Who’s running the show? Why is HR hiring the C-Suite?

MV5BMjAwMzUxMzU2NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTgwODUyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR9,0,214,317_AL_I must admit I am completely baffled.  Baffled you say?  Yes baffled.  I am unable to connect the logic that I see being used these days as it relates to hiring in the C-Suite.  Those proverbial dots from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ are being hijacked.

We’re talking now about changes in the interpretation of how the going concern principle is being inculcated. The going concern principle is defined as a business will stay in business which is similar to Newton’s first law of phy
sics.

How does a business stay in business?  By hiring the best management, who then in turns creates the business, its products or services and hires the supporting employees to implement the strategies and plans to make success a reality.

But there has been a constant erosion of responsibility in the hallowed halls of both the Board Room and with the CEO and President.  The erosion is real life and it’s extremely dangerous to the life; not human being life dangerous, but the life of the going concern.

It is an abrogation of authority by the Board and CEO/President; a demurring to a constituency that “claims” knowledge in areas that they have absolutely no basis and can provide no validation besides self-serving certifications by associations that use these same certifications as profit centers.

Then, these same individuals, in order to raise the bar to their alleged knowledge use the old flim-flam.  Purposely gumming the works, giving many the bum rap and have the merve to say not only does their plan work, but they know best.

What is the issue?

The Board, the CEO or the President are allowing the HR departments to not only set the requirements for C-Level individuals, but interview and select those they “think” are qualified?  We’re not talking about the executive recruitment industry (the have their own issues), we’re only and specifically talking HR here.

Let’s be clear, I am not anti-HR.  HR is an important aspect to any business, but HR needs split into a tripartite organization.

  1. Administrative (handles all those pesky Federal/State/Local issues which keep growing logarithmically year in and year out).
  2. Benefits and compensation – they advise on salary ranges for banding of like-kind jobs as well as handling the mind numbing paperwork involved in the benefit programs.
  3. Human Asset Strategy – this is a very small unit which does not create job specs or actually do the acquisition, they assist and provide consultation to the individual hiring managers, again with consultation with the Benefits and Compensation division as well as the Finance department (budget), and help the acquisition process along. The manager of the X department should have a clear cut idea about what type of person is needed and what the job spec should be; how can the traditional HR practitioner know what is really needed, especially since many never worked outside that department or haven’t worked in many years outside that department and most certainly probably never did that job.

On the other hand, the hiring manager either did work at that level or is working day to day with those employees to know what is and isn’t needed.

Talk with C-level professionals and other senior management and you’ll likely hear similar complaints about talent acquisition.  You’ll probably hear more complaints from accounting and finance departments due to turf battles having to do with payroll, but the talent acquisition issue seems to broad based.

If so, why is the Board and CEO delegating such important decisions away and down the chain?  Could it be plausible deniability so when the C-Suite occupants fail or turnover is high they can say it was HR?  What advantage in the long term does that serve?

If you have a point of view, even if it’s contrary to mine, I’d like to open a dialogue.

Blast marketing that can backfire

The marketplace as it is, the search for new employment should never cease.  While the activity waxes and wanes, one’s resume should always be sharp.  One example is LinkedIn, which many consider one of the premier networking sites and thus employment sites.

So, as we post our resumes on-line we do open ourselves to unwanted e-mail.  It is unavoidable.  Just as e-commerce websites sell our e-mail address to third parties, unless we explicitly request (assuming they even ask that we care) many of the resume or job posting sites do the same.

The other day I received this e-mail:

Friday, July 10, 2015
From: Jeff Marcakis
To: me
Hello Wayne,

PDS Tech is seeking a High Value Associate in the Farmingdale, NY area. This is a 12 month contract assignment. The pay rate ranges from $13.05-$18.15hr, depending upon experience.

Duties include:

Auditing high value claim shippers, locating high value packages in the center or hub and ensuring proper handling. May also contact destination hubs or centers to notify them of the status of high value packages. Additional duties may include performing loss prevention activities related to center or operation physical security.

