HR

Wanna Get Hired? Be an Entrepreneur!

Time was that if you had a great work record, were talented, highly regarded and accomplished, you'd get a job for big bucks.

Sorry, not any longer.

Now, at least in the tech space, if you want to get hired for big money, you need to have started up your own firm - and have it bought by one of the Big Boys.

Only what they're buying isn't what they used to buy.  Now they're buying you.

Because in the "time was" category - like a very few years ago - whether it was the companies or the VCs, they were looking for products.  New technologies.  New capabilities.

They're still looking for that - but they've gone to the core and are now looking at where those technologies come from.  And that's talented engineers.

To get that talent, they go direct.  They buy the company - then they dump the product.

There's even a hiring strategy named for it. It's called "acqhiring."

This raises some interesting questions for you - whether you're an entrepreneur or inside an organization and looking for talent.

For the entrepreneurs, the biggest difficulty will be seeing your product jettisoned.  Sure, you have lots of money - and stock options and the potential for more - but the question of how much you believe in your product really comes into play.

If you believe that strongly in your product and its potential, I suggest that you get yourself some seriously great legal support and have, as part of your employment agreement that if the company drops your technology within a specified timeframe, that that intellectual property reverts back to you.

That way, the Big Boy gets you for as long as you want or need to stay - but you still have the option of doing something with the baby you created.

For executives, you've got problems unless you've got seriously big bucks on hand that your company is willing to spend on acquisitions for products they don't want.  Just the people involved.

If you're a Facebook or a Google, it won't be a problem.  It's the way it's being played in the Valley.

If you're anything else, this won't sit comfortably, won't fit with your culture and has far more risks involved than in the technology space.

But it's definitely something to consider.

Because, no matter the industry or size of your organization, innovation is key - and innovation comes from people.  But it also comes from the systems inside your organization that lend themselves to people making those contributions - and someone being willing to listen.

Many of the engineers who were part of the acqhirings are not staying with the Big Boy buyer.  They're not happy there.  So they leave.

Probably to create new start-ups.

Who's leaving your organization?  Moreover, as the global economy improves, who are you worried might leave?

It's time to start looking at how you're using the skills you have - as well as buying what you need - to keep yourself ahead of the competitive curve.

Military Service and Profits - Get Smart and Start Hiring.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a lifelong respect for the military.

I have a cousin I love dearly who served with honor and distinction.  I have also had the great good fortune to work with members of various military branches over the years.

The constant is the high caliber of thinking and capability they bring to everything they do.  Some of the best strategists I've ever worked with were either in the military or got their initial experience through military training.  By far, the best crisis managers I've met are those who came from the military.  And, interestingly, the best budget-managing, improvement-oriented executives I've ever met were in the military.

That's why it's so odd to me that private industry doesn't take greater advantage of the incredible resource that is on its doorstep now: Veterans.  Particularly those who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflict areas worldwide.

This is an arena in which, sadly, industry is short-sighted.  Too often, HR departments - and even managers and executives who have not served in the military - only think of 'veterans' as if all they know how to do is drill.  March.  Shoot.  Be barked at by drill sergeants.

Like in the movies.

There is so much more to the military than that and now, because we have a population of soldiers who have served multiple tours of duty in places and situations that require some of the quickest, smartest, on-the-ground thinking imaginable, there is a resource out there that businesses should be fighting for.  As hard as the men and women fought in battle.

In fact, whether or not they have served in active war zones, the training members of the military receive in areas that immediately impact how businesses succeed is something that few businesses could ever aspire to - let alone invest in and deliver.

That's why, no matter the country or nationality, this is such a waste and a missed opportunity for business.

What organizations need and want is applied thinking.  Applied, because you need execution.  Thinking, because you don't want to just react.  Put them together and what you have are people trained to proactively identify problems and opportunities based on learned indicators - both visible and invisible - on which action can be taken swiftly.

And it's that necessary fleetness of foot that the military also brings.

When you think standard logistics - from parcel delivery to supply chain - go back to the military model because that's where it all came from.  There is no better organization for determining how to get what is needed where its needed as quickly as possible as the military.

From tanks, ordinance and technology to the men and women who serve, the military has the knowledge of how to move anything needed from anywhere it might be.  Anywhere in the world.  Fast.

Because the military understands life and death.  Real life and death.  And that, too, is a boon to any organization as it cuts through all of the garbage that corporate in-fighting and individual positioning brings.

People who have served in the military know what's important and what's not.  There is a cut-to-the-chase understanding that they bring - of necessity - because a wrong decision where they come from can mean lost lives or injuries to their comrades and to the people and communities they are protecting.

There is little room for error - and when errors are made, the lessons learned are real.

All of this being said, yes, there is waste in the military.  Yes, there are ridiculously priced toilet seats and jet fighters.

But if you look at how that happens - and from whom - you'll find yourself looking at the way that a very small minority of private sector organizations have used the political and military systems to work their own agendas to waste that money.  Which leads to lost opportunities and lost lives.

There is one other thing that needs to be addressed here.  The issue of command and control.

Somewhere along the line, command and control became a dirty word.  Bad.  Not the way to run things. Why?  Because that's the way things are done in the military.  Not in business.

Don't fool yourselves.  Command and control is alive and well in organizations.  It no longer looks, in most cases, like the hierarchies and operating structures and methods of yesteryear, but command and control still exists.  It has to.  Otherwise, how are decisions made?  By whom?  Actions taken?  Measures and monitoring systems in place?

