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July 2013

Diversity Training at Target: It's Easy to Be Critical If You've Never Dealt With the Craziness...

Topic: Training for Managers

Reality: In order for training to be meaningful and <gasp!> actually help, training needs to be specific.  

From the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Category: In today's 24/7 news world, if you make managerial training specific enough to help, some employees might be offended that you're being specific.  Public criticism will ensue.  It will be used against you in a court of law.  So there's that.

Moral of the Story: You have to be brave these days to do meaningful training.  Skin like a Rhino - also helpful.

Why this type of lead?  Target has managerial training/guides to deal with specific situations that came to light during a recent discrimination case.  As you might expect, it makes for an easy target (pun intended).  

More from the Huffington Post report:

"Target uses theoretical scenarios to teach its supervisors how to deal with, for example, workers who are scared of Muslims, or Latino employees who blame supervisor criticism on racism, and many other situations related to diversity and discrimination that may come up in the workplace, The Huffington Post has learned.

A 49-page internal document obtained by HuffPost entitled “Diversity Scripts for Stores” sheds light on how the company is supposed to deal with potentially inflammatory workplace issues as it faces a discrimination lawsuit filed by three former employees earlier this month.

The scripts present a long list of possible scenarios in which managers and employees discuss race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disabilities and other topics. “The Diversity Scripts empower leaders to address difficult and real-life diversity situations,” the document says. “Some scenarios are overt, others are subtle, but all provide a model of how to initiate coaching and follow-up conversations.”

The problem that people have with the document is the stereotypes that are used as content.  More from the Post:

"Since each scenario laid out in the document is so specific, the scripts are probably based on real problems that Target has had to deal with in the past. Still, since many of the scripts traffic in certain clichés, the company may be “exacerbating some of these stereotypes rather than mitigating them,” Beard said.

“In real corporate life, you’re going to be surprised,” he said. “When these stereotypes don’t hold, that’s what will really throw managers a loop.”

Despite efforts to curb discriminatory behavior, another Target training document ran into just that problem."

The three former warehouse workers who are currently suing the retailer in California's Yolo County cited in their complaint a document distributed to warehouse managers that addressed Hispanic stereotypes. The document, called “Organization Effectiveness, Employee and Labor Relations Multi-Cultural Tips,” noted that not all Hispanics eat tacos and burritos, dance to salsa or wear sombreros.

Target acknowledged the existence of the document, and said it was only used at one warehouse without approval from the corporate office. The company apologized for its contents.

The "Diversity Scripts," on the other hand, are corporate-approved and are distributed to Target stores. 

Here's a real example from the current Target training, under the category of Diversity Scripts.  You can find others embedded in the article above. Check it out and let's debrief below:

O-TARGET-DIVERSITY-DOCUMENT-570
O-TARGET-DIVERSITY-DOCUMENT-570 (1)

As training guides go, I'm not sure I've seen anything better.  Lays out the scenario for skill practice, gives some hints and allows for live role play, both with what's featured and I can also see freestyle role play emulating from this scenario as well.  The structure is pretty damn solid.

In terms of content, I get the sensitivity to stereotypes.  But I think you have to talk about stereotypes to help managers broaden thinking in the workplace.

But it talks about Muslims!

Yeah, I know. Just like the unenlightened do in your workplace.  Stuff that real employees say.  In order to get managers prepped and fluid enough to deal with specifics, you've got to outline the specifics.  But of course, it's framed as a problem by the media.

Well done, Target.  Don't stop doing what you do.  Maybe challenge yourself on references to burritos and other inflammatory stuff, but strive to keep it meaningful.

After all, if you don't keep it real, managers won't learn a damn thing from it.  If managers laugh at those references and cause your company risk by referring to the training across their teams, the managers probably need to go.


One Way to "Lean In": Offer a Referral Bonus for Husband Candidates..

I'm on record as being an advocate for career women.  I was raised by working women and have a spouse with a professional identity.  Then I up and invested in a woman-owed company led by one of the hardest-charging (in a good way) female leaders you'll find.  

