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.

 


Mansplaining Gender-Related Harassment...

I'm up today over at my other site - Fistful of Talent - with a post called, "A Man’s DIY Guide to Rid Your Company of Gender-Related Harassment".  Here's a taste:

"Ready for some mansplaining?  Good, because I’m a guy, and damn, it seems like companies are having a hard time avoiding gender-related harassment.  So I’m here to help.

I’m referring to s*x**l harassment, but I have to call it gender-related harassment because a lot of you have email filters at the corporate level that won’t allow content in with the word s*x**l.  You know, because you can’t be trusted.  As a result, you end up missing good stuff like this and Marvin Gaye videos your friends might send you.  Sucks to be you.  But I digress."

Go get the full post over at Fistful of Talent by clicking here.

 

A Man’s DIY Guide to Rid Your Company of Gender-Related Harassment


UBER's New Leadership Exec Pledges to Wear Uber T-Shirt Every Day, Until...

Company logo gear is a tricky thing.  There's a lifespan of when and where employees are willing to wear your logo shirts in public.  The cadence goes something like this:

--Startup Mode - your employees are willing to wear your logo gear anywhere and everywhere, especially if you've done a nice job related to your colors and the logo itself. Frana To the extent you have a good/great culture, the willingness to wear your logo shirts in this stage gets magnified.

--Growing Pains Mode - with size comes complexity, and things aren't as rosy any more.  Your employees gladly wear your logo shirt on an assigned day, but you see less and less of the gear on a daily basis as employees become more neutral in their pride to work at your company.  Most companies never progress to a more negative state than this related to how their employees treat logo wear.

--Cable Company Mode - I used to be a leader at a Cable company, and this mode is the most negative spot in the employee/logo wear continuum. Your employees will change their shirt in the car - from your logo to no logo - to avoid customer confrontations and negative feedback.  Who likes the cable company?  No one, so it stands to reason your employees just want blend in with the crowd when grabbing a gallon of milk.

You know who's recently moved into the Cable Company Mode when it comes to logo gear?  Uber, at least for the time being.  The wave of news related to driver relations and harassment claims from employees has moved them straight for "logo wear pride/startup mode" to "Cable Company Mode", albeit with a certain tech swag that could retain some pride.

That's why a recent interview with Frances Frei , Uber’s new vice president of leadership and strategy was so interesting.  Appearing on stage with Recode’s Kara Swisher at a live onstage taping of the Recode/Decode Podcast, Frei wore and Uber t-shirt and told the audience and listeners that she's taking the following approach (which I'm paraphrasing)"

--"I'm wearing a Uber t-shirt every day, until it becomes acceptable to do it again."

Think about that for a second.  There's drama at Uber, and employee pride is likely at an all time low.  The struggles have been public and no one wants to be seen in the Bay area wearing an Uber t-shirt.

But a new leader makes the pledge to wear that t-shirt daily.  To engage in all the conversations that it will encourage - both good and bad.

--Wearing the company t-shirt - leadership-light.

--Wearing the company t-shirt knowing it will cause 5-10 conversations a day you could have avoided - hmmm.

The second one feels like a stab at true leadership, and a small path to recovery for whatever the culture becomes at Uber.

Well played, Frances.


UBER-ing: 5 Thoughts About Naming Your Primary Conference Room The WAR ROOM...

In case you missed it, one of the outcomes of the Uber fiasco - in addition to an indefinite leave for the CEO, departure of a board member for an inappropriate comment during an all-hands meeting among other things - was that the company will be renaming it's primary conference/board room from "The War Room" to "The Peace Room".  More from Bloomberg:

Uber is trying to turn a new chapter in its history, and is renaming its "War Room" the "Peace Room," according to Bloomberg. Uber

On Tuesday, Uber released a 13-page report it had commissioned from Eric Holder, the former US attorney general, and his firm, which sought to evaluate and make recommendations for changes to Uber's corporate culture.

"Several of Uber’s planned changes are symbolic," Bloomberg's Eric Newcomer wrote. "For example, a conference room known as the War Room will be renamed the Peace Room."

Uber will also jettison many of its "cultural values." Here are a few that are getting the ax: “Let Builders Build; Always Be Hustlin’; Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping; and Principled Confrontation.”

Where at we meeting at Kinetix today?  THE WAR ROOM.  Should we change thatname?  Here's some thoughts from the a company where the halls are orange and the majority owner is a woman:

--If I'm apologetic to anyone from our primary conference room being named the War Room, it's not the folks who expect political correctness, it's veterans who have participated in armed conflict.  Business isn't war.  If a hat tip is necessary to anyone, it's vets.

