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April 2014

Are CEOs of Startups Destined to Hire Inexperienced Blonde Women as Their First HR Director?

That's a powder-keg of a title, right?  Wasn't me - actually picked this topic up from this post at Up and Down The Escalator.  Check out the core of the post:

“we have to get the business to want HR to deliver and know what to ask for. Too many CEO’s still Cardhire young blonde girls into HRM/HRD roles because they don’t have the experience to challenge them.”

Now I know this is a provocative statement. And of course, it is also a sweeping generalization – actually, many of them are brunettes.

But in a country the size of New Zealand where many people find themselves in sole charge HR positions in small to medium sized businesses, there is more than a grain of truth here. I have seen a few junior colleagues over the years go off into sole charge roles, working for a CEO or CFO when they are still a little wet behind the ears and perhaps have only a year or two of experience."

So, what about it?  Do startup CEO's tend to hire young, attractive women who can't cut it in HR due to the fact they don't want to be challenged?

There's quite a bit to explore in that assumption.  I'd say if this is anything close to the reality, it's primarily due to 3 factors:

1. The HR world has more women than men, so women are absoultely going to land in roles as the first HR Director at startups more than men.

2. People with less experience get hired more at startups, especially in areas like HR.  That has as much to do with the budget available as it does the fact that founders/CEOs of small to medium sized businesses don't want to be challenged.

3. If young women naturally get plugged into these roles via the realities outlined in point #1 and #2 above, it stands to reason that attractiveness will follow.  After all, one of the biggest biases out there is to default to hiring the most attractive person.  We're cavemen and cavewomen. So much so, one of the best things I ever wrote was a whitepaper called "Hire More Ugly People", which says we all need to get our #### together related to hiring for the actual KSAs and behaviors needed, rather than who looks most like a model.

I like the provocative nature of the assumption that young attractive females get hired for first time HR leadership roles at startups more than any other group.

And as the minority in HR (no longer young in absolute terms, a dude), I'm the perfect person to analyze the trend.

Well, almost the perfect person.  Being as attractive as I am probably clouds my vision a bit. (LOL)

CAPITALIST WEBINAR: The Recruiter Makeover: 7 Ways Recruiters Can Reinvent Themselves as Marketers.

Hey Fellow HR Capitalists - When my team over at Fistful of Talent (FOT) put together our May webinar, we were thinking of you – a talent pro trying to make sure things don’t get stale.  That’s why I want to invite you to attend The Recruiter Makeover: 7 Ways Recruiters Can Reinvent Themselves as Marketers (Thursday, May 8 at 2pm EST,11am CST).

Join the FOT crew and I for this webinar and we’ll hit you with the following goodies designed to keep your recruiting skills on top:

 -The Ugly “Before” Picture and Trendspotting 101.  Brace yourself, because “before” pictures in makeovers all look like mug/prison shots of Lindsay Lohan, right?  It’s the same deal when it comes to stale Recruiter Webinar Badge.jpeg (1) recruiters.  We’ll also take a look at how tools like Glassdoor and Instagram are making the candidate marketing picture more complex.

 - 7 Ways Recruiters Can Reinvent Themselves As Marketers. Makeover time. We’ll hit you with our list of things you can do to reinvent yourself as a marketer who just happens recruit for a living.  You can do this. Don’t believe the naysayers that will say this is hype.  Those are the lazy people.

 -Our Top 5 List of Recruiters Who Have Strong Marketing Game. It’s all empty talk until we give you examples, right?  The FOT crew and I will break down our Top 5 list of recruiters who have added the marketing toolkit to their games, complete with emphasis of which of our “7 Ways” list they specialize in.  You’ll be able to understand what success looks like with these profiles in mind.

We’ll be sending out the slides to all registered attendees, so even if you’re not sure you can attend, sign up today to get the care package by using the form that appears below or clicking on the link and taking 10 seconds to fill out the form on the page that follows.


