Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Marissa Mayer And I Have In Common...

...and it is kind of well, embarrassing. Perhaps you have seen this recent article It is piece that claims that Marissa Mayer hired a new CMO at Yahoo while her current CMO (now ex-CMO) was on vacation. Yikes! Now, I don't know if this is exactly how it all went down but if the account is even partially accurate...not good!

Oh yeah. So, what exactly do I have in common with Marissa? I made the same bone headed move at one point in my career. Yes, i started to recruit for someone's replacement while they were still in the job and of course they found out about it. If that wasn't so bad, the fact that this person was actually a friend made it even worse. 

"How could I do that?" you ask? Simple. Lack of experience, lack of courage and poor judgement. Whatever reasons Mayer had for handling her situation the way she did really doesn't matter. It was handled poorly. So was mine. By the way, Marissa Mayer and I are not the only ones to make this mistake. It happens all too frequently in Silly-Valley. That doesn't make it right. 

What is the lesson to be learned? Leaders need to lead with courage, clarity and conviction. When making a transition with someone you inherited in your new job it is ALWAYS better to be straight up and clear with your intentions. There is no need to nuance these situations. If you are an incoming CEO, VP of Sales or Sales Manager and you are going to make personnel changes, handle the matters with integrity and directness. Make the changes quickly and don't mislead anyone by saying "hey, you are a member of my team...I don't anticipate making any personnel moves until after I get the lay of the land".  People can sense the B.S. from mile away. For your sake (and reputation) as well as for the good of the other person, tell them the truth and get it done quickly.

I am sure you are wondering if I am still friends with the person I treated so poorly. The answer is yes. He was gracious enough to look past my mistake and I count him as one of my closest friends. And guess what? Karma can be cruel as the very same thing happened to me a few years later. I was in a senior executive role and the CEO began a search to replace ME while I still held the job. Nice! Payback can be a beeoch!

The moral of the story is handle these situations like the leader you are or want to be. That way you can stay on the good side of the Karma Gods.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Time To Hire Gen - Y!

They’ll make up 33 percent of the workforce by 2014. In fact, they comprise nearly one-third of all Americans living today (as estimated by the Harvard Business Review). They’re Generation Y: the offspring of Baby Boomers and the new crop of employees clamoring to the top.

I’ve said before that the job market has changed in favor of applicants.  If you don’t believe it, try to quickly hire a Ruby on Rails developer in San Francisco. It won’t happen fast or inexpensively. As the economy slowly recovers, the hiring in technology companies has quickened. They’ll be competing for the best new talent, which means if you want a stake in this promising workforce, start paying attention to what the Gen – Y talent pool has to offer.

First, we need to alter our perceptions of today’s talent. Once you do, you will begin to see the positive characteristics of Gen-Y.

1)  They’re redefining what makes a great place to work: Foosball tables…. oh so yesterday!  They are looking for an opportunity to make an impact.

2)  They are choosy, despite a tough job market. Strange? Not really. It’s up to you to be an employer of choice. Top talent out of top schools are highly recruited.  That’s an easy one. The talent that will give you the best return on your hiring dollar may not be from a top school. They are driven, focused and have a competitive edge.

3)  Certain attitudes, behaviors, and skills set them apart from Gen-X and make them highly valuable employees. What do I mean? Two words. Social media. They live it, know it and breathe it.  It is in the enterprise and these workers can exploit it to business’ advantage. They are self-confident, socially connected, and digitally savvy.

4)  They have a strong work ethic, but well-defined needs: “We’ll come in at 7 and stay until  8, but let us hit the gym at 11 if we want to.”

Alright, for those of you over 40…stop rolling your eyes. It took me a while to embrace what this prized population has to offer. I am now fully on board and I suggest that you jump on this train before your winded self gets left behind.

There are many good reasons to hire Generation Y.  I will address all of these, and more, in later posts.  There’s no doubt that investing in this unique group will pay off. 

Hire them. They will work hard and make a positive impact on your business.