Hours: 4:30am to 9:30am, Monday – Friday

To be considered for this assignment, please forward an updated resume to:

jmarcakis@xxxx.com

Letter Value: AE73D3-31C93E7

 

So where did Jack and his company go wrong?

  • Let’s start by clearly telling me that I’m not important enough to get a letter that isn’t a form letter (even though I know it is, perception is reality).
  • Then, did Jack ever bother to read any part of my resume? Where does it say that I’m a warehouseman/customer service representative on my resume?
  • Then the pay range he mentions, that clearly meshes with my resume – not.
  • Lastly he wants a copy of my resume again, why? He didn’t bother to read it the first time!

I must admit the only thing he got right was that I do live in the vicinity of Farmingdale, NY. One out of five aspects isn’t bad, if he played baseball…. But not in business!

Now I tried to reach out to the president at PDS Tech, but they didn’t care, which is evidenced by their HR manager calling  back; and they really should have cared and have the president or an operational VP call back.  I missed the HR Manager and reached out again.  They never bothered to get back to me.

They should care that I, and probably many other potential hiring/decision making managers will now remember a) this companies name, b) how unprofessional they are and in my case that they wouldn’t take constructive criticism from a potential (customer/employee/temporary worker).

Why would I ever bother doing business with this company?  Why would you after reading this want to either?

Companies spend 3-10% of their budget on advertising and marketing which includes brand development and  recognition.  All it takes is one misguided individual and then a lack of response from management to take those dollars spent and flush them.

What do you think?

Turnaround – When’s the best time to start the process?

One would think that the term “Turnaround” is analogous with failing company.  In today’s environment you’d probably be correct, but it doesn’t need to be a company that’s failing, in fact smarter managed companies are in or should be in a constant state of flux; terminal turnaround.

A friend of my Regis Quirin, the Director of Finance at Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP said about the causes of turnarounds:

Simply stated, when business is good, it is very easy to overlook inefficiency and waste.  But the macroeconomic weakness that is affecting the US is resulting in sales declines; while at the same time costs continue to rise. As a result, profits decline.

It is just this definition that a turnaround or restructuring or change management (or a dozen different management speak terms that essentially mean the same thing) needs to be implemented and run as an on-going project.  As part of the management team or a Board member, you can’t wait for that sales decline, because the longer you wait, the harder it is to succeed in bringing about the change and preserving employee and customer/vendor value (I will ignore shareholder value as a valid contrary to B-school dogma, since investing in keeping or increasing employee and customer/vendor value will bring shareholder value as a result).

To further examine the concept of waiting for a sales decline, most of us live in a bubble of NIMBY (not in my backyard).  While this term is usually used as a reason for not allowing some type of entity to establish a foothold in a community, it is equally true in management.  Management fails to realize that there is a problem.  The entity is sound, we are the best of the best, and the unthinkable is just that, unthinkable.

This silo thinking is the beginning of the end for a business entity for the world is dynamic and as such, markets change, industry changes and the economy changes daily.  Just as your marketing department is always fine-tuning the value proposition, management needs to fine-tune the rest of the organization (which includes that value proposition).

Too often I have seen management realize their market has changed; try to implement some new or novel changes to the company, be they joint ventures, mergers or acquisitions, encounter the unavoidable misfires, failures and then get further dragged down by doubt and hesitance to react.  Failing to pull on the trigger due to self-doubt further forces the company down the rabbit hole to the never regions of survival.

Sure, companies should be looking for new products or services, but they are usually in their core business segment. The smart company has budgeted funds to research the industry and examine what the competition and parallel businesses are doing.  They are positioning themselves for diversity, mergers and acquisitions where time, at least on their side, is not of the essence.

They are looking at their systems, processes, infrastructure, and human assets and re-assessing whether or not they are sufficient not only for today, but tomorrow.  Can the company handle a change in its core mission?  What are the gaps between now and what needs to be accomplished?

