This morning, Brian Mageirski  pointed me to an article in TechCrunch about  a Reduction in Force at Jive Software in Portland, Oregon.  The post highlighted a former employee’s take on the layoffs, and his thoughts on why he felt the company mismanaged the process.  This employee was not laid off – he had already found another job and given his notice, but he was surrounded by the folks who were caught off-guard by the layoff.  Chris’s post and the associated comments didn’t say anything different than what we heard during the dot com bust.  There’s nothing surprising or outrageous here.  Nothing I didn’t hear from (or, for that matter, say to) my friends and family when my husband was laid off.  What’s different this time is the audience.  Chris is no longer sharing this with his closest friends and family – he’s sharing it with the world.  And the world is listening and responding.

And so are the world’s former and future bosses.  Uh-oh.  Are those bridges I smell burning?

This, of course, started some conversations internally.  I was talking to our Social Media Studette, Susan Scrupski, about it, and she mentioned that this was something she was already addressing.  We got into a discussion about how we have a choice as we move forward…  We either change the way we react to other people’s honest postings, or we encourage self-censorship to head off potential future problems. 

Social media advocates (like Susan) will say we need to change the way we react. They believe that this type of transparent, vibrant, open discussion is how we’re changing the world.   We need to “get over ourselves and our big egos” and encourage people to say what they feel, and use that to develop better processes and solutions in the future.   They’re drippy, lovey Liberals that way… 

I, on the other hand, am terribly old-fashioned.  I encourage self-censorship.  Thinking before you post.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again – the internet is pretty much permanent.   If you might be embarrassed by something five years from now, I suggest you refrain from posting it.  I’m a boring, old, humorless Conservative that way…

Back to Chris’s post, though…  There are some important points in this post.  Companies might be able to take away some valuable lessons about how you treat exiting employees.  Keeping their personal items isn’t just harsh – it’s sort of stealing.  And it looks REALLY bad.  Even if we don’t have all the information, it doesn’t matter.  Perception is 9/10ths of reality, and Jive’s going to have a hard time recovering their employment brand after this.  And, what’s worse is that it was a pretty cool brand before they kept people’s wedding pictures.

Employees might be able to take away some valuable lessons, too.  Remember that HR doesn’t generally make the decisions about who stays and who goes during a layoff.  That’s a decision that’s handed down from the business leaders.  And most of the time, HR doesn’t have a lot of input into severance packages and exit details.  So, projecting your anger on the messenger (HR) isn’t fair, and it’s not healthy.  HR people get laid off and find new jobs, too, you know. 

I can understand the anger (my husband was working and laid off during the dot com era, too), but I could appreciate who made the decisions and who had the unenviable task of delivering the news.  Be careful how loudly you cry and gnash your teeth – your potential future employers might not be able to fully empathize with your circumstances, and your on-line behavior may be used against you in your job search.  Google is a hiring manager’s best friend, after all, and in a market where there are more potential employees than there are open jobs, hiring managers will be picky.

I guess Chris got a lot of feedback, because while I was writing this post, I was alerted to another post by Chris, which comes across as much more positive.

The very best reply of the entire year came from someone claiming to be Chris’ mother:

Chris, you are blessed beyond words in so many ways. God protected you and gave you another job before this all happened. Don’t forget that Jive was a blessing for you. You made a lot of new friends and learned a lot. Changes in your life have always been for the better and this won’t be any different. Your new company will be better to have you just like Jive was!! I know you aren’t upset about this, just surprised that stuff in the world happens in the manner in which it did!!

If we’d all just listen to our mothers, our lives would be so much easier.

And, since it’s my birthday, I need to give a hat tip to my mother and father, Bernadette and Bob Carty.  Thanks folks.  I appreciate the gift of a very happy life.  Here’s to another 36+ years!


UPDATE:  I forgot to mention that the only things I removed from this email were the guy’s full phone number and last name.  Everything else is EXACTLY as I received it.  Including the field codes.