--Our culture is pretty far from Uber.  I'm not sure renaming the room is necessary for us.

--We've named all of our offices, and most of them are pop culture movie and music references.  So the rest of the names are pretty soft.

--We don't have the values that Uber had, but our values are pretty action-oriented.  War room fits the action orientation.

--My CEO would fire me if I changed the name of The War Room to The Peace Room.  Too much.  I'd fire me too.

I get why Uber is doing all of these visible things.  They need to overcorrect.  The rest of us don't.  "Always Be Hustlin'" as a value?  Tells you all you need to know.

Alternatives if you need to change the name of "The War Room" to something else:

--The Conflict Room (lame)

--Politically Incorrect (descriptive, but presents liability)

--Mosh Pit (rock is dead, won't work..)

--Hunger Games (probably true and pop culture reference fits)

--Let's Get It On 

Scratch that last one, that was from Uber's list right before they named it The War Room....

Hit me with your best option in the comments to rename "The War Room".... If you say "Conference Room 1", I'll slap you.


PURE GOLD: On the Topic of Age Bias and Startup Culture...

Old people are..just so..so..so...old!

Coming off a two-day blitz to finish some interviewing training, and what interviewing training would be complete without a section on non-Title VII bias that impacts us all?  Turns out, science shows we all like a certain type of person no matter their qualifications.  Among the things we're suckers for:

--attractive people...

--smooth communicators...

--people who are alums from the school we went to...

--candidates who tell us we are both attractive and smooth as part of the interview...

Kidding about the last one.  You know what's not listed above as something we are subconsciously attracted to?  People who are older than us (related to attractiveness for sure).  That's why this farce blog post from a fictional startup was so accurate - it basically just says it all.  Check out these excerpts from the post at McSweeneys and then go read the whole thing:

"Hello, and welcome to our startup. We hope you’re enjoying your complimentary snifter of vaporized coconut water. Once you’re done, please place the glass into one of the blue receptacles around the office, which will send the glass to be washed and dried. Do not place it into one of the red receptacles. The red receptacles take whatever you put inside of them and launch it into space.

As you can probably tell by looking around, every employee at our startup is 23 years old. On the morning of your 24th birthday, the barcode on your employee ID stops working and you can no longer enter our building. We do this to ensure our company has a ceaseless, youthful energy. We believe old people are displeasing to look at and also, bad at ideas.

Care for a nap? Well, you are more than welcome to take a quick, refreshing nap in one of our many nap pods. You will be lulled to sleep by the soothing sound of our 23-year-old founder softly whispering startupy things such as, “Disruption,” and “Like Uber, but for horses.”

Go read it all.  It's all truer than we'd like to admit at all companies who chase culture as part of a strategic plan.


The Perils of Your Company Culture Becoming Sales-Focused (Above All Else)...

Nothing happens without sales.  Treat your salespeople right, because unless they kill something, nobody eats.

For the reasons stated above, it's not wrong for the leaders of your company to want to transform your culture into a sales machine.  The problem happens when people who weren't hired to sell suddenly find themselves with quotas but no idea of what to do next.

I was reminded of the perils of leaders trying to transform a decent culture into one that is purely revenue-focused by two things over the holiday weekend.  First, this from Fast Company on the Tesla acquisition of one-time solar energy darling SolarCity:

If there was one sign that the company was flying too close to the sun, it was, many felt, an extravagant sales-team huddle in Las Vegas around March 2015. In a scene straight out of HBO’s Silicon SolarCity.IPO_1Valley, Barnard, then SolarCity’s chief revenue officer, burst onto the stage in front of Lyndon, Peter, and 1,300 employees (Musk would arrive later) at Hakkasan nightclub, rapping over Nicki Minaj and Drake’s hit “Truffle Butter” while surrounded by provocatively dressed dancers. At another point, he appeared dressed as Helios, the Greek sun god, wearing a green suit of armor designed by the same people who created the Iron Man costume for that movie. “The party was cool,” recalls hip-hop artist Chingy, who also performed. “Lots of energy, a beautiful crowd. We shined like the sun.” There was, after all, much for them to celebrate. SolarCity was by then the clear industry leader, owning a third of the residential market and handling more installations than its next 50 competitors combined. (Barnard explains that he was only trying to rally his troops, and strongly denies that the culture became bro-y. “I don’t tolerate that bullshit,” he says.)

