How To Show Creatives In Your Workforce That Planning/Communication Is Necessary...

For non-creatives, managing creatives can be tricky business.

I mean, really - you're not creative and you're going to try and tell them how they should run their creative desk?  How dare you!

My experience is that creatives, while organized in their own mind, often don't see a gap related to how others view them and the services they provide.  Creatives are a valuable, rare commodity, so many managers will avoid engaging them to deliver services in a way that the team/company/client can more easily understand - out of fear of losing the resource.

A lot of that gap comes down to planning and/or communication.  What can I expect, when can I expect it?  Many who rely on creative services treat it as a mystical resource.  

Creativity takes time.  Creativity can't be rushed.  It will be done when it's done, but you want high quality, right?

All of which is true.  However, I recently ran across this example of how one creative mind works when it comes to planning and organization.  take a look at the spreadsheet below - it's a planning doc from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.  Take a look at the picture (email subscribers may have to click through to view, and all can click on the picture below to blow it up) and we'll talk about it after the jump.

Jk-rowlings-phoenix-plot-outline_1457414808

More on this doc from Open Culture:

At the height of the Harry Potter novels' popularity, I asked a number of people why those books in particular enjoyed such a devoted readership. Everyone gave almost the same answer: that author J.K. Rowling "tells a good story." The response at once clarified everything and nothing; of course a "good story" can draw a large, enthusiastic (and, at that time, impatient) readership, but what does it take to actually tell a good story? People have probably made more money attempting, questionably, to pin down, define, and teach the best practices of storytelling, but at the top of this post, we have a revealing scrap of Rowling's own process. And I do, almost literally, mean a scrap: this piece of lined paper contains part of the handwritten plot spreadsheet she used to write the fifth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

One of the most economically successful creatives (in this case, an author) relies on a spreadsheet to plan and execute story arcs and plots.

A lot of your creatives don't plan like this.  I think it's worth sharing to show the level of detail one famous creative mind includes when planning work product.

In addition, the doc serves to make an additional point.  If J.K. Rowling goes to this extreme to keep her own head straight, might more planning and communication from your creatives to those who are waiting for creative product from make sense within your company and on your team?

It's one thing to have it in your head.  To truly reach the highest level of creative service inside a company, your creatives need to be organized - and then tell the world what their work funnel looks like and when they can expect delivery.   

 


When Your Boss Acts Like a Dinosaur and You Just Serve Up The Brontosaurus...

In case you missed it, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the latest leader VP level FTE of the free world to espouse the benefits of having his underlings print stuff out for him to chew on.  Damn kids!  Where's my digital information printed out on something I can take notes on?  Or use to throw away my gum?  BTW, I'm almost out of Big Red - send the intern to the store. 

OK, let's look at the quote and analyze it after the jump.  More from Newsweek:

"Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that he prints out President Donald Trump's tweets and uses them to inform decision-making on foreign policy. Tillerson

The Texan was speaking to his predecessor Condeleezza Rice at a Stanford University event on Wednesday, at which he said the president is "world-class at social media," on which he reaches millions of people via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with messages that sometimes even his own team remain unaware of. 

"The challenge is getting caught up because I don't even have a Twitter account that I can follow what he is tweeting, so my staff usually has to print his tweets out and hand them to me," Tillerson told Rice."

Random and at times, astute thoughts on this:

1.  Condi is pressing her tongue against her teeth - or whatever method she uses - not to laugh out loud at Tillerson thinking he's being cool with this response.

2.  It's hard when you have an otherwise talented boss ask you for something stupid.  Sometimes the caveman just wants to eat, and it's easier to serve him the Brontosaurus than walk him through the issues.

3.  There would be A LOT MORE DINOSAURS in the world receiving this level of service.  But most of us saw administrative assistants go away in the 1990s, never to return.  So while this type of story is rare, it would be more common had the great OD plague of the 1990 not wiped 80% of the admins from the face of the earth.

4.  Tillerson has a legitimate security concern in not having a twitter account.  But I'm pretty sure that there's an analyst at the State Department that can set up autoforwarding to his smart phone via email or even a secure app - let's name it Sexy Rexy - and have it pop the minute Trump tweets.

5.  And yes, someone close to Tillerson has to tell him how bad this makes him look and help him at least have the appearance of looking digital.

It's one thing to have Marge print out the tweets.  It's another thing to tell the world you're on top of twitter and use it for policy by - wait for it - printing stuff from "The Twitter Thing" out.

