Loyalty: The tangled web Malzahn wove

Eh-it’s not so tangled after all, let me break it down for you:

Being that I am a UofA (Hogs not Tide) girl my knowledge of Malzahn goes back to his Springdale High days. I can remember all the talk about this awesome quarterback that he had under him at the high school-Mitch Mustain. Mitch and three of his teammates were quickly dubbed the Springdale 4… Malzahn was offered a coaching position at the University of Arkansas and the Springdale 4 were happy to follow their coach! While, then coach Houston Nutt, disagreed with Malzahn on the ground game (no huddle offense) the rest of us were too busy witnessing a thing of beauty to note the disagreement. This thing of beauty was the wildcat offense and I tell you, putting Darren McFadden and Felix Jones on that field together to run this play was enough to spark hope in the heart of every hog fan! But the tension between the two coaches led to Malzahn accepting a position in Tulsa a year after he accepted the position with the UofA coaching team. In 08, after two seasons in Tulsa, Malzahn mosied on down to Auburn to work with Gene Chizik. He stayed put until Dec 2011 when he accepted a head coaching position at Arkansas State University (where again he had players follow him). And then today. Today it was announced that he will be replacing Gene Chizik and he will be back at Auburn, only this time as the head coach.

So what sparked this post you might ask? Today as I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed I saw a few posts from some stAte friends that were shall we say “butt-hurt” over Malzahn’s decision to leave them and head to Auburn. I even saw a comment along the lines of “and we wonder whats wrong with sports today-no loyalty”… WOAH WOAH WOAH (this my friends is a sure tried and true example that women have no business watching sports lol-shut your mouth ma’am!) Sure Malzahn made some comments along the lines of “I’m in it for the long haul” “I want to make a legacy here at stAte” blah blah blah. Here’s the low down: Malzahn didn’t expect Chiziks position to open up so fast and Malzahn owes it to hisself and his family to take his career to the next level when the opportunity arises (sorry Sunbelt, you will not be the place that SEC coaches go to make their legacy). You know who is expected to be loyal in sports? FANS! Not coaches. Coaches are doing a JOB… that’s right, a J-O-B. And so often we get caught up in our own job feeling like we have to be “loyal” to our employer; don’t read this wrong, we should be loyal to an extent, but be smart. [I am in no way encouraging anyone to act out of expected conduct.] In a recent conversation with an HR pro friend of mine she said it like this “Our job in HR is to look out for the best interest of the company we work for, it is not always their job to look out for our best interest.” That’s it, that’s all  she said but there is a profound truth there. All I’m saying is sometimes opportunities will come up that could advance your career and there is a right way to consider them. Malzahn is leaving stAte after an excellent season (9-3) and carrying them to their 2nd straight appearance in the Go Daddy bowl. If you’ve accomplished some great feats at your current place of employment on your way out the door I say that’s not a bad deal for both of you.


1st Job…1st Lesson

Let me pull one out of my memory stash for tonight’s post… I thought about this the other day and it’s worth a share.

My father and my papa were very adamant that you should always be careful how you talk to and treat people, because you may work for them one day. They tried to teach me [even in my teenage girl drama years] that drama is just that, unnecessary, unattractive and enough to make a real world situation awkward. Most lessons that I learned from them had something to do with work. My grandfather [papa] was former military and boy was he proud of that! He didn’t care what the orders were, when he got them he did them! [For the record I loved hearing him talk about WWII and about General Douglas MacArthur!] My dad was/is a dedicated worker bee himself, if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well! Back to the point- I can remember thinking to myself, ya know when I was a teenager and knew more than they did, there is NO WAY I am going to work for someone I don’t like…. pfffffffft! That is just crazy talk!!!!

I’m sure most of you can see where this is headed.

I got my very first job after my very first interview! I remember interviewing for it; I was an absolute nervous wreck! At one point the man interviewing me stopped the interview and asked me if I was nervous? I just nodded my head and he told me I was doing fine and I didn’t have anything to be nervous about. Either he felt sorry for me or I really did do a good job because he hired me. It was a small buffet style restaurant so though I was a waitress it wasn’t a high demanding position because most everyone served themselves. I had that position for less than a month before they also hired my arch nemesis . For those of you that have never been a 16 year old girl this, my friend, is a BIG DEAL. Let me make sure you are getting the whole picture here: small restaraunt that took one waitress on a week night to handle and two on the weekends in a small town (did I ever tell y’all the town I graduated high school from has around 4,000 people in it?) with two of the biggest personalities in the town that just so happened to H-A-T-E each other. HOW on earth could they do this to me?-kill me now!  Ah, well-played universe- I thought my dad and papa were out of their minds because I would never work for someone I didn’t like, but I couldn’t control who I worked next to!  So here I am working for my first employer with my first enemy without the first clue of how to take care of this situation. I honestly had bills to pay and couldn’t just quit, besides the obvious fact that I was there first! We went through a few shifts where she was catty and I was going out of my way to avoid her. Finally, one saturday when we were actually kind of busy she did something spiteful and I pulled her to the side in the kitchen and was like “hey, when we walk out those front doors we hate each other, we can hate each other before we get to our cars in the parking lot, but under this roof-we have a job to do and I have bills to pay so lets not interfere with each other making money and let’s get our job done!” I couldn’t believe what happened next- she received my plea well and before we knew it we were running that place like a couple of professionals! (Don’t get me wrong, we hit those front doors and all was right with the world, we were two teenage girls that couldn’t even look at each other let alone be a “team”).

