Can the Young Star Ever Earn Less Than the Employees They Manage?

Capitalist Note - Got an email about this from a young gunner over the weekend, and sent her this post.  Felt like I should share again.  Cliff notes - you play to win the game, not win today.

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In a word, yes.  It's rare, but it happens.

Here’s my take - most star managers on the upswing of their careers have usually faced the prospect of either managing someone who has either:

a) earned more than they have, or

b) earned close to what they have. 

It happens more often with rising stars who are relatively young in an organization, because they tend to aggregate additional responsibilities beyond their years.  You’re aggressive with the star within the definition of “aggressive” within your company, then the department of the star has to grow, you move people around internally to work for them and BAM!  You also experience the reality that in order to hire people with the skills to work for the young star in the growing department, those new hires need to come in at or around the salary you have the star at…

Is that a problem?  Many would say yes.  To anyone (this message is for you, young star) who finds themselves in that situation, I would say "have patience, young grasshopper".  If you are that star who finds themselves managing people who earn more or close to what you earn, you're right, there should be more of a divide.  However, note this - you got to where you are because you are viewed as a high, high potential asset to your company.  There's probably only one way you can mess that up if you continue to perform - by not handling the situation with class.

If you make it about the money, some people will chalk that up to maturity, and you might see theMo money upward arc of your career slow down a bit.  If you find a classy way to bring it to someone's attention without demanding any immediate action, I can guarantee you one thing: You're going to make a LOT more money than the people you're currently managing over the course of your career.
 
To the stars of the world who find themselves in this situation, I say: "Be the ball, Danny".  Don't let pride or some shortsighted advice from your Uncle Tommy drive your reaction to this situation.  You've managed to be different than everyone else to this point.  Keep being different. 

Play to win the game, not this possession.


Dumb Device/Rich Cloud: Talent Philosophy in Apple Vs. Google Product Terms...

I saw this on the web recently and thought it had a lot of application beyond the way Apple and Google ideate and develop products:

"I’ve said before that Apple’s approach is about a dumb cloud enabling rich apps while Google’s is about dumb devices are endpoints of cloud services. That’s going to lead to rather different experiences, and to ever more complex discussions within companies as to what sort of features they create across the two platforms and where they place their priorities. It also changes somewhat the character of the narrative that the generic shift of computing from local devices to the cloud is a structural problem for Apple, since what we mean, exactly, when we say ‘cloud’ on smartphones needs to be unpicked rather more."

So, there's a lot there, but it basically means that Apple envisions great products and a dumb cloud, and Google dreams about dumb/basic products and smart cloud.

For me, I automatically thought about how we acquire talent, and in a competitive marketplace having a strategy about how you view the world.

Think about it this way - the device is the employee, and the cloud is your philosophy on developing that employee - what's available for them to plug into to make them better once they join you.

From a talent perspective, if you buy experienced, top dollar talent and don't have to train, you're more like Apple.  If your strategy is to buy early career talent that's not as developed, but you're committed to plugging them into development resources, you're more like Google.

Both approaches can be killer.  The biggest mistake you can make is to not have a philosophy.  


Sit Down Old People - I'd Hire You, But You're Not "Digitally Native"....

Thoughts from the road.

Let's talk about old people.  No BS, no talking around it, let's just talk about old people in the workplace.
 
I'm coming off some leadership training with a client. Great people, and when I do that type of training I'm always reminded how most people who obtain any type of leadership position with a company (first-level managers and up) are talented and want to do great things.  
 
Here's another observation. The older managers in my group this week were great.  They were engaged, thoughtful, talented - and among the people I would trust the most to try and put the conversation techniques we we teaching in play at their company.
 
So why don't more companies want to employ older workers?  I'm convinced that this is probably THE undervalued sector in the employment marketplace right now. The-bucket-list
 
Why is this on my mind?  Mainly due to this article I spotted on the road from Inc, detailing the new codewords tech companies are putting into job descriptions to try and eliminate older workers from consideration.  Take a look at this bull#### (Inc reporting is solid, so I'm talking about the subjects of the reporting):

People would be rightly shocked if a job description for a high-tech position said: "whites and South Asians only" or "women need not apply." They'd be shocked not because racism and sexism aren't rampant in these firms, but because the company would be explicitly acknowledging that the racism and the sexism exists.

However, whilst they're sensitive about being outwardly racist and sexist, high tech firms are total fine with discriminating against one type of job candidate: anyone born before 1985. To express this, high-tech firms use the dog-whistle "digital native" which basically means "nobody older than 36 need apply." Here's an example from the Mountain View-based TapInfluence:

"As an Influencer Marketing Accounts Coordinator, you are an eager and ambitious can-do-er. You are bright, creative and won't stop until both you and your customers (marketers and influencers) are successful. You are a digital native who loves everything about social media and who keeps up with all the rising social trends." (Emphasis mine.)

The term "digital native" comes from a 2001 article suggesting that "children raised in a digital, media-saturated world require a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention." Over time, this highly-questionable notion that millennials are particularly prone to ADD and ADHD has morphed into the even-more-questionable notion that millennials are better adapted to the digital world.

