5 Reasons I'm Bullish On America...

Seems like it's been a rough year in America.  The economy is still going, but things have never felt more divisive - which obviously spills over into the workplace, thus the post on something you thought had nothing to do with HR... 

I'm writing this on 7/3, getting ready for July 4th in the states.  Note that I'm hardcore moderate that thinks both polar extremes politically in the states are 100% crazy.

Here's 5 reasons I'm still bullish on America, with some HR/management thoughts embedded within: Yikes

1--We live in a country where you can actually tell the leader to "F off" directly to him/her via his social account.  No judgement of the sides here.  I just think it's interesting that our society/constitution allows for that and people aren't afraid to do it.  Try that in Istanbul or Cairo these days, friends.

I probably don't agree with the decision to tell a leader to F-off publicly.  But I'll support your right to do it until the day I die.  Side note - don't try this approach with a leader in your company.  Like the Dixie Chicks in the early 2000's, you'll find out that your right to free speech is protected, but the free market can and will remove you from corporate consideration.

2--We have a history of being disagreeable and moving for change.  It's a long history and I could list the problems America has had through the years - but you're aware of the history.  Instead, I'm going to focus on what actually happens over time in America.  People are vocal, critical mass is formed and change happens.  Just look at America's path to course correct regarding Equal Rights across all Title 7 classes and the extension of those rights beyond Title 7.  It's easy to say it took too long - and it did - but just grab a live look in at St. Petersburg, Tabriz or Shenzhen for perspective.  Also noted that it remains a work in process.

3--America is still the premiere melting pot of the world.  When I look around at the world my sons live in, I'm happy and proud that their world is defined by meritocracy more than mine was growing up.  They see race, national origin and gender less than our generation did, and are accepting of people who don't look like them totally kicking a## in various walks of life.  Also, whatever your definition of America is, second generations to the states become more much more assimilated into our country than is seen in many European countries.  Why?  America.

4--There's still a role for moderates in America.  If you're not feeling the polar extremes of either political party here, it's OK.  While the polar extremes are less tolerant than ever of your willingness to commit, you've become the swing voter block that drives both sides crazy.  You're also probably uniquely qualified to manage people as you've learned to see different points of view and co-exist with the highest % of people.

5 - AMERICA ALWAYS COURSE CORRECTS.  We've had a lot of dark times in our country and we've made some questionable decisions.  What I love about America is that WE ALWAYS THROW THE BUMS OUT.  Every. Single. Time.  To be fair, points #1 and #2 have a lot to with that.  So be active, shoot your shot and trust the process.  If you don't like how things are going in the USA - all you have to do is wait - we are junkies for change and can't accept too much of a single point of view. (side note - the picture in this post is my 4th of July t-shirt)

Happy Birthday America.  You're imperfect, dysfunctional at times and a loud, drunk roommate.

But you're still the best thing going.  See you at the cookout.


AT WORK IN THE WORLD CUP: If You Have More Than One Name, You Must Suck...

Was watching the first weekend of the World Cup and because I happened upon Brazil's first match with the Swiss team, I had two workplace talent observations:

1--Asking Brazilians to complete I-9's would be full of problems, and 

2--If you're a soccer player from Brazil and have more than one name, you must suck.

The observations, of course, are due to the trend of Brazilian players to go by one name.  No first name/last name, just one name.  And because they are from Brazil, the names sound cooler than what most American/England/Swiss players would go by.  Here are the lineups for that Brazil/Swiss game, Brazil's on top.  Note the lack of first initials (email subscribers click through if you don't see the image below), analysis of the names after the jump:

Brazil

I figured their was something cultural behind the naming conventions, so I did a little research and found the cleanest description over at USA Today.  More on the Brazilian naming conventions:

“Brazilian football is an international advert for the cordiality of Brazilian life because of its players’ names,” British journalist Alex Bellos wrote in his book, Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life. “Calling someone by their first name is a demonstration of intimacy — calling someone by their nickname more so.”

