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Human Resources

Managing Expectations; Managing Exits

January 18, 2006 | By | No Comments


Fire Someone

TodayMy post on firing caused a firestorm. Let’s review.

Getting Fired should never be a surprise.

The stock market and Bosses don’t like uncertainty. Neither do Employees.


courtesy toothpastefordinnerExpectations, like people, must be handled carefully.

Your Business Blogger once worked with a Fortune 500 size organization. A particular termination stands out.

A senior manager committed a firing offense. He was counseled. Talked to. But then nothing happened. The employee thought the event was placed behind us all.

He was wrong.

The Boss made the decision, but didn’t drop the axe. “He’s gone, but doesn’t know it.”

Alert Reader Louis B writes:

I think the hard but right thing to do is fire people when the decision is made and manage the fallout or timing with the rest of the staff. And certainly fire people before they spend a lot of money at a time like Christmas.

The axed employee in our case study was not terminated for months. A dead man walking. Who didn’t know it. Who could have been looking for a job. Saving his money. And unfortunately continuing his lifestyle, as in Louis B’s example, in buying a new car.

The firing was a surprise only to him. His expectations were not managed.

And this is the lesson, the effect of The First Two Things a Female Manager Must Do — fire someone; cut someone’s budget — To not surprise, not shock the organization, or the employee, but to be effective.

Nancy LaJoice, a manager at the Baltimore/Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce, gets it right:

Wow! I am definitely…faint at heart stock. I find Kay’s suggestions [fire someone on day one] as civilized as a dog marking his territory. At times it may be necessary, but as standard procedure, I can’t even begin to agree.

In the Army, standard procedure taught that a sub-par efficiency report should never catch the soldier off-guard. Bad news does not get better with age. Constant counseling was demanded.

Firing a soldier is not an option for most military leaders. Summary execution, maybe, but not termination. Face a firing squad, not a firing.

So. This is the real challenge of female managers. Establishing dominance, as in Nancy’s example; a dog marking her territory — without becoming a b*tch.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

If you do business in and between Your Nation’s Capital and Balitmore join the Baltimore/Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce. I did.

Are Managers Sociopaths?

10 Jan



What Are the First Two Actions a New (Female) Manager Must Take?

January 10, 2006 | By | 5 Comments


Kay Coles James

Former Director

of OPMMen and women are different, inspite of what feminists preach. And women must manage differently. Here’s how to start.

Years ago I talked with Kay Coles James, who would eventually head the Office of Personnel Management for the Feds. I asked her about the challenges for new female managers.

I though she would recite the usual drivel of soft skills, empathy, sharing and caring. The girly stuff.

I was wrong. She hit me hard saying:


1) Fire Someone. And,

2) Cut Someone’s Budget.

This is not for the faint of heart. And only a small, self-selecting group of women can handle such brutality.

But it is the best way for most women to be effective.

And not as bad as Your Business Blogger, or Kay makes it out to be.


On assuming any new position of responsibility, there will be necessary changes in personnel and budget allocation. Make those changes immediately on your arrival.

That will be the easy part.

The challenge is to negotiate up-front with the new boss as a condition on taking the new job. The new female manager should tell her superior that 1) she will be making changes, and 2) she must have her bosses’ backing.

I always advise my clients that their new bosses know where the deadwood is and want improvements made. By the new guy — girl. Odds are that the new female manager will be doing what needed to be done — long before she was hired.

Kay is the woman’s best example on breaking the glass ceiling. By breaking some china.

But don’t do the firing at Christmas.

And call me to keep from becoming a sociopath.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Husband of Kay, Charles, swore me in as member of the Denis Thatcher Society. Contact me if you’d like to join. Or, rather, have your wife call.

Bob Pritchett has more advice. And check out his blog.

Full Disclosure: Charmaine used to work for Kay.

Visit Basil’s Blog for good reads.

Human Resources: 2 Things To Count On At Christmas

December 16, 2005 | By | 10 Comments


No, not parties with anticipated harassment and potential litigation.

No, December could always be counted on to be a quiet month for the head-counters. Two reasons.

1) No employee quits at Christmas — all wait to collect the quarterly and year-end bonuses, then fly in January. And,

2) No employer fires at Christmas — no heartless boss, no corporate Scrooge would put even the deadwood window managers out in the snow.

Until now.

Your Business Blogger, who has been accused of being a Window Manager, is learning that the Holiday Season has not been a reason for corporate courtesy.

