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    Learn a New Word: The Glass Cliff

    Over the weekend reports dropped that the NFL's Cleveland Browns, long a league doormat and in need of yet another new head coach for next season, were interested in interviewing former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice for the open role. While later reporting seemed to indicate that in fact Rice was not likely to be a candidate for the Head Coach spot, it has not stopped a pretty tremendous level of reaction in the sports world. While those various reactions (the Browns are nuts, the role of Head Coach is evolving, Why not look in a novel direction for this hire, it can't get much worse for the Browns?) are all interesting in their own right, it was a term in the Fortune piece linked above that caught my attention - The 'Glass Cliff'.

    I had never seen this term before, and since as the author of this blog I have to assume what I think is what you think too, I thought it a valid entry as the latest 'Learn a New Word', even if I am really the only one who is learning this for the first time. 

    Ok, here's the definition/description of The Glass Cliff: (from a piece on Vox)

    The glass cliff is a relative of the “glass ceiling” — a metaphor for the invisible, societal barrier that keeps women from achieving the highest positions in business, politics, and organizations. The glass cliff is a twist on that: Women are elevated to positions of power when things are going poorly. When they reach the upper ranks of power, they’re put into precarious positions and therefore have a higher likelihood of failure, meaning there’s a greater risk for them to fall.

    It is a really interesting concept that is backed up both by some empirical research, as well as by what many of us have seen or been impacted by in our own careers. One prevailing theory is that when things are going poorly for a company or any kind of institution, and there is the need for new executive leadership at one of these organizations, the very fact that things are going poorly deters many if not most of the typical (read white male) candidates for the open executive position. Since these kinds of leadership positions become harder, relatively, to fill than others, more women and people from underrepresented groups become candidates and relatively more of them get hired. But, since the organization is already in trouble, the chances for these newly appointed executives to succeed are not that high, and more of them end up failing than they would if they were joining more healthy organizations.

    The above linked Vox piece has a number of great recent examples of the Glass Cliff phenomenon, (Mary Barra at GM, Carol Bartz then later Marisa Mayer at Yahoo, Jill Abramson at the New York Times) and ends with what may be a definitionally classic 'Glass Cliff' appointment - Jill Soltau the new CEO at beleagured retailer JC Penney - a company that has been deterioting for years. Whether or not Soltau will be able to revive the company is anyone's guess, but there is no doubt she's walked into an incredibly challenging set of circumstances - standing on the edge of the figurative Glass Cliff.

    Ok, that's it for me, back to try and find something new to learn, especially something I should have learned a long time ago.


    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 347 - Technology at Work: It's Complicated

    HR Happy Hour 347 - Technology at Work: It's Complicated

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Dan Staley, PwC

    Sponsored by Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish were joined by Dan Staley, Partner, US HR Technology Leader, PwC to talk about Technology in the Workplace, and how HR and Business leaders can better support employees with technology. PwC recently released a new report titled 'Our Status With Tech at Work: It's Complicated'

    PwC asked 12,000 people from Canada, China and Hong Kong, Germany, India, Mexico, the UK, and the US to share their views about the digital tools they use in their daily work. We heard from all generations, from C-suite titles to administrative roles, and from a range of industries including consumer markets, health industries, financial services, manufacturing, and technology and media. On the show, Dan shared some of the interesting findings from the report as well as offering some recommendations for HR leaders for improving the employee experience with technology at work.

    The report showed that their often is a disconnect between what employees want from their workplace technologies and what their organizations are providing. Additionally, we discussed some deas to improve technology selection and deployment processes to better align employee expectations and goals with management's eventual decisions around workplace technology.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    You can access and download the PwC report here.

    Thanks again for Dan for joining us!

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour show wherever you get your podcasts.


    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 346 - Implementing a New HR Technology Strategy

    HR Happy Hour 346- Implementing A New HR Technology Strategy

    Sponsored by Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Host: Trish McFarlane 

    Guest: Alex Smith, CHRO for The City of Memphis

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Trish recorded live from Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, to talk with Alex Smith, CHRO for The City of Memphis.  Alex talks about her role withing a government position and how human resources and the technology approach are a bit unique.  

    The City of Memphis is going through a HR transformation journey and it is being supported by the technology they are putting in place.  Ms. Smith shared some of the challenges, their approaches to those challenges, and some of the early results.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a really interesting and fun show - thanks to Alex and everyone at Oracle for having the HR Happy Hour Show at their event.

