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January 2018

When Your Boss Acts Like a Dinosaur and You Just Serve Up The Brontosaurus...

In case you missed it, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the latest leader VP level FTE of the free world to espouse the benefits of having his underlings print stuff out for him to chew on.  Damn kids!  Where's my digital information printed out on something I can take notes on?  Or use to throw away my gum?  BTW, I'm almost out of Big Red - send the intern to the store. 

OK, let's look at the quote and analyze it after the jump.  More from Newsweek:

"Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that he prints out President Donald Trump's tweets and uses them to inform decision-making on foreign policy. Tillerson

The Texan was speaking to his predecessor Condeleezza Rice at a Stanford University event on Wednesday, at which he said the president is "world-class at social media," on which he reaches millions of people via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with messages that sometimes even his own team remain unaware of. 

"The challenge is getting caught up because I don't even have a Twitter account that I can follow what he is tweeting, so my staff usually has to print his tweets out and hand them to me," Tillerson told Rice."

Random and at times, astute thoughts on this:

1.  Condi is pressing her tongue against her teeth - or whatever method she uses - not to laugh out loud at Tillerson thinking he's being cool with this response.

2.  It's hard when you have an otherwise talented boss ask you for something stupid.  Sometimes the caveman just wants to eat, and it's easier to serve him the Brontosaurus than walk him through the issues.

3.  There would be A LOT MORE DINOSAURS in the world receiving this level of service.  But most of us saw administrative assistants go away in the 1990s, never to return.  So while this type of story is rare, it would be more common had the great OD plague of the 1990 not wiped 80% of the admins from the face of the earth.

4.  Tillerson has a legitimate security concern in not having a twitter account.  But I'm pretty sure that there's an analyst at the State Department that can set up autoforwarding to his smart phone via email or even a secure app - let's name it Sexy Rexy - and have it pop the minute Trump tweets.

5.  And yes, someone close to Tillerson has to tell him how bad this makes him look and help him at least have the appearance of looking digital.

It's one thing to have Marge print out the tweets.  It's another thing to tell the world you're on top of twitter and use it for policy by - wait for it - printing stuff from "The Twitter Thing" out.

 

 


How to Involve Employees In Goal Setting - Even If You're 99% Sure Some of Their Ideas Will Suck....

I'm up over at Saba Software talking about goal setting - something that should be on everyone's mind at the start of the year, right?

You must include your direct reports in the goal setting process. I know – sometimes their ideas aren’t great. It’s OK – I'm going to show you how to involve the direct report in the goal setting process without being held hostage by bad ideas about goals. You can include them and maintain control of the process.

The more you can show they had input, the more you win by increased engagement towards the goals. Take a look at this episode of TalentTalks at Saba Software to learn more/how.

Click here to see my video for a 3-step process to including your employees in goal setting - in risk-free, no BS way.

Goal setting

VENDORSPLAINING: Here's a Tone-Deaf Business Conversation...

If you're like me in the world of HR, you get hit by a lot of vendors.  Vendors you currently use get priority to your time.  That's what makes this conversation so damn fun.

The Scene: I'm on a call with an Account Manager for a CRM we use.  It should be noted that the company I work for (as well as serve as a partner and co-owner) is a RECRUITING COMPANY - Kinetix!  Stay tuned for why that is relevant.

Me: So Tom, thanks for the call today and the rundown of the opportunities you see for us to get the most out of your system.  When it comes to the next step, I'm currently in the process of hiring for the vacant role I described, so it Pleasemakes sense not to do any follow up until that person is in the seat, which I think will be early February.

Tom: That sounds great.  Keep in mind that if you need a person with a deep understanding of our CRM, we have some recruiting partners who can help you out.  Just let me know if you need that introduction.

<awkward silence. Bubble over my head would be captioned, "What the #@**!">

Me: Tom, you realize we are a recruiting company, right?  I just wanted to check on your understanding of that since I swore you just offered to put me in touch with an external recruiter.  That sounds like you don't have a lot of confidence in the mission of our company.

Tom: Um. Well. Um. Er.  You know, I had a momentary lapse there. Um. Well. Um. Er...

Me: OK, that's interesting.

