Category: Employee Communications


I’m in favor of progress; it’s change I don’t like.” – Mark Twain

“ … Personnel. That’s for assholes.” – Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry”.

Your company was just acquired.

Your firm “merged” with another company.

Your new boss is an outsider, who knows next to nothing about you.

Consider each-and-every one of these changes to be a flashing-red-light warning or a shot across-the-bow of your career. .

There are always winners and losers when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. Ditto for new bosses, particularly those from outside the organization.

In all of these cases, It’s not only time, but most likely it is past time, to update your resume and enhance your LinkedIn profile.

Why?

Think of it this way: Whenever a new male lion enters the picture, the first thing he does is … eat the cubs of the previous King of Beasts. Translating to the work place, this parable means the “old” employees from the acquired, merged or new management companies are immediately vulnerable.

Can’t tell you how many times Almost DailyBrett heard laments from employees, who have been with an organization for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, (gasp) 25 years. They expect their loyalty and experience to be recognized and rewarded.

Alas more times than naught, their self-perceived loyalty is regarded as stagnation or “dead wood” by new management. Worst of all, these folks are shocked when they are sooner-than-later laid off or simply terminated/let go.

“I wish I could trust you … “

During the course of my three-decade-plus career, the author of Almost DailyBrett quickly came to appreciate that virtually all of these changes serve as a warning, despite the tender contrary for the timing being words uttered by highly trained and incredibly skilled Human Resource professionals.

Keep in mind HR works for the organization not for the worker, especially the long-time employee. When it comes time to terminate/lay-off/let go of employees, the clinical execution will be swiftly carried out by HR.

Maybe Clint Eastwood was right about “Personnel” (What HR was referred to back in the 1970s). Let’s face it HR is not highly respected in any organization, a necessary evil … and in many cases, an evil indeed.

Once your author went eyeball-to-eyeball with a vice president of HR and said, “I wish I could trust you.” There is another less tender way of expressing the same sentiment. The message is still the same.

HR is not your friend. HR never was your friend. HR never will be your friend.

Self-Defense Strategies

Trust in Allah, but tie your camel.” – Arab Proverb

What strategies should you adopt to preclude being one of the cubs voraciously consumed by a new boss lion, mainly because you have been at the old firm for way too long?

  • Most new managers, particularly emanating from the outside, have their own views of how tasks must be done and they have their own ideas about who should be their lieutenants. Don’t even expect to be given the chance to compete for your own job, let alone a higher job in the hierarchy.
  • Don’t confuse loyalty and stagnation. What is one employee’s loyalty is a new manager’s stagnation. If you can count your years with an organization with two hands or more, it’s time or past time to move along on your own terms.
  • Never remind new superior(s) about how long you have been at an organization and the value of your experience. Instead demonstrate what you can do to assist their new future direction. The tried-and-true: “We tried that once and it didn’t work” will result in you being consumed by the new lion.
  • The world has changed. The notion of starting in the mail room, working for decades to become CEO and retiring with a gold watch is dead and buried. You will not be rewarded for your “tenure.”
  • Suing for age discrimination is a sure-fire loser. Who will want to hire you, if you “win” your suit? Most likely, you will be laid-off, requiring you to sign away the company’s liability in exchange for a golden kiss-off check.
  • In Silicon Valley, three years at a given organization signals in many cases a lack of ambition and stagnation. You should always be looking to the horizon. When the recruiter calls stop, consider that as a negative barometer.
  • Keeping “your powder dry” or “tie your camel” in the modern era translates into ensuring your resume, digital portfolio and LinkedIn profile are always up-to-date. It means scanning the horizon for other employment opportunities and applying for them from time-to-time if the fit is right.
  • Be ready to pull-up-stakes, if necessary. The green grass maybe even greener in another venue. Renting maybe a better option than a mortgage. If your mortgage goes underwater that can turn a job loss into an absolute nightmare.
  • In the week between your holiday of choice and New Year’s Day, you should always conduct a personal audit of your career. Recognize the subtle warning signs including not being included to important meetings and not being sought out for input from management. If it is time to move on, then do so on your own terms.

http://www.quotes.net/quote/58937

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/keep+powder+dry

http://www.joyfuldays.com/trust-in-god-but-tie-up-your-camel/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

“I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It’s important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter.” Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer in her July 25 employee letter announcing Verizon’s $4.8 billion cash acquisition of Yahoo!

What next chapter?mayerbook

Want to take an Internet pioneer, first-mover $125 billion company and transform it into an also-ran, acquisition target for four pennies on the dollar?

