The Armchair HR Manager

Advice and Commentary from an "HR Fan" – whether asked for or not!

Workplace Drama: Perception vs. Performance

A big part of my HR life is spent coaching managers and supervisors on how to deal with employee relations challenges. It is one of the parts of my job that I truly enjoy the most. During the many hours I have spent in my career coaching managers, there are several commonalities in terms of managerial challenges that I have noticed over the years. One of the biggest challenges I find that managers get themselves caught up in is managing perception. Specifically, they become so focused on making sure that people “look” like they working, are being productive and are following the “rules” that miss the big picture impact that this approach causes. These managers believe that if everyone “looks” like they are working than they must be productive and all is well with their staff. This is a major management trap because these same managers often get themselves in trouble as they then begin to manage the perceptions of their staff as opposed to the actual performance of their people. This then begins a management spiral of doom!

DramaWhen managers manage to perception – theirs and others – they are losing sight of the actual performance outcomes of their employees. The work environment that is being established is one that rewards the best actors; that is, the employees that are good at looking busy will be perceived to be actually busy and thus it is concluded that they are performing. This management perception problem is worse in organizations that have an ineffective or non-existent goal setting process and/or are weak (or negligent) in establishing performance metrics. Without these, managers can’t properly delineate performance, so perception rules the workplace.

To give you some context, here is a scenario I have seen play out in many organizations. Employees (or the manager themselves) complain that an employee isn’t pulling their weight. They complain that “Bob” spends too much time making personal phone calls, taking too long a lunch or surfing the internet on work time. Inexperienced managers often jump to the conclusion that the employee is not working hard enough or is somehow “breaking the rules.” The issue then becomes one of compliance or policy. My questions back to the manager are always:

  1. What is the employee’s performance like compared to the goals, objectives, measurements and outcomes expected of them?
  2. What have YOU observed?
  3. Is this really an issue?

More often than not, the manager finds out that Bob is actually doing a good job. He delivers what is expected and there are no issues. Typically, the manager hasn’t observed anything; they are simply making a knee-jerk response to an employee complaint and they feel compelled to address the alleged rule breaking incident.

Here is the thing – perhaps Bob needs some coaching on how to develop himself or increase his job knowledge during down time.  Or, perhaps making a quick call or surfing the internet for a few minutes is Bob’s version of the “smoke break” or coffee break? Regardless, the manager needs to know the employee and understand the situation in front of them. The only way to do this is to observe, discuss and communicate. By reacting to perception, the manager confirms and validates the perception that the employee (Bob) is, in fact, not doing anything. That is, if you are in fact making a personal call, or surfing the internet, that is a bad thing and you are breaking the rules. By responding to this, you as the manager are sending the message that the employee is doing something wrong and is in fact, NOT performing.

So, here is the bottom line – you need to know your employee(s) and you need to understand how they are performing. If you don’t know to measure their performance or don’t know HOW they are performing, you need to become acquainted with this ASAP. It is incumbent on you as the manager to understand the performance levels of all of your employees – how else will you know if you have a problem or not? Coach, communicate, set expectations and re-adjust where need be. This will ensure that you are managing the performance and NOT the perception. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Trust is the new currency

Last week I was fortunate to be able to attend the HR Florida State Conference in beautiful Orlando, Florida (my home away from home). The conference was a first rate affair that was well organized and had a ton of fantastic concurrent sessions. My focus for the concurrent sessions was on those that focused on employee engagement, retention and overall organizational leadership. While many of these sessions covered a lot of the usual fare when it comes to attraction, retention and engagement – i.e. promoting your brand, providing developmental opportunities, etc. there was one prevailing theme that permeated throughout all of the sessions. That is, that the employment relationship is built (or broken) on one key element – TRUST.

Trust WordAt the end of the day, people want to work for managers and organizations that they trust. They want to know that the people that they report to can be trusted – trusted to provide feedback, trusted to be candid in performance discussions and trusted to keep their word and support the employee. In the same vein, employees need to trust the organization that they work for. That is, they need to trust that the company will be ethical and up front with its employees. They need to trust that companies will work diligently to balance employee needs with business needs to achieve the best possible outcomes. They need to trust that the senior leadership team is being up front in its communications and interactions with employees.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you pay your staff in the top percentile, have unlimited vacation, provide free lunches, have foosball games and ping pong tables, if you don’t have trust you won’t have staff. All those previously mentioned things are simply lipstick on a pig if there is no trust. Those things may get candidates in the door and may keep them for a short period of time; however, if they ultimately don’t trust their manager or organization they certainly won’t be engaged in their work and ultimately will not be retained.