<nervous laughter from other CRM reps on call. Secretly they are cheering the combative spirit displayed.  Evident they are not worried about hurting Tom's feelings - or mine, for that matter>

<call goes on - we pick up the call 4 minutes later>

Tom: OK Kris, we'll plan on following up with you late in the first week of February to see if you've got the new person aboard.

Me: That sounds great, Tom.  By the way, if you need a reliable CRM to place that reminder, I know a good one.  Not sure if you've heard of it, it's called Microsoft Outlook.

<more nervous laughter and virtual backslapping.  Apparently, we are all on the same team. That team's name is #ShameOnTom>

--Vendorsplaining!  I'll be here all week - don't forget to tip your server, and please, try the veal.

And yeah, Kinetix! is a vendor as well.  Do business with us and I'll never tell you where you can find a good <insert your company's product or service> even though that's your business!!

 


Why "Get Focused/Do Better/Play Harder" is a Horrible Coaching Strategy...

In the business and sports world, there's a huge coaching crutch that's often said, but rarely means anything.

"Get Focused...Do Better...Play Harder" Screaming-coach

You hear the first two (and versions of those two) often in the business world.  Someone is struggling and everyone is frustrated - the manager, the employee in question, the skip level folks watching the show, the teammates impacted by the individual's struggle - everyone.  

When it comes time to coach the person in question - and perhaps help them - only general advice is given.

Get focused. Please.

The same story exists in the sports world.  I have a saying when it comes to coaching in the sports world - "When you hear a coach constantly telling a struggling player or team to play harder, just accept the following fact - he/she doesn't know how to fix the problem."

To be sure, getting focused in business and playing harder in sports is required.  But when performance issues are apparent, the thing that's generally missing is technical advice and coaching on both fronts.

You're overwhelmed by what is in front of you on the job.  Let's break down what you should do first.  You're struggling with a specific part of the job - let me help you find a path to improve in that area since I'm your coach.

You can't stop anyone from scoring in a team sport.  I could scream at you to play harder, but that's probably not going to result in better results.  Instead, I have to dig into your defensive technique and find a way to make you better individually and then show how that fits into the team philosophy.

After I coach you technically, of course I have to hold you accountable to delivering on what we covered, as well as continuing to coach the technique and make you better.

When you hear a manager or coach telling a struggling individual to get focused or play harder, it means they don't know how to fix the problem.

If you want to be a better coach in the business world, focus less on glittering generalities and start coaching technique/approach.

 

 


What To Do If Your Company Doesn't Give MLK as an Official Holiday - But You Think You Should...

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK) is a holiday with increasing importance in our world.  But most companies don't provide this as an official holiday.  Here's the stats I could find via Bloomberg:

"Most U.S. workers won’t get Monday off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  A study by Bloomberg BNA found 37 percent of employees will get a paid day off, similar to the 35 percent that will be off on Presidents Day in February.

The survey found that as a paid day off, Martin Luther King Jr. Day might have plateaued. Those receiving it as a paid holiday have hovered between 30 percent and 37 percent the past five years.Manufacturers are least likely to provide it as a day off, with 10 percent offering it.

Non-federal holidays such as the Friday after Thanksgiving are more common days off. About seven in 10 employees receive that as a holiday, and 46 percent are off Christmas Eve." Mlk

MLK presents an interesting quandary for employers.  If you don't have it, employees and candidates are increasing expecting it as a holiday, and MLK - rightly or wrongly - can be used as a proxy for commitment to diversity by vocal, mobilized special interest group and employees alike.  I'm not saying you're not committed to diversity if you don't provide MLK as an official day. I'm saying it could be used against you, and all of us are smart to think about the meaning and what we should do if we don't provide it.

Let's say you've determined you want to provide MLK Day as a holiday, but you want to stay net even related to the total number of days you provide.  Here's the checklist I go down...

1--It's not enough to say people can used general PTO or floating holidays to cover it.  If you want the optics and meaning  that providing MLK day off provides, it needs to be an official holiday.

2--If you have floating holidays or general PTO banked time, you could designate MLK as an official holiday and reduce that banked time by one day. 

3--Next, you could look at your existing holidaysI rank order them like this:

Untouchable - Christmas (birth of Jesus), 4th of July (birth of our country), Memorial Day (remembering those who served and gave their lives)

Less meaningful but still untouchable - Christmas Eve (wow - try it - I wish you luck) New Year's Day (just try and take that one), Thanksgiving (our right to remember Omish-like founders and eat large amounts), Labor Day (celebrating workers - try that one)

One you could trade out, but there would be hell to pay - Day after Thanksgiving (expected if you've already given it - hello entitlement!!)