 

 


How to Involve Employees In Goal Setting - Even If You're 99% Sure Some of Their Ideas Will Suck....

I'm up over at Saba Software talking about goal setting - something that should be on everyone's mind at the start of the year, right?

You must include your direct reports in the goal setting process. I know – sometimes their ideas aren’t great. It’s OK – I'm going to show you how to involve the direct report in the goal setting process without being held hostage by bad ideas about goals. You can include them and maintain control of the process.

The more you can show they had input, the more you win by increased engagement towards the goals. Take a look at this episode of TalentTalks at Saba Software to learn more/how.

Click here to see my video for a 3-step process to including your employees in goal setting - in risk-free, no BS way.

Goal setting

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 Part of the Normal American Workplace Will Be Most Impacted by #metoo?

There's a ton of good that's come from the daily breaking news associated with the #metoo movement.  Creeps everywhere are being held responsible for their behavior, and society in general seems to have a higher awareness for what's appropriate and what's not.  There's a lot of details in between, but the one I spend the most time thinking about is the following:

When does the #metoo movement hold common day, ordinary creeps accountable Work deep into the American workplace, where there's no media coverage of the proceedings?

I'm not sure I know the answer. For all of the good that's come out of the #metoo proceedings, it's still murky how the ordinary American workplace will be impacted.  Awareness is great, but the true creeps can keep on giving the creepers to all around them at the soft drink distributor in Peoria, IL.  There's no media to report on those stories, and without the positive impact/protection of coverage, many impacted by harassment are less likely to report.

The industry that might have the most potential for a #metoo movement aware from media coverage?  It might be your local restaurant.  Here's more from the New York Times:

"Restaurants are like pirate ships. Each has its own code, with distinct values and rules. Some crews are kind, supportive and disciplined, relatively speaking. Others are angry, surly, misogynistic and drunk. New crew members quickly fit in, or jump ship. Like pirate crews, restaurant staffs are cohesive societies, but they aren’t big on transparency, and it’s hard for outsiders to know what’s happening.

Fifty years ago, when nobody cared what went on in restaurant kitchens except health inspectors and tax collectors, acting like pirates was probably a useful skill. Today, though, it is outmoded.

Customers may enjoy the occasional sample of salty pirate speech, but they also care about the inner workings of kitchens. They know the names of the chef, the sous-chef, the pastry chef, the head bartender. They’ve watched TV documentaries about the creative process behind trout roe in little cups made of pig’s blood. They’ve heard many chefs talk on many occasions about certain kinds of ethical behavior, having mostly to do with livestock.

Something has gone grotesquely wrong when chefs brag that the chickens they buy lived happy, stress-free lives, but can’t promise us that the women they employ aren’t being assaulted in the storage room."

I'd encourage all to go read the NYT piece.  There have been celebrity chefs who have been taken down my #metoo, but the vast majority of the industry isn't driven by celebrity chefs.  

But, the familiarity of customers with the chefs and staff at private restaurants across America presents an interesting opportunity.  If you care about where the chickens come from as a patron, do you care about the treatment of the women staff at La Paz?

Not many customers are sensitive to how anyone is treated at the cable company.  They already hate the cable company, so it stands to reason that the cable company treats their people like garbage (no matter how wrong the treatment is).  No one would be surprised by that.

But your local white cloth restaurant?  What would you say if you new the owner was asking female servers to come pick up the cash bag at his place and opening the door in a robe?

Yeah, you'd probably get the creepers and not go back.

With tools like Yelp out there, were only a new feature away from the review economy telling you how female friendly that privately-owned restaurant is.

For that reason, the restaurant industry is ripe for accountability related to the #metoo movement.

Interesting times.


You Might Need A "Managed By Me" Operator's Manual in 2018...

Quick thought for you today.  If you're looking to refresh the working relationship you have with the people who work for you in 2018, it might be time to publish an "operator's manual" for those that report to you.  What's a "Managed By Me" Operator's Manual look like?

Managed by Me Operator's Manual - a guide put together by a manager of people to let his/her direct reports understand the best way to operate the complex machinery/algorithm that represents them as a manager. Hit me

Wondering what could be included in that?

1--Behavioral strengths and weaknesses.  Don't forget that most extreme scores in any behavioral category serve as both strength and weakness.  Depends on the circumstances.

2--For Best Results, please ___ and ___.   You're human, so it stands to reason that there is a "most effective" way to deal with you.  This could easily be broken up into guidance on how to maximize results related to communication style, level of information you want, etc.