So as leaders, managers and/or as HR Pros, we should be focusing on this area first – establishing trust with our staff. If we can get good at that, we will become good at engaging and retaining our employees. Let’s make sure we keep our word, are up front with staff, communicate, explain, provide feedback and establish accountabilities. Let’s agree that our employees are not disposable ‘assets’ on a balance sheet that can be moved around and/or discarded on a whim. Let’s accept that they are truly mobile assets and we need to earn their trust so that they stay and are productive for us. If we focus on those items, than we don’t need to focus as much on the latest employee survey tools or other “programs” meant to solve engagement and retention issues.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree that trust is the new currency? How do you go about building up your trust bank account with your staff? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Top Recruiter – Hype or Reality?

Several months ago I got hooked on watching Top Recruiter: The Competition Miami.  For those of you who are not aware of the show, it is a web-based reality TV show that pits a group of recruiters against each other in team and individual based (recruiting) competitions.  Each episode, there is a recruiter selected as the individual winner of that week’s challenge.  There is also a viewer vote each week that goes towards establishing the overall winner of the competition.  The program is produced and developed by Lavoie Entertainment (Chris Lavoie) and also features several prominent members of the recruiting, human resources and HR technology industries such as Rayanne Thorn, Jer Langhans and Jessica Miller-Merrell .  They function as advisors to the recruiters and in some cases (as with Jessica) they are providing input into who gets chosen as the episode winner(s).

Top recruiter logo-homepageThere has been quite a bit of coverage and exposure of the show on social media and online in general.  There are some in industry that have spoken out (blogged) about the show, questioning the viewing numbers and also indicating that it doesn’t accurately represent the recruiting industry.  The show’s detractors have commented that it focuses too much on the monetary benefits of recruiting – that is, these elite recruiters all drink expensive champagne, drive Porsche’s and wear $3000 business suits.  So, to say the least, it has provided a bit of fodder for those of us in the industry.  When trying to figure out for yourself whether or not the show is all hype or in fact is reality, you need to go into it with your eyes wide open to what it is.  That is, it is a TV show that is meant to entertain and to a secondary degree, inform – not the other way around.  If recruiters and HR Pros watch Top Recruiter and expect it to look exactly like their everyday job(s) they will be disappointed!  Quite frankly, the last thing I would want to watch is a reality show that is filmed at my office!  So, the location of Miami and the Top Recruiter mansion are quite lavish and scenic – there is not doubting that.  But boy, do I enjoy seeing these locations and they make for a great backdrop to the show!

Now that we have established what to expect (it is a TV show and entertainment first) one can now formulate their opinion as to whether or not they think the show is in fact reality or just hype.  Personally, after having watched all of Seasons 1 and 2 and now the first two episodes of Season 3, I think the show does a great job overall of showcasing the recruiting profession.  Sure, some of the personalities are (portrayed) as being a bit over the top, but hey it is  television.  The challenges that they are put through are an accurate reflection of what top recruiters need to be able to do: source using the latest technologies, leverage social media, effectively network and establish credibility, find a candidate on short notice who possesses a unique skill set, interview and assess, pitch candidates on a client’s corporate employment brand, etc.  The recruiters are judged on their ability to be creative, innovative, think on their feet, be professional and credible and how they represent the overall recruiting industry and profession and be able to provide solutions to their customer(s).

Setting aside the glamourous locations the show is shot at (in Miami), I think the show brings far more reality to the recruiting profession than hype.  That is to say, I feel it does a really good job representing what it is like to be a corporate or agency recruiter.  It gives a nice flavour as to the types of scenarios recruiters are faced with and it does shine a nice (positive) light on the necessary skills required to be a successful recruiter.  While not everyone who is in the recruiting business flies around on jets, drives a Porsche and lives in a mansion, the show does highlight that being a successful recruiter can translate into high degree of personal success if you choose it as a profession and in fact, it is a worthy profession to get into.  The show works hard to dispel some common stereotypes that recruiters are all used car salesman types that would do anything for a buck.  Ultimately, the show uses the tagline #themovement.  It’s ultimate aim is to change the way people look and feel about the recruiting profession and I do think they are succeeding (positively) in achieving this goal.

