Sit Down Old People - I'd Hire You, But You're Not "Digitally Native"....

Thoughts from the road.

Let's talk about old people.  No BS, no talking around it, let's just talk about old people in the workplace.
 
I'm coming off some leadership training with a client. Great people, and when I do that type of training I'm always reminded how most people who obtain any type of leadership position with a company (first-level managers and up) are talented and want to do great things.  
 
Here's another observation. The older managers in my group this week were great.  They were engaged, thoughtful, talented - and among the people I would trust the most to try and put the conversation techniques we we teaching in play at their company.
 
So why don't more companies want to employ older workers?  I'm convinced that this is probably THE undervalued sector in the employment marketplace right now. The-bucket-list
 
Why is this on my mind?  Mainly due to this article I spotted on the road from Inc, detailing the new codewords tech companies are putting into job descriptions to try and eliminate older workers from consideration.  Take a look at this bull#### (Inc reporting is solid, so I'm talking about the subjects of the reporting):

People would be rightly shocked if a job description for a high-tech position said: "whites and South Asians only" or "women need not apply." They'd be shocked not because racism and sexism aren't rampant in these firms, but because the company would be explicitly acknowledging that the racism and the sexism exists.

However, whilst they're sensitive about being outwardly racist and sexist, high tech firms are total fine with discriminating against one type of job candidate: anyone born before 1985. To express this, high-tech firms use the dog-whistle "digital native" which basically means "nobody older than 36 need apply." Here's an example from the Mountain View-based TapInfluence:

"As an Influencer Marketing Accounts Coordinator, you are an eager and ambitious can-do-er. You are bright, creative and won't stop until both you and your customers (marketers and influencers) are successful. You are a digital native who loves everything about social media and who keeps up with all the rising social trends." (Emphasis mine.)

The term "digital native" comes from a 2001 article suggesting that "children raised in a digital, media-saturated world require a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention." Over time, this highly-questionable notion that millennials are particularly prone to ADD and ADHD has morphed into the even-more-questionable notion that millennials are better adapted to the digital world.

Digital native.  Nice. New buzzword for old.  It used to be "energy", but everybody's probably on to that, so we changed it. Everyone take a bite of the turd sandwich that phrase is. Also, the article points out that Facebook diversity statement includes consideration for every protected group under the sun except - you guessed it - old people:


High tech firms, though, have so thoroughly embraced this "digital native" junk science that many don't even feel it necessary mention age in their pro-forma diversity statements. Like Facebook, for instance:

"As part of our dedication to the diversity of our workforce, Facebook is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion."

So that quote is the diversity footer on Facebook's posts on LinkedIn.  I'm not a big "let's be politically correct" person, so I really don't want to shame post on Facebook.
 
But **** it - shame on you Facebook.  You'll include every other protected class but the old folks?  Damn.
 
Old folks use tech products.  Old folks also trend more politically conservative, so If I was Fox News, I'd do a segment claiming that political leaning is the real reason you don't keep age top of mind as a protected class.  
 
But I'm not Fox News.  So I'll assume the reason you don't want old people is because you think they can't hang.  A lot of times, you might be right.
 
But older workers are a value play in the talent marketplace right now.  If you're looking for great talent, you might want to figure out a way to sort the player/non-player thing out across older workers.  I'd hire all of the older people I saw this week - without hesitation.  
 
Are they "digital native"?  I don't know.  But if you're discounting the whole class due to that factor, I've only got one thing to say:
 
Up yours. 
 
You're wrong.  Run a ####ing algorithm to figure out which of the older folks can hang.  That's what you do, right?  Use data to make smarter decisions?  Try that with older people and hire a few of them - the talented ones - and see what happens. 
 
I bet it's positive.
 

Kid Rock, Innovation and Resistance to Change...

Show love to those who come real with it
Life's a b**ch , but I deal with it
I'm in it to win it like Yzerman
Can drink about fifteen Heinekins
I'm not born again but if I was
I'd ask to come back with a little more love
Puffin the Winston, drinkin' a four-oh
Kid Rock and I'm a let you know...

Wasting Time --Kid Rock

----------------------------------

We’re all a little bit scared of change, aren’t we?