Digital native.  Nice. New buzzword for old.  It used to be "energy", but everybody's probably on to that, so we changed it. Everyone take a bite of the turd sandwich that phrase is. Also, the article points out that Facebook diversity statement includes consideration for every protected group under the sun except - you guessed it - old people:


High tech firms, though, have so thoroughly embraced this "digital native" junk science that many don't even feel it necessary mention age in their pro-forma diversity statements. Like Facebook, for instance:

"As part of our dedication to the diversity of our workforce, Facebook is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion."

So that quote is the diversity footer on Facebook's posts on LinkedIn.  I'm not a big "let's be politically correct" person, so I really don't want to shame post on Facebook.
 
But **** it - shame on you Facebook.  You'll include every other protected class but the old folks?  Damn.
 
Old folks use tech products.  Old folks also trend more politically conservative, so If I was Fox News, I'd do a segment claiming that political leaning is the real reason you don't keep age top of mind as a protected class.  
 
But I'm not Fox News.  So I'll assume the reason you don't want old people is because you think they can't hang.  A lot of times, you might be right.
 
But older workers are a value play in the talent marketplace right now.  If you're looking for great talent, you might want to figure out a way to sort the player/non-player thing out across older workers.  I'd hire all of the older people I saw this week - without hesitation.  
 
Are they "digital native"?  I don't know.  But if you're discounting the whole class due to that factor, I've only got one thing to say:
 
Up yours. 
 
You're wrong.  Run a ####ing algorithm to figure out which of the older folks can hang.  That's what you do, right?  Use data to make smarter decisions?  Try that with older people and hire a few of them - the talented ones - and see what happens. 
 
I bet it's positive.
 

All Economic Development Related to Jobs Is Not Created Equal...

Let's talk economic development today.  We're trained to believe that in America, any economic development opportunity that brings thousands of jobs to a local community - especially in the rust belt or the rural midwest - would be welcomed by all in that community.

That's wrong.  Whether you understand that or not probably depends on whether you have smelled a big, corporate chicken/hog farm before.

Here's some background - On Sept. 5, executives from Tyson Foods Inc., the nation’s largest meat processor, traveled to the east Kansas town of Tonganoxie with what they figured would be welcome news for the locals. Joined by Governor Sam Brownback and other political leaders, Doug Ramsey, Tyson’s group president for poultry, unveiled plans to build a huge chicken complex outside of town. The $320 million project, Tyson’s first new plant in 20 years, would be home to a hatchery, feed mill, and processing plant—employing about 1,600 workers to package 1.25 million birds a week.

Great news, right?

Wrong.  The citizens didn't want anything to do with the plant.  All you have to do is look at the numbers to understand why, provided here by BusinessWeek:

Tyson’s foray serves as a blueprint for how not to build a new chicken plant. First, the company may have overestimated how badly the jobs were needed. Members of the opposition say most residents are employed in nearby Topeka, Kansas City, and Lawrence, leaving few locals who’d want meatpacking jobs. Median annual household income in Leavenworth County is $63,726, $11,521 more than for the state of Kansas and $9,837 greater than the national median. The median wage of workers who cut or trim poultry, meat, or fish is $11.77 an hour for an annual income of about $24,490, according to May 2016 government data.

A quick look at the map below tells you all you need to know.  That standard of living comes from the aforementioned proximity to Lawerence (rock chalk), Kansas City and Topeka.  Here's your map:

Kansas

To be sure, immigration and the prospect of a sudden influx of workers into a community -  to take the jobs others don't want - plays a part too.  

If you go read the story, it's a good case study of a company like Tyson AND the local government assuming the community would be in support of the economic development provided, only to be surprised.

From a workforce planning perspective, it's a good reminder for companies to find the sweet spot of a community that will embrace the flavor of jobs you're providing when launching a new plant.  That sweet spot can be defined as enough labor at the right price point to sustain the model.  Always harder than it looks, especially when the product is chicken processing plants.

While I'm talking about small town America, check out this BW article about small towns relying on Dollar General as their economic hub.  The town featured - Decatur, Arkansas - would LOVE to have that chicken plant. But alas, they're two small.   

The right place for economic development involving chicken processing plants?  Somewhere between Decatur and Tonganoxie, as it turns out.

 


Candidates Who Try To Cheat the Behavioral Interview Are Actually Doing You a Favor...

A week or two back I penned a post wondering out loud if the Behavioral Interview was dead.  Of course, I don't think it is, and a big part of my thought process is that it remains a tool that we just haven't spent enough time training on. 

So it's easy to say that it doesn't work.  Of course, our managers for the most part aren't great at interviewing and we haven't really tried to train them on interviewing skills across corporate Assumptions-ahead-signAmerica. 

Finally, there are people rationalizing that just because there are thousands of returns in Google providing advice to candidate to "beat the behavioral interview" - we should abandon it as a meaningful tool in the interview process.