3--Common Issues.  Yes, people have had problems with you before.  You've been manufactured in a six sigma facility, but given the number of reps you've been used, there's bound to have been some problems.  You tell people about those problems and tell them how to fix/who to call/what the warranty period is.

4--Some Maintenance Required.   That's right!  You don't just run a car for 20,000 miles without doing some routine things to make sure you're good to go.  The same holds true with you.  Tell them what maintenance is required to maximize their time with you.  If you expect rundowns of major projects, tell them what you need, how often, etc.

The point of the "Managed by Me Operator's Manual" is to refresh.  You've been around your people for awhile, and things might seem flat.  You can change it up by providing this doc to you people and perhaps have some fun on the way.

You think they know how to work with you.  I guarantee they don't know everything you think they know about you.  In addition, we're trained as managers of people to believe that it's up to us to manage our teams.  

Truth is that managing teams is a two-way street.  They're as responsible for managing up to you as you are directly managing them - if you want the best results.  The Operator's Manual on you as a manager is a fun way to refresh the relationship and put some of that burden back where it belongs - on them.

 


Forcing Managers to Interview Minority Candidates - Necessary or Pure Bureaucracy?

Capitalist Note - If you follow sports, you may have heard that the Oakland Raiders (soon to be the Las Vegas Raiders) are set to hire Jon Gruden, current ABC/ESPN commentator, past head coach in the NFL and yes, a white guy.  It's said at this writing to be a done deal, but the Raiders have to interview other candidates as required by the NFL's Rooney Rule.  I'm re-running this post to explore the merits of forcing managers to interview minority candidates in searches.

If you follow sports, you're probably aware that Pete Carroll, head football coach at the University of Southern California (USC), is leaving USC to become the head coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.  On the surface, this is pretty pedestrian stuff - head coach wins national titles in college, gets a chance at a big payday in the NFL.  Yawn...

What you probably don't know is this: before the Seahawks and Carroll could sign an contract that had already been agreed to verbally, the Seahawks had to interview at least one minority candidate as part of their process.  It's required in the NFL, and here's how the rule (known as the Rooney Rule) is positioned:

"Under the NFL's Rooney Rule, any team in the National Football League offering a head coaching position must interview at least one minority candidate. Named after the Pittsburgh Steelers' owner Dan Rooney, chairman of theMike_tomlin league's diversity committee, the rule was created in the hopes of increasing the number of minority head coaches in the league.  

How do you feel about that?  Here's how I feel about that.  Stop talking about Affirmative Action and start talking about how the world works as you consider this one. On many occasions, hiring managers have a candidate in mind that they think they want to plug into a job.  When this happens, they're usually so set on the decision that they think any other interviews may be a waste of time.  The tough part about that is that your company still has a process, and the hiring manager needs to put forth a little more effort.  So, let's take the focus off of minorities and plug another group of candidates in to discuss the wisdom of forcing your hiring managers to interview candidates they don't think have a chance - internal applicants.

Let's say your hiring manager has an external candidate they think would be great for the job, but you've also got 3 internal candidates for the position who have applied.  Your company has a process that says all internal candidates are, at the very least, going to get a brief conversation/interview with the hiring manager in question.  Your hiring manager doesn't want to do it, and he's bitching about it.  You're faced with the classic catch-22 - you either force the process and risk looking like a bureaucrat, or you let the hiring manager do his thing without interviewing the internals, which is decidedly bad for your culture and employee relations environment.

I'm tagged as a capitalist.  You might think I would allow the hiring manager to skip the internal interviews with a name like that, right?  But I don't, and here's why.  I've learned that for every 10 internal interviews you make a hiring manager do against their will, they are going to get 2-3 pleasant surprises, meaning they're impressed enough by the candidate in question that they'll change their mind and offer them the job, or they'll put the memory on reserve and as a result, hire them for a future role.

My stance on internal interviews is easily carried over to the Rooney Rule. By forcing interviews of minority candidates, you've got a shot to make the hiring managers go HMMMMM....

Need proof? That logic is documented when Mike Tomlin became the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers at the young age of 34 (and later led them to a NFL Championship):

"Mike Tomlin wouldn't have gotten this opportunity without this rule," said Shell, the first modern black NFL head coach. "He never would have sat down with Dan Rooney."

Said Rooney: "To be honest with you, before the interview he was just another guy who was an assistant coach. Once we interviewed him the first time, he just came through and we thought it was great. And we brought him back and talked to him on the phone and went through the process that we do, and he ended up winning the job."

