Elon Musk Knows How to Embarrass/Frame Talent Leaving for a Competitor..

It's been a tough couple of weeks for an iconic leader in America - Elon Musk.

First, he tweeted/floated an idea for taking Tesla public and may face securities fraud charges as a result.  Then he had a rapper over to the house that started live tweeting a bunch of stuff that was unflattering and the beef continues.

But you know what's going well for Musk?  Embarrassing employees who are jumping to Apple (the companies are infamous Musk2 for training development and design talent) by tagging them all a certain way.  Consider this:

"We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Graveyard.' If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding," Musk told German newspaper Handelsblatt in 2015.

CNBC reports that Apple is on a current hiring spree, poaching "scores" of ex-Tesla employees for a variety of projects, citing better pay at the iPhone giant.

If Tesla was doing an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) study, two of the themes would undoubtedly be "we work on the bleeding edge" and "everyone here is all in".

Then culturally, Musk and his direct reports do what they do - framing defections to a world class company/competitor for talent as the "lazy people" or "not good enough to work here".

Love it or hate it, it's an aggressive approach you can learn from.  Our body language and framing when people leave our companies tends to be too passive.

Play offense when talking about turnover.


Saying "No" Helps Train the Recipient What "Yes" Looks Like...

If there's a big problem in corporate America, it's that we say "Yes" too much at times.

Yes to that request..

Yes, I can help you..

Yes, I'd be happy to be part of your project team...

Yes, your response to my request is fine...

There's a whole lot of yes going around.  The problem?  Only about 1/2 of the "yes" responses are followed up with action that is representative of all of us living up to the commitment we made.

That's why you need to say "no" more.

Of course, simply saying no with nothing behind the no positions you as jerk.  So the "no" has to have qualifiers behind it:

Say "no" more to peers asking you for things, but then qualify it with how the request could be modified to move you to say "yes".

Say "no" more to your boss, and qualify your response to her by asking for help de-prioritizing things on your plate - which might allow you to say "yes" to the new request.

We say "yes" in the workplace when we want to say "no". We do it because we don't like to say no, and because we are horrible at negotiation.

Say "no" and tell people how the request could be modified to get to "yes".

Or just say "no" and walk away.  Either way, you've helped the organization's overall performance by providing more clarity. 


EMAIL + WORK: We Need Tags Like "Facts", "Opinions" and "Danger"

Most of us have been overwhelmed by email at work.  Even though the advent of the smart phone has made it easier to keep up, it's been pointed out that the digital leash this provides is of questionable value.

When you really think about it, the contrast of traditional Outlook Exchange and Gmail provides a pretty good backdrop for what's possible.  Outlook is clunky, hard to personalize and not very flexible, but it wins a lot of users because it's the defacto choice for the enterprise.  Gmail, on the other hand, has become the defacto choice for everyone else who doesn't have an email choice forced on them by the company.

Gmail features like enhanced search and tagging provide flexibility Outlook can't match.  A recent product annoucement for Google News got me thinking about what else is possible with email.  More from TechCrunch on advanced tagging:

"Today Google added a new “fact-check” tag to its popular Google News service. The site aggregates popular timely news from multiple sources and has traditionally grouped them with tags like “opinion,” “local source” and “highly cited.” Now readers can see highlighted fact-checks right next to trending stories.

The company cites the growing prominence of fact-checking sites as one of the reasons for creating the tag. Content creators will be able to add the new fact-check tag to posts themselves using a finite set of pre-defined source labels.  

ClaimReview from Schema.org will be used to compile and organize stories offering factual background. The Schema community builds markups for structured data on the internet. The group is sponsored by Google but also has support from Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex."

The fact that tags are in play everywhere got me thinking.  Why can't email be smarter related to the type of email that's flowing into our work inbox hundreds of times per week?  Gmail already has transcended what's possible in Outlook by sorting emails into tags that include "primary/social/promotions" and delivering those types of emails into separate inboxes.

What would help us for work-related to emails?  I'm thinking tags that would separate our non-junk emails into three primary groups:

--Facts - Similar in some aspects to the Google News feature, this would use smart technology to determine an email is an attempt to educate with facts of some type with limited opinion added to it.  We all get emails that are fact-based and designed to be consumed when we have time.  This would be the tag for those data dumps.

--Opinions - This email tag would tell us that an email contains primarily opinion about something in the workplace.  There might be facts in the background, but this email type would tell us that someone or a group is providing their opinion about a topic.  Let's face it, these are the most interesting to us.

--Danger - The most valuable of all my proposed tags, I'd love to see smart technology sift through the emails and tag the ones that cross a danger threshold, telling me I really need to consider the way I respond.  This would sniff out email chains related to my work, a boss or skip level exec who's emotional about something in my wheelhouse, or people I've responded to a in less than optimal way in the past.

