Excellent advice from Tom Peters.

Excellent advice from Tom Peters.

I am not going to go on a tirade here about reading. It is important. Here is an excerpt from Tom Peter’s book The Little BIG Things that makes his statement, presented just as it was in the book.


Read Wide!

Surprise Yourself With Your Reading Picks!

Read Deep!

Read Often!

Out-READ the “Competition”!!!!!

Take Notes!


Share With Others What You Read!

(Not to impress them, but selfishly, because there’s no other way to imbed what you’ve learned.)

Create/Join a Reading Salon!




He adds a final note that he is not a fast reader, which surprises many.

I personally have a book with me at all times, either paper or electronic. It is not hard to do today, so you have little excuse to not be well read. You just have to shut off the damn TV and put down the Candy Crush.


We all know that the big drive in today’s business world is to hire the best “talent’ around. But did you know that it is important to hire the best people as well. Research has shown that your behavior is impacted by the behavior of the people you surround yourself with.

Who you work with is important

I was intrigued by a blog post at Barking Up the Wrong Tree called The Lazy Way to an Awesome Life: 3 Secrets hacked by research. Eric Barker, the author talks about some research that shows we become like those we affiliate with. With families and our friends most of us would agree with this statement, probably even more true for friends than family for some of us.

I thought, however, how much this applies to the workplace as well. In fact Barker has a quote from research conducted in 1999 “Psychologists have observed that bad habits can spread through an office like a contagious disease. Employees tend to mirror the bad behaviors of their co-workers, with factors as diverse as low morale, poor working habits, and theft from the employer all rising based on the negative behavior of peers.”- Greene. I don’t know about you but I have seen this occur in the workplace.

The big question

The big question is how many of you apply this type of knowledge to your hiring practices? How many of you try to determine if the “talent” you are hiring is the type of person you want to be around? Perhaps this is the basis for the current move to “hire for attitude”? Perhaps it should be the basis for your hiring practices. If you have the sort of work group referenced in the quote above you may want to consider it.

The idea of a social network affecting your behavior and your health should play a much greater role in how we do human resources. Nicholas Christakis has a fascinating TED talk on this subject that I think is well worth the time watching. It will change your perspective on the issue of who you affiliate with in your life. You can find it below. Barker’s 3 secrets referenced in his title come from Christakis’ work. They are:

  • Hang out with the people you want to be: Behaviors spread like a virus. Make sure it’s one you want to be infected with.
  • Make more friends. Time spent making friends has a higher happiness ROI than time spent making money.
  • Introduce friends to friends. Friends becoming happy increases your chance of happiness by 45%. Keeping the network happy protects you against unhappiness.

I also highly recommend Eric Barker’s blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Check it out.

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In reevaluating your independent contractors will you fail the economic realities test?

In reevaluating your independent contractors will you fail the economic realities test?

Does your organization use independent contractors on a regular basis? If yes, then you are likely to have your relationships challenged. In mid-July the USDOL Wage and Hour Division issued a new interpretation of what being an independent contractor means. They have made no secret of the fact that they are clamping down on the use of independent contractors and this new interpretation moves along that agenda.

Economic realities test

The interpretation from the USDOL makes it clear that a proper view of the economic realities test will generally lead to the conclusion that “applying the economic realities test in view of the expansive definition of “employ” under the Act, most workers are employees under the FLSA.” Yes, read that sentence again “most workers are employees under the FLSA.” That statement signals that to use an independent contractor you must be meet all the standards of the economic realities test. The “short test” is determined by answering the question ”Is this worker economically dependent on the company?” If the answer is “yes” then they are NOT independent.

The economic realities test generally includes the following factors:

  • the extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business;
  • the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss depending on his or her managerial skill;
  • the extent of the relative investments of the employer and the worker;
  • whether the work performed requires special skills and initiative;
  • the permanency of the relationship; and
  • the degree of control exercised or retained by the employer.

Fail this test and you have an employee and not an independent contractor.

Other considerations from the interpretation

Attorney Rachel Ziolkowski Ullrich of FordHarrision said that the interpretation also made some other important points. These include:

  • “Work integral to the business” does not mean it has to be performed on the company premises. This work can be performed in a worker’s home too.
  • That worker’s business has to be affected by their managerial skills and that means they have an opportunity for profit or loss.
  • Having a specialized skill does not mean independent.
  • Even though a worker may not be employed throughout the year does not make them independent if that lack of employment is due to the nature of the business, such as seasonality.
  • It may ultimately come down to control, not so much in how much control is actually exercised but how much can be exercised.

With this new interpretation it is time to re-evaluate your independent contractor relationship. Many of you may discover those you employee as IC’s may in reality be employees. Be prepared to make them employees and sever that independent relationship.