So my very first lesson was that I didn’t know everything and I wouldn’t always be able to choose who I work for or with. No matter who you are working for or with you need to do your job. You cannot control who else will be hired and who you will be working for, but 9 times out of 10 when you treat someone like an adult, they will behave like an adult.

*As a disclaimer, last time I ran into her we laughed at how ridiculous we were as teenagers. 🙂

Run with a purpose!

I occasionally run, but more often I jog & I surprised myself with an incredible time on my miles per minute and thought “Why can’t I do that more often?” Well today (on the treadmill) it hit me… I ran with a purpose that day. I had a lot of things on my mind to sort out & the treadmill is my favorite place to do that! To be frank they were things that had me all kinds of pissed off so I was running to get over them and that is why my time was so great. But, don’t I always run with a purpose? I like to run, it’s good for me to run isn’t that purpose enough?



What about work? Do you go to work with a purpose everyday? Is your purpose more than a paycheck? Is your purpose more than showing up and checking off your to-do list? Do you work harder when it’s close to review/raise time? Do you come to work to do the same thing you did yesterday or do you come to work to do more than you did yesterday? When you have a routine it’s easy to forget your purpose and just go through the motions. I’m lucky enough to have a job where a new challenge pops up almost daily and if nothing else I get to interact with a different group of people on a daily basis, but that  won’t ensure that we are working with a purpose, I think that has to come from within.



Social Media Part 2: The chronicles…

So as an extension of the last post (go read about it before you read this!) this is the story of the first bad comment on our business Facebook page. GASP I know right? For the  most part we don’t get bad comments on our personal page, I mean Facebook is a place for us to be friends with people who think like us right? ahahahah I kid I kid… moving on.

The Very First Time… So someone gets on our wall and posts some gibberish along the lines of complaining because we didn’t do our job-because we didn’t hire them. Blah-d Blah-d Blah-d. Please, kind sir, step into our office and begin telling us how to recruit. You clearly exhibited a high level of professionalism the first go around so after your Facebook rant we are sold! You are the person we are looking for! I, being responsible for our office operations and our Facebook page, F-R-E-A-K-E-D OUT! What do I do? Who do I ask what to do? This is uncharted territory for us? Commence throwing blank papers in the air and running around in circles screaming useless cries for help. My first answer-do nothing. So, I did nothing. I ran through all kinds of scenarios in my head-including the thought that what if the VP saw it and decided that was it, we were shutting down the Facebook and good riddance! A bit later I had decided that I had crafted the perfect professional response and I was going to handle this like a pro! WRONG. One of our other temp employees had seen it and taken it upon hisself to comment back explaining that my staff and I were beyond excellent at our job and we probably didn’t hire this creep because he wasn’t qualified and clearly sucked at life. Oh. My. Gawsh! What do I do now? Commence throwing blank papers in the air and running around in circles screaming useless cries for help. [let me explain further why they are useless-no one is there to hear me!] Alright, so let me put the kibosh on this-still going to handle it like a pro! WRONG! Now I have given them time to argue and for two more people to jump in, all defending us (which was nice, but irrelevant). With no more energy to run around in circles I decided to delete the whole thread and move on with my life.

What did I learn?

  • That some of our employees recognized our hard work and didn’t hesitate to stand up for that
  • You can never make everyone happy
  • Our reputation was on the line more than ever. Now it wasn’t about someone having a bad experience and telling their neighbor, it was about someone having a bad experience and telling OUR Facebook audience that consists of applicants, current employees, former employees, clients, potential clients, local businesses.
  • We had to take our customer service to the next level
  • We had to work harder
  • And I had to do some research

What do I know now?

  • Don’t hide from the bad comments. Use it as an opportunity to show your audience that you can take constructive criticism and that you care about issues.
  • Don’t delete them!
  • If it’s not a viable complaint, your audience will recognize that and will still take into consideration your response… and sometimes defend  you. [however let me be clear that I don’t support the idea of letting an argument happen on your business page, but that’s up to you!]
  • Don’t delete them!

I messed up the first time because I broke a primary rule, but cut me some slack, remember how I told you it was uncharted territory for us, it’s because it was! Now the second time I handled it like a pro and I’ll tell you all about that one tomorrow!

AAAAAAAGH! Social Media!??!

There are a bazillion posts out there about the many reasons why businesses are/need to be using social media as a marketing platform… In our industry, marketing AND recruiting platform (a little redundant of me considering these two things go hand in hand). It seems though, many businesses fear the “social platform”. As a recruiter, manager and a person who strives to move our industry forward I think that it is important that we dissect our fears and move beyond them. No one ever changed the game by doing things the way “they’ve always been done.”

