TALES FROM A TRUMP STAFFER: How to Make a Narcissist Do What You Need Them to Do...

How many of you have worked for a narcissist?  Let's start with a definition of what that is to level set the rest of this post:

Narcissist (närsəsəst) - a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. Egostuff

I think smart professionals go through stages related to how they deal with narcissists as their manager:

1--They're shocked at the selfish behavior and general pathology of the individual.

2--They get sad about it and disengage a bit.

3--They get smart and start using with drives the narcissist to get #### done.

Know any narcissists in the news these days?  Regardless of your politics, you have to admit that Donald Trump is a bit of a narcissist.  Note that this isn't a political post, so both sides shouldn't blast me via email.

The recent summit with North Korea gives us a perfect glimpse of how to deal with your manager - if he or she is a narcissist.   More from the Chicago Tribune:

"Some of the most intense drama surrounding President Donald Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un came not across the negotiating table, but in the days and hours leading up to Tuesday's historic meeting - a behind-the-scenes flurry of commotion prompted by Trump himself.

After arriving in Singapore on Sunday, an antsy and bored Trump urged his aides to demand that the meeting with Kim be pushed up by a day - to Monday - and had to be talked out of altering the long-planned and carefully negotiated summit date on the fly, according to two people familiar with preparations for the event.

Ultimately, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders persuaded Trump to stick with the original plan, arguing that the president and his team could use the time to prepare, people familiar with the talks said. They also warned him that he might sacrifice wall-to-wall television coverage of his summit if he abruptly moved the long-planned date to Monday in Singapore, which would be Sunday night in the United States."

You can hate Trump and his team if you want to.  I'm going to zig while others zag and try to learn something from his staff.  Pompeo and Sanders wrote a playbook for you related to how to deal with a narcissist as your manager. 

TL:DR - The best way to deal with a narcissist with an unreasonable demand is to tell him/her they won't get enough credit or attention if they don't follow your advice.

More notes on the best way to use this strategy with a Narcissist:

1--Everything should be presented as if you are their agent.  Make it about their needs, not yours.  

2--Focus on the Narcissist getting credit for the decision, even if you will share in those accolades.  Don't tell the narcissist anything about how you benefit.

3--Focus on the Narcissist getting greater amounts of attention.  Similar to #2, but it's not credit.  It's attention, which is subjective, but the narcissist loves it.  ("Don - let's make sure you get a bit of face time with Kim, because he's going to love you and once he meets you, things will just be better for us.")

4--When in doubt, go to the senior level of this play - Frame everything as if you are preventing them from taking reputational damage.  ("Rick, people are going to blame you for this instead of loving you, and I've got a better plan that gets us what we need and makes people love you for it.")

When dealing with a narcissist, the smart professional goes through the stages I outlined, then sucks it up and plays the game to get what they- and the organization - needs from the narcissist.

Good luck dealing with your narcissist.  Take on the role of being their agent and it will go as well as it can.  Try not to vomit in your mouth as you do what's required.


ASK THE CAPITALIST: Are "Acting" or "Interim" Titles Ever A Good Idea?

A reader asks...

Hi Kris -

Do you have an opinion on the use of “acting” in title?  A situation has come up where two ppl in an org would be made “acting”…one person – we’ll call her Abby - would be moving into here boss's role and the boss (Maggie) would be moving to a higher level position.  Maggie didn’t seek out the new role, it was offered to her when the position opened up.  It’s fair to say that Maggie has already been somewhat serving in the higher level position, but without the title or pay, which is why she is the CEO’s pick to fill the role.  As part of succession planning, Abby has been groomed for Maggie’s role for years.  The rub is that the CEO isn’t sure whether she’s the right person to take over for Maggie so he wants to make Abby “acting” and feels it would be cleaner if Maggie is “acting” too.  FWIW, the CEO asked Maggie to commit two years to the role and Maggie has agreed to one year and reevaluating at that time.  Any strong opinions on this?

--Sarah from Syracuse

----------

Hey Sarah - 

Well, you've got a lot going on, don't you?