Recently, the Kinetix Book Club started reading Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.  I haven't heard how that's going, but it made me intrigued enough to share the following entry from the field from a lady who's decided she needs to find a Sandberg-style husband.  After all, potential husbands happy to switch traditional roles aren't just going to find themselves.  

More from Agency Spy with a hat tip to Valleywag:

"I just finished the book “Lean In.” And whether you’re a fan of this feminist social movement is neither here nor there. What is here is an idea that came to me after reading this book. I thought, “I get it, I need to sit at the table. I need to be deeply committed to becoming a leader.” Got it. I’m on it. And then I thought, “It’s 11PM on a Sunday night, I’m single, I just had to squirt dish soap on leftover pizza so I wouldn’t eat 2 more slices and this is the second self-help book I’ve read this month.”

And then it was as if Sheryl Sandberg and Patti Stanger bitch slapped me across the face with a soaking wet “stop being single” towel. If I wanted a new job, would I sit in the lobby of the employer’s building just hoping that someone would offer me my dream job? No. If I want a husband, will he just show up out of thin air and ask me to hang out with him for the rest of his life? No. Okay—maybe if I looked like Kate Upton. But I don’t. (However, in 2005 the freshman class of my sorority did say that Charlize Theron was my doppelganger. Yes, we might have been hazing them. Yes, they might have been blind folded. But they said it.) So yeah, I’m not Kate Upton. You get the point.

I will personally give ten thousand dollars to the friend who introduces me to my husband.

Here is how the referral program works:
Step 1: You set me up on a date with a man
Step 2: I marry that man
Step 3: I give you $10,000 on my wedding day"

I like it.  The basis for any referral program has to be a call to action/reward strong enough to make someone go through the exercise of digging through their contacts/LinkedIn and figuring out, "who do I know that would be great for that role?"

Why should finding a husband work any differently than finding a Ruby Rails developer from a referral perspective?


Why An Incubator Inside Your Company is Money Well Spent (as told by "The Wire")...

Everyone hates spending money on people not directly tied to revenue.  For most companies, true R&D budgets are a thing of the past.  Should they be?  For big companies, the answer has to be no - milking the cash cow box in the magic quadrant only works for so long.  Eventually, something's going to run up on you and take you out.  Just ask Kodak, and these days you could probably add Dell to that list, and I'm sure you can come up with others.

Another example of the need to figure out a way to innovate is Microsoft, which is now Billions of Wire-poster dollars into development of web services without much to show for it.  True, the Xbox division is a hit without question, but the whole PC monopoly thing is obviously on shaky ground.

Recently there was a great comparison in Slate - contrasting Microsoft with the crime organization that was the back-story in the cult classic HBO series "The Wire".  Even if you never picked up The Wire (widely regarded as the best series ever on pay TV), you have to appreciate the comparison.  

More from Slate:

"What does Microsoft in the Ballmer era have in common with drug kingpin Avon Barksdale’s organization in The Wire? For years, both of them had the strongest package. They owned their territory, owned their market, owned their users. They were untouchable. Then times changed, bringing new competitors with new, intense products. Their own product went weak. But they couldn’t let go. “We got a weak product, and we holding on to prime real estate with no muscle,” Avon’s cerebral second-in-command, Stringer Bell, complains to him. For the Barksdale organization, the product was heroin and the real estate was the drug-ravaged Franklin Towers housing project. For Microsoft, the product is Windows and the real estate is the PC.

“We fought for every one of them Towers,” says Avon’s loyal sister, Brianna, “and to give them up now would mark us as weak.” The Towers were their pride and their security. Likewise, Microsoft hung onto their PC towers. They fought for them, even took on a massive antitrust lawsuit for them. As David Bank wrote in Breaking Windows: How Bill Gates Fumbled the Future of Microsoft, after Internet Explorer displaced Netscape Navigator in the ’90s, a debate ensued within Microsoft between the “doves,” who wanted Microsoft to embrace the Internet with or without Windows, and the “hawks,” who wanted to make Windows a mandatory part of the Internet experience. The hawkish position refused to accept the inevitable: The Windows high—like any high—would fade. Desktop apps would give way to far more addictive Internet sites."

Go read the whole thing - it's a great pop culture/real world contrast.  