Excellent people are getting canned at Christmas.

It was with great sadness that we learned that Mike Wallster’s company was sold. The head-count became a body-count. At Christmas.

Mike writes at Penguin Poletariate and Ipso Facto.

These un-seasonal terminations keep the anti-capitalists in business. A Christmas Season’s severing gives corporations and managers a bad name. Bad.

So let’s attempt some holiday cheer, if possible. Visit Ipso Facto and leave Mike a comment of encouragement. And any job lead you might have. Or contract work.

Merry Christmas. Please.


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Thank you (foot)notes:


Ipso Facto Archives

If you are on the job market, see my (free!) advice for finding your next assignment.

Thank you to the Coyote Blog for hosting The Carnival of the Capitalists.

Women, Work and Family: One VP’s Solution

December 5, 2005 | By | No Comments


Helen, second from left

with rifle “consulting” in Pakistan “How do you it all?” Accomplished women with kids constantly get this question.

Helen Philbrook, married and mother of three, from Raleigh, NC, has the answer.

Your Business Blogger recently sat down with Helen and her husband David to learn the secret.

She’s a former Vice President of an environmental testing firm, and perhaps the world’s first female “Smoke Stack Sniffer.” She’s run a number of start-ups.

But Helen says she’s now “followed her passion to gardening.” Her company Tiger Lily’s is an award-winning firm that gives her what she needs most:


She was well-prepared. Helen has an M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Science, studied Garden Design in London, and completed a series of international consulting assignments. In a male-dominated business. Where she learned:


The greatest challenge women face in business is learning to negotiate.

“I first learned to negotiate with myself,” she says. “I made a decision to balance and to do what was really important for me: marriage and children.”

But she also negotiates with her clients. Hard. She establishes upfront contracts with the explicit understanding that her family will come first.


The tipping point was an 11-day business trip. She left her then-only child with David, who arranged his schedule to be home. Everything went well. (David is that kind of guy — with his own story.) Nothing went wrong. . . she just missed her daughter too much.

She was attempting the conventional time balance that she describes as, “Thirds, 1/3 husband, 1/3 children, 1/3 work. But something [had] to give.” There weren’t enough hours.

And Helen felt that, “Anything can happen with kids.”

She now has a new view of the family dynamic. As a total household enterprise.


Helen, Vice PresidentShe says, “A family cannot have two corporate climbing spouses [with children].” So she re-calculated the ‘Thirds Formula’ to following Pareto’s Principle of 80/20.

“One spouse has to give 80% to supporting spouse and children, leaving 20%, if that, for work,” she says. Kids take time.


She is an advocate of “sequencing” for women — marriage, children, work. Helen says a woman can always have an “ambitious career.” After the kids are in school. She knows she will anger feminists.

Helen says about husband and wife as an economic unit that, “Somebody has to take the [minimum wage] bank-teller job,” because kids change everything.

Looking for flexibility for her family, she used her negotiation skills and started another business to fit her own needs. It happens to generate a bit more than minimum wage, but money was not the goal.

She put her family first and income followed.

Helen’s path to workplace independence with flexibility, was not smooth. Twenty-something women could learn from her.

She has advice to young women starting out. Where the fear is that they will get behind the power curve. “Not so.”

Helen says, “Your career is still waiting for you.”

After your children.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Full Disclosure: Helen is my sister.


No Speed Bumps has Women in Engineering.

Alas, a blog has Homeward Bound.

Basil’s Blog has Breakfast.

Carnival of the Capitalists

November 15, 2005 | By | No Comments

Carnival of the Capitalists is up and hosted this week by The Entrepreneurial Mind, Jeff Cornwall. Blogroll him.


Harriet Miers, James Dobson and the Interview Process

October 12, 2005 | By | 2 Comments


Jack & Charmaine with

Dr. Dobson & Mrs. Dobson

On his radio program this morning, Dr. James Dobson said that he feels confident about Miers’ future performance on the Supreme Court and that she should be hired confirmed.

His outspoken confidence in her competence has reassured some of those concerned about installing Miers.

This is in stark contrast to hiring an employee where Your Business Blogger learned a painful lesson.

I had given approval to an international sales manager to interview candidates with a particular language skill. We evaluated a woman who claimed to have competency in speaking Mandarin Chinese.

The hiring manager spoke Cantonese and knew enough Mandarin to be dangerous. He tested her. She passed. She was selected.

