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November 2013

Stuff HR Could Sell on Black Friday...

Hi peeps - I'm up today at my other blog (Fistful of Talent) with a post on stuff HR pros could sell on Black Friday.

There are 7 items that I'm packaging for Black Friday at hrcapitalist.com.  Here's two, head over to FOT to see the rest:

3. CUBE MOVE NEXT TO THE HOT GUY/GIRL. Things are always more pleasant when you’re next to scenery.  This Black-Friday-in-HR deal allows you to move either next to the hot cube, or have your back to the hot individual in question.  If you keep getting new cube neighbors, look in the mirror.  You’re smoking hot, and the people buying this package forgot to check the details that basically give them no rights to stay there any length of time.  You’re only there until someone buys the package again.  $49 to move to the side of the equator, $99 to move to the cube that allow you to look across into the abyss.  $15for a creeper mirror that allows you to look across and your screen at the same time.

4. HARASSMENT DRIVE-BY.  This Black Friday deal allows you to pick a person, pay HR, and a HR pro will set up a time to come investigate a harassment situation with the person in question.  There’s no specifics, just a lot of broad questions that start something like “Have you ever… ?”   The package includes at least 10 questions.  $69 for a HDB (harassment drive by) about other people, $99 for it to be implied it’s about the person we’re talking to.  Add $25 to either package for the door closed.

Happy Thanksgiving and make sure you buy a HR stocking stuffer on Black Friday.

Why Marissa Mayer’s Vision for Innovation at Yahoo is Complicated...

Any way you slice it, it’s been a hell of a first year for Yahoo Inc. CEO Marissa Mayer.

Among many storylines during Mayer’s first year of running the Silicon Valley-based tech giant, two have captured the attention of human resources leaders everywhere. They center on Mayer’s decisions to eliminate remote workers and to deploy forced ranking in performance management.

Let’s take them in order and also view them through a primary goal of the Yahoo CEO: to make the company more innovative.

See the rest of my article over at Workforce.com...

Irrational Markets and Nuclear Counter-Offers... Run Forrest, Run...

Jessica Lee had a great post over at Fistful of Talent a few years back regarding the drama of counter-offers.  Jessica had the candidate she wanted for an open spot and verbal acceptance of an offer.  Then, as it so often does, the rain started falling in the form of counter-offers from the girl's current employer.  Not 1 counter-offer, or even two.  Try three counter-offers before the candidate finally agreed to stay - and JLee was back to square one.

The recounting of the situation unleashed a torrent of emails.  Most of those expressed the oft-cited conventional wisdom of accepting a counter offer.  You know that wisdom, much of which is true - that the candidate who accepts the counter will be gone within 12 months, etc.

Some readers, however, offered up stories on getting pummeled by counter-offers that were so rich you'd question the wisdom of the candidate who would not accept them.  More via email from a reader who wrote in whom I'll call "Steve":Counter-Offer1

"Kris, you may remember me as you and I had a wonderful conversation about I don't remember what well over a year ago.  If you don't remember me, and that is fine, I am an avid daily reader of your oft-funny, and always pertinent Fistful of Talent, and have turned many other Search Consultants on to it as well.  I would never publish a one-upsman article, but wanted to share with you a back-to-back counter-offer episode that occurred to me as the Headhunter about 3-4 years ago. 
My first candidate was SVP Sales for a midwest HR Consulting firm involved primarily in performance improvement.  He called me referred by a mutual friend who used to work for my guy who we'll call Glen.  Glen told me he had to find another job.  He'd been with the company since he had been a rep, had built his pre-911 territory from $750K to $3M in 18 months and had been promoted to VP and since to SVP.  He said there were five things wrong, 1.  He hated his boss, a micro-manager.  2.  He thought he was worth more than the $300K package he had  3.  He was forced to move to a town far from his beloved Chicago and 4, his family was furious with him because they hated the new hometown, hated that he traveled so much and hated that in 2 years 5. his family home now had lost $140K in value while his Chicago home had nearly doubled in value to well over $600K.
I got him an offer from THE most prestigious HR Consulting firm on the Globe to become a Partner in the Chicago office, with a phenom moving package, a $500K first year financial package, with people that Glen absolutely loved and trusted. 
Problem:  Glen had confided with another VP that he was going to leave who, trying to save this mighty talent informed the CEO, who offered him the following as a counter-offer:

