Interview with Guy Kawasaki on Enchanting Human Resources

Apple, Virgin America, 1965 Ford Mustang, and Mike Rowe. These are examples of Guy Kawasaki’s idea of Enchantment. In his new book he sets out to help readers understand what enchantment is in order to strive to be enchanting. Some have called it an update of How To Win Friends And Influence People for 2011.

Here are the ideas that caused me to dog ear the pages they were on and stood out for me:

  • To be likable, you need to find shared passions with others. To do this you need to do your homework, but it is easier today than ever to do so thanks to Google. Long gone are the days of reviewing back issues of newspapers to find out about people.
  • On launching a successful venture: “Perhaps [most presentations achieve] antienchantment, because people leave less intrigued than when they knew only rumors. Enchanting launches are more than press releases, data dumps, one-sided assertions, and boring sales pitches. They captivate people’s interest and imagination by telling a compelling story.”
  • Tell personal stories when conveying ideas. They do not need to be “epic” stories.
  • Marketing is turned upside down post-Internet - people depend on opinions of their friends and casual acquaintances more than “experts.”
  • Provide social proof. If everyone else sees other people doing it, then it must be ok.
  • Find something you agree with an opponent with before entering into negotiations. Small talk can often establish items in common, which will help lead to a successful resolution.
  • Embrace technology - especially social media.
  • Tell recruits for a company that you want them, and repeat often - even when they are employees.
  • Learn how to resist enchantment so that you are not enchanted by someone who does not have your best interest in mind.

It is also important to note about what is missing from the book: a chapter on price. As Guy puts it, “It is not about the money.” The book is a good reminder for business owners, human resource managers, and employees alike about what it takes to be successful today. Guy explains in more detail about what it takes to be a successful HR manager or have a successful HR department in my interview with him (or click here to listen on iTunes).

Employers Cannot Avoid Overtime by Dividing A Single Worshift Between Two Different Days or Weeks -- Seymore v. Metson Marine, Inc.

Unlike federal law, California requires premium overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of eight per day and all hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work.  This sets up a potential anomaly for employees who work long graveyard shifts. 

For example, consider an employee who is scheduled to work from 6:00 p.m. Monday night to 6:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.  Despite working twelve straight hours, his employer's payroll system may pay for only six hours of straight time on Monday and another six hours of straight time on Tuesday.  By contrast, a co-worker who pulled a similar twelve-hour shift from 6:00 a.m. Tuesday morning to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday evening would get credit for eight hours of straight time plus four hours of daily overtime.

In Seymore v. Metson Marine, Inc. the same problem existed for purposes of calculating seventh-day premium pay.  Metson's employees were stationed on oil spill recovery ships and worked two-week "hitches" that began and ended on Tuesday.   But -- like most employers -- Metson used a Monday-to-Monday workweek.  As a result, the employees who worked seven days in a row would get credit for six days worked in one week and one day worked in the next week -- with no seventh-day premium pay for the last Tuesday in their "hitch," which fell into the next workweek.

The First District Court of Appeal found, however, that the accounting convention of a fixed workday and workweek could not be allowed to override the purposes of California's overtime law.

Plaintiffs contend that premium pay must be calculated based on the “fixed and regular” schedule actually worked and that Metson should not be allowed to subvert the employee protections of section 510 by designating an artificial workweek that does not correspond with the period actually worked. Asserting that their workweek actually began and ended on Tuesday, plaintiffs argue that Metson was required to pay overtime wages for work performed on the seventh and 14th day of each hitch. We agree.

In light of the Metson decision, employers should carefully review their payroll practices to make sure that they are not inadvertently dividing consecutive workshifts or workdays when calculating overtime.  By the same token, employees who work graveyard shifts or extended "hitches" of seven days or more should carefully review their wage statements to ensure that they are receiving credit for all overtime due.




US Supreme Court Holds Employers May Be Liable Under "Cat's Paw" Theory

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an employer can have liability for discrimination based on a “cat’s paw” theory. As the Court explained in its decision Staub v. Proctor Hospital, the theory derives its name from a fable of Aesop. In the fable, a monkey convinces a cat to pull hot chestnuts from a fire (burning its paws in the process) and taking the chestnuts, leaving the cat with nothing for its efforts.

In this case, the plaintiff sued his employer for discrimination in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The plaintiff alleged that his supervisors discriminated against him due to his role as a military reservist. The plaintiff did not allege that the person who made the final employment decision to terminate his employment (Proctor’s HR manager, aka the cat), but that the decision was influenced by his two directed supervisors who did have animus towards his military service. As the Court explained:

The central difficulty in this case is construing the phrase “motivating factor in the employer’s action.” When the company official who makes the decision to take an adverse employment action is personally acting out of hostility to the employee’s membership in or obligation to a uniformed service, a motivating factor obviously exists. The problem we confront arises when that official has no discriminatory animus but is influenced by previous company action that is the product of a like animus in someone else.

While this case involved liability under USERRA, the Court noted that USERRA is “very similar” to Title VII which prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Therefore, it is very likely courts will hold that the “cat’s paw” theory of liability will extend into the more prevalent Title VII claims.

Also, as noted by the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, this ruling will likely make it very difficult for employers to dispose of discrimination cases at the summary judgment stage as supervisor’s intent and causation issues almost always involve issues of fact. The likely result is that any cat’s paw theory cases will survive summary judgment and be heard before a jury. The case, Staub v. Proctor Hospital, can be downloaded from the Supreme Court’s website here [PDF].