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"....


Not Blowing Sh*t Up At Work is Hard...

"You think this is hard?  This isn't hard.  You know what's hard?  Riding a bike on a freeway, now that's hard."

--Willard Sims, Head Basketball Coach, Truman State

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Yep - Willard Sims was my college basketball coach at NE Missouri (later renamed Truman State, because, you know, we can't let people think our mission is to simply serve the region we Gunnyreside in - the horrors!), and he had a way with a quote.

He also sounded like Clint Eastwood playing Gunny Highway in Heartbreak Ridge.  Great guy, Willard Sims.

Every time I think about what's hard in life, I think about Willard and that quote.

You know what else is hard?  Not blowing shit up at work.  Because the easiest path to address something is just to blow some shit up.  Observe:

1--I'm on a plane this week.  One of my talented direct reports responds to an email.

2--I get the email on a plane.  I type up a fact-filled observation about said team member's response.  Turns out, feedback is required and there's a bit of tunnel vision.  I'm on the road, so an email back from a plane somewhere on the way to Boston is how it's going to go down.

3--I get distracted by a huuuuuuuuuge basket of snacks.  You're not handing them to me, so I take what I want?  Multiple items?  I take enough to prepare for the next tropical event that impacts the SE United States.  

4--I'm back.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, direct feedback.  Let's do this.  I have a some observations you might be interested in.

5--F***.  GoGoInFlight my ###.  It's down again.  No immediate feedback for you.

6--I read the email after waking up the next day from the hotel.  Might have made someone feel bad if I sent that.  Context is hard via email.

The path of least resistance (for me!) is immediate feedback.  But immediate feedback with face-to-face communication is hard.  Misunderstandings ensue.

I never sent the email.  I put it in the journal and hope to give the feedback 1-1.  Hard to do when remote so much of the time.

Not blowing #### up as a road warrior employee/manager isn't easy.  But if you're not telling someone that they did something right before you give them the notes for improvement, you're probably asking for trouble.

The snacks?  They were excellent.  GoGo still sucks.


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 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.


Can The Fired Google Engineer Show Us The Political Affiliations of Tech Companies?

By now, you've likely heard about the Google engineer who got fired for writing a diversity manifesto.  If not, here's what happened:

"Google employees are up in arms after a senior engineer at the company penned an anti-diversity manifesto that has spread through the Google-row-diversity-1company like wildfire. 

The manifesto criticizes company initiatives aimed at increasing gender and racial diversity and argues that Google should instead focus on "ideological diversity," according to a report by Vice's Motherboard, which first reported the news late on Friday. The 10-page treatise also claims that biological difference between men and women are responsible for the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry.

"We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism," reads the document, a copy of which was obtained by Gizmodo."

As you might expect, that type of manifesto was greeted with much criticism.  So much so, it created the following events this week:

  1. Google fired the engineer.
  2. There was a backlash related to the decision to fire the engineer.
  3. The Google CEO sent an email telling everyone it was all going to be OK.
  4. The email didn't tamper down the storm.
  5. Google's CEO understood the storm was so bad inside his company that he came back from a vacation in Africa with his family to be present for an all-hands meeting.

As I've said before in this space, freedom of speech is alive and well in the American workplace.  The problem is that employees believe that freedom of speech means they can't be fired.  As Google demonstrated in firing the engineer, a company's code of conduct and professional conduct policies generally give them the right to move people out if they are communicating ideas that aren't embraced by the majority of the company.

And there, my friends, is the rub.

Google fired the engineer because they thought the employee base dramatically would support that move.  As it turns out, a lot of people at Google thought his macro point was right - female engineers are hard to find because there's some genetic wiring in females that make careers in engineering less attractive to them.

So the sh*t show builds after the firing, and the CEO is coming back from halfway across the globe - because he knows he's ultimately responsible for calming this thing down.  

There's some macro points in the manifesto that many of you, if not most, would agree with.

But the guy is an engineer.  Of course, he takes it way too far.  That's what engineers who know no shades of gray do.

The most interesting thing I've seen about this case is polling on whether the engineer should have been fired across the major tech companies in America. Blind, an anonymous corporate chat app,  asked its users if they thought Google should have fired Damore, over 4,000 from different companies weighed in.

Perhaps most pertinently, 441 Google employees responded. Of them, more than half  – 56% to be precise– said they didn't think it was right for the company to fire Damore.

Here's how the poll worked out across the major tech companies - enable images or click through if you don't see the chart below.

Blind

Notable is that at Uber, 64% of employees who participated in the survey thought Google shouldn't have fired Damore. Employees at Apple and LinkedIn were nearly evenly split in the poll but leaned slightly toward approving Google's decision. Meanwhile, 65% of respondents from Lyft were good with the way it went down.  That kind of follows what we know at Uber and Lyft related to how they view the world.

The chart feels like most presidential elections, and tells you that even in the tech bubble, what seems obvious is not obvious.

Which is why the CEO of Google had to cut his vacation short to come back and try and hose down the situation.

