“Diversity Candidates” Need Only Apply


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A Retained Search Executive Recruiter was advertising for a VP of HR that would be focused on the talent management, development and succession planning for his client’s organization. All interested parties should contact him directly for more information. And so I did.

He quickly responded to my application that they were only looking at “diversity candidates” and if that changed he would be back in touch.

What the heck does he mean by “Diversity Candidates”? And, so I emailed him back wondering if he was looking for a particular ethnic background, race, gender or language competency. I fully expected him to ignore my question, but he replied”

We are only looking at “Female” Candidates!

What the heck just happened? Did this person just tell me they are openly discriminating based on gender? What the heck happened to Equal Employment Opportunity? Oh, and this is California, where we have some of the toughest employment laws in the country!

I’ve since talked with a couple of HR Directors, both female, and looking for new opportunities, and both said they would have nothing to do with an organization that openly discriminated in hiring of all jobs the VP of HR. They also said the company is hiding behind the Executive Recruiter so if there is any fall out he has to take the heat.

So I replied to the recruiter to see why this client felt the VP of HR needed to be female. He actually emailed me back that the “company leadership is currently all males and they thought it would be a good idea to get a female’s point of view”, and that he personally thought “most females would find this a positive to be brought into a team that is willing to bring in ideas from women.”

I cannot believe it is almost 2017 with this kind of condescending nonsense being spouted off. However, what concerns me most is this is the second time in the last 90-days that I have been told that although I have the required experience and skills I am not female, so unfortunately I cannot be considered.

So what do you all think about this approach to recruiting?

 

Can You Be Thankful for Everyone in Your Life?


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I am thankful for ALL of my family, friends and associates. While only a small few support me personally or professionally, I have learned that having hundreds of people in your life gives one perspective. It gives you the ability to separate those special people that go out of their way to help you, from those that never lift a finger to help you and disconnect from you because they never were really connected in the first place.

We all have family that we love dearly, and the assorted ones that we tolerate for the sake of keeping the peace. And yet I like to think I can benefit from each one of them. Much like those managers from our past that fight for positions of “least effective manager ever” I have fashioned my own leadership style from not only the most admired qualities of some managers, but striving to avoid the qualities of some of the worst managers. I think family relationships are much the same.

Think about the family member that gushes over you at the holiday dinner, but hasn’t said boo to you since the last time the family gathered for a meal. The utter fakeness of their gushing reminds us to be authentic with people. We need to monitor our behaviors so they align with everything we do. Seeing these people even a few times a year, reminds me to be the same person year round.

Close friends seem to get the whole supportive relationship, and the natural give and take. I have a small group of people in my life that live up to that expectation all the time, and it is easy to be grateful for every single one of them.

But the bulk of people that I know can’t qualify as friends, and are people that through the work environment I’ve got to know and value their individual expertise. While I support their professional endeavors when I can, most of these people are just cordial. Many of them cannot even be bothered to return a phone call, text or email. So can I be thankful for the majority of the people I know?

As I enter my 12th year of consulting, I have had to admit on several occasions that most of the people I know travel a one way street, headed in the direction they want to go. When they need something from me they are only too quick to contact me, gush about how time has flown by, and go right for what they need from me. I always respond in any way I can, hoping the Golden Rule will apply and that someday they will return the favor. I am usually disappointed by 99% of these return trips.

And while it may not be possible to replace a family member, we can pick and choose our friends. Hanging with people that bring you down is not healthy, and neither is staying connected with people that are just too busy to give you the time of day. People we have connected with in social media sites should be people we want to work with, but if they are unable to reply to you in any way it is time to disconnect.

I can be thankful for even the people that ignore me, because it reminds me that I am not the center of the universe and just because I have hundreds of people “following” me, it doesn’t make me special. I remain only unique and special to some people. But for the majority of the world I am just another warm body.

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!

This is Our Last Year in Business!


th0b9pl8dyFor many companies, making the decision to close the doors forever is by far the hardest decision the leadership ever has to make.  This has been the case for my own consulting business as I made that decision today myself.