Here’s my take on the use of acting in this situation. Lucy

1. “Acting” in any role is a crutch when you either aren't sure someone can do the job, or 100% know that it won’t work out, but you need the butt in the seat.

2.  In the scenario you’ve laid out, your CEO’s use of acting for Abby seems appropriate, but if the CEO is sure that Maggie is a fit, he should place her in the role without the interim tag.  She’s already got a commitment issue to the role you want her to move into, and the “acting” tag is going to allow her to bail mentally if times get tough.

3.  I’d put Abby into the “acting” role for a quarter and make definitive call at that time.  If you drag it out past that, odds are you’ll end up with commitment and employee relations issues from Abby as well.

4.  What happens at the end of the one year period for Maggie if she doesn't want to stay in the job? I’d avoid talking about periods of commitment for specific jobs, it just leads to the aforementioned commitment issues once that period is up.

5. Will you take care of Maggie if she’s key and it doesn’t work out?  Sure. I’m just not convinced that talking about a one or two year commitment is the right way to go.  Stalin had a 5-year plan – that didn’t work out well for him.

Bottom line – put Abby in the “acting” tag and make your call in 3 months, at the same time put Maggie in the higher role with no “acting” tag and stop acting like she has the ability to come back down the org, even if she secretly does.

It’s all Jedi-mind tricks and Doug Henning-like illusions in the show.

KD

 


"PRETEND WE'RE HAVING AN ARGUMENT": The Glass Office Everybody Watches You Go Into (From "Billions")....

Workplace Artifacts - objects or situations made by human beings, with specific cultural interest or meaning in the workplace.

-----------

You know it's official when I make up my own definition, right?  OFFICIAL...

I'm fascinated by the cultural and performance impact by a lot of the things we do in the workplace.  Sometimes we're aware of what we are doing, sometimes we aren't.  In both circumstances, the impact can be either positive of negative.

Take an executive calling someone into his or her office.  I'm not talking about setting up a meeting, I'm talking about asking someone in the cube farm to come to their office - in a public way.

Take a look at the clip below from the Showtime Series "Billions", where Bobby Axelrod asks an employee (in this case, "Dollar" Bill Stern) to come to his office and proceeds to fake a verbal fight in a soundproof office.  The clip is gold, so watch it and we'll talk after the jump (email subscribers click through to see clip below, be aware lots of language so earbuds required):

The messaging is obvious - every time you publicly ask an employee to come to your office (think, "John, can you come to my office" as you're walking by), you'll signaling multiple things:

1--You tone says it all.  If you're mad or even neutral, people think something is wrong and the person in question is about to get lit up.

2--Who you ask to visit speaks volumes.  Are you asking someone you would normally ask to come to your office or someone that doesn't usually have that access?  The less often a person is in your office, the more it means when you DO ask them to come.

3--Body language - Once someone is into your office, what does your posture say?  Two people standing is urgent in nature, which could be positive or negative.  Both sitting in a relaxed position is usually good.  The guest standing while the exec sits and looks angry is 100% bad.

4--What happens after the meeting is key.  Dollar Bill tells Bobby to go F himself, and that message is clear.  For most of the other meetings we have when employees are directed to visit your office, it's more subtle. Employee goes back to the desk and exec stays in office is neutral.  Exec inviting someone else in right after a short meeting with that employee - especially that employee's manager - is crushingly bad.  Exec doing MBWA (management by walking around) and being light hearted means it was all good.

Public requests for a visit to the office are (or should be) strategic in nature. Use them in negative ways as a manager on a regular basis, and you'll hurt your culture.  But if you need to send a clear message that someone f'd up, it's a tool whose power should not be underestimated.

Want to know what professional level, Jedi Mind Trick "come to my office" looks like?  When you use it to either deflate or create perceptions that you have favorites (deflate means you ask someone who is not perceived to be your favorite and break bread, and if you keep asking them, they become the new perceived favorite).

What's your favorite moment from the Billions clip?  Mine is the "I'm going to poke you.  Poke me back".  

