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September 2015

The False Negative of the No A##hole Rule...

Everyone knows the No A##hole Rule.

A##holes are bad. A##holes are toxic. A##holes can ruin teams, lives and yes - the culture of your company if they are left unchecked. Trump

I'm going to just accept all of that and move on. A##holes suck.

But something happens to a lot of execs and HR pros who buy into the No A##holes rule. We flip the script and buy into what I'll call the False negative on the no A##hole rule.  That false negative goes like this:

"If someone's not an A##hole, that means they're a good teammate and can be effective in our company."

That's not only inaccurate, it's dangerous.

The dirty little secret about difficult people who are highly assertive is that they get things done.  Assertiveness, as it turns out, is necessary in our companies. We need people to push for results, for accountability and to make others uncomfortable when either of those things are in short supply. 

But overreacting to difficult people changes that. Once we have experience with a real jerk in the workplace, we automatically think that a skilled person without assertiveness can be effective in a role that requires assertiveness.

Not a jerk but we think they can get it done?  False negative - we scored them as not a jerk but there's a problem in our measurement - they don't have the assertiveness required to be successful in the role we're hiring for.

Need an example? Look no further than Donald Trump. Most people can't stand him and can't imagine him being the POTUS. The same people automatically are drawn to other candidates who probably don't have what it takes to stare down Iran and have that "he's just crazy enough to do something stupid" vibe that keep everyone slightly off balance and alert.

The next time someone's repping a passive candidate who's great in every way but is being considered for a role that requires hard core assertiveness, take a pause and think.

What you need is someone with the ability to be an A##hole - but doesn't cross that threshold every day.

Why You Can't Get Your Head Around Glassdoor in One Number: 3.2

I'm traveling to San Francisco today getting ready to host the live stream of the Glassdoor Summit on Friday - you can sign up for free access to the live stream here.  That live stream will feature me and Tim Sackett wearing green jackets like we're at the Masters and providing color commentary of the proceedings and doing interviews with speakers, attendees and hangers on alike.

I did a webinar last week on how Smart HR pros are realizing that they have to be "in the game" regarding company reputation sites like Glassdoor.  The main premise, which I still think is correct, is that HR pros are conditioned to hate sites like Glassdoor - because they associate them with the ranting, recently fired employee that's just taking brutal pot shots at their company.

But Glassdoor has grown up, and your employees are now used to rating everything in their lives as Glassdoorconsumers - Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Hotwire - just to name a few.

That means that even if you do nothing as an HR pro, the volume of reviews going up on your company is increasing, and they are without question more balanced and fair.

HR Pros still have a mental block, and I'll tell you what it is:


Wait, what?  


That number represents what I'll call and average rating for a company on Glassdoor.  3.2 out of 5, and that's where the problem is for most HR pros.

We've grown up thinking we can manage the impression that candidates have of our company, and tell everyone we're a 4.2 out of 5 - pretty damn good.

Nope - as it turns out, most of us are a 3.2.


The fact that rating is the reality actually means HR pros and recruiters need to engage on Glassdoor more.  It used to be obvious that the people commenting on Glassdoor were the disgruntled.  We could still say we were great, and most people would believe it.


The game on Glassdoor now, I think, revolves around getting people in your most important positions - the ones you recruit the most - to give fair, balanced, but good reviews.  Then you've got to put on your marketing hat and figure out creative ways to aggregate those reviews and market them to targeted candidates.

Use the 3.2 as a starting point, then lead them to the "4" ratings and convince candidates that the "4's" are from people like them.

Or you could just let people see the 3.2 and think that you're average.

The Average P&L of a Single Location McDonalds...

HR people are supposed to get Finance, right?  Below is the best breakdown of something we all have experienced - a single location of McDonalds.  Dig in my friends, because if you thought the owner of the McDonalds you drive by on the way to work is printing money, you'd be wrong.

Oh, they're doing OK.  But printing money?  No - especially when you factor in what it cost to buy a franchise and the risk they're taking. 

While you're at it, head over to this story in BusinessWeek about franchisee revolt at McDonalds and take a read.  You'l find that a lot of what the franchisees say about McDonalds is classic field vs. corporate stuff, just with Happy Meals and McLattes instead of TPS reports and allocations.