As far as the entertainment value goes, the show has a very high production value.  It is expertly shot and edited.  The challenges, interviews and behind the scenes looks are all spliced together seamlessly.  I find myself feeling that the 20-30 minute episodes aren’t long enough!  So, based on the fact that I feel Top Recruiter shines a nice spotlight on the recruiting industry/profession as a whole, I highly recommend that anyone interested in the profession takes the time to watch.  You will be entertained and you will learn.  Overall, I recommend the show and do feel that Top Recruiter is far more reality than it is hype and I am looking forward to the rest of Season 3 and hopefully a Season 4!

What about you? Have you watched?  What do you think?  Does it accurately portray the profession?  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.


“I’m not paid enough!” (Part II)

In my last post on this subject, I blogged about the two type of issues that generate this type of statement from an employee. I indicated that whenever a manager or an HR Pro hears this statement, it is either a situational based issue or one of circumstance.  In this post, I focused exclusively on the situational based challenges that one might face and gave some insight as to how to resolve them.  As a quick reminder, the situational based challenges are ones whereby an employee is dissatisfied with their compensation based on workload and/or role/scope creep.  These situations are ones that are often well within the organizations control and typically only affect an individual employee.  These are typically referred to as internal equity compensation issues.  You can link back to this post by clicking here.

Pay Increase 2This post will focus on the 2nd part of this compensation challenge.  That is, when the statement of claim of not being paid enough is one of circumstance.  What I am referring to is when an employee, who might not have felt underpaid before, has started to feel this way due to a particular (specific) circumstance or change in circumstance.  You often see/hear of this when an employee is talking to their peers who work for similar organizations and/or in similar industries.  They get to talking and start to feel that they are underpaid for what they do.  They might even begin to look at online salary surveys, refer to professional organizational surveys or even refer to news articles, regional economic factors, etc.  These type of compensation challenges are commonly referred to as external equity challenges.

The bottom line is that these types of concerns are circumstance driven and require an “apples to apples” comparison and discussion.  When managers and HR Pros get wind of these concerns coming from an employee or employees it requires dialogue and education.  Managers will need the direct support of HR to have these types of conversations.  It is best to hear the employee out first and try and understand what is driving their concerns.  From there you can better game plan the conversation.  It has been my experience that in order to gain an understanding with the employee, the manager and employee have to understand:

1) How the organization determines its compensation structure – were job evaluations done, how were pay bands determined, etc.  Is the issue one of overall job value or is it where & why the individual employee resides in their pay band?  It could even be as simple as letting the employee know that there IS a compensation structure and salaries just weren’t abitrarily determined.  Often this goes a long way in the understanding and resolution of the issue.

2) Why the employee is paid what they are for the job that they do – this is a discussion that focuses more on performance and how that has impacted the employee’s movement in the compensation stucture.  This is a very employee specific conversation that requires the manager to speak candidly about performance.  Often this is a positive conversation if the employee has progressed nicely along their band and resides in the top quartile(s).  They need to “see” that they are being paid at the highest levels.

3) Industry data – the manager and HR need to understand where the compensation data is coming from and how it relates or doesn’t relate to your organization.  Geography is important as many salaries differ simply based on cost of living  The computer programmer you hire in Vancouver will make more than the one you hire in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Likewise, industry is a big driver.  If you work in healthcare or environmental services, those jobs will often be paid less than ones in the oil and gas industry (for example).

4) The total compensation package – it is also key to look at things beyond pure salary.  A comparative salary difference of $15K might seem like a lot at first; however, if your organization offers flex time, compressed work weeks, professional development assistance, tuition aid, cheap(er) benefits with a retirement plan, an entrepreneurial or innovative work environment and a nice work/life balance, than that might be worth more, comparatively speaking, compared to the $15K more you might get elsewhere but have to work 70 hours a week to earn with the majority of your time spent away from your family.

5) The company’s ability to pay – often people get caught up in just the numbers as it pertains to salaries.  However, you also need to compare same/similar organization sizes and profitability.  Even within same/similar industries, a Fortune 100 company with 25,000 employees typically has a higher ability to pay than does a 50 person company in its 5th year of existence funded by its original founder/owner.  Bottom line, the company’s ability to pay is critical comparative factor when addressing circumstance based compensation challenges.  If the organization is coming off a couple of lean years, then they probably aren’t able to pay top quartile salaries.  As well, an organization has to be able to balance its books and often providing an employee a greater understanding of the organization’s financial position will help in addressing their compensation concerns. Again, the company is trying to rationalize all this against external factors (circumstance) which makes the conversation that much more difficult.

