The Feeling is Mutual

“The Feeling is Mutual” is the second in a 10-part series outlining the concepts included in “The Physics of HR; Mastering the Laws of Motion,” the Whitaker joint set to publish in mid-2016. The first installment, “We Make People Move” can also be found on

I’d never join a club that would allow someone like me to be a member.” – Woody Allen

What kind of employees is your company attracting?

Like begets like. What we transmit to the universe will dictate what we attract. Lest I sound a little too closely aligned to “The Secret” or other like-minded books on the power of visualization, my focus is strictly on the presentation of your organization to the potential candidates (and, by default, potential customers) in the marketplace.

Is the company you think you are aligned with the company others see from the outside? The corporate culture that your corporate leadership chooses as your “brand” may not jibe with your real corporate personality. It’s like those first half-dozen dates with your husband-to-be; he’s opening doors for you, having deep conversations for hours, and treating you like a queen – six months later he’s clipping his toenails on the couch while sitting in his boxers. So despite good intentions, your corporate culture is not represented by your Vision or Mission Statement. It’s represented by the people in its employ.

Your culture is defined for you, not by you.

Get over here you....
Get over here you….

So when the topic of “culture change” comes about, Staffing becomes the catalyst, not a new word cloud, acronym, or “jeans day.” You can define any culture you want, but it all starts with the people. This is where we, as the talent gatekeepers of the company, can earn our keep in multiple ways:

  1. Candidate Intel – Do you ever ask your job candidates about the reputation of your company? I know it’s common place to ask a job-seeker “tell me what you know about Acme International,” but changing that question a little bit can provide some amazing information about how your company is perceived outside the walls. “From your perspective, what do you know (or think) about the culture here at Acme International?
  2. Recruiter Intel – Even if you don’t utilize external recruiting assistance, it’s never a bad idea to keep an open communication with a few trusted external sources. Believe me, THEY definitely have an opinion to share about how candidates view your company. They can also give you an idea of how you are faring vs. the competition.
  3. New Hire Intel – The people you have brought into your company over the last 6-12 months are going to be potential ambassadors for your company. What has their experience been to date? How is the company different/the same as what they believed it would be?
  4. Former Employee Intel – Good golly, keep your eyes on this demographic. It’s there for the taking if you look for it, and not always in the kindest language – go getcha some tough love, you’ll be better for it.

The real work starts after that – updated job descriptions, interview guides, attraction statements, performance documentation, annual reviews….you get the picture. 

As #WorkplaceScientists, we must first determine what message we are sending before we can truly make an impact on the culture of our company. Align that with the culture you desire and begin to make the changes needed.


My Job? I MOVE People

“We Make People Move” is the first in a 10-part series outlining the concepts included in “The Physics of HR; Mastering the Laws of Motion,” the Whitaker joint set to publish in mid-2016.

We make people move.

That’s the answer.

The question? “What does Human Resources really do?”

Our profession is blowing up. In addition to our traditional role(s) within the organization, technological advances continue to expand our reach, our capabilities, and have also provided a platform for collaboration and idea-sharing via digital and social media. We now concern ourselves with things like branding, engagement, culture, and the “candidate experience;” big, ethereal, global concepts that we’re continually trying to get our hands around. You could easily make the case that at no time in our history has Human Resources been so expansive, so strategic, and/or so complicated. The “art” of HR is now a science, too.

Our own governing body has actually spent the last several years building a new competency model for HR professionals (not coincidentally, they have also created a new certification model to grab more of your HR dollar – that’s another column.) In fairness, the effort was needed – the job is changing to the point where an identity crisis could develop. All you have to do is browse a selection of LinkedIn profiles to see the titles and job descriptions various HR pro’s are using to attempt to explain what they “do.” We’re all over the map trying to capture the breadth of our responsibilities. So here’s how SHRM defines the role of Human Resources:

– “The formal structure within an organization responsible for all the decisions, strategies, factors, principles, operations, practices, functions, activities, and methods related to the management of people.”

Pretty comprehensive, yes? My goal was to simplify the message, while still capturing the essence of the job – here’s the #WorkplaceScientist definition of Human Resources:

– The study of the properties and nature of people and processes, focusing on “how” and “why” people move.


It need not be any more complicated than that. Over the next 10 weeks, I’m going to share some of the thoughts that led me here.

Let’s move.

Are You Pushing Your Top Talent Away?

You know what’s a difficult thing to do? Leaving a good job is a difficult thing to do. When you’re fortunate enough to work for an employer that treats you fairly, offers competitive compensation, and provides job security, that’s usually the trifecta.

