Don’t Hire A Master Of The Universe


Know It Alls
A Master of the Universe at Work…


Do you love talking with obnoxious know-it-alls? People that think their way is the only way? How do you like working with these people?


Yea, I don’t either.


Spend enough time contributing to the GDP, and you will run into the kind of people that I like to call “Masters of the Universe.”


These are the people that know better than the experts. They know everything. They are the idiot with all-wheel drive going 80 down a snow-covered highway. Although annoying in life, Masters of the Universe are kryptonite in your organizations.


The Master of the Universe is one of the most toxic employees in your organization:


  • They will shoot down ideas that don’t align with their own thought processes, personal beliefs or agenda.


  • They believe they are right and find little value in working collaboratively with others.  Symptoms include: talking over others that disagree with them, mocking or ridiculing ideas they disagree with and conducting the meeting after the meeting.


  • Their prior success has made them confident in the extreme of their abilities.


The last thing you want to do is put a Master Of The Universe in Charge.


Left to their own managerial devices they can wreak havoc on your organization by:


  • Modeling un-cooperative and disrespectful behavior. People model what they see in leadership.


  • Focusing on what they perceive as right, instead of the company strategy or what is right for the company.


  • They will hire people just like them. Or worse, they will hire people with no ability to think independently.  


All of this is recipe for a company culture that quickly becomes overrun with rude, arrogant individuals who care more about themselves and their turf then about the long term viability of the company.


So how can you counteract the negative effects of Masters of the Universe? Or prevent the disease?


If you are a CEO or Senior Leader in your organization:


  • Model the behavior you want to see.  If you want the culture of your organization to be respectful and open, hire those who act that way and quickly get rid of anyone that acts contrary to that.


  • Reward the right behavior – reward teams and individuals that display the company values.  If a manager is a rude, unethical jerk, promoting her to a Senior Vice President isn’t going to fix the problem and it sends the message that the rude behavior is acceptable.


  • Get out of your office – have skip- level meetings with employees at all levels of the organization. When you hear complaints, investigate and follow up with employees.


If you work in HR:


  • Model the behavior you want to see and challenge your business partners to do the same.


  • Implement systems that provide relevant and timely performance assessment and feedback.


  • Train, train and train again. You have the systems in place to assess performance, now make sure your employees and manager know how to use those systems. It isn’t enough to assume they know what to do with the data at their disposal.


Carnival of HR – Polar Vortex Edition

Polar Vortex
Courtesy Twitter:


Greetings from snow covered Richmond, Virginia. Yes that’s right; it snowed here for the second time in as many weeks.  I have to tell you I am NOT happy about this.  Mr. Remix convinced me to move here based on the fact that “it never snows in the south!” Hmpf. I’m going to have a file grievance with my union about false promises.


Speaking of unions and grievances….I PASSED the SPHR test! Thank you for the advice you passed on to me via this blog, Twitter and a ton of other methods. I needed every tip I could get, but more on that in a post to follow next week.


On to the business at hand! To keep you warm (and entertained) this snowy day I have a variety of excellent posts related to HR, development, leadership and tons of other HR related goodness.


Scroll down to read on and stay warm!



Julie Winkle Giulioni tells us: Growth: It’s No Longer Optional

Don’t we all need a little help talking to the boss? Dan Mcarthy is here to help with his excellent post 10 Tips for Having 1 on 1 Meetings with Your Boss.

Sarah Williams talks professional development and why you shouldn’t tell her what to do in her post Don’t Tell Me What to Do.

Employment Law 

Michael Haberman gives us some great information on who can and cannot be discriminated against with his post: Do You Know That Not Everyone is Protected Against Discrimination?

Ian Welsh challenges us to think about that lovely trend of “Hiring for Fit” in his post Systemic Discrimination in Hiring – The Cultural Fit!

Check out the basics on settlement agreements with this post from the eskill blog: Settlement Agreements. When to Offer Them, and What to Cover.

Over at the Canadian HR Reporter Stuart Rudner advises us to Think Twice Before You Quit. Good advice!


Blogging 4 Jobs gives us the latest on recruiting trends with these posts:

Recruiting Meets Corporate Culture

Hire To Retain

Internal Recruiting Gets Sexier in 2014

2 out of 3 Companies to Expand Social Recruiting

Mobile Recruiting: How and Where to Start

Invest in Internal Mobility

Avoid the “Black Hole” When Applying for Jobs Online

Over at the Lean HR blog, Dwane Lay has a refreshing look at candidate experience and recruiting in his post Are You Overworking Recruiting?

Robin Schooling takes us back to the groovy seventies with her post Branded a Loser? Vintage Candidate Experience?


Susan Mazza reminds us that our 24/7 culture isn’t always the way to a more productive lifestyle with her post, Set Boundaries For Success. 

Linda Fisher Thornton helps us Understand and Prevent Ethical Leadership Failures.

Jennifer Miller asks an important question about self-control in her post Leadership Self-Control – Are  You About to Lose It?

