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March 2017

S**t STEVE JOBS SAID: On Your Culture Being Special...

I miss Steve Jobs.  Actually I miss him being an ass, but ultimately being right on so many things.? Here's a talent nugget from the Jobs book talking about how kids have basically assimilated to the same culture across the world:

When Steve's family got to Istanbul, he hired a history professor to give his family a tour.  At the end they went to a Turkish bath, where the professor's lecture gave Jobs an insight about the globalization of youth:

"I had a real revelation.  We were all in robes, and they made some Turkish coffee for us.  The professor explained how the coffee was made very different from anywhere else, and I realized, "So f**king what?"  Which kids even in Turkey give a shit about Turkish coffee?  All day I had looked at young people in Istanbul.  They were all drinking what every other kid in the world drinks, and they were wearing clothes that look like they were bought at the Gap, and they were all using cell phones like kids everywhere else.  It hit me that, for yourng people, the whole world is the same now."

Classic Steve Jobs.  Your coffee is different than in my culture?  The old people in your culture are the only people who care.

Your company's culture is different from other companies?  Better find a way to connect with candidates, because nobody outside your company, and more probably, your leadership team, thinks your coffee/culture is special...

Sucking Up to HR Is Like Tipping Your Blackjack Dealer...

Can sucking up to HR protect you from layoffs?

No. Sucking up needs to be in this order:

Client -> Boss -> Boss’s staff -> Accounting -> (50 other things) -> HR

Kissing HR ass is like tipping your blackjack dealer. They can’t cheat for you even if they wanted to.

OK - I wish that was mine. It's from a comment on this string at Gawker about how Twitter fired 300+ employees in 2015 via email. And by removing them from Twitter.

Comments are better than the post sometimes...

Hard-Knock Recruiter Life: "Can You Turn That Down for Me?"

One of the things I love about my gig at Kinetix is that in addition to HR stuff, marketing and more, I also get to keep my hand in the recruiting game every once in a while.  Case in point: I'm working on a great high level HR search for one of my favorite customers.

Good candidate flow.  Interesting conversations.  Then I had the following happen... Phone

I'm on the phone with a candidate over the last couple of weeks.  I do some intro stuff, get them to interact with me related to what another recruiter told them related to the position, the company, the opportunity.  Standard stuff.

Then I told them I was going to speaker phone so I could be hands-free and take notes like a historian, because they were about ready to do 95% of the talking.  Once they were on speaker, I asked them how it sounded and if they could hear me.

Here's one way you tell a candidate probably isn't going to be a finalist.  The response was as follows:

Candidate: "How do you sound?  You're really clear.  But you're also really loud.  Can you turn it down for me?"

It took me about 5 seconds to actually process that.  I put him on speaker, and asked him how I sounded.  He wanted me to turn it down.

Mind blown.  Wait, what?

I politely said, "I can try?" (question mark in the voice) and moved the speaker phone away from me and looked at it like had a contagious disease.  I asked him if that was better.  He said, "kind of, but let's do it."

We've all been there, right?  You ask a question that's so awkward, your only course of action is to fall on the sword and say, "Hey, did I actually just tell you turn the volume of your voice down?  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that's probably my responsibility, right?  I turn the volume down on my end if you're coming across too loud. I'm smart-phone challenged. Hahahahahaha."

But the falling on the sword never came.  And the candidate never really broke the formality barrier.  

Disposition: "We love your background, but we've found someone who's a better match for our specific need.  Good luck in your search!"


VIDEO: 5 Presentation Tips for HR Pros Who Hate Giving Presentations...

Let's face it, most of you hate to present.  Those of you that have to present occasionally tolerate it.  Those of you that fear it avoid it like the plague, right?

I think there's a couple of things you can do to get better at presentations, have some fun and most importantly, be viewed as a better than average slide jockey.

Check out the video I did below for AXEX on 5 Presentation Tips for HR Pros Who Hate Giving Presentations.  Next time you have to present, try one of these ideas - I think you'll see more interaction and take some of the pressure off of yourself.

It's four minutes long, you'll definitely learn something...what's not to like?

