Why @Victorio_M is Awesome! #timsackettday

VictorioWhen I think about my friend Victorio Millian I have strong visual recollections. I see the beautiful photos he takes of his beloved NYC and the smiling faces of his two kids and their mother. I remember the times we’ve been able to sit down and have a chat and a bit of fun at various events over the years. I remember that the first time we met face to face (as people are wont to say) was in an elevator. In 2010.

Victorio is a human resources professional. And a damn good one. As with most exceptional people who work in HR he is an unsung hero; working tirelessly behind the scenes to not only make organizations better but to also keep the “human” front and center. I’ve seen him hit the high notes in both the art and the science of HR; formulating strategy (science) and implementing strategy (art).

So today, on #timsackettday, I am thrilled to salute a great HR professional who works his tail off, fights the good fight (for ALL people), and is just an all around superb guy.

Find him and talk to him and you’ll know exactly why I feel the way I do:

Victorio on Twitter

Victorio on LinkedIn

Victorio’s Creative Chaos blog

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about #timsackettday: several years ago Laurie Ruettimann started a meme to honor HR professionals who get it done without seeking fame and fortune. Previous honorees have been Tim Sackett, Paul Hebert, and Kelly Dingee. And It’s always a surprise to the honoree…even more fun!

Happy #timsackettday Victorio!

Running the Family Business

The GodfatherA bit of news came out last night about our beloved Saints. As reported by The Times-Picayune, “New Orleans Saints, Pelicans ownership shocker: wife Gayle, not granddaughter Rita, will control empire after Tom Benson dies.”

Of course, as with anything of this sort, there’s all manner of speculation. Did Rita want to eventually move the team out of New Orleans? Is Gayle (a much younger 3rd wife for Tom Benson) a gold-digger? How is Gayle going to run this show when her primary business achievement was having a failed interior design company?

This story will keep local tongues wagging for a bit and I anticipate a few Rita Benson-LeBlanc costumes at various Mardi Gras parades over the next several weeks.

This was, however, a not totally unexpected turn of events as Rita (#2 exec in the organization) had previously been placed (by her grandfather) on a 3-month administrative leave. Per NBC Sports:

In 2012, Rita Benson LeBlanc was removed from the football business due to concerns about her management style, which caused her to have 30 different assistants in six years.  In 2013, the NFL rejected a “poison pill” in coach Sean Payton’s new contract that allowed him to leave the team if Mickey Loomis no longer served as General Manager, based on the belief that Payton wanted Loomis to remain in place as a buffer between Payton and Rita Benson LeBlanc.

Oh Rita. That’s a new assistant every 2.4 months.

Can you imagine recruiting candidates for that gig? I’m quite sure it was initially fairly easy to get a candidate interested: “Hey Mary! How would you like to work for the Saints!?!!” “Oh Yes!!” (Mary had visions of running into Drew Brees in the hallway and sharing gossip at the water cooler with Reggie Bush).

But as the years went on and the revolving door of assistants swung wildly I’m sure it got harder and harder; New Orleans is a pretty small city after all. “Hey Mary! How would you like to work for the Saints!?!!” “Is this that job working for Rita? You must be joking; I’m not a masochist.”

(Over the years I’ve talked to and/or interviewed a good number of employees with the Saints organization; it’s a workplace like any other with some good and some bad. It’s certainly not a black & gold paradise.)

So as we wait for more details to emerge, I find it interesting that all stories, thus far, point to Rita’s leadership style as a key factor in these moves.

Not financial mismanagement; not the inability to negotiate and settle contracts. Nothing about her ineffectiveness to close business deals. (Although it was reported that she tended to regularly miss owner’s meetings and the like).

Leadership style.

Imagine the relief the current assistant must feel. She may even make it past the 2.4 month mark.

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Repetition and Reruns for the HR Win

when-harry-met-sally-800-75The other day as I lay prone on the sofa flipping through channels I happened upon “When Harry Met Sally.” The last 30 minutes of “When Harry Met Sally.”

Now I’ve seen this movie so many times I feel as if I not only assisted in writing the script but also hung out during filming and gave notes to the actors, picked out the set decorations, and had a hand in Meg Ryan’s wardrobe. I can sing along to every song on the Harry Connick Jr. infused soundtrack. I laugh at the same lines (every time) and usually tear up, right on cue, at the end.

So, naturally, I settled in and re-watched the ending. One more time.

I am, as American University Professor of Marketing Cristell Russell calls it, a “re-consumer.”

