You want to leave an email or a voice mail for someone, and your wish is denied. Their inbox is full.
And you start judging them.
"get your #### together"
"that is one of busiest people on earth"
"organizational skills? Probably not"
"they've reorged to the point where this is happening at this company"
"he has ceased...caring"
If you notice those hypothetical reactions you could have to a full email or voice mail inbox, you'll notice they are part accusation and part empathy.
The reality is the same - a full inbox can mean a variety of things. The person with a full inbox can be overwhelmed - a white flag if you will that no person could reasonably be expected to deal with the volume and demands they're under. Combine that situation with an aggressive IT policy related to the size of email and voice mail storage, and you'll see the white flag early and often.
Of course, there's a harsher reality at times as well. A consistently full email or voice mail box can mean someone has checked out - part of the issue may be workload, but another part of the issue may be general engagement levels.
How do you tell the difference? My take is that you can usually tell once you have the opportunity to talk with the person - 1-on-1.
The disengaged person isn't going to have much passion or sense of urgency about what they're doing. The simply overwhelmed person, on the other hand, is going to have plenty of passion and still show the spark for what they do for a living. But they're in obvious need of help - the type of help may differ by situation.
Full email and voice mail inboxes always mean something. You just have to talk to the person to confirm what the reality is.
From our Kinetix Tips series (email subscribers click through for photo):
Of course, I was operating with limited characters in that space, so one elaboration. A potential boss's comfort with that question really doesn't include him automatically saying "yes". The comfortable potential boss reflects on that question and compares the good and bad he/she brings to the table.
A quick "yes" to the question, "are you a good/best boss?", probably means they're not great at managing talent. Because it's way to hard to be that cocky about being good.
I miss Steve Jobs. Actually I miss him being an ass, but ultimately being right on so many things.? Here's a talent nugget from the Jobs book talking about how kids have basically assimilated to the same culture across the world:
When Steve's family got to Istanbul, he hired a history professor to give his family a tour. At the end they went to a Turkish bath, where the professor's lecture gave Jobs an insight about the globalization of youth:
"I had a real revelation. We were all in robes, and they made some Turkish coffee for us. The professor explained how the coffee was made very different from anywhere else, and I realized, "So f**king what?" Which kids even in Turkey give a shit about Turkish coffee? All day I had looked at young people in Istanbul. They were all drinking what every other kid in the world drinks, and they were wearing clothes that look like they were bought at the Gap, and they were all using cell phones like kids everywhere else. It hit me that, for yourng people, the whole world is the same now."
Classic Steve Jobs. Your coffee is different than in my culture? The old people in your culture are the only people who care.
Your company's culture is different from other companies? Better find a way to connect with candidates, because nobody outside your company, and more probably, your leadership team, thinks your coffee/culture is special...
One of the things I love about my gig at Kinetix is that in addition to HR stuff, marketing and more, I also get to keep my hand in the recruiting game every once in a while. Case in point: I'm working on a great high level HR search for one of my favorite customers.
Good candidate flow. Interesting conversations. Then I had the following happen...
I'm on the phone with a candidate over the last couple of weeks. I do some intro stuff, get them to interact with me related to what another recruiter told them related to the position, the company, the opportunity. Standard stuff.
Then I told them I was going to speaker phone so I could be hands-free and take notes like a historian, because they were about ready to do 95% of the talking. Once they were on speaker, I asked them how it sounded and if they could hear me.
Here's one way you tell a candidate probably isn't going to be a finalist. The response was as follows:
Candidate: "How do you sound? You're really clear. But you're also really loud. Can you turn it down for me?"
It took me about 5 seconds to actually process that. I put him on speaker, and asked him how I sounded. He wanted me to turn it down.
Mind blown. Wait, what?
I politely said, "I can try?" (question mark in the voice) and moved the speaker phone away from me and looked at it like had a contagious disease. I asked him if that was better. He said, "kind of, but let's do it."
We've all been there, right? You ask a question that's so awkward, your only course of action is to fall on the sword and say, "Hey, did I actually just tell you turn the volume of your voice down? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that's probably my responsibility, right? I turn the volume down on my end if you're coming across too loud. I'm smart-phone challenged. Hahahahahaha."
But the falling on the sword never came. And the candidate never really broke the formality barrier.