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts, or your favorite podcast app - just search for 'HR Happy Hour'.


    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 345 - WorkInspired: How Leaders Can Build Great Organizations

    HR Happy Hour 345 - WorkInspired: How Leaders Can Build Great Organizations

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Guest: Aron Ain, CEO, Kronos

    Sponsored by Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish welcomed Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos, and author of WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work,

    On the show, Aron shared the remarkable story of Kronos, one of the largest and most successful Human Capital Management technology providers of the last twenty years, and a consistent recipient of 'Best/Great/Amazing' Places to Work awards around the world.

    Aron talked about the journey at Kronos, what it takes to move from just a 'good' place to work, to one that has been recognized globally as one of the best places in technology for employees. We discussed the commitment of leadership, the importance of openness and transparency, and the many of the lessons Aron has learned along the way as he has helped lead Kronos through many interesting and not always easy transitions.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was an interesting and enlightening look at how one successful CEO has helped develop and grow a successful organization, one where employees truly 'love to come to work'.

    Thanks Aron for joining us!

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts - just search for 'HR Happy Hour.'


    FOLLOW UP: When your 'dream job' ends up being a nightmare

    A few months back, just as the soccer World Cup was getting underway, I shared the tale of how the Spanish National Team manager Julen Lopetegui was fired from his National Team post just days before the side's first World Cup game, for the 'unforgivable' offense of agreeing to take the Manager's job at club Real Madrid, a position he would start at the conclusion of the World Cup.

    Essentially, Lopetegui had lined up his next gig, his post-National Team Manager job while still serving as the National Team Manager, thereby incensing the Spanish Soccer Federation powers that be so much so, that they showed him the exit door just days before the most imporant soccer tournament in the World. Lopetegui was out and the Spanish side ended up not impressing in the tournament without him, not factoring in the contention for the title.

    But for Lopetegui, the disappointment of not seeing his job out at the National Team should have worn off quickly, as his new job, manager at one of the most successful and famous clubs in world soccer could rightly be seen as a 'dream' job for any soccer manager. A rich and famous club, an annual contender for the Spanish League title, the Champions League title, and a club where many of the very best players in the world aspire to play for. All in all, a 'dream' scenario.

    Well, not so fast my friend.

    About four months into the role at Real Madrid, and our pal Mr. Lopetegui finds himself in the unenviable position of losing his second 'dream job'. After a slow start to the season for Madrid, Julen is out. From a piece on Deadspin reporting the news:

    Pour one out for Julen Lopetegui, who has had just about the worst possible year a soccer manager can have. Real Madrid fired Lopetegui this afternoon, one day after an embarrassing 5-1 ass-kicking by Messi-less Barcelona, thus ending a nightmare of a year.

    As of just four months ago, the poor dude had the Spanish national team rolling into the World Cup on tremendous form. Spain had never lost under Lopetegui’s guidance, going 14-6-0 with a +48 goal difference during his two years in charge. But then, just one day before the World Cup started in Russia, Lopetegui was unceremoniously and inexplicably shit-canned by the Spanish federation in a bizarre display of frat-boy “alpha” posturing because the federation president was mad Lopetegui committed the mortal sin of, uh, not telling the federation soon enough that he was going to take another job after the World Cup. Predictably, Spain completely collapsed once the tournament started.

    A pretty amazing fall from grace from not one, but two of the best, highest-profile and most sought-after jobs in soccer management. Whether or not Lopetegui can recover from these setbacks and ever again score a role at a big club or as a national team manager of a top side will be interesting to follow. Because you could argue that both of these dismissals were not completely his fault.

    He was really successful as the National Team manager before they let him go for reasons having nothing to do with performance. And at Real Madrid he never really had much of a chance, only managing 14 games, and dealing with the loss of the team's best player, Christiano Ronaldo, who was allowed to leave the club.

    Is there a lesson to all of this? I don't know. I guess that even for 'star' performers at the highest level of their profession, sometimes things happen, and it doesn't end up well at all. Lopetegui did a lot of things right by most generally accepted career advice, and it still turned out all wrong for him.

    Let's hope he can get it turned around. And let's remember to watch our own backs as well.

    Have a great weekend!