Voting With Your Feet


In a world where social media seems to be the only place to post a grievance, I didn’t start there this past week when faced with an action by a company I do business with that I didn’t agree with an action they took. I instead reached out to the humans with this company and voiced my concern.

In a nutshell, a company I have done personal business with for 30+ years decided that their corporate image would be tarnished if they continued to advertise on a network based on allegations being made about a particular personality. I will stop by saying if the allegations are found to be true; I would also abandon my support of this individual. However, without a trial, the media convicted this individual and the advertisers left in enough quantity that the network fired the individual.

I am purposely not naming names here, because I believe if you are following the news you already know what I am talking about, and if not it will make no difference to my point. I also don’t need to name the company that I have been a client of for the past 30 years because my issue with them is just about our relationship.

The company I disagreed with was happy to listen to my concern over them bailing out and agreeing to the allegations before all the truth came out, but their response became so high and mighty, too pure and perfect for my stomach to endure, that I simply said the following when they asked why I called. I said, “I am your customer, and while I can simply move my relationship to any of several other competitors, I felt it was my obligation to inform you as to why I am leaving after 30 years.”

His reply was, “Okay, thanks.”

In just two words he told he told me he cared less about my opinion. He then said he would pass on the information at his next PR meeting with corporate. However, “we are on the right side of this issue!”

Our New America – Guilty Until Proven Innocent!

I am now in the processes of shopping for a line of replacement products that I have not really given the time of day researching for 30 years, all because my opinions are incorrect. So while losing my relationship is not going to hurt this company, it makes me feel better knowing that I am walking my talk too.


Putting Out To Pasture


Have you ever wondered how people find themselves put out to pasture from a job or career they love?  Was it their choice, or was it something else that caused it to happen?

I’d like to believe that one is put out to pasture when what they provide in the way of skills are no longer current or helpful.  Because these skills became dated and the individual no longer sought development to keep current, they were no longer serving a purpose.  They were no longer useful to their company, or any company for that matter.

Yet, what happens when your skills are applicable and current, but simply not valued?  Now we may be getting to a reason for being put out to pasture through no fault of your own.  Companies that would rather settle for less experience to save money, and roll the dice to see if they can get the same outcomes, put talent out to pasture.

Some 27 years ago when I got into the training development profession, I was working for a major bank that spent a lot of time, attention and money on employee development.  We were no different than any of the big banks when it came to development.  Yet back then even the small to mid-sized banks found ways to develop their employees.

Fast forward, and today the big banks have cut way back, and the small to mid-size train only required compliance to their employees.  When once it was the responsibility of the company to build skills they wanted their employees to have, now it is reversed, and the employee better figure out how life work’s on their own to survive.  Thank goodness for YouTube!

So when it comes time to hire a Training Director, a regular trainer or a really nice person will fill the ticket.  No need to understand how to manage people and processes, or think strategically, or even discuss adult learning principles, just make it look like we have a training function.  And if we have a choice, being a subject matter expert is more important than having a training background at all.

After a year of trying to convince companies that a well run training department can return many times over the investment, I have decided that it is time to put myself out to pasture.  Twice I was told that only female candidates would be considered, and I lost count how many times I was told that industry experience was vital to running a training function.  Then much to my amazement the fact that I had been consulting with various industries over the past 10 years meant “I didn’t know how to work in a corporate environment anymore” (25 year old recruiter) I decided to stop trying to convince people that experience matters.

But while I am going to stop trying to make the world better for learning development, I have not decided to retire either.  I am launching a new adventure in the travel industry.  And if someone ever wants to tap my skills for training, this old horse will come back to the training barn in a heartbeat.

Purple Squirrel Seeks Purple Job


There is a term used by recruiters when being asked to find candidates that match a long list of requirements and only those that meet every single requirement can move forward. It is a search for a “Purple Squirrel.” The first time I heard it I found it absurd to think that management would put a recruiter through months looking for a perfect fit while the job remains open and unproductive. Yet I am told that it happens a lot.

Managers looking for a “Purple Squirrel” are not concerned with the missing role going without a person for months on end. In other words, either the job duties are insignificant to the operation, or management feels no regret in dumping the extra workload on the remaining people. While it happens that some jobs function well without an employee, most of the time if you are searching for candidates, you also need to hire someone too.

