COMPETITION IS NOT A DIRTY WORD: You Want Employees Who Want to Stick It to the Other Guy/Gal...

Yesterday I pinged you about the change in corporate values at Uber.  They have always had a Viking culture, and that works when you're trying to conquer new land/metro areas vs. groups that don't want to be conquered.  Hell, that might even be necessary.  

Uber is making the right pivot and is probably two years late.  Once the majority of the conquering is done, the Viking culture doesn't work so well.  

But don't mistake having a positive set of corporate values with the assumption you don't want people to compete hard vs. the competition, and yes, at times each other (teammates).

You want people in your company who want to compete, and at times, stick it to the other guy/gal.  You just need them to do it with the cloak of professionalism.  With that in mind, I give you this picture of Mark Dantonio, who in this picture had just been informed that his team, Michigan State, is a 16-point underdog on the road at Ohio State.  If you can't see the picture below, enable photos or click through to the site for this gem (analysis below the picture):

Dantonio

This picture says everything you need to know about competition in the workplace and why you have to nurture it as a Talent Leader.

Mark Dantonio is a positive leader in the sports world.  He's soft spoken and generally has teams that overachieve.

But look at the face.  For all the professionalism, the look says it all.  Underneath the talking points, the corporate haircut and the conservative Nike attire, MARK DANTONIO WANTS TO ROLL INTO OHIO STATE AND MAKE KIDS WEARING BUCKEYE GEAR CRY. HE WANTS TO HURT URBAN MEYER'S CAREER.  IF HE COULD GET AWAY WITH IT, HE WOULD HAVE HIS TEAM TRASH THEIR HOTEL ROOMS AND KNOCK OFF A COUPLE OF LIQUOR STORES IN COLUMBUS JUST TO GET READY FOR THE GAME.

But Mark Dantonio is too smart to give you more than this look.  This is all you'll get. You'll quickly become bored by listening to him.  He's not going to give you reason to think that he's anything but a fine, upstanding citizen.

Underneath, he's a lot like the Viking version of Uber.  He's rolling into a city that doesn't want him or respect him, and he's just been told he's a huge underdog.  He's got a history of rolling into big games as an underdog and making people pay.

He's a Viking.  But he's a smart Viking. You'll never get him on record with anything that can be used against him.

But the look says it all.  HE'S COMING TO TAKE YOUR MOTHER ####### LIVELIHOOD FOR DISRESPECTING HIM.

This is what you need in your workforce.  You need to see the look every once in awhile from your best people.  You need them on that edge.  

The best ones never show you more than this look.

 


UBER: These Are My Values. There Are Many Like Them, But These Are Mine...

"This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine"

--partial quote from the Rifleman's Creed (USMC), popularized in the movie Full Metal Jacket (click for video)

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

It's hard to make sure cultural values stand out as a company.

Sometimes it's better that they just blend in and sound like everyone else's.  That's what's going on at Uber. Uber

It's been two months since Dara Khosrowshahi began his reign as Uber's new CEO, and like most new CEOs, he's on the listening trail, hearing the good, the bad and the ugly. and as the new CEO of Uber, that listening tour is probably more important than it is at most companies...

First on the agenda - rounding off the edges of a hard knock culture.  That's why DK's post on LinkedIn on Tuesday is so fascinating.

"It’s also clear that the culture and approach that got Uber where it is today is not what will get us to the next level. As we move from an era of growth at all costs to one of responsible growth, our culture needs to evolve," he wrote in a LinkedIn post on Tuesday.

To create new cultural values, some 1,200 employees sent in submission suggestions that were voted on more than 22,000 times, he wrote. Uber followed that up with 20 focus groups.

During the listening tour, Uber asked employees to tell company management what the new norms of corporate culture should be.   From the new CEO's LinkedIn post announcing the new cultural norms at Uber :

Uber’s Cultural Norms

We build globally, we live locally. We harness the power and scale of our global operations to deeply connect with the cities, communities, drivers and riders that we serve, every day.

We are customer obsessed. We work tirelessly to earn our customers’ trust and business by solving their problems, maximizing their earnings or lowering their costs. We surprise and delight them. We make short-term sacrifices for a lifetime of loyalty.

We celebrate differences. We stand apart from the average. We ensure people of diverse backgrounds feel welcome. We encourage different opinions and approaches to be heard, and then we come together and build.

We do the right thing. Period.

We act like owners. We seek out problems and we solve them. We help each other and those who matter to us. We have a bias for action and accountability. We finish what we start and we build Uber to last. And when we make mistakes, we’ll own up to them.

We persevere. We believe in the power of grit. We don’t seek the easy path. We look for the toughest challenges and we push. Our collective resilience is our secret weapon.

We value ideas over hierarchy. We believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere, both inside and outside our company. Our job is to seek out those ideas, to shape and improve them through candid debate, and to take them from concept to action.

We make big bold bets. Sometimes we fail, but failure makes us smarter. We get back up, we make the next bet, and we go!

The note from Uber's new CEO also holds special contempt for something called "toe-stepping." Toe-stepping' was meant to encourage employees to share their ideas regardless of their seniority or position in the company, but too often it was used [as] an excuse for being an a--hole," Khosrowshahi wrote.