The year is 1998.  I turn on the MTV music awards and a see a white guy with long hair, a funky hat and a red suede sweatsuit jumping around stage, rapping and screaming.  The scene around him is surreal – there’s Kid rock a midget bouncing around on stage with him, the music behind him is 90% provided by a rock band with a bassist and lead guitarist who look like bikers and a middle-age black woman on drums. 

My conclusion.  This sucks.  It will never last.  Why are they on the MTV music awards.  WTF?

Well, it turns out that dirty white hippie was Kid Rock.  The world had it right early, I had it wrong.  I became a fan over time.  I was late to the game.

Love him or hate him, Kid Rock arrived.  Some of you never liked him.  Most of the world eventually did. 

We see things that interrupt our pattern, and our first instinct is to protect what we know – even if the new thing is better.  Need another example?

Messaging.  If you’re Gen X like me, texting came online at a time when I didn’t need another way to communicate.  Like a lot of people in their 30’s at the time, I WAS KILLING IN IT CORPORATE AMERICA VIA EMAIL.  I didn’t want or need texting.  My kids were young and without phones – I didn’t see what the big deal was. DID I MENTION MY EMAIL GAME WAS SICK?

Turns out, I missed a channel of immediacy with those I most wanted to communicate with.  Now I can’t think of life without the immediacy of text – although that responsiveness will go down over time.

You’ve got your own stories about how you resisted change in your life and now look back and feel stupid, right?  Hit me with those stories in the comments.

The point?  We are resistant to change, so we often are slow to see the benefits of new innovations that appear before us.  To be sure, not all new things are going to break through like texting – or like Kid Rock.

But it really doesn't matter.  Most of us are resistant enough to all change that we’re slow on everything – including the ones that really matter. 

That has to spill over into your ability to innovate at work, right?

If we’re slow to adopt changes that obviously improve the status quo, how could we possibly be expected to innovate on our own at work?

Oh, I GET IT – YOU’RE QUICK ON PROVIDING INNOVATION AT WORK BUT JUST A LITTLE BIT SLOW IN YOUR RESPONSE TO ADOPTING QUALITY INNOVATIONS PROVIDED BY OTHERS.

Sure you are, Sparky.  Sure your are.

 


BHAGs: You're Afraid. Elon Musk is Not...

BHAGs are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are positioned toward by a large group (rather than individuals) and they typically span a large amount of time than any of our other goals. They’re huge.

BHAGs can come in several flavors. Most are focused on one of four broad categories: reaching a defined target or metric, competition, organizational change, or reputation. Here are a few examples from some companies Elon-musk-mars you’ve probably never heard of…

-Reaching a defined target

“Attain 1 billion customers worldwide” – Citicorp, 1990s

-Competition

“Crush Adidas” – Nike, 1960s

-Organizational Change

“Transform this company from a chemical manufacturer into one of preeminent drug-making companies in the world.” –Merck, 1930s

-Reputation

“Become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” – Sony, 1950s

Wait - Nike wasn't always the leader? Japanese products were once considered low quality before Japan was kicking our ass in the 80's?

Well, before the world as we know it at Nike and Sony became the reality, leaders at those companies created a BHAG as a single unified vision for their people to rally around.

You know who else is good at BHAGs?  Elon Musk.  Musk basically BHAG'd his way into Tesla and Space X becoming great companies.  

Electric Car with quality and luxury?  BHAG.

Reusable rockets with segments that can land back on earth on pads?  B-freaking-HAG.

Well, here comes Musk again, probably the most adept user of BHAGs in the world.  The topic is Mars - more from The Guardian:

Elon Musk has unveiled plans for a new spacecraft that he says would allow his company SpaceX to colonise Mars, build a base on the moon, and allow commercial travel to anywhere on Earth in under an hour. The spacecraft is currently still codenamed the BFR (Big Fucking Rocket). Musk says the company hopes to have the first launch by 2022, and then have four flying to Mars by 2024.

Last year Musk proposed an earlier plan for the spacecraft, but at the time had not developed a way of funding the project. Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide Australia on Friday, Musk said the company had figured out a way to pay for the project.

The key, he said, was to “cannibalise” all of SpaceX’s other products. Instead of operating a number of smaller spacecrafts to deliver satellites into orbit and supply the International Space Station, Musk said the BFR would eventually be used to complete all of its missions. “If we can do that then all the resources that are used for Falcon9, Dragon and Heavy can by applied to this system,” he said.