For over 11 years I have been an independent consultant trying to build a sustainable business of helping companies build and rebuild their training functions so they work better and return on the investment.

During this time I have been blessed with partnering with some of the most humble and talented leaders in several different industries, as we worked together to improve their training operations.  Together we made a difference, and I will always be grateful that our paths crossed.

However, most of the time I have talked myself blue trying to encourage leaders to do what is best for their employees and ultimately their companies.  Conversations that fall on deaf ears has been a weekly agenda item for me for far too long, and I just can’t do it anymore.

A year ago I started to look for work in the corporate world and even though it doesn’t seem possible, I am both over qualified and underqualified for roles because I have been a consultant for too long.  My competition is younger and thus cheaper to hire, and since too many organizations don’t really care if training returns on the investment or not, I see the reasoning behind hiring people that cost the least.

So today marks the end of this blog.  I’m tired of preaching to an empty room most of the time, and not making a difference.  This is also looking to be my last year in business too.

My very best to all of you!

Jim

 

Why Do We Have Employment Laws?


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I found myself asking again why we have employment laws if following them is optional. Once again I have discovered a company that has decided that wage and hour laws among others are optional; and if you complain about it you will be terminated. The company gets away with breaking the law and there are no consequences for the law breaker.

If you are a Non-Exempt, hourly employee, California law is quite specific about meal breaks, and when you are unable to take that break the company owes the employee a meal penalty. If as a company you require employees to use a cell phone to communicate, and do not provide a company phone you are required to compensate a portion of the personal cell phone cost. If you require employees to use their personal car to transport products you compensate for mileage. And if you have employees out of the facility, but still conducting business, they remain on the time clock. You never have them clock out, so “in case they are in a car accident you don’t have to pay workers compensation.”

But in one Southern California business this is just the first few items on a very long list. But wait, I forgot to mention that this workplace is one of 15 owned as a franchise of a national chain. Although these issues are prohibited in the employee manual of the national chain, this franchise owner feels he doesn’t need to comply. In fact, he has taken the national chain’s employee manual, and removed the pages that he doesn’t want to comply with, and the remaining pages have become the only rules that need to be followed.

So when one of his managers decided to press the issues, they were warned that they would be fired. So this manager went to the national chain’s corporate human resources director and lodged a formal complaint. Two days later the manager is terminated by the franchise owner and there is nothing that can be done about it. The national chain’s HR is unable to do anything.

dollar signsSo I ask again, why do we have employment laws? We have them to force compliance of companies that fail to follow the laws all by themselves. This is also why employment law attorneys have such robust practices with multi-million dollar judgements.

This one franchise has over 150 employees, all hourly and all being treated against the will of the national chain, and the rule of law. Any attorney that wouldn’t launch multiple cases or a class action would be missing a very large payday. This particular chain has locations all across the country, and if they allow this one franchise owner to get away with this, then they are probably allowing it in all of their locations. In addition to lawsuits, which always catch the eye of the state and federal regulatory authorities, these same agencies will start their own investigations and levy mind blowing penalties to send a message.

Now once all this becomes news worthy, stock prices drop, and it is difficult to attract customers and new employees. Everything falls apart because a single franchise owner doesn’t feel he needs to follow the law.

Why do we have employment laws? Because they protect the employee from harm, and if they are followed, they protect the company too!

Dealing With Evil Managers – Part 2


thLast week I discussed the differences between an incompetent manager and an evil manager. What I should have mentioned is the dynamic of a manager with evil motives and is totally incompetent. Yikes! These managers are the ultimate nightmare!

So this week I want to discuss how we should deal with evil managers.

If you like your company and the work you do, but your manager is the challenge, then leaving the company is probably not your first idea. If everything about your job is awful, then it probably is your best option to just find a better job. It is not worth the hassle to get away from a bad manager but still be in a company and career that doesn’t fit either.