Trade this one or one like it out for MLK in 2019 - President's Day, Columbus Day, etc.  (Let's face it, the presidents are on money, and damn, Columbus didn't even really discover America, right?)

If you want to give MLK as a holiday but want to stay even related to paid time off, this is your playbook.  1) Trade out President's Day or Columbus Day if have it.  2) If you have floating holidays or generalized PTO, reduce by one day and designate MLK as official in exchange. 3) Go get Friday after Thanksgiving or (winces) Christmas Eve to trade for MLK.

Good luck if you're seeking to add MLK and stay neutral related to time off.  I hope your Change Management goes well.

 

 

 

 


Can HR Be Trusted to Lockdown Vulnerability and Secrets From the Employee Base?

At the end of the day, employees have to trust any HR pro enough to come forward and share bad stuff with said HR pro.  What type of bad stuff?  What type of bad stuff do your employees have?

Hate. Addiction. Family Dysfunction. Ambition. Concerns about others.  Just to name a few.

All these things and more are filed under topics that employees would love to talk to someone about. Due to the role of HR, a good HR pro is a likely target for an employee to vent to.  But before they make the decision to confide in you, they have to evaluate whether you can be trusted.

More from Jennifer McClure at Unbridled Talent:

"But I do recall a conversation I had one day with an employee who was experiencing some issues at work. When I offered to listen and provide support, she said “Unfortunately, I can’t talk to you about this. It’s not that I don’t trust you personally. It’s the chair that you sit in. You have the authority to fire me. And I can’t risk that.”

After she left my office, I thought about what she’d said. I wanted to be offended. But I kinda understood where she was coming from. While it was frustrating that she wouldn’t allow me to try to help out just because of my position in the organization, I also knew that sometimes it was part of my role to be involved in making decisions about her career. So sharing a weakness or performance problem with someone who has that type of influence could be perceived as a risk."

Go read Jennifer's post.  Then think about the kind of HR pro you are.  I'd tell you that when it comes to employees considering whether they want to confide in you on a deep level, there are 3 types of HR pros:

  1. No way, no how. You've got a reputation for sharing information about others with the wrong people. You talk too much, and this is most commonly manifested by you talking about other employees to... you guessed it.... their peers - other rank and file employees.  Which causes them to wonder what you would do if they shared something deep about themselves that they're struggling with.
  2. You haven't ####ed it up yet. They look at you as an HR pro and see someone they shouldn't distrust, but you haven't earned your stripes yet as someone that can go on lockdown and be fully trusted.  At some point, someone's going to test that, seeking to trust you and ask you for advice.  When that day comes, you'll have to listen, offer advice, put the info in a lockbox (shoutout to Al Gore, inventor of the internet) and not share with anyone.  You know, be trustworthy.
  3. The Rock. Employees have trusted you with some bad stuff about themselves in the past. You listened, offered advice and then most importantly, locked it down.  You didn't talk to other employees and just as importantly, didn't share the info with their boss, other senior team members in your unit, etc.  As a result, employees talk. You've got a reputation as someone that can be trusted, even though the employees who share that opinion never talk about what they shared with you.

HR pros earn their reps with results - either negative or positive - when employees choose to trust them. Like the rest of the human race, some HR pros are great building and maintaining trust, some aren't.

My advice for any HR pro is to develop a quick script to share with any employee that approaches you and tells you they're about to go deep.  My favorite is something related to confidentiality that suggests, "if you're asking for confidentiality, I can tell you I can deliver that with the exception of things that are legal issues or would negatively impact our business."

My experience is that the best HR pros usually have quite a bit of stuff on lockdown.  Do employees trust you?  That's a fair question any HR pro should ask themselves.

 


ASK THE CAPITALIST: Are HR Pros with MBAs Special Anymore?

Kris- 

Would love to know your opinion on a trend I am seeing as I'm screening HR Director candidates... DOCTOR IS IN 

I used to encourage HR undergrads to pursue their MBA instead of a Masters in HR. I felt it held more value for businesses and was a tough program that would advance them in ways a specialized degree couldn't. 