Disposition: "We love your background, but we've found someone who's a better match for our specific need. Good luck in your search!"
Let's face it, most of you hate to present. Those of you that have to present occasionally tolerate it. Those of you that fear it avoid it like the plague, right?
I think there's a couple of things you can do to get better at presentations, have some fun and most importantly, be viewed as a better than average slide jockey.
Check out the video I did below for AXEX on 5 Presentation Tips for HR Pros Who Hate Giving Presentations. Next time you have to present, try one of these ideas - I think you'll see more interaction and take some of the pressure off of yourself.
It's four minutes long, you'll definitely learn something...what's not to like?
(Email Subscribers click through for video if you don't see it below)
If there's anything I've tried to live up to in my professional life, it's the need to communicate things to the lowest common denominator in any organization. After all, life moves pretty fast, and if you don't stop to look around and consider whether all the people you are communicating to understand what you're saying, you're destined for failure.
So we (you and me) work to communicate to that lowest common denominator. But sometimes you find yourself putting out a training guide on how to mute a call on the iPhone - because someone told you that was needed.
Do some people need a guide for how to mute calls on an iPhone? (not the real situation, but work with me...)
No. No they don't. We create these types of guides 10% of the time because people aren't intelligent enough to figure out what's in front of them. The other 90% of the time? We create these guides in response to people not using a technology/process because they're too lazy.
So of course - we MUST create a training guide to take that excuse off the table.
Then they don't use the tech/process moving forward and the managers in question never address it in performance. Because you know, that's hard.
When all this goes down, I have a simple video I send the people I care about who are impacted by doing the aforementioned work that will be ignored. It's called "Spelling Bee" from a comedian named Brian Regan (rare clean comedian) and the set is Regan making fun of how dumb he was in school. Play the video below (email subscribers click through for video) to hear about his challenges in Spelling Bees and Science Fairs. It's gold.
Soon you'll be sharing this with your own team and saying "IT'S A CUP...OF...DIRT. I CALL IT CUP OF DIRT"....
New series at the Capitalist: The Top 100 Movie Quotes of all time for HR Pros. In no special order, I break down the 100 movie quotes that resonate most for me as a career HR pro. Some will be funny, some will be serious... Some will tug at your heart like when the Fox voice-over guy said, "Tonight - a very special episode of 90210"... You get the vibe... I'll do it countdown-style like they're ranked, but let's face it - they're ALL special..
"Smokey This is Not 'Nam, This Is Bowling. There are Rules"
--Walter Sobchak in "The Big Lewbowski
People. They're hard to deal with sometimes. You know what causes the biggest disagreements and lack of respect for others in the workplace?
Rules orientation. High rules people hate those who make their own realities and ignore the tribal customs. Low rules people snicker at high rules people as being bean counters who add little true value.
Which one are you? I'm low rules. I'm Smokey in the video below. (put it down, dude) I've known people like Walter who would gladly draw a gun on me (if socially acceptable) as I ignored a policy for the 13th time.
What saved me? How about that workplace violence policy? That's the tricky part for high rules people - if they want to put me in my place, there's usually a rule against that.
Sucks to be them. Find a good behavioral assessment, and I can make a case that the biggest thing you can learn about your team is where they fall in Rules Orientation.
The Dude? He's somewhere mid-range in rules. Understanding the need, but wondering if taking a stand on Smokey's toe on the bowling foul line is really a good use of our time.
Capitalist Note - If you're not on a couch watching the tourney this afternoon, you're doing it wrong. Here's a rerun from last year to get you in the mood to hate Duke in the right way...
Let's face it. If you follow college basketball at all, there's a high likelihood you hate Duke. Why?
Duke as a university smacks of privilege, and the basketball program polarizes people like the Cowboys or the Yankees, without attracting as much of a loyal following - the concentration and comparison is mainly on the hate side.
And then there's the little issue of race. Combine the status of the university with the success of the program, then add in chippy white guys doing things that are just a little bit dirty, and you've got the basis for widespread hate inside the basketball culture.
Case Studies - watch the ESPN 30 for 30 episode entitled I Hate Christian Laettner. It pretty much breaks down why Duke is the team to hate in college basketball, focused on the iconic player from the program - a 6'11" white guy (Laettner) who wore the black hat his whole career. Click here for the full episode.