It's probably time that email becomes smart and helps us figure out what to prioritize and when more caution/rigor is necessary.

What did I miss?  A "hot take" tag?  A "crazy" tag?  You tell me.


Why Facilitating Leadership Training Is Hard (Video)...

Spent the Last couple of weeks onboarding a great HR pro to help me facilitate a bunch of Leadership Training via my BOSS series in the next month.  It's reminded me of what I already knew, but sometimes forget:

Being a good to great facilitator of Leadership Training is hard.  Why?  5 quick observations:

1--You can't be a robot. You have to weave your stories into the training if you're going to keep their interest.

2 - Mechanics matter. You've got participant guides, slides, flip charts and a bunch of stuff.  Something that sounds simple - referencing page numbers that you're on in the guide so people don't get lost - is hard when everything's flying at 100 mph.

3--Don't Paraphrase the Exercises - You wouldn't think of this if you hadn't done it as much as we have. Don't be cute on the exercises you have - read the instructions, because if you paraphrase what you want people to do, they get lost and it all goes to hell.

4--Pace, Pace, Pace - Keep your eye on the prize.  If you're doing a day of training and you get 1/2 way through and you've only made it 1/3 of the way through the material, you're in trouble.

5--Conversations involving participants matter more than you covering material - It's an art to how long to let the sharing go on.  Participation is key, disagreements amongst the attendees are gold.  Let them roll, but keep your eye on pace mentioned above.

Bottom line - you need a great SME who's comfortable with high degrees of chaos and ambiguity to facilitate your leadership/manager of people training.

PLUS - they have to be a bit of performer in front of groups.  That's probably the overriding key.

When I say performer, what do I mean?  I'm always reminded of this video from David Allen Grier from In Living Color.  40 second clip (email subscribers click through if you don't see the video below), well worth your time.

BROOOOOADDDDWAYYYYYY!!!!!!!


Let's Break Down the Korean Gate Agent Claim Vs. Delta Airlines...

In case you missed it last week, four former Seattle-based Delta Air Lines employees filed a lawsuit against the company, saying they were fired for speaking Korean.

The old saying I have as an HR leader goes something like this: In America, allegations are free.  You've got the right to bring claims forward. Many people do. Some of those claims are 100% true.  A lot of the claims are afterthought allegations, with the real reasons for terminations being business-related.  Sometimes, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Delta gate agents

This is what we pay the HR generalist (at all levels) with employee relations responsibilities for.  Bigger companies have ER specialists that serve as the gatekeepers for situations that involve terminations.

So let's look at the reported facts of the Delta/Korean worker lawsuit and handicap what's going on from an employee relations perspective.

In other words to my good readers: HR, DO YOUR JOB.  Analysis after the jump for your comments, rundown courtesy of wire reports and The Hill:

"Four former Delta Air Lines employees filed a lawsuit against the company, saying they were fired for speaking Korean.

Ji-Won Kim, Lilian Park, Jean Yi and Jongjin An worked as desk and gate agents for the airline at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which has daily Delta flights to South Korea.

The four Korea-born women claim in the lawsuit that they were “singled out and admonished” for speaking Korean. Three of the four women are U.S. citizens.

Yi told Seattle TV station KIRO 7 that Korean-speaking passengers who weren't fluent in English felt more comfortable speaking with her at the airport.

One of the plaintiffs said a manager told her that airline employees who didn't speak Korean had complained and asked her to “limit speaking Korean.”

The women, who were all fired in May 2017, claim in the lawsuit that other foreign language–speaking employees were not asked to limit their non-English communications.

The company said the four women were terminated for "offering unauthorized upgrades," according to the lawsuit. The women say the upgrades were standard, particularly for oversold flights, and that other agents who engaged in the same practices were not fired.

An attorney for the women said it is also possible that their firings were related to their reporting of sexual harassment — all four claimed that they were sexually harassed by the same male employee, who is still working for the airline.

A Delta spokesperson told KIRO 7 in a statement that the airline “does not tolerate workplace discrimination or harassment of any kind” and that the allegations against the male employee were “found to be without merit.”

"These former employees were unfortunately but appropriately terminated because the company determined they violated ticketing and fare rules,” the spokesperson said. “Delta is confident that these claims will ultimately be determined to be without merit."

This kind of makes me miss being heavily involved in employee relations issues that can ultimately end up in legal action. Delta's got a solid case if the following elements are present behind the scenes, deep down in the guts of the employee relations file of this case.  Follow me and tell me what I'm missing in the comments.  Delta has a good position IF:

1--There was a clear progressive path related to the the group of 4 employees violating ticketing and fare rules.  Were they warned prior to being termed?  If so, Delta's in great shape.  If they weren't warned, it's a little more mucky.

