Dealing with Difficult Co-workers

mean coworker

Ideally, you form strong bonds with the people you spend 40 hours with each week. But, according to Douglas Battista, that doesn’t always happen. At best, you’re cordial, but you each mind your own business in the off hours. At worst, those who share your office are certifiable jerks.

But how do you deal with an uncomfortable environment when it falls short of hostile and doesn’t really warrant a trip to HR? Douglas Battista says your first course of action, which is also the most direct, is to simply talk to the people whom you perceive to be unpleasant. Sometimes, they may not realize their behaviors are interpreted negatively. For example, you have a coworker that only responds with basic facts when approached with a question. Your expectation is friendly conversation mixed in with information about the question at hand. Your coworker may be sticking to the facts because they don’t want you to feel as though they’re wasting your time.

When polite confrontation doesn’t help, Douglas Battista advocates limited interaction. Remain positive and upbeat when interacting with the offending individuals, but don’t go out of your way to befriend them either personally or professionally.

Sometimes, you may simply not fit with the culture of your workplace. Your personality, prior job experience, and other factors can leave you feeling like everyone in your office is a curmudgeon, and them feeling the same about you. Douglas Battista asserts that, in this case, changing jobs may be your best bet. If that’s less than desirable, talk to your boss about moving into a different department. The “mood” may be different in customer service, for example, than it is in IT.

If changing jobs or departments is not an option, and confrontation has failed to come to a mutual understanding, and avoiding the negative people isn’t an option, you will have to learn to let it go, asserts Douglas Battista. People who are unhappy will try to project that onto everyone they come into contact with. It is completely up to you whether or not they are successful.


When Opportunity Knocks…from CHRO to President of Operations

By Joe Gonzalez, Human Capital/Talent Executive Search & Advisement


Our firm has the privilege of working with exceptional CEOs, Private Equity Firms and CHROs in placing Human Capital/Talent leadership nationwide. The interview I am about to share with you is what I refer to as “The Holy Grail”. For decades one of the most significant challenges for human resources leadership is their level of business acumen and the alignment of their function with the desired business outcomes.

In my multiple conversations with Doug Battista for this interview, he always exuded a humble appreciation for the opportunities he has been given in his career. His early experiences with Aramark under exceptional HR leaders like Ed Evans, provided the insights needed to understand the business needs and desired outcomes. While leading talent acquisition for Nestle USA, he was given the opportunity to be the CHRO for their Jenny Craig division, which was eventually spun off to private equity. After which, he opted to stay with the company.

He will be sharing a story of courage, a willingness to take intelligent risk, and an approach that brought significant business outcomes.

Under Doug’s strategy as President of Operations, Jenny Craig was able to grow their revenue by 27% and improved EBITA from <0 to a multi-million dollar improvement, which led to a successful event for their PE partner.

JOE: What prompted you to believe you could transition from CHRO to VP of Operations during a challenging time of transformation?

DOUG: Our business was operating in negative EBITDA territory. I recognized that our businesses turnaround needed to be fueled by a human capital plan that aligned with the company strategy. Based on my experience and passion for leading human capital initiatives, I believed I could do the job. Fortunately, my assumptions were correct. Having the right people, focused on the right things in a highly collaborative way, would be a winning strategy for us.

JOE: Describe your process and business transformation strategy?

DOUG: I traveled to 50 markets throughout North America, engaging a range of people which included: front line employees, board members, and industry experts to devise our new Service Strategy. The delivery model, prioritizing customer success in a new way through consultant coaching, would enhance repeat customer visits and improve revenues. Although there was substantial evidence of what customer success looked like, it was a test of my resolve to implement the changes needed. There would be a significant investment of time and resources required, which tested my level of courage. I have newfound respect for business leaders going through significant change efforts.

JOE: How much support did you receive initially from the Executive Leadership Team and PE firm?

DOUG: Although my CEO Monty Sharma was a bit surprised when I raised my hand for the role, he was extremely supportive. Putting me in front of his Board of Directors with my proposal took a lot of courage as well. It took a while to get the backing of the Executive Leadership Team and a couple Board members, but after completing round table sessions with leaders, including the PE firm, we gained alignment. Once we began seeing results, they became more supportive. The process would take time, which seemed like an eternity when we were going through it. Effective leadership requires patience.

JOE: What were the critical turning points? Those that reinforced your strategy was working? 

DOUG: Once the financial metrics in the pilot markets significantly improved, we knew we were on to something. The higher levels in our revenue-per-client visit, client value, and labor efficiency were undeniable. We spent a lot of time setting the vision, getting the right talent, training up our teams and constantly communicating our objectives. Once the strategy began to work, people really bought in, we were winning! People love to win.

JOE: Describe your organizational design/talent transformation?

