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May 2015

FIFA and LEADERSHIP: Are Leaders Responsible For Scandals Under Their Watch?

In case you missed it, FIFA - the international governing body for soccer - got raided earlier this week in Europe:

"This week in Zurich (or late last night for those of us stateside), Swiss plainclothes police entered the Baur au Lac; the five-star hotel was the site of this week’s annual meeting of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body. The officers ascertained room numbers from the front desk, headed upstairs, and arrested six FIFA executives.

The Justice Department’s announcement primarily cites deals between FIFA, sports marketing groups, and broadcast corporations for the television rights to air the World Cup and other international soccer tournaments. Dating back to 1991, the indictment alleges, those involved conspired to receive bribes from marketing firms in exchange for exclusive television contracts—to the cumulative tune of more than $150 million. As Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated, “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.”

That begs a question - Are leaders responsible for scandals under their watch?  FIFA head Sepp Blatter, who was not arrested, claims the usual defense.  Here's his quote courtesy of the Washington Post:

"FIFA President Sepp Blatter offered up a tepid defense of his two-decade reign as head of world soccer’s governing body by deflecting all responsibility for what he called the “actions of a few” while addressing the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption at the organization.

“Many people hold me ultimately responsible,” Blatter said during the opening speech of the 65th FIFA Congress on Thursday. “We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it.”

Sounds reasonable, right?  I'd agree with that sentiment, but sometimes the stuff going on is so blatant and dumb that you're a fool for not taking responsibility.  Need examples?  I've got a great one.  FIFA awarded the next 2022 World Cup to Qatar.  How likely is it that Qatar won that bid without kickbacks?  Working against the Qatar bid was the extreme temperature in the desert country. The World Cup always takes place during the European off-season in June and July. During this period the average daytime high in most of Qatar exceeds 50 °C (120 °F), the average daily low temperatures not dropping below 30 °C (86 °F).

So the World Cup gets awarded to a desert country where the average temp is 120 degrees in the months the tourney has to be played.  Probably some monkey business going on there, right?  

As a leader, you can't know it all.  But when your Financial Analyst who you know has 4 kids, alimony to pay and routinely asks for a pay raise shows up driving a Tesla, you're probably responsible for taking a look at the books via an audit to make sure everything's cool.

Somebody got harassed without your knowledge?  Probably can't hold you accountable for that as a leader, although you're responsible for the broader culture.

Kickbacks everywhere, especially via a culture that has long been rumored to mired with bribes?  You're responsible as a leader.

Everything in between?  Proceed with caution as a leader, because why you can't always be held accountable, you're ALWAYS responsible for it.

LEADERSHIP BIRTH RATE - Who's the Best at Developing Future Leaders?

Had the pleasure of doing a webinar over at Fistful of Talent this week with my friend, Tim Sackett.  The topic was "The New HR Math", which was a conversation about how the expectations of HR metrics are changing these days.

My theory is that if you've got the same old metrics - time to fill, turnover, cost per hire and engagement scores to name a few - eventually someone's going to be hired in above you at the CEO or CHRO level and have a bigger expectation of what should be measured.

Your goal is to think differently about the metrics you use before that person gets there - call it The New HR Math.  

In the webinar, we covered a lot of the tired metrics I listed above - then, to quote the street smart Will Smith (remember him?), we started getting jiggy with it.  Tim had a new one that I loved - Leadership Birth Rate.  The slide on this one appears below.  Take a look (email subscribers enable pictures or click through to see it) and we'll talk after the jump:

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 10.39.55 AM

Reporting on Leadership Birth Rate is pretty simple.  Just pick the level you want to report at, then run a report of all the managers of people at your company - all the way down to the supervisor level - then track back where they came from.  It's a great way to understand over broad periods of time (think 3-5 years) who's really a developer of people.

Some will say this is a little too lofty.  I'd tell you I can see this working even in a big call center.  Which supervisor in your call center ultimately has people emerge from his group to manager others?   Over time, that means that manager hired better, coached better and generally kicked ass on the people side.

It works at that level as well as it works as the executive level.

All you need is some raw data, the will to sift through it and the guts to market the results.  Doesn't this sound like a great reporting add to any succession process?

You're probably going to keep reporting on turnover because it's expected and there's value there.  But that's old HR Math.  Learn and embrace the New HR Math and use your own creativity to find things you think matter, and you'll never be called a dinosaur.  

