Tag Archives: HR

The Pretender, Part II

For those of you who read Part 1 of this series, here’s hoping you’ve forgiven me for taking subtle shots at Dirty Dancing, mullets, and Democrats. But in my own defense, I’m an equal opportunity antagonist, so you can be sure to see future digs at Footloose, the GOP, and whatever hairstyle Curt Gowdy has adopted for the day. If you didn’t read Part 1, quit reading this part & high-tail your ass back to FOT and start from the beginning like a normal person.

But let’s not bury the lead with witty satire. You’re a new leader, remember? You now exist in a situation where your biggest fear is being the embodiment of the Peter Principle. Fact is, you’re vulnerable right now. As such, there are still things of which to be aware:

  1. Be Careful With New Friends: Especially in Human Resources, as a senior leader you need to be wary of those individuals a little too eager to be your new best friend. Better to face an adversary attacking you than be fooled by the “friend” hugging you. You’ll have no trouble finding hundreds of quotes describing this situation, but in HR it’s even more complicated – if your new buddy immediately begins to “inform you” about the problems (and people) to address first, chances are you have a Judas in your midst, and you’ve opened up the channel for informal tattle sessions. You want to be empathetic, but you’re also not the school principal.
  • Slow Your Roll: Pick and choose, prioritize, and don’t over-promise. When I assumed my new role with Sage, one of the things I received was a list of key objectives for 2019. I counted 20 different objectives, and it was already mid-August. A number of these were accented with “we’ve been waiting for you to get started!”, so party on Wayne! If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority, right? Make the distinction between “must have” and “nice to have” and you’ll find your list shrinking considerably. Doing a few things exceptionally well is your goal – not doing everything mediocre. As much as we want to show we were the right choice for the job, resist the urge to be over-committed.
  • Find a true confidant: Remember, it won’t necessarily be the person who offers you the inside scoop on everyone (see #1); that person likely has an angle. Who in your midst has nothing to gain, has a wealth of internal knowledge, almost certainly has tenure, and has a generally positive and forward-looking attitude? That’s your buddy. It’s also a major reason to…
  • Bring One of Your Own: The last two senior roles I assumed came with the pre-qualified makings of my own Dream Team (the 1992 version, not that garbage 2004 group). They know you, know your style, obviously like your style and can be an internal advocate while you’re still getting your bearings. That doesn’t make them better than the people you inherit, but it sure as hell helps you sleep better at night.
  • Forgive Yourself: Let’s get the suspense over with, shall we? You’re going to make mistakes (plural.) That does not validate concerns you might have (or you perceive that others might have) regarding your ability to do the job. Own them, but don’t let mistakes create a cautious driver – you still need to have the confidence to step on the gas. Being indecisive or unable to react, even with incomplete information, is unacceptable. BE BOLD.

Another freebie – who might be a mentor or supervisor from your past who can be safe harbor when you need to vent, doubt yourself, or admit you’re in over your head? Get ‘em on speed-dial, Pancho, there’s no shame in being human.

25 years after accidentally landing in Human Resources, and still miles to go before I sleep. I have worked the wild and changing spectrum of the healthcare segment as a recruiter, generalist, business partner and team leader. Public, private, PE-backed, start-up ventures and merging entities – I’ve worked with them all, As an opinion leader in the Talent Acquisition community, my blog, “HR Hardball” has become one of the most visible and popular sites for transparent discussion on the challenges facing HR professionals. I’m also a featured contributor for Fistful of Talent, co-author of “What’s Next in Human Resources” and now a contributor to the good folks with the HR Exchange Network.

5 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Compliance Training

Compliance training has come out of the shadows and into the spotlight, following high-profile sexual harassment scandals that have dominated the news cycle for months. As a result, many organizations across industries are more aware of the risk of ethics and compliance violations, and the damaging consequences on their reputation, productivity, employee engagement, recruitment and retention and financial viability.