When faced with circumstance driven compensation challenges, I encourage you to have this open dialogue with your employee(s).  Share the facts (as you know them) and make sure to position things appropriately with them.  When comparing apples to apples, it may become apparent (to the employee) that they are in fact paid appropriately.  However, you should also be prepared that when reviewing factors 1-5 above, you still may have an under compensated employee and you should be prepared to address that issue too.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/







“I’m not paid enough!” (Part I)

As managers and HR Pros we have all been faced with this statement before. Whether it is a general statement by some staff (i.e. a ‘feeling’) or perhaps it is coming from someone who reports to you that has been stretched too far on an assignment or spread to thin in their current role, it is a situation that must be addressed because it is one of those sore spot issues that festers, causes resentment over time and ultimately leads to disengagement and turnover. So what to do?

First off, you need to determine whether or not the issue is one of situation or circumstance. This post is going to focus on when the issue is one of situation.  The good news when dealing with an issue of situation is that these issues are quite often within the organization’s (manager’s) control to address and resolve.  I will blog about circumstance-based compensation challenges in a post later this week.

Pay Increase 1If you are dealing with a compensation issue based on situation, than your focus needs to be on communication, understanding, coaching and support, with you ultimately getting to the root cause issue. That is, in situation based compensation issues, what your employee is probably saying is that they are not paid enough for what they are being asked to do. Often this is when your employee is doing the work of one or two other people. You often see this is in departments where there has been some turnover and staff haven’t been replaced. The workload is spread out amongst one or two stronger performers who “can handle it.” The weeks and months go by with the work continuing to get done and as the manager you start to think, “hmm, maybe I don’t need to replace/add any staff.” The problem is that this takes its toll on your employees and they start to feel taken advantage of, hence the reason you start to hear the “I am not paid enough” comments.

As the manager, you need to start to work with these employees and get them to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That could come in the form of a commitment to add headcount by a certain date, or take some of the workload off their plate and spread it around to others. At the very least, there needs to be a carrot – whether that is some paid time off (aside from their regularly earned vacation), a bonus or some other monetary reward.  At the end of the day, the compensation issue is coming from the situation that they have been thrust in and/or accepted up to this point.  This is also, primarily, an internal pay equity issue.  That is, it has almost nothing to do with outside factors, hence the reason it is within the organization’s control to address.

A similar issue also arises when it comes to role issues (as opposed to workload).  This is  another example of a situational based compensation complaint.  You see this is in cases where an employee is asked (or allowed) to step outside of their regular role and take on an assignment with greater responsibilities.  They are never given any formal title or compensation increase but the organization benefits from the employee performing in the higher paying position (without paying them to do it.)  It is incumbent on managers and HR staff to not allow these situations to persist long-term.  Again, staff will feel taken advantage of and will begin to resent their company.

You can’t look at this type of situation as “getting a deal” because any short-term salary savings you think you are getting will be gone the minute that employee attains.  Employees don’t have a problem with taking on roles to show what they can do – kind of like a “try before you buy” type of deal. However, once they have proven themselves to you, you need to put your money where your mouth is, organizationally speaking, and do the right thing by officially promoting and compensating them.

Bottom line, as a manager and/or as HR Pros, when you hear an employee or employees state, “I’m not paid enough” AND you can determine it is a situational based complaint/concern, it is well within your control to address things.  Talk to the employee, understand the situation that they have been placed in, take steps to alleviate workload issues and/or to address role enhancement issues.  Keep in mind, left unaddressed, situational based compensation issues are major drivers of disengagement and turnover.  Next post, I will address circumstance based compensation challenges.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Me, Myself and I Inc.

One of the smartest things that professionals can do is to make sure that they are always managing their personal brand. Essentially, your personal brand is the bits and pieces that make up who you are as a working professional. This covers a range of things like your reputation at/for work (i.e. quality, dependability, performance, on time delivery, etc.) as well as the more subjective pieces that make up your brand DNA like your personal ethics and values, what you stand for and other criteria on which you base your decision-making.

There are other elements of your personal brand that important to maintain such as how you network, how you market yourself and how you represent yourself in social media. All of these elements must be skillfully maintained, cultivated and managed by you on a regular basis. If ever a piece of your personal brand falls out of alignment with the rest of your brand composition, than your overall personal brand suffers.