I recently traveled to our corporate office to give a quick overview of how my office has utilized social recruiting and to brainstorm with a few members on improving our website and other social avenues. The question that every single one of them asked me was in reference to negative comments/feedback. “Can they say something bad about us?” “Can we delete it?” so on and so forth… YES they can say something bad about us, but what are they going to say? YES we can delete it, but why would we? By the way, I have had the “social media fears” conversation with several other businesses as well so I’m inclined to believe that this is a fear for many businesses. Before I explain my response to these questions I do want to shout this out for everyone to hear loud and clear: NO ONE AND LET ME REPEAT, NO ONE, HAS MASTERED THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE BUSINESS WORLD. Right now we are playing games of trial and error and sharing our experiences with others and learning how to track ROI, etc., but none of us have it 100% right yet. If you think you do I’m eager for you to teach us, all of us!

Ok-everyone still with me? It is important that you do not delete the negative comments, but respond to them. I do have an exception to this rule and so far its my only exception; when someone uses bad language. I choose to stand firm in the allowance of deleting these comments because I don’t want to subject our audience to these words. Outside of deleting those comments, if we deleted negative comments we would just be telling the world we live in a fantasy land-one where we don’t believe we ever do anything wrong. I’ve learned that the audience we cater to is going to be far more forgiving if we acknowledge our mistakes and improve than if we pretend they do not exist. I use the negative comments and feedback to publicly address issues and to make my staff aware of our shortcomings. If someone has a bad experience with us I want to know about it. I know we cannot please everyone, but we can please the majority and we can make sure our mission is clear to everyone. By letting my staff know when someone publicly tells us they had a bad experience it holds them accountable and is a reminder to not let anyone slip through the cracks. People will talk about us, good and bad. And please believe they will talk about us and our company whether we have an online presence or not-at least if we have an online presence we have an opportunity to defend ourselves.

The second most common question I get “Doesn’t this make us too vulnerable to our competitors?” NO! We have to stop “hiding” from our competitors. We have to take the risk that we are good enough at our job that we will win out over our competitors. If we hide from them we could very well be hiding from potential consumers. In our line of work we have a lot of competition and I absolutely love that! I am naturally a very competitive person and I believe you cannot be the best until you compete with the best out there and win. “Publishing” our customer list is a scary thought and typically unheard of in our industry (in our area anyway), but my thoughts are this: I know who my competition services and they most likely know who I service… If I’m telling people who I service without reservation it is because I know we have established a relationship with that client that leads me to believe they aren’t going to leave us for the next company. What I am getting at is the ones my competitor should be interested in going after are the ones I won’t openly tell. I’m probably playing them close to the chest for a reason, eh? When we use social media for a marketing/recruiting platform it is putting all of our information out there, it is becoming transparent so not only is it a risk, but a motivating factor to bring your A game to the table every single day, because we can’t afford not to.

This is a topic that I could currently go on and on and on and on about, so I will! The rest of this week I will post some examples of how we handled some of the negative comments, being transparent to our competitors and how social media has grown our business for the better so stay tuned! I’m also eager to hear other examples from you- so please, do tell!

Bonding vs Building

As far as internally at our location we are a small group and we spend a large amount of time together. I’m all for some team building and lesson learning type activities for us to do, but today we kicked it easy and did some bonding. It was a lot of fun and to see the girls appreciate the value of learning more about each other was incredible. (As a young/inexperienced office manager little things like this mean a great deal to me, dont judge me. 🙂 …). Each person gave me two “trivia facts” about themselves that the others probably didn’t know about them. I made a list and had everyone write in their guess on each line and turn it back in. Almost ALL of them were wrong so everyone did a great job digging up little known facts about themselves. At lunch I read off each trivia fact and let the group share who their guess was and why and then the person it was about would confess and then tell the story related to their fact. We learned some hilarious things about each other today! From tattoos, karate chops, “dream” kid names, absolute won’ts and places they’ve traveled. We had so much fun and the timing was perfect.

Team building exercises don’t always have to be work related tasks-sometimes they can just be “bonding”.

Sweat pants? Hired!

Today I had an applicant come in for an interview in sweat pants that were at least two sizes too big, sandals, long johns t shirt and a cartoon character beanie on. She had to hold up her sweat pants when she walked back to my office to speak with me and didn’t bother taking that ridiculous hat off her head… I sat back just staring for a few seconds before I snapped back into the moment. What brought me back? Her talking about the positions that she wanted to be considered for- PROFESSIONAL positions. I had to cut her off and tell her that wasn’t an option and in fact I wouldn’t allow my recruiters to consider her for any position until she came back to the office dressed like she was taking her job search seriously. She immediately took her hat off her head and tugged at her hair to make it straight and sat up straight in her chair and exclaimed that she wouldn’t dress like that for work… Really? I don’t know that and I’m not willing to find out… I politely explained to her that she would be representing my staff and myself if we selected her for a position we had open and I wasn’t comfortable with her representing us in that manner. Now she said she was going to go home and change and come back, but here’s the deal; her first impression has already been made. Think about it.

What has happened that has allowed people to think that the job search shouldn’t be taken seriously?