In research published by the Journal of Consumer Research, Russell and co-author Sidney Levy (marketing professor at the University of Arizona) explored the motivation of people who go on vacation to the same place year after year, re-watch their favorite TV shows and movies, and re-read the same book over and over again. (note: my top book is Thorpe; I’ve done an annual re-read for at least 30 years).

The authors explored the drivers of re-consumption as well as the psychological and experiential aspects. “We interviewed people in New Zealand and America to determine why they chose to repeat their behavior,” Russell has stated. “We determined that that re-consumption behaviors serve five main purposes: regressive, progressive, reconstructive, relational, and reflective. The reasoning that people had for their repeat behaviors was far more complex than simply nostalgia. For people to take time out of their busy lives to do something over and over again, the motivations required were usually deep-seated and poignant.”

Some people, it turned out, re-consume due to familiarity; their brain signals to them exactly what sort of reward they’ll receive in the end whether that be a good cry, laughter, or relaxation. Others return for a do-over because, subconsciously, they’re using the activity as a measuring stick for their own life. When re-consuming in this manner, a person mentally categorizes the changes they’ve experienced since the first time they sat, as an example, in a darkened theatre watching the WHMS “I’ll have what she’s having” scene.

While people might re-consume unpleasant things (perhaps inadvertently or against their will) they’ll also return over and over and over again to those things that serve a deeper purpose. They may repeat these consumer activities due to affection (“I always watch any Law & Order episode with Chris Noth!”), nostalgia (“Hey honey…this is ‘our song’!”) or for therapeutic reasons (“When I need a good cry I watch “Steel Magnolias”)

Now think about this from an HR perspective; it ties directly into the true brand of the employment experience and the corporate culture at an organization.

If increased retention and higher engagement (as examples) are desired outcomes at your company, then here’s another lesson to take from our friends in marketing.

Speak to the hearts and minds of your employees and they might, just might, continue to buy what you’re selling.

“Baby fish mouth!” Jess (Bruno Kirby)

You CAN Bring the Sexy Back: ‘Branding’ Employee Discipline

dominatrix-mistress-with-her-whipIt seems you can’t click open your web browser without reading something about “Employer Branding.” Or “Talent Branding.” Good stuff to be sure; I think it’s important and critical.

What fascinates me is how we tend to explore this concept primarily from a talent attraction or recruiting standpoint. Oh sure, during the strategy phase of “employer branding” there is cursory attention paid to overall organizational culture and the end-loop/integration to the employee life cycle. “If we recruit these people,” says Mary the HR leader, “we need to think about retaining them.” Well…yeah.

So great care is given to ensuring that the brand carries on throughout the onboarding, performance management and succession planning processes. The Learning & Development team aligns their instructional design and training delivery to the brand. Marketing and recruiting teams work hand in hand and it’s a wonderful and glorious thing.

But you know what’s often neglected in this strategy planning? That which HR is often best known for: employee relations. ER, as defined by our friends at HRCI, is the interaction between employees and an organization (for example, communications, conflict resolution, compliance with legal regulations, career development, and performance measurement).”

For the non-HR types, this catch all category includes:

  • “Joe reports to work 30 minutes late 3 times per week”
  • “Maeve is an insufferable know-it-all who pisses off every single human being in the office”
  • “Bob told a dirty joke in the lunch room”
  • “the VP of Sales has been patting the derrieres of all the female account executives”

So, because this kind of crap goes on in every workplace your local HR Department creates an Employee Handbook/Policy Manual. This is where you find information about how you get paid, EEO statements, and your rights under the FMLA.

And nestled in amongst all those nuggets is the section that let’s you know what will happen if YOU are the one telling dirty jokes in the lunch room. But there’s often no attempt to think about brand here; this section of the handbook/policy manual/rule book is often given an authoritative sounding title like Code of Conduct or Company Rules.

Included in this section you will learn that when your manager does need to have a discussion, you may be facing:

  • A Corrective Action Notification
  • The Disciplinary Procedure
  • A Counseling Report
  • The Progressive Discipline Process
  • A Verbal Warning, Written Warning, FINAL Warning

Jesus.

And you’re given this on your first day of employment.

So even in the midst of all the #culture and #transparency and #WeAreFamily hoopla that connects your candidate/applicant experience to your NEW/NOW employment experience, you are slapped right up side-the-head with something that was left out of the employer brand strategy conversations.

HR professionals as tyrannical police agents? Moms? Headmistresses?

Dominatrixes?

I’m not saying we downplay important information by bathing it in sunshine and serving it up with lollipops and cotton candy. I am saying that HR teams, when working on an employer branding strategy need to connect all the dots. Language is important and the branding of your employee relations (discipline!) approach is just as critical as the branding of your career site.

So…what’s your brand?

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