FLSA Proposed Changes: What You Need to Know





…So this has been all over the news lately, but I think WorldatWork is the first group to summarize the impact of the proposed regulations on businesses so succinctly. Check out their video (featuring WorldatWork Senior Practice Leader Kerry Chou) below, and share your thoughts in the comments section afterwards:

Happy Friday!


The Nuance of Leadership


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1. Thanks to Kris Dunn for the share.…So this afternoon I came across a video on Youtube 1 wherein Netflix’s Founder Reed Hastings discusses what it means to be a good leader. You can watch the full video at the end of this message, but I’m sharing it today because of the following quote at about the halfway point of the video:

…I realized leadership is pretty nuanced because there’s the personally endearing part about character and followship, and there’s also the strategic part about not leading a company into a box canyon.

^This learning stemmed from an early experience Hastings had with a company wherein he worked for an inspiring leader that cultivated the loyalty of his employees… but yet ultimately still ran the firm into the ground. And it’s a powerful lesson because in our professional lives – particularly in human resources – we often run up against this challenge over and over again: Specifically, how we can most effectively thread the needle between holding people accountable and moving the ball on a winning strategy while also being engaging, empathetic, consensus building leaders. The best people managers can do both even in very difficult circumstances… but the truth is that sometimes very tough choices have to be made and it’s simply one or the other.

Case in point: In one of my first Generalist roles, I supported a client group with two leaders that had very different management styles… and strengths/weaknesses. The first manager was a performance focused type-A that frequently got results whilst also alienating his team… while the second manager was beloved by all and also got results… except when it came to managing bottom performers and making unpopular decisions (in which case a more senior manager often had to jump in to resolve conflicts within his team).

^It was very easy to see what both parties were doing wrong as an outsider, but both were also dealing with unique work groups that carried with them challenges that necessitated certain aspects of their leadership approaches. Furthermore, both managers also had aspects of their personality that lent themselves well to accomplishing very special things with their teams that many other managers might have struggled with – including the respective managers if they switched teams.

…Obviously, there isn’t any magic ingredient that a leader can adopt to capture the best of both worlds here… but this video is a great reminder that it’s important to always keep both sides in mind. Check it out below and let me know what you think in the comments section:

Happy 4th of July,


The Importance of Recognizing Other’s Perspectives





…Getting this one up pretty late.

Earlier this week I was involved in an employee relations issue where I underestimated how strongly a colleague felt about something, and in the process didn’t dedicate the time I should have to what turned out was a critical matter. And by the time I realized how upset the person was about the situation, it had escalated well past the point that I should have allowed it to.

^As an HR pro and people manager, one of the things that I’ve found is that it’s always critical to listen. You can never get too good at listening – because just as soon as you think you’ve struck the right balance here then you stop listening as much as you should and things that you took for granted stop getting done.

…The best leaders and most successful professionals get that way because they are never lacking in empathy… and a big component of that is staying aware of the concerns and views of stakeholders around you. This is a fundamental building block that lays the foundation for everything else that you do in your career. And you can’t lose sight of it no matter how high you climb.

Happy Tuesday.



Quote of the Week: “Our environment…



…the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations. – Earl Nightingale



For this week’s quote we can thank American Radio personality, Writer, Speaker and Author Earl Nightingale. It’s a reminder for me that while we cannot always control our environment, the way we allow it to impact us comes solely from within.

I have been in a very good place lately… but I am not too far removed from a time where it seemed absolutely everything was going wrong. Ironically, though, while on the surface it seems that I’ve undergone a complete reversal of fortunes… when I closely examine the difference between then and now it’s clear that not very much has changed.

Instead, at the heart of my renewed happiness is a changed outlook on life, and not so much a change in circumstances. I’ve learned to appreciate things I’d taken for granted; And I’ve learned to make time for precious things that I’d allowed to slip away; Finally, I’ve learned to take a broader view of life and I am exercising more patience. These shifts are taken on their own very small, but in aggregate they have dramatically changed the way I think and experience things.

Ergo, as we get started this week, let’s take care to looks for the best in situations and focus on the positive takeaways from every interaction. In the process, we not only raises our happiness levels, but also position ourselves to identify innovative solutions to the challenging problems that are often part of our lives.