BrandThe importance of maintaining your personal brand cannot be overstated. It plays such a huge part in your career trajectory and personal job satisfaction, whether you realize it or not! I often get asked by folks for career advice, and while I don’t consider myself some sort of uber-career advice guru, my years of experience in HR qualify me (I think) to dole out the occasional nugget of wisdom. The best advice I give people (IMHO) is when I advise people to always be managing their personal brand (hence the reason for this blog post!) That is, always make sure you are managing YOUR NAME Inc., or as I like to call it, “think of yourself as an employee/owner of Me, Myself and I Incorporated. That way, when you make (career) decisions you are making them in the best interest of this ‘company’ called YOUR NAME Inc. (a.k.a. Me, Myself and I Inc.)

Essentially, this line of thinking keeps everything in alignment for you from a personal branding perspective. If you think of your personal brand the same way you think of a product/business brand, it makes total sense why you would make career decisions in the best interests of Me, Myself and I Inc. If you think of yourself as a company, your own individual entity, than your brand IS your company and your company is your brand.

Now I know what you are thinking, but Scott, you are advising that people don’t consider their current employer in this equation? Absolutely not! Who you currently work for plays a big role in the decisions you make and how they align with your personal brand. A lot of times (many times) what is best for Me, Myself and I Inc. is what is best for who YOU work for. That is, decisions that cause you to apply for internal promotions, volunteer for project teams or support your colleagues are what are best for you and your company. Better yet, the day to day decision you make to show up to work and do a good job is most certainly in the best interest of My, Myself and I Inc. as that is what your employer expects from you AND it is what they pay you for! I would assume that earning money, being able to pay your rent/mortgage and put food on the table is what is best for Me, Myself and I Inc.? The tricky part comes when those two things (what is best for you vs your company) are at odds.

When conflicted with career choices and decisions, I always advise people to make a decision in the best interest of Me, Myself and I Inc. Sometimes this may involve someone moving on to (perceived) greener pastures. Sometimes this change is good for you and for your company. Perhaps you have grown stale in your role and with your company and you both need a change. Sometimes a change of scenery is good for both parties. In other situations, you may find yourself at moral or ethical odds with the company you work for. Perhaps the new line of business they opened up conflicts with your morals or beliefs? Sometimes how they treat employees (in general) during difficult time gives you pause for thought. Either way, you own your career and you own your brand, so you need to make a decision that is in alignment with this brand and that is best for Me, Myself and I Inc.

My intent here is not to put you at odds with your current employer, but to give you cause to pause and reflect on your personal brand, how you currently have it defined and what it means to you in your current role and for your career overall. The bottom line is that you need to make sure you are making decisions in the best interests of Me, Myself and I Inc., that is, those that reflective of your personal brand, because at the end of the day, that is what you are marketing to your current and future employers. Think of your brand and what drives you to make the career decisions that you have made so far. What has led you down this path? What has caused you to be successful? Then, stick to this personal brand charter and act accordingly. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Happy 2nd Blogiversary to me!

Wow, hard to believe another year has gone by at the Armchair HR Manager. As a (still) fairly new HR blogger, I have only been doing this for two years now; however, I am starting to find my sweet spot a bit. What started out as an exercise in capturing my thoughts and sharing lessons learned has now evolved into, I think, a somewhat respectable blog with a modest following….and for that I am very grateful. I have started to focus more on leadership challenges as well some specific HR and recruiting topics. This seems to have struck a (positive) chord with my readership.

2nd anniversaryOne of the things that I have found to be truly remarkable about the blogging experience and HR bloggers in general, is how supportive they are. I have found that most bloggers, regardless of their experience level, remember what those first few years of blogging were like and how difficult it is to make your mark. Instead of viewing new HR bloggers as ‘competition’, they have tended to provide support, inspiration and guidance and keep reminding me that I am not along…people really are reading my/our stuff!
At the very least, I have found the HR blogging community is not shy about challenging ideas and each other, albeit in a very respectful way. I have found that to be a great learning experience for me too. As I have gotten a bit bolder in my writing, and more adventuresome in where I share my thoughts, I have engaged with more and more people and have come to experience a greater diversity of perspectives from people who have read my blog and shared their thoughts with me. This truly has been one of the most remarkable and most positive aspects of blogging!

As I move into year three of this blogging journey, much like I did last year, I wanted to throw out a word of thanks (and a plug) for some folks who have helped me along this journey by providing me advice, guidance, inspiration, support or simply due to the fact that they ALWAYS take the time to share my content. For those I haven’t met in person, it is my sincerest hope that I will get the opportunity to meet some of you in the coming year(s). I also hope that you check out their blogs and what they have to say – you won’t be disappointed!