But the manager was not as enthusiastic at the end of the selection process as I would have thought. There is usually some relief about getting a hiring decision completed. But not this time. The hiring manager’s body language was odd; he avoided eye contact. His lack of satisfaction in a job well done should have been a red flag, but we were under other pressures — the urgent pushing out the important as always.

Nevertheless, she was hired and brought on my payroll.


We quickly noticed her skills were sub par and I released her before too much damage was done. But considerable discretionary management time was consumed because we assumed, to my great embarrassment.

(This is a mistake which You, Gentle Reader would never make — I merely provide the chance for mature readers of this column to gloat.)

This is the contrast between Dr. Dobson and my sales manager.

Dr. Dobson is providing the vocal and unequivocal endorsement of Miers that all new hires should have. New team members should be enthusiastically backed, and promoted, and celebrated.

My sales manager did not have Dr. Dobson’s vocal enthusiasm for his candidate.

If my sales manager had wholeheartedly endorsed his recommendation with the same gusto as Dr. Dobson’s support for Miers — and likewise placed his reputation on the line — I would have felt much better.

The business lesson is that any new addition to the team must have a champion willing to support and defend the new guy without hesitation. Press Release! Huzzahs! Round of applause for the FNG! (F-in’ New Guy)

If not, stop and ask why.

No happiness at hire? Maybe I have the wrong hire, or the wrong manager.


Thank you (foot)notes:

Mudville Gazette has Open Posts. And visit My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy with more on the Miers conflict. Thank you to Soldiers’ Angels.

See Basil’s Blog with dessert.

Michelle Malkin has the best updates as always.

The Moderate Voice details the vetting process.

Charmaine has the political angle.

QandO has given up on Bush.

Schoomaker: Unlucky General and Able Danger

October 5, 2005 | By | 6 Comments

Napoleon was looking to fill a vacant general officer slot. His adjutant reviewed the candidate pool and reported on their knowledge, skills and abilities. Napoleon was not interested in curriculum vitas. He was interested in something immeasurable. He said:

Give me lucky generals.”

Your Business Blogger wrote recently on character and how character is identified in the hiring process. The decision maker needs to know about future performance based on more than past accomplishments.

Let us examine a case study of the 35th Chief of Staff, United States Army: General Peter J. Schoomaker.

Is this a man we would hire?

Following is a review of some of General Schoomaker’s career highlights.


Desert One, Schoomaker

Schoomaker was a Major in Desert One in Iran under President Carter. He commanded a Squadron in the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment in the botched rescue attempt of embassy hostages in Iran, 1980.

Special Forces has a rather unforgiving policy for failure: one strike and you’re out. This was not enforced for Schoomaker.


Waco, Schoomaker

Next stop, Waco, Texas. Working with General Wesley Clark as his Assistant Division Commander, Schoomaker met with Janet Reno, allowing the FBI use of Fort Hood. The tracked vehicles and military personnel present at the conflagration were Schoomaker’s. Posse Comitatus? Promoted by Bill Clinton.


Women in Combat, Schoomaker

Schoomaker has implemented an unusual interpretation of President Bush’s directive, and Congressional prohibitions, that women will not be placed in combat. Schoomaker circumvents the Commander in Chief and Congress by placing women in combat support positions in Forward Support Companies. Female truck drivers and Military Police are now in harm’s way.

towers_twin_burning _9_11.jpg

9.11, Able Danger, Schoomaker

And now, the latest chapter. Able Danger, and more burning buildings. Able Danger is the code name for a covert military intelligence operation. It succeeded. The 9/11 hijackers were identified before 9/11. Schoomaker was briefed. He knew. He said nothing. Schoomaker adhered to the the strictest interpretation of Executive directives and may not have informed the FBI of Jihadist threats.

Ed Morrissey, from Captain’s Quarter’s reports:

…the Pentagon has the most to lose if speculation that it deliberately withheld cooperation from the FBI when it could have stopped 9/11 is true, and that it has to answer for the destruction of the materials if the witnesses testify as expected.

Those decisions could involve high-ranking brass, such as Hugh Shelton (ret.) and Pete Schoomaker, and perhaps even Donald Rumsfeld.

Or perhaps they just involve second-tier leadership – which is why the Pentagon decided to reverse itself after seeing the public reaction to the aborted hearing Wednesday.

October 5th should be pretty interesting.

