Finally, a Protected Class for me! The Irresistible.

Actually, that’s not true, I’m over 40 years so I’m protected from discrimination based on age…so there’s that.

“I think you’re over-qualified.”

But now, I have a box I want to self-select for my own employee rights ~ “Irresistibility.” Yep, me and Melissa Nelson, she’s the Rosa Parks for hotties. Certainly you’re familiar with the story, a dental assistant was terminated from her employment after almost 11 years of fine performance, with no reason other than her irrisistable allure to the gentleman running the office.

A few thoughts:

1. It’s not insignificant to mention that the Dentist’s wife also worked in the same practice. It’s clear from the testimony of both parties involved that there was at the very least a history of non-professional communications between Dr. Knight and Mrs. Nelson. Wives do not like said communications, nor should they allow them to continue, so Dr. Knight made a decision with the specific intention of repairing/restoring his marriage.

2. Iowa is an employmentat-will state, meaning that an employer or employee may terminate the relationship at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. Mrs. Nelson was given severance (only one month, which is probably why we are now reading about this story) and was replaced by another female, so gender discrimination is not an issue. We can only assume that Dr. Knight has hired a much less appealing employee in his replacement profiling.

3. The Iowa State Supreme Court was asked to rule on the legality of the termination. Much is being made of the fact that the 7-member court is made up entirely of men, logically assuming this made the decision gender biased. Please reference point #1 again ~ Dr. Knight does not make this decision without “encouragement” from the wife.

I choose to read this story as a lesson learned for the good Doctor. As a man, I can speak for the penchant for idiocy men have when shooting from the hip and/or “harmlessly” flirting. Dr. Knight is fortunate…his wife smelled a hint of trouble, and she stopped it before it became real trouble. Should this situation have remained unchecked, you can be certain that the fallout would have been much worse in the not-too-distant future.

Certainly not a popular decision and an easy one to ridicule, but also a pro-active measure to spare a company from a sexual harassment claim, and a marriage from a messy divorce.

John “Whit” Whitaker is the Founder and Managing Partner of HR Hardball™. To send Mr. Knows-it-All an email, or to submit your own thoughts for publishing on this site:



5 Leadership Fads to Ignore (and put the fork down)

5 Leadership Fads to Ignore – Yahoo! Small Business Advisor.



Steve Tobak is a bright guy. To summarize the link above, Mr. Tobak is suggesting you ignore concepts that are being re-packaged under a new name. In that respect, we agree; Leadership/Management Training reminds me of the Dieting industry. Walk through both sections in your local Barnes & Noble and you’ll see what I mean.

Shelves and shelves of books designed to finally help you lose that last 40 pounds. How many “guaranteed” ways to lose weight can possibly be effective?

Dr. Oz has a diet. Vegans have a diet. There’s cabbage soup diets, Dukan diets, Low-carb diets, “Caveman” diets, HCG diets, and the ever-popular Atkins diet [side note, I have a buddy who is a firefighter; when ordering lunch one day at a burger joint, he asked for broccoli as a sub for fries ~ that’s a sign you’ve gone too far].

Similarly, look at the different leadership models you can study; Servant leadership, moral leadership, transparent leadership, transformational leadership, change management (easily the most abused term of the last decade), Situational Leadership™….everybody has a book, a theory, a catchy title (with an even catchier acronym), and a bunch of re-hashed advice that has been marketed for centuries. Literally – we’re still buying “Socratic” leadership, and that dude’s been dead for almost 2,500 years.

The point?

Well, if you want to lose weight, put the fork down, put on your sneakers, get your lazy butt off the sofa and exercise.

If you want to be an effective leader? Be nice, be fair, and do unto others as you would have others do unto you [I’m certain I’ve read that somewhere before]. It’s not overly complicated, just heavily merchandised.

John “Whit” Whitaker is the Founder and Managing Partner of HR Hardball™. To send Mr. Knows-it-All an email, or to submit your own thoughts for publishing on this site:


Santa & Performance Management

“…you wouldn’t DARE.”