OK - that's fun, but what follows shows how the grind to create revenue and keep growth rolling quarter/quarter and year/year can result in less than stellar sales practices:

The company’s growth rate—it was hiring 100 sales reps a week to help hit aggressive targets—led to some dubious tactics when it came to marketing SolarCity’s zero-money-down concept. Many sources felt that the drive to hook customers often eclipsed any concerns about whether they would follow through with the lease purchase. “You had all these poorly trained reps basically going, ‘Just sign here! Don’t worry, you can cancel any time!’ ” says a former sales director. “People were treating it like signing off on iTunes’ terms and conditions.

The company’s average cancellation rate increased to 45% or higher; its door-to-door sales team saw rates of 70%, multiple sources say. (The SEC is reportedly probing the lack of public disclosures around cancellation rates in the solar industry. A spokesperson for SolarCity says that rates have improved, and that the company reports on “installed assets,” rather than “preinstallation cancellation rates.”) With competition in the solar space increasing, SolarCity engaged in a pricing war with many of its rivals, a race to the bottom that hurt deal profitability.

If there's one thing that seemingly happens a lot when companies/employees are under incredible pressure to sell, it's the emergence of low quality/borderline fraudulent sales that might not ever generate revenue as outlined above at SolarCity.

I wrapped up the holiday week by listening to some former Wells Fargo employees talk about the account fraud that happened at the company, with over 2.1 million fake accounts created by associates at the giant retail bank.  To hear my dinner companions tell it, everyone in the company knew it was going on. Find a good rundown of what happened at Wells Fargo here - and here's a great snapshot of what can go wrong when you say EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE IN SALES at your company:

“Cross-selling,” it’s called, and virtually all banks want to do more of it. Once a customer opens a checking or savings account, maybe he or she would also like an auto loan or overdraft protection or a credit card. The more products a customer has with a bank, the more money the bank makes and the less likely the customer is to leave. That’s why all banks cross-sell. But arguably no bank has ever done it with the fevered intensity of Wells Fargo.

Training in “questionable sales practices was required or you were to be fired,” a former employee tells Fortune. “We were constantly told we would end up working for McDonald’s” for not meeting quotas, a former branch manager told the Los Angeles Times in 2013; another former branch manager said employees “talked a homeless woman into opening six checking and savings accounts with fees totaling $39 a month.” 

The message was clear to everyone in the retail bank: “The route to success was selling more than your peers,” the board’s investigation found—not profitability or customer satisfaction, but simply selling more products to each customer. Everyone knew the goals were sheer fantasy for many branches and employees. At some branches not enough customers walked in the door, or area residents were too poor to need more than a few banking products. Bank leaders called overall quotas “50/50 plans” because they figured only half the regions could meet them. Yet no excuses were tolerated. You met the quotas or paid a price.  The predictable result: fake accounts.

Ugh. Companies can't succeed without sales.  But leaders who are trying to transform from product/service cultures to become sales machines at all costs generally fail.  More often than not with jail time being possible/likely for someone involved.


Sometimes Great Teammates Decide To Let Co-Workers Live With the Consequences of Stupid Decisions...

Sometime after your first year with your company, you start to settle in.  All the onboarding is complete, the honeymoon is over and you've accurately assessed your job as a mix of positives and negatives.  If you're still there and not on the market after a year, that generally means you're content.  Hopefully you're learning and things are starting to click related to your role and how you can have success.

Another thing happens after the one year mark - you've settled into a clear understanding of who your teammates are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and if applicable, the circumstances/topics/conditions that will make them absolutely self-destruct.

You're a good teammate - so you've likely tried to make the self-imploding teammate aware of his self-destructive, hot button issues. 

But.They.Just.Won't.Listen.

So you do what a reasonable human would do after getting nowhere.  They next time the mushroom cloud is getting ready to go up, you grab some popcorn, a Fresca and get ready to watch the show.

That's what happened to Buster Posey (catcher of professional baseball's San Francisco Giants) last week.  A hothead teammate picked a fight with an opponent, and Buster decided to take this scrum off.  If you don't see the picture below, enable pictures or click through to the site to see the setup.  Buster's the one that's standing behind home plate while the #### is getting ready to go down:

Posey

Pretty good analysis from the Mercury News in the Bay area:

Oh, crap. Why do I have to deal with this knucklehead? Whatever.

Buster Posey can say whatever he wishes with his own words about what happened Monday afternoon. He can speak out loud and put his own spin on the way Giants’ reliever Hunter Strickland’s purpose-pitch hit Washington Nationals’ star Bryce Harper in the butt and sparked a bench-clearing meltdown. But anyone who watched Posey’s body language during the play could read and see exactly what was happening inside his brain.

Really, dude? And you expect me to defend you after . . . that?

The unwritten rules of Major League Baseball decree that when an angry batter leaves the box and charges at the pitcher, the catcher is supposed to sprint out and make an effort to hold back the batter before he reaches the mound.

