Category Archives: Leadership

Friendly, But Not Friends

You know that side-job you have as the informal HR Advisor for any/all of your friends? It can be enlightening at times, even uplifting, when you hear some of the ridiculous sh*t people are forced to put up with in their workplace.

For the situation to reach the “Mind if I run something by you?” stage, it usually entails the insufferable actions of someone’s direct supervisor. And, since it’s annual review time for many folks, you find many of your friends in that uncomfortable situation where the “boss” has just documented & delivered feedback that is either:

  • Complete nonsense
  • Based on a single event rather than a body of work
  • Sexist or otherwise inappropriate
  • Meaningless and vague

If the review is tied to compensation, as most are, it becomes more than frustrating to receive any of these misappropriated judgments of performance – it can also be career-limiting.

Want an example? Here’s a quote from the review of a close friend:

The perception is that you care too much about your team, and that your team cares too much about you. Next year, your development will revolve around being less engaged.”


Seriously. There’s a person on a company’s payroll in a position of influence, and they actually wrote something this ass-backwards. In the tightest labor market we’ve had this century, this person was being encouraged to distance from employees. Not only that, but this action is seen as development (insert maniacal laughter here).

I wanted to make sure I clarified the statement to make sure the review writer wasn’t encouraging more delegation or less fraternal relationships, or something not so…..I don’t know, stupid? But nope, it was truly a situation where the team admired this manager and literally chose to work for her; and that was seen as a problem.

So this begs the question – how much is too much when it comes to your relationship with your direct reports? I know this can’t be the first time you’ve heard something similar to this, right? I can still remember my first role as a manager of people, when a more senior colleague took me aside and gave me his pearl of wisdom; “be a jerk for as long as possible, the minute they think you care you’re cooked.” I would attribute it solely to a generational difference in management style, except I still see this pattern replicated by younger managers who still subscribe to the “I show that I care every two weeks when you get your paycheck.” 

Allow me to mention once again that an unemployment rate this low has a significant impact on the importance of retaining your key employees – the opportunities are there for them, inside your walls or outside. You may be strapped in your ability to use tangible rewards to show your appreciation (there’s the magic word), so your ability to create an environment of true intrinsic appreciation is critical.

I’m reading a book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Gary Chapman & Paul White (yes, the same guys who wrote the “love languages” book, shaddap) for a more granular discussion of the “how,” but you’ll have no problem finding reasons for the “why.” Dan Ariely estimates that “88% of the time employees leave because they don’t feel appreciated.” Lazlo Bock, a lover of data, says “meta analysis shows that appreciation is more important to retention than compensation.”

So hold your head up high, friend – your boss may not appreciate what you’ve built with your team, but you broke the cycle and engaged your team anyway. Has your boss considered what might happen if you leave? My guess is you’d have a few people who would follow you out the door.

Don’t Out-kick Your Coverage

Believe it or not, this post was not necessarily motivated by the fact we are knee-deep into the greatness that is football season. Timing is right, however, for this particular message.

Be careful you don’t out-kick your coverage. Or at the very least know going in that it’s a high “risk vs. reward” situation. I’m going to assume that there is a percentage of people who are unfamiliar with this term; it’s a football term that somehow translates to a “dude-ism” when you see a guy who landed a woman that seems way out of his league, i.e. “That dude out-kicked his coverage.”

see here for an example...
                    see here for an example…

A bit of a spontaneous post here as the professional application of this idiom hit me between the eyes this week.

Something as ordinary as an internal promotion, when you “out-kick your coverage,” the impact can be costly to a company – and potentially devastating to the promoted individual. You’re probably familiar with this mainly in sales management – a premier sales representative is thrust into a role of people management, and soon struggles with the new administrative and “baby-sitting” duties that don’t really sit in their wheelhouse. Six months later you have a sales territory that misses the awesome rep, a former rep who is overwhelmed & disengaged with his/her “promotion,” and the company loses on both sides of the coin. While sales is the most obvious example, I’ve seen the same thing in recruiting ~ managing a requisition load is a talent requiring a certain set of skills. But those skills, when thrust into a larger role can expose leaks quickly. I’ve seen more than one really good recruiter spit the bit when put into a role that required them to drive the action, rather than waiting for the requisitions to initiate work. There’s a big difference between receiving a signal to “GO” vs. planning the direction, speed, and destination.