BFR.  Musk isn't messing around.  The BHAG is set.

If history tells us nothing else, it tells us that Musk will probably make it happen.  Maybe not by 2024, but you can't have a BHAG without making it seem impossible.


Social Loafing - Do People Give Less Effort When You Add More Resources To a Team?

Social Loafing -the phenomenon of a person exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone.

Hmmmm....

----------------------------

From a book I'm reading...

One of the first scientists to explore the dynamics of group effort was a guy named Maximilien Ringelmann.  In 1913, Ringelmann conducted an experiment in which he asked Social loafingstudents to pull on a rope, both individually and in groups, while he measured the force they exerted.  The conventional view was that people in a group would have more power collectively than they did alone - in other words, adding people to the pulling group would have a multiplying effect on the force.

But the results were surprising - While the force applied did grow with every new person added, the average force applied by each by each person fell.  Rather than amplifying the power of individuals, the act of pulling as a team caused each person to pull less hard than they had while pulling alone.  Later researchers coined a name to the phenomenon.  They called it social loafing.

A later Fordham study decided to look at whether social loafing could be overcome.  They wanted to see whether one person giving a maximum effort could incite other to improve their performances. The scientists grouped their shouters in pairs and, before they began shouting, told them that their partner was a high effort performer. In these situations, something interesting happened. The pairs screamed just as hard together as they had alone. The knowledge that a teammate was giving it their all was enough to prompt people to give more themselves.

Is social loafing real in the workplace? I'd say 100% it is.  While high performing teams can do amazing things, the question is what does it take to be a high performing team?

You know some of the answers, right?  Goal setting, consistent feedback, task and role clarity within the team, etc.  Read deeper on social loafing and you'll find that the lack of clarity related to individual expectations causes many team members to assume/rationalize that other team members will do certain activities - so there's no need for them to act.

The impact of a reported high performer in the Fordham study is interesting as well.  Let's say you're at your company (ACME) and while you're a talented gal, you've had it on cruise control for awhile - the work is mundane, the people are mundane and even though some of your work teams aren't producing stellar results, you're still considered a high performer.

Why work harder? You're in a rut. 

Suddenly, a new hire shows up and you're told they're from a progressive company and are considered a key hire.  They're inserted into 2 of the 4 work groups you participate in at ACME and damn, they start trying to shake things up and get more done - even if it means doing more themselves than others are doing.

What do you do in those circumstances?  Deadbeats who are already long gone from an effort perspective might let them do it.  But anyone who still has ambition and a desire to be a high performer is forced to step up their game.

Social loafing exists in your company until you create some type of competition to wake people up.  

What type of competition is required?  Depends on your culture and your team.  Could be a key new hire, could be a project chart showing what people are working on or an overall scoreboard that puts the team in direct competition with others - or simply with themselves.

If you want to stop social loafing, introduce competition.  Competition is not a dirty word.  Don't let a sleepy culture at your company tell you otherwise.

 

 


ESPN Prez Wades Into Employee Political Identities with Jemele Hill Memo...

If you follow the media game (and in today's political environment where every outlet has a slant, it's hard not to), you might have seen that ESPN's Jemele Hill was out on her personal Twitter account calling the current POTUS a "white supremacist".

Here's the tweet (click through it you don't see it below, email subscribers):

Jemel

Of course, that led to a bunch of posturing, including conservatives wondering why someone like Linda Cohn (another ESPN anchor) was sent home/suspended for merely stating she thought the media outlet should be less focused on politics, while the Hill tweets were largely unaddressed by ESPN.  

From an HR perspective, I'm most interested in the intersection of someone's professional life and personal views, and how an organization navigates that.  Could Jemele Hill have been suspended or even fired?  Sure - but good luck with that with Trump as the target of her controversial comments. 

So ESPN is in a rough spot - highly visible employee makes comments sure to frustrate some of the base, but what can they do?  Well, ESPN did their best to continue to try and get in front of it with an internal memo.  More from the NY Post:

"ESPN president John Skipper sent a memo to all of the company’s employees late Friday afternoon (9/15/17), outlining his wish that ESPN remain an apolitical organization, regardless of outside perception.