We recently hung Christmas stockings for our two boys…my cute and creative wife implemented a new idea this Holiday season; on one side of each stocking, “Nice” was stitched, on the other side, “Naughty” was featured. Depending on the particular behavior of the boys (or the particular mood of the parents), the stocking would be flipped to reflect their respective Christmas “status.”


For my 8-year old, his focus is squarely on keeping his stocking on the “Nice” side. There’s not a chore he won’t do, not a cross word uttered, not an attitude to be seen. He realizes already that his actions have a direct impact on the rewards available to him.

With our 11-year old, however, it’s a different matter…his comment to us when seeing the stockings? “Might as well put mine on Naughty, I know that’s where it will end up.”  Well played Sir. His mother immediately felt guilty (even though she had no reason to), and assured him that he was getting a clean slate between now and Christmas. Of course, being an 11-year old, that clean slate needs to be re-established about every 3 hours.

You see what happened here, right? An 11-year old boy brilliantly manipulated the feelings of his Mom by taking advantage of the time (and Spirit) of the year. He knows Santa isn’t going to leave him a sack of coal (please tell me I’m not the only person who feared coal his whole life?), so he’ll play along with our silly game knowing full well that he can turn on the charm when he needs to insure a good haul.

Human nature gives us the ability to empathize and sympathize with those around us. It can also betray us at times when our emotional component over-rides our ability to make rational decisions.

All over Corporate America, performance reviews are being composed and merit dollars awarded in preparation for the Annual Review process. And, just like Mom, many business leaders are compromising their standards of annual performance in a mis-guided attempt to embrace the Holiday Spirit. No one wants to deliver bad news or criticism at this time of year, especially those discussions that may threaten financial or professional futures. Benefits of the doubt are given; second chances, free passes, stays of execution; whatever we call it, the result is the same – the “Naughty List” is given “Nice List” status. Performance Management, indeed, bah humbug.

Keep this in mind as you make your performance decisions this year. Despite the Goodwill you may temporarily buy with the “Naughty” list, consider the message you’re sending the “Nice.” At some point, you’re going to have a pretty ticked-off 8-year old on your hands.

John “Whit” Whitaker is the Founder and Managing Partner of HR Hardball™. He’s currently on the “Nice” list, but realizes the slippery existence he lives! To send Mr. Knows-it-All an email, or to submit your own thoughts for publishing on this site:


How Costas Missed the Target

“Let’s talk turkey…or chicken.”

Bob Costas certainly poked the hornet’s nest with his recent diatribe regarding the Javon Belcher murder/suicide. For those late to the party, Costas used his weekly Sunday Night Football “halftime report” segment to comment on the tragic situation that had occurred only 24 hours earlier in Kansas City.

During his 2-minute diatribe, Costas quoted/referenced/paraphrased an Op-Ed piece written by KC columnist Jason Whitlock, a sports writer who has made his bones (in part) by being provocative and edgy in his opines from a provocateur vantage point. His business is to sell papers, and his skills in creating controversy have marked his career, to his benefit and his detriment (see Jeremy Lin).

Costas, on the other hand, is the pentultimate political machine. Smug, intelligent, snarky, witty, arrogant, and the unquestioned Alpha-dog of the sports broadcasting industry. You don’t rise to the level of Bobby C by biting the hand, so “controversial” is not a word normally associated with Costas.

Two polar opposites in just about every respect, the two are now linked thanks to Costas’ use of Whitlock’s column denouncing the ownership and availability of handguns.

