Tag Archives: Wall Street Journal

The High Cost of a Bad Hire at Mozilla

Questionable HR comes with a high cost

Should the personal beliefs of a CEO don one issue determine if they are qualified to run a company or not.  Based on the recent series of events at Mozilla, the answer seems to be a resounding yes.

Brendan Eich speaking on "browser wars: d...

 HR problems took down the entire management structure at Mozilla in the last 30 days.

I missed a lot of the first furor over the Brendan Eich situation at Mozilla.

According to CNET:


Eich had built a strong following as co-founder of Mozilla, a savvy fighter for the Web, inventor of JavaScript, and leader of the Firefox and Firefox OS projects. His promotion to Mozilla chief executive officer from chief technology officer last week was a rare techie triumph over the usual business-school demographic.

Much of that credit evaporated as he struggled to reconcile his 2008 contribution of $1,000 to Proposition 8, a California measure against gay marriage, with Mozilla’s explicit culture of inclusiveness. That inclusiveness is central to the world-spanning organization’s breadth, and Eich told CNET in an interview that it protected his own views, too.

But his argument didn’t persuade critics, and Mozilla management — accustomed to taking the moral high ground — had to defend itself from boycotts and outrage.

Eich tried to lay these concerns to rest, addressing them in a blog post on his personal site in which he sets forth his views and commitment on Inclusiveness at Mozilla.

 ….I ask for your ongoing help to make Mozilla a place of equality and welcome for all. Here are my commitments, and here’s what you can expect:

  • Active commitment to equality in everything we do, from employment to events to community-building.
  • Working with LGBT communities and allies, to listen and learn what does and doesn’t make Mozilla supportive and welcoming.
  • My ongoing commitment to our Community Participation Guidelines, our inclusive health benefits, our anti-discrimination policies, and the spirit that underlies all of these.
  • My personal commitment to work on new initiatives to reach out to those who feel excluded or who have been marginalized in ways that makes their contributing to Mozilla and to open source difficult. More on this last item below.

Despite these efforts, the Mozilla CEO ultimately decided to resign due to the on-going controversy concerning his contribution to a group supporting California’s anti-gay Proposition 8.  This followed the resignations of three Mozilla board members who had previously stepped down over Eich’s appointment.  That’s a significant amount of fallout for any organization, but especially significant for a business like Mozilla, a non-profit competing against huge competitors like Microsoft and Google.

HR problems brought down the Board and the CEO.  Organizational values, succession planning, background checks, talent selection, fit to hire and even something as basic as a background check all played a part in this drama.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the three departing directors resigned over the Eich hiring , believing that the company needed to hire someone with different qualifications, specifically someone more experienced in mobile. It’s likely that Mozilla’s approach in selecting the next CEO will look significantly different.


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AFSCME fights negative press via video

Stop the Lies

This short video “defends” public sector employees by pushing back against charges from some sectors of the media that labor unions who represent public sector employees are largely responsible for many of the budget issues that states are currently dealing with.    Check out the video and let me know if it makes an impression on you in way over this debate.

Personally, I think it plays to membership of these unions, and doesn’t do much in terms of advancing the argument into the court of public opinion.  I’d be curious to hear what your thoughts are.

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Business in United States should expect more government regulation

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 Government by Executive Order

There is an important story about possible new initiatives aimed at employers running in the Wall Street Journal today.     If you haven’t seen the story titled Government by Executive Order, you can read it in its entirety here .  Registration may be required.  If you prefer the Cliff’s notes version, here are some of the highlights about how DOL is greaing up to “push the country to a better place” by using Executive Order from the White House and enforcement action to alter the rules on how business in America operates.

More Stringent Rules for Business

On Sept. 22, Labor’s Office of the Solicitor—which employs 400 attorneys to enforce the nation’s labor laws—issued a draft “operating plan” to dramatically increase pressure on employers. A source inside the department says the plan has been adopted.

Patricia Smith, who heads the solicitor’s office, told me in an interview yesterday that the plan is a “living document” that will “never be finalized.”

Whatever its status, it includes the following items as possibilities:

  • Identify a public affairs liaison in each Regional Office” to “send stronger, clearer messages to the regulated community about DOL’s emphasis on litigation.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) division will be to “deter [employers] through shaming.
  • Engage in enterprise-wide enforcement, including targeting multiple work sites of the same company,  visits by multiple agencies on the same day such as the Wage and Hour Division and from OSHA, and  shorter deadlines for implementing remedial measures in conciliation agreements and consent decrees.
  • Greater use of injunctive relief, which means using court injunctions rather than fines to enforce compliance.
  • Identify and pursue test cases that stretch current laws.