If you have decided to stay and try to change your circumstances, then my advice is the same no matter which course of action you take next. Take detailed notes of every interaction with the evil manager. Keep printed copies of all performance records, memos, performance discussions between you and the evil one. Make a list of all people that could speak as a witness or have experienced the same evilness.   And keep this all at home!

Now while I opine often about incompetent human resources, the truth is they are not all incompetent. They may be superstars at your company, but chances are if they were this evil manager would have been gone without any help from you. Since you are now working with a weaker human resource function, your ability to get satisfaction or help at all is not assured. But hear me loud and clear, you must try and give them the ability to do their job. Sometimes evil managers exist simply because human resources have never been informed.

So let’s assume you went to human resources and nothing has changed. I dare say that “nothing” is not the right word after you have turned in an evil manager because retribution has no limits with an evil manager that feels they have been attacked. So be aware that there will be hell to pay for turning them into the authorities; especially if the authorities couldn’t change the situation.

Depending on the nature of the issues involving the evil manager, you may want to file reports with the Labor Board, or the EEOC. These agencies are overworked, and although will get to your complaint, it might be months before they look into it. This is why everyone should have the name of a local employment law attorney and a personal injury attorney that practices employment law injuries.

By definition, until you suffer a financial loss most employment law attorneys won’t have the ability to take your case. If wage and hour laws not enforced caused you to lose money, then you have a financial loss. But if your evil manager screamed and yelled at you, verbally filleted you to the point of tears, honestly there is very little you can do to get you out of your personal living hell.

While I have been in the training, learning and performance improvement industry for the past 26 years, I realized that learning and behavior changes often require different approaches for different learning styles. In my everyday life this means how the training should be delivered to get a behavior to develop or change. When dealing with evil managers, driven by evil motives, it doesn’t matter if they are incompetent. The first thing that needs to change is their spirit.

Since it is not practical to perform an exorcism on your evil manager, the next best thing begins with serious consequences from human resources that usually require termination. When you need an attorney, the problem is deeper than just the one evil manager, and so the entire organization must be penalized. Not only does the company need to terminate the employment of the evil one, they will need to take a financial hit to the bottom line that motivates changes so this never happens again.

In my younger days when I was confronted with an evil manager, I would often respond with the same level of emotion that was being dished out in my face. I never sought legal help and fought my own battles. Because I know HR laws inside and out, I can defend myself against evil people. As long as I fight fair and play by the rules I am protected. It is a fine line I never want to cross in doing battle with evil that I go as far as to join “the dark side” in my quest for winning right over wrong.

But while I like a challenge, when it comes to advising other people, I say keep good records and get outside help if necessary. Evil does exist, but it doesn’t need to win.

Dealing With Evil Managers – Part 1


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If we can admit that there is evil in the world, it is not a stretch to believe that some of that evil resides in the style of many managers. Chances are that if you have been in the workforce for any real length of time you have had the unfortunate privilege to have had one of these evil managers as the very person you report to, or somewhere up the food chain. Knowing that these people exist in the workplace is one thing, but dealing with them is a whole other challenge.

The first thing to understand is the difference between incompetence and being evil. There are an awful lot of incompetent managers spewing out stupid and sometimes illegal statements. Because they were hired or promoted into a management or supervisory role without the right training, they simply lack the skills and knowledge to prevent saying and doing the wrong things. These people may be trying to do a decent job but sometimes they don’t know what they should know in order to manage people correctly.

Let’s make sure we understand incompetence well before we contrast an evil personality. An incompetent manager will make statements or set policies that are in direct violation of Federal and State laws, and company policy.

Incompetent managers will at times quote a policy incorrectly and tell an employee they must do something they know is against policy and the employee knows that they just get it in writing to have proof later when it gets caught. Employees have learned that human resources are usually their go to relief against incompetence in getting protection from a manager.

Yet, the current Millennial Generation has been the best demonstrator of dealing with incompetent management because they have no problem voting with their feet. There tolerance is very short, and rather than argue or struggle with an incompetent manager, they simply quit and try somewhere else. To the older generations, this is frustrating, but as a Baby Boomer myself, I applaud their willingness not to put up with the incompetence.