Gold.


Gary V. on Negative Glassdoor Reviews at VaynerMedia...

"Jonestown on Vitamin Water"

-anonymous Glassdoor reviewer on life at Vaynermedia...

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

Admit it.  You read that quote from a reviewer on Glassdoor and thought, "yep, that could be one of our disgruntled ex-employees on Glassdoor, but they aren't that witty."  

Glassdoor is an interesting beast.  It used to be that it was all disgruntled people you fired reviewing you on Glassdoor, but that's no longer the case.  The review economy via Trip Advisor, Yelp and 1,000 other review sites has normalized who reviews you and other industries in the smartphone era.

I found the video below from VaynerMedia CEO Gary V - a noted thought leader in the digital and entrepreneurial space - which finds him digging deep on his company's Glassdoor reviews.  His company is a hard charging company and he's a hard charging leader.

Find the VaynerMedia home page on Glassdoor by clicking here - overall rating of 3.0 and 46% of reviewers approve of CEO.  That means Gary V is polarizing (duh if you know him) and the culture he's built is polarizing as well.

Video below, email subscribers click through if you can't see the player.  Worth your time as you'll find a 5-minute video talking about the mindset of the Glassdoor reviewer, his refusal to ask existing employees for positive reviews and his hope that those who left scathing reviews got the poison out of their system and are ready to move forward.

Gold - take a look, you won't regret.

 

 

  VaynerMediaGlassdoor

 

 


AMBITION WEEK: Coaching Your Ambitious Direct Report to Not Be Hated...

Capitalist Note:  I'm tagging this week "Ambition Week", celebrating the people in your organization that want to dominate the world.  You know these people - they are the ones that often do great things, and occasionally put tire tracks across a teammates back in the process.  Are you better off with or without these people? Let's dig in and decide together...

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
--Bill Bradley

If you're like me, you love a direct report with ambition.  People with Ambition get shit done. Do they get shit done because they believe in you as a leader or they believe in themselves?

If you're asking that question, you're concerned with the wrong things.  Just celebrate the execution that comes with ambition and stop thinking so much. (the answer, btw, is that they believe in themselves and are motivated by moving their careers forward)

One problem that is universal related to direct reports with high ambition levels is that they can become hated by their peers - the folks they work with.  It's pretty simple to see why.  The folks with ambition treat life like a scoreboard and more often than not are low team (on a behavioral assessment).  Their peers want to do good work for the most part but don't have designs to rule the world.  Friction ensues. The team views the high ambition direct report like an opportunistic freak. A brown-noser. Someone that would run over his own mother for the next promotion.

So how do you coach your high ambition direct report to play nice with the lower ambition locals?

The key in my experience is to confront the reality with the high ambition direct report - you're looking to do great things.  You're driven.  You want to go places and you're willing to compete with anyone you need to in order to get there.  Start with that level set.

Then tell them they have to get purposeful with recognition of their peers.

If a high ambition direct report starts a weekly, informal pattern of recognition of their peers, a funny thing happens.  They start to look human to those around them.

But in order to make it work, you have to confront them and convince them that work life is not a zero sum game - just because you give kudos doesn't mean a high ambition FTE won't get the promotion or the sweet project assignment.  It actually makes them stronger, because in addition to all the great individual work they do, they start to be perceived as a good to great teammate, which unlocks some doors to management/leadership roles in a way that great individual work can't.

But that doesn't happen for the high ambition direct report unless you are honest with them about this:

1.  You're high ambition and would run over grandpa to win/survive/advance.

2. You're peers think you're a dick, and that's going to limit you.

3.  You're going to fix it by recognizing those around you on a weekly basis for great work, and you're going to reinforce that recognition by sharing your thoughts informally beyond the email you send, the shout out you make in a meeting, etc.

Don't be a dick, high ambition direct report.  Share the love and you'll actually get to where you want to go sooner.