Let us be realistic.  Turnarounds, restructuring or change management (or whatever your term de jure might be) is costly.  It has actual and unrealized costs associated with changing your organization.  Real costs in time, energy and acquisition of new systems.  Real unrealized costs in uncertainty of employees, customers and vendors.

To manage both you need a strategic plan, a tactical plan and most importantly a communications plan.  As in any project, communications is the absolute key and in a turnaround you must communicate with your stakeholders.

So when is the best time to start the process?  That time is today, not tomorrow or next week.

Recruiting – Square pegs and round holes (or visa versa) are not equal

I just went several rounds with a potential client.  After talking with four people, two at the corporate level, two at the national/subsidiary level, they all voiced similar issues; some more vocal or more alarmed than others.  Actually, the corporate people were more alarmed then the national/subsidiary people.

Some major areas of the business were in distress: growth, economics, operational and data.  Areas where a person at the C-level not only can address, but has the experience to improve.

As one would surmise, these four major pain points are all inter-connected.  There isn’t a single magic pill that will fix the woes, but a steady re-think (GAP analysis), plan, implementation, test, evaluation and repeat process would.

Growth was being hampered by issues with the infrastructure, global FX  fluctuations (they were a global company), operational factors and bad data.

The economics of the company were being effected the aforementioned FX fluctuations, which was causing losses based on the needs to shift money to the national entity actually providing the service.  In addition, this was hampering growth, since certain previously profitable markets had fallen off.

Operationally, they had so many issues, one couldn’t begin to know where to start.  From poor management and loss of staffing to systems, procedures and culture causing not only bad data, but bad performance (both accounting, financial and customer service) further deteriorating their brand.

Lastly, there was a feeling that the data being captured was not even close to pristine, much of it due to lack of controls and process.  So the old adage garbage in is garbage out was clearly in the cross-hairs.

Quite a challenge for anyone to solve the myriad of problems.  Quite exciting to be part of the solution, I had hoped.

I didn’t’ get the gig.  Not because someone else had better qualifications or made a better pitch (either from an economic or marketing standpoint), but because someone at the national/subsidiary level felt that hiring two individuals experienced in Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) would be better.

We have now entered the twilight zone, where square pegs and round holes somehow morph into a single objects.

FP&A individuals are two or three levels down on the accounting/finance job hierarchy.  Those who are involved in this side of accounting/finance are highly trained, but are not trained and probably don’t have the work experience to fix the woes that I have described.

[The following paragraph is a generalization, because there is always exceptions and exceptional people.]

FP&A people aren’t involved in operational matters or strategy.  They for the most part are not supervisors or managers.  They see from their unique position only one segment of the accounting/finance pie at  their companies, whereas the Controller and most definitely the CFO has the larger more complete picture.  I can continue with differences between the CFO and Controller compared and contrasted to the FP&A person, but clearly an FP&A person is not the right choice for this client, at this time, with their myriad of complex issues.

Protestations about this strategic misstep fell on deaf ears. Sure I was trying to salvage the deal, or at the very least hire another CFO, but in any event they were making a major error here!

What will happen next, at least from my perspective, is that they will expend a lot of money.  They probably will get some good reports based on the faulty data, and end up not solving any of their issues.

Time is money, and when your house is dysfunctional it adds to cash burn which eats into working capital and hampers the going concern.  I hope someone realizes the mistake sooner than later.

What is the lesson learned from this scenario?

Analyze your problem(s).  Prioritize those issues.  Determine the skill sets/solutions necessary to fix those issues and hire/purchase the correct people/solutions to implement and fix the problems.

Going cheap or doing a quick fix, especially when you know that is not the answer, is foolish in the long run.

What do you think?

The Ripple Effect; Poor behavior by Management can ruin a company

I was contacted by an VOIP Telco Distributor today to do business.

I know where they got my name; knew of the company; and told the salesperson thank you, but no thank you.

  • It wasn’t as if I needed the service, I’m happy with the company I’m currently using.
  • It wasn’t as if having a secondary or tertiary referential source would not be bad.
  • And I didn’t give the salesperson these reasons for saying no; I told him it was because of the President of his company!