“I want to remind everyone about fundamental principles at ESPN. ESPN is about sports. … We show highlights and report scores and tell stories and break down plays.”

“In light of recent events, we need to remind ourselves that we are a journalistic organization and that we should not do anything that undermines that position,” Skipper wrote in a memo obtained by Sports Illustrated. “We also know that ESPN is a special place and that our success is based on you and your colleagues’ work. Let’s not let the public narrative re-write who we are or what we stand for. Let’s not be divided in that pursuit. I will need your support if we are to succeed.”

Translation - your public views, even as a private citizen, can impact our success as a business.  And hey, I'm asking now - maybe next time I don't ask.  #stopplease

It's a well known fact of life that freedom of speech is alive and well - but just because that right is protected constitutionally doesn't mean your employer can't fire you if your stated views cause them problems with their client/customer base.

But as this column from former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons notes (once suspended himself for comments made publicly), the crazier the political environment gets, the harder it is to suspend/fire individuals for comments that might harm the business.

Interesting times.  Hit me in the comments with any craziness from employees you're seeing related to what I'll kindly call "this Trump thing"....


Are People Who Have 8-10 Years at Their Current Company Dinosaurs?

I think an interesting thing has happened when it comes to careers, and it's probably not a good thing.  People have historically judged you by switching jobs too often.  That's why I always counsel people to stick it out a year (preferably two) before jumping out of a less that perfect situation.

But in today's high change environment, there's another way candidates are getting judged:

Candidates who are approaching the decade mark (10 years) with the same company are increasingly being viewed as Get off my lawn being low-change, less-than-nimble dinosaurs.

Too harsh?  Well, I'm working on my 8th year at Kinetix, which far outlasts any other stop I've made in my career (previous record - 5.5 years.  I don't feel less nimble, but I can understand how the marketplace might think I'm "settled in."

"Settled in" is code for:

--set in my ways

--telling young kids to "get off my lawn" at work

--digging the long lunch

--not stirring up necessary change

--understanding it's "beer-thirty" somewhere.

OK, I'm an owner/investor at Kinetix, so maybe my situation is a bit different.  Like the Eagles once said, I can check out, but I can never leave - but I don't feel like I've checked out.

Unfortunately for those of my ilk (minus the ownership part) that would like to make a move - The 8-10 year professional grade worker who has risen to Director level, etc - the market might view them as settled in/tired.   For some, that's absolutely an accurate description.  For others, it's unfair.

If you're part of the latter group - open to a change but wearing the scarlet letter of too much time at your current company - there are things you can do to signal to the world that you don't sleep at work and could actually #### some #### up if they take a chance and hire you.  Things like:

1--update your LinkedIn profile (turn off notifications if you don't want your company to be notified)

2--write something that shows your passion for what you do

3--if you're cranking out killer work product that's non-proprietary, share the slides/excel/word docs publicly

4--participate in professional groups/events outside of work

What am I missing 1-company people?  What else can people who have been at the same place 8-10 years do to show they are open to new opportunities?  

It's hard being a middle-aged professional and straddling the line between being content and being eligible for the external game.

If you want to be in the external game, you've got to act accordingly.

Now get the #### off my lawn.


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.

 


FOXCONN & APPLE - Will The Suicide Nets Be Shipped to Wisconsin?

Did you hear the news?  Apple, through it's partner FoxConn, is bringing some of it's manufacturing to the US.  Click here to get the whole story.

Is that a good thing?  Of course it is.  The Trump administration is going to shout it from the rooftops - WE BROUGHT MANUFACTURING BACK TO AMERICA, PEOPLE!!!

For those of you that hate Trump, this has to be painful.  For politics in Wisconsin, it's going to be a visible reminder that pays dividends in 2020 - Trump won Wisconsin by a narrow margin of 47.2% to 46.5% for Hillary Clinton, thanks to overwhelming and underestimated support from working-class whites, making him the first Republican candidate to carry the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

You think commercials with a new Apple factory as the reminder aren't going to run on the hour in Wisconsin in 2020?  Don't be a rookie - OF COURSE THEY ARE.  Which means Wisconsin is likely done for the GOP in 2020. Suicide nets

Next stop with visible manufacturing jobs - at any incentive cost - Ohio, followed by Pennsylvania.

