Eric Harkins is on a mission to make sure Monday morning doesn’t suck. Plain and simple. As the President and Founder of GKG Search & Consulting, he helps organizations Get, Keep, and Grow the best talent. His philosophy is a fairly simple one, but one that he had to earn through the meatgrinder of a 25-year career in corporate America.
In 1995, a 22-year-old Eric finished an executive training program at Target under a boss who reveled in making people miserable. Now officially a manager himself, Eric was called into his boss’ office for some friendly advice.
“Eric, I know you think I’m an asshole,” Eric’s manager began. “And I know everybody in the store thinks I’m an asshole. And I know all the managers in training think I’m an asshole. Well, that’s because I am an asshole. Trust me, you have to be an asshole if you’re a manager. You can’t get people to respect you and do what you want them to do unless you are. If you try to have fun at work or try to get people to like working for you, you’ll fail. Good luck with your career at Target.”
Eric learned a couple of important lessons that day. One: some people are just assholes. Two: this guy was full of shit; don’t be an asshole.
Over the next couple of decades, Eric held a number of positions in corporate America. He was a head of HR three times, working for companies that were Fortune 500, Fortune 100, Fortune 50, publicly traded, privately held, family owned, private equity owned, and consulting based in the retail, healthcare, business-to-business, consumer packaged goods, technology, and career transition services industries. What matters is that he spent that time as a living rejection of that warm advice. Eric became the kind of leader he wanted to follow.
Today, as the president of GKG Search & Consulting, he pulls no punches with the companies that hire him. He is quick to find out what is working and what doesn’t. He knows that work can and should be fun. He knows that low-performers don’t leave on their own. And he knows that assholes don’t change their stripes.
Beyond his consultant work, Eric is a keynote speaker helping leader’s around the world realize that work can be better: that dreading Mondays is simply a managerial failure that can be corrected. His book distills his message into relatable, indispensable guides for the modern leader.
Eric lives in Minnesota with his wife Jennifer. They have two kids: Laurynn and Jack.