A few years ago the President of that same company acted in such an unprofessional manner that I would never have anything to do with any company he would own.  Behavior, especially poor behavior becomes the basis for company reputation.

We’re not talking about a negotiations not concluding successfully (assuming both parties were acting in good faith).  We’re not even talking about a contract that goes south due to no direct fault of either party.

We are talking about behavior that one (whomever that one is) feels is just down right disrespectful.  Would you do business with someone who shows you no consideration, no respect, and no courtesy?  I would tend to think not.

Having been on the receiving end of this behavior, why would I think any other aspect of his company would be any better.  Why do I think he or his company would value my business?  Why would I want to subject myself to another round of poor service; and poor is a polite term?

So they lost me as a potential customer.  I’m a small business, and would be a small small client.  Truthfully should a vendor really care if I sign on as a customer or not?  I’m not going to make or break anyone’s company.  Sure there is always the possibility that my company goes ballistic; but let’s be real.

One should never just chuck away business, but let’s be real; sometimes is just isn’t worth the time.

So if I was this vendor, my opinion under normal circumstances would be “win some/lose some”.  But the vendor is not just any regular vendor in any ordinary industry; they are in a market niche with very very strong competition.  Every customer company “A” signs on denies the competition additional footholds in the market.

What makes loosing me as a customer (and especially my type of business, providing outsourced CxO services, where I or one of my CxO’s would probably be the decision maker) is the loss of collateral business leads.  In fact, in the last quarter we turned on two different businesses to his competition.

So he lost me, the two additional clients and all that potential income.  Then there’s the word of mouth from not only myself, but those clients that were just turned on (to his competitor).  Other employees talk to other companies and you never know where the conversation leads….

I must say the Salesperson was extremely professional (too bad his boss wasn’t) and understood the ripple effect.  Do you?

Dun & Bradstreet – Would you trust their data?

Would you trust credit decisions from a company whose data is so corrupt?

I was doing a Google on myself and I came across this website:http://www.corporationwiki.com/p/2ia9yb/wayne-spivak

The data discovered is very funny:

– It states I’m the President and CFO of Proformative, Inc. (last time I checked, John Kogan, the CEO has never offered me those roles :) ).
– The MIS Director for a non-profit (never officially had that title, nor did anyone else) where I was a member and left over 10 years ago
– The President of a former client who closed his doors several years ago
– The manager of a Law Office (my own – which is probably another Wayne Spivak who stole my name, but I’m sure not my good looks)

Look at the very bottom of the website page, it says “Source: Dun & Bradstreet refreshed 4/14/2015″

They don’t even list that I am the President & CFO of my company which has been in existence since 1990.

Comedy aside, this data is just wrong. Why not do a search on yourself?

Why would you use D&B?

Remember for $150 you can see A Comprehensive Insight Plus Report from D&B

The D&B Comprehensive Insight Plus Report combines D&B’s proprietary statistical scoring with business, payment and financial information all in one report. The Comprehensive Insight Plus Report is the only D&B product to showcase both of D&B’s predictive data elements, namely, credit score (assesses probability of slow pay) and financial stress (measures likelihood of business failure), along with a rich mix of financial, payment and summarized business information. It’s designed to provide customers with as complete an assessment as possible of both the current profile and future outlook for an account.

Or as I have suggest in the past, just save your money.

Labor Statistics say Unemployment is at a low not seen since 9/08

…or the manifesto of working in today’s environment

You’ve heard the old story, there are lies, dam lies and then statistics, and 92.35% of them are made up just to support the theory being proposed.

That being said, for those who are counted in the 6.2% unemployed and the many many uncounted and under-appreciated group who are not part of that 6.2% figure, getting a job is going from the difficult to the sublime.

In my blog entitled “Even in times of oversupply, paying a realistic wage makes good business sense.” I discussed the issue surrounding low paying wages and the effect these “cost-saving” measures will ultimately have on businesses. Let’s just say penny-wise, dollar foolish.

