jayshep.com

Articles

Read the Blog

Trash your social-media policy

Terrific advice from HR Examiner‘s Heather Bussing on what to do with your company’s social-media policy, especially in light of the NLRB’s continuing war on these policies.

The best way to prevent employees from saying bad things about you is to hire the right people, give them the resources they need to do their work, and let them do it. When problems arise deal with it based on what happened.

When you fire someone, it should be for their actions, not because they violated a policy. If employees are constantly violating policies, you have a serious management problem. And more policies won’t fix it.

I agree wholeheartedly with Heather’s advice, and not just because she cited my two-word blogging policy. Along the same lines, here’s an approach for how companies should handle having a Facebook policy.

Should I survey my customers?

This question recently came up from a colleague of mine. The answer I should have given was that he send all his customers a short form with the following on it:

Would you appreciate receiving a short customer-service survey from us? Please check all that apply:

❏ Absolutely not.
❏ Sure, why not?
❏ Yes. I really enjoy getting mail.
❏ Who the hell are you again?
❏ Yes, because it will remind me to have you send my files to your competitor.

But I didn’t. Instead, I answered along these lines:

No. Surveys are as reliable as polls. In other words, not at all. Why? To borrow the most-used phrases from recently departed (and long shark-jumped) show, House:

“People lie.”

People will tell you what you want to hear. People will tell you things to make you feel better. People will tell you things to make you think better of them. “And how was your meal tonight?” “Fine,” you grumble, even though it wasn’t at all.

Years ago, I considered moving my law firm from Boston to the suburbs, but I was concerned that customers and prospects would be less impressed by a suburban law firm. Some people suggested taking a survey. But who would admit to being so shallow that they cared what zip code my office was in? Any data from a survey like that would have had zero reliability.

People will tell you that they’re “satisfied” on a customer-service survey, then quietly go find another provider. If you really cared about your customers, you wouldn’t need a formal survey to know how they felt; you would already know. From, you know, talking with them.

I know people who have had decent success using surveys, but I think surveys tend to be exercises in narcissism that waste customers’ time and put them in awkward situations. If you communicate well with your customers, you don’t need surveys.

Passion at work

Writer Paul Alofs gives his “8 Rules For Creating A Passionate Work Culture” in Fast Company. Here’s the first one:

1. Hire the right people

Hire for passion and commitment first, experience second, and credentials third. There is no shortage of impressive CVs out there, but you should try to find people who are interested in the same things you are. You don’t want to be simply a stepping stone on an employee’s journey toward his or her own (very different) passion. Asking the right questions is key: What do you love about your chosen career? What inspires you? What courses in school did you dread? You want to get a sense of what the potential employee believes.

Read the other seven here. They’re from his new book, Passion Capital (affiliate link).

How trusting an employee can create an Ace

The Boston Red Sox got off to a horrible start this season, and no one sputtered worse than their quirky ostensible closer, Alfredo Aceves. Just two days into the season, fans and sportswriters were calling for new manager Bobby Valentine to remove Aceves from the closer role. Valentine himself was wondering, and met with the pitchers as he considered what to do.

Later, when Valentine returned to his office, a clubhouse attendant handed him a note from Aceves. Only one word was written on it.

Trust.

“Just one word. That was it,’’ Aceves said. “Everything comes back to trust. I wanted him to trust me.’’

Boston Globe beat writer Peter Abraham chronicles how Valentine did trust Aceves and how that trust paid off when the pitcher turned around his season and anchored a now-solid Sox bullpen.

The takeaway for employers and managers is that good things can happen when you trust an employee who really cares about doing a good job.

How to Intuitively alienate your customers

Imagine that you bought a new car. It drives OK. It’s not the sleekest or best-looking thing on the road, but it gets the job done, more or less. It gets you to your destination, if not particularly in style.

