There’s never been a stronger case – nor a period of time – where the need for exceptional Human Resource leadership was front and center. If your organization has cases similar to those highlighted in this month’s newsletter – look no further than the leadership of your people. That leadership isn’t just the HR Lead – it’s every executive in every organization – we all manage people – it’s our responsibility. Strong human capital practices can address and reduce the liability, but only if they can lead, and if the workforce has a means to access them.
I love March Madness – the exhilaration of college kids playing with the chance to win the national title – to be recognized as the best in the country! Someone will win an unexpected game, someone is about to become famous. Some colleges do it in a way that is exceptional! Unfortunately this years tournament will have more than a little tarnish! Why? Pay attention – we’re surrounded by it – and it will soon be noted that a very high percentage of people either have been the subject of or a witness to despicable behavior by very important leaders.
It’s not surprising – is it? Harvey Weinstein, Rick Pitino, Jerry Sandusky, and soon to be hundreds more. The list is long and now infamous! Leaders who are personally responsible for – or who quietly condone the type of behavior that in most organizations would be considered at minimum abhorrent, and more appropriate – illegal. Yet those actions by powerful supposed “leaders” should have been corrected decades ago. A couple of years ago I wrote a newsletter about the failure of Human Resources at Penn State to have addressed and resolved an issue like Jerry Sandusky. The fact that this esteemed organization could turn a blind eye on those allegations – and worse – the eye witness account by a fellow coach to be ignored by any and all powers to be – the fallout and long term effects will last a generation. So far the price to the institution has already exceeded $260 million in real dollars. It’s the hidden cost of a tarnished reputation that you cannot calculate. That very likely is priceless!
So how many people will look at anything that Harvey Weinstein’s company ever produced without thinking – what seedy pathetic behavior or actions happened behind the title of this production. The same tarnished image will follow Penn State, and now Louisville, and the Dallas Mavericks, and – when the FBI investigation results are released shortly – dozens of others.
Perhaps it’s time that every organization look at their HR leadership. Are those people strong enough to lead your organization through this type of controversy. Better yet, is your HR leadership capable of preventing it from happening in the first place? Mark Cuban is pleading ignorance on the actions of his President – possible? – yes – likely?? – absolutely not. The guy was there for years. Somewhere someone brought those actions to Mark’s attention, most likely in a confidential quiet manner to avoid the potential ramifications of such a statement – but nothing happened to stop it. Just ask the three top leaders at Penn State that Joe Paterno went to regarding Sandusky! Not one will ever work in such a position again, ask them about their federal jail time when they get out, and ask them if, given the chance, they’d take a different action today then they did a few years ago. Hmm – Not to hard to guess – but let me ask you – what have your ignored and what could it cost you???
Have you seen it? Do you know anyone who has? What action did they take? Unfortunately most people don’t do anything – because their HR department doesn’t know how, or doesn’t have the authority to stop it. I know a young pharmacist who was recently threatened by her general manager with an act of severe action, including aggressive physical outward motion, to intimidate her from voicing her concerns, in a meeting with a dozen other employees. Her solution? She quit on the spot. What did HR do? Nothing. A pure sign of HR ignorance and weakness. Forthcoming consequences – an exodus of most likely 8 of those witnesses – the physical threat was that palpable. The cost – 2x the annual wage of each lost employee – the cost of turnover of any employee with two years or more experience. Don’t take my word for it – read Dr. Bradford Smart’s book “Top Grading” – the metrics and costs speak for themselves.
Please stop the madness! Hire exceptional HR leadership. And then build a system and set of processes to prevent any of these actions from happening in the first place. But, if or when they do, take immediate and corrective action. It could very easily save your company!
I wish you well!