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May 2014

The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #77 is Danny Ocean ("How Did You Get By The Laser Field?")..

"How did you get by the laser field in the Great Hall?"

-George Clooney as Danny Ocean in "Ocean's 12"

There's a great scene in Ocean's 12 where Danny Ocean is talking with "The Night Fox", his European competition in the high end theft game.  He's going through things the Fox has accomplished that seem beyond the realm of possibility to him.  At one point, he says, "How did you get by the laser field in the Great Hall?", at which point the footage breaks away to show the Fox working on his strength and flexibility, which made beating the lasers possilbe through what I'll call interpretive dance.

After the breakaway clip, the footage comes back to Ocean, who simply says "oh".

He just realized that someone on his team isn't good enough for "the show", which means the highest level of competition.

On Ocean's team, the guy who handles breaking safe and secruity systems is Don Cheadle as Basher Tarr, but the when Ocean asks the question about hte laser field and says "oh" in response, he realizes he's limited.  He's probably also wondering if the Amazing Yen, the acrobat on his team, can come close to handling that as well.

Tarr blows things up and tunnels into them.  He doesn't dance.  Ocean has figured out what he has isn't good enough.  It's called a talent upgrade in the HR game.  

The next time I'm talking to someone about the need to upgrade, I'm going to say "how are you going to get by the laser field in the Great Hall?" 

They'll be confused, but I'll be entertained.  (email subscribers click through for videos below) 

STEAL THIS POST: On Originality in Innovation

In Houston today with a favorite client doing leadership training on goal setting.  Here's a quote from the training:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. Always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.”

--Jim Jarmusch

Don't worry about who had the idea first.  Take things and make them better, mix them up into something that has more value and meaning to you.

I hate it when people say "there are no more original ideas" and stop talking.  It sounds like an excuse not to think differently or just clock in/clock out.  Lame.

Be authentic instead of original.

69 Dirty Words at GM: On Meaning What You Say...

In case you missed it, GM (the car maker with the current safety and recall problem) built a culture where employees couldn't say certain words.  Curse words?  Those may not have been encouraged, but they were better than any of the banned words, most of which revolve around safety.

More from the Detroit News: GM-Magic-Words

"General Motors Co.’s decision in 2008 to instruct employees not to use words such as “defect,” “dangerous” or even “always” in describing problems contributed to a culture that discouraged honest and open communication on safety issues, federal investigators said Friday.

The confidential training directive on 68 words for its engineers to avoid — as well as acceptable alternatives — was among documents released Friday by U.S. safety officials. They imposed a record $35 million fine against GM for deliberate foot-dragging in the recall of 2.6 million cars with faulty ignition switches tied to 13 deaths and 32 crashes. GM agreed to the fine and other actions as part of a so-called consent agreement with the government.

David Friedman, the acting chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the training materials were part of a larger problem at GM, where engineers subsequently were reluctant to send reports with negative words up the chain of command."

I know, I know.  You want a list of the words without going through the PDF in that article.  Because I care, here they are for your evaluation:

always, annihilate, apocalyptic, asphyxiating, bad, Band-Aid, big time, brakes like an “X” car, cataclysmic, catastrophic, Challenger, chaotic, Cobain, condemns, Corvair-like, crippling, critical, dangerous, deathtrap, debilitating, decapitating, defect, defective, detonate, disemboweling, enfeebling, evil, eviscerated, explode, failed, flawed, genocide, ghastly, grenadelike, grisly, gruesome, Hindenburg, Hobbling, Horrific, impaling, inferno, Kevorkianesque, lacerating, life-threatening, maiming, malicious, mangling, maniacal, mutilating, never, potentially-disfiguring, powder keg, problem, rolling sarcophagus (tomb or coffin), safety, safety related, serious, spontaneous combustion, startling, suffocating, suicidal, terrifying, Titanic, unstable, widow-maker, words or phrases with a biblical connotation, you’re toast

There's so many good ones in there.  Hit me with your favorite in the comments.  I'm going with "Kevorkianesque", but the "rolling sarcophagus" has merit as well.

The moral of the story is pretty clear.  If you restrict certain words in your culture that denote bad news, you're sure to get bad news - but you'll get it all at once and the market will deliver it to you - not the employees you orginally restricted.