For HR, now’s the optimal time to review and update your compliance training programs. If you’re wondering whether your compliance training needs a reset, here are five signs that it probably does:

  1. Your compliance training doesn’t include a message from your CEO
    Training can have a greater impact on employees when it includes a strong, clear message from your CEO that compliance training is a strategic priority for your organization. The “tone from the top” message should amplify your organization’s commitment to creating a positive, respectful, diverse workplace. It should also convey the expectation that all employees, at every level, are held accountable for acting ethically and speaking up when they see or hear about inappropriate or unlawful behavior.
  2. Your training doesn’t encourage employees to report misconduct
    Training is one of the best ways to educate employees on your internal complaint process, while ensuring them than your organization prohibits retaliation against individuals who report misconduct. Your compliance training should explain what employees need to do if they observe or experience harassment, discrimination, bias and other inappropriate or unlawful behavior, and what reporting channels are available, such as an ethics hotline or dedicated email address.
  3. Your training isn’t tailored to your workforce and industry
    Your compliance training program can be more effective and efficient when it’s tailored to your specific industry or sector. One way to achieve this is to use examples, terminology, images and graphics that are relevant and relatable to your specific workforce. And for organizations with a global workforce, consider what regional, cultural and language differences to incorporate in the training.
  4. Your training focuses too much on laws and regulations
    Compliance training designed to avoid liability has proven to be ineffective as a tool to change employee behaviors and attitudes. Today, thanks to cost-effective eLearning technologies and techniques, there are many creative ways to translate compliance principles, laws and policies into high-quality, interactive videos that immerse employees in stories and challenge their decision-making skills. For example, the old model would show a slide with the legal definition of religious harassment in the workplace. The new model would feature an interactive video dramatizing an employee harassing a Muslim co-worker, and the consequences that follow.  Interactive quizzes, assessments and engagement points are other ways to keep employees focused on what’s important and boost knowledge retention.
  5. Your employees say they don’t have time for training
    Even though compliance training is mandatory for many employees, it’s one of those “must-do” things they often put off. The reasons may vary, however, it doesn’t help that compliance training has a reputation of being dull, boring and long. Look for compliance training that is flexible and adapts to your environment and the needs of your workforce. Mobile-friendly courses, with targeted, bite-sized nuggets of content is a new way to reach and teach today’s distracted, interruption-prone employees.

Time to step up
In light of the scrutiny that compliance training has come under since the #MeToo movement, there’s no better time to explore ways to make your compliance training program more effective and appealing to your workforce. Look for visually-rich, interactive solutions that focus on raising awareness, changing behaviors and attitudes, and sparking conversations about the issues that are most important to your organization.

About the Author:
Jeffrey Frankel is the Vice President of Marketing for Traliant. The company is revolutionizing the way compliance training is experienced by transforming it from boring to brilliant. Traliant creates online training experiences that motivate employees to act ethically, to speak up against harassment and discrimination, and to help promote positive, respectful workplaces.


3 Things We’ll See in HR by 2022

On Friday of last week (10/20), I was a guest on Michael Cameron’s daily radio program “Win-Win@Work” and had the opportunity to speak about my favorite topic– building and leading a world-class recruiting team. It’s a wonderful thing when you find yourself leading a team that has hit its collective stride. It’s a magical place, a place where the beer flows like wine, and where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. Building and leading a team is the most satisfying part of the job for me, and when things are good, they are really good.

But we know in this crazy Talent Acquisition life, every day is a snapshot – who knows what tomorrow will bring, much less what might happen in 2022. So when Mr. Cameron (makes me feel younger to call anyone “Mister”) asked me at the end of our interview, “where do you see Talent Acquisition in five years?”, I’ll admit I chewed on my tongue a bit ~ five freaking years??

Since, “I don’t have a clue, Mike” is a decidedly bad answer to a live broadcast question, the little man started rummaging my subconscious mind for those thoughts I have when allowed to be future-focused. To my surprise, I think I may have made a little sense, you tell me.

Three things I expect to see in Talent Acquisition by 2022:

  1. Talent Networks/Communities Will Explode ~ If you aren’t building a community already, you better get with the program. Building virtual connections by sharing meaningful information is definitely a “long” play, but when those crops start to come in, you’ll have a pipeline of engaged candidates.
  2. Speed Wins ~ The application process is an absolute beating. Everybody seems to know this, but even with technology advances the process takes, on average, 30 minutes. That’s garbage. Find the key to that door and the kingdom is yours. The huge ATS is going to go buh-bye, and the sooner the better.
  3. Blurred Lines ~ With the increased importance of building a people pipeline via talent networks, Talent Acquisition will continue to morph into a Marketing arm of the organization. Candidate or customer, what’s the difference? We’re just scratching the surface of how to maximize the time we engage with a potential candidate, why not also capture them as potential customers? What we have here is another way to tie Talent Acquisition to financial metrics – yay metrics. Same concepts apply – who’s your audience, what kind of persona are you targeting, and how do you most effectively reach them?