Posey did just the opposite when Strickland plunked Harper, who reacted with a stare and then a sprint toward the pitching rubber. Watch the video. Watch Posey. As Harper storms toward Strickland, the Giants’ catcher actually takes a half step backward, not forward. Then he watches.

You’re on your own, pal. I can’t believe this. But you deserve whatever happens next. 

As everyone knows, Posey is the center of gravity inside the Giants’ room. He has been almost since 2010 when he joined the team full time. He calls the pitches on the field. He calls out teammates when needed. He has a dry and wicked sense of humor but is a very serious man. We don’t see everything that happens when the locker room door shuts. But you get the impression that before any other Giants’ player speaks up, he at least glances over to Posey to see how he’s reacting.

Odds are you've got a couple of people like that pitcher in your organization.  They've got talent.  But they've got a hot button that limits them career-wise.  You've probably already gotten splatter on you from the fallout when you tried to help them.  Either they lashed out at you or someone else in the organization accused you of being in their camp.

At some point, you have to back away, let them implode and let nature take its course.  It's Darwinian in nature.  They've got a flaw and try as you might, you can't help - and you certainly can't fix it.  They couldn't adapt.

You're a vet now.  Sometimes you have to do what Posey did.  Just let it happen and stay above the fray.

The honeymoon is over, right?  


Use This Quote When Convincing Someone to Decline An Offer From a Big Company...

"It's better to be a pirate than join the Navy."

-Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was brutal in many ways, but with his brutality came moments of pure clarity.  This quote is one of those moments. Johnny-depp

The stale way to make the same point is obvious - "Why do you want to go work for that big company?  They're going to bury your talent. You know all those ideas you have?  You won't get to chase any of them at IBM.  They'll just pod you up in the matrix and suck your energy over the next decade, leaving you a husked-out former version of yourself."

Wait - that's actual pretty good.  A more standard version is "You're going to there and be bored immediately."

Still, I like the clarity of the Jobs quote.  If you're working for a smaller firm, you need every competitive advantage you can get as you fight for the hires you need.  This quote, while not perfect, is a good tool to have.

It just so happens that the only people that it works on are the people who are actually inclined to believe that they're more than cogs in the corporate wheel.  Use this quote on a person who's happy being a cog, and they might dance with you a bit - but ultimately they're going to grab for the security that only thousands (often tens of thousands) of employees can provide.  Doesn't make them bad people or not talented - it's a preference for security and risk management.

But they're looking to enlist with a big entity like the Navy - not roam the seven seas on that cool, but rickety boat you call a company and wonder if you'll be around in a year.

If you're at a smaller firm, the best hires you will make are the people that don't look like pirates - but have it buried in their DNA.  If you think you have one of those people, I'd talk in broad terms about the pirate-like things you're going to do at your company.

Pirates like Johnny Depp, BTW - not Somali pirates.

Go buy some eye patches for your next round of interviews. Dare a candidate to ask you why you're wearing one.


BALL SO HARD: Why You Hate Duke, But Need Hires Like Grayson Allen...

Capitalist Note - If you're not on a couch watching the tourney this afternoon, you're doing it wrong.  Here's a rerun from last year to get you in the mood to hate Duke in the right way...

Let's face it.  If you follow college basketball at all, there's a high likelihood you hate Duke.  Why?

Duke as a university smacks of privilege, and the basketball program polarizes people like the Cowboys or the Yankees, without attracting as much of a loyal following - the concentration and comparison is mainly on the hate side.

And then there's the little issue of race.  Combine the status of the university with the success of the program, then add in chippy white guys doing things that are just a little bit dirty, and you've got the basis for widespread hate inside the basketball culture.

Case Studies - watch the ESPN 30 for 30 episode entitled I Hate Christian Laettner.  It pretty much breaks down why Duke is the team to hate in college basketball, focused on the iconic player from the program - a 6'11" white guy (Laettner) who wore the black hat his whole career. Click here for the full episode.

But Laettner was just one of many white guys that fans learned to hate.  To be fair, there was hate flowing to black players in the Duke program (Grant Hill, Jay Williams), but the true scorn?  Saved for the white guys.

A lot of that has to to with the fact that white guys at Duke always play on the edge.  Take the most recent object of Duke haters - a guard named Grayson Allen who's actually been caught tripping opponents twice this year.  Here's a quick rundown for the uninitiated from the New York Post:

"Mike Krzyzewski stood up for his star player by hiding behind his school, saying that serial tripper Grayson Allen is only getting severe blowback around the college basketball landscape because of the jersey he wears.