Hat tip to Capitalist reader P. Hall.

McDONALD'S: Achiever Guilt, Worker Drive and The Riddle of a Working Wage...

Not sure if you saw this last week, but the McDonald's annual shareholders meeting was targeted by wage activists looking to bump the entry level wage at the fast food giant from 8 or 9 dollars an hour to - wait for it - $15 per hour.  Here's a taste of the story from USA Today, then let's talk after the jump:

"In a prelude to protests planned for the McDonald's annual shareholders meeting Thursday morning, police arrested 139 protesters on Wednesday afternoon outside McdMcDonald's world headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill.

Oak Brook police said protesters arrested for criminal trespass were from a group of 101 McDonald's workers and 38 clergy and union activists who chose to cross a police barricade.  Workers chanted "Hey McDonald's You Can't Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side," and "No Big Macs, No Fries, Make our Wage Supersize," as the arrests were made.

Workers and activists — who demand $15-per-hour pay and the right for fast-food workers to try to unionize without retaliation — say they have focused on McDonald's because of its size and influence. "Workers are taking on the biggest, baddest, richest in the $200 billion fast-food industry," says Kendall Fells, leader of Fast Food Forward. "If we can bring McDonald's to the table, the road ahead will be a lot easier."

Some thoughts on the protests in no particular order:

1. As someone who's done OK in their career, I'm sensitive to the people behind the counter being at $8 per hour.  Seems like it should be more, and one of the things that's the most alarming in America is the fact that the "middle class" is increasing shrinking.  Seems like there's rich folks, there's poor folks, then there's a middle class that's not really growing and due to the down-slide of manufacturing in the past decades in the US, people at the entry level are less mobile into the middle class.

2. There's something to be said for drive.  Those with it go up, those without it don't go up.  They stay at the low wage.

3. You don't have to have a college degree or be raised in a perfect environment to advance at a place like McDonald's.

You agree with statement #1?  The next question is whether that's based on fact or what I'll call "achiever guilt".  You've done well - so are you trying to avoid guilt by saying you're for higher wages at McDonald's?   Is your stance based on fact or guilt?

The bottom line is that countless people have started in entry level jobs at places like McDonald's and risen from the ranks to do great things in their career.  Is it better for the system to work that way, or simply give all in that position a higher wage?

I'm not sure.  People not making a living wage isn't great for society.  You could argue that they're being taken advantage of.  Or you could argue that there's an invisible hand that's market-based that's deciding who gets a higher wage and who's left to try to survive.  

That's ugly without a doubt.  It's trendy to say that companies like McDonald's simply need to raise wages.

Then you get stranded in a snowstorm like I did and spend a few hours in a McDonald's in rural Georgia - with the town around it completely shut down.  You watch a young manager try to keep the place open and because it's payday, see 12 people come in to pick up a live check.  You see the young manager plead with all who are there to pick up the live check (they can't do anything with it, by the way, because the banks are closed) to help out by working a couple of hours.  Click on the link to get the full back story.

And you see the young manager go 0 for 11 until someone finally says yes.  1 out of 12!  If it's your business and you see that manager go 0 for 11, do you think that raising wages is the answer?

I'm sensitive to the living wage argument and the impact it has on society.

My time in that McDonald's during Snowmegeddon in the South tells me this - it's complicated.   

Why There Won't Be Youth Football in 20 Years...

You think you have legal problems at your company?

You have issues. The NFL has problems.

The NFL, fresh off of agreeing to $765 Million dollar settlement for issues surrounding the treatment of concussions (a Federal judge hasn't accepted that settlement, thinking it might not be enough) now is facing a group of players that claims the league pushed them to take pain killers and other meds without warning them of the danger in an attempt to keep them on the field.  More from USA Today:

"A group of retired players sued the NFL on Tuesday, claiming the league gave them powerful pain killers and anti-inflammatories to keep them on the field, never warning them about the long-term dangers to their health. This as the NFL is still trying to persuade a federal judge to accept a $765 million settlement with another group of former players, who claimed the league hid or ignored the devastating effects of concussions and other head trauma.

The eight players–attorneys have asked for class-action status, saying more than 500 former players are involved – paint a picture of a league that "recklessly and negligently created and maintained a culture of drug misuse, substituting players' health for profit."