Happy Monday,


An Overview of Executive Benefits and Perquisites



Sue Holloway, Senior Practice Leader at WorldatWork discusses the differences between benefits for executives and other employees, deferred compensation plans, supplemental executive retirement plans, plan design, and uses of nonmonetary compensation.

…A big learning for me from this video is that a lot of supplemental executive retirement benefits and perks are not guaranteed in the way traditional pension plans are (i.e. they don’t have ERISA protections) if a company becomes insolvent. Many supplemental executive retirement benefits perks are considered unsecured promises to pay, meaning that an executive is at risk of losing some or all or part of their supplemental payouts in the event that a company comes into dire financial straits. In such a case, an executive would have to pursue their promised supplemental retirement benefits the same way any other creditor would. …There is a great article that deep dives into this topic here that I came across while looking to learn more. Check it out, and also watch today’s video below (sharing your thoughts in the comments section):



Creating Exceptional Opportunities to Attract Exceptional Talent





…So this evening I read a great piece from Kris Dunn here wherein he highlights that (generally speaking) exceptional talent chooses to work at exceptional companies with exceptional leaders. Dunn goes on to say that for these reasons, organizations aspiring to hire the best people in the world should spend more time focusing on becoming the sort of company (and developing the sort of leaders) that people want to work for as opposed to trying to recruit that talent without the accompanying reputation/employer brand. From the post:

Dream of 10x (employees) if you will. But I wouldn’t hold out hope that one will come to work for you. You can’t hire them for the same reasons you can’t coach the Chicago Bulls and you aren’t often called upon to date supermodels of your preferred gender. They’re not interviewing at your crappy company for your crappy job. They’re not going to come and rescue your website; they’re not going to make you an app that puts mustaches on photos; they’re not going to listen to you when you offer them the chance to build the next Facebook, because, if they exist, they are busy building the real Facebook.

Taking this quote to its practical conclusion… if an organization wants to become a place that attracts world class talent and develops world class leaders how does it get there?

…I think that the most straight forward answer is taking high potential talent and giving them the sorts of stretch roles that they can’t get anywhere else. Because if your company doesn’t have a world class employer brand, by the time someone becomes a world class talent they aren’t going to be interested in your business anymore if all you’re offering is lateral or incremental opportunities. That means that to attract (and retain) top talent that an organization has to be willing to give high potential talent big jobs and opportunities that make joining their firm an irresistible value proposition.

Of course, the above is easier said than done. On the organizational front this means seeding management pipelines with progressive leaders that are willing to take big risks on talented but unproven people, while also making the significant investments in their development required to position them to ultimately succeed in stretch roles. And on the HR front it means filling open positions by sourcing candidates from non-conventional pipelines, surfacing their expectations, and then selling said candidates and hiring managers on why what may not seem like the best fit on paper is perfect for all parties involved.

^This has to be table stakes stuff because, ultimately, building a world class employer brand that the best of the best wants to work for starts by becoming a company that is known for advancing its employee’s careers, right?

Happy Wednesday,


When Politics and Human Resources Intersect





…So a couple of days ago I read a scathing letter from US Senator Elizabeth Warren to SEC Chair Mary Jo White. You can read the full letter on Warren’s website here, but below are a few highlights:

Chair White #1and:

Chair White #2

…What’s fascinating about this is that very quickly following the above letter being sent by Senator Warren to Chair White, Bloomberg reported that the pay rule may be voted on as soon as August 2015 (up from the April 2016 timeline in place prior to Warren’s letter).

^In essence, it appears that White bowed to political pressure to determine when it would finalize a policy that will ultimately impact publicly traded companies around the globe. Hopefully the policy itself doesn’t also reflect the political pressure being applied by Warren, but who knows…



How to Negotiate the Best Possible Salary For Yourself in a New Role


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1. For anyone new to this blog, I (generally) start each Monday with a quote that sets the tone for what I’m looking to accomplish/focus on for the week. At this point I have done ‘quotes of the week’ for over a year, however, and so at times it’s a bit duplicative. This is one of those weeks… ergo, if you’re really in the mood for a quote post then read this one. It’s the best one I ever wrote, and accordingly I got more done in that week than I generally get done in a month. Let me know if it adds the same value for you in the comments section below.…So I’d normally use this Monday space to share my ‘quote of the week’ 1… but to be honest the focus for this week is ‘staying sharp/going deep’, and I’ve done that post a half dozen times before.