(Email Subscribers click through for video if you don't see it below) 

The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #69 is Walter Sobchak: "Smokey This is Not 'Nam, This Is Bowling. There are Rules"...

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..

"Smokey This is Not 'Nam, This Is Bowling. There are Rules"

--Walter Sobchak in "The Big Lewbowski 

 People. They're hard to deal with sometimes. You know what causes the biggest disagreements and lack of respect for others in the workplace?

Rules orientation. High rules people hate those who make their own realities and ignore the tribal customs.  Low rules people snicker at high rules people as being bean counters who add little true value.

Which one are you?  I'm low rules.  I'm Smokey in the video below. (put it down, dude)  I've known people like Walter who would gladly draw a gun on me (if socially acceptable) as I ignored a policy for the 13th time.

What saved me?  How about that workplace violence policy?  That's the tricky part for high rules people - if they want to put me in my place, there's usually a rule against that.

Sucks to be them. Find a good behavioral assessment, and I can make a case that the biggest thing you can learn about your team is where they fall in Rules Orientation.

The Dude? He's somewhere mid-range in rules.  Understanding the need, but wondering if taking a stand on Smokey's toe on the bowling foul line is really a good use of our time.

(email subscribers click through for video below)

BALL SO HARD: Why You Hate Duke, But Need Hires Like Grayson Allen...

Capitalist Note - If you're not on a couch watching the tourney this afternoon, you're doing it wrong.  Here's a rerun from last year to get you in the mood to hate Duke in the right way...

Let's face it.  If you follow college basketball at all, there's a high likelihood you hate Duke.  Why?

Duke as a university smacks of privilege, and the basketball program polarizes people like the Cowboys or the Yankees, without attracting as much of a loyal following - the concentration and comparison is mainly on the hate side.

And then there's the little issue of race.  Combine the status of the university with the success of the program, then add in chippy white guys doing things that are just a little bit dirty, and you've got the basis for widespread hate inside the basketball culture.

Case Studies - watch the ESPN 30 for 30 episode entitled I Hate Christian Laettner.  It pretty much breaks down why Duke is the team to hate in college basketball, focused on the iconic player from the program - a 6'11" white guy (Laettner) who wore the black hat his whole career. Click here for the full episode.

But Laettner was just one of many white guys that fans learned to hate.  To be fair, there was hate flowing to black players in the Duke program (Grant Hill, Jay Williams), but the true scorn?  Saved for the white guys.

A lot of that has to to with the fact that white guys at Duke always play on the edge.  Take the most recent object of Duke haters - a guard named Grayson Allen who's actually been caught tripping opponents twice this year.  Here's a quick rundown for the uninitiated from the New York Post:

"Mike Krzyzewski stood up for his star player by hiding behind his school, saying that serial tripper Grayson Allen is only getting severe blowback around the college basketball landscape because of the jersey he wears.

After Allen appeared to stick out his leg for the second time in a month to topple an opponent — the latest being Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes in Duke’s win Thursday — Coach K insisted the ACC’s decision not to suspend his point guard was the correct one, and any contrary thought only exists because of the university’s reputation.

The Duke loathing stretches back to early-’90s Christian Laettner, and Allen already has taken his place on the growing list of villains that the Blue Devils produce. Critics see these stars as entitled and cocky, seemingly above the law. And they play at a university that prides itself on academics, a school they believe turns up its nose at the rest of the scandal-plagued NCAA landscape.

And, more than anything else, Duke wins. It’s a breeding ground for hate. Where others see the Blue Devils getting breaks from officials, Krzyzewski sees his players getting undue criticism from the public."

First things first.  If you haven't seen the trips, check out the video below (email subscribers click through for video) and let the Duke hate fester: 

But wait. There's a Talent/Recruiting nugget here.  Allen's a highly recruited and highly successful player.  He lives off of driving to the basket and with that in mind, ends up in a lot of physical confrontations.

Should Allen have been suspended for the second trip?  Absolutely.

Do you need more employees like Allen?  Yes you do.  Absolutely.

Allen is an alpha employee who competes.  He's wired to be on edge all the time, to force the action.  He's your classic high assertiveness hire who's always going to be pushing for results.