The Recruiter Makeover: 7 Ways Recruiters Can Reinvent Themselves as Marketers (Thursday, May 8 at 2pm EST,11am CST)

2 Sure Things When The Owner Of Your Company Is Outed as a Racist...

By now you've heard the back-story making the rounds on Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers.  Sterling is long known to have issues surrounding race, and TMZ broke audio over the weekend of him waxing poetic to a girlfriend/mistress about his embarrassment when she posted pictures of herself on Instagram with black people, and asking her not to do that moving forward.

That's a problem in any workplace, but Sterling's NBA workforce is 90% black, as is the rest of the NBA. Being a racist is always bad for business, but in the NBA, it's especially toxic. Check out coverage of all the angles to the Sterling story here.

It's a nasty situation, but watching the coverage left me with two distinct impressions related to recruiting Sterling
and retention when ownership of any company has a reputation for racism:

1. Don't expect employees to jump ship automatically when it gets thrown in their face that their owner is a racist and they're part of demographic that racism is directed at.  There's lots of wondering about the Clippers team walking out in a form of a protest.  The problem with that is that they're all under contract, and they can't afford to risk having their contracts voided.  The coach of the team (Doc Rivers, also black) has the same problem. Millions of dollars on the line.  Walking out and taking a stand is much more difficult than it looks, and you can make an argument that's not the best way to go if real change is what the employee group truly wants.

2. Recruiting will never be successful once it's public knowledge that the organization is owned by a known and active racist.   Let's say your organization needs to recruit diverse candidates and your owner has been personally named in multiple EEOC lawsuits.  I'm recruiting the same pool of diversity you are - think I'm going to negatively recruit vs your company with that information?  Of course I am!  The Clippers are in a destination market that NBA free agents want to live and work in (LA), but they'll never land another free agent of any significance as long as Sterling is the owner.

The Sterling/Clippers situation is unusual, primarily due to the fact that the workforce in question has an average salary of 5 million per year and the majority of the workforce is in the demographic that's the subject of the hate.  Most times, racist managers hire people who look like them.  But the lessons hold true for a low ticket workforce that's "at-will" as well.  They've got economic realties that dicate they can't leave automatically, but once the exodus starts over time, recruiting will tighten if it's public knowledge that ownership - or leadership - has racist tendencies.

Most HR pros will look at the Sterling case and thank the man upstairs that no one cares enough to record select managers in their company "riffing" on race issues - or any issue that has legal exposure, for that matter. 

But the same recorder that was used on Sterling can (and has) been used by employees in the workplace to document racist views that emerged in lawsuits.  It's just not as public as Donald Sterling.

Stuff the Capitalist (aka KD) Likes: Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell

Who am I?  Who cares?  Good questions.  It's my site, so I'm going to tap into a Friday once in a 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.

That's right. Every time I hear this song, I think it's gold.  Glen Campbell and Drake are the best lyric-writers ever, although maybe someone else penned the lyrics to their songs.

Drake provided, "Last name Ever, first name Greatest, Like a sprained ankle boy, I ain't nothin' to play with", and you thought that was gold.

Glen Campbell broke off the following in Rhinestone Cowboy:

"Like a rhinestone cowboy
Getting cards and letters from people I don't even know
And offers comin' over the phone"


I'm into it today because I was talking to a candidate earlier - and when I asked her how the search was going, she said she was getting calls and offers.  I immediately asked her if those offers were coming over the phone. 

The silence was uncomfortable.

Screw it, I was entertained.  See the video below from 1975 (click through if you're viewing the email). If I ever do a conference, we'll sing this like they sing "Sweet Caroline" at the Red Sox games.  And we'll automotically feel closer as a result.  

#sharedexperience #viaRhinstoneCowboy

USE WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES: How to Get An Internal Promotion...

Let's face it - as an HR pro at any level, you're a bit of therapist. One of the reasons we get paid is to help people work through tough situations where they feel like they're getting stale and can't progress in the company.