That’s not to imply that these are “negative” qualities in a company, but would it surprise you to know that each can create problems in the retention of your most talented people?
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This is a wake-up call that you may be doing a great deal of things correctly, but still be setting up an exit path for your top performers. I’ve seen it happen countless times in my experience with Fortune 500 companies that have miniscule turnover rates—but the people they do lose … ouch babe. (read more)

If It Looks Like a Duck….#Oz

Like many of you, I’ve received plenty of collateral material inviting me to the SHRM National Conference in Las Vegas. Let’s put aside for a minute the temperature in Nevada in late June, and instead focus on the the world-renowned speakers booked for the event.

First of all, it seems the ladies in our profession are in for a real treat this year—not only do we get Mrs. “Lean In” herself, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, but we also get former Gallup golden-boy Marcus Buckingham. Forget the steak baby, we got the sizzle in spades.

And then… we don’t.

For some reason unbeknownst to me, SHRM decided to go carnival barker on us for our closing session. Perhaps thinking my mother would be in attendance looking for a “magic” pill, our closing speaker will be none other than the great and powerful Dr. Mehmet Oz.

What. The. Hell.

Was Jerry Springer unavailable?

Dr. Oz was/is a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, but I’m guessing that has less to do with his invitation than his “cult of personality” existence, first hatched by the Oprah star-making machine back in 2004. Damn that Oprah.

Look, the guy definitely has plenty of credentials and awards… it’s quite a laundry list, but here are a few such accomplishments, compliments of Wikipedia:

“Time ranked Oz at 44th on its list of the “100 Most Influential People in 2008″; Esquire magazine placed him on its list of the “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century”; The World Economic Forum called him a Global Leader of Tomorrow; 02138 magazine named him one of Harvard’s 100 Most Influential Alumni. He won the Gross Surgical Research Scholarship. He was listed in “Doctors of the Year” by Hippocrates magazine and in “Healers of the Millennium” by Healthy Living magazine. Pretty impressive.”

Oh… and there’s also this—he’s a bit of a quack.

Adam Apstein (Dec 2014), in a study published in the British Medical Journal found that the effectiveness of Oz’s medical advice was a little a, um, “askew.” He found that 51 percent of his recommendations had no scientific backing and rationale, or in some cases contradicted scientific evidence. The study showed that 36 points of the 51 percent consisted of no supporting scientific evidence, while the remaining 15 percentage points went directly against scientific evidence. We have local meteorologists with a better accuracy rate.

You may also be familiar with the weight loss scams that have been found to have Oz support, if not complicit, in their promotion without FDA approval; remember the Green Coffee Bean Extract? That one got him scolded by the Senate. Ever heard of the “Pigasus” Award? It’s an award given by the James Randi Educational Foundation (sidebar: remember the Amazing Randi? Spoon-benders everywhere tremble at the name.) to the most deserving charlatan of the year. Well, our boy Oz is the only 3-time winner of an award given for “claiming something so doubtful that it will only happen “when pigs fly“.

Still, he’s got a pretty nice position at Columbia University—currently the Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Sweet gig. Except now that’s under attack, too. An email, authored by Dr. Henry Miller (now a Stanford Fellow, previously an FDA honcho) was sent to Columbia University calling Oz’s faculty position unacceptable. They accused Oz of “an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack [there’s that word] treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.” Columbia University is standing by their man for now, for rea$on$ that have yet to be fully explained.

Is this guy great or what? At least he has the good sense to lay low & not make this worse for himself, right? Whoops, guess he’s not gonna do that either.

Okay, so let’s reset here: I obviously don’t care much for his Ozness. I know the guy has plenty of fans, some of whom are related to me, and that’s okay. He’s got a wall of degrees, accolades, awards, commendations, and tributes that the likes of me will never see, bully for him.

But for the governing body of Human Resources to book him for the closing session of our National Conference? Is he going to guess people’s weight and hand out prizes, load up his wagon and move onto the next town? This is crazy, people, he needs to be immediately replaced, not endorsed by our profession.

Think about it this way: Human Resources, the profession charged with maintaining the integrity and compliant behavior of a company will be lectured to by a guy batting .500 when it comes to ethical behavior. That’s like asking Bill Belichick to speak to a symposium for ethics in coaching.

So when the powers-that-be in our SHRM leadership willingly choose this clown to speak to us (let’s estimate his price tag @ $300K), they did so already knowing the amount of baggage he would need to checked outside of his Samsonite. C’mon people, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck….

We deserve better. Maybe Maury Povich is available?

#RemoveOZ, FOTNation!