DOUG: Aligning the organization and talent with our new model was a massive change management effort that included:

  • Redesigning the role of front line employees
  • Training and certifying front line employees, equipping them for the new strategy
  • Aligning the compensation/rewards programs
  • Implementing new metrics to measure our results

Finally, we had to make those tough decisions. Removing those unwilling or unable to make the change was critical to our success.

“Understanding talent implications as the President of Operations is vital.”

JOE: Explain the culture needed to achieve the desired business outcomes.

DOUG: The culture we drove was driven by coordination, commitment, and accountability. To be successful, I needed to have my direct reports 100% coordinated and committed around our Service Strategy. Once the team was committed and coordinated, we began driving commitment throughout the organization. My team and I spent 6 months on-the-road building relationships and conducting round-table discussions with our 1,800 front-line employees throughout North America.

Finally, we drove a culture of “Supportive Accountability”, challenging our team to overcome any obstacles. I oftentimes asked, “what actions are we going to take to overcome this challenge and achieve our goal?” In short, I challenged them to be great, providing the support they needed, but not allowing any excuses to get in our way.

JOE: What personal/professional development did you go through? 

DOUG: I’ve been fortunate to go through this tremendous development process. First, learning the financials: cash flow, balance sheet, and income statement. Second, understanding how to succeed in the Private equity world. As I continue my growth, with the help of my business coach, my focus is on the importance of setting a future state, project planning, and creating/executing specific actions to achieve that future state.

I must recognize those in my career/life that have been instrumental in my development:

Ed Evans, who taught me that sometimes we must sacrifice doing things the “right way” to do the “right thing”.

Tom Horn, for hiring me after earning my degree at Niagara University, then mentoring me on recruitment and selection.

Andy Martin, for teaching me how to be a business partner.

Monty Sharma, for believing in me and teaching me how to run a business.

John Young, who guided me in the creation of our Service model and stood by me during the journey.

JOE: You mentioned you added quants to your team. What led to that decision?

DOUG: I added quants to help me answer key questions about the business. For example, we needed to know how successful each employee was at delivering on our Service strategy. We wouldn’t have achieved our success without the analytics team creating the correct metrics and analysis.

JOE: Alignment of the business and human resources can often be challenging. Will you provide us insight on what both sides can do to partner more effectively when it comes to achieving their needed talent strategy?

DOUG: We all know that getting the right talent is so critical for business success. We all say it; however, we’ve all experienced business leaders who don’t walk the talk. My guidance is for business leaders is to make talent a priority and engage the HR team in the business. Insist that HR attend the company training sessions, business reviews, site visits, etc. Without understanding the business, they won’t be able to establish talent strategies that move the business forward. If you have given them the opportunity to learn the business and they are not getting it, you need to find those that do.

For HR leaders, KNOW YOUR BUSINESS. Then, focus on talent optimization that aligns and drives business outcomes. Be willing to take intelligent risks. One example, if talent assessment and succession planning is a once-per year activity, you’re likely off-track.

JOE: So after your experience as President of Operations, What’s next?

DOUG: I know that getting the right talent, culture and leadership in place is critical to business success. I’ve led these efforts as an HR and Ops leader, and have had the good fortune of working with great people who helped me develop my skills.  I’m excited to give back with what I’ve learned and be a contribution.

JOE: Below is an article that provides insights into why someone with Doug’s background could be successful as a business leader coming out of HR.

Harvard Business Review, Why Chief HR Officers Make Great CEOs

His success validates what we always say, Talent Wins!


Douglas Battista: Key Attributes of a Winning Talent Acquisition Function

Doug BattistaMost CEOs understand that having the right talent is critical to a business’s success, especially in today’s fast-changing marketplace. Therefore, a company’s approach to talent acquisition has become a big priority for Human Capital leaders.  But what is this approach? Douglas Battista explains below.

According to Douglas Battista, today’s talent acquisition leaders must be focused on the following key attributes of a winning talent acquisition program.
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Organizational Alignment the Key to Success, says Douglas Battista

Doug BattistaHiring key players within a company’s management team is a difficult job, says Douglas Battista. However, it is an investment of time, money, and energy that can pay off for businesses both big and small. More than just inserting people with experience, Douglas Battista says a management team should have similar views and values when it comes to everything from operational processes to company culture.

Q: Why is it important for management to be on the same page?

Douglas Battista: There are many reasons this is critical to a company’s success. First, when the decision-makers have the same end goals in mind, they don’t waste time chasing products or procedures that don’t lend to these goals. This reduces friction and keeps wasted labor and unproductive time to a minimum.

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Douglas Battista | What is Company Culture?

Doug BattistaCompany culture is a particular business’s set of values. It is apparent in the way they conduct their day-to-day operations, from how staff members interact with one another to the way company leaders encourage work/life balance, says Douglas Batista. Here, Battista answers a few questions about company culture and why it matters.