Formerly a colony of Portugal, Brazil largely uses Portuguese naming conventions, which often gives people four names: their given name - which is often two to include a saint's name and/or a preposition (da, das, do, dos or de); the mother’s last name; and then the father’s last name.

"We don't use the last names," said Lyris Wiedemann, a native of Porto Alegre and currently the coordinator of the Portuguese Language Program at Stanford. "It reflects a trait in the culture that's more personalized. We care about the person, and the person is not the family name. It's who they are."

BUT WAIT.  There can be some ego or pop culture involved after all.  The article continues:

Other times, it’s simply a nickname that sticks.

Brazilian soccer player Givanildo Vieira de Sousa – known as Hulk – says he enjoyed comic books as a kid and his father began to call him “Hulk.”

As the youngest in his family and group of friends, basketball player Maybyner Rodney Hilário was called "Nene" as a child, Portuguese for "baby." He legally changed his name to Nene in 2003.

Another soccer player, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, is believed to have gotten his nickname “Kaka” because it was as close as his brother could get to saying “Ricardo.”

So be sensitive to the cultural realities when you make fun of the Brazilian players for single names, but feel free to question whether Kaka or Hulk are real names in the 4-word naming convention.

And Kaka, if you ever come to work at my company, you're going to have to produce some ID for the I-9.  

As far as my leanings in the USA-free World Cup, viva El Tri.


My Starbucks and Homeless People...

By now, you know the Starbucks story, right?  

In April, a video showing two black men being arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, when they had done nothing but sit inside one of the coffee shops without buying anything, triggered outrage and boycotts across the country. The company, known for espousing progressive, inclusive principles, reacted swiftly, announcing plans to close its US shops for an afternoon and supply all of its US employees with racial-bias training.

That training happened earlier this week.  By all accounts, it was well received - but the company is smart in pointing out that the training is only a small step in a longer journey.

The four-hour sessions, involving 175,000 workers at 8,000 locations, had employees and managers reportedly working in small groups to discuss their experience of race, and studying issues like implicit bias.  One training item used was this video by Stanley Nelson (email subscribers, click through to see the video): 

The seven-minute video features moving monologues from black Americans who describe the emotional toll of having to live their lives aware that others see them as a threat, and the effort it takes to put store managers or security guards at ease, whether through nonverbal signals or their physical appearance.

If you're in retail and that video doesn't make you more aware of you reactions to your changing environment, I'm not sure what will.  It's well worth the time to watch - make sure you do.

But embedded somewhere in the training had to be a policy change to make the stores more stupid - and yes, racist - proof.   It's a strong show to close stores for a half day and do training - think about that revenue hit - but you still have hundreds of thousands of employees, and when it comes to the risk to the business about more of these events happening, autonomy and increased awareness probably doesn't cut it.

Did Starbucks change the rules of engagement on who has the right to throw someone out of the stores or call the cops?  I hope so.

My Starbucks in Atlanta is an interesting ecosystem.  Rather than throwing people out, they're actually allowing people to stay that make patrons initially uncomfortable based on a segmentation that transcends race - homelessness.  They let homeless people come inside the store (and have way before the Philly incident) - sometimes they buy things, sometimes they don't.  I've never seen the homeless folks ask other patrons for anything - including handouts.

The first time I experienced that, it kind of shocked me.  Then I realized it as the new normal.  Now I don't think about it.

My point is that the autonomy that goes along with empowering employees to eject people for a store is a danger point for every retailer.  I'm sure that Starbucks changed the rules of engagement for that behind the scenes.  Stupid people do stupid things.

And what's the best way to stop stupid people from doing stupid things that can erase a billion dollars off your market cap?

You make them ask a wiser person who's judgment is trusted for approval - before they do the stupid thing.

Does this mean your Starbucks will soon feature homeless people of every Title 7 protected class?

No - but it should mean that the stupid people don't have the autonomy to make the decision.

 


Lesson #3 From #MarchMadness: Unique Talent Helps Cinderella Hang With The Big Boys...

Capitalist Note: Throwing a couple of talent/business lessons I was reminded of as I watched the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this year.  March Madness has something for all of us.  I think this is the last one - enjoy!

