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May 2017

Check Out My Post at Fistful of Talent Today - "The Day Google Died"..

I'm up over at Fistful of Talent today with a post entitled, "The Day The Google Died"...

If you're like me, you love Google and rely on it every day.  It's easy to think Google will be around for the rest of time.  It won't, and my post explores why a recent decision related to an OFFCP request marks the start of the decline.  Here's a taste:

If there's one thing we know through the annuals of time and the history of the enterprise organization globally, it's that nothing is forever.  To be sure, there are times when it feels like the position of many of the companies we know, respect and love will last forever.  They won't.  Here's the basic growth curve that's in play for any company:

1--great idea
2--two guys in a garage working on that idea
3--capital/equity comes in
4--idea catches fire, wild growth phase occurs
5--company is either bought or grows into mammoth enterprise
6--the magic moment where they cease being a growth company and start looking a lot like the US Postal Service (with great cash reserves)
7--the plateau - milking the core business for all it's worth
8--the decline
9--dead company, or one that's a zombie of it's previous self

For purposes of this post, I'm most interested in #6 - the magic moment where they cease being a growth company and start looking a lot like the US Postal Service (with great cash reserves).  It comes in a lot of different ways - even though Microsoft is still very relevant, you can reasonably argue that they are in the plateau, and the magic moment of plateau on the road to decline started when they missed on the internet, starting with the too late decision to do serious development on the web browser, which gave rise to Netscape and is subsequently one of the reasons I'm writing this in Google Chrome.

Hey! Speaking of Google...

Head on over to Fistful of Talent to get the full post...


A Comprehensive List of Work Roles White People Should Never Be Selected For...

Of course, I'm kidding with that title.  I'm not the authority on the PC-ness of white people in roles that are typically exclusively held by non-whites.  

But I gotta tell you, I have some opinions.  First, I think there's a lot of roles that white people don't belong in.  Here's a taste of Closedduetocolonialsimsome of those roles:

--Any leadership position at a HBCU...

--Leadership positions with Diversity titles in Corporate America...

--Matt Damon playing the lead in a movie set in Song dynasty China (I get it - he's a mercenary from Europe, but still.. Can we find a Chinese star for a movie about the Song years?) 

White people in certain roles is a non-starter. Many of you would/will argue the other way.  But common sense tells me there's more than enough talent in the world without a member of honkytown landing in these roles, even if you're arguing the tried and true "the best person should be selected" mantra.  

Turns out you might have bigger fish to fry related to what roles IT IS APPROPRIATE for white people to be in. 

From the school of "you can't make this up", the Washington Post reports there's a movement afoot in Portland, Oregon to stop white people from stealing culinary ideas from other cultures, which is called appropriation by those seeking to stop white folks from starting any type of restaurant that's not a Irish potato bar. Here you go:

Portland, Ore., has become the epicenter in a growing movement to call out white people who profit off the culinary ideas and dishes swiped from other cultures.

In the days since two white women were shamed into shutting down their pop-up burrito cart after telling a reporter that they had “picked the brains of every tortilla lady” in Puerto Nuevo, Mexico, Portland has become all but fed up with cultural appropriation within its city limits. One writer has stated, flat out, that “Portland has an appropriation problem,” going on to explain (the boldface emphasis is the writer’s):

Because of Portland’s underlying racism, the people who rightly own these traditions and cultures that exist are already treated poorly. These appropriating businesses are erasing and exploiting their already marginalized identities for the purpose of profit and praise.

Someone in the City of Roses has even created a Google doc, listing the white-owned restaurants that have appropriated cuisines outside their own culture. For each entry, the document suggests alternative restaurants owned by people of color. One “Appropriative Business” is Voodoo Doughnut, the small doughnut chain accused of profiting off a religion thought to combine African, Catholic and Native American traditions.

That's a lot, right?  As noted in the lead, I'm a believer in the fact that white people shouldn't be in certain types of diversity roles - there's enough talent in the world where the aforementioned roles shouldn't be filled by someone named Ricky Bobby.  But in the slippery slope of workplaces and what's appropriate, I'm drawing the line and saying that if a white person wants to risk some capital and sell mediocre fajitas and Corona Lights, they shouldn't draw the ire of the PC police.