I am shocked at the number of candidates I am seeing with an MBA and MA in HR. 

The result for me is I am losing respect for the MBA! I mean, if sooo many people can get one, is it really a tough program? Does it really demonstrate anything special anymore? 

What do you think? Am I way off track with my line of thinking? 

-AW

---

AW - 

I obviously have to lead with a Groucho Marx quote here - "I'd never belong to any club that would have me as a member".

Your advice is still relevant, and if it's any consolation, lots of young HR pros took your advice, right?  Now they're pissed off that people like you won't get out of the way fast enough, and in a cocktail of following AW's advice and having time on their hands - they've got more degrees than they've had jobs.  I say this as someone with 3 degrees, including a MBA.  But I'm Gen X - now a veteran of all this we call HR.

You're obviously seeing the explosion related to accessibility and availability of the MBA.  Distance learning and lots of options has made the MBA tag a bit easy to gather, which I think means you've got to evaluate what the candidates are actually presenting in a couple of different ways:

1. Where did they pick up the MBA and did they actually have to work hard to achieve it? Traditional programs where you have to spend time in class still rule in my eyes - that commitment, along with the interaction that occurs when you have to work in groups with other humans is still the most important thing.  That being said, there's a lot of online MBA programs that work the hell out of people, with University of Phoenix coming to mind.  Of course, there are a lot of diploma mills as well, which is why you feel the way you do.  

Good rule of thumb - any school with a directional name without reference to a state or city is a problem.  Southeast Missouri?  Says legit to me.  Southeastern University?  Wait, Southeastern where?  Oh, university... <shudder>

2. The most important thing related to the MBA is what they learned and how it's changed them.  With that in mind, some of your interview process has to go after what they learned from the MBA program and how they applied it.  Additionally, how has it changed them?  If someone really took the MBA and ran with it, when you ask them for a portfolio of their work at their job, you'd like to think they could provide that to you.

No portfolio means they checked off a box.  Existence of a portfolio means it changed their worldview a bit and now are looking to create work product that helps them in the future.

I still like the MBA.  I just think you'll have to do a little work to figure out what Steve Martin learned in The Jerk - what's S*** and what's Shinola.  


What Part of the Normal American Workplace Will Be Most Impacted by #metoo?

There's a ton of good that's come from the daily breaking news associated with the #metoo movement.  Creeps everywhere are being held responsible for their behavior, and society in general seems to have a higher awareness for what's appropriate and what's not.  There's a lot of details in between, but the one I spend the most time thinking about is the following:

When does the #metoo movement hold common day, ordinary creeps accountable Work deep into the American workplace, where there's no media coverage of the proceedings?

I'm not sure I know the answer. For all of the good that's come out of the #metoo proceedings, it's still murky how the ordinary American workplace will be impacted.  Awareness is great, but the true creeps can keep on giving the creepers to all around them at the soft drink distributor in Peoria, IL.  There's no media to report on those stories, and without the positive impact/protection of coverage, many impacted by harassment are less likely to report.

The industry that might have the most potential for a #metoo movement aware from media coverage?  It might be your local restaurant.  Here's more from the New York Times:

"Restaurants are like pirate ships. Each has its own code, with distinct values and rules. Some crews are kind, supportive and disciplined, relatively speaking. Others are angry, surly, misogynistic and drunk. New crew members quickly fit in, or jump ship. Like pirate crews, restaurant staffs are cohesive societies, but they aren’t big on transparency, and it’s hard for outsiders to know what’s happening.

Fifty years ago, when nobody cared what went on in restaurant kitchens except health inspectors and tax collectors, acting like pirates was probably a useful skill. Today, though, it is outmoded.

Customers may enjoy the occasional sample of salty pirate speech, but they also care about the inner workings of kitchens. They know the names of the chef, the sous-chef, the pastry chef, the head bartender. They’ve watched TV documentaries about the creative process behind trout roe in little cups made of pig’s blood. They’ve heard many chefs talk on many occasions about certain kinds of ethical behavior, having mostly to do with livestock.

Something has gone grotesquely wrong when chefs brag that the chickens they buy lived happy, stress-free lives, but can’t promise us that the women they employ aren’t being assaulted in the storage room."

I'd encourage all to go read the NYT piece.  There have been celebrity chefs who have been taken down my #metoo, but the vast majority of the industry isn't driven by celebrity chefs.  