My job would be great if it weren't for the people.

I kid.  HR people think that from time to time, but actually, people are our most valuable resource.  Who just groaned?  I heard that! Cinderella-bracket

I'm going to change that last quote a little bit.  The right people are our most valuable resource.  Which brings me to the third lesson I heard loud and clear from the first weekend of March Madness:

Talent Lesson #3 from March Madness - Great individual talent can overcome huge disadvantages in company size and resources when it comes to your competitors.  If you ever find yourself going up against Microsoft, Google or whoever the 800-pound gorilla is inside your industry, never forget that a key hire with high talent can help you win more than your share regardless of the product or service you're providing.  This is shown to be true time and time again in March Madness as well.  Whether it's UMBC beating Virginia or Buffalo taking down Arizona, once you step onto the court, only five players can play. Get yourself some great talent and unbelievable things can happen.

The right time to pay more for talent isn't when someone asks for more money.  The right time to pay more for talent is when that talent allows you to play above your weight as a company.

Make the right hire, and all the sudden you can hang on a limited basis with Microsoft, Google or whoever the 800-pound gorilla is inside your industry.  Of course, paying more doesn't mean the candidate in question is going to help you do that.  You might find the most powerful candidate at a level below what you're looking for, just waiting for the promotion that gives them the opportunity to shine.

How good are you at evaluating talent?  Do you know the difference between the candidate who will help you take on the world vs the candidate who wants more money but doesn't help you transcend ###t?

That's why talent selection is part art and part science.  Every low seed left in the NCAA Basketball Tournament has a player that they didn't deserve on paper, but ended up at the school in question.

The more of this type of talent you find and sign, the more you win.  The more you hang with the big boys and girls. 

#survive_and_advance 

 

 

 


Male HR Manager Takes Down Female Congressional Candidate with Harassment Claim... #metoo

As warranted by the stupid, inappropriate behavior of some men, the #metoo movement has mostly outed those men for the harassers they are.  But now, we have our first public female victim of the #metoo movement.

This one is juicy folks, because as HR pros, you know more about this one than anyone else in the world.  Read on, analysis after the clip below.  More from the Washington Post: Andrea-ramsey-congress

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced during her campaign.  Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat Republican Kevin Yoder in a district that includes Kansas City in 2018, is one of the few, if only, women in public life to step down thus far amid a national conversation about sex and power dynamics in the workplace.

The allegations against Ramsey were outlined in a 2005 lawsuit and a complaint filed by a dismissed employee, Gary Funkhouser, to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, when Ramsey was working as an executive vice president of human resources at medical testing company LabOne, according to the Kansas City Star.

In the federal complaint about sex discrimination and retaliation, Funkhouser accused Ramsey, then Andrea Thomas, according to the Star, of making “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments and innuendos” when he was a human resources manager for LabOne.

Funkhouser alleged that he had suffered consequences at work because he had rebuffed an advance he said she made during a business trip in 2005.

“After I told her I was not interested in having a sexual relationship with her, she stopped talking to me,” he wrote, according to documents filed in court. “In the office, she completely ignored me and avoided having any contact with me.”

The EEOC closed its investigation in 2005, saying that it was “unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes.” Though Ramsey was not charged directly in the lawsuit, she had been named in the complaint. It was settled by the company after mediation in 2006 and had begun to be discussed in political circles recently, the Star reported.

Without naming Funkhouser, Ramsey said that a man decided to bring a lawsuit against the company after she eliminated his position.

“He named me in the allegations, claiming I fired him because he refused to have sex with me,” she wrote. “That is a lie.”

Hell hath no fury like a HR pro fired, especially one that thought he/she was on the inside, only to be on the outside.  Do I know the guy made it up?  Do I think Ramsey hit on the guy on the road?

I don't know what happened, but here's what I know:

1--The fact that it was an HR pro bringing the claim makes it different from any we have seen.

2--HR pros know things.  Things like how to bring EEOC claims - their awareness of how to do things like this is higher than almost everyone else's in your company, mainly because they have defended those claims.  They also know those claims are usually settled.