There’s also one other fundamental belief I have that isn’t universally shared. Fundamentally, I still see our job being relationship-driven by talented people in recruiting roles. There’s a swell of Orwellian thinking that technology will replace recruiters as time progresses. Here’s the problem –  the HR-Tech boon of the last several years has, in many ways, resulted in white noise. Too many tools, too many gimmicks (too many blogs, consultants, and “experts” too for that matter.) I still believe the recruiting function needs to be internally based and owned by actual employees of the company. The technology that succeeds will be the kind that frees up recruiters to do what they do best – recruit. 

If you want to listen to the conversation, here’s the link. And yes, I really do sound like that.

New Law Coming Soon

“So, [candidate-person], how much do you currently make?” 

How is it that something so obviously inappropriate to ask in any social or professional setting is one of the boilerplate questions asked of every job candidate?

What do you currently make?” Excuse me, but what in the hell does that have to do with the price of grits in Charleston?*

I know the reason the question is asked – or at least I know the spirit of the question – but think about it from a candidate’s vantage point. Why would I offer you information that could be damaging to me?

Compare it to a poker game (and to me, everything can be compared to a poker game) – you’ve got a pretty decent hand, and if you play it right you may rake a pretty fair stack of chips. But the only way to get maximum value for your hand [I’m sure it’s obvious, but to confirm, the “hand” is your value as a candidate] is to raise the bet, thus creating the illusion (or is it?) that you’re holding the best hand. Now imagine you make that raise, but – before your opponent decides to commit money to the pot, they ask to see your hand. That takes the starch out of it, amirite??

Or, even worse – imagine you win the pot, but then you’re only allowed to collect 5% more than you’ve won in the past. Yes, you qualified to receive it all, but you don’t have the experience, sorry.

Now tell me how that ridiculous scenario is different than basing an offer to a prospective candidate on their current compensation. I realize we’re tasked to negotiate a compensation package with a potential employee, but to require the candidate to give you the starting point is hardly a fair negotiation. In fact, it’s blatantly unfair. And guess what? Starting October 31st, 2017, it’s also illegal. Yes, for now it’s a limited scope, but in principle what’s not to like about this law? You either have a salary range established for the position based on experience, or you don’t.

Why do we do ask? Maybe you convinced yourself this is for the benefit of the candidate. A proper “fit,” you see, is only achieved with the appropriate compensation expectations. Or, we might ask this question knowing that our own compensation offering is sub-par and we’re just praying the answer is low? Most likely it’s a simple matter of habit – it’s a question that has been part of the process for as long as most of us have been in the business of asking questions.

Now try the interview without asking that question – it changes the dynamic completely. You can still get the candidate to kick off the negotiation by asking “what compensation are you seeking?,” but the conversation takes on a different tone when you haven’t handicapped the discussion. 

Pull up a chair and deal ’em…NOW we’re playing poker.

Fool’s Gold – The “Passive” Candidate

“Passive recruiting” has been a buzzword in the Talent Acquisition world for as long as I’ve been in the industry. Not only is it described as the gold standard of a “strategic” Recruiting team, but “passive recruiting” started appearing as a job requirement for positions outside of the Human Resources organization. It’s hip, it’s now, it’s a term with caché, baby.

Which begs the question… why?

Who Are Those Guys, Anyway?

Let’s start here: What qualifies you as a “passive” candidate? Well, the single most obvious characteristic is that a passive candidate is not looking for a new job, and that’s where this gets tricky. Why? Because a prevalent perception has been developed over the years that has two basic tenets:

  1. People who are actively seeking a new job are suspicious.
  2. “Passive” candidates are the “real” talent ~ So unobtainable, so beautiful, so completely immune to our advances, rare and precious, like the mythical unicorn label we like to borrow (George Costanza actually had a great quote about this mindset.)