Unless you have short arms for your body, at which point I'll tag with the moniker of "T-Rex".  Even if you're good at The New HR Math.

When Your Email Tells Me You Like The Idea of Being Involved - But Have No Idea What It Takes...

Workplace rant follows.

I love it when...

You send me a note to get involved in a tasty project with a lot of exposure.  You're ready and willing! You'd love to do some stuff! Lionel-richie-

There's just this one little problem.  Your description of what you want to be involved with is just off enough that I realize you're being opportunistic for your own career - you really don't have any passion for what I'm working on.

How do I know this?  The following features (one or all) are present in your email:

1. You talk more about how great it would be for you rather than the work itself.

2. Your description of what I'm working on has 50% overlap with reality.  You could have asked around pretty easily and got to 90% overlap with reality.  But you just took a craptastic shot and pressed send.

3. Your framing of a title of what I'm working on is dyslexic at best - it's like saying I'm working on succession planning but really what I'm doing is an executive headhunting project..  Again, a couple of conversations would have got you to accurate framing of what I'm doing in 5 words.  But you didn't ask anyone.

4. You've had ample opportunity with me one on one to ask about the project, have a conversation, etc.  You passed.  Now the project looks like it has some visibility, and you're all in. Which is why I hate you.

The missing item, of course, is your depth.  You're really not interested in my project.  You're interested in you.

Which is all good.  Takes one opportunistic, career hungry wolf to know another one, right? But the weak attempt to get in to the sexy project?  It's...well... weak...

Don't send me an email that's off the mark to get a piece of the pie.  Have a conversation with me.  Dig in to how you might be able to help.  

Then come back - if it fits - and ask for a slice.

LEADERSHIP: The Line Between Confident and Cocky Is Simple...

Leaders usually arrive in the seat because they're good at something.  More often than not, the promotional path to any leadership position - whether managing a team or more later in your career - is rooted in subject matter expertise.

You were the best at what you do, so you got promoted.  But how good of a manager or leader of people Confidenceyou are usually depends on whether those you lead perceive you as confident or cocky.

Since you were the best and you're now leading people, it's easy to be cocky. Tell them what to do because you know better than them.

The moment of truth for how you're perceived as a leader comes every time somebody on your team (or extended team) says something stupid.

Do you strike down their statement (cocky) or do you take the time to teach (confident)?

You'll get more done today with the cocky approach.  You'll get much more done long-term with the confident approach.  

It takes more time, but it's worth it.  Sometimes they're stupid.  You can't let them know you think that.

Stuff the Capitalist (aka KD) Likes: Bag Men, Not Flunkies...

Who am I?  Who cares?  Good questions.  It's my site, so I'm going dig in 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.

If there's one thing that comes with executive power - both in the private and public sectors - it's the ability to surround yourself with people who you trust.  

The problem with that is that the people you trust may have no earthly idea of what they should be doing in the roles you put them in.

That's why I like Bag Men (or women) over flunkies. Flunkies are the friends that powerful people hire at levels above their expertise.  They aren't equipped to deal with the jobs they are in.  Flunkies suck.

Bag Men, however, get placed at levels more in line with their knowledge, skills and abilities. As a result, they actually contribute something to the bottom line.  They're happy to be there, understand that they are lucky to have their star attached to the Supernova, and as a result, aren't above doing dirty work in the organization they are a part of.

See the video below for a great example of a Bag Man - Gary from the HBO series Veep.  Gary literally carries the bag of the Vice President and there's no task to small for him to tackle, as long as it pleases the Veep.

Long live the Bag Men to the powerful people bring into your organization.  Feel free to openly hunt the flunkies. But know the difference.

(email subscribers click through for video below)

Potential Tweak to Your Succession Platform: The Shadow

If you're lucky enough to have a decent succession program, you know the reality.  Unless you're heavily invested in the concept of rotations, it's hard to keep things fresh.  You need as many tweaks and features in your succession platform as possible to keep things fresh.

Got an idea for you - the shadow.  Here's how Amazon uses it: Shadow

"For almost as long as Amazon has existed, Jeff Bezos has had a "shadow" — an up-and-coming executive who gets the much-envied chance to go with the CEO to daily meetings, talk over problems, and generally have as much access to Bezos as they can handle. 