And what’s more, this situation will become less isolated going forward ~ this dynamic is going to happen more often in companies if you interpret the findings from a ManpowerGroup 2015 survey, as people are thrust into “stretch” assignments to accommodate a dearth of qualified external candidates. Advancement opportunities are being looked at as internal opportunities first; “employers are looking inside their organizations for solutions, with more than half choosing to develop and train their own people.” [thanks to Hunt-Scanlon for the share] But how?

The easy solution [at least to those of us who don’t have to pay for it] is to recommend more comprehensive training and development for your people destined for promotion. There are any number of wonderful programs that are more than happy to take your money. Training expenditures in 2015 took a steep climb (up 29%+), but we’re relying on other people to do it for us. Overall spend is up while internal training payroll is down considerably. Is that going to fill the “gap” in skills? Maybe, but what about tactical experience? We’ve all taken some pretty ambitious training on important concepts, but for someone about to be thrown into the tempest, the training needs to come from you.

You have opportunities every day to develop your people in what really matters – TCB. Lacking a budget for developing your people? Howdy, welcome to the club…time for you to embrace the concept of delegation. There has yet to be a better method for teaching responsibility than by giving responsibility. Aren’t we all “working” managers now, with more than enough to handle? Carve out a piece and give it away before someone is promoted. If you want to develop leaders, give them a chance to lead in a limited scope before handing over the keys.

As managers, we’re asking for people to assume bigger, broader, more important roles in the company but we aren’t necessarily preparing them to be successful. We’re just kicking the ball as far as we can and hoping for the best.

Momma would approve...
 Colonel approved

Let go, give space, allow mistakes, and teach by real-life example. You offer your people a stake in the outcome, i.e. “you are accountable for the outcome,” and you give the greatest gift of all – ownership.

No fair catches allowed.

(H)Road (H)Rage

I can be a hopelessly frustrated and irritable sort. Nowhere is that more apparent than when I’m behind the wheel. I’m not a road-rager, per se (don’t quote me), but I do consider myself one of the handful of people who really knows how to drive correctly. That means that on any given day, literally thousands of you , (excuse me) other drivers offer me the opportunity to coach, advise, kvetch, bitch, and/or vent. It’s maddening, but drive I must – quickly, assertively, decisively, and without hesitation, trying my best to dish out tough love to those around me.

Why do I tell you this? Besides the obvious opportunity to glorify my unrecognized driving prowess, I’m also bringing to light the identity of my arch-nemesis – the “Left-Lane Monitor.” The yin to my yang, the push to my pull, this creature is the most infuriating foe I encounter in my travels. Whereas I may be an aggressive driver, this person is decidedly passive-aggressive. [Note: This does not include the obliviot, who may mindlessly drive in the left lane for miles without realizing they are an impediment to fluid traffic patterns. Mom, are you reading this?] No, “The Monitor” is different. This person is happy to consciously plant him/herself in the speed lane (or “passing lane”) at exactly the posted speed limit, absorb any amount of scorn/hand-signals/flashing headlights/vicious horn usage in their continuing efforts to act as the safety monitor for all of us. Their respective mission in life is to restrict others from surpassing a speed which they have determined as appropriate. Admit it, you’ve imagined turrets on your hood when faced with this driver….maddening.

Not surprisingly, I tend to work this way as well – not recklessly, mind you, but quickly, decisively, and yes – sometimes aggressively. So I ask you, as one HR professional to another, are you in the left lane? 

says who?
says who?

Have you assumed a position of “power” by controlling the pace of others around you? Does speed scare you? Are you impeding progress?

No fingers pointed, as I’m fairly certain that most of my readers are made of different stuff, but I’m guessing you know of those who fit the Left-lane Monitor description.

And they are killing Human Resources.

The challenge for us is that many times the “Monitor” is at the upper-levels of HR, perfectly content to safeguard the prime real estate they occupy. It’s part of the gig, the higher you go, the more you have to lose, so why take a risk? Just stick to your left lane, let those other folks deal with it.

If you do know these people, let them know you’re there, anxiously waiting to increase the speed to your desired location; without someone closely riding their rear bumper, there’s no reason to let us pass.