Now imagine that three years later, you get a recall notice from the auto maker. The form letter explains that it is discontinuing support for your model year, unless you pay for an upgrade that costs nearly as much as you originally paid (87 percent, in fact). Turns out, if you don’t upgrade, your car’s fuel pump will cease functioning altogether. You can go to the gas station and get your fuel, but the car will not be able to process it. Don’t complain to the gas station, though, because they’ll just tell you that you have to pay for the upgrade from the auto maker.

Here’s the company’s recall notice explaining why this must be:

We are committed to developing easy, straightforward cars that help you today and grow with you tomorrow. But it’s a balancing act – making our automobiles better and easier to use while still supporting older versions. So we offer support for the current version of our automobiles and the two previous versions.

Now here’s the kicker: except for enabling your fuel pump to continue working, the so-called upgrade improves nothing about the car that you care about. All it does is provide you with some tacky decals to put on your rear window and bumper, a new vinyl document case for your glove box, and a new floor mat for your passenger-side footwell. Except for the fuel pump being held hostage, you would never pay for this upgrade.

You wouldn’t tolerate this from a car company, or any other kind of company for that matter. But this exactly what Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks and Quicken accounting software, is doing to its customers.

Three years ago, I bought QuickBooks for Mac 2009 for my law firm. I’ve never liked Intuit, because it has always treated Mac customers like something that got stuck on the bottom of its shoe. The software interface has always been garbage, eschewing most Mac human-interface guidelines.

Now I get word that Intuit is discontinuing support for my version of Quickbooks. OK. I get that. All kinds of companies stop supporting outdated versions of their products. But there’s a huge difference between “discontinuing support” and actively crippling a product. According to the text of Intuit’s discontinuation notice, customers will no longer be able to use online banking:

You will see an error message when you try to download transactions, send online payments, or send online transfers. The error message you see depends on your download method. For example, you may see the message “QuickBooks is unable to verify the Financial Institution Information for this Download.” There is no need to contact your Financial Institution, as they will refer you back to Intuit to upgrade your QuickBooks.

(Now you can see where the post title comes from.) In other words, the software that I paid $220 for a few years ago will suddenly stop working in one vital respect unless I pay a ransom of $183 to “upgrade.” And I use the scare quotes because the so-called upgrade contains no improvements that a user like me would find useful.

I understand the desire to increase revenue from your products, and also the benefits of increasing your share of wallet from existing customers. But don’t sell me something and then make it stop working after a certain period of time. If you want to do that, sell me a subscription-based product (like QuickBooks competitor Xero). That way, I make my purchase decision based on the knowledge that it will work for a certain amount of time before I have to pay again.

Surprising your customers with sudden obsolescence is a great way to alienate them, and send them to your competitors. No takesies-backsies, Intuit!

Why time is like food, not money

I just discovered Practically Efficient, the blog of actuary J. Eddie Smith, IV. I know: really? An actuary? Trust me: it’s OK to look.

I love what he says here about keeping control of your time and using your calendar to help.

To fail to schedule work that you, yourself, deem important is to put your wants last in line. You should regularly schedule non-meeting time on your calendar.

Check out Eddie’s blog. He has a lot of good thoughts on not letting yourself be overwhelmed by all the things you have to do.

Bad advice from Harvard Business Review

Author Rafi Mohammed advises JCPenney to dump what he calls its “risky” pricing strategy:

The best retailers succeed by offering highly differentiated products (as the Apple Store does) or a unique shopping experience (as Nordstrom or Target does). Today, J.C. Penney sells semi-differentiated products and provides a ho-hum shopping experience — it doesn’t have much “mojo” to draw customers into its stores. So what’s the only lever that can excite and bring in customers to make often discretionary purchases? Discounts…

I believe that even if customers fully understand its pricing strategy, J.C. Penney is not going to get the revenue/loyalty windfall that it is hoping for. It’s time to put pride aside and revert back to a discounting strategy.