Signed - KD

 


Does Drama at Work Cost the Average Worker 2.5 Hours Per Day? #workhuman

Capitalist Note:  I'm spending the first couple of days of this week at WorkHuman in Austin.  Put on by Globoforce, WorkHuman is the most progressive HR Conference available, with past shows focused on emerging trends like mindfulness, meditation and more - the leading edge of people practices and how HR can build them.  It's also hard to get a free Diet Coke at WorkHuman, because that stuff is bad for you - but healthy options are available and free.  One of the best shows I attend, highly recommended.

Stop me when you've heard this before.  

You're a manager of people/leader.  You're walking in one day and you get stopped dead in your tracks.  Allison wants to talk with you.  Allison has been known to get wound up and need some vent Tonytime with you on a periodic basis.

You've been trained by the world that you need to be a good listener as a manager.  So you invite Allison into your office and let her unload- you let her vent.

45 minutes later, you don't feel like you've really done anything to help.  You're concerned about a couple of things that Allison has said, but when you try to talk about some actions you can take, Allison says the following:

"I don't want you to do anything with this - I just needed someone to talk to"

F###. You walked in at 8am - it's now 8:50.  Allison feels better - at least for today.  You don't.

Did you do the right thing by allowing Allison to vent?

I had the chance to listen to Cy Wakeman talk Monday afternoon at WorkHuman in Austin.  For those of you that don't know her, here's the 411 on Cy via her own site:

What if you could diffuse workplace drama and be happier at work and in life? The great news is...now, you can!

Cy's research shows that the average worker spends 2.5 hours per day on drama.  Either interacting with others or just being worked up on their own.  She feels activities like the one described by me above with "Allison", while well intentioned by you and me, are actually net negative to the workplace.

Cy believes that rather than engaging in that vent sessions to let someone unload, you need to hold them accountable for what they can control.  One of the ways she recommends you do that to an individual that wants to b*tch is to diffuse the drama and ask “what does great look like” to get the person in front of you back to action.

"What does great look like?"

The concept is that someone wants to complain to you.  Many times they're wanting to complain about things they can't control, or realities they've made up in their own mind.  The question "what does great look like?" is designed to get them back to action.

Thus,"What does great look like?" is followed by "what part of that can you control?", then followed by the guidance "go do some of that.  Now.  You'll feel better"

My description of the technique provided by Cy is from 30,000 feet.  Go to her site at the link above and there's books with much more detail, tools and process to cut through the drama, take on fewer vent sessions and just 180 people back into action.

Cy Wakeman is a smart, smart person. The hard part for HR leaders in eliminating ego and drama in the workplace is transferring her techniques to the average manager of people. Possible? Yes. Hard? Yeah....

Allison: "We Need to talk."  <starts ranting about something your manager of people knows will take 45 minutes to diffuse>

Your Manager of People (MOP): " I know what you're talking about.  What does Great Look Like?"

Allison: <taken aback by the interruption> <Thinking>

Allison: "It would be great if you and the other members of the leadership team would smarten up and fire the two people I'm talking about."

Your MOP: <wishing he had read Cy's book - the one you gave him>

The point?  Cy's got some great thoughts and eliminating drama is a great aspirational goal.  The devil is in the details - to get the best results, you'll need to arm your managers with not only the question to regain control of the conversation, but the techniques to overcome all the sidetracks they'll encounter.

What does great look like?

That depends on who you ask.   

 

 

 


Welcome to the Hoops Coaches Absolutely Losing their **** Conference Room...

Capitalist Note - March Madness starts today.  I'm re-running a post from a few years back on a conference room theme I think would absolutely rock.  Survive and advance, people.  Survive and advance.

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

At Kinetix, we have some themed conference and breakout rooms.  There's Boiler Room, Tommy Boy, Moneyball, etc.  I think it's time to have a room - to be named later - which includes portraits of basketball coaches absolutely losing their ****.  Here's some photos that could be turned into portraits to create just the right look and feel for our next remodel.  Take a look and enable pictures if you can't see them on the email.

The working title is "Can We Talk?".  Hit me with your better name for this conference room in the comments.