So incubators and looking for what's next make sense, regardless of the world you live in.  The question basically comes down to this - is it cheaper to fund R&D that's not directly tied to revenue or to write a big check to acquire whatever is threatening your hedgmony down the road (hello Facebook, meet Instagram)?

If you plan is to acquire whatever threatens you, you better do it before there are 5 other competitors chasing the same innovation, and hope you're not to late.  Just ask Avon Barksdale.  


More "Us vs. Them" When Key People Leave Your Company...

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about not being weak when people decide to leave your company.  I wrote that post to give an alternative stance to the usual approach - thanking them for their service publically, having a go away ceremony, all that crap.

Of course, you can take the "Us vs. Them" approach a little too far as well.  Here's a little story I'd Ballmer like to tell, about one CEO you know so well (h/t Beastie Boys, RIP Adam Yauch).  From the Wikipedia bio of Mark Luckovsky:

"Mark Lucovsky has stated that Steve Ballmer, on being informed that Lucovsky was about to leave Microsoft for Google, picked up a chair and threw it across the room, hitting a table in his office. Lucovsky also described Ballmer as saying: "F**king Eric Schmidt is a fu**ing p***y. I'm going to fu**ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f**king kill Google," then resumed trying to persuade Lucovsky to stay at Microsoft. Ballmer has described this as a "gross exaggeration of what actually took place."

Lucovsky worked on the Microsoft .NET My Services product (codenamed Hailstorm) prior to moving to Google. At Google, he served as a Technical Director for the Ajax Search API. He joined VMware in July 2009.

Too good not to share. You can take the whole Us vs. Them thing a little too far.  Stop when you're thinking about calling the other company's CEO a derogatory name.  And when you want to throw a chair.  

Pens?  Yes.  Chairs?  No.


Here's Your Five-Step Process to Develop a Career Plan - Forward to Anyone Who Needs to Stop Whining and Be Accountable for Themselves....

I'm up at the Halogen Software Blog talking about the value of Career Plans.  You're tired of employees not taking accountability for their own performance, right?  Great, then you'll love this.  Check out this sample:

"Let’s slow this train down and talk about what’s really important: You.

My job is to be your agent. Your personal Jerry McGuire. Your Ari Gold.

You? You’re Turtle or Rod Tidwell. I’m the guy who looks out for you.

It’s my job to give you tough news. So here it is:

You’re floating in your career. If you were floating any more, you’d be getting ready to be eaten by Bill Murray in Caddyshack amongst screams of horror. You look like you’re mailing it in. You want to move up and make more money. You’re frustrated because it’s not happening quickly enough.

The reason you’re floating is pretty simple. You don’t have a career plan. You’re showing up and doing work, but it’s not directed in a way that’s going to give you maximum (or possible any) career benefit."

If you want to move up in your career, you need to change your approach. Luckily for you, I’ve got five things you can do to make sure everyone who matters understands the impact you have on the business."

Word. Click here to visit my post at Halogen Software and get the Five Steps to Developing a Career Plan... Forward it to the whiner of your choice.


My Vegas Weekend via Instagram (Featuring James Harden and Bro-Packs)...

Went to Vegas last weekend with a couple of bloggers of note - Steve Boese and Matt Stollak. Our destination had a nerd quality to it  - The NBA Summer League, where professional basketball hopefuls convene to prove they have what it takes to be one of 400 players that play in the best hoops league in the world.

Now - you should know that only about 5% of the players who attend and play in the Vegas Summer League are actual NBA players - the rest are draft choices and free agents who are scrapping and doing whatever it takes to impress the teams.  For example, your world champion Miami Heat had zero players who were on the championship roster playing in Vegas.  Instead they had 15 guys who were incredible, but for the most part had never graced an NBA roster.

Why go to that? First, we like hoops.  More importantly, I go because there's a huge morality play on talent going on at the Summer League.  If NBA veterans are the best 400 players in the world, what we saw is 401-1000, and the differences are pretty small between spots 300 to 400 in the NBA and the better players in the summer league.  Who decides? What makes the difference between making a roster and going to Turdistan to play next winter?  