HR Director of a HBCU?  No.  Owner of LaCocina?  Sure.

If someone wants to risk their capital, so be it.  The dirty little secret is that the owners of these businesses, white or otherwise, will likely employ an employer base that's majority non-white. 

Of course, the great thing about this argument is that the market will decide how far the appropriation movement can go, and if you click through to the WaPo article, you'll see that people are overwhelming bashing the appropriation crowd in the comments, even going so far as promising to patronize the white-owned establishments listed in the Google doc link above to show their support and ensure the owners aren't bullied.

Fire away in the comments.  Where can whites play in a non-white world from an employment perspective?


FAKE IT: Acting Interested in Corporate America Is a Succession Factor

Who's to know if your soul will fade at all
The one you sold to fool the world
You lost your self-esteem along the way
Yeah

--"Fake it" by Seether

One of the biggest things that separates contenders from pretenders in Corporate America - across all functional areas - is the ability to fake interest and attention.

You're in a 7-hour training class.  Next week you're in a 3 hour ops review.  Boredom happens.

 If Darwin were a noted OD thought leader in business, he would write that an adaptation that allows some to survive and thrive is the ability to fake interest and attention with body language, eye contact and just enough participation to make it seem like they're engaged.

Does it matter?  Competition is fierce. Only if you want to get further than you are now.  The real players in corporate America look engaged - at all times - even when they aren't.  

Look around at your next meeting.  You'll know what I'm talking about.  Some people have this type of opposable thumb, some don't.

Of course, faking it leads to learning because you're dialed in juuuuuust enough not to miss important shit. 

Seether video below, people.  Worth your time but a little NSFW. Happy Friday... (email subscribers click through for video)


Saying "No" Helps Train the Recipient What "Yes" Looks Like...

If there's a big problem in corporate America, it's that we say "Yes" too much at times.

Yes to that request..

Yes, I can help you..

Yes, I'd be happy to be part of your project team...

Yes, your response to my request is fine...

There's a whole lot of yes going around.  The problem?  Only about 1/2 of the "yes" responses are followed up with action that is representative of all of us living up to the commitment we made.

That's why you need to say "no" more.

Of course, simply saying no with nothing behind the no positions you as jerk.  So the "no" has to have qualifiers behind it:

Say "no" more to peers asking you for things, but then qualify it with how the request could be modified to move you to say "yes".

Say "no" more to your boss, and qualify your response to her by asking for help de-prioritizing things on your plate - which might allow you to say "yes" to the new request.

We say "yes" in the workplace when we want to say "no". We do it because we don't like to say no, and because we are horrible at negotiation.

Say "no" and tell people how the request could be modified to get to "yes".

Or just say "no" and walk away.  Either way, you've helped the organization's overall performance by providing more clarity. 


CHART OF THE DAY: Where Truck Drivers Will Lose Their Jobs in The Next 25 Years...

I've written about this before, but the chart below blew me away.  Take a look at this chart from Fortune and we'll talk about it after the jump (email subscribers click through for image, click on image to blow it up further):

Truck_drivers_graphic2

There are 1.8 million truck drivers in the U.S., making it one of the largest occupations in the country. There are tens of thousands of truck drivers in most major metropolitan areas.  Also, not really represented in the chart above - most rural areas that lost light manufacturing or textile mills at the end of the last century transitioned a bunch of male workers from manufacturing to driving trucks, because it was the only job available to many to remain living at the same location.

Here's some metro specific stats of how many truck drivers will be impacted by the self-driving vehicle revolution - courtesy of Fortune:

Some economies rely on truck driving more than others: In Omaha, 2.8% of people who have jobs are truckers. In Joplin, Mo., it’s 5.6%. The threat of losing those jobs over the next decade is real: Last fall a truck full of beer in Colorado made the first fully automated delivery.

Here, a list of the metros—small and large—where the largest percentage of workers are truckers according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data:

  1. Joplin, Mo.: 5.6% (4,300 truck drivers)
  2. Fayetville, N.C.: 4.2% (9,820 truck drivers)
  3. Midland, Texas: 4.2% (3,620 truck drivers)
  4. Fort Smith, Ark.: 3.9% (4,240 truck drivers)
  5. Greeley, Co.: 3.5% (3,410 truck drivers)

Honorable mention: Memphis: 2.3% (14,420 truck drivers)

Remember - less options for the people in the areas above to transition to another career.

