Monday, January 26, 2015

The Cost of Contempt

"They hate us because they ain't us" - Dave Skylark

To be truly great one must possess talent, the tenacity of hard work, creativity, and a network of loyal supporters. It is hard to be successful because it us so easy to give up. People fear commitment, they quit when they feel pain, they are not bold enough to try unproven tactics, and are incapable of unique expression. It is also much easier to criticize than to risk failure.

The New England Patriots have been the benchmark for greatness in the NFL for nearly 2 decades. They have the best players, the best coaches and the best organizational leaders. They draft better than any other team, they develop players better than any other team and they never stop accelerating. Their Coach and Quarterback are among the best of all time yet they are consistently complimenting teams of lesser talent while looking for areas in which to improve. In a world filled with critics, all those blogging from their Mom's basement can do is find ways to denigrate the Patriots lifelong commitment to quality.

There are two realities in life:
1. You can try as hard as you want but the more talented almost always prevail.
2. Regardless of your talent, hard work is a necessity.

My friend and Human Resources Icon, John Hudson, recently hosted a conversation paralleling the world of sports with the world of work. The topic could not have been more timely. There is a lot organizations can learn from the New England Patriots and a lot employees can learn from the haters out there.

Talent First!
I coach 6 year old girls in soccer. If you think this sounds like a flower picking affair, you are wrong! These girls have been playing since they were 2, have played over 50 games together and have an ambition that any organization would die to have in their talent pool. You can game plan with 6 year olds all day and it will not matter, if you have the best talent, you win. Organizations are no different.

Recruitment is a term that to me means an active search for the best possible talent. Organizational development means the bold commitment of an organization to develop every employee to the top of their potential. Yet, we fill jobs for the sake of having a max head count and we cancel organizational programs that develop talent. We think it is cheaper to hire B players and are afraid that if we teach our employees too much they will take their talents elsewhere.


The Skill We Can Teach!
I've seen so many people squander their talent because they were improperly engaged. I've been infinitely fortunate to have great parents, coaches and professional mentors. I've also had a million people advise against my ability. Fortunately, I was never very good at listening to my critics because my supporters talked a hell of a lot less and said so much more.

Any company you join will roll out the red carpet for you during the recruitment process but at some point the shoes switches feet. The things you can control are your level of commitment and your ability to ignore the less talented. You should also understand that she who wears the shoe is always in charge. If you work hard and possess a mind capable of producing evolutionary ideas... no one reserves the right to judge you, your choices are your own.

The New England Patriots don't need deflated footballs or the other team's signals to win. We simply live in a world where people who fail to try feel they are entitled to an explanation for greatness......

If you need someone to explain it to you, you will never know.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dare To Care

It's a new year... people are talking about industry trends and habits to debunk. Are we playing a commodity game? Having recently attended the Consumer Electronics Show, I couldn't help but realize that this product driven showcase failed miserably in differentiating. Every "vendor" had 3D TVs, Wearables, Robots and Drones. As a casual observer, I was unable to find an understanding of the subtle nuances that made one smart watch smarter than another (and no one was willing to teach me).

Sales people are competitive. The one job that is always available is that of a sales person. So, most people who are bold enough to attempt a life in sales have the ability to choose the company they wish to represent. Job qualification for sales people may come down to the widget and it's features. This career assessment has created a polarizing perception of sales people. I visited 20 different booths at CES and 20 different people told me the same thing. None of which intrigued me.

Features do not paint a sustainable picture. People want to engage with one inarguable element that is consistently overlooked.....

The Truth!

If the challenge of your sales job is convincing someone that your product is the best, you probably suck at what you do!

Customer service in America is at an all time low. I've never seen more people care less about what they do. With so many people caring so little about their profession there is an abundance of opportunity for those who possess one capability:

The Ability to Care!

The greatest people I know have a vision they are incapable of abandoning. It is easy to give up on our dreams to choose the safe bet. I want you to imagine yourself at the conclusion of your career and to ponder the following:

- Have you been bold enough to help someone change their life?
- Have you walked away from opportunities that did not call upon your unique skill?
- Will your retirement party be packed with teary eyed supporters or obligated observers?
- Will you know when the game is up?

In my life, I have misjudged many things. There may be one common element in my misgivings:

The Fear of Irrelevance!

We all want to help others... to solve problems.. to be trusted.... to make a difference.

If you believe that your duty to your organization is to memorize a product function.... you believe in nothing and your life has been reduced to a duty.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Is Policy The Enemy of Trust?

For several years, Human Resources has battled perceptions of administrative qualities characterizing skill sets. With all the developments in Employee Engagement, Performance Management, Succession Planning, The Navigation of Generation Diversity and Cultural Enhancement; how can less-than-strategic characterizations exist? Unfortunately, a few people can validate a stigma which fuels the fire of the opinionated. People like to be proven right and they will ignore 90% of the information to validate stereotypes. This way, we can disregard change and blame Executive motives when we fail to evolve.

Performance reviews will not go away, we need them as a receipt of failure in the event someone has to be fired. Allowing Executives to use their better judgement can be toxic and turning a blind eye to wrong doing could land us all in court. Regardless of the advancement of HR's pivotal role in change management, someone has to hold the fort down.

What does HR need to do less of?

We should stop using policy as a front-end strategy.

I conducted a seminar recently in which an attendee explained their organization's policy on work/life balance: Employees could work from home until their performance metrics were deemed unacceptable. At which point, they were forced to work from the office (every day).

The aforementioned policy sounds fair enough but it never works because performance metrics are not always the result of work environment. Even if employees needed the regiment of the office to keep them productive, they would fight an unwilling return to the office and move on to another company. People want to dictate their own terms.

You know what trumps policy?


Our top performers are not concerned with minimum requirements and they only contact HR when they want to increase their stock options. Can we not agree that if all our employees ignored HR as the policy police then everyone would be more strategic. In actuality, our employees cry wolf when they fail...and then HR gets involved.

The above proving that the very people who characterize HR as administrative, force us to be.

If we hire the best people (and give them the tools to succeed) we develop transparency. In a transparent culture there are no office politics, no back stabbing and no one masking the behaviors that indoctrinated their failure.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could ALL be more strategic? Don't we all want to do what we do best?

Work can actually be fun if we are not forced disprove the stereotypes of our occupation.

Developing trust is a two way street.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

52 Open Letters

In 2015, the DFTR blog will be dedicated to the people who have influenced my life...

I often write about Human Resources in this blog. I am proud of all my friends who have taken that profession from policy writing... to strategic organizational partnership. It's simple: Human Resources is the most important aspect of any organization. With all due respect, most of you fuck it up!

In 2014, I had a health issue, it turned out to be insignificant. It made me ponder my existence. I can tell you this, there are 52,000 people who have influenced my life... unfortunately, I can only tell you about the best of the best.

It would be my divine intention that one day my children will read this blog and know about the people that made my life important. The reader is more important than the writer....

We've been together a long time. I owe  you better!

Here we go....

Don't Forget to Remember!