It matters little what Schoomaker’s resume says. It contains much commendable, as his awards and citations prove:

General Schoomaker’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two Army Distinguished Service Medals, four Defense Superior Service Medals, three Legions of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge and HALO Wings, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab.

He could even be a nice guy.

In the end, it is his track record that matters. Would you follow that man out of a burning building?

Schoomaker, Peter J. is not a lucky general.

The Schoomaker career advance would be a case study on continued promotion in spite of these unusual setbacks. His life’s work is an inspiration on success following continued failure and missteps.

General Schoomaker is a vignette on making a hiring decision — evaluating what cannot be seen, and what can be seen all too clearly.

Every manager wants passion. Every manager looks to hire fire in the belly. Not buildings on fire.

Do not ignore red flags. No matter what the rank.

Managers, in the next interview you conduct, ask yourself this question with the candidate before you:

“Is this man lucky?”

# # #

TopDog08 has details of Able Danger.

Discerning Texan has conclusions.

The Strata Sphere has round-up.

Captain Ed has a detailed analysis at Captain’s Quarters at Able Danger Foxtrot.

LawHawk has Able Danger: We deserve better.

TapScott’s Copy Desk has What’s Going On?

QT Monster’s Place has videos.

Hack N Flack wrote on Able Danger — including Human Events On Line.

Baldilocks has a number of postings.

MacsMind says the Matrix applies.

Washington Post has more.

California Conservative has Open Trackbacks.

Stop the ACLU has Open Trackbacks.

Cafe Oregano has open trackbacks.

bRight and Early has open trackbacks.

Jo’s Cafe has open tracks.

Open Post at Mudville Gazette.

Job Search? PASS This Test

September 21, 2005 | By | 2 Comments

See how “Sarah” is getting it right. To get your next job, assignment or project PASS this test! See how the mythical composite Sarah learned new behaviors to find new opportunities.


As first appeared in The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Virginia, January 20, 2002

To get a job, first get a plan and then get busy

by Jack Yoest

Two years ago Sarah, a technology worker asked, “How do I get a life?” Now she asks, “How do I get a job?” With unemployment the highest in six years, uncertainty has arrived this holiday season like the proverbial lump of coal: How would she find work?

Sudden unemployment, or looming job uncertainty, is one of life’s great challenges. It’s a stress test, but it’s one you can learn to pass.

Here’s how: use this coming New Year as an impending event to trigger the start of new behaviors. This is the time to be jolly, reduce uncertainty and increase paycheck security. Here’s how Sarah, and you, will PASS this test!

Get a Plan. New Year’s Resolutions notoriously never make it past the Super Bowl. So get a plan. Don’t confuse the ultimate goal — new job or new assignment — with the individual steps you will take each day. Write down the actions you will do every day, every week.


PASSing involves managing behaviors, not goals. One of Sarah’s action items was to shake ten hands at every event she attended.

Your Plan should be concrete and specific; your behaviors should be discrete and measurable: include numbers of phone calls, numbers of people you meet, number of letters you send. Numbers, Numbers, Numbers. This is important. What you count, counts.

Get Accountable. Find a friend and let them know your plan. Regularly update the friend who might be your spouse, relative, or bartender. This is the most difficult part of the process: ask for help and manage your mentor, someone who cares about you. If you can’t find a mentor, email your plan to me. (I don’t care about you either, but what works is telling someone what you will do and then reporting that you did it.) Asking for input is key — people may not have a job for you, but they will always have advice.

Get Seen. The cliche is wrong: it’s not

Read More

Hire the Homosexual

September 15, 2005 | By | 2 Comments



Brad Feld has about the best blog published for early stage companies. But I have a (rare) disagreement with him. The National Center for Women in Information Technology, NCWIT, appointed a male as the board chair. The gentleman, Brad reports, was the most qualified. And this may very well have been true.

But is competence the only criterion in hiring?


Equal Employment


Over the years, I have been confronted with this question. In two different companies, I hired a homosexual and a woman with serious health problems. In each hiring decision I had a short list of candidates who were nearly equal in knowledge, skills and abilities.

In these two instances I hired the second best resume.

I hired not the best resume, but the best person.

Another smart Brad, Brad Reynolds was Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under President Reagan. We once had a conversation about hiring practices. He gave me some sound advice:

When two identical candidates are being interviewed, choose the one who had to come over the roughest road to get to you.

So how hard was it for the job seeker to get in my office? What hurdles? What hassles?

campaign_for human_rights_logo.png

Campaign for

Human Rights:

Group Rights vs.