Anyway, let's lighten it up.  He's the story of the weekend as told through my Instagram account (enable pictures if you viewing this in email or just click through).  Follow me on Instagram and I'll follow you back, yo.

First up, what Vegas trip is complete without a Strip photo?  Here's the view from my room - stayed at Palms Place at the Palms, which is like staying at the W, except with more mirrors so you can check your - shall we say - posture - wherever you are at in the room.  KD had his own room - and he didn't really need all the mirrors, but he doesn't make the rules in Vegas.  


I went to a couple of casinos, and just to get teed up, I watched Rounders a couple of nights before, where I was reminded how Matt Damon always got into Teddy KGB's head.  Check it out if you haven't seen Rounders for awhile (mild NSFW):


Alas, I've never really been bitten by the bug, so I just drove Steve and Matt crazy by encouraging them to "Splash the Pot" early and often, regardless of where we were and what we we were doing.  

Picture #2 - the only thing that mildly interested me was the early odds on who would win the NBA title next year, a photo I'm including here.  Couldn't find any value.  I like the Pacers at 12:1, but I would LOVE them at 20:1.  Feel me?  Like KGB, I'll splash the pot whenever the ##*# I want.  

Picture #3 - Helicopter parents exist everywhere, even in the NBA.  The guy in the Lebron shades is Quincy's Acy's dad, who talked so much trash behind his own son's bench that I thought someone would have come to take care of it.  He was pure helicopter dad, equal parts bombastically encouraging his son and downgrading him verbally when he screwed up.  Bonus - Quincy's mom to his right was talking equal trash to his teammates when she felt like they didn't kick it to him soon enough.  Quincy's actually a good player, and was on the Toronto roster last year.  Only in America.


Picture #4 - Stars have entourages, and James "Fear the Beard" Harden was no different.
 He appeared right in front of us to watch a game featuring one of a his former teammates, and had at least 3 non-hoops friends in tow - just like Vinny Chase in Entourage.  We saw all kinds of great NBA players and coaches watching the games all weekend, Harden's the only one who got security.  They final turned around the fifth time I encouraged the Suns' Summer League team to "Splash the Pot".  I kid - they turned around when an attractive lady had a question.  After ignoring a line of kids for autographs for an hour, of course.  To be fair, the Beard would have never stopped signing autographs if he started.  That's why he's got his own Eric, Turtle and Johnny Drama - so someone else can tell security he's not going to sign.

Picture #5 - My biggest regret is we didn't have enough dudes (or replica jerseys) to have our own Bro-pack.  This guy was part of a Warriors Bro-pack, and Warriors fan loved his Warriors.  So much so, he pledged his loyalty by creating a sign that said, "I'm a Warriors" (plural).  Nothing to round that sentence out - like "fan", "bro" or any other identifier.  "I'm a Warriors".  Of course you are, Warriors Bro-pack leader.  Of course you are.

 

That's a wrap. 5 photos and a Teddy KGB video. I'm encouraging you to Splash the Pot this week. After all, it's your HR department and you can Splash the Pot whenever the #### you want.

Drop me a note if you want to go to the NBA Summer League next year.  We're thinking less hoops (2 games a day) across 3 days and field trips to Casinos, Penn and Teller shows and In-and-Out Burger.


Join Me For Project X - HR Capitalist Insiders...

I went for a run earlier this week and realized something pretty simple - the best conversations I have professionally tend to be of the analog variety (plain old phone calls) with readers of the HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent (my other blog, click the link to check it out if you're not aware of FOT). 

Since starting this blog in 2007, I've had hundreds of meaningful phone calls where I've met many of you in person, and those phone calls really have made me more energized than ever about the HR profession.

How did those phone calls happen? Usually off a comment on the blog or a reply to the daily email from you, at which point I say, "Hey - can we jump on the phone and say hi?"

Simply put, we've got some amazing people in the field who are smart, funny and can do anything they want to career-wise, yet they choose HR, recruiting, human capital, whatever you want to call it.  Most of the people I've talked to I would put in the top quartile (more like the top 10%?) of the profession.  

There's just one thing missing - Those hundreds of people (you) I've talked to aren't connected with each other.

