Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hazards of Being New

HR people new to an organization have a double whammy of hazards. First of all figuring out the plethora of new processes and ways of doing things is difficult. In addition the hows and why's are an unknown. Everyone would like to think they are a No BS HR person who uses a machete to cut through red tape . But every organization has their own politics and drama. Sometimes it is very hard to figure out the dramatics (also paranoids or people who view risk takers as some sort of leper) from the people who are just trying to help you out ("You know the COO is the approval authority for that and he is specifically looking for..."). Until you figure the political atmosphere out you have two choices:

1. Take refuge in the protective embrace of corporate HR and become the operational spy that narcs and circumvents your operational leaders at every turn.
2. Trust your operations guys and go along for the ride, make mistakes learn (maybe get thrown under the bus), but learn with your operations guys (you know the guys that actually make stuff and drive profit) and hopefully bond with them to create a solid relationship for the future.

Of course I choose #2. I see no problem going on an early ill advised jihad against corporate with your operations guys support, even if you know you will lose. It is call team building people and OPS guys need to know that you are no pansy that you wont be the one to constantly nag and harass them out of any out of the box idea they try to implement. Once they see you don't mind bleeding a little for them you would be amazed at the respect you get from them. This you can cash in later when you are coaching them to have more patience before they terminate that person who hasn't had a below average performance evaluation in his life and no write ups in his file ("Don't you think you should tell him what he is doing wrong in a formal setting before termination?").

I have always been an all or nothing type of guy and, in the end, I don't mind sacrificing a little bit of my early credibility with the corporate types to solidify my position within my team of people who actually drive profit.

So my advice, be prepared to bleed a little or go home.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

But...Sometimes You Take the Money

In my last post I talked about how Jim Harbaugh would stay at Stanford because of the ownership he has of the Stanford team. Later that day, It was announced that Jim Harbaugh would be taking the head coaching position for the San Francisco 49er's.
So what does that say about my previous analysis? Well, it says that I have never been faced with a choice that had personal earnings of seven or more zeros attached to it, for sure. However if you look atmost of the news stories Stanford was always in the running. Jim Harbaugh was negotiating out of a pure strength position. He was happy at Stanford, but was open to other opportunities if, and only if, it was the perfect opportunity for him. Notice some of the earlier NFL teams were turned away. My guess (although no contract terms have been specified as of yet) is that Harbaugh was looking for the grand slam and, if he did not find it, would have been content to stay at Stanford until he did.
So Stanford, being the most prestigious academic school on the West Coast and not only landing, but making a good play at keeping the most sought after football coaching talent in America we salute you. It means you have something going very right in your athletic department. You don't win them all, but my guess is that Harbaugh will set you up for success and even help you with the search for his replacement.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Employee Loyalty and Owning a Team--A Hidden Retention Tool?

Jim Harbaugh is the kind of talented up and comer that makes corporate America drool. Certainly ready for the next step his accomplishments at Stanford speak for themself. He has taken an institution that was nowhere in the BCS discussion and high academic standards that probably have their own recruiting issues (no dummies at Stanford) and put them in the discussion their one loss is to either the national champion or the runner up. He has also mentored and trained the premier quarterback recruit of the 2010-2011 season. So when is Harbaugh going to make the jump to the NFL? He certainly has plenty of options with the Dolphins, 49er's, and Broncos chomping at the bit to sign him. Money, fame, and power are all within his grasp. Why would he stay at Stanford with so much to gain on the outside?

Andrew Luck.

Relationships matter. Often in business when someone is given the opportunity create their own team and has been recognized for success with that team a true leader wants to play out that success till the end. Very few people have so little ego that with the pinnacle of accomplishment (BCS Championship) so close they would give it all away for monetary gain or simple external rewards.

Andrew Luck is coming back to Stanford and so will Harbaugh. Ownership is the most powerful retention tool you can use in any organization. Harbough owns his success at Stanford, no one will dispute that he is the single most dominant force behind their success. Andrew Luck is giving up millions of dollars by coming back to Stanford next year and so will Harbaugh, just simply to finish what he started.

Let someone build there team and taste success and they will find it very hard to leave it behind for the unknown, no matter what is offered to them.