Individual Effort

We hear a lot of blather about equal treatment for racial groups, equity for equity feminists, anyone in plaid pants. But there are individuals who have had unusual life challenges and have had to negotiate a more difficult trail.

I would suggest that a woman should have been selected to chair the women’s organization, “to ensure that women are fully represented,” as claimed in their mission statement. A woman rather a man because, I would submit, she had a tougher row to hoe to get to the candidate pool then to the board. A woman would have been the best person.

The characteristics that drove her to get herself in front of the selection committee, would be the very qualities needed to make the organization a success.

The NCWIC should have appointed a woman as chair.


Blog Management

September 13, 2005 | By | 3 Comments


Integrity is still important

Every manager will one day soon need to give direction to his staff on the Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling of … Web Logs. Every supervisor in any business from pipefitter to preacher needs Blog Management.

The self-policing of “a virtuous people” is necessary to avoid government oversight and intrusion. Or a visit by a camera crew from 60 Minutes.


Milton Friedman

Your Humble Blogger wrote on this virtue for The Scripps Howard News Service some years ago:

Nobel laureate Milton Friedman has said that a cultural prerequisite of capitalism is the holding of truthfulness as a common virtue. When you can trust a merchant’s word, says Friedman, “it cut[s] down transaction costs.” Without adherence to common moral principles we must substitute external controls to govern business behavior; efficiency demands a framework of standards and accountability.

Substitute “blogger” for “merchant.”

Informal policy guidelines have already been published as many alert readers already know. Guidelines should be added to a manager’s skill set.

Charlene Li at Forrester Research (a consulting firm with a blog) wrote on this last year.

Sample Corporate Blogging policy

1. Make it clear that the views expressed in the blog are yours alone and do not necessarily represent the views of your employer.

2. Respect the company’s confidentiality and proprietary information.

3. Ask your manager if you have any questions about what is appropriate to include in your blog.

4. Be respectful to the company, employees, customers, partners, and competitors.

5. Understand when the company asks that topics not be discussed for confidentiality or legal compliance reasons.

6. Ensure that your blogging activity does not interfere with your work commitments.

She also outlines personal blog standards.

Sample Blogger Code Of Ethics

1. I will tell the truth.

2. I will write deliberately and with accuracy.

3. I will acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly.

4. I will preserve the original post, using notations to show where I have made changes so as to maintain the integrity of my publishing.

5. I will never delete a post.

6. I will not delete comments unless they are spam or off-topic.

7. I will reply to emails and comments when appropriate, and do so promptly.

8. I will strive for high quality with every post — including basic spellchecking.

9. I will stay on topic.

10. I will disagree with other opinions respectfully.

11. I will link to online references and original source materials directly.

12. I will disclose conflicts of interest.

13. I will keep private issues and topics private, since discussing private issues would jeopardize my personal and work relationships.

A thank you note to Le Pen through Christian Connett at ReciprocityBlog.

The more we bloggers can maintain our own ethical standards, the less the public will need the heavy hand of the law, except, maybe for spell checking.


WizBang was studying blogging ethics a year ago.

CyberJournalist wrote in 2003 on Blogger’s Code of Ethics.

USC Annenberg has Influence peddling, “Just don’t call yourself a journalist when you’re cashing that check.” And points us to WOMMA.

BL Ochman has whatsnextblog writing on full disclosure.

See Blog Ethics who links to Rebecca Pocket posting weblog ethics.

daniweb has firing offense.

Tim Worstall has Blog Ethics from the NYT.

Cynthia Webb writes for Washington Post, The Great Blogging Ethics Debate.

The Jewish Ethicist posts, Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?

From Web Log Ethics Survey Results,

…the limited support from bloggers for a blogging code of ethics poses a serious problem for advocates of on-line social responsibility. If any inroads are to be made in terms of bloggers regulating themselves, consensus in the community must be developed.

The Survey has interesting data and graphs. Thank you to Dean’s World.

Imprint has be honest and fair.

Martin Kuhn from UNC presented a paper at Harvard on blog ethics,

…it is shown that many bloggers have ranked “factual truth” and “free expression” as the two highest duties of the “good” blogger.

BuzzMachine has a review.

Analysis by Christine Hurt at Conglomerate. Thanks to Instapundit. And more. And links to Bill Hobbs.

Update 23 Sept 05: BuzzMarketingWithBlogs has powerpoints. Short and compelling.