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Daily Dairy from Contented Cows

Take a trip, make a major purchase, dine out, open a bank account, or just go to work, and the odds are good that you will soon be asked to complete some form of satisfaction survey. It seems that we’re practically being surveyed to death these days. Okay, maybe not “to death”, but you know what I’m referring to. You’ve doubtless experienced a significant ramping up of user, customer, and employee surveys in recent years.

Why is the process of finding a leader–whether to backfill someone or to fill a new role–often treated as an isolated event rather than an ongoing process? With the cost per hire only rising, why do so few organizations have a process for identifying and cultivating leaders within their existing talent pool?

A giant tree fell in the forest of leadership thinkers last week, with the death of Stephen Covey.

I happened to be attending the annual convention of the National Speakers Association when I heard the news. I was seated at lunch, with 7 other professional speakers, collectively representing a wide variety of topics, and each of us reflected on how much Stephen Covey had influenced the business in which we all make our respective livings, and to an even greater extent, the world of business itself.

We note with sadness the passing this week of Andy Griffith, who though he earned his living in Hollywood, never seemed to forget where he was from.

A visit to a Hollywood film lot (we highly recommend the Warner Brothers tour) comes with the admonition from tour guides, with evidence aplenty, that nothing there is at it seems. In many respects, that has become the norm throughout much of society, such that in so many respects, form, image, illusion, branding, the avatar, the lipstick on the pig takes precedence over reality.

In the days since the U.S. Supreme Court’s legal affirmation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), we have witnessed a cacophany of celebratory victory laps and ongoing bloviating about impending doom, loss of freedom, and death panels. Whether you are an employer, an individual citizen, legislator, or health care worker we would offer two words of advice that can usually be found this time of year on signs carried by course marshals at the FedEx St. Jude Golf Tournament – Hush Y’all! It is time to stop our national food fight on this issue.

In the spirit of full disclosure, mine is a British-American family. My wife was born and raised in Scotland, and I’m the only member of our household who does not hold a British passport. We like the Royals around here and agree with most Britons that the monarchy is a positive force and should remain in place.

For some time I’ve resisted the urge to excoriate a term that has been taking more prominent space in the lexicon of HR professionals. I’ve done so largely on the basis that there didn’t seem to be much harm in the emergence of new-agey alternative vocabulary among knowing professionals. I’ve resisted until now, that is. The term – “talent acquisition.”

Felicidades are in order for our good friends at Plamex, the Mexican division of headset maker Plantronics. For the 2nd year in a row, the company, which employs more than 2,000 people at its manufacturing facility in Tijuana, has been named by the Great Place to Work Institute as the Best Place to Work in Mexico. It’s one thing to make a list like this once. Showing up consistently means a lot more, in our view. Plamex has been a perennial entry on the list for the last several years, but this year became the first company to make it a ‘two-fer” in the top spot on the Mexican list, and they’re already working toward a three-peat.

On Friday, CNBC’s Becky Quick reported that multibillionaire oracle and investor Warren Buffett did not have plans to invest in Facebook, which is set for an initial public stock offering later this month. Oh, it’s not because he doesn’t like Facebook, nor does he think the social media platform is a bunch of hype. In fact, he said he thinks that what’s happening at Facebook is “extraordinary”. “People get excited when a company does that well,” he said, “And they should.”

Last night a bunch of us attended the touring version of the Broadway musical “Les Miserables” at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts here in Jacksonville. We planned an early dinner before the show at an Irish pub near the theater. Nothing like a plateful of Irish fish and chips before watching a French story of love and revolution, produced by a British billionaire.

A core part of every leader’s duty, regardless of rank, is having the wisdom and courage to sever the relationship with someone whose performance or behavior either persistently or grossly fails to meet expectations. It’s what we get paid to do. Failure on our part to either notice the condition or take decisive action represents a fraud against the person, their teammates, and the organization as a whole.

In our line of work, we deal with lots of lists. Fortune’s annual list of the 100 Best Places to Work; their Most Admired List; Glassdoor’s Best Places to Launch a Career, and the like. We’ve even got a few lists of our own, including our latest list of “Contented Cow” companies, highlighted in our upcoming new book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk.

As election season rolls around and campaigning for public office ramps up (does it ever leave?) most of us dust off the decision matrix by which we choose the candidates we’ll vote for. For some, it’s simply a matter of whether there is a donkey or an elephant next to the candidate’s name. Some might resort to using a dart board. Others are only interested in finding someone they believe to be capable of beating the other guy. Those who want to think a little harder might use an issues or trait-based filter. My own process rests on an analysis of a candidate’s positions on a short list of key issues, coupled with an assessment of vital personal characteristics.

School shootings have, tragically, become an all-too-common part of the world in which we now find ourselves, for reasons that are too complex to speculate on here. Yesterday’s killing of Dale Regan, the Headmistress of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, from which both of my children graduated in recent years, is only the latest to hit the news. I wish I could be confident that it would be the last.

Ordinarily, we try to have a positive focus in this blog, encouraging leaders to adopt or maintain practices that will coax the very best effort from their teams. As opposed to the usual “start doing this” stance, this post is one of the “don’t do that” variety.

Earlier this week, a political shock jock who is as loved by some as he is loathed by others made completely uncalled for and by most measures, out of bounds comments about the morality of a young female college student. Days later, at the point of spears held by his show’s advertisers, he issued something of an apology.

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