Do not send me something that looks like this (true story – really happened today):

Hello (%Naren%)

As you know, I represent a staffing company whereby we work at a national level, servicing our clients in the IT / Engineering area, helping them fill their contract openings or direct hire positions. If I can assist you fill job openings at (, please send me a job description and then contact me ASAP.

Since 90% of our business comes from repeat business, I would like to make you one of our repeat clients.

I look to hearing from you shortly, with a favorable reply.

Naren <Last Name Removed>

Tel: 714-xxx-xxxx

If you send me something like that, it tells me two very important things:

  1. You think so highly of yourself that you assume I know who you are, who you work for, and what you do. 
  2. You have a terrible grasp of Mail Merge, because you couldn’t even get the fields to populate.

I’m not going to respond to a blanket, mass email sent to the Careers address for my company.  I don’t send bulk emails to my candidates, so I expect that people who are looking to provide me with a paid service would be smart enough to take a few minutes of research time to figure out who I am and what I do.  I expect a personalized note, and I expect that you will attempt to build a relationship with me before I do any kind of business with you.  

Recruiting should be a personalized service.  I expect that my third-party partners are taking the time to understand our needs, as well as those of the candidates they refer.  The partners we’ve used in the past have been successful at this, because they are interested in what each party needs and wants, and are able to effectively bridge any gap.  Some of our recent, successful partners include Modis, Hirestarter, and the Laurel Group. Each of these organizations has done a great job of developing relationships with nGenera, and when they provide us with candidates, they are as interested in the right fit as they are in the placement fee.

So, to reiterate…  If you’re a third-party recruiter hoping to do business with us, please take a minute to do a couple of quick Google searches to see who you’re dealing with, and try to actually build a relationship with us – don’t just throw us your candidates and hope one sticks. I can guarantee you that there is no quicker way to my “blocked senders list” than by wasting my time.

Workforce Management recently highlighted the HR function at Owens Corning.

Here are my thoughts:
The best quote (and one that I think transcends HR – it really is a struggle for most departments) is from Owens Corning’s Sr. VP of Human Resources, Joseph High:  

“I have seen HR people get so enamored with the function of HR and they act like that’s the end,” he says. “But it’s just a means to the end. The end is achieving the business results.”  

Without solid business results, HR ceases to exist.  There is no money to pay people if there are no business results.

High mentions that he wants to bring HR back-office costs to zero.  I believe that doing so proves that HR is more than a cost center – it is a business driver.  If HR can prove that the benefits of what they do, outweigh the concrete dollar costs, HR can establish itself as a profit center, rather than a cost center.  Obviously, implementing an Innovation nGen (or, if you’re not into nGenera-speak, an Innovation Engine) helps that – as the capacity for innovation increases, Owens Corning’s HR department can help drive costs down and better quantify the bottom-line dollar results of HR activities. 

High also discusses the role managers play in workforce planning (which we recently addressed on with industry superstar Susan Burns).  He travels 10 days out of the month, and meets with the business and HR leaders to get a solid understanding of where the business areas are headed.  According to High, he is “getting managers to be clear on where they see their markets going and what that means for talent.”  High is putting some of the responsibility for workforce planning on the people who define the need – the business leaders.

Owens Corning expects all employees to be leaders.  To that end, they have established clear, measurable attributes for leadership at all levels of the organization, from executives to front line team members.  As they continue to grow as an organization, Owens Corning refines the attributes to reflect changes in their internal culture, and the external marketplace. 

Further in the article, High is asked about a massive acquisition and a divestiture Owens Corning undertook last year.  High explained the difficulties associated with managing the processes.  He pointed out that the HR team “had to help decide which talent would stay with Owens Corning and which would go. It also included a lot of decisions about how benefits would be handled for people who stayed and for those who left.”  Owens Corning’s HR team rose to the challenge and helped manage a process that significantly increased the worldwide workforce for Owens Corning (from 30% to 50%).  