That's why I'm launching a skunk-works called Project X, subtitled HR Capitalist Insiders. Here's how it's going to work:

1. I'm going to do what I can to book at least one phone call with a reader of the HR Capitalist or FOT every day.  If I don't hit it every day, I'm going to try and average 5 a week.  I've got an obsessive compulsive streak.

2. I'm also planning to go back through my LinkedIn and capture all the great people I've talked to in the past and reach out to see if you want to be a part of Project X.

3. The calls don't have to be long. If you're reading this, you already get what we're about here.  Just a quick call to say hi and learn more about your background, I'll share stuff about me as well.  We do 200K+ in email deliveries a month between email and RSS and get another 55K in monthly page views a month organically between the Capitalist and FOT.  Translation - there's tons of great people strolling through the site.  We just need to get more connected with each other.

4. My plan for Project X/HR Capitalist Insider is that you should know each other. I know a lot of you and it's been great for my outlook and motivation level. You should get that same kick if you want it.  So I'm going to find a private way to add you to the HR Capitalist Insider list and let you connect and network with each other.  Vendors won't be a part of it, but if you're a career HR pro/recruiter working for a vendor, you're eligible.  But if you try to sell, I'll put a contract out on you.

5. What's it take to make it to the HR Capitalist Insider list?  Energy. Business Chops.  A passion for what we do in the talent game.  A desire to network and find other people like you. Enough DNA that you could work in marketing or sales if you wanted to - but you chose HR/Talent.  I love that about us.

6. What else are we going to do?  Once you're an insider, I'm thinking I'll take feedback and ask the group what they want to do.  I'm thinking opportunities to network and learn - whatever means we come up with to deliver on that.  But we'll do it as a small group of insiders.

7. What do you have to do in exchange for being part of Project X/HRC Insider?  Engage. Participate a little bit.  Give a #@#t.

If you've ever said that you wish the professional associations in our profession would be more <insert wish>, this is probably for you.  

WHAT TO DO NEXT: If anyone around you has ever said, "You're not like other HR people I've known", reply to this email (if you get it through email) or shoot me a note at hrcapitalist@gmail.com and say, "KD - Put me down for Project X. My phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX."  I'll reach out and set up a time to connect.


I Just Saw My First Google Street View Car - I'm Guessing Employee Disengagement Happens In Less Than a Month...

I was driving to Atlanta this week and say my first Google Street View car in the field. (email subscribers enable pictures or click through to see photo)

Since I'm twisted, I automatically started thinking about employment issues related to recruiting for "associates" to drive the GSVC (that's my cool handle for the Google Street View Car).  Here's what immediately came to mind:

1.  It's got to be cool saying you just got hired by Google as a GSVC engineer.  Go to Google, look up an address, go to Street View and say, "Yep, Uncle Lewis, I shot the #@@# footage. Conditions were awful, but I powered through it.  See the kid? I swerved at him..."

2. About a month in, the newness has worn off.  You realize Google has the advanced GPS telling you where to turn and even though you have an engineer title, the monkey that went up in Sputnik had more autonomy and responsibility.

3. Your GSVC war stories creep to a halt.  You wish you would have been the guy that photoed the GSVC hitting that donkey way out in the sticks.  That could be your legacy.

4. You realize that being a pest control company technician looks interesting.  Leverage your GSVC skills and fight infestations of all kinds. You probably get a toolbelt with that. Toolbelts are cool and impress <insert gender of interest>.

5. You start actively looking at other map services from your job on your smartphone.  You're officially disgruntled.  It's month 2. You suck.  More importantly and germane, your job sucks.

Streetviewcar
Which brings me to the parenting side of the house.  I gotta start telling my kids that they don't want to drive the cars, they want to own the cars. Or at least manage the fleet.

I think Rage Against the Machine said it best:

"A thousand years they had tha tools
We should be takin' 'em
F**k tha G-ride I want the machines that are makin' em.."

--Rage Against The Machine, "Down Rodeo"

Autonomy and freedom of choice, the abilty to create.  Keys to job satisfaction, I think.

That Donkey?  He had it coming.  Burros jump up to get beat down.