#ThatsGoingToLeaveAMark  

 


VIDEO: How Sleazy Lawyers Trap HR Pros in Depositions...

If there's one thing HR Pros hate, it's taking on unnecessary risk.  After all, you're the one that thinks about legal things, and more often than not, you're the one left to answer for what happened when the lawyers come in.  Could that by why there's so much CYA going on in our profession?

One of the things I've never thought about in my years writing as an HR pro is how lawyers on the other side (i.e., the ones that are suing your company) approach a deposition. That's why this post by John Hollon over at Fistful of Talent is a must share.  John found a piece of video gold from an employee-side attorney that gives the playbook on his general game plan to take down HR pros in depositions.

That's right - the complete game plan on how he's going to circle around and trap you, formatted neatly in 5 things all layers should do when taking a deposition from HR. Watch-better-call-saul-online

I can't share the video since it's hosted by the firm and not on YouTube, but below is John Hollon's rundown of what the video says. Click through to see the video and also see John's analysis as a non-HR pro who's covered our industry at a high level for years:

Yes, I think HR would love to see how employment attorneys plan to wring information out of them.

In the video, Lawrence Bohm talks about the five (5) things lawyers should do when taking a deposition from HR:

  1. Get the Goods. From Bohm: “Instead of focusing on the bad things your client allegedly did, always start your deposition with the human resource professional, to have them point out the good things that your client has done. Have them go through the performance evaluations were they talk about your client doing a good job. Have them explain that putting an employee as “meets” or “exceeds expectations” is an indication that the employee is doing a good job. … Make the human resource professional agree with you on the record about the good things that your client did to contribute to the workplace.”
  2. Paper Policies. From Bohm: “Almost every workplace has policies but they don’t follow them. This is a gold mine for HR depositions. … Have the human resource manager confirm that these rules existed; and then have the human resources manager confirm that the rules were not followed. Then point out in a kung fu fashion that these rules could have been followed, but somebody made a choice not to follow the employer’s workplace rules.”
  3. Core Values. From Bohm: “The human resource professional more than anybody else in the business should know what that business’ core values are. Core values are really important to juries and HR should know them. If they don’t know what the core values are, what an amazing testimony you get when you ask the person in charge of 1000 employees, “What are the company’s core values?” and they look back at you say, “I don’t know.”
  4. “It wasn’t me!” Syndrome. From Bohm: “Take advantage of the “It wasn’t me!” syndrome that seems to plague every human resource manager I have ever met. And it’s because it usually is true! The human resources department is trying to keep these managers from doing very stupid and malicious things. And when the case happens where they couldn’t stop management from doing that stupid thing, the human resources professional is always ready to tell you under oath, “It wasn’t me!” You want to take advantage of that finger pointing.”
  5. Prevention. From Bohm: “This is the kryptonite of every human resource witness I have ever deposed. It’s on the subject of prevention. This is your ultimate kung fu power. Talk about what the human resources manager could have done, should have done, or did not do, to prevent the illegal conduct from happening in the first place.”

The bottom line to this other than it feels sleazy to everyone on our side?  You can't protect yourself from all of this, but awareness of what the game plan is by you can raise your awareness and probably save you from looking like a total moron - because you're not.

Can sleazy lawyers still take what you say out of context?  Of course - but when you're forced to give details that make you or the company look bad, being aware of what the other side is after can ensure you get context into the record of the deposition.  

And getting context into the record is something that might save your reputation - or job.


The Trap of Non-Specific Feedback As a Replacement For Coaching...

If you look around long enough in your life - especially if you have kids - you'll see a pattern emerge.

People are trying to coach others as much as they can, but they default to non-specific feedback that is unhelpful at best and counter-productive at worst.

Want some examples?  Sweet!  Here you go:

"Try Harder"

"You Just Need To Work More"

"Focus"

"Be Patient"

"Give Them What They Want"

Read that list.  Odds are that you've used most, if not all, of these in the course of your day to day life coaching someone - a friend, a kid, a parent, a team member at work, and yes - someone you manage.