Move it the hell over bud, we got places to go.

*This post is an excerpt from “The Physics of HR,” available in late 2015.

3 Dangers of Being Nice

You can’t help it, deep down you’re a good person. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it – people like you.

Be careful.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of situations where “nice” is completely warranted. But as a manager of people….don’t let “nice” blind your judgment. There are at least 3 specific situations where nice guys really do complicate matters:

1. Performance Reviews – No surprise here, I’m sure. It’s the end of the year, reviews are due, the Holidays are quickly approaching…who wants to ruin someone’s Christmas break? It’s amazing how many bets are hedged at year-end. Our memory becomes more selective, we become sentimental, and suddenly “Fully Meets Expectations” seems to be a perfectly reasonable rating for an employee whose performance was anything but acceptable. This, of course, leads to the natural consequence of….

2. Merit Increases – Nothing indicates the objectivity of a manager more than his/her respective spread in merit increases. Ratings, schmatings, if you want to modify behavior, use your carrots. Unfortunately, too many managers convince themselves that a merit increase is synonymous with “cost of living adjustment.” Merit increases are rewards – thus, they are most effectively used as a reward for your key performers. The dread some managers feel about the reaction of their poor performers can oftentimes result in an entirely different message to your top performers, i.e. “Everyone gets the same raise, performance doesn’t matter.” Don’t expect that message to be tolerated for too long.

3. Promotions – This one gets really tricky. How many times have you seen this situation play out? Internal candidates vying for an open management position (or otherwise elevated in title/scope/pay), a choice is made to offer someone a “chance” at the position rather than hire the most talented candidate? “Chuck’s been here 15 years, he’s bid on every management position, if we don’t give him this one, he’s probably going to leave.” From a 3rd-party perspective, it’s easy to see the faulty logic ~ you’ve just decided to promote someone based on a negative reaction they may have to being passed-over. Meanwhile the hot-shot HiPo candidate is rejected so the hiring manager can sleep better at night. (SPOILER ALERT: This decision will not only be bad for the promoted individual, it may impact the hiring manager’s future as well.)

It’s a real pickle, isn’t it? Nice, likable people are the fabric of successful teams, companies, and families. This isn’t a call to be less “nice.” It’s a call for leaders to make decisions that are fair to the people who may be more deserving. If a manager continues to confuse “nice” with “guilt-avoidance,” the end result will not be so………….nice?

Man Overboard

The strongest swimmers are the first to abandon a sinking ship.

As leaders, we are still humans first. Among other things, that means we are prone to the same emotional response as our employees when unexpected change lands squarely upon us. Going into self-preservation mode, it’s very easy to go into ourselves, leaving all those around us in the dark. Instinctively, we worry about #1, first and foremost.

Now consider those people below us in the reporting chain; another degree of separation away from information can make a tough situation even more difficult. In a communication vacuum, you will have resistance, both passive and active, as people begin to assimilate. The “active” resistance is easily seen, easily heard. You can address the concerns and issues when they are being openly presented to you; that’s what leaders do.

The passive resistors are a trickier bunch. Many are coping in their own silent, invisible manner ~ including those who know they have the skill set to quickly and seamlessly find a newer, less volatile workplace. And remember, it’s the strongest swimmers who are looking to jump.

So how do you keep your best hands on deck?

  1. Let Them Know ~ Do your key people know they are key people? Recognition and appreciation are rarely used too much in situations of uncertainty. If I’m someone you truly value, tell me so.
  2. Be Available ~ Closed office doors breed mistrust. Once, during a particularly volatile situation a few of us actually removed our doors from the hinges to make the message visible – “I’m here if you need me.
  3. Seek Resistance ~ When you’re not hearing angst or concern, you need to actively seek it out. Be a walk-around manager, be visible, be communicative, and be a safe harbor for your people when the opportunity to vent presents itself.
  4. Be The Mirror ~ Realize that eyes of your team are upon you; your role changes from barometer to thermostat during times of uncertainty. Your actions and words will set the tone, especially to those who are wavering in their commitment level. The power of “Mirroring” (Pritchett) cannot be underestimated.
  5. Keep Managing ~ Lack of leadership is kryptonite to a high-performing employee. If you relinquish control or relax expectations, you risk the dreaded double-whammy, i.e. you’ll lose the good people, but you’ll keep those who are happy to be disguised with inactivity.