The Rooney Rule is the same thing as your rules regarding how internal candidates are handled. You don't put rules on interviewing minorities or internal candidates in place because it's the right thing to do.  You do it because the exposure gives strong talent an opportunity to surprise hiring managers who wouldn't otherwise be exposed. 

And that, my friends, should be our main objective in the Talent game.


The Self-Sabotaging Nature of Loving Drama In the Workplace...

"Some men just want to watch the world burn"

--Alfred in Batman

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

Short post today as you go into the holidays, shut it down and think about 2018.

You've got people in your professional life who love drama.  They're wired to create angst, conflict, infighting and many times, they're not even aware Batmanthey're doing it.  It's how they are genetically wired behaviorally.  Rather than observing, learning and maximizing themselves in any situation, they create chaos by inviting others to react to their presentation of facts - which are usually drawn to create a reaction - otherwise known as drama.  They do this even if it hurts them long term.

If you think about all the players in your life, you can probably identify who these people are.

I'm here today with a new year's resolution for you - don't allow people who love drama to draw a reaction from you in 2018.

What these people hate most is not getting the reaction.  There's also learning that goes on as you deny them the combustion they seek.  After the 2nd or 3rd time you deny the drama queens and kings the reaction they seek, they'll stop trying to get it from you, and your life will improve.  

So that's the resolution.  Stop letting the drama people stoke you up.  Try giving them a "hmmm" when they stoke you, and instead of participating in a communal rant, try saying the following:

"I'm going to think about that"

"That's interesting. I'm going to ponder that a bit"

"Get the #### out of my office"

That last one is a joke, because that actually creates drama.  You should avoid reacting when they try to suck you in at all costs.

Measured response is a good leadership technique, both for the drama lovers and also for people who are bringing you bad news, observations and gossip.  Don't get sucked in.  Stay calm.

Of course, if you're a leader, of the things you'll have to deal with is drama kings/queens spinning up other drama kings/queens as a normal course of business.

But that's for another day.  For today and moving into 2018, the thought is this - don't allow people who love drama to draw a reaction from you in 2018.


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.

 

 

 

 


Publicly Shaming Good People Removes Them From the Conversation on Change...

Look - I get it - there's a lot of stuff going on in the world that's been a long time coming for society in general:

--Protests against police brutality and the impact of that on minorities - check. Duncan

--the #metoo movement and shining a light on the pig-like behavior and conduct of way too many men in our society - check.

--Equal rights for the GLBTQ community - check.

There's more, but I'll stop there.  Us talking about those things and hopefully course correcting are good things on all levels.  But what's become a by-product of that process is going after people with good intentions by a form of public shaming, and that shaming is focused on calling out people as being non-friendly to any or all of the groups in question.

Of course, social media makes the shaming easy to do.  And the shaming is subtle - it rarely calls someone a racist, a harasser or a bigot in general directly - it simply accuses you of not being as sensitive as you should, which implies that the target of the shaming is any or all of the things I just mentioned.

Here's what happens when you call out a normal, good person with good intent and try to shame them - You push them away from the conversation.  They'll leave the arena, usually never to reengage. And if it's change you seek, that's not a good thing.

Quick story - was doing a webinar a couple of weeks ago for about 400 people.  Going through some slides, and had a shamer hijack the Q&A section by suggesting that my slides didn't have enough diversity.  That's fair on the surface (my slides did include diversity, with about 25% of the slides including non-white people as one form of measuring diversity, and my case study featured a woman), but the intent was clear - the commenter felt one way and tried to hijack the show.

Meanwhile - and I can't make this stuff up - the webinar was slides plus video of the presenter and the following is true....

Behind me on my wall (I'm the presenter) was a canvas oil painting of Tim Duncan (that painting is pictured to the right of this post).  Tim Duncan happens to be black, and he was in my video frame and visible to all participants for 55 MINUTES OF THE WEBINAR.

Translation - my webinar had diversity visible for the entire show.  But the shamers came out.  Lucky for me my skin is thicker than a rhino.

But most people in our workplace don't have my skin thickness and haven't put themselves out there for criticism like I have.  Most of the good faith/good effort people we know will withdraw from any type of risk - and therefore meaningful conversation - as soon as they are shamed.

Shaming shines a light on the obvious bigots.  But when you shame normal people, I'm here to tell you that you're reducing the level of conversation - and probably guaranteeing we don't progress as quickly as we could in our society.

Change is good in the all the areas listed. Be careful you aren't eliminating great people from the conversation by attempting to publicly shame.