And to top it off, reward Yahoo! chief executive officer Marissa Mayer with more than $50 million in severance pay?

Wonder why so many are so upset with Wall Street?

What is it with high-accolade, lofty-expectations, lavaliere-strutting narcissistic chief executives, who are ostensibly hired to reverse the fortunes of struggling companies?

Much later, we all discover their real personal agenda was to simply put the corporation on the auction block, and to get paid handsomely for the privilege.

Where can I sign up for this lucrative gig?

The author of Almost DailyBrett will gladly say all the right things for a few years, bloviate at a few “developer” conferences, CES, SXSW and TED Talks and then when no one is looking, sell the company to the highest of low bidders and get rewarded for creating … nothing, absolutely nothing.

Hold That Horizontal Pose!

Alas, one thing your author will never be asked to do is pose for Vogue. Sorry, I don’t own a Michael Kors dress … and never will.mayer

Almost DailyBrett three years ago questioned why relatively new Yahoo! CEO Mayer would accept Vogue’s invitation for a horizontal spread in a fashion magazine? Was she trying to impress buy-side and sell-side institutional investors?

Women have long and justifiably complained about being objectified. What was telegenic Mayer doing with her Vogue reclining pose?

What did her PR team think about her proving once again that sex sells? Did her photo draw even more eyeballs to rival Google’s market-leading search engine?

Before you start thinking that Almost DailyBrett is solely focusing on the lucrative PR disaster record of one Marissa Mayer, please consider that many are still smarting over how Abhi Talwalkar drove LSI Logic into the ditch and received at least a $5.74 million severance payment for burying the company.abhi1

Your author served as the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic. Even though I left after 10 years to join Edelman Public Relations in December 2005, one could already see what Abhi had in mind … shed as many assets as quickly as possible to make the company more attractive to buyers.

As Almost DailyBrett previously reported, LSI Logic was the innovator of the application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) specialty semiconductor market for nearly 25 years under the leadership of founder Wilfred J. Corrigan.

It took Abhi less than nine years to end its existence, eventually accepting Avago Technologies (H-P’s former semiconductor business) for $6.6 billion offer in late 2013. LSI Logic is no more, but Abhi’s contract provided for the following:

  1. In the case of our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to 2.75 times his or her base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. In the case of a participant other than our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to two times the individual’s base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. 2. Full acceleration of all unvested equity awards. 3. Reimbursement of COBRA premiums for health insurance for 18 months. 4. In the event that a participant’s “parachute payments” are subject to the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Internal Revenue Code, then LSI will make a supplemental payment to the participant in an amount that equals the excise tax on the parachute payments, plus any additional excise tax and federal, state and local and employment income taxes, on the supplemental payment. However, the total supplemental payment shall not exceed the sum of the participant’s (i) base salary immediately prior to the change in control, and (ii) target bonus for the year in which the change in control occurs.

Glad to see the “supplemental payment” would not exceed Abhi’s $2.09 million annual salary. Enough is enough … Right?

It’s even better that Vogue didn’t ask Abhi to pose horizontally in a Michael Kors dress.

His severance was obscene enough.

http://fortune.com/2016/04/19/verizon-yahoo/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/yahoo-sells-to-verizon-for-5-billion-marissa-mayer/#7b9c799b71b4

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/here-is-marissa-mayers-final-letter-to-yahoo-employees/#54a12ae875ba

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/mayer-vogue-nasdaq-yhoo/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/avago-to-buy-lsi-for-6-6-billion/?_r=0

 

 

“Apple is not above the laws of the United States, nor should anyone or any company be above the laws. To have a court warrant granted, and Apple say they are still not going to cooperate is really wrong.” – California Senator Dianne Feinstein

It (Apple iPhone) is a deeply personal device. It is an extension of ourselves.” — Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple desperately needs an attitude adjustment.

It’s past time to cooperate, Tim Cook.

How about right NOW?timcook

And yet the Fortune 500 CEO walked off stage yesterday to the lyrics of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”

The terrorists who struck Brussels this morning, killing at least 30 and injuring 100 more, won’t back down either.

As an Apple shareholder (the stock is up this morning) and most importantly a strong proponent for safety, the author of Almost DailyBrett is joining the bi-partisan chorus calling for the company to fully comply with federal magistrate court order and unlock the secrets contained in a terrorist’s stolen cell phone.

What is particularly galling is the arrogant notion that a device is an extension of ourselves, and defines who we are.

Really?

Your author lived for almost six decades and managed to get by just fine without an Apple iPhone.