The article also briefly touches on “environmental” stability, as it related to Owens Corning’s overall business goals.  High says that the overall business purpose of Owens Corning is to “enhance lives and transform solutions,” and environmental stewardship will always be a part of that.  Frankly, I was surprised that there wasn’t more emphasis on this piece, since it’s sort of the “flavor of the week” for today’s companies.

At the end of the article, High is asked to explain how they measure success.  His thoughts?  

” I measure my success by [whether] we are hitting our business objectives and if we are creating stronger talent year over year. Do we have the right people for the right roles when we need them? Having said that, I can have the greatest succession planning ever, but if we don’t make our business results, then I have not met my objectives.”

It’s these types of things that have made Owens Corning one of Fortune Magazine’s “Most Admired Companies” for several years running.

What do you think?  How are you measuring the success of your HR team?  Do you have a strong enough grasp on how your group directly impacts the business?

(or, did you really mean to come across like that?)

A few weeks ago, one of the nGenera interns (and my very own mentee!), Brittany Creamer, wrote an insightful post on the Wikinomics blog on managing your personal identity online. Her main point was that you really can’t control what becomes attached to your name on the giant information superhighway known as the Internet.  But, what Brittany’s post doesn’t address is what happens when you make yourself look bad online.  And so, as a public service to the nGenera interns who will be leaving us this week, I’ve decided to share a little insight on managing your personal and professional reputation on-line.

I’m not going to go into details of the case in question, because, frankly, I don’t want to be a conduit for someone to continue to tarnish his/her own reputation, but I saw this Reputation Mangling (thanks, Barbara Ling for a new catchphrase, and hat tip to Maureen Sharib for the link!) in action last week, and was really disappointed by the levels to which otherwise professional-minded people will sink when they think no one else is watching.  

Rudeness, even under the guise of helpfulness, is still rudeness.  On-line rudeness is no better than in-person rudeness.  If you spend time working to cultivate a positive image for yourself on-line, you should do what it takes to protect that positive image, and rudeness is step one in the destruction of your personal brand.  Here are some things to remember:

  • No matter what any privacy policy might state, what you post on-line is very likely to be public, in perpetuity.  That means forever.  The internet does not yet appear to have a shelf life, and bits and bytes aren’t shredded after 7 years like your financial records are. You can safely assume that anything you put on-line is going to be available to anyone with the dedication and determination to find it. 
  • Your years of hard work building a solid, stable, positive reputation can be undone with just one moment of weakness.  By design, humans are emotional creatures, and our emotions sometimes get in the way of our judgement (and I am truly the queen of this, so I know of what I speak).  If someone denigrates you in public, the best course of action is to attempt to handle it privately, and with a lot of thought about what you’re going to say and whom you’re going to involve.  One mis-interpretation of what you’ve typed and your reputation could be severely damaged. 
  • Once your reputation is tarnished, it takes a lot more work to get it polished up again.  
  • If you want to provide advice to a specific person, do so carefully and in a private manner (emails, phone conversations, etc.).  When you’re directing advice to a specific person in a public forum, chances are you’re going to be interpreted in a manner you didn’t intend.
  • Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle

Since this is unsolicited advice, I feel obligated to point out that it is not directed at a specific person.  Instead, I hope that our interns, and other folks interested in their own personal branding and identity management, will find these tidbits to be helpful reminders that you are what you do.

I’ll admit that this doesn’t have anything to do with Recruiting.  However, it has everything to do with marketing and knowing your audience, so I’m going to post it.  It’s all about the Care Bears.