 

Evil is Incompetence with a Motive

Many times evil managers are also incompetent. They do and say things that are against the law but are also in positions of shielding themselves from other authorities. They might have incompetent human resource people or other management that are scared to confront their behavior. I’ve seen evil managers so high up the food chain that they simply feel accountable to no one.

But evil is better described as motive. These jewels of management drip superiority, hatred and revulsion for others. Some are driven to evil through a need to be all powerful and they sincerely enjoy making other people submissive to them and controlling other lives. Think about how your employment choice dictates your life. The type of work you do either aligns with your passion or it does not.   Your job either compensates you enough to pay for your needs or it barely keeps you alive. If you lost your job you might also lose your home. An evil manager wants to control you and often does this by the simple act of holding termination over your head anytime you might disagree with them.

But in my years of working with some of the better examples of evil managers, the one most common trait they are outstanding at is manipulation. They want their way all the time. They want to be seen as being right all the time. So the easiest way to reach these goals is to manipulate others. If you have ever been verbally crucified by a manager to the point you want to fold up and quit, don’t be surprised if the goal was to force you to resign. While illegal, it works more times than not.

A manipulator knows what to say and do to each and every target to get under their skin. And sometimes the manipulation takes the form of the opposite traits and comes off as warm and fuzzy. Either way, evil managers are more like puppeteers, and they are a challenge to deal with. In these cases it is easier to quit than to fight, and my friends the evil manager knows it.

Next week I am going to discuss ways to deal with the evil managers in your world. Maybe you are working for one of these people now, or maybe your time in hell is over. The sad reality is that there are a lot of evil managers out there, and I want to equip you to deal with the next one and win.

Don’t Drink The Kool Aid


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It might be easy to assume that because we are in the middle of a Presidential Election Cycle that encouraging you not to drink the Kool Aid is about not believing all the spin generated by the campaigns or the national media. While this would certainly fit the scenario, drinking the Kool Aid also refers to accepting what you are told by anyone no matter what you personally believe.

In the corporate world, there are a lot of managers who believe their personal power comes from their ability to influence others to think and act a certain way. When an employee questions the thinking of these kinds of managers or even just the validity of the statements, all hell can break out. So to keep the peace, employees learn to drink the Kool Aid to avoid conflicts.

Now enter someone like me. I’ve never been a Kool Aid drinker. I don’t like the actual beverage, and I don’t follow the crowd well. I feel I have a brain for a reason, and along with using it to keep my body functioning, I use it to think about what is said to me. When something is untruthful, deceptive, or manipulative, I have never been one to go along to keep the peace. Has this made my life difficult, you bet!

I worked for a company once that drinking water, when the Kool Aid was being served, didn’t earn one the necessary points to succeed. I had a boss that was constantly trying to get me to play the game, drink up, and serve the Kool Aid. I was a constant frustration to this man because my work provided “valuable success to the company” but my inability to drink what was being served was creating problems. It was when he linked my desire to drink water rather than Kool Aid to “not being a team player”, that I resigned.

I am about to celebrate 26 years in the learning development profession. I was asked by an individual that wants to move out of human resources into training full-time, what is the one thing I would recommend he learn how to do. For some reason I blurted out, “Never Drink the Kool Aid” because it often is hiding the real issues that are preventing optimal performance. Our jobs in training are about preparing people to perform their job, and if we are not in touch with reality, we cannot prepare them to succeed. We would be missing vital skill development if we are not basing all decisions on what is real.

Bottom line, it won’t be easy at times to avoid drinking the Kool Aid, but you will earn your own self-respect, and the respect of others that need you to be rooted in reality. As an example, it was once the calling of the national media to be the voice of reality because people wanted the truth. I am betting that people need you and your profession to also be honest a truthful. The only reason that Kool Aid is being served is because we have people willing to drink it. Maybe it is time we all switch to a glad of water the next time we are thirsty.