In other words, you have to help people understand why there's not more opportunity for them.  Even if they suck. Promoted

Why aren't you getting promoted?  Ever have to answer that question?  I'd be shocked if you hadn't heard that one a bunch - either directly or indirectly.

I'm up over at Fistful of Talent with a post on "The Key to Getting Internal Promotions - The Only Guide You'll Ever Need".  Nuggets include:

Things to do before the spot opens up, including:

--Never say no to work that comes from skip-level managers in your functional area where the future promotion sits.  You need more, not less, work from people who might control the decision related to who gets the promotion.  Stop getting your sissy feelings hurt if you’re amazing (#1) and people want a piece of you.  It’s money in the bank for your career.

Things to do after the spot opens up, including:

--Go straight to the hiring manager in question.  Tell them you are very interested in the position.  Be able to talk about why you’re interested and don’t make it about money. Don’t let your current manager do this bidding for you.  They don’t have your promotional interests in mind.  They’d like to keep you.  Don’t work through HR.  I’m an HR pro, and waiting for HR to introduce your candidacy is a sucker’s play.  Don’t wait on the “process.”

Head over to Fistful of Talent by clicking this link and get the full guide on getting internal promotions.  You've got my permission to print it out and say, "here's what someone says about that, I think there's a lot of truth in what they say".  The monkey's off your back, let me be the bad guy...

I'm the bad guy because another thing I say your employee needs to do before the position comes open is this:

--Be absolutely amazing in your current job.  You’re probably going to need to look better at what you do than other people.  If you blend in, you’re going to get passed over.  Be amazing. If that’s too much for you or seems too hard, stop reading and bounce over to Fast Company to dream some more.  If you can’t do this, don’t be surprised if you don’t get the promo.

It's not show friends, it's show business.  

The Downgrade: When Your Talent Voluntarily Leaves for a Stinky Job...

In Mizzou, they're happy that this guy decided to jump ship for... wait for it... Tulsa.  Instead of working at the University of Missouri.

Which got me thinking about the concept of the self-inflicted demotion. Let's call it "downgrade Nixonturnover".  It exists somewhere between the realms of "voluntary and "involuntary" turnover.

Downgrade turnover happens when one of your employees leaves to take a job that's not as good as the one they have, usually because they were worried about their ability to keep the job with your company for performance reasons.
Downgrade turnover looks like voluntary turnover, but there's an involuntary smell to it as well.  They believe they're going to get fired, so they opt out - to a lessor job, which says it all.  
What's interesting about downgrade turnover is that it never happens at companies aren't hard-ass related to performance management.   If you never push, you'll never get any downgrade turnover.
Downgrade turnover is good turnover.  The probability was low that they were going to make it, and they opted out.  
The big question for your company is the following - what can you do institutionally to drive some downgrade turnover out of portion of your workforce that is struggling? 
The biggest thing is as follows - you tell the struggling talent, "unless things really turn around, I don't think you're going to be here in 6 months."   Tell them why that is, pledge to work with them and continue to the honest dialog.  
If you're not that honest with talent that's truly struggling, odds are you're going to look up 2 years later - and you guessed it - they're still going to be at your company.
Mediocre talent loves to hang around longer than you would like.  Be brutally honest and see if you can get some people to voluntarily downgrade.

Leadership Lessons From Limp Bizkit...

I'm Generation X.  If there was ever any doubt about that, this post should put that doubt to rest.

Last week found me rolling through airports in Baton Rouge and Philadelphia.  As I was running through the Philadelphia airport to catch a plane, I spotted a bunch of old school autographed photos on the edge of a depressing little airport bar and grill.  One of them was Fred Durst, front man for 90's rap/rock band Limp Bizkit. Find the history of Limp Bizkit by clicking here.  

Me in an airport + autographed Fred Durst picture = photo op.