In 1985, my beloved Cheer Bear looked like this:

Cheer Bear 1985 was a cuddly, happy, fat (all the Care Bears were fat), snuggly friend.  She was aimed squarely at the junk-food-eating, tv-watching slugs that me and my Generation X buddies were.  AND WE LIKED IT!  She made us happy.  So what if she was a little overweight?  She was Rubenesque

Last weekend, I happened to turn on the television, and I saw some cartoon characters that looked vaguely familiar.  They were pastel-colored, and they had little symbols on their tummies…  Could it be? Yes!  Yes, it was!  It was the Care Bears.  But something was very, very wrong.  My Cheer Bear, my dear friend, my confidante!  She was…  CHANGED!

I guess American Greetings, the company that owns the Care Bears brand, did some customer research, and decided that today’s kids were tired of the stereotypes.  They wanted their Care Bears thin!  They wanted them active!

Well, actually, a little bit of research uncovered a NY Times article from last month detailing the “21st Century Facelift” that the Care Bears, along with Strawberry Shortcake, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and many other characters are undergoing.  The characters of my youth are going under the animator’s knife to come out looking more youthful profitable.  The Times article makes it pretty clear:

If the classic characters look less stodgy, the companies hope, they will appeal not only to parents who remember them fondly, but also to children who might automatically be suspicious of toys their parents played with. For parents, nostalgia is considered a bigger sales hook than ever because of the increasingly violent and hyper-sexualized media landscape.

So, American Greetings DID do their research, but they didn’t decide to make the Care Bears skinny just because skinny is the new black, but because they wanted me to want to buy them for my kids (heritage) and they want my kids to want me to buy them for them (innovation).

Probably my favorite quote from the Times article is this:

Licensing experts say they perceive a subtle psychological game at play, an attempt to hit the nostalgia button on a generation of young parents just as they start to feel their first twinges of middle age.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a new Corvette to buy, and I need to find myself a trophy husband.  I feel a crisis coming on.

A few weeks ago, my family and I took our first long vacation in several years.  We visited family in Ellijay, Georgia, and we spent some time on beautiful Topsail Island, NC.  It’s obviously been a long time since we’ve had a vacation, so my ability to step away from work was a little rusty.  In fact, when I found out that our beach house had wireless, I was so excited I did the Linus Dance. I was able to get to all my applications (of course, being that we’re a SaaS software company, all of my apps are SaaS-based), and I was able to fight some fires while I was out.

But then… disaster struck!  As I was showing my father-in-law something on the internet, I was startled by something, turned too quickly, and knocked a glass of wine onto my keyboard.  You can guess what happened next…  a sizzle, a quick whiff of ozone, and then the screen went black.  Uh-oh.  

So, I was without a laptop.  Luckily, I still had my iPhone, and I still had access to all of my applications, since they were all on the web, and not installed on my hard drive.  Even though I had a catastrophic equipment failure, I did not have a catastrophic loss of productivity.  


As soon as I returned home and brought my sad, fried laptop to Best Buy for repair, I was able to get up and running on our iMac.  And when we realized that it would be THREE WEEKS before my laptop would be repaired, I was able to buy a MacBook, get it set up to use my SaaS software, and be up and running in less than 30 minutes!   I was already hooked on SaaS, but after this experience, my support was cemented.  If I had to re-install all my applications on my hard drive, we’d be talking about hours (at least!) of lost productivity and hair-pulling.

All of my data were still there.  The documents I have created over the past few months were still available on nGenera’s own SaaS-based collaboration tool, nGen Collaboration.  All of my resumes, schedules, and interview comments were still waiting for me on Jobvite. In short, I was able to access all my information, on demand, when I needed it.

And SaaS applications made that possible.

Hat tip to MN Headhunter for this one…

Wordle is a cute little tool for creating “word clouds” from your writing. I hopped on the site, told it to map my blog, and got this funky little picture:

Apparently, I talk a lot about Enterprise and 2.0. I like the tool, though, because it can really show you where a person’s interests are. My friend Paul, the MN Headhunter, for example, is a little too into sports, according to his Wordle. My Twitter Wordle looks like I like myself:

My Twitter Wordle

With apologies to Capital One
“What’s in your Wordle?” Post your links as comments!