Mohammed is a very smart guy and he’s written a couple of good pricing books: The 1% Windfall and The Art of Pricing (both affiliate links). But I don’t care for his advice that JCPenney should surrender and return to the brainless approach of discounting. When you rely on discounts, you send a message to customers that your stuff isn’t worth as much as you originally said it was. This is true whether you’re a midmarket retailer, a car company, or a law firm. Discounting belies a lack of creativity.

In fact, Penney’s path to success lies in something Mohammed said above. Since it’s not likely to start selling highly differentiated products like Apple, its best option is to create a unique shopping experience. It needs to figure out what “JCPenney” is supposed to stand for. In other words, something better and more interesting than “also-ran department store.” (And a name change might be necessary, too.)

No one is going to ever say, “Hey, let’s go to JCPenney because they have a new pricing strategy.” Ever.

11 things you should do before firing someone

Firing people is the hardest thing a manager or employer can do. Here’s a checklist to help you make it just a little bit easier.

  1. Don’t fire when angry. Take enough time to make sure that you’re not making the decision for emotional reasons.

  2. Choose the appropriate day and time to minimize additional pain. For example, don’t do it right before Christmas, or on the employee’s birthday, or when everyone else is going to be milling around.

  3. Choose a location in the workplace that offers privacy, with the door closed.

  4. If you’re concerned about an angry or violent reaction, have security or another coworker nearby and ready.

  5. Have the employee’s final paycheck ready for the meeting. Include pay for the entire day of the termination, as well as any other money owed. Make sure your payroll people keep the termination secret.

  6. Make sure you include pay to cover any accrued but unused vacation.

  7. If the employee has computer access, make arrangements to have her locked out of the system while you’re in the termination meeting. Not before and not after. And make sure the computer person keeps
    the termination secret.
  8. Prepare what you’re going to say in the meeting, but don’t write out
    an actual script.
  9. If appropriate, prepare a severance agreement to give to the employee. (There’s an example agreement in the book.)
  10. Gather up any material that your state requires you to give to terminated employees. Often, this includes information on unemployment benefits and health-insurance continuation (COBRA).
  11. Decide how much notice you want to give, and how much transition
    time you need during which the fired employee will stay on. Hint: the answer should almost always be “none.”

All of these tips come from Firing at Will. If you ever deal with employees, this book will make your life easier. To order your copy, click any of the following links:

To read Chapter 1 for free, click the link at the top of the page.

Why arbitration sucks — even for employers

In the wake of Major League Baseball’s firing of longtime arbitrator Shyam Das after he ruled against it in the Ryan Braun case, I thought it might be a good idea to examine why this fashionable alternative-dispute-resolution mechanism is deeply flawed.

Arbitration has long been the norm in labor cases (that is, cases between unions and management). And baseball arbitration is of the labor-law variety. But increasingly, nonunionized employers are choosing to subject themselves and their employees to arbitration. Which is dumb.

“Why?” you may ask. I’m glad you asked. Here is my jeremiad on arbitration, from Chapter 12 of Firing at Will: A Manager’s Guide:


Arbitration is much less common in employment cases, and usually only happens when there is a preexisting contract providing for it if there is a dispute. In other words, the employee would have signed an agreement — often at the start of employment — waiving his rights to go to court or an agency and instead having the dispute resolved by an arbitrator.

The arbitrator is chosen by both sides from a list of potential neutrals. In effect, he acts like a judge. Unlike a mediator, his job is to make a decision at the end of the case.

Many employers and management lawyers think it’s a good idea to have mandatory-arbitration clauses in employment agreements. They think arbitration is a good idea because it tends to be cheaper and faster than the agency-and-court system. They believe that arbitration ends up favoring the employer.

But they are wrong.

Arbitration is a terrible idea, for four reasons. First, the less-formal approach to litigating the case, dispensing with the evidentiary rules, means that the employee can bring in evidence that never would have seen the light of day in court. As I said before, rules of evidence are a good thing if you have a lawyer who understands them. Ignoring the rules turns the case into a free-for-all.

