Monthly Archives: April 2008

Do Nice Guys Finish Last?

Guest Blog from Mark Fogel Corp. VP of HR and Adm. at Leviton
Human Capital Business Leader of the Year.

Do Nice Guys Finish Last?

So that was a topic of conversation that Jody and I engaged in as we killed some time at a regional HR conference recently. To tell the truth we found our conversation a lot more stimulating then the sales pitches of local staffing agencies and benefit consulting firms soliciting our attention and potential business (more on this in a future entry).

So the questioned posed was whether nice guys finish last, specifically in business (but really in any setting)???

My answer was NO they finish first, but only if they are competent and earn respect along the way.

Nothing new, Dale Carnegie has been preaching this to management for decades, and Marshall Goldsmith has been putting his own Buddhist spin on this recently. Treat people in a kind way, help others succeed, and if you have nothing nice to say don’t say it.

However, that’s really not enough to tip the scales. I believe that there is more to the formula; competence and respect. Two key ingredients that should be obvious but never overlooked. Competence is the easy one to spot almost immediately. You can become competent by learning and applying your skills but respect is another story. Respect is earned over time. It’s visceral and you can feel it when’s it is present.. Respect can be earned by being competent but only if you treat people nicely (it’s really a bi- product of being nice and competent).

So here is Fogel’ formula for success:

Nice + Competent + Respect = Success

Most employees will go the extra mile for a supervisor they like, and think of as competent, and respectful. Will they do the same for one that they think differently of????

Bullies, narcissists, and Machiavellians, and an occasional sociopath, usually get short term results out of fear but rarely win in the long term. Take a poll in your own firm and circle of friends, I bet most will agree with me.

So what are you all waiting for, take Mark’s advice and be nice!!!!!

Social Networks. Important or In Passing?

Not a day goes by when I don’t hear about someone confused about how to network through social networking sites or seeing a conference on the same topic. In the big business picture, how important will social networking be to achieving real business goals? According to pre-2008 marketing studies, blogs and white papers, very. Yet, reading a recent article from the Economist put my mind to rest that this is only the beginning of an even bigger trend- using a technology we’re all familiar with, and possibly addicted to.

“We will look back to 2008 and think it archaic and quaint that we had to go to a destination like Facebook or LinkedIn to be social,” says Charlene Li at Forrester Research, a consultancy. Future social networks, she thinks, “will be like air. They will be anywhere and everywhere we need and want them to be.” No more logging on to Facebook just to see the “news feed” of updates from your friends; instead it will come straight to your e-mail inbox, RSS reader or instant messenger. No need to upload photos to Facebook to show them to friends, since those with privacy permissions in your electronic address book can automatically get them.

The problem with today’s social networks is that they are often closed to the outside web. As a result, avid internet users often maintain separate accounts on several social networks, instant-messaging services, photo-sharing and blogging sites, and usually cannot even send simple messages from one to the other. They must invite the same friends to each service separately. It is a drag.

Historically, online media tend to start this way. The early services, such as CompuServe, Prodigy or AOL, began as “walled gardens” before they opened up to become websites. The early e-mail services could send messages only within their own walls (rather as Facebook’s messaging does today). Instant-messaging, too, started closed, but is gradually opening up. In social networking, this evolution is just beginning. Parts of the industry are collaborating in a “data portability workgroup” to let people move their friend lists and other information around the web. Others are pushing OpenID, a plan to create a single, federated sign-on system that people can use across many sites.

The opening of social networks may now accelerate thanks to that older next big thing, web-mail. As a technology, mail has come to seem rather old-fashioned. But Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and other firms are now discovering that they may already have the ideal infrastructure for social networking in the form of the address books, in-boxes and calendars of their users. “E-mail in the wider sense is the most important social network,” says David Ascher, who manages Thunderbird, a cutting-edge open-source e-mail application, for the Mozilla Foundation, which also oversees the popular Firefox web browser.

That is because the extended in-box contains invaluable and dynamically updated information about human connections. On Facebook, a social graph notoriously deteriorates after the initial thrill of finding old friends from school wears off. By contrast, an e-mail account has access to the entire address book and can infer information from the frequency and intensity of contact as it occurs. Joe gets e-mails from Jack and Jane, but opens only Jane’s; Joe has Jane in his calendar tomorrow, and is instant-messaging with her right now; Joe tagged Jack “work only” in his address book. Perhaps Joe’s party photos should be visible to Jane, but not Jack.

This kind of social intelligence can be applied across many services on the open web. Better yet, if there is no pressure to make a business out of it, it can remain intimate and discreet. Facebook has an economic incentive to publish ever more data about its users, says Mr. Ascher, whereas Thunderbird, which is an open-source project, can let users minimize what they share. Social networking may end up being everywhere, and yet nowhere.

Great news, now I can relax and go back to my Scrabulous games.

Talent Wars- Part 1

In a new, ongoing series- BRANDEblog will look at talent rivalries from the HR perspective. Here is the first, with help from a recent NY Times article:

You Decide

Stanford’s College Recruiting event last fall saw crowds everywhere, but only lookers at the Microsoft and Yahoo tables, versus the lingerers at Facebook and Google.

Tomorrow’s workforce is looking for more than money- particularly in the realm of engineering, where the battle for talent is fierce. They want an opportunity to work on tomorrow’s technology, along with the risk/rewards of young start-ups where the payout if the company is sold could be huge.

One soon-to-be engineer said that the potential buyout of Yahoo by Microsoft reduced his interest in either, and chose to pursue opportunities with Mozilla, creator of the Firefox browser.

Josh Becker, a venture capitalist with New Cycle Capital in San Francisco, said Microsoft’s profile in the Valley would be significantly raised “if they took over an iconic company like Yahoo.” But, he added, “whether that would translate into a sense that Microsoft is a cool place to work remains to be seen.”

Some of Yahoo’s current employees would be opposed to working for an even larger organization, where corporate was more than 850 miles away.
Others saw a Microsoft deal as a greater way to beat Google- the arch enemy.

Microsoft’s culture has been described as the 3 E’s Embrace, Extend, Exterminate and that could mean very bad things for the employees who had options to work for Microsoft before joining Yahoo. Recognizing this, here’s what CEO Steve Ballmer had to say: We hope to have the Yahoo employees be very, very excited about (the deal),” “When you combine the strengths of our two companies, the result will be an incredibly efficient and competitive offering for consumers, for advertisers and for publishers.”

So, what will happen and how do YOU vote?

All I can say is that I hope if there is a buy-out, they choose BRANDEMiX, for their change management communications.

*current number of jobs aggregated by Simplyhired