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 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.

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.

Encouraging social media at work

In the March 11 Sunday New York Times column “Corner Office,” Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, tells how his company’s open culture includes using an internal social-media platform (the “Memo List”) to allow employees to be heard:

Engaging people in how decisions are getting made means it can take forever to get decisions made. But once you make a decision, you get flawless execution because everybody’s engaged. They know what you’re doing and they know why you’re doing it.

Hurst says that three-quarters of his 4,000 employees spend time on the forum every day. Most companies would worry about employees’ spending too much time online. Red Hat encourages it, and then enjoys the benefits from having engaged employees.

Why HR might not want to read Firing at Will

Book authors want everyone to read their book. It’s a universal law. They spend a year or longer typing and retyping words, and when they’re done, they want as many people as possible to read what they’ve written. And I’m no different.

But it occurs to me that some people may want to avoid my book.

Firing at Will is listed (and intended) as a management book. My publisher (Apress) even included a handy little instruction on the back cover: “Shelve in Business/Management.” But so far, in every Barnes & Noble store I’ve checked, they’ve filed it under “Human Resources.” And I get that, because as much as it is a book for managers, it’s also a book for HR professionals.

But HR professionals who read it may be in for a surprise. Because the book takes on many of HR’s long-held beliefs, showing how some common practices harm employee morale and business profitability.

Many of the rules and policies that well-meaning HR professionals and employment lawyers put into place lead to toxic, dysfunctional workplaces. These rules are designed to protect companies from bad employees, but they instead drive away good employees.

Instead, the book promotes doing away with outdated management tools that end up becoming crutches for managers and take away their independence and discretion. For example, instead of sticking with these outdated tools, the book advises employers to:

  • Throw out your personnel handbook (the title of Chapter 16)
  • Abandon annual performance reviews (“the dumbest managerial tool”)
  • Dump progressive-discipline policies
  • Avoid performance-improvement plans (PIPs)
  • Stay away from arbitration agreements
  • Treat employees differently

That last one might be the biggest surprise. Employment lawyers are always telling companies to treat everyone the same. But when you do that, you end up treating everyone equally badly.

HR pros who have grown comfortable with these conventional notions may be put off by the shots taken at accepted wisdom.

On the other hand, there are things in the book that many HR people will appreciate. The book advocates for more responsibility and autonomy for human resources. It favors changing “human resources” to “talent” and elevating the role to the C-suite level: “Every company should have a chief talent officer reporting to the CEO.”

If you’re a human-resources professional, or any kind of manager or employer, and you’re thinking about reading Firing at Will, please proceed with caution. Some of what you read might be upsetting to you.

And some of it might just change your mind.


To order your own copy, click the following links:

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

Simplicity at Reader’s Digest

Here’s Dan Lagani, the (relatively) young (he’s 48) president of Reader’s Digest North America on how he learned how to keep management simple. From the excellent Sunday New York Times column “The Boss.”

I feel as if I’ve spent the last 25 years getting ready for what I’m doing now. During that time, I’ve found that simplicity is crucial in running a business, from keeping your mind open to ideas that present themselves in everyday life to ensuring that your processes are straightforward. It’s a matter of paring complex problems to the essentials.

A Facebook policy for grown-ups

Our Facebook Policy

We have no Facebook policy.


FAQ on our Facebook policy

Say what?

That’s right. We don’t have one.

Don’t we have to have one?

Says who? Employment lawyers? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. No, we don’t have to have one.

Why not?

Because we only hire grown-ups to work here. And grown-ups don’t need to be told how to behave.

But isn’t Facebook different?

Why? Because it’s on a computer? Time to let go of the twentieth century, Orville. Yes, sometimes things are on computers now. Or phones or tablets. Things like books, movies, TV shows, music, mail, phone calls, funny cat pictures, snarky comments, and other social interactions. Deal with it.

I don’t know. I’m dubious.

I’ll say.

What?

Oh, nothing.

There can’t be any harm in having a little Facebook policy. Just to keep the employment lawyers happy. Please?

No. In fact, a Facebook policy can cause harm. The National Labor Relations Board, which is trying to expand its role in the nonunionized sector, is actively going after companies with dumb Facebook policies.

Oh. That seems uncool.

Totes.

Still, without a Facebook policy, how do we know what we can and can’t post?

Look: somehow you managed to figure out that it’s a bad idea to yell on a street corner that your customer is a moron. Yet we have no Street-Corner-Yelling Policy. And you accurately deduced that you probably shouldn’t shout in a crowded theater that your coworker sleeps with farm animals (or shout “Fire!”; I think I learned that in law school). Yet we are completely bereft of a Shouting-Slanderous-Statements-in-Theaters Policy. Facebook is no different.

So nothing will happen to me if I post on Facebook that my coworker sleeps with farm animals?

No, dumbass. We’ll fire you faster than the Red Sox can blow a nine-game division lead in September. The fact that you’re thinking that means we probably shouldn’t have hired you in the first place.

But there’s no policy against it.

Now you’re catching on. That’s right: there’s no policy against it. We know you’re a grown-up and we trust that you’ll be professional and respectful of others. If our trust was misplaced, we’ll fix that.

Got it. Thanks.

Have a great day.

The wrong question

Question mark road signToo often, when managers and HR professionals get employee requests for special treatment, accommodations, or departures from policy, they ask themselves the wrong question:

What if another employee finds out, and then asks for the same special treatment, or accuses us of not treating everyone equally?

This question is common, understandable, and well meaning. HR pros and good managers know that different treatment (or as the lawyers say, disparate treatment, which means “Look at me: I went to law school and learned how to talk different. I mean, disparate. D’oh!”) can potentially lead to discrimination lawsuits. The problem is that when you treat people uniformly, you end up treating them uniformly badly.

So this is the wrong question to ask.

The right question to ask is this:

If I was requesting this special treatment in the same situation, would I think I deserved it?

If your being-honest-with-yourself answer is yes, then you should try to find a way to grant the request. Of course, don’t discriminate (there are, like, laws against doing that). But don’t disgruntle one employee just because other employees might not get the same treatment.

You’ll end up with the wrong answer.

Want to learn more?

Get in touch with Jay today