Performance evaluation is not going away, it is just transforming.

Performance evaluation is not going away, it is just transforming.

Accenture made news recently by announcing they were getting rid of performance evaluation. The world rejoiced (or so it seemed) as Accenture joined a list of other notable companies to “rid the world of performance evaluation!” The problem is they are not really getting rid of performance evaluation.

No more Annual process

What Accenture is doing is getting rid of the clunky annual process that many “enlightened” HR professionals and managers knew didn’t work. What they are moving to is an ongoing feedback process. This is typically known as “management” and this is how a manager is supposed to interact with employees on an ongoing basis. Now this is the new “whiz-bang” form of performance evaluation.

I have long touted this form of ongoing performance feedback. I have long said that there should never be a surprise in performance for either the manager or the employee because they were talking all the time.

Saving money?

In one article it was mentioned how much money they were spending on the annual process, $35 million, which they considered to be unproductive time of managers having to get trained on the process. Are they going to save $35 million a year? The answer is no. Managers will have to spend more time with employees now. Performance problems will still have to be documented (their employment lawyers will insist on this). Managers will have to be trained on how to interact with employees since they have apparently not been doing that. So in all likelihood they may actually spend more money on performance management.

Performance management

When asked in an interview, So will there still be ratings or will there just be feedback?” Pierre Nanterme, the President of Accenture responded “At the end of the day, you need to give some evaluation. You need to give a compensation increase. But all this terminology of rankings—forcing rankings along some distribution curve or whatever—we’re done with that. We’ve totally done too much effort for a limited outcome.” He further said “Performance is an ongoing activity. It’s every day, after any client interaction or business interaction or corporate interaction. It’s much more fluid. People want to know on an ongoing basis, am I doing right? Am I moving in the right direction? Do you think I’m progressing? Nobody’s going to wait for an annual cycle to get that feedback. Now it’s all about instant performance management.”

So as you can see Accenture is NOT getting rid of performance evaluation. They are getting rid of an outdated, clunky process that didn’t work and replacing with a process of more frequent interactions designed to provide more immediate feedback and course correction as needed. All of the rankings and distribution curve issues were financial tools to be able to dole out money that organizations were often loath to spend.

For this I applaud them! It is a big step for a 330,000 company to dump tradition. I hope it works. It will still require work, and initially perhaps more oversight by HR and upper management, but it has the potential for being more responsive than the old method. I hope they are combining this with some good goal setting and tracking of performance numbers, otherwise employees may still complain that the process if subjective, just more often.

So congratulations Accenture, job well done. Just quit bragging about getting rid of performance appraisal. You are just changing the system.


Future Friday: The coming conflict between flextime and the FLSA

by Michael Haberman July 24, 2015

Tweet In early July the US Department of Labor announced changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act that will radically alter the number of workers who will no longer be considered exempt. As of the moment the projected minimum salary level is anticipated to be $50,440. (You can learn more here.) At the same time […]

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The New Proposed FLSA Regulations and What They Mean for Employers

by Michael Haberman July 23, 2015

Tweet On June 30, 2015 the United States Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division released to the public proposed regulations for the revision of the Fair Labor Standards Act. These proposed regulation changes were published on July 6, 2015 in the Federal Register. They will be available for public comment until September 4, 2015. […]

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3 Employee Perks That Make the Office a Better Place

by Michael Haberman July 22, 2015

Tweet Today’s post is brought to you from my friends at SocialMonsters.org When it comes to finding the best talent, employee perks are often one of the first things (behind pay) that potential candidates consider. Whether it’s offering the latest technology or having flexible vacation policies, candidates want to work somewhere that offers a unique […]

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Did you know that race has more protection than other classes?

by Michael Haberman July 21, 2015

Tweet Most people in a business situation feel they are protected from discrimination by an employer because of Equal Employment Opportunity. This is not true. The coverage provided by EEO is limited by the size of the company to companies with 15 or more employees. This protects smaller businesses from being sued in all protected […]

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Working for your supervisor may be stressful but it is not a disability

by Michael Haberman July 20, 2015

Tweet One of the more interesting cases I have come across lately involves an employee who claimed a disability due to the stress she experienced working for her supervisor and having to deal with Human Resources. The accommodation she was seeking was first an extended medical leave and then permanent reassignment to a different department. […]

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Future Friday: Repetition may spell the end of your job

by Michael Haberman July 17, 2015

Tweet I am currently reading Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford. Martin is a software development entrepreneur who has been in computer design and software development over 25 years. Working in Silicon Valley he has seen the effect of automation and robotics on the world of work. The subtitle of his book is Technology […]

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