Amazon's past shadows have gone on to lead big projects. Andy Jassy, head of the now-$6 billion Amazon Web Services business, used to be a shadow. So was Greg Hart, who headed up development of the Amazon Echo speech recognition appliance. Amit Agarwal, the head of Amazon's growing Indian business, was one, too. 

Shadows usually last about two years in the role. Renz is replacing former Kindle VP Jay Marine, who stuck around for about that long. Now that he's left Bezos' side, Marine will be heading up Amazon Instant Video in Europe."

Now most of you will come with an automatic objection - you're not Amazon, followed by the closely related "our CEO isn't Bezos."  Fair enough.  You might also say that your real need in succession isn't at the CEO direct report level, it's 3 to 4 levels below that on your org chart.  All that is true, so let's dig into the concept of the shadow a little bit.

Talking points to how smaller companies might use the concept of the Shadow downstream:

1.  The rotation into the shadow position can last as long as you want it do.  Even letting someone on the succession plan spend 2-4 weeks shadowing someone they know and respect up the org chart is powerful stuff.

2.  You obviously need the right type of senior person to take on a shadow.  A teacher.  Someone who wants to give access.

3.  The shadow assignment has to have value.  The person who is being shadowed has to give the access necessary to make it real.

4.  The mentee - or the shadow - has to have a set of goals for their shadowing period.  What do they want to learn?  How will the experience make them better?

5.  A final work product/report from the shadow would seem to the be a reasonable outcome to expect.  If I were to give the assignment, I'd do something topical like the "5 things I didn't know about our business I learned from Janet" and the related, "5 things I observed during my time with Janet that will change my personal management style".  Stuff like that - tell me what you learned and present it back to me.

Senior level outcomes?  You could have the shadow rate the execs top strengths and <gasp> - things they would do differently than the exec.

On second thought, scratch the "opportunity for improvement".  That would just get someone shot.

Shadows - for as little as a week - represent a nice perk for anyone who has been included in your succession binder.  After all, it should be more than a binder, right?


Hard to Fill YOUR Positions? Saudis Post To Hire 8 More Executioners....

Yes - you have it tough on the recruiting front.  College kids who big corporations are buying out with salaries way beyond their years, leaving your college recruiting program a bitt scattered.  Software Developers who act like rock stars and won't return your inmails.  It's a hard knock life you lead...

It could be worse - some recruiter just posted for 8 new executioners in Saudi Arabia.  More from The Independent:

"Saudi Arabia is advertising for eight new executioners, recruiting extra staff to carry out an increasing number of death sentences, usually done by public beheading."

What qualifications do they need?  I thought you'd never ask.  

"No special qualifications are needed for the jobs whose main role is "executing a judgement of death", the advert, posted on the civil service jobs portal, said."

Ugh.  No qualifications needed?  OK, Let's say you're a budding executioner.  Why is business so good?  You might ask that in the interview, Right?

"The Islamic kingdom is in the top five countries in the world for putting people to death, rights groups say. It ranked number three in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States, according to Amnesty International figures.  Saudi authorities have not said why the number of executions has increased so rapidly, but diplomats have speculated it may be because more judges have been appointed, allowing a backlog of appeal cases to be heard. Political analysts said it might also reflect a tough response by the judiciary to regional turbulence.

Executions have to be taxing.  You might ask what's expected of you in the job.  Is there a quota of executions you have to perform?

"A man beheaded on Sunday was the 85th person this year whose execution was recorded by the official Saudi Press Agency, compared to 88 in the whole of 2014, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).  But the job also involves performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences."

So you nod and accept the fact that there's some non-killing busy work that fills up the hours in your day.  But the pay has to be good, otherwise, who would do this work, right?

"A downloadable PDF application form for the executioner jobs, available on the website carrying Monday's date, said the jobs were classified as "religious functionaries" and that they would be at the lower end of the civil service pay scale."

The world has always been mad.  Our access to information globally - all the way to a job posting for an executioner - implies that it has only recently gone mad.  

Hug your children. And tip your waitress this week.

Can An Incubator Inside Your Big Company Actually Work?

Once your company reaches a certain size, the inevitable feel of bureaucracy sets in.  New ideas don't have as much of a chance as they used to, and there's a certain type of employee your company starts missing - the risk taking, low rules professional that likes to create a solution rather than simply delivering it.