1) Jay Kuhns ( No Excuses HR) – Jay blogs about leadership and HR by providing bite size nuggets of instantly applicable information. Jay is the VP of HR at All Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida and blogs at NoExcusesHR. Jay continues to provide a lot of support to The Armchair HR Manager blog by sharing my content on a regular basis to his vast network. Jay is always supportive of his fellow HR bloggers and to the HR community in general.

2) Mike Lehr (Omega Z Advisors) – Mike provides great leadership and management advice on his blog over at Omega Z Advisors. Mike’s personal mission, in my opinion, is to help make better leaders of us all! Mike is an engaging writer who never hesitates to share content and provide commentary on what I write. Thanks for your support Mike!

3) Chris Fields (The Resume Crusade) – I have had the opportunity to correspond with Chris over the past year. Chris provides a lot of valuable advice to those in the job search process. He provides a lot of information on resumes, job searching and interviewing. If you are looking for a job or are thinking of making a move, you should check out his blog. If you need a resume done RIGHT – hire him to do that too!

4) Sabrina Baker (Acacia HR Solutions) – Sabrina is an HR consultant who works at, and writes, for her company, Acacia HR Solutions. Sabrina brings a ton of real world experience to her writing. If you are looking for HR advice or some great HR content, check out her blog. She provides a lot of practical advice and I appreciate that she takes the time to share my content too!

5) Careers in Government (Mike Hurwitz) – Mike and I started working together a few months back. One of my side writing gigs has been to provide some content for Mike’s Careers in Government site. They have a ton of relevant career information on their site so you should check them out. Mike has also been a supporter of The Armchair HR Manager as well and I appreciate that.

6) Brighter Life (Paul Gagliardi) – Paul and I began a partnership well over a year or so ago. Paul is in charge of content for one of Sun Life’s sites – Brighter They share some great posts on managing life and career challenges. Paul has been a big supporter of my blog and its content and I encourage everyone to check out BrighterLife for some great information!

7) Kevin Dee (Eagle Professional Resources) – Kevin is the CEO of the staffing firm Eagle Professional Resources. Kevin was an early adopter of many social media tools and has been blogging on his corporate site for many years. Kevin provides valuable advice on leadership, management and talent acquisition (as well as other topics). I encourage you to check out his blog – you won’t be disappointed.

I wanted to provide a big thank you to these seven, as well anyone else who has read and/or shared my writings from The Armchair HR Manager. I am looking forward to another year of blogging and continuing to engage with the HR blogging community as a whole.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

What do you stand for?

There has been much hype and coverage about the recent Ray Rice/domestic violence issue. Without re-hashing too much of things, the salient points are:
Ray Rice is an NFL football player who plays (played) for the Baltimore Ravens• He was brought up on charges for domestic violence.

• The league that he plays in, the NFL, waited to see what the courts would decide before they did anything.

• He was indicted on a charge of 3rd degree aggravated assault and based on the indictment, Rice was suspended for 2 games by the league.

• There was a lot of public outcry from fans that this was not a long enough suspension. To compare, athletes that use performance enhancing drugs all receive an automatic 4 game suspension for a 1st time offence.

• The commissioner of the league later admitted that he goofed on the suspension (it wasn’t long enough) and quickly implemented stiffer penalties for future domestic violence (player conduct) violations. (Automatic 6 game suspension).

• Yesterday, a video of the incident (which showed Rice assaulting his wife), became publically available. In a word, it is disturbing. Rice essentially punches his wife and knocks her unconscious in an elevator and then drags her out by her hair. Because of this video, more public backlash ensued.

• The league, which hadn’t seen (or even previously asked for) the video, promptly suspended Rice indefinitely. His team, the Baltimore Ravens, immediately released (terminated with pay) him from their team.

StopThis obviously won’t be the end of this story as Rice decides if he will appeal his suspension and/or if the players union will intervene on his behalf and challenge the league on whether or not they can even change the suspension/suspend him indefinitely. Regardless, my concern with this whole situation is not so much with the league and its commissioner but with Rice’s employer, the Baltimore Ravens. While the league goofed with the initial suspension by going WAY too light on such a serious issue as domestic violence, they quickly copped to this error and implemented stiffer penalties for future offenses. (Yes, the league could have asked for the video before but didn’t for some reason.) So as the governing body, their initial response was not the right one; however, they are not a court of law so they can change their decision/ruling, etc. and suspending him indefinitely was the right move.