But, the familiarity of customers with the chefs and staff at private restaurants across America presents an interesting opportunity.  If you care about where the chickens come from as a patron, do you care about the treatment of the women staff at La Paz?

Not many customers are sensitive to how anyone is treated at the cable company.  They already hate the cable company, so it stands to reason that the cable company treats their people like garbage (no matter how wrong the treatment is).  No one would be surprised by that.

But your local white cloth restaurant?  What would you say if you new the owner was asking female servers to come pick up the cash bag at his place and opening the door in a robe?

Yeah, you'd probably get the creepers and not go back.

With tools like Yelp out there, were only a new feature away from the review economy telling you how female friendly that privately-owned restaurant is.

For that reason, the restaurant industry is ripe for accountability related to the #metoo movement.

Interesting times.


HR CAPITALIST FRIDAY: Promote That Freaking Millennial... Here's Why...

I throw my tape on 
And I watch ya 
Three second later 
I got ya shakin' your head 
Dancin' instead of sittin'
The rhymes kick 
The beats hittin' you 
Just like a home run 
Slammin' like a slam dunk
Riding the wave that James Brown gave funk 
It happened to James like it happened to me 
 

Just had a millennial on my team make a Kool Moe Dee reference correctly and in context.  2018 looks to be a great year.... (email subscribers, click through for the video below) 

As a follow up to my recent post on creating a "managed by me" operator's manual, citing Kool Moe Dee correctly and with confidence is a clear included item on the "for best results with your KD, please ______."  As in"for best results with your KD, you could subtlety drop a Kool Moe Dee reference."

But that's probably not enough.  Here's an interview question for the next millennial in front of me:

"Do you know any songs by Biz Markie?"

That question was a trap. Every drunk millennial has sang along to "You Got What I Need".  It doesn't make them special to their GenX overlords, it just makes them look like a lush.

The real question is the follow-up:

"Hahaha.  Party song, right?  What's the next song that comes to mind when you hear the name Biz Markie?"

Can you feel it, nothing can save ya
For this is the season of catching the vapors
And since I got time, what I'm gonna do
Is tell you how this spreaded throughout my crew... 
(video below for email subscribers..)

It better be Vapors, youngster.  Of course, if you're reading this, you're feeling great.  But if you really think about it, what if this is a trap and I'm really going to ask you to go deeper?

Have a great weekend.  God bless all GenX managers.  


You Might Need A "Managed By Me" Operator's Manual in 2018...

Quick thought for you today.  If you're looking to refresh the working relationship you have with the people who work for you in 2018, it might be time to publish an "operator's manual" for those that report to you.  What's a "Managed By Me" Operator's Manual look like?

Managed by Me Operator's Manual - a guide put together by a manager of people to let his/her direct reports understand the best way to operate the complex machinery/algorithm that represents them as a manager. Hit me

Wondering what could be included in that?

1--Behavioral strengths and weaknesses.  Don't forget that most extreme scores in any behavioral category serve as both strength and weakness.  Depends on the circumstances.

2--For Best Results, please ___ and ___.   You're human, so it stands to reason that there is a "most effective" way to deal with you.  This could easily be broken up into guidance on how to maximize results related to communication style, level of information you want, etc.

3--Common Issues.  Yes, people have had problems with you before.  You've been manufactured in a six sigma facility, but given the number of reps you've been used, there's bound to have been some problems.  You tell people about those problems and tell them how to fix/who to call/what the warranty period is.

4--Some Maintenance Required.   That's right!  You don't just run a car for 20,000 miles without doing some routine things to make sure you're good to go.  The same holds true with you.  Tell them what maintenance is required to maximize their time with you.  If you expect rundowns of major projects, tell them what you need, how often, etc.

The point of the "Managed by Me Operator's Manual" is to refresh.  You've been around your people for awhile, and things might seem flat.  You can change it up by providing this doc to you people and perhaps have some fun on the way.

You think they know how to work with you.  I guarantee they don't know everything you think they know about you.  In addition, we're trained as managers of people to believe that it's up to us to manage our teams.  

Truth is that managing teams is a two-way street.  They're as responsible for managing up to you as you are directly managing them - if you want the best results.  The Operator's Manual on you as a manager is a fun way to refresh the relationship and put some of that burden back where it belongs - on them.