Team doctors and trainers "were handing out drugs like it was Halloween candy," attorney Steve Silverman said, "to mask these injuries to get these guys out on the field, to their detriment." The list of narcotics, anti-inflammatories and local anesthetics reads like a pharmacy -- Toradol, Percocet, Vicodin, Ambien, Prednisone, Lidocaine – and the eight players estimate they were given "hundreds, if not thousands" of injections and pills over the years."

Workplace culture 101.  Get results, do it all costs.  In the NFL's case, as more lawsuits get filled, it's increasingly looking like an entire generation of players is pulling up lame and broken.  Once portable MRI machines are at athletic fields that show damage to brain in a just-in-time report to parents, youth football probably won't exist. 

I'll send you into the weekend with the classic clip of Jim Brown as the Defensive Coordinator in Any Given Sunday, but warning - NSFW.  Don't watch if language bothers you.  The words match the lawsuit.  It's a great example of managers driving the workplace culture.

YOU DIE HARD.  That's all you need to know. (email subscribers click through for the video below)

PODCAST: What Do the SHRM Changes Mean To Your SPHR/PHR Certification?

In case you missed it this week, SHRM is trying to make your PHR and SPHR worthless. On Monday, May 12th, SHRM announced that it will begin offering its own competency-based certification in mid-2015, after several years of work on its competency model.  

Here's my post on that from late last week.  SHRM didn't - and still doesn't - have a lot of answers for what this means for the value of your SPHR/PHR.  But this Monday, HRCI (the people that bring you the SPHR/PHR) said that a SHRM executive notified HRCI that it would be excluded from the SHRM Annual Conference – an event the Institute has participated in for years

That can't be good.  SHRM is spinning, running press conference calls, etc.  But they'd like HRCI to go out of business and all HR people to be "sheeple".  Just float over to the new designation and not care.

So we did what we do and put a podcast together over at my other site, Fistful of Talent.  See it below and give it a spin.  Good stuff.


Welcome to The CYA Report, brought to you by Workforce.com and Fistful of Talent. On today’s show we have Tim Sackett, President at HRU Technical Resources, and Dawn Burke, VP of People at Daxko, on SHRM’s attempt To Take Down HRCI - and your SPHR/PHR.

Host: Kris Dunn

Producers: Cara Lucas & Julia Lindsey

Music: Price Tag by Jessie J

Can’t see the player below? Click here to listen now.

All episodes available on iTunes [click for archives]

SHRM LIKES MONEY: The Top 9 People SHRM Hurt When They Said Goodbye to HRCI...

"Honor's in the dollar,kid"...

-Seth Davis in Boiler Room

In case you missed it this week, SHRMs trying to make your PHR and SPHR worthless. Here's a nice rundown of the announcement from SHRM Members for Transparency, aka SMFT:

"On Monday, May 12th, SHRM announced that it will begin offering its own competency-based certification in mid-2015, after several years of work on its competency model, which was validated by over 30,000 HR professionals around the world.  According to SHRM Board Chair Bette Francis, "SHRM has a responsibility to lead the profession toward a certification process that proves competencies."  SHRM intends to "transition" those currently HRCI-certified to the new SHRM certification by letting them complete an online educational module and brief online test on HR competencies, followed by the initiation of a new three-year re-certification process.  SHRM will also develop study materials for its own exam.  No mention is made of any eligibility requirements for new examinees.  HRCI is not referenced in any of the SHRM announcements tailored for various audiences.

On Wednesday, May 14th, HRCI announced that SHRM's announcement would have no impact on any of HRCI's portfolio of certifications, and that HRCI intends to continue to develop and administer these certifications.  HRCI also disavowed any involvement in the development of the SHRM competency-based certification."

It's like someone was at a SHRM board meeting and said, "Hey, why the hell are we giving 50% of our potential margin to HRCI for certification services?  Why wouldn't we do our own thing and keep ALL THE MONEY?"

If you're running a business, that's the right question to ask and probably the right move.  If you're servicing a profession as an association, you might want to think before you try and take down an entire certification system.  Here's my early list of who SHRM has hurt with the change, but probably more specifically by not being ready to give more details when they decided to announce it:

1. The Certified - You're a PHR/SPHR/GPHR, and you were happy with that credential.  Are you going to be seamlessly transferred to a spot in the new SHRM Certification world?  No one really knows, but you'll be certified through competencies, not knowledge.  So like you got that going for you (cough that sounded like you said "BS")

2. The people scheduled to take HRCI certifications in the near future - you have no clue what to do.  Can't help you there.  Did you already put money down?  That sucks for sure.