We are all “Purple Squirrels” with a list of talents, skills and experience. The difficult part is finding the “Purple Job!”  It used to be that it was encouraged to apply for a job even if you personally could not check off every single box on the job description. Yet have you noticed that when you do, the automatized system rejects you within second of submitting your application. Sometimes you receive the reject email before you receive the thank you for applying email.

Clerical Recruiters often are the ones that spend their time looking for a “Purple Squirrel” while experienced recruiters will spend more time with the hiring manager resetting expectations. Then they seek a good, but not perfect fit. Good recruiters will remind management that experience allows the job or expectations to change and the new employee will more easily adapt to the new focus.

While I wish the world employed less clerical recruiters that are in their first job themselves a lot of the time, and more recruiters that have had to manage processes and people before, that dream seems to be out of reach at the moment. Hence, this is why this “Purple Squirrel” is looking for his very own “Purple Job.”

Is There a Way to Get a Job Offer and Be Honest?


I have a reputation for being productive, and I hate spending time on activities that at best only provide window dressing for my function’s work. In fact I am a lousy window dresser because I do very little to show off because I am focused on getting work accomplished and moving the organization forward.

You might think that my brand of employee would be something that a lot of employers would be seeking, but sadly I am still looking for an organization that actually wants to build workplace competencies in their team members and understands the value of a focused learning function. When I meet with people to discuss what kind of potential they have in front of them with the right training leadership, I get these scared to death looks in return.

I’ve been told that to get a job offer, I need to down play my work ethic, and to barely speak of the potential for learning beyond the job description. Once I’m in the job I can work on building out over time bigger expectations. To these recommendations, I am completely at odds with deception and downplaying the benefits of a focused approach. I’m not being true to my own work ethic by playing the part of an underperforming employee.

My opinion is that the interview process should be honest. I know, silly me, right? But shouldn’t the employer know what kind of employee they are getting before they make an offer? So if I am unable to play games with my abilities, I am faced with limited opportunities. There are fewer organizations today than even 10 years ago that understand the purpose of a training function. Many leaders land up creating limitations for the training function because they don’t realize the potential.

My dilemma is that I want to work, and yet I find it challenging to be the perfect fit without being a skill more than is thought to be necessary. The minute I start to stand out I am “over qualified” and when I go in with just enough background I run the risk of “not being as qualified as another applicant.”

Any ideas?

The Quickest Way To Lose Customers

employee leaving

Are your employees also your customers? Most companies expect their employees to support them as consumers directly or even indirectly as referral sources. If you are a grocery store, I can bet your employees shop with you, and tell others about things that are on sale. If you are a bank, employees often have their checking account with the bank, and tell family members and friends why they should bank with you.

It is a given that once you are an employee, you will become a customer someday too. It would be very hard to support your company as an employee if you could not support them personally as a customer too.

So what happens if you turn away a qualified applicant as an employee and then aggressively market them as a customer? Do you think you are speaking to a receptive potential customer?

When you turn down an applicant that is not qualified for a position as far as skills are concerned, you are helping them realize that they should focus on opportunities that better match their abilities. However, when you summarily dismiss an applicant as unqualified because you didn’t take the time to read their application, resume or online profile, you are telling them a lot about the culture and what it takes to work for this company.

In recent blogs I have shared two experiences that I have had with companies that flat out only wanted female applicants. Blatant discrimination, but also that I am not valued because of my male gender. So when I recently opened my mail to a marketing package from one of these customers, I just tossed it. Yes, they may have been offering me a great deal, but why would I want to be their customer?

I doubt that the folks in recruiting have ever been trained to understand the ideal customer when sorting through applications. If I am applying for a job you want to dismiss me from pursuing, but you would still like me to be a customer, then there are ways to make both of your goals happen.

Yet anyone that is in sales and service will tell you that a great experience with a company is share with less than a handful of people, but a bad experience is more than double that number. The quickest way to lose customers is to treat your applicants as if they are disposable. Not only do you never get them as a customer, but they will make sure every family member and friend knows the truth about you too. Treating potential employees well from the beginning is a win for both of you.

“Diversity Candidates” Need Only Apply


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?


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!