Good times - and a reminder that employee sentiment isn't always (hell, ever) as simple as we think it is.

 


How To Be A Complete D**k During a Deposition (Google-Style)...

Who here has every been the subject of a deposition?  Who here has ever acted like jerk during a deposition towards an arrogant attorney from the other side?  

Great!  It's not just me.  Just one more thing we have in common... Page

A young HR capitalist was once the subject of a deposition featuring an arrogant, condescending attorney on the other side.  The young HR capitalist reacted in such a negative way that the attorney on his side had to call for a break and counsel the young HRC to stop being a d##k to the other side - even though they had it coming.

Favorite plays from the deposition playbook of mine the young HRC included -

--only answering questions in yes/no format when the question clearly called for more...

--answering questions framed in a negative tense (so you don't believe that manager...) "yes".  Because in my mind I'm saying yes to your statement, not going with the informal flow.  This is a formal event, right?

--not giving enough details on process because I can't clearly define it as it works a variety of ways - although there is a certain way it's supposed to work, but you didn't ask me that, did you?

No wonder that attorney called for a break during the young capitalist's deposition.

That's why the notes below from a deposition of Google co-founder Larry Page are so fun.  Page was recently deposed by attorneys representing Uber in a lawsuit filed by Google related to the allegation of stolen IP from self-driving car company Waymo.  Take a look at the notes below from the deposition Business Insider and see my notes in brackets and all caps:

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

 

The transcript is full of examples of Page responding tersely to questioning, such as this exchange:

Uber: Google invested in Uber, correct?

Page: Yes.

Uber: Do you recall when?

Page: My answer is yes. (PRO MOVE - JUST ANSWERING THE QUESTION YES/NO.  DID THEY WANT MORE? SURE, BUT YOU ANSWERED THE QUESTION.  SUCKS TO BE THEM)

Page said he wasn't familiar with how Google stores source code:

Uber: Do you know the way that Google typically retains things, like source-code materials and design specifications, and things like that?

Page: Yeah, I'm not that familiar with how we do that.

Uber: Is there an online repository, or do — do you even know that?

Page: I mean, there's some code-based repository thingy.  (THE SENIOR LEVEL "THINGY" OR "DOHICKIE" REFERENCE.  WELL PLAYED)

And this feisty exchange:

Uber: You're not familiar with the details of the trade secrets that are at issue here?

Page: Yes. (ANSWERING A QUESTION CALLING FOR A SIMPLE NO WITH A YES. IT'S NOT LARRY'S PROBLEMS THAT THEY PHRASED IT IN A WAY THAT HE COULD HAVE FUN WITH. "THAT'S CORRECT" IS BORING.  "YES" IS MUCH MORE FUN)

Uber: You don't know, for example, what the trade secrets are that Uber allegedly misappropriated?

Page: No, I do not.

Uber: Whenever it was that you learned — let me make sure I'm clear on this. You don't remember, sitting here today, when you learned or how you learned that Uber may have misappropriated Google or Waymo trade secrets. Is that right?

Page: That's correct.  (MISSED OPPORTUNITY - HE COULD HAVE SAID YES)

Uber: And you don't remember how you learned?

Page: I mean, that's correct, yes.

Uber: Did you authorize the filing of the lawsuit against Uber?

Page: I mean, I'm certainly aware of it, yeah, and then allowed it to proceed, I suppose. I'm not sure I authorized it. I'm not sure that's the right word.

Uber: Well, could a lawsuit of this magnitude be filed without your consent and approval?

Page: I mean, I guess I'm not — I'm the CEO of the company — parent company of Waymo, and Waymo operates more or less as an independent company.

Uber: Is Waymo authorized to file a lawsuit like this on its own without even consulting you?

Page: I mean, I don't know all the details of that.  (I'M FLYING AT 100,000 FEET PEOPLE.  YOU REALIZE I COULD BUY YOUR FIRM TODAY, RIGHT?  I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT GOOGLE BUYING IT, I MEAN ME PERSONALLY)

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Pros moves all the way around.  Holla if you've ever been a barrier to a successful deposition - as the actual subject of that deposition.


When Companies Hire Above You To Make a Statement (or Force You Out)...

There's a lot of plays in the ole' Human Capital Management playbook.  There are plays for recruits, high performers, difficult team members, managers, struggling performers and more....

This play is one that's run occasionally for low/struggling performers.  It's called:

"We're Hiring Someone in a Position of Authority Above You. In your functional area"

Bigger title than you.  You report to them.  You probably didn't even know we were in the market, but we just told you, so hey - meet the new boss.   You WERE probably the boss before if this play was ran, so the Who song doesn't apply ("meet the new boss, same as the old boss..).  If you were the boss and we just hired a superior above you to run your department, well, it's pretty clear the new boss is different than the old boss.

Got that?  Good.  Let's give you an example - Sean Spicer is out as the spokesperson for the Trump administration, but his resignation didn't come until Trump just hired someone above him.  More from The New York SpicerTimes:

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned Friday after telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with his appointment of Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financier, as his new communications director.