Here's the P&L:

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 9.48.49 AM

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 9.49.05 AM


Great Quotes in Management History: "I'm Not Right Clicking On S###"...

So - that quote actually came from me.  But it wasn't born out of belligerence or laziness, but out of a call to treat every prospect or customer/candidate interaction as a marketing opportunity.

Background - I set up a call to talk about something really mundane - the titles of the files that we share Mouse-right-click- with our candidates and prospects.  My thought was that we were all over the place related to how we titled things we shared.  As a result of the inconsistency, I thought candidates/prospects would forget where they put the file, who they got it from, etc - meaning the impact of what we shared was less in total than it could have been.

One of the folks on my team had an idea. The end user (for purposes of my direct report in this circumstance was me) could simply retitle the file to whatever they thought was useful. 

I thought that missed the mark. So I tried to explain again why I wanted to do it for them and clean up our rules on what we named files. My direct report, who is great and a high performer, keep coming up with other ways, including the thought that I could right click the file and save it as whatever I wanted as the best idea.

So I did what any manager would do when there was a disconnect and it was obvious my explanations weren't working. I kept it simple and went caveman, saying the following:

"I'm Not Right Clicking On S###" 

It honestly didn't feel bad when it came out and it doesn't feel bad now.  The reason for that? The direct report didn't get what I was saying and I didn't get how to better describe it. I was in a position where I was asking them to do something, they thought the better of it and I tried to do the professional thing and explain why. 

I failed. Sometimes you just have to say "I'm Not Right Clicking On S###". It's probably easier on everyone.

Let your directness flow this week.

Top Mean Questions to get at Corporate Values That Matter... #2015HSCC

Had the pleasure of doing a keynote at the customer conference of Halogen Conference last week - topic was the slippery slope of corporate values.  

As part of that presentation, I gave my top four bootstrapping, mean questions to uncover corporate values/potential factors that really matter and are actionable.  The esteemed Jennifer McClure was in the audience and tweeted it, and if she tweeted it, it must be good.  See the four questions via the tweet below (email subscribers enable pictures), and be sure to follow Jennifer on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 6.08.56 PM

Are They Failing or Growing?

There's a difference between failure and growing.  Notes:

1. Failure means that you didn't get it done.  Whether failure means someone is growing or not depends on what comes after that.

2. Failure that's followed by no other attempts on the skill in question means it's failure - forever. 

3. Failure that's followed by other attempts and gradual improvement has a purpose - it's growth, and as long as you can tolerate the path, it's a good thing.

Overall, you'd rather have growth through failure than simple failure.  

Video below (email subscribers click through) is of young blood failing at the 360 on a wakeboard.  Props to him for trying. Is it growth? We'll see - he's got to nail one before we can categorize it as that, right?

Second video is related - "Send the Pain Below" by Chevelle (one of my top 100 songs EVER) with an extreme sports failure theme...

Who Wants to Recruit HR Pros With Me?

Capitalist Readers - This is a call for anyone with interest and relevant experience recruiting HR pros to consider joining me at Kinetix.  Business is good, and we're seeing an uptick in the number of interesting HR positions we're working on.  In addition, I've had a lifelong goal to build an HR recruiting practice that I would have used in my days as an HR leader, and now seems as good as time as any - but only if I can find some great recruiters to work with me.

What do I need?  I thought you'd never ask.  Here's my list:

1. You have to recruit for a living and be good at it.

2. You have to have some connection with the world of HR and Talent - understanding what makes HR pros and related professions tick.

3. You have to agree that the best recruiters make a lot of calls every day.

4. You need the ability to influence and close candidates and hiring managers alike.

5. Preference given to those who are currently recruiting HR pros as part of their gig.

Sound like you?  Ideally, I want the person to live in Atlanta, but if you don't and you're reading this and think it's perfect for you, make sure you apply.

Compensation - yes.

Fringe benefits - without question. 

Hit me at [email protected] if this is you.  Open to all levels on this one.  

ASK THE CAPITALIST: I've Been a Solo HR Consultant, How Do I Get a Company to Hire Me As an HR Leader?

A reader asks...

KD -

I've been consulting on my own for a period of 15 years.  I'd really like to start working for a company as an HR leader, but I'm having trouble in my search. Lucy  

Feedback I have gotten thus far has "been out of corporate too long, not enough corporate experience, no pedigree, will have difficulty navigating the political landscape of the corporate environment, overqualified, no industry experience, you¹ll leave for your dream job".