In my blog “Do you really want to exclude quality candidates from C-Level jobs just because they weren’t in your sub-niche?” I talked about leaving quality people on the table by setting artificial job specifications that are really contrary to effectively increasing talent pool diversity and the ability to innovate by inculcating one against new ideas and keeping the status quo.

So what else is wrong with America today, which will come to haunt us in years to come?

Right-hand letter craze

The right-hand letter craze is insane. Sure, you’ve seen it, but never actually thought about it with just those terms. Here’s an example: J Jones, BS, MBA, JD, CPA, ACH-V, PMP, CFA, CSC, RHU, REBC, CIMC, CIMA, CGMA. The letters come from a sampling of my connections. There are lots more letters and quite frankly I have no idea what some of these acronyms are!

So what are the letters (acronyms)? Individuals who have passed myriad of different tests and “earn” (I say “earn”, because some of the tests are extremely difficult and as such, they are earned in the sense that you had to study and know the material on the test to pass; while other tests are less stringent and “earning” is more proforma) the letters for licenses or certification. While one have worked “hard” and obtained those letters, they in themselves do not mean that the possessor a) knows (or still knows) the material, b) the material learned is current, c) the individual kept up with the all the changes to the subject area, not just a sub-set, d) can apply the material in diverse settings and e) the interpreter of those letters (the hiring manager) may not truly understand what they really mean (legally or practically).

Assumptions made by hiring managers or developers of job specifications can be self-defeating. Here’s a common misconception: that all CPA’s do tax work and that they all are tax accountants. Not true. While they all took that one (1) required tax course in college and passed the section that tests knowledge in: Federal tax procedures and accounting issues 4. Federal taxation of property transactions 5. Federal taxation-individuals 6. Federal taxation-entities. It doesn’t make them tax experts and one should assume all CPA’s are. Conversely, one should not assume all Lawyers do criminal work or real estate or all Doctors are experts in all areas of medicine.

Work experience is a better barometer of possibly future outcome, it is by no means a bell weather test. So, the CPA whose resume shows they do taxes or the Lawyer that practices criminal law gives you a better chance that you are hiring someone who knows that area of their profession. However, one just never knows, and understandably we all like to hedge our bets, and hiring a person is a bet.

But you can only do hedging when you understand the entire playing field, not just require specific groups of letters to the right of a candidate’s name.

Two stories to make you shake your head in wonderment

One should always keep their options open, so I was talking to someone about a job. It seemed extremely interesting and a business line where I am a customer. The company was located in the San Diego area, revenues were approximately $70 million, had 18 retail stores and a manufacturing division that made some of the items sold in the stores. The short-term plan was to open another four (4) stores.

To anyone who’s ever had to move a company or open a new venue, no matter how many times you do it (even if it’s in a production line), the process is time-consuming, extremely expensive and fraught with over-runs and the possibility for bad decisions. I would think if I were the hiring manager that I would want to hire the “best” and offer a salary range that would entice the “best”. The company was hiring a Controller, but this person was in reality going to be the CFO (they had none). Corporate title notwithstanding, and if you know the cost of living for San Diego, the salary range of Controllers/CFO’s in that range of the country for a company of its size and industry; roll into the equation of the work and expertise needed to accomplish the major goals stated, you’ll come up with the proper salary range.

Would you believe they wanted to pay just 40%-50% of what the position warranted for compensation!? What would you have done? What type of person do you think would have taken this job and ultimately (unless they were very very lucky) what would the outcome to their plans been?

Another company reached out to me. They too were in a business that I had experience in (truthfully, when you’ve done management consulting for a long time, there aren’t many industries you don’t have some experience with, sectors yes, industries no, but I digress…). But in this case I had a lot of experience in the business sector that the company was in. High on their list of both requirements for the job and goals for the company was going public, engaging in an IPO.