Public Relations Disaster

Did we have to get to this point?

Why did the relationship between Apple with the strongest brand in the world and the legendary Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have to degenerate into a public battle of wills with privacy being claimed on one side and safety being championed on the other?

The issue comes down to a County of San Bernardino owned iPhone 5 being used by a terrorist couple to kill 14 people and injure 22 more last December. What are the secrets contained in the encrypted smart phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook?terrorists

How can the FBI and by extension the people of this nation unlock this cell phone without permanently erasing the data contained in this device (10 unsuccessful tries triggers the elimination of all content)?

Why couldn’t über-secret Apple quietly and confidentially, particularly in the face of a legitimate court warrant,  write the code allowing the FBI to unlock this particular phone?

Couldn’t Apple have complied on a sub-rosa basis and keep those who think Edward Snowden is a swell guy happy at the same time? Why the public spectacle on CBS’ 60 Minutes and elsewhere that grows more intense and intransigent on a daily basis?

Just this week, the Department of Justice announced it may have a fix that allows the FBI to hack into the phone without inadvertently erasing the data. Is the FBI bluffing, trying to force Apple’s hand?

And will the spectre being played out on TV and mobile device screens from Brussels this morning, prompt a little soul-searching at Apple?

According to former Fortune technology columnist (and Apple apologist), David Kirkpatrick, the ISIS-coordinated attacks on the EU’s capital airport and central rail station, will have zero impact on the board room stance at Apple.

Alas, he is probably correct. A quick glance at the company’s news releases this morning offers plenty of details about the Apple iPhone SE and a new and improved iPad.

If you are expecting reflection, contemplation and refreshing change from Apple’s defiant attitude as a result of today’s deadly terrorist attacks, you are sadly mistaken.

The needless Apple public relations disaster continues.

http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Feinstein-says-Apple-is-wrong-to-refuse-to-6843414.php

http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2016/02/17/senator-dianne-feinstein-intelligence-cmte-lead-intv.cnn

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/brussels-attacks-weigh-on-wall-street–apple–fbi-court-face-off-canceled–amazon-s-cable-play-120427384.html#

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-03-22/how-will-terror-attacks-impact-apple-vs-fbi

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUTXb-ga1fo

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fbi-may-have-found-way-to-unlock-san-bernardino-shooters-iphone/

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-san-bernardino-shooting-live-updates-htmlstory.html

http://www.apple.com/pr/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why, oh why do these things happen to me?” — Rabbit

Their cups are always half-empty.

halfempty

They don’t understand, Goldilocks. Never will anything be quite right.

When they were kids, their favorite Winnie the Pooh characters were either Eeyore or Rabbit, when once again he was lamenting his state of life.

They are known as “Gloomy Gus” or “Negative Nancy” in the workplace.

And please, o’ please … never put them in charge of managing people.

The reason? Whatever is accomplished is never good enough, and whatever subordinate shortcomings are exhibited become highlighted and immediately pounced upon.

These people are downers, the Human Barbiturates.

Human Barbiturates vs. Clinical Depression

The right-brain author of Almost DailyBrett thankfully will never be confused with a highly degreed-psychologist.

Based upon limited reading, it seems that clinical depression is characterized by episodes and inflicts a certain percentage of the population for a particular period of time. It can be and is treated. Hopefully, these people can return to healthy and happy lives.

Human Barbiturates are always in a down mood, regardless of the circumstances. If an organization is run like a business, they are unhappy. If the very same organization is governed by a labor friendly collective bargaining agreement, they are equally bummed out.

In fact, they are always bummed out. Nothing is right. Nothing will ever be right. If you don’t believe me, just ask them.

barbituates

Why is the presence of Human Barbiturates a matter of concern? Why should any blog focused on communications choreography even care about these homo-sapien downers?

The reason is these individuals can become a cancer within an organization, dragging anybody and everybody who comes into contact with them into the abyss.

No PR pro in her or his right mind would put these poor sods in a front-man role, serving as the point of entry for critical stakeholders. Naturally, they should be buried in any organization. That is not to say that they can’t still cause damage.

Let’s pretend you are running employee communications for a privately held or publicly traded corporation. Your job is to use conventional and digital tools to promote morale. Your job is just that much tougher if Gloomy Gus or Negative Nancy is undermining your story, and with it management, at the water cooler.

Don’t try to satisfy the Human Barbiturates because you can’t. These people really need a new start, but keep in mind they will spread their human Valium to another organization. At least they will be someone else’s problem.

Gloomy Gus or Negative Nancy As Your Boss?