3--Ramsey didn't have to directly hit on him to have this coming.  It's possible that the HR manager in question felt like he was being harassed in other ways and just made that "she wanted to sleep with me on the road" detail up.  Or - as we've learned so many times with harassment, he may have interpreted her offer to come have a drink in the hotel lobby as a solicitation to get busy.  Maybe it was.  #funkhousertoo

4--She apparently didn't open her door in a partially open robe like Weinstein when she asked him to come up and "pick up the comp study to read for the meeting in the morning".  At least I didn't read that detail.  LOL.

5--The name Funkhouser is cool.  If you're wondering where you heard that before, Marty Funkhouser is a recurring character on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Imagine being at that company and saying, "Did you hear about the Funkhouser lawsuit against Andrea?"

The bottom line is this. Hell hath no fury like an HR pro fired or caught up in a reorganization.  The savvy HR leader knows the answer - Andrea Ramsey should have loaded up young Funkhouser with an exceptional severance package on the way out.  

I'll repeat one of my core sayings - "In America, allegations are free."  Anyone can file a claim.   And it's that fact that we all should remember as HR leaders as we go through various reorganizations.

Anyone can file a claim, but HR pros?  They know more about how to do it and the process that happens afterwords than anyone in the world.

 

 

 

 


The HR Capitalist Playbook for Men Avoiding Workplace Harassment Claims...

Harassment claims have been in the news lately, and it's an interesting time for HR leaders.  Whether you're talking about the latest Harvey Weinstein reports or all the crazy stuff that went down at Uber, you've probably never had everyone's attention on the male side of the house like you do today.

What do you do with that attention? Well, it's probably not enough just to email Harvey Weinstein and Uber rundowns to your management team.  While that seems reasonable, a new Cavemanreport from The New York Times shows that all the well-intentioned promises may have resulted in some serious unintended consequences:

"A big chill came across Silicon Valley in the wake of all these stories, and people are hyper-aware and scared of behaving wrongly, so I think they’re drawing all kinds of parameters," an anonymous venture capitalist told the Times.

The anonymous VC told the Times that he's actually cancelled one-on-one meetings with female engineers and potential recruits to protect himself from any "reputational risk."

YEP - THESE ARE ARE MALE MANAGERS.  SIMPLE FOLK.  CAVEMEN.  "SOMEBODY GOT A HARASSMENT CLAIM, SO I'M NOT MEETING ALONE WITH LADIES".

WTF...

As much as I'd like to think this attitude doesn't touch companies like yours and mine, it does.  It's the "let's take our ball and go home" mentality.  Crazy but true.

Lucky for you, I'm here as a guy HR leader to give you my straight up Playbook for Men Avoiding Workplace Harassment Claims.  Here we go:

1--Don't have designs on sleeping with someone at work.  Whether you're single or married, don't do it.  I'm not the morality police, but if you target someone for romance at work, you get what you get.  It's just problematic.  Don't do it.  And for the ladies in my family life who read my blog, I should mention this (morality alert!), if you're a guy who's married, don't be a sleaze.  Honor the commitment.  But if you're incapable of that, stay out of the workplace, Jack.

2--When on the road, don't do stupid stuff.  I'm on the road a lot, and things like having a lady hold your bag in her room is just problematic.  Check your bag and handle small stuff on the road without treating a female co-worker like your wife/girlfriend.

3--Be personable in conversation without probing.  Look, it's OK to make small talk about life with your female co-workers, and every once in awhile, it goes to a place of personal information.  It's not uncommon for that to happen, what matters is what happens next.  Don't probe for more, get out and take the conversation back to something rivaling a mundane USA Today article.

4--Hold your one-on-one meetings with females in public or somewhat public places.  The more private the room is, the more you really don't need to be there.  If you meet on the road in a hotel room with a female, you're a moron.

BONUS - and I call this the Harvey Weinstein rule - don't answer the door on the road in a robe.  Who the #### uses a robe in hotel room?