But Laettner was just one of many white guys that fans learned to hate. To be fair, there was hate flowing to black players in the Duke program (Grant Hill, Jay Williams), but the true scorn? Saved for the white guys.
A lot of that has to to with the fact that white guys at Duke always play on the edge. Take the most recent object of Duke haters - a guard named Grayson Allen who's actually been caught tripping opponents twice this year. Here's a quick rundown for the uninitiated from the New York Post:
"Mike Krzyzewski stood up for his star player by hiding behind his school, saying that serial tripper Grayson Allen is only getting severe blowback around the college basketball landscape because of the jersey he wears.
After Allen appeared to stick out his leg for the second time in a month to topple an opponent — the latest being Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes in Duke’s win Thursday — Coach K insisted the ACC’s decision not to suspend his point guard was the correct one, and any contrary thought only exists because of the university’s reputation.
The Duke loathing stretches back to early-’90s Christian Laettner, and Allen already has taken his place on the growing list of villains that the Blue Devils produce. Critics see these stars as entitled and cocky, seemingly above the law. And they play at a university that prides itself on academics, a school they believe turns up its nose at the rest of the scandal-plagued NCAA landscape.
And, more than anything else, Duke wins. It’s a breeding ground for hate. Where others see the Blue Devils getting breaks from officials, Krzyzewski sees his players getting undue criticism from the public."
First things first. If you haven't seen the trips, check out the video below (email subscribers click through for video) and let the Duke hate fester:
But wait. There's a Talent/Recruiting nugget here. Allen's a highly recruited and highly successful player. He lives off of driving to the basket and with that in mind, ends up in a lot of physical confrontations.
Should Allen have been suspended for the second trip? Absolutely.
Do you need more employees like Allen? Yes you do. Absolutely.
Allen is an alpha employee who competes. He's wired to be on edge all the time, to force the action. He's your classic high assertiveness hire who's always going to be pushing for results.
We kid ourselves by thinking the world doesn't revolve around these type of people in our organizations. There's a role for all behavioral types in our companies, but it's the high assertives who bring it every day who get most of the results. Take a look at your sales team. If they're performing, you've got a bunch of Grayson Allens. Your leaders and hipos? Mostly high assertives.
Again, we have roles for low assertives and leaders can have that profile as well - you just need balanced teams.
But you need the Grayson Allens of the world to shake things up daily. When your equivalent does the version of the Grayson Allen trip inside your company, you've got to be swift and decisive to show them where the line is and ensure they don't cross it again - or as often.
You hate Duke. I get it. You think Grayson Allen is a punk - I get that too.
But you'd hire Grayson Allen in a heartbeat for a results-driven position. You'd just do better than Coach K about defining what's acceptable and what's not acceptable.
Nails on the chalkboard... Atlanta traffic... Other people's snoring... YouTube ads... Waiting in a line more than 4 people deep...
These things? All things that reasonable people agree we can hate. You don't like those things. Neither do I.
Let's add something to that list from corporate America. Something we all should hate and agree it must be stomped out - like the pox on society it is.
File Attachments in Meeting Invites and Nowhere Else...
Look, I don't know what type of Euro/Pan-Pacific/West Coast technology game you're playing. I don't know if you're someone that got the dummies book on how to search your laptop by keyword and find what you're looking for in Outlook. Maybe you're running some type of Gmail game as your primary email address and love to show your flex by searching email instead of doing what the rest of the world does - use folders.
All I know is this - when I ask where the resume (or any other file attachment I would need) is and you say, "It's on the Meeting Request", I want to fire you. If I can't fire you, it's like you have a heavy cold complete with a chronic cough and you just reached over and took a drag off my Gatorade bottle and then looked at me and said, "um, good."
I mean, where is the sensitivity related to how normal people operate?
At least if I ask the question during the time we're working on something related to said attachments I have a chance to recover. The reality is that 9 times of of 10 when you're running your "attachments only in the meeting request" tyranny, I don't necessary have high awareness of the fact that you're running your little game.
Then two months go by and I need the attachments for reference. I never got the chance to dump them into a folder, because you didn't send them via email.
But it's always been about you, hasn't it?
You're a model of efficiency. Why send the attachments to the players via email if you're sending a meeting request?