“Never wait or hesitate Get in kid, before it’s too late You may never get another chance ‘Cos youth a mask but it don’t last live it long and live it fast” – Rod Stewart, The Killing of Georgie, Part I and II

You know instinctively that life is short. You want to live out your days and nights with as much gusto as you can.

Except you have a Human Barbiturate as a boss, or to be more precise, a bosshole.

bosshole

The Edelman Trust Barometer has consistently reported that “informed publics” around the globe are more willing to do business with companies that treat their employees with dignity and respect. It stands to reason that enlightened management would never turn over supervisorial decisions to Human Barbiturates.

Can employees ever satisfy those who will never be satisfied? You know the answer.

If Human Barbiturates always bitch, moan, whine and complain in the break room, texting and emailing, their behavior is compounded and magnified if they are selected for managerial positions.

Let’s just make the call here and now: Human Barbiturates should never be assigned to the management of people.

They should never be the face of any organization.

If hired, their talent must clearly outweigh their potential negative influence on an organization’s morale.

Otherwise, they are nothing more and nothing less than downers that become the subject of behind-the-back conversation, and maybe even ridicule.

When it comes to Human Barbiturates, it’s best for an organization to “Just Say, ‘No.'”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbiturate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTYcu4CJbA8

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_the_Three_Bears

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rodstewart/thekillingofgeorgiepartiandii.html

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/major-depression

http://www.edelman.com/insights/intellectual-property/2014-edelman-trust-barometer/

 

 

When is it ever time to put a six-figure salary and the financial well-being of your loved ones in jeopardy?

Considering the state of the economy, the short answer is never … but life is never that easy and clean.

What happens in those rare instances in which your employer is in the process of making a decision that you just can’t live with, maybe one that is immoral, unethical or even illegal? It’s easy in the abstract to say that you would take the honorable course of action and resign, but that is much easier said than done.

History has shown that meekly clicking heels and being complicit in improper activity is a non-starter. If you need further amplification just ponder the literally hundreds of Nuremberg defendants, who piously justified their atrocities by reciting: “I was just following orders.” They all hung just the same.

Fortunately in my three decades in public relations, I have only been faced with this dilemma once, and yes I was ready to resign if necessary. It concerned a planned layoff of 600 employees or 8 percent of our workforce at LSI Logic, a Silicon Valley semiconductor company.

laidoff2

What is immoral, unethical or illegal about a layoff? Certainly they are gut-wrenching, but most will conclude that sometimes they are absolutely imperative for companies to survive. And that was certainly the case shortly after the Internet Bubble burst circa 2000-2001.

Bloomberg reported the story accurately when it stated:

“LSI Logic Corp., the largest maker of custom semiconductors, said it will fire 600 workers, or about 8% of its worldwide work force, as it consolidates plants to cope with declining sales. The job reductions will be made mainly in Colorado Springs, Colo., where an aging plant will be closed by the end of October. A smaller facility in Santa Clara, Calif., also will be closed.”

The key is the report ran in newspapers and online September 20, 2001, the day after the actual layoff and LSI Logic’s corresponding announcement to Wall Street investors that revenues would be 10-15 percent lower than anticipated.

The real story is that the layoff was planned for September 12, 2001, the day after…

…September 11, 2001.

Sept11

Can you imagine the reaction both internally and externally if LSI Logic had the audacity to lay off 600 workers literally hours after the hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?

Would you want to work for a company that didn’t have the decency to wait before shedding 8 percent of its workforce only 24 hours after the country was attacked?

And yet that is what the leadership of the company Human Resources Department wanted to do, and they were arguing this point passionately to corporate executives.

Almost DailyBrett literally sat in horror as the then-vice president of Human Resources (a good person overall) described how the impacted would be informed, how HR reps were in place all over the country, and that all the final checks had been cut.

When your author was finally presented with an opportunity to weigh in as the director of Corporate Public Relations, I decided to hold off with my suggestion to be personally added to the layoff list. Instead, I diplomatically acknowledged the efforts of Human Resources, referenced the breaking September 11 news reports and suggested that the best course of action was to postpone this action until we knew more about the severity of the attacks. The decision was made to postpone until Friday…whew.

When we met again the following day, September 12, HR was still committed to proceeding that Friday, the National Day of Mourning for the victims of September 11. The nation’s flags were at half mast. The planes were not flying. The stock exchanges were closed. The baseball and football games were cancelled. It clearly was not business as usual in America, and yet the Human Resources leadership was bound and determined to prevail.