In itself, there is nothing wrong with reaching for the stars, but you need to do your research (think letters after one’s name) and know what steps need to be done and the costs involved in going from here to there. To prepare for an IPO and sell shares on an exchange costs at a minimum around $1 million, with the range costing 3% – 7% of the gross proceeds.

So, here’s the funny part, and whether it was just a silly remark by the company president or really the truth, but they didn’t want to spend the money for me to fly in to discuss the assignment face to face.

An additional $3,000 cost for possibly hiring the right person for the job when you are going to spend at least $1M to go through one-half the process (remember there is the cost of the IPO and then the reoccurring costs of staying public, which I haven’t even talked about). Again, penny wise, dollar foolish!

They should have read this pamphlet by PWC: “Considering an IPO?” which gives an excellent overview of the costs of not only going public, but staying public.

Short-term foci

This country seems to be stuck in a double-helix. Whether it is a result of the economy or Wall Street, or business just chasing their own tails, we are headed for a precipice we may not be able to survive. Okay, the double-helix analogy just failed here, but the logic business is pursuing has no beginning and no end, except a general failure (again).

Wall Street is all about the Quarterly results and double-digit growth. That is what drives the analysts, and ultimately the decision making at the corporate level. If you don’t meet the street’s expectation, then not only does the share price suffer, but your job is on the line.

This mania causes all sorts of issues, from the extreme, Enron comes to mind; to the subtle, many of the issues I’ve talked about in this blog. Yes, we always need to keep a closer eye on the short-term, but the short-term must be part of a mid-term and long-term plan and I am just not seeing a plan for survivability.

Not paying market wages and thinking that in the short-term you’ll succeed is myopic. Thinking that it is a plan for success in the mid-term or longer is just crazy. Selecting candidates for jobs based on certifications that in themselves only prove a mastery of the knowledge contained in the test with no qualitative gauge of applicability is short-sighted. Assuming that certification means one is an expert in every conceivable area that the certification was granted is just plain silly. Heap on to the shoulders of these errors in judgment that men and women; by no-fault or even fault of themselves have been out of work for an extended period of time; shouldn’t be hired solely because you believe they may be off their game; and you have unemployment figures that belie the real picture.

So, who’s at fault?

Is it Wall Street? The Government? The political parties? Educational Institutions? Business leaders? Business Owners? Avarice? Lack of Leadership? Tax Code? Self-interest? Protectionism? Old boys club mentality?

I think the answer is yes. What do you think and what needs to be done?

Topics the C-Suite shy’s away from discussing.

I belong to a large number of C-Suite on-line groups. These groups consist of CEO’s, CFO’s, CIO’s and all the other “C’s” as well as those who are interested in the conversations. That’s a lot of people, even considering duplication among groups.

There are a cluster of topics that just don’t get any play; and these issues can ultimately make or break a company. I keep trying to start conversations, but success has been fleeting. While I understand that not discussing these topics in detail (company specific plans) may make and actually does make perfect sense (proprietary information, public perceptions, etc.), but not involving one selves in a conceptual discourse; is self-defeating? That in and of itself; the failure to confer and converse; is a pre-cursor to both a short-term disaster (after the actual “natural” disaster) and a long-term strategic mistake.

What are the foci failing to launch, you ask? They are all too some point inter-related, are subjects to a tremendous amount of industry and general press, and should be on the top of (or to steal from David Letterman, the “Top 10”) every companies to-do list.

They are:

  • Business Continuity Planning (BCP)
  • Continuity of Operations (COOP)
  • Security, specifically CyberSecurity (both from internal and external threats).

 

With more and more natural disasters, terrorism and every day “bad luck” events happening, how can a C-Suite not be focused in on BCP? BCP runs the gamut, from data recovery (which is really such a small part of the overall plan) to how we continue running our companies and where a disaster should hit which closes our offices/warehouses/supply lines.