What made Uber special was a Viking/Pirate mentality to markets and business obstacles.  That Viking mentality spilled over to the workplace, which is why you see the post-scandal change to the values.

Toe-stepping is required when a city council tries to keep a revolutionary idea out of their city.  It's a problem when it spills over in the workplace via a climate where harassment is OK.

Can Uber remain special as their culture become nicer?  I think it can.  They just are 2-3 years to late with the change.  It will be interesting to watch.  

 


Tesla: Now the Most Interesting Workplace Culture in The World...

Forget Google, Apple and if you're into pain, Uber.

Tesla is now the most interesting workplace culture in the world.  Here's 4 reasons why, my friends:

1--For starters, they've got a founder who is brilliant and unreasonable all at the same time. 

You've heard of Elon Musk, so he really doesn't need an introduction.  From a unauthorized biography I just read on him....

"When Musk came into the meeting room where I'd been waiting, I noted how impressive it was for so many people to be at work on a Saturday.  Must saw the sitaution in a different light, complaining that fewer and fewer people had been working weekends of late, 'We've grown f***ing soft", Musk replied, 
'I was just going to send out an email - we're f***ing soft'"

Founders.  Always a fun time.  There's 100 examples of this stuff in the book.

2--Tesla's under immense pressure to get production of it's newest car model, the Model 3, up to scale. And they are behind.  More from Bloomberg:

"Tesla said it built just 260 Model 3 sedans during the third quarter, less than a fifth of its 1,500-unit forecast. The company has offered scant detail about the problems it’s having producing the car. The vehicle’s entry price starts at $35,000, roughly half the cost of Tesla’s least-expensive Model S sedan.

A delayed ramp-up risks the ire of some of the almost half million reservation holders who started paying $1,000 deposits early last year." 

3--Tesla's at the intersection of manufacturing and automation with the ramp up of the Model 3 - here's an Instagram post shared by Musk late last week to respond to people reporting that there was limited automation at this point on the Model 3 line (email subscribers click through if you don't see the post below.  It's good):

4--Embedded in the founder driven culture is... wait for it.... people being fired after lackluster performance reviews!  And the company is saying that's the reason!  More from Bloomberg:

Tesla Inc. has fired an undetermined number of employees following a series of performance evaluations after the company significantly boosted its workforce with the purchase of solar panel maker SolarCity Corp.

 The departures are part of an annual review, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in an email, without providing a number of people affected. The maker of the Model S this week dismissed between 400 and 700 employees, including engineers, managers and factory workers, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Oct. 13, citing unidentified current and former workers.
 
“As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures,” the company said in the statement. “Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”
 
An interesting founder still running things.  Big innovation.  Production delays.  Saying you're trimming the bottom performers aka Jack Welch and stacked ranking.
 
Tesla is the most interesting workplace culture in America right now.  It's not even close.

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach...

I saw this one last weekend.  I think you'll enjoy it.  Here's your set up.

Alabama's football team is coached by Nick Saban - did a post early this week after what a control freak he is.  The thing is, if your system gets great results, you have the ability to be a complete control freak.  If you're not a world class leader, you can't be a micromanaging control freak, because people you manage won't take it - they'll revolt.

Most of us aren't good enough at what we do to be complete control freaks.  Nike Saban, however, is good enough.

Here's a new thought to add to that post earlier this week:

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach

Video clip below (click through if you don't see the clip).  Talk about what to look for after the jump. 

Alabama is playing at Texas A&M.  The outcome was never in doubt, BUT... Texas A&M scores and is kicking off, and IF they recover an onside kick, they could throw a hail mary with 5 seconds left to tie it, etc.

So the onside kick is cleanly fielded by one of Alabama's best players - in a roster full of 5 star recruits - Minkah Fitzpatrick.  

Here's where it gets interesting.  Average players field that onside kick and collapse like they've been shot. Minkah Fitzpatrick. is not average, so he fields it cleanly and runs it back.  That's what stars do, right?

Ultimately, he gets pushed out of bounds, celebrates with his teammates and then at the :23 second mark of the video, puts his hands over this face like he's just seen a ghost.  

He saw Nick Saban.

Flash forward to the :27 mark of the video. Minkah Fitzpatrick. comes to the sidelines and takes a tongue lashing from Nick Saban before an assistant grabs him to explain things more calmly as Saban walks off.  The coaching is obviously that if you fumble as you run it back, there's a chance we lose this game.

What's interesting to me with this one is that Micah Fitzpatrick looked over at the sidelines after the celebration and thought, "oh no" - I screwed that up.

He's one of the best players on the best team in the country, and he just made a great play.  But the devil was in the details, and when it saw the sidelines, he realized the coaching that was coming.

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach

Success brings a lot of positives to your organization.  One of the things we don't think about is how open talented people are to coaching.  But ff you're losing as a company, it's harder to coach the great ones.  If you're winning, it's easier.

The more you develop a culture of success, the more open all employees - even the great ones - are to coaching.


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


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.