We kid ourselves by thinking the world doesn't revolve around these type of people in our organizations.  There's a role for all behavioral types in our companies, but it's the high assertives who bring it every day who get most of the results.  Take a look at your sales team.  If they're performing, you've got a bunch of Grayson Allens.  Your leaders and hipos?  Mostly high assertives.

Again, we have roles for low assertives and leaders can have that profile as well - you just need balanced teams.

But you need the Grayson Allens of the world to shake things up daily.  When your equivalent does the version of the Grayson Allen trip inside your company, you've got to be swift and decisive to show them where the line is and ensure they don't cross it again - or as often.

You hate Duke. I get it.  You think Grayson Allen is a punk - I get that too.

But you'd hire Grayson Allen in a heartbeat for a results-driven position.  You'd just do better than Coach K about defining what's acceptable and what's not acceptable.

JUST STOP: Attachments in Meeting Invites and Nowhere Else...

Nails on the chalkboard...
Atlanta traffic...
Other people's snoring...
YouTube ads...
Waiting in a line more than 4 people deep...

These things?  All things that reasonable people agree we can hate. You don't like those things. Neither do I.

Let's add something to that list from corporate America. Something we all should hate and agree it must be stomped out - like the pox on society it is.

File Attachments in Meeting Invites and Nowhere Else...

Look, I don't know what type of Euro/Pan-Pacific/West Coast technology game you're playing. I don't know if you're someone that Tropic-thunder-les-grossmangot the dummies book on how to search your laptop by keyword and find what you're looking for in Outlook. Maybe you're running some type of Gmail game as your primary email address and love to show your flex by searching email instead of doing what the rest of the world does - use folders.

All I know is this - when I ask where the resume (or any other file attachment I would need) is and you say, "It's on the Meeting Request", I want to fire you.  If I can't fire you, it's like you have a heavy cold complete with a chronic cough and you just reached over and took a drag off my Gatorade bottle and then looked at me and said, "um, good."

I mean, where is the sensitivity related to how normal people operate?

At least if I ask the question during the time we're working on something related to said attachments I have a chance to recover. The reality is that 9 times of of 10 when you're running your "attachments only in the meeting request" tyranny, I don't necessary have high awareness of the fact that you're running your little game.

Then two months go by and I need the attachments for reference. I never got the chance to dump them into a folder, because you didn't send them via email.

But it's always been about you, hasn't it?

You're a model of efficiency. Why send the attachments to the players via email if you're sending a meeting request?

Because we're going to accept that meeting request and for most of us, it goes away forever.  Into the vapor, like Keyser Soze slipping away disguised as Verbal Kent, never to be found.

Want your work and contributions to society to live forever, like the statue of Michael Jordan in front of the United Center?

Then treat your work like the historical event it is.  Document it by sending your attachments via email.

Winners write the history books. And you can't be a winner if I can't go back to the file and realize your greatness - or lack thereof.


CAPITALIST WEBINAR: 5 Signs Your Performance Problem is Actually a Manager Problem...

By now you’ve heard the news.  Performance Management is dead and we’re told SMART companies are killing the performance review altogether.

There’s just one little problem with that popular theme – a recent CEB study shows that across companies Image001that have eliminated the performance review, manager/employee conversation quality declined 14%. Managers actually spent LESS time on informal review conversations and employee engagement dropped 6%.

My take? You don’t have a review problem – you’ve got a manager/feedback problem.  That's why I'm doing a webinar entitled "5 Signs Your Performance Problem is Actually a Manager Problem".  What could go wrong, right?

Join Halogen and me (KD) on March 28 at 2pm EDT and we’ll explore the disconnect, including the following goodies:

· Why the managers you support fail to coach and provide feedback, formally or informally – even though they’ll tell you to your face they consider it to be critical.

· How you can make your performance management process more meaningful and lightweight by introducing agile coaching methodologies into your organization.

· How to link a coaching/feedback strategy to more formal items like goal setting and performance management.

·  A roadmap for how to make your managers more focused on the career advancement of their direct reports – the surest way to get the attention of employees on all things performance-related.

Your managers are the most important link to performance.  Join us and we’ll show you how to make them better coaches, whether they love or hate the performance review. 