1.  Base salary raise of $100K effective immediately.
2.  Doubling of his guaranteed bonus to $200K
3.  Executive Coach for both the CEO and Glen to help them assuage their differences.
4.  A gift of $50K stock in the company with the company paying the taxes on that stock.
5.  A written assurance that the CEO would resign in 3 years and Glen would be sold enough stock to make him 1/3 owner of the firm.
Glen called me to say that his decision was based on how big a whore he was and he had decided that he was and accepted that counter-offer.  Let's not even talk about the $80K fee I was out.
Glen then said, "I'll try to make it up to you.  Send me THE BEST sales guy you know who is available in the industry and I promise you, I'll hire him.  As good as his word, he offered my guy the job for a guarantee of exactly what my guy was making already with a chance to make an additional $100K.
My Candidate, who we'll call Bill, was the Management Consultant to a major consumer goods company in NJ.  Bill had helped increase both the top and bottom lines of the company's revenue by retraining the sales force and developing the mgt staff including the CEO herself.  He was making $150K base and a $75K bonus He was worth it.
Bill lived in the SouthEast and at dark-thirty every Monday AM, he would leave home and fly to his meager apt in NJ and travel half the week, always returning to NJ before he could go home.  In two years, that had gone past tedium and was now burdensome.  Bill wanted out.  He resigned, but the CEO of that firm saw Bill as having been somewhat of a savior of her own job by what he had accomplished.
His CEO offered him:

1.  His current base  of $150K to work a total of only 75 days that current year. 
2.  Every day over that he'd be paid $3500 each and expenses.
3.  The balance of the year 160 or so other days, Bill could use to start his own Training & Development Company
4.  Contract would run a year and if Bill wanted it to go on another year, that would happen.
5.  At the end of the contract, Bill would retain this firm as a client. 
Bill accepted. 
We have literature about all the reasons to NOT accept a counter-offer that we use in my firm to hand out to candidates, but none of it can address the two very creative, and well thought out counter-offers my guys received.  These stories are famous now in our global search firm.  Since misery loves company, I thought you'd like to feel camaraderie on this topic."

The moral?  Like JLee alluded to in her post, sometimes the counter-offer signifies that the employer was underpaying the talent to begin with.  That's definitely true in many cases, but sometimes the offer you make challenges the organization to truly evaluate how valuable the talent is, and subsequently, how far they're willing to go to lock in the talent.

Like Steve found out, sometimes they're willing to go far - beyond market value far.  When that happens, you just have to shake your head and walk away.  You've just walked into what I'll call an irrational market situation...

The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #82 is "If You Ain't First, You're Last..." (Talladega Nights)

New series at the Capitalist: The Top 100 Movie Quotes of all time for HR Pros.  In no special order, I break down the 100 movie quotes that resonate most for me as a career HR pro.  Some will be funny, some will be serious... Some will tug at your heart like when the Fox voice-over guy said, "Tonight - a very special episode of 90210"... You get the vibe... I'll do it countdown-style like they're ranked, but let's face it - they're ALL special..

"If you ain't First, You're Last.."

--Reese Bobby, Talladega Nights

I like my HR pros confident and unapologetic for wanting to win.

So what other clip would I choose but Reese Bobby, father of Ricky Bobby, from Talladega Nights - saying "If you ain't first, you're last".

Words to live by.  Later in the movie he says he was high when he wrote that, but that's a post for another day.

Stop apologizing for being amazing, great HR pros out there.  You're different.  It's OK.

You piss excellence.  That's just you being you.

How the Merit Matrix Screws Your Company and Your Managers...

You know what one of the roles of the company is?  To not put managers of people in impossible situations.

Case in point.  The merit matrix.  You want to do pay for performance, but you don't want to take anything away from average people in order to give it to great employees.  The reasons for this are many: Money

--You're not very good at performance management as a company.

--You think the difference between 2.8% and 3.7% is significant. You didn't major in math.