While the Department of Labor prepares for a hyper-aggressive enforcement strategy against business, it has rolled back Bush-era reforms mandating greater union transparency. Just this week the department rescinded its Form T-1, which required unions to report on strike funds and other accounts under union control.

None of this bodes well for employers in the United States.  As always, if you are an HR practitioner, I urge you to stay aware of these developing actions, and prepare your company ahead of time so that you can be in the best possible situation if you should be subject to more stringent enforcement.

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The Art of Staying Sane When Work Gets Crazy

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Work is demanding!

Today marks 30 calendar days since I had my last day off at work.  It has been 15 years since I worked that many consecutive days without a break.  This is not a complaint about the awfulness of my employer or being unfairly treated.  The employer isn’t awful, and I am not being treated unfairly.

What happens when you work 30 straight days?

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to become focused and cranky, and my personal bandwidth narrows tremendously.    It becomes difficult to think about anything but the project, and I pretty much abandon my personal life.

This can be very unhealthy on an emotional level.

Once upon a time, an unhealthy workaholic

Looking back fifteen years, I didn’t just work 30 consecutive days a lot, I worked 6-7 days a week for months on end. Nobody was twisting my arm.   Much of the work I was doing in these extra hours was just busy work.  I was at the office because it was the only place that I was allowing to have any space in my life.   This period of my life was not the best time I have ever had.  I rarely get depressed, but for reasons that are still not clear, I become very morose about my life and my place in the universe.  I was NOT suicidal, but I didn’t like myself, or anyone else very much at all.   No matter where I was, I wanted to be somewhere else.  No matter what I tried to do, I lost interest almost immediately.   I had no focus in life outside of two things, going to work every day, and doing what I needed to do to support my family.

The sad part is that while I was working to support my family, and spending 60-70 hours a week at the office, I also resented the obligations, and frankly hated most of the hours that I spent doing what I believed I had to do.   I didn’t do bad work. I actually was pretty successful during this time.  But inside, I was unhappy and sinking deeper into unhappiness every day.

I had only myself to blame.  I failed to realize that in order to enjoy life, you have to be a balanced individual, not just some work obsessed stiff who was unable to have an iota of fun.   Fortunately, I finally decided to talk to someone at our EAP about my frustrations, and general anger with life.    He turned out to be own personal Yoda.  We went through several sessions of typical shrink psycho-bullshit which pissed me off and left me unenthusiastic about the process and any prospects for success.  And then one day, halfway through a session, he asked me this question:

“What do you like to do for yourself?”

I didn’t have a clue.  The best answers I could come up with were “read books and see movies”.   It was at that moment that Ted gave me one of the most significant pieces of advice that anyone has ever given me in my life.   He wrote the following single line on his prescription pad and told me not to come back to see him until I could tell him how I had solved what he had written.   His prescription for my issues was as follows:

Find something that you want to do just for yourself and go do it

It took me quite a while to really figure this out, but I was able to use this advice to get the process started.

I had always wanted to travel, but could never really afford it, but I decided I was going to figure out how to do some traveling.    I did some camping.   I planned short weekend trips to places I had never been.   I stopped going to the office 7 days a week.  I began to invest time in myself, and this helped me to become a much healthier and well rounded individual.  I began to appreciate my family again.   I changed jobs into a position that met my professional needs much better, and offered me a chance to travel.  I changed a long standing personal policy about never socializing with people from work, and actually began to develop personal friendships at the place where we spend the most time.

It took some personal effort, but I learned not to spend time at the office on the weekends unless it was absolutely necessary.  I began to use all my vacation every year, instead of turning days or weeks back in, or getting paid in lieu of time off.  I actually went out and got a life.

Tips for getting your own life back

  1. Never forget that you are your most important personal asset.   You need to make sure that you are providing yourself with sustenance on a physical, profession, emotional and spiritual level in order to have a fully rounded life.
  2. Make time to relax.  Use your vacation.
  3. Don’t sublimate.   Follow your passion. Don’t let work and obligation derail from some time with those things that nurture your soul and spirit.
  4. If you find yourself growing resentful and angry, take the time to reflect on why this is happening.  It is impossible to work your way through this if you are imbalanced in your personal and professional life.
  5. Analyze your self-established limitations.   Are you living up to impossible rules and standards for no good reason?  Stop it, now!
  6. Are you staying in a bad situation because of obligation?  If so, evaluate it carefully.  It could be literally killing you.
  7. Go get help if you need to. I did, and it paid off.
  8. Find something that you want to do just for yourself and go do it

I promise, it won’t hurt, and it might even help!

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