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September 2014

Welcome to Thunderdome: Apple Middle Manager's Name Leaked as cause of IOS Launch Failure....

You want HR Hardball?  Try this one on for size.

You're a publicly traded company.  There's a software release that doesn't go well.  Turns out your customers are vocal.  So, you serve up the name of a middle manager who apparently was responsible for the failure.

The company?  Apple.  More from iLounge:

"Apple’s quickly-pulled iOS 8.0.1 update was overseen by the same manager in charge of catching Book-of-Jobs-Economist-cover-380pxproblems with Apple Maps before that program was released, according to Bloomberg. The report claims mid-level manager J*** W****** (I took the name out) oversees quality assurance for iOS, and W****** was also in charge of quality control for Apple’s much-maligned Maps release in 2012. A source said W****** was removed from the Maps team “after the software gave users unreliable directions and mislabeled landmarks,” but he remained in charge of iOS testing. W****** has reportedly been working on quality control for iPhone software “since early iterations of the product,” and he leads a team of more than 100 people worldwide.

Former employees said the company relies on people to find bugs more than it uses automation-testing. The report also notes that engineers in charge of testing new software “often don’t get their hands on the latest iPhones until the same time that they arrive with customers, resulting in updates that may not get tested as much on the latest handsets.” Only senior managers can use unreleased iPhones without special permission, sources said."

There's a lot of issues to sort through on this from the Human Capital side, including:

1.  The name got leaked - can't say it was a company leak, but any time a single name gets leaked in response to a company failure, you have to assume that deep sources in the company are behind serving up the name.

2.  From a performance management perspective, the employee in question was involved in a tough release involving Apple Maps, but retained a lot of his QA responsibility.  That tells me the guy who's name was leaked was at least a decent performer, or he would have been moved out altogether.

Now for two deeper issues...

3.  The same article that reports the leak of the employee's name also indicates the QA group doesn't get their hands on a phone until the launch (See shaded green above for that tidbit...) wha???? That's crazy talk.  Now, some fanboys will undoubtedly tell me that you QA in this type of situations the same way app developers use simulated environments to QA as they build apps.  But c'mon - it's Apple.  That's like tell me you test jet engines on the Commodore 64 simulator rather than in a million dollar wind tunnel and on real planes that have test pilots with nerves of steel.

4.  And the big close - wait for it - you probably know if Apple leaked the name intentionally based on their corporate zeal in finding the source of the leak.  Apple is notorious for hunting down sources of future product leaks and firing those individuals on the site - and with that being the case, wouldn't they hunt down someone who leaked the name of an employee if the leak wasn't corporately endorsed?

Leaking an indivdual name as the source for a failure.  That's hardball people. You and I work in day-cares in comparison.

HRCI Hits SHRM Hard on Certifications, Signs HR Equivalent of Tom Brady...

All has been quiet on the HR front related to the ongoing certification war between HRCI (who brings you the SPHR and the PHR) and SHRM (who earlier this year decided to split from their long standing relationship with HRCI and launch their own flavor of HR certifications).  

If you need background related to SHRM's decision to split from their longstanding association with the SPHR and PHR, see my post here and take a listen to a Fistful of Talent podcast on the topic here.  

All was quiet, but that changed last week when HRCI announced they had entered into an agreement with Dave Ulrich, probably the most recognizable traditional HR thinker in the space, maker of HR competency models and such for the HR types that consume those things.

If HRCI and SHRM were sports franchises, this would be HRCI signing someone like Tom Brady.  And since Ulrich has done so much work with SHRM at the National, Regional and local levels, it feels like HRCI snatched him away from SHRM (or the Patriots).

More from a HRCI press release last week:

"The HR Certification Institute (HRCI) today announced it will partner with Dave Ulrich and Wayne Brockbank, both renowned HR professors, authors and consultants, in the seventh round of the world's largest study of HR competencies. Called the Human Resource Competency Study (HRCS), the ongoing project is led by Dr. Ulrich's RBL Group and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Since 1987, HRCS has provided a fundamental framing of the competencies and agendas for human resource professionals. The study tracks major trends and helps HR professionals and departments add greater value to their organizations. More than 63,000 people worldwide have participated in the study.