It’s not easy to rise above your own emotional response when faced with significant change. You can’t avoid or ignore your own coping process, but make haste, Captain – lest you hear the distant sound of a splash.

Thinking Never Helped Anyone

Okay, that’s not entirely true, I’m sure there are a few examples of thinking that actually worked out very well for people.

"Really? Like whom?"
“Really? Like whom?”

But, for the sake of this piece, humor me.

One of my great joys in life is coaching Little League baseball…with two sons, 12 and 9, I’ve been lucky enough to have over a dozen seasons to be on the diamond with little guys wanting to learn the great game. And, if you spend that much time on the field, you will observe any number of coaching styles…including the OVER-coaching style.

Drives me crazy.

Elementary school kids receiving an over-abundance of advice from Dads, Moms, uncles, older siblings, and coaches. These poor kids stand at the plate or on the mound with their ears wide open, trying to assimilate “tips” from every self-proclaimed expert in the park. With YouTube in the mix, everybody with internet access has an unlimited supply of “helpful” tips to share with their kid (and your kid.)

Usually, the reaction is predictable; Over-thought, mechanical, tight, and tentative ~ none of which help an athlete – or an employee (see? work tie-in right there baby!).

Several years ago, one of the kids on our team was having paralysis on the mound. It got to the point where he was literally frozen, trying to remember the encyclopedia of information that had been given to him on “superior” Pitching. You could see him mouthing the words, trying to get everything just right ~ his feet, his grip, his posture, his arm slot, his follow-through…frozen.

So, on my visit to the mound, I had a pretty simple message for my Pitcher: “Hit him.”

Player, now UN-frozen: “WHAT????”

Hit him. Right in the butt, plunk him. And make sure you throw it hard enough to hurt.”

Player, now REALLY awake: “But Coach, I can’t do that!”

“Okay…try it once, then you can start throwing to the mitt. Just nail him one time.”

I walked back to the dugout, took a seat, and nodded at him…this was going to either be transcendent, or I was going to have a real problem on my hands.

First pitch, “WHACK!,” right on the rump. The Pitcher saw the batter wince, then take his base…at that point, he looked at me and started laughing – all he had to do was throw the damn ball.

Strikes, balls, hits, walks – who cares? Throw the ball, don’t “Pitch” the ball.

Taking his mind off of 2,000 other things, he had focused on ONE thing – the batter’s butt. It’s that easy. Now, think of the mitt. It’s that easy. Given the same opportunity with your employees, give them the ability to hit a few batters, reach back and throw the ball. Narrow the focus, minimize the number of messages, and make the game FUN. Soon enough, your team members will develop their own style, which may or may not be the way YouTube explains it…

Thinking only makes it worse.

[Note* I expect this kid to thank me in his post-game interview one day, right after Mom and Jesus.]





Ball 4 – Karla Robertson

Every couple of weeks, I thought it might be nice to dig a little deeper into the mindset of one of our HR Hardball™ colleagues. Put on your thinking cap as this brave journalist ventures into the realm of the mind…please welcome “The Executive’s NeuroCoach,” Karla Robertson.

  1. Your title scares me – are you developing “Manchurian Candidate” Executives?

No, more like McGyver meets Margaret Thatcher—resilient and resourceful thinker who gets the job done regardless of circumstances with dignity, class and no collateral damage. (British accent not required.)

       2.  “Thinking better” is a big undertaking for someone like me; what’s one tip to help someone who tends to be at a deficit in their attention span (if you get my drift.)

Prioritize and Focus. If you find it hard to develop this on your own, engage a colleague or a coach to help you devise a process that works for you. No matter how old you are you can build new wiring and develop new habits of mind and thus, behavior…

 I meet so many talented people who are also very gifted in getting in the way of their own scalability and success…not only professionally but personally as well. And when we get right down to it, it’s really about the internal narrative that keeps playing the same stories in a loop that dumps them off where they began… 

       3. If LinkedIn had the ability to play a theme song whenever someone viewed your profile, what song would we hear when accessing yours?

Oooo so many choices; so little time…..I would have to say “I Gotta Be Me.”