Second, there is no precedent in arbitration. In the court system, the judge generally has to abide by past decisions of earlier court cases, especially higher-level courts. Our legal system is based on the authority of precedent. But in arbitrations, there’s no such thing. Yes, lawyers can cite to past arbitration cases for examples of what arbitrators have done in similar cases. But the arbitrator is free to ignore it.

Third, there is almost no ability to appeal a bad decision. I don’t want to overstate this. While you can almost always appeal a bad decision at an agency or in a court, appeals typically have little chance of success. But it’s even worse in the arbitration world. Yes, you can file the equivalent of an appeal in court to prevent the enforcement of an arbitration award. But you shouldn’t bother: there’s next to no chance of it succeeding.

My final reason is the most important (and why arbitrators want to smack me in the nose). Remember how I said a few paragraphs ago that arbitrators are chosen by the parties? That’s the whole problem. If an arbitrator doesn’t get chosen for cases, he can’t make money. And if he gets a reputation as being too pro-employer, plaintiffs’ lawyers will stop agreeing to use him. (Likewise, if he gets a pro-employee reputation, management lawyers will stay away.) Trust me: this happens. At our firm, we had a list of arbitrators that we would never use because we felt that they were too likely to side with the employee.

In court cases, judges are assigned, not chosen. So the judge needn’t worry about acquiring a reputation of favoring one side or the other. But an arbitrator has some pressure to avoid that sort of reputation. This pressure naturally moves an arbitrator to try to come up fairly even-steven over time, with a rough balance of wins for both employers and employees. Sounds fair, right?

Wrong.

Coming out more or less fifty-fifty sounds like it evenly benefits both employers and employees, but in fact it drastically favors employees. Why? Because employees don’t win half of the cases filed. At the various antidiscrimination agencies, the percentage of cases where probable cause is found tends to run in the 5- to 15-percent range. (There are no reliable figures from court cases.) There are a number of reasons for these relatively low success rates.

For example, discrimination claims are inherently difficult to prove; it’s hard to get inside a manager’s head and find a discriminatory bias. Also, many cases are merely disgruntled employees’ weapons of last resort. Many fired employees bring their cases because of anger instead of an honest belief of having suffered discrimination. So a low success rate is to be expected. That’s why a success rate approaching 50 percent, which is more typical with arbitrators, dramatically favors employees.

So if your employment lawyer tries to talk you into arbitration agreements, ask her if she’s thought about these points.


To order your own copy of Firing at Will, which is a wicked-good idea if your ever have to deal with employees, click any of the following links:

To read Chapter 1 for free, click the link at the top of the page.

Writers need to write more, faster

In a front-page story with a bizarre exclamation mark in the title, the Sunday New York Times explains that the growth of the e-book market is forcing writers to churn out more books and stories faster. This of course makes me wish I’d learned how to type properly.

But some authors said that even though they are beginning to accept them as one of the necessary requirements of book marketing, they still find them taxing to produce.

“I have been known to be a little grumpy on the subject sometimes,” said Steve Berry, a popular thriller writer who writes short stories that are released between books. “It does sap away some of your energy. You don’t ever want to get into a situation where your worth is being judged by the amount of your productivity.”

Maybe that’s why writers don’t bill by the hour. Writers know that their value isn’t based on the time spent writing. Instead, it comes from the messages that their words deliver. Of course, you can say the same thing about lawyers. Huh …

Pitchers, PA announcers, and passion

Two very different stories have dominated Red Sox Nation this week, and both contain lessons for employers everywhere.