You’ve screwed up before haven’t you? Karin Hurt takes an insightful look at how leaders respond to screw ups and the implications of those responses in her post The Screw Up Post I Shouldn’t Have to Write.


Team Development

Jesse Lyn Stoner gives us some excellent tips on Creating a Shared Vision That Works.


Company Culture

Zappos has announced that it is going to do away with both bosses and titles over the next year. Whether you think that will work or not, you can learn a lot by studying Zappos and other companies with nontraditional workplace cultures. Read Wally Bock’s take in his post What Can We Learn From Zappos Bossless Initiative ?

Over at the Changeboard Blog, Kathaleen Richard interviews Jo Loyd, HR Director at Arco, to discuss their engagement and wellness strategies in the post Healthy Employees, Happy Workplace.

Ever wonder how companies become high-growth? Alex Raymond, of the Kapta blog, has some tips with his post Key Characteristics of High-Growth Companies.

Amit Bhagria points out a very simple key to a better workplace: gratitude. Read his post Leveraging the Power of Gratification at the Workplace to find out how simple and effective this can be.

Too much reading? Need a break? Andrew Tarvin shares some humor quotes to get you through the workday.

Tips and Tricks for HR

Wonder if you have what it takes to make it in HR? Ben Eubanks outlines some important skills (NOT encyclopedic employment law knowledge) in his post Essential HR Skills: Communication, Conflict, and Change.

Justin Harris, the unlikely HR guy, encourages us to share our HR talents and skills with more than just other HR pro’s in his post To Your Network and Beyond.

Looking to change or update your talent acquisition strategy? Nisha Raghavan (Your HR Buddy) gives you 10 ideas with her 10 Things to Reinvent Your Talent Acquisition Strategy post.


Don’t Make These Performance Management Mistakes!

Are you in the midst of performance management hell? Stuck tracking down forms or listening to managers complain about this not-time honored process?

Not in HR but have to sit down and talk awkwardly with your employees about their hopes, dreams and performance?

The process isn’t always great but unless you have a better idea you are stuck.  But there is hope.  Over at Performance I Create I’m writing about how to make your appraisal process better.  Here is a quick teaser:

“Here are seven things you are doing wrong in your performance management process and how you can fix them:

1. The form is too long.  I have yet to see an appraisal that is too short. You cannot possibly need 10 competencies, each with a paragraph long description to assess performance.  You should only have three to five areas MAX. After competency number five no one cares.”

Read the rest at Performance I Create


Have You Failed?

Helping the Homeless and Near-Homeless

I read an article this week about the personal failure of a former TV writer.  After working 12 hour days on TV shows like Roseanne, he took some time off to reconnect with his family and made some bad financial decisions that resulted in losing his house and becoming homeless.  His story ends with a somewhat happy ending (he is back on his feet, working and no longer homeless but still struggling).


So what does an article about an out-of-work writer have to do with HR? Everything. One of his struggles before and when he was homeless was trying to find a job.  He was (and still is) looking for the kind of job many of us take for granted: a “permanent” position at an established company with a fixed salary and benefits.

Unfortunately, there were a number of hurdles in his way: his experience as a comedy writer wasn’t applicable in a TV world that wanted reality TV and his magazine publishing experience was from 10 years ago.  Add to that, a four year unemployment gap spent being a stay-at-home dad and you can imagine how difficult it was for him to find a job.  He couldn’t even get a job stocking shelves at Trader Joes.


This writer and his circumstances are not unique.  Recent data shows that those unemployed for six months or more have an extremely difficult time getting a new job.


My question: What can we (HR professionals) do to change a mentality that doesn’t want to interview or hire candidates with unconventional backgrounds? With backgrounds that have gaps in employment history? What can we do to help the homeless or near-homeless get jobs and get back on their feet?


1. Knowing that the great recession left many homeless or near homeless can we take some time to pick up the phone and find out about a candidates gap in employment instead of assuming the worst?


2. Can we use our HR skills to help the homeless job search? Does your community have a program like CARITAS Works that helps individuals build job search skills? Can you volunteer with that group? Or make a monetary donation?


3. If a company lays off workers can we offer job search assistance? Can we provide a list of community resources?


4. Can we set up unconventional working arrangements? Perhaps a temporary gig? A candidate gets paid for their work and has an opportunity to show what they can do.  The hiring manager has less strings attached. Win/Win?


5. Can we work with our local SHRM chapters to organize a volunteer job search workshop to help the unemployed? Feedback on a resume or interviewing can go a long way towards helping someone get the next job.


As HR pro’s we have a lot of knowledge and information about the job search process. How can we use that to help others? Tell me in the comments!



Quick post note: regular readers may recall that I am in the process of studying for the SPHR. Between studying, work and life my schedule is getting pretty full. Until the end of January (when I take my test) I will only be posting about once a week unless I’m particularly inspired. Thanks for your patience as I take on the challenge of the SPHR test!