As a regional partner in HRCS, HRCI will help evaluate how HR competencies are changing and how those competencies drive business performance. HRCI will help create the survey, recruit and register North American corporate and individual participants, advise in the analysis of results, define regional trends, sponsor and host a regional feedback conference and write and publish the regional results in local and international journals and magazines.

"The goal of HRCS is to answer the question: What knowledge, abilities and agendas differentiate HR professionals in high performing firms from those in low performing firms and are, therefore, necessary for successful HR professionals?" said Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor at the Ross School of Business,University of Michigan, a partner at The RBL Group and HRCS study lead. "HRCI's work in HR professional development makes this partnership a natural fit. As a regional partner, HRCI will help ensure this round of the survey captures today's realities of human resource management."

Can Ulrich still work with SHRM?  Will he?  Does this mean he was miffed at SHRM and picked a side?  Was it just a big sum of cash that led to the signing?

All good questions, but at the end of the day - regardless of how those questions are answered - It's a big win for HRCI and whatever they had to pay, a great use of the cash they had standing around from the last time you took the SPHR.

It's not an endorsement of the SPHR/PHR over what SHRM is cooking up, but it's a good move by HRCI to stay relevant.

Well played, HRCI.  Your move, SHRM.

You're Good, Not Great (Adjectives to Use When Determining If Someone is a Star)....

It's getting ready to be performance review time in a lot of your companies, and if you're like most HR pros, you've got a group of managers who really don't want to tell the people who work for them that they're average.

But telling a lot of people they're average is about the only way to get true separation between the stars and role-players and get the stars paid accordingly.  So one of the keys is to help your managers understand where the bar is.

Here's a running list of adjectives you can use to help your managers grade "good vs. great."

Examples of Identifiers Signaling "Meets" Behavior (Expected!): Quality, Accuracy, Timeliness, Respect for Others, Integrity, Communicates Effectively, Accountable, Pride-in-Work Product, Team Player, External Locus of Control.

Examples of Identifiers signaling "Exceeds" Behavior (Differentiators!):  Proactive, Creative, Innovative, Leads By Example, Seeks Greater Responsibility, Self-Motivated, Solution-Oriented, Always Learning, Takes Chances, "Zooms," Internal Locus of Control, Builds Teams.

The focus of these lists?  Really to say that doing more (make more widgets, answer more calls, file more reports) of the same isn't great performance.  It's really good performance, but not great.

If you want to be great, it involves being innovative and giving a lot of discretionary effort that others don't provide.  Of course, that assumes the discretionary effort produces results, but ask yourself - when was that not the case?

Use the list to find a better way of asking managers if the performance they're looking at with any employee is truly great - or simply pretty good.  

The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #76 is Tony Mareno ("You Know How Many Times Someone Told Me I Did Good?")...

Recurring 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..

"You Know How Many Times Someone Told Me I Did Good?  Two..."

--Tony Mareno in Saturday Night Fever

I finished up a module in BOSS - Leadership Skills for the Modern Manager (our manager training series at Kinetix) last weekend and found this gem on compensation and Performance Management.

Pay increases. A topic that causes more dissatisfaction per capita than any other workplace conversation surrounding compensation.  

If you’re like most managers, you don’t have an unlimited “kitty” of funds to give people raises with. The dirty little secret to compensation is that employees generally get paid at the time they join the company—their negotiating power is never higher—and only true stars can command above-average increases year over year.

Of course, the term “above average” is a loaded phrase. One man’s “above average” is another woman’s “insult.” And while we can’t agree on what constitutes “above average,” we damn sure can’t agree on who’s actually performing at a high level, which would seem to be a necessity to do pay increases effectively.

Tony Mareno got a raise in the video clip above. He was thrilled. Then his dad took a giant crap on his psychological state by telling him the raise meant nothing.