The first story is a true tragedy, where 59-year-old Fenway Park PA announcer Carl Beane was killed in a single-car accident after he suffered a heart attack. In the rash of stories that followed his death, Beane was portrayed as a gentle man with a distinctive, booming voice. He was successfully able to parlay his radio background into what he always described as his dream job. He certainly didn’t do it for the money; when he began announcing games in 2003, he was reportedly paid $50 a game. But nearly every story written about Beane following this tragedy focused on how much he loved his job. Devoted Red Sox fans would hire Beane to perform at weddings and bar mitzvahs, or to record outgoing voicemail messages for them. His work was his passion, and it showed in his performance. (For more on how much Beane loved his job, see this terrific article by ESPN Boston’s Godon Edes.)

The second story is a sports tragedy, in that it’s not a real tragedy but sports fans see it as one. It involves Josh Beckett, an arrogant, petulant starting pitcher who used to be the Red Sox ace. Beckett helped lead the Florida Marlins to a World Series championship in 2003, and then did the same for the Red Sox in 2007. But since then, he has lost his elite status and begun pitching like he doesn’t really care. So far this season, Beckett has pitched poorly, owning the second-worst ERA in the American League.

On Wednesday last week, new manager Bobby Valentine announced that Beckett had an issue with his lat muscle and would be skipping his Saturday start against the Orioles. That weekend, because of poor starts and two extra-inning games, the Sox bullpen was called upon to pitch 27 innings. Even an outfielder had to pitch two innings. But Beckett was unavailable to pitch, presumably because of his lat.

A few days later, it was revealed that Beckett had played golf on the Thursday before the Orioles series — the day after Valentine announced that Beckett would skip his Saturday start. The Boston sports media had a field day, and Red Sox fans were livid.

Beckett finally returned to the mound this Thursday and got only seven outs while giving up seven runs on seven hits. When Valentine pulled him in the third inning, the Fenway faithful booed heartily, and one fan behind the dugout was caught on camera mimicking a golf swing.

Then in his postgame press conference, Beckett poured gasoline all over the place and lit it on fire. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Showing incredible tone-deafness, the pitcher defended his golf outing despite his inability to pitch that weekend.

“I spend my off-days the way I want to spend them,” Beckett said to the reporters assembled. “My off-day is my off-day.” He then went on to point out that players only got 18 off-days a year. Which is true, if you don’t count all that time off from October to February. Or all the days during the season when he doesn’t pitch. As he put it, “I think we deserve a little time to ourselves.” (Another Edes story here for more on Beckett and golfgate.)

Here’s a guy making nearly $500,000 a start who apparently doesn’t care enough about his job (which is secure through 2014), his employer (both the team and the fans who pay the bills), or his teammates. Contrast that with Carl Beane, a man who adored his job, even when he was making one ten-thousandth as much per start as Beckett.

When people work for money — even a lot of money — they’ll usually (but not always) show up when they have to and do just enough to keep that job. But they won’t show you the passion that excellence requires. Beckett used to have it back when he was an ace pitcher. Five years, 30 pounds, and 80 strokes per round later, that passion appears to be gone, and with it, any hint of excellence. On the other hand, Carl Beane left us and the job he loved too early, and he left at the top of his game.

Employers: hire passion first and talent second. Passion can turn talent into outstandingess (which may not be a word, but whatever), but talent without passion will eventually land you in the bunker.

The so-called art of billing

Lawyer James Conway describes the art of billing on the site JDs Rising:

This is very simplistic, but you only get paid for things you actually bill to the client. If it doesn’t make it onto the bill, you won’t get paid for it. Remember that quick email you sent from your blackberry? Bill it. Remember that “two-second” question that turned into a ten minute diatribe? Bill it. Remember when your partner walked through your open office door and you had a twenty minute brainstorming session on litigation tactics? Bill it. Unless you express your time, you can’t get paid for it. Further, unless you describe all of your work, your client doesn’t understand all the value you are providing for the fee that you charge.

No wonder people hate lawyers.

It’s not that the “client doesn’t understand all the value you are providing.” If the lawyer thinks that the value comes from the time spent sending a quick Blackberry email, then the lawyer doesn’t understand the value. A lawyer (or any other professional) who understands value prices it. Everyone else just measures time and bills it. And annoys the hell out of their clients.