2--Delta has a clean history of terming similar employees for ticketing and fare rules violation across multiple Title 7 areas - gender, national origin, etc. If there's not solid history across Title 7 classes, it's mucky.

3--The Harassment issue has a full investigation file (I say that in general terms) and whoever brought that to Delta's attention got closure from the appropriate Delta person and they can show it was investigated to an appropriate level.

4--The speaking Korean issue is a bit dicey.  This group of employees was valued for their language skills, so this request is interesting and problematic.  How did the group use Korean when it wasn't a business necessity?  You have to assume they used it to talk to each other and other employees felt on the outside as a result.  Is that worth a conversation?  Maybe.  A lot of merits of this comes down to what was said in the conversation, the timing of it vs. the decision to term, if similar conversations happened with other language groups who weren't termed, etc.  

What did I miss?  LMK.  

The biggest item for consideration here is #1 and #2.  If the employees making the claim were warned before being termed and the company has a history of terming employees for upgrade/ticketing/fare rule violations, Delta is in pretty good shape.  

If #1 and #2 is murky at best, #3 and #4 come into play to a larger degree.

Good HR/employee relations practices (which I'm sure exist to a large degree at Delta) require lots of discipline.  The merits of each case really come down to the level of discipline a company shows.  And if you were wondering, a quick google search shows gate agents are non-unionized at Delta.

HR, do your job.

 


WeWork's New Vegetarian Policy for Employees and Company Events: The Market Will Decide...

We live in a world where business owners can make political/moral/society statements and force those world views on their employees - especially if their companies are privately held.  On the conservative side of the aisle, we've seen businesses stand up for their right to not offer birth control as part of their health plan, and we've seen owners on both the conservative and liberal sides of the spectrum put pressure on employees to vote in elections according to the owner's views.

Add a new one to to the list.  WeWork wants you to know that eating meat isn't cool - and they're changing their business practice to reflect that.   We work

More from USA Today:

If WeWork employees want a burger while on business, the money is coming out of their own pockets. The global workplace startup told employees this week that the company will ban employees from expensing meals that contain red meat, pork or poultry, Bloomberg reported.

The company won't provide meat for events at its 400 locations, either — part of an effort to reduce its environmental footprint.

"New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact, even more than switching to a hybrid car," WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey said in an email to staffers.

The no-meat policy will also affect self-serve food kiosks at many of WeWork's 400 locations worldwide, according to Bloomberg. Employees wanting "medical or religious" exceptions can hash those out with a company policy team.

WeWork boasts 6,000 employees worldwide, according to Bloomberg. The company estimates its no-meat policy will save 15,507,103 animals by 2023, according to Business Insider, along with 16.6 billion gallons of water and 445.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that alters Earth's climate.

WeWork confirmed the policy change to both news outlets. WeWork is perhaps the most well-known company to emerge offering co-working spaces to freelancers, small businesses and even employees of large companies such as Microsoft. The Motley Fool named it one of the top five most valuable startups in America.

It would be easy to blast this policy, but I'm actually OK with companies making these kind of stands - both on the liberal and conservative side of the fence.

So WeWork won't allow employees to expense a meal involving meat and it won't serve meat at WeWork facilities as part of it's events business.  

Ok!  You know who decides whether WeWork is wrong?  Not you and me.  No, the people who decide whether WeWork has lost its mind are what I'll call "the aggregate."  It all comes down to whether this policy hurts WeWork as two groups consider it for business purposes:

1--Candidates and employees. I can't expense a chicken taco.  Does that make me want to avoid you as an employer? Does it make me want to leave you as an employee?  Ask that question 20,000 times in the next year and if a significant amount of people can't accept the policy and leave or don't join the company to begin with.

2--Companies who want to host events in a WeWork facility.  Same question.  Love your space, going to host my get together at WFW (we <expletive>work).  Wait, what?  I can't cater the brisket through you?  No?  I cam't have someone else cater that in?  Hmm.  Where do I go that can provide that?  Is their space just as good?

At the end of the day, WeWork is standing up for something the founders believe in.  The market will decide.  If I was selling against them, I'd use it to negatively sell every chance I got.

By the way, there is a loophole in the policy - fish is still allowed.  Because you know, not all animals have the same set of rights. 

Sorry, couldn't resist.  


Asians FTW: The 2018 Google Diversity Report...

The latest Google Diversity report is out.  The baseline is this - female, black and latino numbers still struggling, both in the overall workforce and in management ranks.

But Asians?  Doing just fine, thank you very much.

For context, I thought I'd start with how the overall numbers match up from 2014 to 2018 (email subscribers, click through to site for charts, you'll want to see these):

Here's the 2014 chart:

Google2014

Here's the 2018 chart:

2018

The downside - little progress overall in black, latino and women representation at the company.

But the upside - and if you're going to knock them for the downside you have to note this - is that Google is significantly less white than it was 4 years ago.