Now Tony’s not thrilled anymore. So goes your life when it comes to pay increases.  Take a look at the clip.  Solid negotiation on the part of his manager at the start of the conversation.  Ping me if you want to talk manager training - we've got a cool thing started at Kinetix.

Change Your Office/Workspace To Get a Jump In Productivity...

If there's one constant in my life, it's that I get bored with the same view from work.

That tendency has manifested itself in different ways.  Earlier in my career, I switched jobs every 2-3 years, and when I got up the food chain a bit, instead of changing jobs, I started changing offices.  I mean I changed offices A LOT.  Probably changed 2-3 times per year.  If there were people trying to reshuffle the deck, I was down for the change.  I once even ran the floorplan for a location - not so I could get the best office, but so I could barter for new digs as often as I felt the need.

You call it ADHD.  I call it the need for change.

Flash forward to my time at Kinetix - my time is spent 3 ways - in our ATL offices, on the road and in a home office in Birmingham.  So I get some of the change naturally.  But I'm still looking different places to work when I'm in the ATL or at home.  The road takes care of itself from a change perspective.

Case in point.  We're expanding at Kinetix and demolished my office.  Good riddance, I never sat in there anyway (picture below)...


That open space used to be my office.  Now it's not.  It's for the best - a long term investment in any office is a poor play when it comes to me.

But one thing I always feel?  I always feel a upsurge in productivity any time I change where I office.  That may related to something called "Activity-Based Working" (ABW), explained recently in BusinessWeek:

"The guiding philosophy behind this game of musical chairs is “activity-based working” (ABW), a term coined by Erik Veldhoen, a Dutch consultant and author of the book The Demise of the Office. The consulting firm Veldhoen founded argues that when people are able to choose where to sit, they structure their days more productively. “They are more conscious of what they’re going into the office to do and why they’re going to do it,” says Louis Lhoest, a partner at Veldhoen + Co.

Starting in the mid-1990s, ABW began making inroads through Europe and elsewhere. In 2009, Wilkinson—who became acquainted with ABW in 2006 while touring offices in the Netherlands—completed his first ABW project in Australia for the Macquarie Group (MQG:AU), a global financial company based in Sydney. GLG’s office is the largest implementation of the concept in the U.S. Proponents argue that ABW isn’t a space-saving solution like “hoteling,” where workers can reserve workstations in advance, or like “hot desking,” where they’re free to sit at any available desk. “We have room for 350, but we only have 250 people working for us,” says Richard Socarides, GLG’s head of public affairs."

That may explain why I've always felt an uptick in productivity when I changed spaces.  Maybe it's what you need?  If you're in an office, go on the floor and sit in a cube.  

If you're in a cube - go find antoher space. See what happens.

A change would do you good.

PURE GOLD: When Employees Create T-Shirts That Identify Them as "At Risk"...

"It's always the employees who are brave enough to leave you most want to keep." Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 8.45.24 AM

What about the ones who would wear a tasteful t-shirt stating their intentions/psychological state to their co-workers?

Yeah - I'd probably want to keep them even more... 

But I digress... Got this note from a guy named Brandon Jameson this week:

"My "Flight Risk" T-shirt <https://cottonbureau.com/products/flight-risk> was inspired by the designation of an employee poised to leave a company. I embraced this idea to be worn with confidence by people looking for something better and am looking to share the shirt with a broader audience. I thought there might be a place for it on fistfuloftalent.com or another of your online properties."

The t-shirt embedded to the right is the shirt.  Gotta say, that's nice.

Here's more about Brandon:

"I am a graphic designer/art director and one of my primary clients for the past few years is in the HR space. The idea of identifying potential flight risks within a company came up a while ago as a product feature and I liked the idea of someone self-identifying as a flight risk with the T-shirt. It's sort of liberating when you're not sure you're in the right place or convinced you're not using the extent of your talents. It gives hope and confidence that you can find something better, and that may be tomorrow."

Love or hate the idea of your employees wearing something like this, you gotta admit - It's a great idea.