Those non-specific words feel like coaching, but they're not. They're proxies for you actually taking the time to figure out why someone is failing (big and small), as well as analyzing how they could help themselves.

Most coaching tools engage the person who needs coaching to ask them what they can do differently.  That's a start for getting to specifics that might make a difference.

But in the corporate world as well as non-work life, it's easy to be prescriptive and tell the person what to do in order to get better results.

That's failure #1 if you're responsible for coaching someone.  You didn't engage them, you told them what to do based on what you see.

Failure #2? Using any of the phrases above or anything similar.

You gotta really try harder.  Focus on it.  Be the ball, Danny.

Non-descriptive feedback sucks.  Stop telling people to focus and try hard. 

Lead them in a conversation about what they can do (specifics!) to get better results in any circumstance/scenario you're coaching them in.


What You Need to Know: Trump Healthcare and Pre-Existing Conditions...

If you're like me as an HR pro, you've always had your eye on the pre-existing condition angle of any healthcare legislation.  That was a priority before Obamacare, became less of a priority during Obamacare (and a relief) and has now become ugly as a the GOP presents the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the new Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).

There's been a lot of claims related to how many pre-existing conditions won't be covered, specifically related to the explosive issue of victims of domestic violence and more.

Admittedly, I like the Obamacare provision of no BS when it comes to pre-existing conditions. Its a high empathy provision and feels right.

But with the AHCA bearing down on us, I started to really try to go beyond the clickbait headlines most were serving up on pre-existing conditions and find out what bill actually provides and says.  I wanted to know this for myself (because I know that gaps in coverage are bad any time pre-existing conditions are a part of the mix) since I find myself giving advice to friends and previous employees based on what I do for a living.

Let me tell you - finding a factual account of what the bill actually says is hard in a world where Facebook serves you up more of whatever you click on (imagine echo chamber sound effect as you read that sentence - for both sides of the political aisle).

Here's the best reporting I could find on how pre-existing conditions might be considered/changing if the GOP bill gets through the Senate, courtesy of the Washington Post

The revised GOP plan included an amendment crafted by Rep. Tom McArthur (R-N.J.), which helped the plan attract votes that led to its passage. The amendment allowed states to seek waivers from a “continuous coverage” provision that otherwise would boost insurance rates by 30 percent for one year if a person has a lapse in insurance coverage for more than two months.

Instead, if the state met certain conditions, insurance companies for one year could consider a person’s health status when writing policies in the individual market. Another possible waiver would allow the state to replace a federal essential benefits package with a more narrowly tailored package of benefits, limited to the individual and small-group markets.

These changes would affect a specific group of people who meet the following criteria: Lives in a state that seeks this waiver; has a lapse in health coverage for longer than 63 days; has a preexisting condition; and purchases insurance on the individual or small-group market.

A person who fell into this category would face insurance rates that could be based on their individual condition, for one year. (States that seek a waiver would need to provide ways to help make up the difference in costs.) After that, people would qualify for prices at the community rate, rather than based on their individual conditions. This would not affect people with employer-funded health coverage; the individual market, including the Obamacare exchanges, currently serves about 18 million Americans.

Here's how I'll read that to help the people who ask me how to interpret pre-existing conditions should the AHCA pass:

  • It sounds like in some states, there may be a year-long period where you could get hurt financially related to pre-existing conditions.  Not all states, but some for sure.
  • You'll be better off if you have pre-existing conditions in your family by working for an employer rather than yourself during this period.
  • If you work for an employer, it's probably best if you have a potential pre-existing tab at risk to hunker down and not change insurance during the referenced one-year period.
  • I'm assuming COBRA is still an option, which would allow most exiting companies to get through the 1-year period at employer market rates.
  • I'm unclear if insurers will be able to cancel existing individuals polices during the one-year period.  I'm assuming no, but I haven't seen that clearly stated by anyone doing responsible analysis.

So that's my report.  I'm turning more and more to the Washington Post for responsible reporting.  I find them to be hard on the far-right but fact based when reporting on issues like the AHCA. 

HR pros - good luck explaining new pre-existing condition issues to your friends, family and employees.