HR Management & Compliance

No Recognition for 47 Years

“Soft stuff gets hard results,” says David Novak, Chairman and CEO, Yum! Brands, speaking of the power of recognition. He ought to know, as he’s in charge of recognizing 1.4 million associates in over 40,000 KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell restaurants in 125 countries.

Novak is the author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling book, TAKING PEOPLE WITH YOU: the Only Way to Make BIG Things Happen. He offered his thoughts on leadership at the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition, held recently in Orlando.

No Recognition for 47 Years

Novak tells the story of a visit to talk to route salespeople about merchandising and display visibility. One by one, the people in the group were raving about Bob and what a great job he did. Bob was crying. Why? In his 47 years with the company, he never knew that people felt that way.

That experience helped Novak decide that he was going to make recognition a priority, and do it in a fun way. For his KFC people, it involved a rubber chicken. With Pizza Hut, it was the cheese head. People love it, and, silly as the rewards may seem, employees are moved emotionally, Novak says. People told Novak that the rubber chicken approach was fine in the United States, but it wouldn’t work in the UK or Asia. “Not true,” Novak says. “Soft stuff gets hard results.”

Leadership Training

Novak started teaching a 3-day leadership program in 1998 with a handful of European managers. He scaled the program to where he has now trained 4,000 managers. How can he afford to spend so much time on that?

“People first, results will follow. It has the biggest payout of anything I do,” Novak says.

When he realized he had only reached 4,000 of his 1.4 million employees, he felt the need to write a book.

Leadership tip: If you found a hotshot replacement for yourself—what would that person do that you are not doing? “Do it yourself before someone else takes your job.”

Novak notes that in line with Yum!’s corporate responsibility target—world hunger—all the proceeds from the book and from his speaking engagements go toward eliminating world hunger.


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Listening Would Have Paid Off

Celebrate other people’s ideas—so they want to bring more to you. And then, listen to them, Novak says.

When he was at Pepsi, sales were down, but all clear products were doing well. So, he said, what about a clear Pepsi? Customers said, Great idea.
He now felt like a genius, and he went to the bottlers because he had to sell them on the idea. They didn’t like the idea, because the product didn’t taste like Pepsi. Novak replied, “We don’t want it to,” and introduced it at a premium price. It was profitable and was named one of the 10 top new products of the year.
Unfortunately, no one ever bought it a second time—because it didn’t taste like Pepsi. One year after being named a top 10 best product, it was listed in the top eight failures.

If he had listened, he could have avoided all that, but he was “hell-bent” on doing what he wanted to do.

Magic Johnson, Passer

When Magic Johnson revealed that he was HIV positive, he was worried about public perception. Pepsi said, “We’re 100 percent behind you.” When Johnson was asked what it was like during his high school years, he said he was scoring 70 points per game—and no one was happy. So he became the best passer in the league.

“It’s the power of me to we,” says Novak.

Tiptoe or Cannonball?

Novak tells of sitting by a pool. One person entered the cold water daintily, but a little kid cannonballed in, causing ripples all over the pool. That’s your choice, says Novak. You can stick your toe in, or you can buy 1,000 copies of my book, jump in, and cause ripples.

One pool that every HR manager is going to be cannonballing into is the ACA pool. 2014, 2015, and even 2016 planning is happening now. What should you be doing?  Fortunately, there’s timely help in the form of BLR’s new webinar—HR’s 2015 ACA Update: Play or Pay Mandates, State Laws, Hobby Lobby & More. In just 90 minutes, you’ll learn everything you need to know about ACA planning and decision making.

Register today for this interactive webinar.


Affordable Care Act hassles? You’re not alone, but we can help. Join us September 9 for a new interactive webinar, HR’s 2015 ACA Update: Play or Pay Mandates, State Laws, Hobby Lobby & More. Earn 1.5 hours in HRCI Recertification Credit. Register Now


By participating in this interactive webinar, you and your colleagues will learn:

  • The latest on upcoming ACA “play or pay” 2015–2016 deadlines, and what you need to know about recent updates to ACA regulations
  • Predictions on new laws Congress may issue as a result of the Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling
  • The pluses and minuses of providing affordable healthcare options that meet ACA standards or choosing another option that could involve excise taxes
  • When to start thinking about excise taxes versus compliance—and how to avoid unwanted fees
  • An overview of ACA IRS reporting requirements
  • Why the Court’s Hobby Lobby decision is one of the most highly awaited rulings of the 2014 term, which ended June 30
  • The practical impact of the Court’s ruling on corporations—which types of organizations can breathe a sigh of ACA relief under the Court’s ruling
  • Pending court challenges to the ACA, and whether the Hobby Lobby decision may affect them or invite more challenges
  • The definition of a “closely held” company—and why it may be particularly important for organizations to understand the meaning
  • The state laws that could affect whether a company benefits from the Court’s decision—and whether backlash lawsuits will likely result
  • And more!

Register now for this event risk-free.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014
1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Eastern)
12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Central)
11:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Mountain)
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (Pacific)

Approved for Recertification Credit

This program has been approved for 1.5 credit hours toward recertification through the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI).

Join us on September 9—you’ll get the in-depth HR’s 2015 ACA Update: Play or Pay Mandates, State Laws, Hobby Lobby & More webinar AND you’ll get all of your particular questions answered by our experts.

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Train Your Entire Staff

As with all BLR/HR Hero® webinars:

  • Train all the staff you can fit around a conference phone.
  • Get your (and their) specific phoned-in or e-mailed questions answered in Q&A sessions that follow each segment of the presentation.

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