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August 2017

The Top 10 Reasons Recognition Programs Fail...

A valued reader weighs in below on why Recognition programs fail in reaction to this column I wrote over at Workforce.com... Thanks Ron!

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At 75, I have witnessed several formal Recognition Programs and have seen the flaws in all of them.   The downsides overweigh the upsides. Trophies

1. There is never a substitute for daily recognition from the boss – it is personal and real time.  Anything else is Management by Gimmick. 

2. Bosses are stingy with their thank-you’s because there is a formal program.

3. Recognition Programs typically evolve into personality contests.  Introvert contributors tend to get ignored.

4. For every winner, there are many losers and they feel like losers after the gala is over.

5. The losers tend to downgrade the alleged contributions made by the winners.

6. Instead of emulating the winners, the average person does what they always do.

7. The awards are not always  treasured by the winners, ala, give me money, not a parking space.

8. Most of the programs I have seen evolve into peer recognition programs due to the many flaws in the top down programs which become apparent.

9. The peer programs fade away too, because they are very popularity-driven.

10. A process of every manager of Catching People Doing Things Right is 10X more powerful.

I would have liked your dad.  My dad was a college teacher and I heard his shoes hitting the ground everyday too.  I also learned my work ethic from him.  External hoopla meant nothing to him and he didn’t wear a blue collar.

Employees are starved for meaningful work, a larger purpose and the need for a good boss.  Article after article are saying that employees leave bosses, not companies even the companies with Recognition Programs.

Ron
Ronald Ulrici
HR Director


"Framing" - You Can't Be a Top Performer Without It...

As I've grown in my career, I've noticed that the best talent - not good talent, not good to great talent, but the best - has one thing in common.

The most talented people consistently "frame" their goals, work and outcomes via varied communication strategies. Speakers

What is Framing?  As I've watched the best among you grow, effective "framing" includes the following philosophy and actions:

--Use of a variety of communication techniques to ensure all know what the individual is working on - including face to face, email, reporting and more.

--Communicating what your goals are for a specific period.

--Communicating your challenges and progress.

--Communicating your wins and finished work product.

--Communicating your opinions and takes on what's going on around you in your area of subject matter expertise.

Effective framers among top performers are always proactive in these communications - vs reactive.  They also have a style that makes communications from them seem like a mix of status updates, op/ed and entertainment.  So no one is ever sorry to see the communication coming from them.

The naysayers to "framing" say that you're over-communicating.  If you suck at communication, context and perspective, that might be true.

The best performers, however, don't suck at framing as a form of communication.

That's one of the reasons they are the best.  They'll never be victimized by people claiming not to be in the know as a result.


What World Class HR Looks Like...

Was working on a webinar deck this morning related to this title. Here's what I came up with, take a look and let me know what you think.  I'll share the webinar link when it goes live....

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WHAT WORLD CLASS HR LOOKS LIKE

You know them – they’re the HR pros that make it look easy, flowing from meeting to meeting with style and grace – but not in an empty way.  These HR pros look and sound great, but actually get things done as well.  They’re loved by their peers on the leadership team, routinely talked about with equal parts fear and admiration, and seem to love what they do.

What makes these people a part of the ruling class in HR?  I've got 15 attributes of the world class HR pro, broken down across the following DNA characteristics:

--The Ability to Be a Talent Agent – The best HR pros know that getting the best talent is key.  We’ll show you how they do that as an individual recruiter, in how they build a recruiting function and build an employment brand.

--A Knack for Street-Smart People Development – Forgot the training department.  The HR pros we look up to bootstrap their own training resources for both individuals and managers while serving up spend on development based on performance – always taking care of the top performers.

--Financial Chops that Rival PWC – The real players in HR budget with a purpose, are keenly aware of other department’s strengths and weaknesses from a P&L perspective and apply their FTE power in a direct relationship to financial strength and opportunity within the companies they serve.

--A Willingness to Jam All Transactions Down to Their Lowest Possible % - The greatest trick the devil ever played was making humans feel satisfied when they mow the grass.  We’ll show you three ways the best HR pros counter this trait of humanity by ensuring the value of their team isn’t linked to transactions.

--The Ability to Say Yes AND the Skill to Negotiate Like a VP of Sales – We saved the best for last.  Top HR pros know how to negotiate – we’ll show you two ways they excel at negotiation and cover how the ability to say yes inside your company is key to this strategy.

Does that sound like any HR pro you know?  I hope so!


Why Is This Manager Riding Your ### In The (NFL) Workplace?

Capitalist Note: Please make it stop.  This slow season on the sports front is killing me. Can football go ahead and get here so we have some meaningful programming?  No, baseball doesn't count - sorry - at either the pro level or the Little League World Series level.  BTW, while I'm ranting, when did Little League games at the sub-regional level become ESPN fare?  Do I really care about Lansing, MI vs Kalamazoo, MI in the sub-regional qualifier?  Why is that on ESPN?  Shouldn't kids be in school?