Poorly executed. Why? Maybe not for the reasons you expect:

  • Too soon ~ Costas (and Whitlock) had no idea what the entire story was at the time Costas spoke on Sunday night. Op-ed columnists are paid to guess and take a side, Costas is paid to facilitate an entertaining sports presentation. Failed.
  • Lightning bolt effect ~ Very few topics stir the emotions of the Americans to the level of Gun Control. Politicians distance from the topic for that very reason. To think we need Bob Costas to preach to us his verdict on the topic is just begging for controversy.
  • Chickensh*t Button ~ Bob, if you want to play the part of tough guy, use your words. Before beginning his rant, Costas made the comment that “I may as well quote the words of Jason Whitlock…” ~ he’s implying his agreement with the stance, but leaving himself a degree of separation should he need to produce a quick exit strategy. In Human Resources, we call that “having your finger on the chickensh*t button.” As one chicken said to the other, “bock bock.”

I’m indifferent to the opinion itself. I have my beliefs, you have yours, and we can leave it at that. My beef is with the mode of delivery, and with the annoyance of seeing this little man politicize my Sunday Night Football experience.

Leaders realize that the words they use have a tremendous impact on those who listen. Don’t abuse the opportunity.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder and OH (Original Hardballer); like this post? Try this one, this one, or even this one….go ahead, don’t be a weenie.


Do NOT Retweet This!

“I need to Tweet this.”

Are you a Twitter guru? If so, please disregard this particular post. No, this post is for the rest of us….Twitter neophytes, still finding our way in the morass of information that inundates our timeline on a daily basis. There’s a specific feature of the “tweet” business that must be discussed.

I speak, of course, of the mysterious “Retweet.”

In Tweetdom, the “RT” has become cache for people to fill up your timeline with other people’s interesting material. It’s considered a true win-win for all those involved, as interesting and/or important information is shared among followers of several individuals.

In theory, that makes sense.

In practice, it’s an annoying pain in the arse.

I submit to you the following four categories of abusive “RT’ers,” may God have mercy on their souls.

1. The Serial Retweeter ~ These are the folks that have found their niche in the information-sharing universe; they create or state nothing original, but they pound you with 100 “RT’s” a day (not by accident). It’s pure self-promotion. The more they RT, the more they keep their ugly avatar in your face, and the more important they seem to the rest of us minions.

2. Brother-in-Law Retweeter ~ Kin to the “Serial RT’er;” this individual is shamelessly RT’ing information from their assorted (formal or informal) network of buddies. You may have 12 people from the same consulting firm Retweeting a colleague’s lame blog post. The impression is that the post must be entertaining or informative, while the truth is more likely the post was never read before being RT’ed. It’s a lazy man’s method of Marketing.

3. Conversational Retweeter ~ These folks have confused Twitter with texting…it’s not enough for them to have a dialogue via text, they want to RT every brick in the building along the way.

4. Begging Retweeter ~ There seems to be a new movement to utilize Twitter as a chain-letter mechanism; “RT this for my cousin as she battles blah blah blah….” Thankfully I’m not famous enough to get hammered with these particular RT’s, but it’s pandemic.

A brief backstory ~ initially, the usefulness of Twitter escaped me, as it did so many others. Then, a magical thing happened; the Dallas Mavericks went on a miraculous run through the 2011 NBA playoffs, culminating in the only NBA Championship in their history. During the 22-game playoff run, there were several games that became seminal moments for Mavs fans, as the continued to rally back from seemingly insurmountable deficits to win games. It was surreal. It was then I realized that Twitter was perfectly suited for these moments; men who might normally yell at the TV can now type those snarky sentiments to a bunch of like-minded idiots. It’s a wonderful way to watch a sporting event, and you find some of the funniest, most insightful, most ridiculous comments during these “pucker” moments.

Unfortunately, since then Twitter has become something decidedly different; there seems to be a lack of original thought in most of the Tweets I see. Instead, there’s a multitude of Retweets linking to yet another Retweet of a 3rd person’s link to an article written by a 4th party.

I’m not against the RT, I’d be hypocritical if I said I was ~ but with great audience comes great responsibility; there’s a lot of smart, clever people out there, I’d sure like to hear more from them using their own voice.