H to the Izzo:

Tom-izzo-michigan-state

 

Bob Knight:

Knight

 

The always crazy Frank Martin:

Martin

 

Calipari calling "Double Claws Right":

Cal

 

The Bo Ryan "Fake Happiness Pose", also known as the "I dare you to T me up for being happy":

Boryan

 

The Bob Huggins "I don't have to yell, just look at this suit":

Huggins

 

And last, but certainly not least, Kim Mulkey showing her players how to get into a defensive stance - in 3 inch heels:

Mulkey

Do you have any pictures you can lend to my cause?  Now that I think about it, the room should absolutely be named SURVIVE AND ADVANCE.


Why "Get Focused/Do Better/Play Harder" is a Horrible Coaching Strategy...

In the business and sports world, there's a huge coaching crutch that's often said, but rarely means anything.

"Get Focused...Do Better...Play Harder" Screaming-coach

You hear the first two (and versions of those two) often in the business world.  Someone is struggling and everyone is frustrated - the manager, the employee in question, the skip level folks watching the show, the teammates impacted by the individual's struggle - everyone.  

When it comes time to coach the person in question - and perhaps help them - only general advice is given.

Get focused. Please.

The same story exists in the sports world.  I have a saying when it comes to coaching in the sports world - "When you hear a coach constantly telling a struggling player or team to play harder, just accept the following fact - he/she doesn't know how to fix the problem."

To be sure, getting focused in business and playing harder in sports is required.  But when performance issues are apparent, the thing that's generally missing is technical advice and coaching on both fronts.

You're overwhelmed by what is in front of you on the job.  Let's break down what you should do first.  You're struggling with a specific part of the job - let me help you find a path to improve in that area since I'm your coach.

You can't stop anyone from scoring in a team sport.  I could scream at you to play harder, but that's probably not going to result in better results.  Instead, I have to dig into your defensive technique and find a way to make you better individually and then show how that fits into the team philosophy.

After I coach you technically, of course I have to hold you accountable to delivering on what we covered, as well as continuing to coach the technique and make you better.

When you hear a manager or coach telling a struggling individual to get focused or play harder, it means they don't know how to fix the problem.

If you want to be a better coach in the business world, focus less on glittering generalities and start coaching technique/approach.

 

 


What To Do If Your Company Doesn't Give MLK as an Official Holiday - But You Think You Should...

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK) is a holiday with increasing importance in our world.  But most companies don't provide this as an official holiday.  Here's the stats I could find via Bloomberg:

"Most U.S. workers won’t get Monday off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  A study by Bloomberg BNA found 37 percent of employees will get a paid day off, similar to the 35 percent that will be off on Presidents Day in February.

The survey found that as a paid day off, Martin Luther King Jr. Day might have plateaued. Those receiving it as a paid holiday have hovered between 30 percent and 37 percent the past five years.Manufacturers are least likely to provide it as a day off, with 10 percent offering it.

Non-federal holidays such as the Friday after Thanksgiving are more common days off. About seven in 10 employees receive that as a holiday, and 46 percent are off Christmas Eve." Mlk

MLK presents an interesting quandary for employers.  If you don't have it, employees and candidates are increasing expecting it as a holiday, and MLK - rightly or wrongly - can be used as a proxy for commitment to diversity by vocal, mobilized special interest group and employees alike.  I'm not saying you're not committed to diversity if you don't provide MLK as an official day. I'm saying it could be used against you, and all of us are smart to think about the meaning and what we should do if we don't provide it.

Let's say you've determined you want to provide MLK Day as a holiday, but you want to stay net even related to the total number of days you provide.  Here's the checklist I go down...

1--It's not enough to say people can used general PTO or floating holidays to cover it.  If you want the optics and meaning  that providing MLK day off provides, it needs to be an official holiday.

2--If you have floating holidays or general PTO banked time, you could designate MLK as an official holiday and reduce that banked time by one day. 