That's me trying to get my Fred Durst pose on (email subscribers click through for photo), which is hard to do in a blue blazer and slacks. I was so caught up in the moment that I didn't even notice the picture to the right of me was Courtney Love (lead singer of Hole and former wife of Kurt Cobain), which would have been another photo op.

But I digress.  If you look up Limp Bizkit like I did that night, it's easy to see what they did right to sell 40 million CDs, and there's some leadership lessons.  Check it out:

1. If you're going to lead, have a style.  Fred Durst was famous for wearing a red Yankees cap.  Who wears that?  No one but Durst and Limp Bizkit back in the day, so the brand was instantly recognizable from a freaking hat.  Not bad.

2. Own the local market before you go national.  Limp Bizkit hailed from Jacksonville, FL, and they were a local sensation before they hit it big nationally.  So big, in fact, that Sugar Ray opened up for them in Jacksonville before Bizkit even had a record deal.  I know, Sugar Ray...  Does it get any bigger than that?

3. Figure out what's next and go there.  Limp Bizkit had a lead guy and some rock band members.  So did everyone else.  So the lead guy rapped as a white guy, then they mashed rock with hip-hop to a further degree by bringing in a mix-master called DJ Lethal (of course they called him that).  Rap had hit, Rock/Metal had been around for a while, so they mashed it up and went mass market.  See Korn for another example.

4. Once you're there, go big. Including, in Limp Bizkit's case, filming the performance portion of a video on top of the World Trade Center, among other things.  

This concludes my "Limp Bizkit for Leaders" seminar.  It's also what you get when I'm on the road and inspired by random things.


From Lincoln to Game of Thrones: Moderates Make the Best Leaders...

I'm up today over at Fistful of Talent - topic is the genius of moderate leaders, and why extreme leaders (both good and bad) seem to not be elected (or get beheaded).  Here's a taste:

"Here’s one reality that bears remembering as we walk our path in today’s workplace: Being a bit disruptive is interesting.  Being extreme, especially most/all the time, is a death wish.

Case in point–let’s look at Lincoln and Game of Thrones for fodder.

I’m reading Team of Rivals in all my spare time, which illustrates the rise of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860.  Most people would be surprised to know that at the time he was elected president, Lincoln had not held any significant office–governor, US representative, US senator, etc.  He rose in part due to his work ethic and oratory skill, but equally responsible for his rise was the fact that he refused to take positions on a variety of issues.

Why did he stay neutral or moderate?  Because to become extreme on any issue would make him less electable.  When the three primary rivals for the Republican nomination became unelectable due to their past extreme views, there was honest Abe–everyone’s second choice, but repulsive to no one.  He was the backup candidate on everyone’s ballot.  Deals got cut; the USA got a tall, skinny guy as the president; and that moderate led us through some BIG change."

Head on over to Fistful of Talent for the rest of the post.  And stay moderate, my friends.

HR Capitalist Hall of Fame: Subaru of Wichita...

You have to love companies that know how to market and use/redirect negative misinformation directed at them for positive gain.

Subaru of Wichita would be one of those progressive organizations.  Brief back-story - the dealership did a remodel and non-union labor was used.  A local union entity didn't like it and placed the following sign in front of the dealership:


(assuming it's a public right-of-way and they had the right to do that, email subscribers enable pictures or click through to get the vibe)

It's easy to be a victim to bullying tactics, but instead of rubbing their hands together and fretting, Subuaru of Wichita used the message to enhance it's marketing plan.  See the picture below for the genius via an additional sign they put up:


Game. Set. Match.  But wait, the union's a marketing organization too - they had one more move up their sleeve.  Click here to head on over to The Blaze for what happened next and how Subaru of Wichita used it's formal education to again get the uppper hand.

It's epic, and Subaru of Wichita is now in the HR Capitalist Hall of Fame.

h/t to Phil H, longtime Capitalist reader.