3. The professionals who volunteer to teach HRCI/PHR/SPHR prep courses - Suckers.  I was one of those once.  Thanks for your investment of time and energy.  SHRM will give you a call if they need you again.

4. Local and State SHRM chapters - you do HRCI credits for your workshops.  You're going to have a sizable period, if not for the rest of your lives, where you have to deal with credits for both systems, assuming the SHRM system calls for recertification, and since there's money involved, why wouldn't it?  Nobody asked you - why would they?

5. Conference Organizers - See the above on recertification credits.  If local chapters of SHRM didn't have a chance to give input, what makes you think you deserved that opportunity?

6. HRCI - Duh.  Like Fall Out Boy once said, "Thanks for the memories".

7. Any other partner that feels like they have a good relationship with SHRM - Because it's all about the dollar bill, folks.  Only feel as secure as that statement can make you feel.

8. SHRM itself - They could have had a lot more questions answered when they announced this. Did someone leak it and they had to go before they were ready?  I'm guessing that's true.  That's what happens when you're trying to eliminate entire companies/organizations like HRCI.

9. The Collective Reputation of HR as viewed by the business world.  So the SPHR is like the CPA?  No wait, there's another family of letters?  Really?  You kids go ahead and sit at the small table.  The adults will be talking over here.

If I'm running a business, I do what SHRM did this week a decade ago.  But if I'm running an association, I'm not sure.  I'd have the game plan ready to communicate when announced, and I'd take care of all the dues paying members to greater degree than they did with this one.

Honor's in the dollar, kid.  SHRM's proving they believe that with this one.  

VIDEO: If You're Looking for Undervalued Talent, You Might Find It With Older Workers...

My latest print column in Workforce Management magazine is out, dedicated to the concept of Moneyball - finding the talent assets that are undervalued, so you can get more performance for less total payroll.

The video below is a interview I did with Workforce's Max Mihelich talking about the concept.  It's a Skype interview and a little grainy as a result, but you'll get the vibe.  Bottom line - if you're looking for the talent segment that's undervalued, look to older workers - not all of them - but the ones with the right behavioral characteristics.  

What are those characteristics?  Well, you have to read the column or watch the video to find out (email subscribers click through for the video that appears below):

Also - I need to get some sun.  That's evident from the video...

Don't Apologize For Making Employees Compete Against Each Other...

I know - you get labeled as a manipulator if you make employees compete against each other.

I think that sucks.  We need more competition, not less.

The best way to get non-sales, white collar professional employees to compete is to create workflow that lets people check things out when they're ready to work on them and back in when they're complete.  Then keep public track of who's working on what and who completed what.  A scoreboard of sorts.

Does that make them suspicious that you're simply trying to get them to compete?  Maybe. Just deny it if it comes up.  Tell them they can take as much time as they want on any task or project they check out.  They'll always be at least one person who wants to light up the scoreboard.  My kids call them the "try hards".  

They're called "try hards" for a reason.  When they try hard, you have to make a choice.  You're either going to try harder than you want or you're going to be a complete slacker.  See the video below for an example (email subscribers, click through for the video from HBO's Silicon Valley).

Most people will chose to compete, at least harder than they intended to, when a try hard enters the mix and starts lighting up the scoreboard.  It's human nature.

Long live the Try Hards.

The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #78 is Vince Vaughn on Goal Setting...

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..

“I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don't have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell ya, it feels phenomenal.

--Vince Vaughn as Peter La Fleur in Dodgeball

And that, my friends, is why goal setting is such a freaking mess in your organizations.  It's human nature to avoid goals because they create that nasty little thing called accountability.

Your managers avoid them for the same reason.  Plus, they don't like looking like hacks who are simply building lists of things to do.

So we avoid goals and just kind of slink along, right?

We all deserve better.  Figure out a way to make goal setting real in your company - you know, the type of process that actually feels like humans run it.

(email subscribers, click through to see video of Vince Vaughn in Dodgeball below)