Of course, an HR leader wearing this would be money.  Hit the link above if you're feeling it to order.  No money to me, just liked it enough to share.

This Industry Sees 1/3 of Its Alumni Develop Cognitive Disorders...

What would you say as an HR pro if I told you the industry you work in had 1/3 of its employees ultimately develop cognitive issues and disease due to the work, and that those disorders happened at much earlier ages than the general population?

You'd say it's time to find a new HR gig, because your industry is getting ready to get shut down.  Right?  Of course you'd say that.

But America is Rome, and as it turns out, the industry being referred to is real - it's pro football (the American version).  And the stats I'm referring to?  They're being reported not by a third party, but by the National Football League (NFL) itself. 

Holy crap.  The NFL itself is reporting that 1/3 of it's players will have cogntive disorders.  Does that mean the real number is even higher? 

More from the New York Times:

"The National Football League, which for years disputed evidence that its players had a high rate of severe brain damage, has stated in federal court documents that it expects nearly a third of retired players to develop long-term cognitive problems and that the conditions are likely to emerge at “notably younger ages” than in the general population.

The findings are a result of data prepared by actuaries hired by the league and provided to the United States District Court judge presiding over the settlement between the N.F.L. and 5,000 former players who sued the league, alleging that it had hidden the dangers of concussions from them.

“Thus, our assumptions result in prevalence rates by age group that are materially higher than those expected in the general population,” said the report, prepared by the Segal Group for the N.F.L. “Furthermore, the model forecasts that players will develop these diagnoses at notably younger ages than the generation population.”

What type of cognitive disorders/disease you ask?  The research says Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer's, advanced dementia, ALS or C.T.E (chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that can be identified only in an autopsy).

We are Rome. The gladiators are football players. We are the mob.

I've got one kid playing youth football at a low level.  I get that NFL players have been exposed to it for 20 years, but I'm not sure I can let him play again after seeing this. Malcolm Gladwell is on record as saying that youth football won't exist once technology exists that allows a mobile MRI machine to show parents what happens to the brain on a helmet to helmet hit.

There are really no health benefits to football.  1/3 of the professional workforce with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer's, advanced dementia, ALS or C.T.E. - and that's self-reported, it's probably higher.

Entertain us.  We are Rome. 

War Eagle. 

When Raises Shouldn't Be A Given...(Non-Economic/NFL Edition)

Capitalist Note - Working to put the finishing touches on some Comp Training as part of the Leadership Series we're doing at Kinetix.  Thought about the Patriots and how they love to cut people they think are getting ready to be overvalued.  Latest example this year was Offensive Lineman Logan Mankins (6-time Pro-Bowler), who they traded for a pick and three bags of beef jerky).

They've done it before - the post below features the same deal with Randy Moss.  The point?  Most of us are scared to not give a raise to someone with slipping skills, much less cut them lose...

From 2010....

If you follow the NFL, you may have seen earlier this week that the New England Patriots traded Randy Moss, widely regarded as a hall of fame receiver and still very productive, to the Minnesota Vikings for an undisclosed draft pick.  What the news could have said was that they traded a premier player for the equivalent of some loose change the Vikings found in the couch.

Harsh.  Classic Bill Belichick, however. Belichick-hoodie

What's up you ask?  The Moss contract was up at the end of the year, and it's pretty clear that the Patriots had no desire commit multi-year $$$ contractually to a player whose skills will do nothing but decline from this point forward.

Simply put - the Patriots have a long history of not upping, overvaluing and overextending compensation to players who won't continue to improve or whose skills may decline quickly.  It's an organizational philosophy, and they live it each year - I could go do a list of 6 other situations the Patriots have dealt with in the past that shows they're very, very consistent in this area.

They won't overpay.  Won't do it.  Would rather be brutal.

You can't trade Sally in Finance - oh, how you wish you could.  But you've got other means at your disposal to deal with the same issues.  When should you walk away from providing raises, allow talent to walk out the door when a competitor comes knocking, or otherwise live a philosophy of being prudent with compensation dollars?