Big companies like the ones below (GE, Tyco, Mastercard) are attempting to develop programs to give portions of their company a startup feel.  Click on the image below from Fortune magazine to blow the graphic up (email subscribers may need to click through to get the image) and get a taste for how these programs are structured:

Start up programs

More on this movement from Fortune:

"Unlike special skunkworks projects of the past, intended to hive off a single project into its own unit, these efforts are intended not only to ­nurture profitable new entities, but also to infuse entrepreneurism into venerable operations filled with layers of middle managers.

Beyond becoming more agile, the companies want to discover the entrepreneurs already in their ranks and lure new ones. At least 90% of millennials say they would rather work at a startup than a corporate giant, according to James Canton, a futurist and author of Future Smart: Managing Game-­Changing Trends That Will Shape the World. “There is a fierce war for talent,” he says, “and a startup has a feeling of newness.”

It’s not that big companies don’t get what startups do. It’s just that replicating the unstructured, unfettered moves of, say, a five-person outfit is difficult to do with the systems and vast teams needed to operate on a global scale. “Big companies tend to hire managers, not explorers,” Butler says. “You tell them to do this and keep doing it, not explore new ways to do it. Early-stage companies employ nothing but explorers.”

It’s too early to tell whether the approach is working. Most of the efforts are nascent, the baby enterprises mere months old or not yet born. Optimists would say this will allow some decades-old enterprises to sip from a fountain of youth. A pessimist might worry that it’ll be the corporate equivalent of middle-aged parents donning tight clothing and awkwardly twerking to demonstrate to their horrified teenagers that they’re keeping up with the times."

That last sentence says a lot - Are these companies middle age parents trying on a pair of skinny jeans and embarrassing the kids?  I'm not sure.  What I do know is that these companies face the following challenges when they attempt to become more nimble and have a startup division:

1.  The biggest barrier to success for big companies acting small is they still don't get the pure candidate who's going to be successful in a startup.  More often than not, they're going to get a candidate who likes the "vibe" of the startup, and views the fact that the security of the big company is behind the incubator as a positive.  That's fool's gold from an entrepreneurial standpoint.

2. Long term comp is still a huge issue.  The pure startup candidate joins a startup for equity or an accelerated career path.  Big company incubators have a hard time providing either.  They're not ready to make someone rich for being in on the ground floor of an idea they own, and the "tweener" candidate they attract isn't going to be a great fit elsewhere in the company.  The rewards aren't there to truly draw the type of candidate they want.

3. Risk-taking is still viewed as, well, risky.  Even as the incubator inside a big company espouses the virtue of risk, the DNA of the big company - or the unspoken assumptions that are reinforced by body language, email and more from the big company parents - are going to naturally dial down the risk taking inside the incubated company.

4. Leadership "cult of personality" is hard to come by.  Most times, startups need the driving force of a near-mad (and at the very least, incredibly driven) founder to drive them forward.  Some of the behavior by that founder to do what's necessary to survive might look like abuse to the mature company.  The fact that the big company will have problems attracting this alpha is problem number one - the fact that the company is wired to prevent some of the insane behavior across all of it's employee base is a trailing issue if they are lucky enough to attract the alpha.

I love the idea of an incubator inside a big company with a lot of resources.  I'm sure one of the four companies featured above will figure it out.  I'm also sure that the effort will feel like the equivalent of your 55-year old dad wearing skinny jeans and going to an Imagine Dragons concert in some of the others.  Kind of forced...

When Managers Say, "It's Not About French Fries, It's About Freedom"...

One thing that's always fascinated me about the art of leadership and management is the intersection of personal beliefs and getting things done in an organization.  Those personal beliefs span a wide range of topics, but for me, the most interesting and polarizing points of view are political in nature.

Your CEO could be a ultra-conservative or a screaming liberal (although polling data says the former is much more likely than the latter).  Your day to day manager could be a republican or a democrat.  

Is it easier for a an executive or a day to day manager of people to be polarized in their political beliefs?  I'd say it's much easier for an executive.  Let me give you a quote and then let's explore:

"It's Not About French Fries, It's About Freedom"

More from KMRG in Texas

"The top official in the Texas Department of Agriculture says yes, deep fat fryers should return to Texas school districts. (Source: TexasTribune.com

Commissioner Sid Miller says “it isn't about french fries, it's about freedom.”