…Instead, let’s talk about compensation – specifically how to negotiate the biggest possible salary in your next job. I initially got into HR because I am just a little too fascinated by the subject of compensation, and I’m going through a phase right now where I’m spending an awful lot of time developing competencies around it. As such, this post is really timely.

So here we go: As always, please remember that any advice I give here is based on anecdotes from others in my profession coupled with my own meandering experience(s). Review it in that context:

1. If possible, hold off on your comp ask until you’ve done an on-site interview.

^And really, the later you disclose your comp ask in the process the better. This is because the deeper you advance into an interview process the more the hiring team wants you – which equals leverage. Most companies will ask you what you make and/or what you are looking to make during the initial phone screen (or at some point prior to doing an onsite).

This is because they (i) want to know if your ask is within their salary range and (ii) current earnings and comp ask are generally a good screening mechanism to assess qualifications (e.g. if a company is interviewing for a Director level role at a large cap company and your current earnings are, say, $55k, you probably aren’t qualified). And so companies will ask you for your salary history and current earnings (even giving up the anchor point here) because if your comp ask is too high or your current earnings too low they can just DQ you… and if not you’ve essentially told the employer what you’re willing to work for (your current salary) and what you’re willing to leave for (which will fit into their comp structure or else they’ll move on/DQ you).

^The interesting thing here though is that the more a company wants you, the more leverage you have. For example, if your ask is over the range and it’s a first round screen you may just get DQed (or told you are 2. This seems like a good place to note that most companies don’t disclose salary ranges. The federal government and local governments often do – and you’ll occasionally find private sector firms that do as well – but generally they don’t. There are reasons for this that I will get into another day, but I will just note  here that you are unlikely to talk a recruiter or hiring manager into disclosing this. You can of course always ask a company what the range is for the position you’re interviewing for, but assuming that they don’t share there’s no sense in pressing the issue.outside the range and asked for a lower number 2), but if you have advanced to the point in the interview process where the company really wants you then you have leverage. In such a case, if you have a comp ask that is outside the range then it becomes an anchor point from which the negotiation starts (as opposed to a tool to assess your viability for the role).

…I could talk about this forever… but the big takeaway here is that you should hold out on disclosing current comp/ask for as long as you can. You may have to disclose this earlier than you like if the recruiter/hiring manager insist… but if there is a path to push back/defer here then take it (keep things general for as long as you can).

2. Have a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement).

^This isn’t always possible (e.g. sometimes you’re unemployed or just have one job offer or whatever). But the ability to walk away is (after bullet #1) the greatest asset you own in any negotiation. Because anytime a company wants you enough to extend an offer this is always a great thing… but if you don’t have to accept because you have equally appealing alternatives this is an even better position to be in. Good hiring teams will always be interviewing multiple candidates and have multiple plausible applicants to extend offers to for just this reason… they don’t want to be stuck with no leverage if their first-choice candidate says no. But if you have a rare and valuable skill and multiple other alternatives, you are likely to find yourself in at least one situation where you are really well positioned to name the terms of your employment.

^I initially started with a list of six things to maximize your salary during negotiations, but I am at about 800 words already and it’s getting late. But the two things I shared here are the most important things, anyway. Essentially, (i) wait to until a hiring team really wants you before laying that big comp ask on them and (ii) have a viable secondary option to back into if the offer you get isn’t competitive enough.

^Companies generally have an advantage in salary negotiations, but this advantage mainly boils down to the fact that they (i) negotiate offers more often, (ii) have more candidates to choose from than you have employers to choose from, and (iii) have more information than you (market data and data they extract from you during the interview process). But you can eliminate the advantage employers gleam from bullets two and three by (i) casting a wide net when job searching, (ii) having a rare and valuable skill set and (iii) disclosing the information employers want to extract from you at the right time.

Happy Monday,



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