Even though the layoff was postponed once,your author was still prepared to tender my resignation if the company was going forward with the layoff that Friday. Once again, I put that proclamation in my back pocket (at least for the time being) and respectfully argued that there was a “stigma” associated with the work week of Sept. 10-14, and urged postponement until the following week.

Almost DailyBrett made absolutely no friends in Human Resources that week, and caused a lot of additional work on their part. But I could not in good conscience allow the company to permanently impugn its reputation and brand for both external and internal audiences.

Besides, who would want to work for a company that would lay off nearly 10 percent of its workforce just hours after hijacked planes brought down the Wall Trade Center?

I certainly didn’t want to.

Editor’s Note: Normally, Almost DailyBrett does not comment on the inner workings of the organizations in which I have served. In this case, the incident was a decade ago, names have been withheld and the company leadership has completely changed. More importantly, what should be a no-brainer decision is sometimes not a slam dunk. And what would you do if confronted with the same dilemma?

http://www.bloomberg.com/

http://articles.latimes.com/keyword/lsi-logic-corp

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/21/business/worldbusiness/21iht-techbrief_ed3__125.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Trials

http://www.lsi.com/

oxymoron  (ˌɒksɪˈmɔːrɒn)
 
n  , pl -mora
  rhetoric  an epigrammatic effect, by which contradictory terms are used in conjunction: living death ; fiend angelical
 
[C17: via New Latin from Greek oxumōron,  from oxus  sharp + mōros  stupid]

A colleague recently approached asking for your author’s humble opinion about a newly created senior manager of Corporate Affairs position for a publicly traded company in the data storage space. In short order while reading the position description, your author’s cerebral alarm bells were going off.

The main responsibility of the soon-to-be anointed senior manager of Corporate Affairs would be to “execute the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) responsibilities.” Hmmm …

Almost DailyBrett was left wondering how long it would take the company to “execute” the senior manager of Corporate Affairs responsible for CSR in the face of the next inevitable technology industry downturn. This position has all the sounds of classic SG&A (selling, general and administrative) or a corporate expense, which Finance departments will curtail if not outright eliminate.

Just as widely extolled video news releases (VNRs) of the 1990s made shameless PR firms gobs of cash while being round-filed or cut-up for “B-roll” by television station producers, the virtues of CSR are now part of every pitch made in agency reviews or RFP response cattle calls.

But is CSR in its purest form really an oxymoron? Do the words, “corporate” and “social responsibility” really belong in the same sentence? Please don’t giggle.

aneelkarnani

As Aneel Karnani of the University of Michigan Business School wrote in the Wall Street Journal www.wsj.com there are cases in which companies have done good things for society and the environment, including serving healthier foods at fast-food restaurants and offering more fuel-efficient cars. Yes, companies can be green while chasing green. http://www.bus.umich.edu/FacultyBios/FacultyBio.asp?id=000119664

But let’s keep in mind that the pursuit of profits and delivering shareholder value are the core missions of the executives in corporate boardrooms, not saving the world. In all due respect, Mother Teresa never had to lead quarterly earnings report conference calls or answer questions at annual meetings of shareholders. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa

“Very simply, in cases where private profits and public interests are aligned, the idea of corporate social responsibility is irrelevant: Companies that simply do everything they can to boost profits will end up increasing social welfare,” Karnani wrote. “In circumstances in which profits and social welfare are in direct opposition, an appeal to corporate social responsibility will almost always be ineffective, because executives are unlikely to act voluntarily in the public interest and against shareholder interests.”

And speaking about shareholder interests, there is this little notion called, fiduciary responsibility, that trumps corporate social responsibility each and every time. And that may not be such a bad thing.

“The movement for corporate social responsibility is in direct opposition, in such cases, to the movement for better corporate governance, which demands that managers fulfill their fiduciary duty to act in the shareholders’ interest or be relieved of their responsibilities,” said Karnani. “That’s one reason so many companies talk a great deal about social responsibility but do nothing—a tactic known as ‘greenwashing.’”

Certainly companies that act irresponsibly and end up hurting society and the environment (e.g. British Petroleum or BP “Deepwater Horizon oil spill) will be punished by vote-seeking politicians, marauding plaintiff’s attorneys, consumers, shareholders…just to name a few. It is good business to maintain a positive reputation and a strong brand…and that means also protecting that brand. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill

oilspillbird

Having said that, expecting companies to worship exclusively at the altar of Corporate Social Responsibility in the face of a potential double dip recession where mere survival maybe job #1 just simply doesn’t jive with reality.

As the late Ann Richards once said: “That old dog won’t hunt.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Richards

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