You have to know how you're doing when you're doing it.  You also have to know who is responsible and accountable for the decisions made.

Who the leader is.

And that's the difference in the way that command and control exists today than before.  It is more participative and collegial.  It breaks down silos and ensures that there is greater cooperation and coordination throughout the enterprise.

But decisions still have to be made.  Responsibility is owned by someone - legally.  There is a 'buck' and it stops somewhere.  That somewhere is the command position.

It's up to you how you want the culture of your organization to develop.  Command and control has nothing to do with it - unless you decide that it is going to be limiting and onerous.  Then it's going to work against you.  Just like its press presents it.

But don't put that on the military people that you're considering bringing in.  Yes, they know how to work within a structure and hierarchy, but they also know how to work together in ways that your teams, in most cases, still need to learn.

Because military members know that the enemy is outside the organization.  Not within.  Their job, as they have been taught and acted upon, is to work together to ensure the safety and well-being of their own while successfully accomplishing the mission.  And the mission is to win.  Together.

So, as you look at your hiring - now and going forward - start looking at the opportunities presented to you by bringing in the best and the brightest from the military.  Work with the resources that the military has created to help veterans find jobs.  Troll the universities to find the veterans who have gone back to school who have just the kind of experience you need - albeit from a different world of application.

Worldwide, there are millions of excellent resources out there just for the picking.  Make sure your HR Department is smart in looking at the military to pick the best for your enterprise.
________________________________________________________________________________
For more information on how military members add value to your organization, I strongly recommend the book Start-Up Nation.  It's a fascinating read, overall, but its discussion of how these two supposedly competing cultures work together to create success is invaluable.

Twitter and Facebook vs. Corporate Reputation and Brand

Lately, I've been thinking about a website that was really, really big in the dotcom years that has, for years, been defunct.  It was called f***edcompany.com.  (You have to fill in the asterisks for the correct site name.  I'm being polite.)

It was an insider's sort of site.  It reported news - and gossip - from within the various technology companies in the Silicon Valley.  It was the go-to resource to find out, initially, where you didn't want to work.  Eventually, it became the site that was reporting where there was no work any longer.

I had an up close and personal experience with that, myself, through one of my clients.

She was (and is) one of the best executives I've ever encountered.  Visionary.  Incredibly smart both operationally and in market strategy.  Created an environment for her employees that led to consistent business growth and innovation.  Truly excellent.

The company for which she worked was one of the beneficiaries of the early days of dotcom mania.  It was a relatively small company with a specialized integration technology that was used by and of interest to lots of larger players.  The company was even seeing profits...an unheard of occurrence in the dotcom days.

As a result, and not unexpectedly, it was part of a series of acquisitions into larger and larger players.  Until a big company decided to buy it.

Really big.  Like giant.  And not at all in the technology space.

And that was the end of the company for which this executive worked.  Within a couple of weeks of the acquisition, the employees found out that the company was being disbanded.  The patents on the technologies had been sold to another company - in the technology space - but the company, itself, was being shut down and all positions terminated.

They found out when one of them went visiting the f***edcompany site - only to find out that they were next on the list.

Interestingly, the executive was finally able to take a call from her employees - who had been bombarding her cell phone with messages asking if the posting was true - after she had just closed the biggest deal the company had ever experienced.  Tens of millions of early 2000s dollars for a relatively small player in one deal.  The next day she had to cancel it - because she was spending the next few weeks shutting down what had been a successful operation.

Granted, there are a lot of different pieces that can be discussed on this story, but the one I want to take on now is how information within and outside your enterprise moved back then - and now.  Most important, is understanding how that information movement can and does impact your brand and reputation - personal and corporate.

First, the proverbial "grapevine" is and will always be alive and well.  The problem now is that it's networked in ways that can make or break your company, its brand or your reputation in minutes.

Add to that the 24-hour news cycle - yes, for business, too - and you've got even more problems.  CNBC, Bloomberg and the rest are gathering and reporting news all day every day.  Their people are also trolling the blogs, Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networking sites with keyword searches 24/7 to stay on top of what's out there.

Or at least what's being said.

And even if you're a small player, your employees are out there, talking and looking out for one another's news, as if it was going to be broadcast any minute.  And it is.

In this case, viral really does mean viral.

All of which means that you need to be paying ever-closer attention to what's being communicated, how, by whom and through which mechanisms than you ever were before.  As well, your HR policies and any employment agreements that include discussions of intellectual property, patents and the rest are updated to reflect how information now moves.

Because, while in its day f***edcompany was the fastest tool around for getting the message out, now it might as well be a dial telephone.  One Tweet is all you need.  One really bad Tweet (especially with a hashmark) and the news - true or not - is out there.

Right now, there's a lot of talk about how social networking will help you build your company, its image, its relationship with customers, its marketshare and more.  And all of that is true.

But, there's a downside, as well - and that comes from not being as aware as you need to be about how those same technologies allow information movement coming from your own employees can work against you.

The value of your corporate reputation and brand - as well as your own - can be not only on the line, but also completely in others' hands unless you're paying attention.

There's nothing wrong with social networking.  In fact, it's an important new - and evolving - tool in an executive's and organization's toolbox.

You just have to remember that just as a hammer can be used to insert a nail, so, too, when not aimed correctly, does it smash your thumb.