Help! Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Attached is the newest version of my resume.

--Debbie From Denver


Hi Debbie -

Without question, you¹ve been on your own a long time.  Couple of
questions -

1. Do you have former clients who would hire you?

2. Will those former clients offer others testimonials that say they would
hire you if only they had the spot/budget?

My experience is that you target smart founders and CEO¹s that are in the
market for your re-entry - that doesn't mean the coordinator
level, it means the type of company that hired a payroll person first
(nothing wrong with that) and know has grown to the point where they need
something more and can pay for it.

The something more is the talent management side + recruiting.  In my
experience, rising companies generally hit that level when they reach
between 100 and 200 employees, so I¹d encourage you to do a cross section
of that and go from there.

Hope that helps - I would focus all my searches on this type of company in

Thanks - KD

Cut the B.S. and Evaluate The "Fit" of Potential Hires With Just 2 Questions...

We're doing a Cultural/Motivational Fit Month over at my company - Kinetix.  Re-running this post today here since it fits that theme.  Head over to our blog at Kinetix, Tremendous Upside, to get more nuggets on evaluating cultural and motivational fit on your candidates and sign up to see the themes we talk about each month...


When it comes to interviewing, Larry King you are not...

When it comes to the workplace, there's a lot of theory out there regarding the best way to interview candidates.  Whether it's a Behavioral Interview, a Skill-Based Interview or an interview filled with hypothetical questions, everyone's got a system.  Most hiring managers in my experience ask way too many hypothetical questions (examples - "How do you deal with low-performing employees?"), a style I'm critical of since it's so easy to BS your way through that type of interview.

The fact that hypothetical questions are easy to fake (No strengths?  Just make some up and sell it baby!) gave rise to the behavioral interview, which attempts to cut through the hype/spin by asking candidates about specific experiences they have had.  Unfortunately, the Behavioral Interview is only as good as the interviewer.  You can ask a behavioral question ("Tell me about a time you had to tell your boss they were wrong), but if the interviewee gives you hypothetical soft stuff back, you've got to have the ability to interrogate/grind on them about what they actually did when faced with that situation.  In my experience, even those with a lot of in-house training are limited in their ability to grind on a candidate.  Feels too much like interrogation.  Most of us hate confrontation...

What's my solution?  I'm a believer in the Behavioral Interview, but if I had only five minutes with aLarry_king2 candidate, I'd ask them the following two questions:

-Tell me when you have been most satisfied in your career...

-Tell me when you have been least satisfied in your career...

Those two questions measure Motivational Fit and are stunning in their simplicity.  Assuming you like the background and experiences of the candidate and are confident they can do the job, you really only need to evaluate if your company, the specific opportunity and the candidate are a fit for each other.  So ask these questions one at a time.  Once you get the response from the candidate, ask "why?" and say "tell me more" multiple times.  Then, s.h.u.t. u.p.   Seriously - stop talking.  Don't bail the candidate out, but rather force them to tell you what really jazzes them about jobs and companies, and subsequently, what drives them crazy.

Once you get that, you'll have what you need.  Candidate likes a a lot of structure, but all you can provide is that circus you call a company?  Move on.   Candidate likes to play ping-pong for 4 hours a day, but your CEO walks around evaluating if people are working hard enough by how unhappy they look?  Probably not going to work out.

Give it a try and spend at least 5 minutes on each item.  You'll be shocked at the value of what candidates tell you in response to these simple questions. 

The Top 5 Cultural Fit Scenes from Hollywood...

Cultural fit. You know it’s real, but you hate it when a hiring manager who is an absolute dufus goes with the most general feedback possible:

“I just didn’t think she was a fit.”

That's BS - you know it is.  That's why I'm up over at Fistful of Talent breaking down the Top 5 Cultural Fit scenes from Hollywood.  Here's one of the 5:

Cultural Fit Scene #4 – Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting
Cultural Fit Component – The best talent thinks deeper about the mission of your company. You better be able to defend it or you won’t be able to hire them.

Head over to the full post at FOT to see the other 4 - and start defining what cultural fit means so you stop accepting this glittering generality - “I just didn’t think she was a fit.”