When we receive a resumé from a candidate, one of our first questions is “Why are you looking to leave your current employer?” [or God forbid they aren’t currently employed; then they immediately go to the bottom of the pile, conveniently located inside the shredder.] We ask this question why? Because it’s important, right?

Well yeah, but… until we’re trying to pry them away from their employer. Then it’s not so important why they leave—we just want them to leave.

Is it me, or is that just a touch hypocritical?

We look at these things with our own lens, so indulge me a minute: I was a “passive candidate” at one point, and I can’t help but think my experience was more typical than we’d like to admit. Successful and tenured at my (then) employer, I was happy. I didn’t know that what I really wanted was a new opportunity. Thankfully, a recruiter alerted me to that non-conscious desire. Not his fault—that’s what we do for a living, yes?

And who was I, exactly? I was a guy who knew how to get things done at my present employer. I knew every back-channel, informal handshake method to TCB. I had a track record. I had a history. I had favors owed, favors due, secrets kept… and that’s what made me a great employee—for my present employer.

And then for the receiving company, here’s the reality of recruiting this passive candidate.

  • I didn’t really want to go. It took 3 offers before I bit. You know why?
    • It was a tough job to fill. Not many people had that specific skill set, and those who did wanted no part of the role. You don’t go after passive candidates for easy-to-fill jobs; this one was tough and my resumé matched.
    • Leaving a good job is hard. It’s an emotional decision – you’re not running from the company, you just answered the phone one day & felt wanted. But leaving? Leaving is difficult.
  • It cost them a sh*t-ton of money. Why else would I go? Scope of responsibility? Cool. Title? Even cooler. But it eventually came down to a fat check. I’m not above saying they overpaid, because they did. That creates a few fun situations for your precious unicorn – they will be at the high end of your internal equity. Maybe the very high end. Maybe at the very stupid high end. That fact will be a secret for about 2 days.
  • You have to walk the talk. All those benefits of your company, wonderful culture, flexibility, limitless resources, and advancement opportunities – better be legitimate. Maybe you had to hide some ugly truths, withhold some information, or make promises that may not be feasible (in the recruiting world, these are known as “lies.”) That won’t make for a very happy unicorn, as they paw the dirt & carelessly waive their narwhalian horn around in anger.

Obviously, this doesn’t hold true for everyone who has been hired, but it should remind everyone in recruiting about the importance of level-setting on “active” vs. “passive” recruiting, and the merits of each respectively. Why we have convinced ourselves that a candidate wanting to join our company is less appealing than the unknown is really the question that needs to be addressed. It’s no different than the dopey-eyed cows straining to eat grass on the other side of the fence.

There will always be a place for passive recruiting, especially for those hard-to-find positions. But buyer beware when you take the route of “pulling” instead of receiving. People are successful for many reasons, including their ability to navigate the organization where they currently reside. How much of that ability translates to the new job is debatable, but you can bet that it won’t be an immediate transition.

And that’s the rub, yes? Instead of poring through candidates who have actively positioned themselves for an opportunity with your company, we go looking for that which we do not have.


3 Things Glassdoor Taught Me

About a year ago, I started to manage our corporate Glassdoor account. Seemed like the perfect responsibility for me to assume; I lead our Talent Acquisition department, I love to write, and my 17 years as a married man has accustomed me to baseless criticism.

I kid, I kid.

But yes, I took the wheel as the official Glassdoor voice for DentalOne Partners – responding to reviews (good and bad), adding photos and content, and basically trying to showcase the employer brand of my wonderful company. In a world of cyber-muscles, having the chore of responding to anonymous reviews can be daunting. It takes some discipline, but with some practice you find a way to respond to even the most toxic review after a while. That skill can help you in other areas as well…for instance:

Last week we receive a written warning from the city, citing us for an animal offense, i.e. – “your dog was reported as messing in your neighbor’s lawn.” So we had been accused by our city of harboring a criminal canine. There’s no fine attached or anything truly penal, but it quickly festered with me and my wife for a few reasons:

  • We’ve lived in this neighborhood for 15 years. We know the names of every family in our division. Someone felt it necessary to call the city rather than leave us a note, call us, knock on our door?
  • The complainant was anonymous. No name, no address, no time of the “offense,” no time of the actual report, just a yellow ticket on my door. So apparently all that it takes is a phone call and a neighbor receives a warning, no questions asked.
  • Finally, there’s this nugget. We have a puppy, her name is Sadie, and she’s never pooped on anyone’s lawn other than her own. Not only was the complaint anonymous, we had no opportunity to contest the charge. Presumed guilt without recourse. 