VIDEO: Taking The Time To Act Like You Give A ####...(From Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Capitalist Note - Do not click on the video below if you're sensitive. It illustrates the point of this post in a very strong way, but it's NSFW.  Make sure you use your headphones/earbuds. 

You're busy. I'm busy.  We fail to read the tea leaves of what's important to others when people ask us to do something that would take a just a little bit of time and we decline.

It's all around you in the workplace, and it's probably most important when someone asks you for a bit of time to connect on a non-work related item.  After all, when someone asks you to connect on a non-work related item, they're really asking to be your friend in some fashion.  If you're too busy to spend that time, it's probably not net neutral - you probably lost a lot of ground with the person you declined.

This rule is true in all workplace relationships, regardless of level, reporting relationships, etc.  Check out the video below of Larry David and Susie from Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Larry's honest that he doesn't need to spend time on a nicety that's an afterthought.  Susie is offended that he wouldn't take the time.

Most people in the workplace won't tell you they're offended in the same - um, aggressive - way Susie tells David.  But for a lot of them, it's what they're thinking.

"####ing freak of nature, doesn't want a house tour.." 

Throw this in a folder to illustrate a workplace opportunity to the people on your team who are low sensitivity and generally unaware of how people are feeling around them.

Repeat - Do not click on the video below if you're sensitive.  Headphones Mandatory.


When Important People Leave: Circle the Wagons and Fire Up the "Us vs. Them" Machine...

If you're like most companies, you have people leave all the time.  They generally fall into one of three buckets:

-People you're happy to see go because you don't have to fire them (or you're really bad at cutting the cord and wouldn't fire them, at which point you are super happy). Us vs them

-People in the middle. You don't want them to go, but your business won't collapse if they leave.  It's hard to get fired up as a result.

-Key People.  Losing people in this category really hurts.  You probably were moved to make a counter offer, but they still left.  It's going to be hard to replace them.

Now I could go on a rant and talk about how many people actually belong in the "key people" bucket and who's actually not replaceable - it's a smaller number than most of us think.  But I'll spare you that rant today.

Instead, let's talk about communications.  What do you do when a truly key person decides to take his/her talents elsewhere?  Do you send them a public thank you, wish them well, etc?  Or do you take it personally and subtlety let everyone in the organization know that they've made a mistake, and you're going to crush them"?

What?  Too harsh?  Hang with me for a second.  Let's look at the example the Los Angeles Lakers (pro basketball) and their star Kobe Bryant set when fellow superstar Dwight Howard opted to sign with another team.  More on celebrating departures from the Big Lead:

"Clevelanders reacted to LeBron James’ Decision by burning his jersey en masse. Kobe Bryant reacted to Dwight Howard’s Decision in a healthier and less demonstrative way. Not long after D12 announced his intentions to take his talents to Houston, Bryant posted this warm and fuzzy picture of himself and longtime teammate Pau Gasol to Instagram.

The caption translated means “we go together, Lakers heart, wine.” It’s throwing severe shade in any language.

Bryant also took the step of unfollowing Howard on Twitter, so his social media rebuttal is now complete."

It's easy to do what's expected when a key, talented person leaves your team and wish them well, etc. - which basically signals to all that you're OK with it and expect it.  One unexpected cost of that is that everyone on your team sees that the cost of leaving - The professional relationship with you, the company, etc - is pretty low.  

No bridges burned?  Great?  Let me start looking for another job!  There's no cost!

Everyone does what's expected in this area.  Look around - no one is really making it us vs them when key people decide to leave your company.

In fact, the celebratory emails when people leave have gone far enough that I'm going to zig why the world zags.  I think you'll get more attention and loyalty if you figure out a way to channel a little Kobe Bryant the next time a key person decides to jump ship.  So much so, I'm going to noodle on it and give you five ways to tell the team that remains it's "us vs them" the next time a key person leaves.  I'll try to get that out next week.

Got a good strategy to help me build the list?  Hit me in the comments.  Until then, start thinking about what you do when key people (not just anyone) choose to leave your company.

Are you messaging that you expect key people to leave? Probably. Is that what you want to do?  Probably not.