That's what I got.  What do you have to add?


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"....


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.

 


YES: It's Only a Matter of Time Before Someone Gets Their ### Kicked at Your Company for Wearing Snapchat Spectacles

Of course, I can't call it Snapchat anymore.  Snapchat's renamed their company to "Snap", since they will be moving to things other than the expected "snapchats".

You know, like taking video in public that might get you assaulted.

Confused?  Snap(chat) has launched the next version of Google Glass (remember that?) called Snap Spectacles, which help you shoot video of the world you're seeing via a camera installed on Snap sunglasses. More from the Verge:

"The company formerly known as Snapchat surprised the world last night by unveiling Spectacles, its first hardware product. The sunglasses, which record videos in 10-second increments, are expected to be available for sale sometime "soon." Snap Inc., as the company is now called, says it will be producing the glasses in small quantities. 

They're connected sunglasses that record video snippets that get saved to your Snapchat Memories. Its camera has a 115-degree lens meant to more closely approximate how humans see. The glasses will cost $130, come in one size, and be available in three colors: black, teal, and coral.

Tap the button on the top left-hand corner of the sunglasses to begin recording a snap. It will automatically stop recording after 10 seconds — but if you want additional recording time, you can tap again to add another 10-second increment."

Translation.  Someone's going to get there ### kicked at a company near you soon.  Especially if you order Coral.

One of the joys of Google Glass was that Google did a very soft release, only giving the product to absolute trendsetters and digerati.  That meant the limited number of geeks took them into restaurants and bars, and, you guessed it - found themselves in dustups as the non-digerati (as I affectionately call those without Google Glass) as they expressed their displeasure with the threat of being recorded.

Shapchat?  Even though the company will do a limited release, the reality is that this product will likely get deeper in society than Google Glass.  2nd generation products always do, and Snapchat is viewed as fun, innovative and they next big thing.

Which means one thing.  You'll see more dustups in the workplace related to Snap Spectacles than you ever did with Google Glass.

PS - homeboy in the picture looks like the biggest geek you can think of in your company, or Max Headroom, depending on how old you are.


Evil Michael Phelps: For All Our Talk About Being Global, We Still Like to Stick it To Other Countries...

By now, you've seen the pictures of Michael Phelps brooding while some South African dude who beat him four years ago was gyrating in front of him like an exotic dancer in Rio.

One of the biggest sporting moments of his life, and Phelps knew what to do. He nourished the rage, the hate and let the anger do the work for him. Phelps

We loved him for it. For all the talk about anyone considering voting for Trump being a xenophobe (way too simple as an explanation, but that's another post), let's be honest about being American:

We love to beat other countries and be the best. And if it includes someone being nasty on the world's biggest stage, we're OK with that.

Lilly King's finger wagging to the reported drugged-up Russian?  We signed off on that as well. More please.

It's the equivalent of swimming becoming pro wrestling, but I'm not criticizing the athletes.  Instead, I have this question:

Who the #### let the cameras in the staging area for us to be voyuers like gleeful, clique-loving teenagers?

Let's be honest - it's the workplace version of cameras in the break room or the bathroom.  Imagine if we had those and had the opportunity to break down that film:

"Did you see the look Beth gave Dawn when she was being so animated by the toaster?  WOW - I can't wait to see them compete at the status meeting at 11am."

The stories related to what we saw in the backroom for both Phelps and King were great. I'm interested in America's reaction to us acting like what we are - THE MOST COMPETITIVE COUNTRY AND PEOPLE IN THE WORLD - and the fact we have no concerns.  I support it, because I like people who complete and don't really care what they do to get up as long as it's legal.  Plus, act like an ass long enough in the workplace and you have to deal with the consequences.

Unless you win.  Then the consequences are limited.

America loves people who compete. We also love winners.  The next Olympics will find the swimmers more guarded in the "ready" or "staging" room, or whatever it's called. At that point, we won't get the goods - seeing competition at its rawest - so we'll have to move the cameras back to the bus or the lobby in the Olympic Village.

God bless America and its natural disposition to want to win.