Sounds a lot like social media, yes? Doesn’t take much to leave anonymous flames on the internet, does it?

I should mention at this time that me and my wife are both predominantly Irish and have tempers akin to a tea kettle on a hot plate. Incriminating our baby girl brought out the windpipes in both of us, and we were ready for tactical and psychological warfare on the complainant. But then a little rational sense kicked in, and I revisited the lessons taught to me during my management of our Glassdoor profile.

  1. The “anonymous” option encourages participation from any and everyone who has an ax to grind. The truth is that in most cases of toxic feedback, you know exactly who the reviewer/complainant is based on the information they share. The disgruntled employee becomes the disgruntled ex-employee becomes the virtual flamethrower. Likewise, it wasn’t difficult for us to determine the idea of our disgruntled neighbor-turned-whistle-blower.
  2. The more ridiculous the complaint, the less credence it carries. When you read a review on Glassdoor written with the sole intent of scorching the Earth, how much validity can you really give it? Every company has its warts, I don’t care who you are, so constructive criticism is something we value – when I see a thoughtful response about areas for improvement, I take note and share the information. When I read a review full of venom, it’s very hard to give it any real credence.
  3. From the point of view of the “accused,” a rational response is your best option. Usually, one of the two extremes seems like the way to proceed – go “Irish”, as we originally contemplated, or completely disregard the gripe. But you need to take the stance of “feedback deserves feedback” by replying to all the reviews…even those reviews. As it happens, we have a neighborhood Facebook page – so we decided to respond to our neighborhood with a post “apologizing for any transgressions that Sadie may have perpetrated, and to please call or alert us personally should there be anything we can do to be better neighbors,” and we included a picture of the official warning from the City. Snarky? I guess it depends on the tone in which its read, but the responses were overwhelmingly supportive. Most included some reference to “I’m shocked someone would be so petty/spiteful/mean-spirited…” You get the idea – we took the high road and the audience was intelligent enough to realize the ridiculousness of the situation.

I have to tell you, it felt good. Stay out of the mud, be responsive, don’t take it personally…and don’t mess with my puppy dog.

On May 23, 2016 John Whitaker joined the DentalOne Partners team as Vice President, Talent Acquisition, based out of the Dallas Corporate Headquarters.  John is responsible for leading Talent Acquisition & Recruiting strategies and initiatives enterprise-wide.

Counter-Offers & Boomerangs

Nothing quite like a marriage metaphor, right? You’ve heard these stories (or perhaps you’ve lived this story) – after years of asking, pleading, and begging (to a man’s ears = “nagging”) the husband to change his ways to no avail, a woman flips the switch and phhhhhht. She’s gone. Said husband, now realizing that she may in fact be serious this time, desperately promises the Sun and Moon for the opportunity to try again. Because, as you know, this time will be different. Stupid boys. (Editor’s Note: my wife has claimed “Stupid Boys” as the title to one of her upcoming books.)

How does that generally work out? Would you say “strong to “quite strong?” My guess is this only serves to delay the inevitable. The man is who he is, and soon enough he will revert to his normal state, fast-forward three months and we go through the same drama again, without having made progress in the least.

The husband is obviously the company in this case, the wife with the boot is the employee. The employee has been telling you, in some form or fashion, what you need to do if the relationship will continue successfully. Then one day, when you can afford it least, you have a resignation letter in your hand. If it’s someone you value, the knee-jerk reaction is to buy time to develop a counter-offer. But a counter-offer is the equivalent of putting air in a tire with a leak. You might get an employee to stay, but usually, for the same flawed logic as a spouse hanging onto a miserable marriage:

  • Other relationships (kids, in-laws, Bob in Accounting) will be impacted as well; we’re not prepared to deal with that kind of drama, so we stay. It’s just easier.
  • It’s still a risk. The thought of being wrong is too scary for some people. Better to be married/employed than to die alone on the streets, right? Sad to say, but many companies use fear of the unknown as their most effective retention tool. As long as no one is leaving, why change?
  • A fundamental belief in loyalty without reservation. There are still people who are of the opinion that “leaving” is NOT an option. GenX changed a lot of that mindset after seeing the curtain pulled back on the dealings of corporate America, and the Millennials have taken the torch even farther – if you want “loyalty,” buy a dog. Yet there remains a percentage of people who still believe in “until death do us part.”
  • The sad truth? Even if they accept a counteroffer, 50% of these people will leave within the next 24 months anyway. When you make that leap in your mind, it doesn’t just go away….it festers.