Examples abound of these events happening:

Japanese Tsunami in 2011 (in America, supply line disruption)
Super storm Sandy (office & warehouse space closed for long periods of time, transportation/supply line disruptions)
Iowa Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, and Flooding in August 2014 (loss of office & warehouse space, disruption of employees)

If a company hasn’t done some pre-planning then the disaster’s impact will be magnified, because responding to the issues that a disaster causes without a clue of the who, what, where or when is far more expensive and stressful then pre-positioning yourself strategically. Planning is never perfect; it is a dynamic process that evolves; but even so, you can modify your options on the fly and not start responding to the event from scratch.

COOP issues happen all the time as well. Accidents or just life’s normal cycle will cause COOP events. Questions one should ask include “how will the business continue to run should the leadership not be around?” From the simple event; the owner dies to the equally devastating and more complex; top executives die in a plane crash or all the executives are trapped by circumstances and unable to communicate for an extended period of time.

How does the company continue to operate? Who has authority to sign operating and payroll checks? Actually open the doors or sign-off on that deal where time is of the essence?

Cybersecurity is on everyone’s mind because it’s in the news almost every week. Target, LinkedIn, eHarmony, Zappos, Pacific Bell and the list goes on where cybercrime has been perpetrated.

From stealing passwords to the purloining of actual currency; why is the C-Suite silent on this issue? In fact, if more attention and debate of ways to enhance cybersecurity was debated by the non-techies; a new or improved understanding of the negative consequences of being a willing victim of such a crime would be understood by companies large and small.

The attitude of it can’t happen to me; natural disasters, fires, accidents, terrorism, cybercrime; is akin to being an Ostrich and that is just not a tenable position to take.

So why aren’t these topics being discussed in the open, with C-Suite and others in a way that everyone can learn?

What’s your take on this laissez faire attitude?

Avon’s Failed SAP Implementation A Perfect Example Of The Enterprise IT Revolution

Fascinating story (albeit a little old) about the failures and consequences of an system roll-out.

Appearing in Forbes 2013, the article describes the trials and tribulations of Avon and the end results.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/benkepes/2013/12/17/avons-failed-sap-implementation-a-perfect-example-of-enterprise-it-revolution/

What’s more interesting is this quote:

“…industry analyst Michael Krigsman put it succinctly:

“Basically, users will accept less crap today, when it comes to software. That is because the world of consumer software has become easy and simple to use and has trained users to expect that business software will follow a similar model. And if it doesn’t, people are much less patient than they were in the past.””

Are your systems (either extant or projected) going to meet the expectations of the end-users?

How much do you involve the end-users in the decision making process?

Can you afford the level of “mistake” that Avon ultimately accepted?

Rejection letters, what you shouldn’t say.

Everyone has applied for at least one job; most (especially these days) hundreds. For the vast majority, these attempts at find employment fail.

But how can you tell? Two basic ways are silence and the proverbial rejection letter. But which is better?

Silence:

While you may have met the job specifications 110%, for some unknown and unfathomable reason, you were not selected. No reason, no rhyme; a little to a lot of disappointment, but its benign.

The Rejection letter:

Whether you matched the job specification or not, rejection letters can be a tricky slope for the hiring manager to write. Do they try to soften the blow? Or give you vague reasons. Some may give you concrete reasons or do they insult your intelligence by writing fluff or even worse, rubbing your face in the rejection.

Here are some rejections I’ve received over time that were really awful.

1. “Our mutual objectives differed…” The VP who wrote me that letter obviously did not understand the definition of the word mutual. I’ve been laughing about this letter for over 20 years.

2. “Your qualifications and experience are quite impressive and you have a lot to offer, but other candidates were closer to our requirements…” Thank you for the stroke and slap in the same sentence. I feel much better now.

3. “We’re sorry that you were not selected for the position, but Jane Doe, who I’m sure you know, was selected. Jane, who recently worked at….” You have to be kidding! Talk about being insensitive.

Rejections that you should send:

“Thank you for applying for the position of [employee]. We appreciate the time you took to apply and wish you best of luck in your search.” Simple, both indirect and direct.

Now others will agree and disagree so why not list what you think the ideal rejection letter should be and for giggles, what’s the worse rejection letter you ever received.