Here's my list.  I say you force yourself to have the tough conversations related to an individual's contribution and where their compensation is going when:

1. Skills and contribution are in apparent decline, and don't look to be coming back...

2. You've arrived at a place where they're over-valued for the contributions they make...

3. Giving them additional comp (especially if they're comparing themselves to the marketplace) doesn't fit the comp model you have in place.  Best example I can give you of this?  You're a consulting firm and you built your model around providing opportunity for young associates out of college.  You can only promote so many, and the remaining associates are still talented.  You have to say no to increases for solid talent in that situation, because it doesn't fit your model.

That's my starter list.  In writing it, it's obvious that many reading that list will say, "So what Kris? We know that"...

Technically you know that.  So do I.  The real question is whether you believe it enough to live it.  To have some brutal conversations with good people.  

Do you have those conversations, or do you pass on the drama, providing a 3-4% increase and opting to play on?  

If so, you're no Bill Belichick.  I'm not sure whether that's good or bad.  I do know it's interesting.

You Honor 9/11 By Rising Above the Crap....

It's 9/11.  It's been awhile, but it's still there.

In a world where Americans are getting beheaded in HD quality video, framed in just the right way by the organizations responsible, we're back to 9/11.

Some might think it irresponsible to try and make a workplace connection to 9/11 that's not EAP related.  But I think the message for you and your job, 13 years out from that shitty day, is pretty evident:

1. Your problems in the workplace really aren't very big at all, and more importantly;

2. You ought to remember the day and the event by doing something decisive to LEAD in the role you're in.

Most of my readers are HR leaders or leaders of people.  It's easy for both groups to caught up in pettiness or organizational politics, individual personalities, business pressures, etc.  Too often, all of those complicating factors add up and slow the action we know needs to be taken.

We delay.  We rationalize.  I'm as guilty of it as anyone.

9/11.  Every year, we see video that reminds us we only have so many days, and we're reminded of all the people who did something BIG in response to the events of the day.  Heroes.

So watch some footage today, be reminded of how many people took action to help others, then do something you haven't done in awhile.

Make a decisive decision that you know is needed - regardless of who it pisses off.  Just do it.  It's one small way you can take the energy you feel from the memory and help yourself - as well as the people around you.

9/11 means a lot of things.  To me, one of the big messages is to lead in whatever role you're in.  

Trust me, the people around you want to see it.  

When to Allow Someone to Resign Instead of Firing Them....

Allowing resignations is on my mind based on news out of Atlanta this weekend, where the owner of the Atlanta Hawks (pro hoops) has agreed to sale the team based on the results of an investigation that showed he had made a bunch of race-based comments related to increasing attendance at Hawks games.

What's interesting to me about this was that Levenson was allowed to proactively announce his decision rather than dig in and face the rath of the NBA in the aftermath of everything that happened to remove Donald Sterling from owning the Los Angeles Clippers.

Which to me, begs a question - when do you allow someone in your company to resign rather than firing them? I think there are a couple of situations where it's probably always in your interest from an Employee Relations perspective to allow the resignation rather than firing, including:

1. When you can prevent highly likely 3rd party action that's going to cost you thousands or tens of thousands to defend, no matter how frivolous.  

2. When your organization will react negatively to the person in question being fired, and it's a better PR move to allow the resignation.  

3. When you think you know the deal and they know you know the deal, but you don't want to rip up a team with a gut-wrenching, turn everyone-against-everyone investigation led by - of course - you.

4. When in the back of your mind you know the person in question really never had a chance based on a mix of business conditions, internal politics and personalities.

What did I miss?  Without question, you have to fire people.  A lot of times that's good for the organization to see, but at times, you really need to think through whether it might be better to allow certain individuals to resign.

Asking for a resignation is part complete honesty, part negotiation and part bully activity.  It's an art.  Allowing people to resign when they need to go should be the exception rather than the rule, but it's a tool in your arsenel that needs to be used.