as much as he should, but on Thursday night he changed his mind on an issue that had Cougar fans and players alike yelping in disgust.

Five or so hours after saying the core values of his football program — Spirit, Tradition and Honor — would adorn the backs of BYU’s jerseys during every game this season, rather than players’ last names — the coach decided it would be for one game only after listening to the concerns of players in a team meeting."

The players revolted because their individuality wasn't on display, and also because they weren't given a chance to have input, which is another lesson BYU's giving us here on communication and the feedback loop:

"The players — and seemingly everyone else in the program except Mendenhall — first learned of the change when they found their 2013 jerseys hanging in the locker room on Thursday afternoon and walked into the school’s Indoor Practice Facility for the annual photo day.

A third of the jerseys had Spirit on the back. Another third read Tradition, and the last third Honor. The players said they didn’t even get a chance to pick the value they would wear.

Many players were stunned and incredulous as they filed into the indoor practice facility to get their pictures taken in their new jerseys. Several players with negative things to say about the change refused to comment publicly."

Whoops!  Imagine if you automatically plugged one of your corporate values next to the employee's name in every email sent on your outlook server.  Weird?  A bit.

Your employees don't wear jerseys - but when you celebrate their accomplishments and try to market your corporate values at the same time, this seems like a good reminder to really dig in and talk about what makes the employee special as you celebrate the alignment with your values.  

Which came first?  Your values or the employee being a rock star?  The employee being a rock star.  You can accomplish both, but simply describing what an employee did and the alignment with the value is probably stopping short.  Why not talk a bit about why the employee is different overall?

In others words, put your companies name on the front of their jersey, and the employee's name on the back.

War Eagle.