Related - get off my lawn.  Below is a post on coaching skills in NFL training camps and the connection to your talent - to get you through this trying time on television.

Greg williams_6

Some of you are NFL fans. Remember "Bountygate" in New Orleans, where the team was paying bounties for vicious hits and knocking opposing players out of games? Read up here if you need a refresh - the whole scandal caused coach Sean Payton and his defensive coordinator to be suspended for an entire season.

That defensive coordinator?  It's a guy named Gregg Williams, and last year he was Defensive Coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, the team featured on the HBO series "Hard Knocks", which basically puts 100 cameras in training camps and then crafts a show around it. It's a great series, check it out if you haven't.  (note - Williams is in Cleveland this year and Hard Knocks is in Tampa, where I just saw them cut a kicker they wasted a draft pick on two years ago.)

Back to Gregg Williams - as you might expect, a guy who's been suspended for a season for being inside a bounty system (something that was common in the NFL in the past and not limited to the Saints, btw) is a little salty when talking to his players.

Here's a great highlight from episode 3 of Hard Knocks in 2016. The scene is a film breakdown of the first pre-season game and head coach Jeff Fisher has warned the team to prepare for real talk when they break up into their various units for the film breakdown.

Enter Gregg Williams, who begins his film breakdown with the following gem to the team:

"Now, you’re saying, ‘There it is, Gregg’s being a dick again.’ No, I’m f**king trying to figure out how I can f**king help you make this team,”

Translation - if you listen to what I say and make adjustments, you'll have a better chance of not being cut.  If you choose to focus on the fact your performance is being criticized and don't hear what I'm telling you, you're missing an opportunity.

I loved this clip because while harsh, it underscores what everyone who manages people has to accomplish before coaching for improvement can begin - asking for the focus of your coaching to assume you have positive intent in coaching them.  You're not trying to be an ass, you're trying to help them.

Can you accomplish that in a softer way than Williams? Yes.

Will a lot of you go too soft and invite the recipient of your coaching to view the feedback as optional?  Also yes - which is not good.

Conveying a sense of urgency when coaching is art, not science. There are a lot of ways to get it done.  You may hate the way that Gregg Williams does it.

Just don't assume, because you're more professional, that your coaching is more effective.


The Solar Eclipse Killed Work Productivity in America...

OK - that title's click bait, but wait, don't leave.

First up, Reuters DID report that American employers saw at least $694 million in missing output from the roughly 20 minutes that outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimated workers took out of their workday on Monday, Aug. 21 to stretch their legs, head outside the office and gaze at the nearly two-and-a-half minute eclipse.

I shared that on social media and meant to add this tongue in cheek preface - "If they think that's bad, they should check out the lost productivity around talking about Game of Thrones."

The feedback on LinkedIn (one place I posted it where the preface cited above wasn't included) was swift.  People called BS on the number.  Kinda said I was stupid for sharing it.  I tried to explain the witty add I planned didn't make it on the post.  They didn't care.

But Netflix came out with another number I thought was interesting - see tweet below:

Hey, just wondering why 10% of you chose to watch a giant rock cover a giant ball of gas when I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THERE FOR YOU.

— Netflix US (@netflix) August 22, 2017

According to the streaming service, Netflix lost 10 percent of its usual viewership during the total solar eclipse that took place Monday, which put a portion of the US in a state of total darkness while the moon blocked out the sun.

The workplace numbers likely assume that 100% of working Americans stopped working to view the eclipse.

The Netflix numbers say that only 10% of Netflix viewers stopped watching to check out the event.

Netflix is taken more seriously than work.

Think about that one for a bit.  

 


GLASSDOOR GOLD: "I'm Not Getting Into This With You"...

You hate Glassdoor.  But amidst all the negativity - and the fact your worst employees are at least 5 times more likely to leave a review than your best employees - are nuggets of truth.  Can we agree on that?

I was looking up a company over the weekend and found this gem.  Please click through or enable pictures if you're an email subscriber for the clip below.

Glassdoor

 

 

 

Manager - "We've got to let you go. You're not a good fit."

Employee - "Why am I not a good fit?"

Manager  - "Um, Look, I'm not getting into that now."

Don't ask me who the company is.  I'll never tell, because this could happen anywhere.

#gold


ABOUT INNOVATION: Why Are Nirvana Cover Bands So Good?

Sell the kids for food
Weather changes moods
Spring is here again
Reproductive glands

He's the one
Who like all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he don't know what it means
Don't know what it means
And I say yeah
 
--In Bloom, Nirvana

If there's one thing that's always amazed me, it's the number of artists that are absolutely ####ing awesome - but never make it in the marketplace.  

You know what I mean, right?  How many solo or group musicians have you heard and wondered why they are accountants during the day? How many sketch artists or painters have talent rivaling Nevermind
Warhol but have never been discovered - and are working an hourly job to make ends meet?