It just so happens that Asians took the majority of those gains.  So while work still needs to happen in the aforementioned classes, I'm always a little shocked that companies like Google don't get more props for their workforce representation of Asians.

If I react to anything in those numbers, it's this.  Daaaaaaaamn - Asians are kicking some ass.  For real.  If careers at Google are what you want for your kids, we probably need to take a look at the various nationalities that comprise the Asian category (a very broad catagory that includes Indian Continent as well as Pacific Rim) and figure out what they are doing right - even in American schools - to prep their kids for this type of work.  My kids are smart and actually decent at Math and Science, in advanced classes, but there's a couple of Asian kids that are the Michael Jordan and Larry Bird (threw in a white guy for balance - did you catch that?) of math at their school.

My kid was on the college bowl team for the stuff that didn't involve Math.  When a math question came up, all the other kids took their hand off the buzzer and just looked at the Asian kid I'll call "MJ" - as to say, "you've got this one MJ - we'll be over here reading TMZ if you need us to sharpen your pencil."

MJ's going to work at Google.  His family doesn't need Google to do anything to get him there.

I'm looking at the Google diversity numbers and resisting the urge to wag the finger.  Keep on crushing product and eroding overall privacy, G-town.  I'll give you a golf clap for the good faith efforts to build more diverse math and science pipeline, but then give a knowing nod to the people who are really crushing it in those numbers - the many nationalities that comprise the fictional, yet powerful, EEO category of "Asian".

 


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.


Uber Is Now Run By Your Dad and He's Misusing Slang Like A Dad Would....

Most of you are aware of the leadership challenges and changes at Uber, the company some of us love or hate.

It all started with founder Travis Kalanick, who rose with the company as its first CEO and really defined the hard knock culture that ultimately took him down.  Things got too crazy and Kalanick was out, replaced by the Uber board by former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi - primary to bring grown up leadership to the company that defined an entirely new business segment (ridesharing). Uber

And for the most part, Khosrowshahi has done that.  If you've watched any TV recently, you've seen him featured in Uber commercials saying that the company is rebuilding itself in a responsible way.  

Khosrowshahi is the equivalent of a dad in this rebuild.  And sometimes Dads try to be hip and it all goes to hell.  Such was the case recently at Uber, when Khosrowshahi penned a memo asking "WHO HAS THE D", which immediately sent everyone with Snapchat (and perhaps even Instagram) loaded on their smartphone snickering.  More on this memo from Gizmodo:

"When he took over the company in August of last year, Dara Khosrowshahi was tasked with rehabilitating the fratboy image of Uber—a company where harassment was rampant, and internal memos had to advise employees how not to have sex with their coworkers. But based on a leaked memo, less than a year into the new CEO’s tenure, Khosrowshahi has been giving “the D” to staffers in meetings.

Fortunately we’re not talking about any sort of sexual impropriety (to the best of our knowledge). The memo, obtained by Business Insider, outlines a method to avoid bureaucratic bloat, where Khosrowshahi writes:

You may hear me say in meetings ‘[insert name] has the D here’. This is about being clear on who is the decision maker; I’d encourage you to do the same."

 You know—the D. As in, “you can stay and observe if you want to, but for the duration of this organizational planning meeting, I’m giving Brad the D.”
 
Oh boy, here we go.  More from the same article:
 
Dara's confusion seems based on a single Harvard Business Review article from January of 2006 titled, “Who Has the D?: How Clear Decision Roles Enhance Organizational Performance.” Here are some quotes from that turgid, 4,500-word piece that was certainly helpful to a businessperson somewhere:

“they must [...] elevate the issue to the person with the D.”

“the person with the D needs good business judgment”

“The buyers were given the D”

“there may be good reasons to locate the D”

“the D resided with headquarters”

“who is responsible for providing valuable input and who has the D”

“The theme here is a lack of clarity about who has the D”

Urban Dictionary cites “the D” as a synonym for penis—and by synecdoche, a form of sex—going back to 2004. Uber’s worst days may be behind it, but perhaps this is a sign the company is entering a golden age of public gaffes that are fun instead of deeply upsetting.

Yes. Uber is run by your dad.  And when Dads act cool and trendy, bad things can happen.

When Dads are CEOs and their communications leaders/PR/HR people are older Dads and Moms, memos like this happen.

Somewhere in the last month, Dara brought up "the D" in a leadership meeting.  He was frustrated by decision speed and the amount of meetings he saw in the company.  He thought they had grown to0 bloated in their concerns not to make mistakes.

He remembered the HBR article, and informed everyone on the leadership team that somebody "had to have the D".  He said he was going to send a memo the entire company.

No one stopped him, or said that aloud to themselves later and googled it.  Hilarious.

If this isn't a theme in the next season of HBO's Silicon Valley next year, I'm canceling my subscription.  

 


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.