And that’s why you shake their hand and wish them well. Physically “present” vs. engaged is a gap in commitment.

So, what brought this topic to mind is a friend’s recent separation from his wife. Now that she has left, he desperately wants to change all those things that he had ignored, lo those many years. That’s a fool’s game, don’t you agree? But counter-offers are rarely a successful play. You’re delaying the inevitable, you’re setting a dangerous precedent with other employees who may take note, and you’re still not focusing on the fundamental reason they left. Fix yourself (or don’t, and live with the results) before throwing money at a losing proposition.

If you love them, let them go – “boomerang” employees come back after realizing the grass may not be greener after all. Most importantly, they return on their own volition, not because you troll their LinkedIn page. Almost half of companies surveyed agree they would consider taking back a former employee, and 15% of the employees admitted they actually did return to the old stamping grounds. Those aren’t huge numbers, but that 15% is an incredibly engaged group of people.

Don’t miss the opportunity – learn how to stop the next employee (or wife) from leaving; the time for courting is over when they are walking towards the door.

On May 23, 2016 John Whitaker joined the DentalOne Partners team as Vice President, Talent Acquisition, based out of the Dallas Corporate Headquarters.   John is responsible for leading the Talent Acquisition & Recruiting strategies and initiatives enterprise-wide.


My Talent Acquisition team recently participated in a teambuilding event courtesy of our friends at Strayboots. I can tell you we looked forward to this event for weeks, as the thought of a scavenger hunt through the middle of the Dallas Arts District was (if nothing else) an opportunity for a brief distraction from “business as usual” – the key being that “business as usual” for us at DentalOne = “hair on fire.” We literally have a motto in our Recruiting organization that translates to “we keep moving or we die.”

                    which may explain this…

With that as a backdrop, a spirited walk on the streets of downtown Dallas would be a great respite from the grind, and would give us a chance to strengthen the bonds of our team.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum….

We were divided into three teams of 7 for the “hunt.” Our Doctor recruiters (led by our Practice Support Recruiting Manager), our Practice Support recruiters (led by our Doctor Recruiting Manager,) and the “Others” – a collection of cross-functional colleagues, me, and my boss. When the bell rang to start the exercise it became immediately apparent that our team-building initiative had become de-centralized. It was every team for itself, so to speak. The “stroll” turned into a brisk walk, a jog, and then finally a full-out sprint. Each team had a different pace, but one team made a decided effort to bury the others. Without mentioning names, this team was also, hands-down, the most intelligent and attractive of the bunch, and I don’t feel that’s an exaggeration at all…did I mention that was my team?

But I digress.

Sometime around our 8th or 9th task, as I sprinted to the Meyers Symphony Center, I observed that our day had become much more of a “teamwork” exercise than it was a “teambuilding” exercise. What does that mean? Let me give you three key differentiators that stood out:

  1. “Teamwork” can be immediately implemented ad-hoc. The “Others” really had very little direct working history with one another (outside of me/my boss), so an altruistic view of building the working effectiveness of our team was decidedly task-based. “Teambuilding” implies a fluid, ongoing process over time. We didn’t have time – we came, we saw, and we kicked butt by immediately assuming roles and hitting the pavement.
  2. “Teamwork” is benefited and amplified by a common goal, a finite timeline, and (whenever possible) the spirit of competition imbed in the process. Our team knew the “record” for finishing the scavenger hunt, we knew the timeline (2 hours), and we knew we wanted bragging rights at Happy Hour. “Teambuilding” (again, this is an interpretation) pulls the entire team toward a goal, and allows for mistakes and/or delays for the long-time benefit of the team – that’s nice, but our splinter cell was looking to just win, baby.
  3. Teambuilding is a constant process moving towards an eventual state of “world-class.” In a time sensitive, project-based assignment, you are at the mercy of the resources you have for that endeavor – so you succeed by working together for a common objective, possibly at the expense of those outside of your sub-team. That may change drastically for each new project and/or mix of resources. And that’s the beauty of the event in which we participated.