3--Next, you could look at your existing holidaysI rank order them like this:

Untouchable - Christmas (birth of Jesus), 4th of July (birth of our country), Memorial Day (remembering those who served and gave their lives)

Less meaningful but still untouchable - Christmas Eve (wow - try it - I wish you luck) New Year's Day (just try and take that one), Thanksgiving (our right to remember Omish-like founders and eat large amounts), Labor Day (celebrating workers - try that one)

One you could trade out, but there would be hell to pay - Day after Thanksgiving (expected if you've already given it - hello entitlement!!)

Trade this one or one like it out for MLK in 2019 - President's Day, Columbus Day, etc.  (Let's face it, the presidents are on money, and damn, Columbus didn't even really discover America, right?)

If you want to give MLK as a holiday but want to stay even related to paid time off, this is your playbook.  1) Trade out President's Day or Columbus Day if have it.  2) If you have floating holidays or generalized PTO, reduce by one day and designate MLK as official in exchange. 3) Go get Friday after Thanksgiving or (winces) Christmas Eve to trade for MLK.

Good luck if you're seeking to add MLK and stay neutral related to time off.  I hope your Change Management goes well.

 

 

 

 


Can HR Be Trusted to Lockdown Vulnerability and Secrets From the Employee Base?

At the end of the day, employees have to trust any HR pro enough to come forward and share bad stuff with said HR pro.  What type of bad stuff?  What type of bad stuff do your employees have?

Hate. Addiction. Family Dysfunction. Ambition. Concerns about others.  Just to name a few.

All these things and more are filed under topics that employees would love to talk to someone about. Due to the role of HR, a good HR pro is a likely target for an employee to vent to.  But before they make the decision to confide in you, they have to evaluate whether you can be trusted.

More from Jennifer McClure at Unbridled Talent:

"But I do recall a conversation I had one day with an employee who was experiencing some issues at work. When I offered to listen and provide support, she said “Unfortunately, I can’t talk to you about this. It’s not that I don’t trust you personally. It’s the chair that you sit in. You have the authority to fire me. And I can’t risk that.”

After she left my office, I thought about what she’d said. I wanted to be offended. But I kinda understood where she was coming from. While it was frustrating that she wouldn’t allow me to try to help out just because of my position in the organization, I also knew that sometimes it was part of my role to be involved in making decisions about her career. So sharing a weakness or performance problem with someone who has that type of influence could be perceived as a risk."

Go read Jennifer's post.  Then think about the kind of HR pro you are.  I'd tell you that when it comes to employees considering whether they want to confide in you on a deep level, there are 3 types of HR pros:

  1. No way, no how. You've got a reputation for sharing information about others with the wrong people. You talk too much, and this is most commonly manifested by you talking about other employees to... you guessed it.... their peers - other rank and file employees.  Which causes them to wonder what you would do if they shared something deep about themselves that they're struggling with.
  2. You haven't ####ed it up yet. They look at you as an HR pro and see someone they shouldn't distrust, but you haven't earned your stripes yet as someone that can go on lockdown and be fully trusted.  At some point, someone's going to test that, seeking to trust you and ask you for advice.  When that day comes, you'll have to listen, offer advice, put the info in a lockbox (shoutout to Al Gore, inventor of the internet) and not share with anyone.  You know, be trustworthy.
  3. The Rock. Employees have trusted you with some bad stuff about themselves in the past. You listened, offered advice and then most importantly, locked it down.  You didn't talk to other employees and just as importantly, didn't share the info with their boss, other senior team members in your unit, etc.  As a result, employees talk. You've got a reputation as someone that can be trusted, even though the employees who share that opinion never talk about what they shared with you.

HR pros earn their reps with results - either negative or positive - when employees choose to trust them. Like the rest of the human race, some HR pros are great building and maintaining trust, some aren't.

My advice for any HR pro is to develop a quick script to share with any employee that approaches you and tells you they're about to go deep.  My favorite is something related to confidentiality that suggests, "if you're asking for confidentiality, I can tell you I can deliver that with the exception of things that are legal issues or would negatively impact our business."

My experience is that the best HR pros usually have quite a bit of stuff on lockdown.  Do employees trust you?  That's a fair question any HR pro should ask themselves.