How to get people to do what you want

Here is the six-minute “LexThink .1” speech I gave in Chicago in March at the ABA TechShow. In it, I explain the three simple steps you need to take to get someone to do what you want. LexThink follows the “Ignite” speech format: six minutes, 20 slides, 18 seconds per slide, advancing automatically with no control by the speaker.

Enjoy. And if you want the free Result Triangle worksheet, it’s right here. You can print it out and use it right now to help solve whatever problem you’re facing.

This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole

An old Lifehack post called “10 simple ways to save yourself from messing up your life” has excellent common-sense advice on how keep yourself from falling into an emotional hole. Since lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than other workers, I know a lot of people who could benefit from the advice. Here’s the first of the ten:

1. Stop taking so much notice of how you feel. How you feel is how you feel. It’ll pass soon. What you’re thinking is what you’re thinking. It’ll go too. Tell yourself that whatever you feel, you feel; whatever you think, you think. Since you can’t stop yourself thinking, or prevent emotions from arising in your mind, it makes no sense to be proud or ashamed of either. You didn’t cause them. Only your actions are directly under your control. They’re the only proper cause of pleasure or shame.

The other nine are just as good. Click the title above and read them.

By the way, this post’s title refers to the story Leo McGarry tells Josh Lyman.

Why paperwork feels like paperwork

Blame the lawyers:

Why would it be harder to write a regulation in plain language than in complex jargon? In part, points out Braley, it’s because of the job a regulation needs to do: taking a law that Congress has passed and “dealing with the fine-tuning . . . putting into words how certain conduct is supposed to be governed.” That means a regulation carries a heavier burden than other writing that government agencies produce, like forms and letters. “The lawyers get their hands on them and want to make sure that they’re absolutely foolproof as far as going to court is concerned,” said Cheek.

Nice piece by Leon Neyfakh in the Boston Sunday Globe on the attempt to bring plain English to government regulations.

Die, Word, Die!

Tom Scocca on why it’s time for Microsoft Word to go the way of the fax machine:

What makes Word unbearable is the output. Like the fax machine, Word was designed to put things on paper. It was a tool of the desktop-publishing revolution, allowing ordinary computer users to make professional (or at least approximately professional) document layouts and to print them out. That’s great if you’re making a lot of church bulletins or lost-dog fliers. Keep on using Word. (Maybe keep better track of your dog, though.)

Word is a horrible example of bloatware at its worst. I now do all of my writing using iA Writer or Pages. I wrote Firing at Will: A Manager’s Guide in Writer. Then I had to import the files into my publisher’s template. In Microsoft Word. Which made me die a little bit, a chapter at a time.

(Hat tip to Patrick Rhone’s Minimal Mac site.)

Consectetur Ligula Etiam

Fusce mauris dapibus, tellus cursus ac commodo, tortor condimentum nibh, ut fermentum massa justo sit amet. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor. Cras mattis consectetur purus sit amet fermentum. Aenean lacinia bibendum nulla sed consectetur. Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor.

Fusce dapibus, tellus ac cursus commodo, tortor mauris condimentum nibh, ut fermentum massa justo sit amet. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor. Cras mattis consectetur purus sit amet fermentum. Aenean lacinia bibendum nulla sed consectetur. Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor.

Donec sed odio dui consectetur adipiscing elit. Etiam adipiscing tincidunt elit, eu convallis felis suscipit ut. Phasellus rhoncus tincidunt auctor. Nullam eu sagittis mauris. Donec non dolor ac elit aliquam tincidunt at at sapien. Aenean tortor libero, condimentum ac laoreet vitae, varius tempor nisi. Duis non arcu vel lectus.

  • Mauris lacinia dui non metus dignissim venenatis.
  • Etiam elit tellus, condimentum tempor lobortis non.
  • Aliquam pharetra vestibulum arcu, eget iaculis.