My greater concern is with his employer, the Ravens. They chose to remain mostly silent on the issue up until yesterday. That is, they were content to let the judicial system met out its punishment to Rice and then let the league do the same in turn. At no point in time did the Ravens seemingly want to thoroughly look into this issue themselves. They too didn’t ask for video of the incident, which begs the question, what do they stand for? Yes, I know that they spoke to Rice who I am sure gave them a watered down version of what really happened, but surely as an employer, the Ravens have their own code of conduct that governs how they expect their employees to act? Surely based on what they heard and found out and should have asked (i.e. for the video), they could have made their own determination that Ray Rice was not someone that they wanted employed with and representing their organization. Now, the interesting thing is that Rice is one of their top players. I can only wonder if he was player #53 on the 53 man roster if the Ravens first response would have been different.

Yes, the Ravens finally did the right thing by releasing him from their team, but that is only after the court of public opinion AND a very damning piece of video evidence came to light. They could have terminated Rice’s contract before this. (Essentially terminate him with pay). They could have stood up and said that ANY type of violence against women is unacceptable and as such, they will not employ someone who has conducted themselves in such a way. I don’t know what values the Ravens organization has or what criteria they choose to govern themselves by; all I know is that at this moment, I personally am not sure as to what they stand for as a company. They could have made a stronger statement against domestic violence by terminating Rice earlier on in this process after their own investigation. At the end of the day, it ultimately was never a question of guilt or innocence from Rice; it became an issue or matter of ‘severity.’

I challenge each of us in our roles and with our organizations to think about what we stand for and how we would govern ourselves in such a situation. Would you have responded differently? Would you have continued to employ someone who conducted themselves this way? How does that reflect upon you as an organization? What do you stand for? What does your company stand for? For me, this is all about look to your personal and organizational values to guide your decision making. As an HR Pro representing your company, how do you want to be known and what do you want to be known for?  How would you lead your organization if faced with an issue like this?  What do you want to be known for? If you can’t answer these questions and/or if you don’t have these personal or organizational values to help guide your decision making, then perhaps you may find yourself in the same situation as the Baltimore Ravens.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

Personal Accountability – A lesson learned

For regular followers of my blog, as well as members of my network, you will know that I am a big believer in personal accountability. I write about it a lot, I speak about it and I most certainly coach others on it a lot. Bottom line, my belief has always been that we are all personally accountable for our actions. As soon as we get caught up in a victim complex, we are trying to blame others and remove our own personal accountability. The most successful people I have ever worked with, and look up to, have always demonstrated a high degree of personal accountability. Hence the reason in my work and personal life I have always tried to hold myself personally accountable for my actions. If I screwed up, I will admit it. If I have erred in judgment I will cop to it. In all cases I try and learn from the experience to better myself as a person and also so I can be a better coach to my operations clients (and on a personal level, to my family.)

Police StoppedThe reason I am blogging about this subject and the reason I gave you the preamble above is because I screwed up the other day. For all the time I spend coaching and preaching personally accountability, I totally went against what I believe in and what I try and instill in others. I became a victim, or at least that is what I tried to do. I blamed other people for my actions. What did I do? Well, nothing horribly egregious – I got a speeding ticket. Yes, I know people get them every day, but this was the first ticket I have ever received in my life!

Here’s the scoop, there were multiple accidents on the major highway I take home from work. I tried to be clever by taking alternate routes, none of which worked as everything was gridlocked from these accidents plus the usual back to school traffic. My clever decision to take an alternate route had me stuck in construction traffic for well over an hour. I then decided to take another route home (after I cleared the construction) to make up some time. It was at that point in time I was flagged for speeding. (Truth be told, I just wasn’t paying enough attention, I was focused on taking my new found short cut route) and not wanting to be any later than I already was.

After the officer handed me my ticket and left I began my shameful drive home. What a lousy feeling it was getting a ticket. As I continued my drive home, I got madder and madder. “It’s not my fault that I got stuck in traffic for all that time and that it made me late getting home.” “The stupid GPS sent me on this new route, if I just went my usual way this never would have happened.” “Don’t the police have real criminals to catch? Why are they wasting their time on catching someone going a few kilometers above the speed limit?” I went home and began Googling all kinds of ways to beat the speeding ticket in court. I must have spent 2+ hours surfing for this information the other night.