--You're a pinko commie/socialist who believes that the enemy of the state are talented employees who must be brough back to the pack.

--You've been mind warped into believing a merit matrix is in your best interests...

So anyway, you've got a merit matrix in play at your company for one of those reasons.  With that in mind, your managers deliver an above average review to multiple employees, at which point they are forced to have to tell the employees that equates into a 3.2% raise.

The employee appears unimpressed, and the smart as #### ones get vocal.

At which point your manager utters the words, "I'd like to give you more, but I can't.  This is all they'll let me give you."

"They" means "You" - the HR pro or the company.  It's called the "manager pass-through", and it erodes trust and confidence from the employees towards all parties involved.  The manager.  The company. The HR pro.

Those conversations are happening every day.  Find another way soon - because it's killing you, whether you know it or not.

My College Roomie: Now Plotting with Triple H...

Friday is light.  Let's talk dream careers.

My college roommate and best man in the KD/Angela wedding many years ago was Glenn Jacobs, who has an unbelievable career as a character/athlete in the WWE (professional wrestling).  I've shared that a time or two, and as it turns out, many of you are freaks for pro wrestling.  Or have kids who are freaks for pro wrestling.

One of my readers shared that the WWE recently let Glenn/Kane take his mask off.  Here's a picture of the big guy looking contemplative in a suit as he and Triple H team up to plot sometime in the last couple of weeks.  File this one under "you never know where your career is going to lead you".

Me? I was always a D-Generation X guy back in the day.  Those of you that are wrestling fans know what I'm talking about.  Everyone else - don't unsubscribe - I'll be back on Monday with more hard core HR technical writing.

Kane and HHH

FOR HR LEADERS: Microsoft Ends Stacked Ranking, Here's the Memo from the HR Chief....

Microsoft recently announced stacked ranking is out in Redmond.  I thought you'd like to see the memo from Microsoft HR Chief Lisa Brummel, so here it is courtesy of The Verge.

To Global Employees,

I am pleased to announce that we are changing our performance review program to better align with the goals of our One Microsoft strategy. The changes we are making are important and necessary as we work to deliver innovation and value to customers through more connected engagement across the company.

This is a fundamentally new approach to performance and development designed to promote new levels of teamwork and agility for breakthrough business impact. We have taken feedback from thousands of employees over the past few years, we have reviewed numerous external programs and practices, and have sought to determine the best way to make sure our feedback mechanisms support our company goals and objectives.  This change is an important step in continuing to create the best possible environment for our world-class talent to take on the toughest challenges and do world-changing work.

Here are the key elements:

--More emphasis on teamwork and collaboration.  We’re getting more specific about how we think about successful performance and are focusing on three elements – not just the work you do on your own, but also how you leverage input and ideas from others, and what you contribute to others’ success – and how they add up to greater business impact.

--More emphasis on employee growth and development. Through a process called “Connects” we are optimizing for more timely feedback and meaningful discussions to help employees learn in the moment, grow and drive great results.  These will be timed based on the rhythm of each part of our business, introducing more flexibility in how and when we discuss performance and development rather than following one timeline for the whole company.  Our business cycles have accelerated and our teams operate on different schedules, and the new approach will accommodate that.

--No more curve.We will continue to invest in a generous rewards budget, but there will no longer be a pre-determined targeted distribution.  Managers and leaders will have flexibility to allocate rewards in the manner that best reflects the performance of their teams and individuals, as long as they stay within their compensation budget.

--No more ratings. This will let us focus on what matters – having a deeper understanding of the impact we’ve made and our opportunities to grow and improve.

We will continue to align our rewards to the fiscal year, so there will be no change in timing for your rewards conversation with your manager, or when rewards are paid. And we will continue to ensure that our employees who make the most impact to the business will receive truly great compensation.

Just like any other company with a defined budget for compensation, we will continue to need to make decisions about how to allocate annual rewards.  Our new approach will make it easier for managers and leaders to allocate rewards in a manner that reflects the unique contributions of their employees and teams.