I was reminded of this a couple of weekends ago when Mrs. Capitalist joined me and some friends to go see the Atlanta-based Nirvana cover band named "Nevermind".

They were - absolutely great.  The lead singer has hair like Kurt Cobain and the Mr. Rodgers-style sweater.  But most importantly, they nailed the Nirvana sound.

WHY NOT THEM?  Why can't you stream their stuff on Spotify/Pandora?

I thought a lot about that in the days that followed.  Here's what I came up with.

Most of us don't have musical skill or artistic ability.  So we're shocked when we hear it/see it and find it to be unique.  But the real reason most artists don't make it has to do with originality/innovation.  

Originals get paid.  Innovators start new trends and cash in.  When you really stop to think about it, it's that way in corporate America as well.

The guy I saw that night sounds like Kurt Cobain.  But he and his band didn't create their own sound.  So the marketplace doesn't reward them.

Let's take someone from the business world.  There's a lot of people in American business that are as dynamic as Elon Musk - many are more dynamic.  They interview well, are great in meetings and damn, are they great presenters.  What's missing?

Elon Musk has big ideas and endless passion.  SpaceX.  Tesla. SolarCity. 

You're as good as Elon Musk on the powerpoint and in front of people.  But your ideas?  They're smaller.

Nevermind is to Nirvana as a smart executive is to Elon Musk.  One wore the sweater first.  The other followed.

It's the same thing in the business world.  You're amazed by the presentation skills of Frank in Marketing, but he hasn't broken through.

Turns out those public speaking skills are missing one important ingredient for the payoff - original ideas. 

I'm so happy because today
I've found my friends
They're in my head
I'm so ugly, but that's okay, 'cause so are you
We've broken our mirrors
Sunday morning is everyday for all I care
And I'm not scared
Light my candles in a daze
'Cause I've found god
Hey, hey, hey


 


The Tyranny of Single Stall, Gender-Neutral Bathrooms in the Workplace...

Notes to follow from life on the road...

Topic: Transgender individual's rights to use either bathroom (men's or women's) they desire.

Buckle up, people. But it's probably not going to be what you think. TG

I spend a lot of time on the road, and I spend that time in a lot of different parts of the country.  One thing that's happening in retail (shops, restaurants, etc) points to a trend I hope doesn't come to office parks.

Here's the trend... Businesses - faced with legal pressure or simply wanting to accommodate Transgender individuals - are increasing changing single stall bathrooms (one for men, one for women) to gender neutral status.  That "reclassification" means that either men or women can use either bathroom that is available.  That solves the transgender issue without the economic burden of retrofitting a third bathroom to exist alongside men's and women's facilities.

I understand that I'm probably going to get emails from what I've wrote already, because I'm not an expert in Transgender issues.  Send your emails, however, because I do want to learn more and understand to a greater degree.

But I am an expert in some things.  Allow me to school you on why reclassifying a men's and women's bathroom to gender neutral-status doesn't work:

Men are pigs.  Females deserve better.  

If 10 dudes use a bathroom during the day, odds are it is not going to be suitable for a woman, or anyone who wants to sit down.  This just in - Men often go to the bathroom standing up.  Hit this link if you want to see the legal world in action on this issue.  

When businesses make existing single-stall bathrooms gender neutral, females (anyone identifying as female) lose.  And this trend is alive and well in some areas of the country.  It's a natural, completely understandable reaction to the capital cost of building new facilities.  

I can only hope this trend can be avoided as transgender issues become more accepted and we work through the same challenges in the workplace.

Rights for everyone - Ok and check.  Let's evolve together.

Rights for dudes to use bathrooms on a frequent basis that females will have to use afterwords - we're better than that America.  

No.  Just no.

 


The Elon Musk Test For Whether You Deserve a Raise....

You're going to love this one...

In his 2015 book, "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future," Ashlee Vance shares the story of how Musk stopped working with his longtime executive assistant in early 2014. Elon musk

According to Vance, the assistant, Mary Beth Brown, asked Musk for a significant raise after she'd been working with him for 12 years. In response, Musk told Brown to take two weeks off, during which he would assume her responsibilities and see whether she was critical to his success.

When Brown returned, Musk told her he didn't need her anymore.  

Whoops.  

OK, couple of things.  While Musk generally is on the record as saying this book is accurate he strongly denies the reporting of this encounter.  Brown also denies the reporting that she lost her job through the rigid efficiency study conducted by Musk.  Also, after Brown was no longer in the role, Musk says he needed the position, as evidenced by the fact he hired 2-3 specialists (PR, etc.) rather than a generalist executive assistant.

Still, where there's smoke, there's fire.  My take is that Musk probably did consider whether the position still worked for him based on the way his business has changed.

Add this to the list of things to be careful asking for.  The most common error employees make is taking an offer to their boss expecting a counteroffer.  The boss, rather than countering, wishes the employee luck in the new position.

Want a raise?  Interesting.  How about you take a couple of days off while I determine how vital you are to the organization?

Elon Musk.  The most interesting man in the world.