What type of jobs are going to be in this factory?  Pretty good ones - early reports are that Foxconn will invest $10 billion to build the massive display panel plant in Wisconsin that could employ up to 13,000 workers.  It will start with 3,000 workers making an average of $53,900 a year plus benefits.

But before my GOP and neutral Trump friends (I don't know any people who say they are pro-Trump these days) celebrate too much, put it all in perspective.  The iPhone factories aren't coming to the USA - you know why?

Because that stuff is sold en masse.  Phones are something everyone buys, and if you jack up the labor cost embedded in the phone, Americans will squawk.

Tim Cook and Apple did the smart thing by forcing Foxconn to build the factory they're going to build - the Wisconsin plant is going to make liquid crystal display panels used in computer screens, televisions and the dashboards of cars.  Less price sensitivity than the highly visible smartphone.

Advantage GOP.  I'm guessing at average pay of $53,000, the American Foxconn plant won't have suicide nets to catch workers intending to commit suicide by jumping from a building to allow their families to collect life insurance - because they've done the math and determined that's better for everyone, including themselves.  Click here for that full post on Foxconn I did in the past.  Picture of those nets to the right of this post.

Things that make you go hmmmm.

 

 

 


You Think Your Work Enemy Has Declared War: She Just Thinks It's Thursday...

"Some men just want to watch the world burn."

-Michael Caine in "The Dark Knight"

--------------------------

Intent is a funny thing.  You're in the workplace, and the workplace has established norms: Some men

--We talk to each other before we make decisions or take meaningful action

--We give people a heads up before we announce something that won't feel good to them

--We try to play nice and if confronted, we try to make the person confronting us feel good about our intent.

Of course, those are norms - guidelines if you will, not hard rules.  Every once in a while, you run into someone that does not give two ****s about your norms.  They do what they want, when they want and generally don't give you heads up that it's coming or make you feel better if you ask them about it after the fact.

You know, ass####s.  But in the era of Donald Trump, we're pretty quick to assign full villain status to people who don't play by the rules.

What's interesting about the people like this you think are enemies in the workplace is the following:

You think they're out to get you based on chaos they cause.  They probably think it's Thursday.

They aren't even thinking about you.  Tearing shit up is just what they do.  In the age of Trump, we're likely to cast them as villains and think they're out to get us.  That might be true, but in my experience, people who cause chaos can be factored into 3 categories when it impacts you:

1--They're out to get you.  It's what you thought.  They hate your guts, you're in the way and it's takedown time. 10% of the time, this is the reality.

2--They have a plan and a place they want to be unrelated to you.  They have a POA (plan of action) that's bigger than their relationship with you. You're taking it personally, but the "tearing shit up" and chaos impacts multiple people, not just you.  They're not even thinking about you, Skippy. 70% of the time, this is the reality.

3--They don't have a plan but love to keep everyone off balance as part of their managerial DNA.  Again, it's not about you.  Their business is chaos and by the way, the more positional power they have, the better that business is. 20% of the time, this is the reality.

Unless you're experiencing flavor #1 above, your best strategy is to keep an eye on it but ignore it.  Go about your business.  You do you, let them do them and save your emotional reaction and gun powder for when it really matters.  

If you're high sensitivity, this is going to be hard.  They're going to wear you out.  You think it's the workplace version of Normandy.

It's actually Thursday.  What's for lunch?


VIDEO: Google for Jobs: What Do HR and Recruiting Leaders Need to Do Next?

Going video for you today - lots of buzz about Google for Jobs, what it means and what HR and Recruiting Leaders need to know.

If you've got a big Indeed or Job Board spend, do you have to take action today?  Yes and no.  Take a look at the video below (email subscribers click through for YouTube clip if you don't see it below) as I interview Tim Sackett on Google for Jobs.  Tim covers how to make the most of Google for Jobs today, I cover the threshold you need to keep your eye on to know that someone's moved your cheese and when your current job board/Indeed/recruitment marketing allocation isn't working anymore.

BONUS - I sit in the cube of one of my direct reports who was on PTO and evaluate her "To Do" list which includes items with my name on them.

Good times!