We want to do it again! And then….again. Mix the teams up, add a few new people to the chase, change the locale of the “hunt”…as we construct variations of our project teams and “teamwork” becomes a part of our culture that leads to the North Star we established –  to be a World-Class staffing organization. And that, my friends, is teambuilding.

On May 23, 2016 John Whitaker joined the DentalOne Partners team as Vice President, Talent Acquisition, based out of the Dallas Corporate Headquarters.   John is responsible for leading the Talent Acquisition & Recruiting strategies and initiatives enterprise-wide, and for building a world-class recruiting team.

Thanks again to our friends at Strayboots, we had the time of our lives!


You Know You’re a Manager When….

I can count many blessings. Among those is the fact that not only do I have a great boss, I have two fantastic managers reporting to me. When you have strong people supporting your efforts, you can sometimes take for granted the fact that development continues for all of us – even those who are already at a pretty advanced level. So, I try to take mental notes from time to time that fall into the category of “You know you’re a Manager when…”

These things may not appear in the leadership “handbook”:

  • You can admit that “YES”, you do have favorites, but the reasons better be in direct correlation with performance. Jimmy Johnson, the sainted ex-coach of America’s Team freely admitted that the “rules are different for different players.” Fairness is different than “the same.” Don’t let a policy hound tell you otherwise. The funny thing about favorites is that they are usually disguised as excellent performers with good attitudes – it’s the damnedest thing, but performance and reliability should count for plenty.
  • Speaking of performance, many of your own moments of brilliance will happen in a vacuum. Part of our job as leaders is to remove obstacles or at least pave the way for our respective teams – chances are your people will never have visibility to many of the things you do for them. They will see the benefits of your work eventually, hang in there.
  • “Happy Hour” with the team has a time limit for you, Cinderella. It usually coincides about the time you pay for the 1st round.
  • If you think they are talking about you,  you can relax. OF COURSE they are talking about you – you’re the boss, at some point you will not be terribly popular. This is one of the reasons you leave Happy Hour after the 1st round. It’s a part of the tribe mentality – and despite what you might think, you ain’t in the tribe. Don’t take it personal.
  • “Be who you are” in your management style. Don’t try to be a hard-ass if it’s not in your DNA; you won’t be good at it, and you’ll seem phony to your direct reports. It happens to all of us when we first get into a leadership role. At the same time you’re learning your new responsibilities, you’re trying to put on your face for the team. Are you a friend? Mentor? Coach? Disciplinarian? Be yourself, act accordingly.
  • Time + attention = “Development”; if you can’t determine what a “formal” training and development plan should look like, spend time with your people and give them some dedicated attention. A lot of budgeted (read: expensive) training opportunities may not be available to you, but face time is always an option.
  • Here’s one that I recently learned myself…slow down. Yup, actually pasted a stickie on my computer screen that reminds me to “breathe, think about it, then act.” We’re all working managers (pretty funny that needs to be a point of distinction), so we’re juggling alley cats throughout the day. In the world of recruiting, we all live with our hair on fire, so it’s not uncommon for things to occasionally get missed, mixed up, forgotten, delayed, misplaced or miscommunicated. I had a whopper of my own just last week when I sent sensitive information over email to a distribution group that still included the subject of the sensitive information.

Which leads me to my final nugget…

  • Forgive yourself. You will make mistakes. As a matter of fact, you’ll make several – something about being “human.” Own it, learn from it, then forgive yourself and move on. I’m still having to remind myself of this tidbit, no one will be harder on you than you. Covering it, rationalizing it, dodging responsibility all lead to bigger problems. Humility is a lesson we all need occasionally, it’s good for the soul.

Saying that, I’d still double check that email first…


John Whitaker is Vice President, Talent Acquisition for DentalOne Partners. For more than 20 years he has built and developed high-powered recruiting teams focused on developing a competitive advantage via strategic Human Capital positioning, planning, and practices.

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.

HR used to be "Personnel." That ain't happening here.