Miller wants to see a state policy banning deep fat fryers and soda machines from schools repealed."

And in case you were wondering whether the guy was on one side of the political fringe, the cupcakes need protection:

"Miller also wants schools to be allowed more days (six instead of one per week) to sell cupcakes and other high-fat, high-sugar foods during the school day.

To make his point about local control, Millers’s first official act as commissioner was to grant “full amnesty to  cupcakes.”   “This is not about force-feeding cupcakes to our children,”Miller said. “It is about local control.” 

Miller’s critics say the restrictions on fatty, sugar-laden foods came in response to an increase in child obesity in Texas, and repealing them is a step backward."

In the time of Fox News and MSNBC, it's easy to feel radical on one side of the political house or another.  And at times we bring our personal beliefs to work.  

But you better watch out as a day to day manager of people.  You can't afford to make stupid statements or decisions that are based on any way on your personal political beliefs.  Weave out of the swim lane occupied by normal people - the type of people who believe that french fries should probably be managed out of the diets of anyone who really doesn't know better - and you'll start to get some crooked eyebrows from the people who have to trust you with their careers.

Moderates - on either side of the political spectrum - make the best managers.  They understand that the art of managing a team is a sea of gray and you have to look at things on case by case basis.

The corporate HR version of the french fries quote?  "We're an at-will employment company."  Meaning we have the freedom to fire anyone from the company we want to for any reason at any time. 

Of course, executives can make those calls in big companies with the power of severance packages behind them.  The line manager?  Probably not going to buy the risk out with a nice severance.  So when they fire someone, it's America - and anyone can come back with a legal charge about that employment decision.

It's not about french fries.  It's about freedom.  

It's not about employment law or risk.  It's about our at-will provision of our handbook.  

When you see an executive make an outlandish statement, take comfort in the fact that he or she is shielded from reality.

When you see your manager make that type of statement, find a transfer or a new opportunity, because he's probably going down at some point.  You don''t need the splatter on your career.

Flash Performance Reviews: It's Probably Time...

I know. You were all in on the trendy call to kill the performance review.  Then a funny thing happened - nobody had a better idea of what to do after the ugly beast was killed.

When you think about the problem, the right solution lies at the intersection of these two realities:

1. Employees want and/or deserve to know how they are doing.  Good things result when this feedback is provided in the right way. Thumbs-up

2. Most managers of people avoid performance reviews like it's a cold sore on a person they were thinking about kissing.  Maybe they're not comfortable with giving feedback, maybe they're stretched on time, etc.  Whatever the reason, avoidance is in full bloom.

What's a possible solution?  I'm going to grab onto something that's been in play in the engagement industry - flash polling and surveys on engagement.  If you've ever seen this, flash surveys ask for smaller bits of information on a more frequent basis.  The caveman version of this can even be the employee picking a happy face or a sad face.  Interesting, right?

When you think about performance management, I'm not sure the time hasn't come to replace the deeper performance review with a flash survey, completed monthly.  Here's how it works in my eyes.

1. I have 10 direct reports?  Great, I get 10 emails spread out in a month reminding me I have a flash review due to the employee.

2. Each flash review asks me the rate the employee on a predetermined scale for both job performance and organizational fit. I have to give at least 100 words defending my rating on both, and I have to give at least 50 words telling the employee what they can do in the coming month to raise the rating.

3. Once a baseline is established, every other month I don't even have to rate them - I just pick an "up" or "down" arrow to tell them which way they're trending.  I still have to provide the backup via the 100/50 word description of why on job performance and organizational fit though.

4. My internet access on my laptop shuts down if I don't complete the task in 24 hours.  It stays off until I submit the feedback (that's the only page that works once shut down).

5. My direct report automatically gets the feedback via email.

6. I get a reminder as soon as I submit it that I need to briefly cover the review with the employee.  

7.  My employee gets an email ping 48 hours after asking if I have covered it with them.  If I haven't, my internet on my laptop goes down again.  The employee has to go back in to that email and "re-select" that I did talk to them about it to unfreeze my internet.

I'm thinking everyone involved would get more done. More feedback as well.

Flash performance review driven by technology.  And blocked Internet.  Problem solved.