Then it hit me. I was deflecting all blame and accepting no personal accountability. I was trying to make myself out to be a victim. I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I went against what I believe in terms of accepting personal accountability. I was embarrassed that I spent, no, make that wasted, more than two hours of my life trying to figure out how I could “get out of” paying the ticket. That was two hours I could have spent with my family. Most of all, I was embarrassed that I felt like a hypocrite.

Bottom line is that I needed to walk the walk and practice what I preach. By not accepting personal accountability, I wasted time, energy and effort as nothing positive came out of trying to be a victim. My personal relationships were not enhanced because of this. This was no one’s fault but mine. I needed to accept that and move on. For me, personal accountability is all about learning from our mistakes. In this case, I learned a valuable lesson – be more mindful of the speed limit and don’t blame others for your own poor decision making. Rushing around and trying to “make up time” just doesn’t work. Don’t blame it on someone else – all that did was make a lousy day worse! I am accepting accountability for my actions. I will stop whining about getting the ticket. I am moving on. I have accepted the consequences and will pay my ticket and be a better driver.

What about you? Can you accept personal accountability for your actions? Will it make your life and career better? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Photo courtesy of

Lessons Learned: The right candidate at the right time

One of the main goals, if not THE main goal of recruiting is to find the “right” candidate(s) for our client(s). In talent acquisition, we receive a job requisition and then conduct our in-take meeting with our client. At that point in time, we obtain all the necessary information to conduct a proper search. We make sure to understand what “success” looks like by obtaining/developing a proper performance profile. As recruiters, we then go out and conduct an exhaustive search. We employ our best sourcing strategies, we leverage our network and utilize social media to search for that “just right candidate.” For the best recruiters, many times they are successful in the search. They are able to find that match that the hiring manager is looking for, both in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities, but also in terms of overall “fit.” The candidate accepts the offer and starts with your company (or your client’s company) and life is good.

Time Too SoonSo far, this sounds like a classic recruiting success story but then, something strange happens. This candidate, Mr. or Ms. Right, quits after 6-9 months on the job. What happened? We had the right performance profile. All of our predictive analytics and testing was spot on. The candidates’ references validated what we had thought about the candidate in terms of their experience and capability. So what went wrong? We hired the right candidate!?
In my experience, hiring the right candidate is, of course, a major part of the recruiting formula. There is, however, another major piece of that equation that is often missing. You need to hire the right candidate at the right time. The part about the right time is the element that trips up a lot of good recruiters mostly due to the fact that finding and hiring the “right” candidate is what gets recognized and rewarded.

Here is the thing, your rock star candidate might seem right to you but you really need to be listening to make sure that it is the right TIME to hire them. For example, at a previous company of mine, we were looking for a Manager of Client Services to be the client lead at a local contact center with an employee base of about 400 people . The position was an individual contributor role and reported to an offsite Director. After intensive searching and interviewing we thought we had found the right person based on their background, skillset and how they interviewed. This person had worked in a large contact centre environment before and had managed multiple client contracts across multiple verticals. They understood the contact centre environment and had thrived in previous roles.

We hired this person and within 6 months they quit. We were shocked and couldn’t understand what went wrong. However, when looking back on things to determine exactly what did go wrong, we figured that we probably didn’t listen to the candidate We got caught up in romancing them and didn’t truly listen to their questions and feedback to make sure the timing was right. Turns out, the candidate/employee, was actually taking a step back in their career with this move (not forward as we had thought.) They were really looking for a Director level role where they could call the shots and lead staff. (In their previous role, before joining my former company, they had a staff of 6 that did a lot of the proverbial “leg work” in client services whereas in this role, with no staff, they would be doing all that themselves.) Turns out, in the process of courting the candidate AND in the candidate only hearing what they wanted to hear from us, that the fit we thought that was there really wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, this was still a great candidate but we hired them at the wrong time. We needed this person once our contact center had expanded and doubled as part of its growth trajectory. This candidate would have been ideal about 2 -3 years from the day we had actually hired them. We missed the part about hiring right at the right TIME. To this day, that has been a real lesson learned by me and one that I routinely advise others not to repeat. You need to truly understand the career timing of your candidate, as well as your organizational timing and career offering, when making the hiring decision. Step back a bit from romancing the candidate and make sure you are not just in love with their credentials and experience. You need to get the equation right. Take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this the right candidate at the right time…or just the right candidate? Often, if it is just the right candidate, you may end up looking for the right candidate AGAIN. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

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