Mauris convallis, sapien id ultricies aliquet, mi nisi congue dui, id laoreet ligula ante vitae ligula. Duis lectus magna, cursus in molestie eget, cursus eget quam. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Morbi ullamcorper laoreet metus, eu commodo diam cursus et. Nam eleifend aliquam augue, id condimentum erat vehicula vel. Donec sed odio dui. Cras mattis consectetur purus sit amet fermentum. Duis mollis, est non commodo luctus, nisi erat porttitor ligula, eget lacinia odio sem nec elit. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet.

Fusce dapibus tellus

Fusce mauris dapibus, tellus cursus ac commodo, tortor condimentum nibh, ut fermentum massa justo sit amet. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor. Cras mattis consectetur purus sit amet fermentum. Aenean lacinia bibendum nulla sed consectetur. Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor.

Fusce dapibus, tellus ac cursus commodo, tortor mauris condimentum nibh, ut fermentum massa justo sit amet. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor. Cras mattis consectetur purus sit amet fermentum. Aenean lacinia bibendum nulla sed consectetur. Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus dolor auctor.

Donec sed odio dui consectetur adipiscing elit. Etiam adipiscing tincidunt elit, eu convallis felis suscipit ut. Phasellus rhoncus tincidunt auctor. Nullam eu sagittis mauris. Donec non dolor ac elit aliquam tincidunt at at sapien. Aenean tortor libero, condimentum ac laoreet vitae, varius tempor nisi. Duis non arcu vel lectus.

  • Mauris lacinia dui non metus dignissim venenatis.
  • Etiam elit tellus, condimentum tempor lobortis non.
  • Aliquam pharetra vestibulum arcu, eget iaculis.

Mauris convallis, sapien id ultricies aliquet, mi nisi congue dui, id laoreet ligula ante vitae ligula. Duis lectus magna, cursus in molestie eget, cursus eget quam. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Morbi ullamcorper laoreet metus, eu commodo diam cursus et. Nam eleifend aliquam augue, id condimentum erat vehicula vel. Donec sed odio dui. Cras mattis consectetur purus sit amet fermentum. Duis mollis, est non commodo luctus, nisi erat porttitor ligula, eget lacinia odio sem nec elit. Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet.

Ouch

From the Boston Globe‘s Extra Bases blog by Peter Abraham:

The Red Sox have nine players on the disabled list to start the season (Andrew Bailey, Chris Carpenter, Carl Crawford, Rich Hill, Bobby Jenks, Ryan Kalish, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Andrew Miller) who are making a combined $57,246,000. That’s more than the entire payroll of the Athletics ($55,372,500) and Padres ($55,244,700).

Cheaper than an ad saying “Don’t work here”

Nice piece from HRLori about how the CEO of OMGPOP took to the Twitter to bad-mouth an employee who chose to leave when Zynga bought the company. Lori writes:

This is such a poor example of leadership. The high road would have been to wish the employee the best and be on his merry (very merry) way. It is up to any CEO to lead the company into the future, not look back with disdain. People come and go. Those who stay want to be there. It is evident that Shay Pierce didn’t want to be there. And that was his choice.

The CEO later apologized and deleted his tweet, but the damage to the company is done. You think they’ll have any trouble attracting talent in the future? I sure do.

The Result Triangle: Getting people to do what you want

You know how hard it is to get someone to do what you want them to do?

It’s pretty hard. And you know what? We make it harder. We get lost in the details. We fuss about incentives and penalties and policies. We overcomplicate problems.

So if complexity is our problem, then it stands to reason that simplicity is the solution. We need to figure out exactly what we’re trying to do and how best to do it. Well, that sounds fine. But how do we actually make simplicity solve our problems?

To find out, I went through nearly two decades of case files, looked at thousands of business interactions. Where had I messed up? Where had things gone smoothly?

And a pattern emerged, where complexity caused problems and simplicity led to success.