ECONOMIC MOBLITY CHART: The Older I Get, The Less I Judge People...

As tax time approaches, I find myself searching for a little balance.  Why do I have to pay so much in taxes?  I'm sure a lot of Americans feel like that up and down the tax bracket.  

The alternative, of course, is to not earn enough to pay high taxes. We all know that the global economy, the advent of technology eliminating jobs and more has conspired to make the gap separating the haves vs have nots larger.

A secondary question to that reality is economic mobility.  Can people born into poverty actually bootstrap their way to the American Dream?  The answer is yes, but it doesn't happen as much as we'd like it to.  Check out this great chart (enable images or click through if reading via email) based on a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:

Economic mobility

 Here's a run down from Business Insider:

"The notion of an American Dream can be boiled down to a simple concept: a meritocracy in which place of origin and social status do not preclude success for hard workers.

Talk of that dream fading has been present since the Great Recession sucked 9 million jobs out of the economy and knocked down already-depressed wages for millions.

Now, a study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has found a way to measure that decay. It does so by coming up with a simple, mathematical definition of the American Dream as represented by social mobility defined as "the probability that a child born to parents in the bottom fifth of the income distribution makes the leap all the way to the top fifth of the income distribution."

In the US, children born to parents in the bottom fifth of the income distribution have a 7.5% chance of reaching the top fifth, according to Stanford's Raj Chetty, the paper's author.

Hmm. It's one thing to say that 7.5% chance of starting from the bottom and arriving at the top is low.  But when you think about it, that's almost 10% - probably the hardest working, smartest and most gifted 7.5% for sure.  That kind of follows the bell curve and seems reasonable.

But - and there is a but - the older I get, the less I judge people for being different than me related to language, behavior, values and more.  That's especially true for children and young adults.  The stats related to presence of 2-parent families, education and more are scary when you look at the bottom fifth of this same distribution.  If you didn't have the same level of access to resources, education and yes - parents being unyielding in what they value, provide and expect - you can't be expected to have the tools to bootstrap yourself to the top fifth.

That means that kids with the raw gifts to make the leap get left behind through no fault of their own.  That sucks.

A more important measurement might be the probability the same citizens in the bottom firth can bootstrap themselves to the median of income distribution.  That's another version of the American Dream that might look pretty good to someone starting in the bottom fifth of income slotting.

I can't solve any of the red in the chart above.  But I've long since stopped judging most of the people who start in the lower fifth.  The next step for people like you and me is to try and impact a couple of kids who start there and make sure they have what they need to arrive at the top fifth - or even the middle fifth - based on their own merits rather than where they started.

Video + Working From Home Sounds Great - Until Your Spouse Crawls Through the Background...

Working from home. It used to be great and still is for many of us, but there's a canary in the coal mine that's emerging that could take the joy out of your sweats/PJs/hat game.

That thing? It's called video meetings. And it's increasingly required for the simplest of calls you need to take.

The trend is positive. When you're working remote, you can take phone calls and be pretty absent, especially on conference calls when your full attention isn't required.

Video changes that - if people can see you, the ante of attention is raised significantly. That generally leads to better meetings and better relationships between remote workers and people in physical offices.

Of course, even if you're all in on video as a remote employee, things can go horribly wrong.  Check out the video below of a guy working from home being interviewed by the BBC, then the kids break in, then the wife comes screaming around the corner and starts jerking kid's arms. (email subscribers, click through for the video) Good times:

I'll give you my own story on that.  I'm on a video call from my home office one Friday with 4 other team members at Kinetix.  I heard the door open and thought my wife would get the message that I'm on a video call with 4 other people.  You know, the fact that my 32-inch monitor had them blown up on the screen, etc.

As it turns out, she understood what was up. Yet she needed something off the printer, so she proceeded to crawl behind me, only to be caught in the video frame crawling Marine style to get whatever document off the home office printer that couldn't wait.

My team?  Yeah.. they saw her crawling. There was laughter. Discomfort. Awkwardness.  Here's my post-game analysis picture.


Video in the home office - It's all fun and games until someone crawls behind you.