After Allen appeared to stick out his leg for the second time in a month to topple an opponent — the latest being Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes in Duke’s win Thursday — Coach K insisted the ACC’s decision not to suspend his point guard was the correct one, and any contrary thought only exists because of the university’s reputation.

The Duke loathing stretches back to early-’90s Christian Laettner, and Allen already has taken his place on the growing list of villains that the Blue Devils produce. Critics see these stars as entitled and cocky, seemingly above the law. And they play at a university that prides itself on academics, a school they believe turns up its nose at the rest of the scandal-plagued NCAA landscape.

And, more than anything else, Duke wins. It’s a breeding ground for hate. Where others see the Blue Devils getting breaks from officials, Krzyzewski sees his players getting undue criticism from the public."

First things first.  If you haven't seen the trips, check out the video below (email subscribers click through for video) and let the Duke hate fester: 

But wait. There's a Talent/Recruiting nugget here.  Allen's a highly recruited and highly successful player.  He lives off of driving to the basket and with that in mind, ends up in a lot of physical confrontations.

Should Allen have been suspended for the second trip?  Absolutely.

Do you need more employees like Allen?  Yes you do.  Absolutely.

Allen is an alpha employee who competes.  He's wired to be on edge all the time, to force the action.  He's your classic high assertiveness hire who's always going to be pushing for results.

We kid ourselves by thinking the world doesn't revolve around these type of people in our organizations.  There's a role for all behavioral types in our companies, but it's the high assertives who bring it every day who get most of the results.  Take a look at your sales team.  If they're performing, you've got a bunch of Grayson Allens.  Your leaders and hipos?  Mostly high assertives.

Again, we have roles for low assertives and leaders can have that profile as well - you just need balanced teams.

But you need the Grayson Allens of the world to shake things up daily.  When your equivalent does the version of the Grayson Allen trip inside your company, you've got to be swift and decisive to show them where the line is and ensure they don't cross it again - or as often.

You hate Duke. I get it.  You think Grayson Allen is a punk - I get that too.

But you'd hire Grayson Allen in a heartbeat for a results-driven position.  You'd just do better than Coach K about defining what's acceptable and what's not acceptable.


Uber, Harassment and HR Business Partner Coverage - Let's Look at the Numbers...

By now, you've heard about this post accusing Uber of creating a hostile, harassing environment for women.  Rather than rehash the claim, I'm going to go to the numbers in this post.  See this post by Tim Sackett for analysis of the situation and see my commentary on Uber's former HR Leader leaving the company before all this stuff broke by clicking here.

Let's run some numbers.  Most of the allegations claim that Uber was focused on recruiting above and beyond all else.  But this post on HR at Uber from Recode gives us some interesting numbers to think about related to HR staffing:

"It’s most glaring overall problems seems to center on how the human resources role was conceived at Uber by its brash and commanding leader Kalanick. UberThe issue: He felt the function of HR at Uber was largely to recruit talent and also efficiently let go of personnel when needed, according to sources.

During the first half of 2016, sources said, the company had fewer than 10 representatives — called human resources business partners — who served to train managers or handle things like sexual harassment for its close to 6,000 employees.

Leadership coaching or training is especially important at Uber and other tech companies, where many of the department heads or top execs are often younger staffers who would work their way up at the company. According to sources, Atwood spent considerable time defending the need for more HR business partners.

But, according to one source, there was one HR business partner handling the entire Asia Pacific region; two handling Europe, the Middle East and Africa; three in corporate functions handling engineering, finance and marketing; and only three working in operations and with city teams.

Uber disputed this and says the company had around 20 people dedicated to that role at the time. Today, the company has 35 and plans to add between 30 and 40 more under Hornsey."

Credit to Recode for being sharp enough to think about employee count vs HR staffing as a potential source of the problem.  

Unfortunately, the numbers don't tell us enough.

10 HRBPs for 6,000 employees.  Is that a heavy workload or just right?  You know the answer if you're an HR leader - it depends what their role is and what other HR resources are available.

If you've got specialists working recruiting, benefits, admin and more, it's possible for HRBPs to be effective with a 600/1 count.

If these same HRBPs are responsible for recruiting and more in addition to employee relations, they are screwed from a workload perspective.

Add the flavor of Kalanick prioritizing recruiting over everything else, and the status of the HRBP doing it all with a 600/1 ratio moves from "screwed" to "total screwed".  Qualifying questions like "did he say he liked your blouse alone or the way it made your body look?" become rationalizations for not digging deeper because the HRBP didn't have time and the organization didn't want to hear about it anyway.

600/1 for an HRBP?  It all comes down to what's behind that HRBP in terms of specialized support to determine if that ration is fair.  

Going to be an interesting investigation.