After offering Mr. Scaramucci the job on Friday morning, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Spicer to stay on as press secretary, reporting to Mr. Scaramucci. But Mr. Spicer rejected the offer, expressing his belief that Mr. Scaramucci’s hiring would add to the confusion and uncertainty already engulfing the White House, according to two people with direct knowledge of the exchange.

If the moves amounted to a kind of organizational reset, it was not part of a pivot or grand redesign. The president, according to a dozen people familiar with the situation, meant to upgrade, not overhaul, his existing staff with the addition of a smooth-talking, Long Island-bred former hedge fund manager who is currently the senior vice president and chief strategy officer at the Export-Import Bank, which he joined just last month. His rapport with the president establishes a new power center in a building already bristling with rivalry.

The hiring of Scaramucci above Spicer is a classic example of the play outlined above -"We're Hiring Someone in a Position of Authority Above You."

Are we firing you?  Nope.  Do you have the same level of authority you did?  Nope.  Here's a couple of things anyone who uses this play is trying to say:

--You aren't performing at a high level.  That's obvious if we hired a new position above you without letting you know/apply.

--Your performance hasn't been great.  Also obvious if we did what we did.

--We don't think you can do everything we need you to do.

--BUT - and this is significant - we aren't ready to fire you.  You have some sort of value, and we'd like you to continue.

Whether you continue or not in the role is up to you.  You'll likely have to reframe how you view yourself and what the possibilities are in our organization.  Can you do that?

If you can't, then you'll probably resign.  If you can't but can't afford to resign (yet), there's probably going to be some bumps in the road with the new boss.  

Meet the new boss.  You didn't even have a boss in your area of expertise yesterday.  #deep


MESSED UP PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Wall Selfie in Workplace (Confidential)...

Yeah, so I travel a bit for work - and I always try and grab some photos.  Ended up at a employer not to be named and took this one a few months back.  To be fair, this wasn't in the entrance of the building but a next level hallway.  Take a look and I've got a comment or two after the jump (email subscribers click through for image):

Selfie

Comments:

--Yes, that's a selfie being taken by a camera, not a smartphone.

--Yes, it's unclear if there's a viewfinder which would indicate it's digital over film.  We're not sure.

--Employer business is focused on sales to youth.  No, I'm not ####ing you.

Bonus points for getting the good looking people right.  Note to marketing director - just take the original art/image and cut that #### down and make it this:

Selfie2

I'm here for you, companies of the Brontosaurus age.  You're vintage, I'll give you that.

 

 


Targeting Companies Doing Layoffs in Recruiting Strategy - Smart or Lame?

If there's ever been something that's generated a "yeah, duh" in the halls of corporate America, it is the following:

"Company Z just announced a big layoff.  We should go after them from a recruiting perspective."

Well, yeah.  No Sh##.  The devil of course, is in the details.  That's what makes this recent tweet by Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, so interesting.  He's going direct and talking to up to 5,000 people recently impacted by a Microsoft layoff, encouraging them to consider a career at Salesforce.  See the tweet below (email subscribers enable pictures or click through for image):

 Microsoft announced July 6 that it would cut 10% of its global sales team — around 5,000 people. Around the same time, Microsoft CIO Jim DuBois resigned, although it's unclear whether his departure was related to the company's reorganization.

But back to the concept of recruiting people from companies doing layoffs.  Thoughts/questions for your reading pleasure and comments:

  1. Do we really want the laid off people?  They were the weak ones, right?  (damn - that's harsh. Bear with me)
  2. At the end of the day, most of us would love to create FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) in the minds of everyone at the targeted company.  Benioff has a big enough microphone to do that on a macro basis, but the rest of us can't really do that.  Neither can our CEOs, because most of them are babies when it comes to their use of social, their following, etc.
  3. That means in order to target survivors, your recruiters have to do the equivalent of the Mosul ground initiative (read up on your news!) and plant FUD the old fashioned way - by reaching out to candidates one at a time.
  4. But let's face it, if there was ever a time where you were going to reach to a passive candidate or two at a competitor with a "just checking in, heard about the BS" note, it's when a layoff occurs. Sadly, most TA shops have so much going on this won't happen unless it's demanded.
  5. Follow up notes on the value of laid off candidates - I believe they have value.  The bigger the layoff (5,000 is pretty big) and the better the economy when it happens (means the company missed on strategy, not a reflection of the talent), the more there will be high quality employees in the layoff.

Should we recruit from competitors who just announced a layoff?

Um - yeah.

But it's harder than it looks.  And you're CEO tweeting is likely to give you jack in the process.  So get ready to roll up your sleeves and spend a day targeting and pinging candidates with a personalized message.

PS - Benioff is talking to the survivors at Microsoft as much as he's talking to the impacted.  That's the value of having a rock star CEO who can "imply" a whole bunch of things with the social megaphone they have.