Q: Why is corporate culture important for employees?

Douglas Battista: A company’s culture is its environment. It’s the things that make a business either an enjoyable place to work or the stuff of nightmares. Corporate culture is largely responsible for job satisfaction, and perhaps even more so than salary. An employee who is not happy with the way their company is ran will not be as productive and won’t likely live up to their professional potential.

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Douglas Battista: Hard and Soft Skills Remain in Demand

Douglas BattistaThe US labor market remains tight with some of the lowest unemployment numbers seen in recent history. Most industries, especially those revolving around IT, continue to experience labor shortages, says Douglas Batista.

Q: What type of skills are employers looking for?

Douglas Battista: That depends upon the employer and which type of skill set you’re talking about. There are hard skills, which are those taught in school and gained with experience, and soft skills, characteristics that are linked to an individual’s personality. Sought-after hard skills include data presentation, SEO marketing, and data mining. Soft skills that never go out of style (but always seem in short supply) are leadership, time management, and communication.

Q: Why is the tech industry experiencing such massive growth?

Douglas Battista: There is little doubt that technology in all its forms is growing at an unprecedented speed. And that means more workers are needed to fill gaps, support current systems, and create the technological innovations of tomorrow. One of the most in-demand skills is cloud computing followed closely by statistical analysis and software engineering.

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Douglas Battista: Tesla Going Private?

Douglas BattistaIn August, Elon Musk announced his desire to take his company, Tesla, private. After this process, which is known as a leveraged buyout, Tesla would no longer be a publicly traded entity. Here, Douglas Battista keeps us up to date on the latest from Elon Musk and the Tesla company.

Q: When did Elon Musk announce his desire to take Tesla private?

Douglas Battista: On August 7th, Elon Musk made a public statement that he was interested in making Tesla a private company. Later that day, he sent an email to his employees explaining his rationale for the decision, which is not yet final.

Q: What benefit would Tesla receive by doing so?

Douglas Battista: First, it is important to know what a leveraged buyout (LBO) is. An LBO is the practice of a company’s management, founders, or others with a connection to the firm buying said company using outside funds, muck like buying a home. A “down payment” equating to 10- to 40 percent is almost always required. Usually, the money is borrowed using the company’s projected cash flow as security. Musk noted that pulling out of public trading would protect Tesla from volatile market shifts.  

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Douglas Battista | Mexico, Canada Push to Avoid NAFTA Sunset Clause

Douglas BattistaPresident Donald Trump made news recently when he suggested, in what is now being referred to as the sunset clause, that NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement – be ended within the next five years.

According to Douglas Battista, Mexican and Canadian officials continue insist that NAFTA should be a trilateral agreement. The two countries recently converged to state their opposition of the proposed ending. NAFTA, which went into effect 24 years ago, allows tariff-free trade on most goods manufactured and sold within the three North American nations.

US President Donald Trump has been vocal throughout his administration in his belief that NAFTA does not serve the interests of the US people. Douglas Battista notes that as of July 2018, talks were planned between Mexico and Canada and the potential for carrying on the agreement between the two countries is a possibility. However, Mexican officials have also planned meetings in the United States to ensure the agreement remains intact from north to south.

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Q & A with Douglas Battista | Today’s Professionals

Douglas BattistaThe generation coined “millennials” has finally taken over the world of business, says Douglas Battista. And while many traditionalists believe these tech-savvy-social-media-loving young adults walk around with a silver spoon in one hand and a trophy in the other, today’s 20-somethings are more able and adaptable than they are given credit for.

Q: Who are the millennials?

Douglas Battista: Generally speaking, a millennial is an individual born between the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s.

Q: How are they different from other generations?

Douglas Battista: Millennials are the first generation to grow up with technology as we know it today. Even persons born in 1980 remember rotary phones and console TVs that were large enough to be a piece of furniture. This group is (for now) the most comfortable with technology and thinks very little about how iPhones and tablets changes the world. For them, having access to information 100% of the time is normal. Millennials also tend to believe in avoiding most face-to-face interactions, opting to put “pointless” meeting time to better use solving problems or simply getting things done.

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Q & A with Douglas Battista – Sleep Deprivation and Workplace Efficiency

Doug BattistaIn today’s always-on digital society, sleep has become an elusive luxury. There are a number of reasons for this lack of rest but experts agree that using mobile devices right before bedtime is a significant contributor. Here, Jenny Craig executive Douglas Battista shares his insight on the link between Instagram & insomnia and Facebook & fatigue.

Q: How common is sleep deprivation?

Douglas Battista: Insomnia is a common complaint with more than three million cases diagnosed each year with an untold number of sufferers failing to seek treatment. It is estimated that insomnia results in more than $63 billion in lost productivity annually in the United States alone.

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