       4. You’re in the business of helping grant wishes; what wish can “Hardballers” grant you (remember, I’m on a family man budget).

Well, granting wishes is what I do as a volunteer for Make-A-Wish Foundation of NJ. So if you’re looking for a place to donate some discretionary income, please go to

Finally, If someone wants to connect with you, where do they find you?

Over the river and through the woods…or at or For those who prefer voice-to-voice, I love to talk so call at 732-845-4833. I am willing to connect with folks on LinkedIn as well.      www.linkedin/karlarobertsoncoach  Just reference how you know me/heard of me. Lastly, I’m on Twitter

Could You Fire Johnny Football?

“Can you fit a helmet in that box?”

For Texas A&M, it had been much too long residing outside of the football elite. Making matters worse, in 2012, A&M prepared to enter the SouthEastern Conference, home of the big boys. Aggie-haters rubbed their hands waiting to witness the weekly sacrifice to LSU, Alabama, Georgia, et al. But then……………….Johnny Football happened.

In 2012, Texas A&M unearthed a living, breathing football savant. In a sport that can feature 90+ players on a squad, ONE kid carried an entire football program on his shoulders. Aggie fans and alumni will forever cherish the glorious ride they shared with Johnny in 2012 ~ a Heisman winner, a win over Alabama, and a sign of glorious days to come; “Johnny Football” (coolest nickname ever?) was/is bigger than life, and never had an Aggie been so beloved. And then………..(*sigh*) the football season ended, and the silly season began.

When a person gets drunk, you see the extremities of their true personality without inhibition. For Manziel, the intoxication of fame and a little gold man exposed the warts caused from a lifetime of privilege, arrogance, and entitlement. In short, we found out that Johnny Football is kind of an a-hole. But man, that a-hole can ball.

When you have one performer who is so clearly responsible for the success of your operation, how much slack in the line do they deserve? And at what point do you pull the plug & make the highly dubious decision to remove a “star” from the team?

This is the dilemma of Kevin Sumlin, head coach at Texas A&M. He seems to be a man of principle (slowly becoming an extinct quality in college athletics), and he seems to be a man who has had his limits stretched to a point of breach. But how in the hell can you fire Johnny Football? For that matter, could you even make that decision, or would boosters and other muckety-mucks make that impossible? This kid, warts and all, is the bell cow – his Heisman run alone has been valued at $30M+ for the university. That puts a few bricks in the building, as they say.

Have you ever had this discussion with upper management? Could you have that discussion? A bonafide all-star performer with the ability to make or destroy an entire program. There’s no better example right now – Manziel is a gifted athlete and competitor looking for a fight with the world…eventually, he’ll lose that fight, but how long do you ride his wave of success?

It seems to be a matter of “when,” not “if” Johnny self-destructs – as he continues his frustrating combination of buffoonery and brilliance, his loyalists will begin to wane and a good man (Sumlin) may feel tempted  to do what seems utterly impossible – fire Johnny Football.

 Like this post? Try this one….no? How about this one?

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder and OH (Original Hardballer)

3 Leadership Lessons from Iron Man 3

*****Spoilers contained within, proceed at your own risk*****


As a kid, I was a comic book freak. Batman, Daredevil, Spiderman, Green Lantern, Fantastic Four, the Flash (what the hell ever happened to the Flash????), Aquaman, Captain America, and, of course, Iron Man. How could you not love comics? Save the girl, save the city, be forever equipped with brilliant snarkiness, and the awesome costumes….oh man, I loved the costumes [there was a brief time of my life when my greatest desire was to wear a cape and tights, but I digress]. Again I say, how could you not love comics?

I’ve grown up (no comments) and so have my comic book heroes – with varying degrees of success. Spiderman is a geek, Batman is a psychopath, Superman is duller than dirt, Thor is a meathead, Green Lantern is gay (yup, check it out), Aquaman and Flash disappeared, and most tragically – Daredevil is Ben Affleck…oh, the humanity.

But there has been one breakout star.

Ironman. Thanks to the brilliance of Robert Downey, Jr. and the advent of CGI, everyone loves Ironman. My wife couldn’t wait to see “Ironman 3″…that, in itself, is the most telling revelation in the popularity of Mr. Ironpants.