That same pattern appears in hundreds of business books, in all kinds of business interactions. This pattern teaches us the best way to get someone to agree to do something. It comes to down to three simple points. And these three points make what I call “The Result Triangle.”

The Result Triangle works in every business context: negotiations, sales, customer service, management, litigation, pricing. Whatever field you’re in, you can use the Result Triangle to simplify your problem and get someone to do what you want them to do.
The three simple points are:

  1. clarify the goal
  2. show you care, and
  3. address the fear

The Result Triangle

These three points help you figure out what you want … and how to get it. Let me give you 3 quick examples to show how they work in real life.

Clarifying the goal

I usually fly Southwest Airlines. And many of you know that on Southwest, you have to check in early so that you don’t get stuck with a middle seat. Southwest doesn’t do seat assignments. Instead, you check in and get assigned a number. Get a lower number, get a better seat.

Why does Southwest do this? Because their goal is to keep their planes in the air as much as possible. Open seating, flying only one type of jet, and even “bags fly free” all lead to more time in the air. And more airtime means more profit.

Planes make money in the air, not on the ground. Their planes spend 30 percent more time in the air than their competitors’, and they’re the only airline making a profit. By clarifying their goal — “planes in the air” — Southwest gets their people to focus on doing what’s most important.

We tend to take our goals for granted without giving them a lot of thought: To close the deal. To win the case. To make the sale. But a goal needs to be more precise. Clarifying your goal — boiling it down to its essence — is the first step to achieving it.

Show you care

The second point is “show you care.” Let me give you an example:

My dad had this winter coat that he loved and he wore it until it finally fell apart. Turns out my brother was planning a trip up to L.L. Bean in Maine, so my dad asked him if he could pick him up a new coat while he was there.

So my brother brings the coat to try to exchange it and of course he has no receipt because my dad bought it so many years ago. And the folks at L.L. Bean can’t find the same coat. So instead of sending him away, they give him a different one, brand new, without any hassle. Because L.L. Bean cares so much about customer satisfaction.

So my brother gets back and gives the new coat to my dad. And my dad says, “Thanks. But I didn’t get it at L.L. Bean!”

And you know what? L.L. Bean must have known that, but they gave him a new coat anyway. Because they were focused on showing how much they care.

Showing that you care makes people want to do what you want them to do. Because of the coat, my family keeps coming back, and we’ve told this story to hundreds of people. By showing they care, L.L. Bean gets people to keep shopping there and tell others how great they are.

Address the fear

The third point is “address the fear.” I was at a Denver steakhouse recently. Great food, fantastic service. This place focuses on a great experience. When it came time to order, we picked out our steaks and we were trying to settle on a side dish to go with the steaks. The waiter recommended this fancy Brussels sprouts dish.

Now, I like Brussels sprouts as much as the next guy, I really do. But this dish sounded a little too daring for me. The waiter said, “Why don’t you just give them a try? If you don’t like them, I’ll whisk them away and replace them with anything you want, no questions asked.” So we tried them, and you know what?

They tasted like feet.

But even so, we didn’t ask him to replace them. We just moved them around on our plates. Because we didn’t want to ruin the experience. The waiter had addressed our fears about not liking the Brussels sprouts, and that made us happy, even though our fears actually came true.

People’s fears are what keeps them from doing what you want. By addressing those fears, you help people get past them. Even if you can’t prevent those fears from coming true. Simply addressing the fear helps make them want to do what you want them to do.

And that’s the Result Triangle:

  1. Clarify the goal
  2. Show you care
  3. Address the fear

You can start using it today. Anytime you need to get someone to agree to do something, whip out your trusty Result Triangle. You’ll be amazed at how this focuses your efforts.

When you do these three things, you simplify the problem you need to solve and you improve your chances of success. People will want to do what you want them to do.


Download a handy PDF of the Result Triangle Worksheet that you can use right now to help solve whatever problem you’re facing.

Want to learn more?

Get in touch with Jay today