I look forward to sharing more detail with you at the Town Hall, and to bringing the new approach to life with leaders across the company.  We will transition starting today, and you will hear from your leadership in the coming days about next steps for how the transition will look in your business. We are also briefing managers and will continue to provide them with resources to answer questions and support you as we transition to this approach.

I’m excited about this new approach that’s supported by the Senior Leadership Team and my HR Leadership Team, and I hope you are too.  Coming together in this way will reaffirm Microsoft as one of the greatest places to work in the world.

There is nothing we cannot accomplish when we work together as One Microsoft.


3 Ways Stacked Ranking in Performance Management Screws Your Company...

Fire the bottom 10%.  Up or out.  You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

Welcome to the world of Stacked Ranking in performance management, where employees are forced into buckets, including a "these people suck" bucket, with the next step sometimes firing those folks as the last act in the morality play of stacked ranking.

Your biggest problem in performance management is rating inflation, where almost everyone is an "A" player.  That means a lot of companies try to give guidance to managers that no more than 20% of employees should receive the highest rating, etc.  Giving that type of guidance isn't stacked ranking.  It's guidance.

Stacked ranking forces people into the bottom rating.  If you go that way, there are some poisonous results that most people don't think about even if you don't fire the bottom dwellers.  Examples of the venom:

1. "A" Players don't want to work with other A players on the same team.  Why would they?  Their comp is based on them being an A player.  Better to work with some worker bees and get all the sunshine.

2. Teammates will try (subconsciously or not) to undermine the hiring of great talent.  It's a threat based on #1 above.  "I'm not sure about hiring Rick (A player recruit), he seemed negative about his last manager..." #ugh

3. Employees don't want to work for managers who push them.  Pushing me means holding me accountable to get better over time.  That also means lower ratings on average until I get there.  That's money, son.  Why would I want that?  Give me the soft, doughy manager and let me get the paper.

Stacked ranking sounds great, but it's really hard to do well without suffering the consequences above.  Better to give general guidance on distributions and embarrass managers with rating inflation out of their sell-out behavior than to force a system that creates the aforementioned poison.

Save this email and give it to the next exec who wants to use stacked ranking.  

Hiring Nerds? Better Prep Your Managers... (Just ask the Miami Dolphins)

When it comes to everything that's going on with the Miami Dolphins, you can talk about harassment, hazing, discrimination, etc.

I think it's a cautionary tale of what can happen when you hire "nerds".  To find out more about what nerds have to do with the Miami Dolphins, check out my post that's up over at Workforce.com.  Here's a taste:

Jonathan Martin is a nerd. He’s a Stanford University grad whose parents graduated from Harvard. Regardless of the fact that he’s 6-foot-5 and 300-plus pounds, he’s different. He’s perceived as an academic and soft in the dog-eat-dog world of the NFL.

Like so many workplaces that bring in recruits with different backgrounds, Martin’s managers (in this case the Dolphins coaches) appeared to have taken a hands-off approach to managing Martin and onboarding him into the organization.

Your company has hired nerds. And just who are the nerds in your company? Your incumbents define nerds as any hire that looked different from what was normally hired for the position in question.

See the rest of the post over at Workforce.com.




Five Ways to Negotiate Your Way to a Better Career…Without Anyone Knowing You're Negotiating

I'm up over at Halogen Software today with a post called Five Ways to Negotiate Your Way to a Better Career … Without Anyone Knowing You're Negotiating.  Gems provided include the following:

Once both sides have established a position, the next person who talks loses. If no one has established a position, you talk first. But, if both parties have staked out a claim, you need to learn to shut up. The next person who talks is likely to give ground in a way that advantages the person remaining silent.

It's a nice thing to send to a friend who has a hard time sticking up for themselves and is always getting tire-tracked by the man at work.  It also includes an offer that they can pay me 1% of their salary and I'll be their personal agent.

Can you imagine having me call someone that pissed you off in a meeting and say, "So Bob - Carol didn't agree with you at the budget meeting today. I'm her professional agent, so I'd like to revisit your load factor for benefits."  Get your s### together, Bob.

You probably need to do it for yourself.  Although I would love to make a couple of those calls...

Click here to see the article over at Halogen Software...