For me, the magic appeal of superheroes left long ago (Clooney as Batman sealed it), but for life lessons

The Original Iron Man..."Bully!"
The Original Iron Man…”Bully!”

you could do a lot worse. In terms of leadership, the flying Tin Can provides some exceptional nuggets of wisdom:

  1. Keep your Powder Dry ~ Cool and cocky, Tony Stark (secret identity, neophytes) rarely rattles. Until, that is, his button gets pushed by a hippie terrorist named “The Mandarin.” Threats are made, chests are puffed up, tempers are lost, cliff-side houses are scud-missled into the Pacific ~ you see this same story repeated all the time.
  2. Occasionally step away from the whirlwind ~ Forced to leave the chaos of his normal environment, Mr. Stark visits the sticks of Tennessee. A mansion with robot-servants is replaced by a garage apartment and wise-a** 9-year old. It’s in this unpolished condition Stark is able to see the situation more clearly, recooperate, and re-establish. Get out of the bubble, decompress, gain perspective.
  3. A dose of humility never hurts ~ Robert Downey, Jr. was made for this role…life imitates fiction, and here’s a guy who, despite immense talent, had been my generation’s version of Lindsey Lohan, minus the idiot parents. Tony Stark, despite money, wealth, fame, privilege, and Gwyneth, can’t shut up long enough to count his blessings. Humble pie, when served, can cause a time of reflection, change, and (hopefully) redemption. Luckily for Tony (and Downey), he lived to learn the lesson.

Okay, so there’s probably more classical leadership lessons at Kellogg, but my rates are way more reasonable. Like most of you, I find myself finding (if not actively looking for) these small but recognizable metaphors. If they come with a large popcorn, all the better.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™ Straight talk, no-nonsense approach to workplace issues. 

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The Opposite of “Yahoo!”

Perhaps they will change the name of the company to “Damn!?”

Earlier this week Marissa Mayer, the relatively new CEO of Yahoo!, made the very controversial move of banning Flexible Work Arrangements. If not for a Papal search and Sequestration, this may be the leading story on the nightly news.

Not only do you have a rift in the ranks of working women, you will have an equally interesting paradox in the stance taken by Human Resources. How?

  • Ladies first ~ To sum it up succinctly, let’s just say that a lot of women are sincerely pissed. The concern, of course, is the risk of losing (or disengaging) a large percentage of available work options for women if you were to remove the ability to work-from-home. To women, it’s a step backwards – “When a working mother is standing behind this [Mayer is notorious for not only being a working mother, but for her 2-week maternity leave & building a nursery attached to her office], you know we are a long way from a culture that will honor the sacrifices that women too often have to make.” [AllThingsD, uncredited]
“Get a rope.”

Ouchie. Can you imagine if Marissa Mayer were Mitchell Mayer? If so, “he” would be on “The View” getting lambasted by the carnivorous hosts and audience and getting a daily barrage of hate mail. As it is, she’s being vilified as an oppressor for asking her employees to come to work. Her company is/was struggling, and she has taken some bold (and unpopular) actions. She also set the table for any old-school corporate leaders who think “work-from-home” is a pseudonym for “slacker.” It can’t be a coincidence that Donald Trump has publicly voiced his support for the move, right? All around America, work-from-home employees are puckering up, waiting to see how this impacts their perfect existence.

  • Human Resources ~ Can you imagine the gnashing of teeth going on inside the HR huddle? Never mind that the largest percentage of female   executives are in the HR function, remember that “Flexible Work Arrangements” are the absolute turnkey for many organizations when it comes to the Human Resources troika – Attracting Talent, Engaging Talent, and Keeping Talent. Holy HR Hand Grenade, Batman, the “Mayer Move” flies in the face of all of that, and will be especially unpopular with the women. HR professionals are used to being hated, but not by an entire segment of the population.

(It gets even better) The biggest push in all of Human Resources is the increased strategic involvement with “the business.” That explains the quote from Yahoo’s Chief HR Officer, Jackie Reses; “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo [sorry, that’s really, really unintentionally funny], and that starts with physically being together.”

Do you think she means it? What kind of feedback is HR receiving at the levels below the “Chief?” How many HR people still consider themselves an “employee advocate,” not a business partner?

This is great viewing, get your popcorn ready & stay tuned.