Candidates are trying to cheat the behavioral interview?  Sounds like the perfect candidate to me.  My readers agree - from the comments section of the HRC:

From a reader named Kimberlee:

Yeah, it bothers me that so many people (still?) think that interviewing is a gotcha game or a power play or a thing a person can "pass" or "fail." It's a pernicious perception on the part of both employers and candidates. Interviews should serve purely as a way to talk out whether the candidate is right for the role and right for the company. If candidates are preparing better for those conversations than they were in the past, that's perfect. That's ideal. Anything that will help me take the scared spitter-of-canned-responses candidate in front of me and turn them into someone who can just tell me about themselves, what they've done, and what they hope to do is great in my book.

More from a psychologist named Gary:

Wow, thanks for pointing out this rather alarming trend with respect to how behavioral interviewing is being perceived. As a Business Psychologist, I can say that behavioral interviewing is still an effective tool that is a staple of my candidate assessment/selection process (along with other measures, like personality and cognitive assessments). It's almost as if people believe that the "list of behavioral interview answers" has been released on the internet, while professionals know that there are no "right" or "canned" responses that will "pass" the interview - it just doesn't work like that. And, in agreement with another comment on this article, I also believe that candidates preparing for behavioral interviews by thinking through their best work examples is a win-win for both the candidate and the interviewer. So, in my view, behavioral interviewing is "alive and well", and will be considered best practice for a long time to come.

And a guy named Matt from California (via Mississippi) broke it down in 15 seconds of typing:

So candidates know about behavioral interviewing so they spend some time thinking about various scenarios they have encountered so they are more prepared and can effectively relate them to the interviewer... Win/Win! Maybe I have oversimplified.

Yep - these are my readers!  Way to smart to take the bait on bad advice.

 


What I Hate About SharkTank...and How to Deal With It...

And as you might suspect, it's linked to leadership and talent.

I love SharkTank as a show - when I'm not sure what to watch, especially with my teenage sons around, SharkTank is the go- Shark-tank-to.  It's entertaining, educational and conversation-provoking with my sons able to think about deals, negotiation, etc.

But there's one thing that drives me crazy:

I absolutely hate it when a shark makes and offer and tells the target he/she has to decide RIGHT NOW!!!  Without entertaining other offers...

I know what you're thinking.  "That's why they call it SharkTank, KD."  "Grow up, KD."  "Sucks to be them, KD."

You're right.  BUT - the very things people like Mark Cuban value most in a partner are the things they're trying to bully them out of.  Standing up for yourself - keeping deals/offers afloat why you shop for something better, etc.

The sharks in SharkTank would never be bullied like that.  But, they have people in front of them that value their involvement, want to go away with a deal, etc.  I'd say over half the time the strategy works.  The other half of the time the entrepreneur fails to deal with the expiring offer/bullying tactic in an effective way.

That's why it's about time for the pitching entrepreneurs to wise up and have a strategy to deal with the bully.  Here's the strategy they should use whenever a Shark makes them an offer and tells them it goes away unless they accept immediately without hearing other offers:

1--Thank them for the offer.

2--Remind them of the type of partner they want. "Mr. Wonderful, I know you're going to expect me to negotiate for you/us if we become partners, so please allow me to hear any other offers.  Since you were first, I'lll guarantee I'll come back to you and give you the right of counteroffer/first refusal if someone else makes an offer that's better than yours."

3--Proceed.  If they go away, they go away.

4--If you proceed and there aren't any other offers or you want the original offer, come back to the Shark who tried to use the bullying tactic and say, "Mr. Wonderful, your offer expired and I told you why I wanted to do what I did.  I'd love it if you came back in with that offer.  While I didn't heed your ultimatum, you now know I'm a partner that can seek the best deal for our business if I'm in a environment that requires negotiation."

I'm shocked more people aren't prepared for this tactic when they appear on SharkTank.   

The only time entrepreneurs who appear shouldn't use this talk track is when the Shark gives them 100% of what they asked for, or when 3 or more Sharks are already out.  That's common sense. 

But if a Shark gives you a lower than expected offer (as the first or second one in) and tries to bully you to accept right then and there, have some spine people.  Be prepared and use the talking track above in your own words.  It effectively turns the energy against the Shark and forces them to publicly confront what they want in a partner.

Oh, and never take an offer from Mr. Wonderful. 


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"....


Not Blowing Sh*t Up At Work is Hard...

"You think this is hard?  This isn't hard.  You know what's hard?  Riding a bike on a freeway, now that's hard."

--Willard Sims, Head Basketball Coach, Truman State

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Yep - Willard Sims was my college basketball coach at NE Missouri (later renamed Truman State, because, you know, we can't let people think our mission is to simply serve the region we Gunnyreside in - the horrors!), and he had a way with a quote.

He also sounded like Clint Eastwood playing Gunny Highway in Heartbreak Ridge.  Great guy, Willard Sims.

Every time I think about what's hard in life, I think about Willard and that quote.

You know what else is hard?  Not blowing shit up at work.  Because the easiest path to address something is just to blow some shit up.  Observe:

1--I'm on a plane this week.  One of my talented direct reports responds to an email.

2--I get the email on a plane.  I type up a fact-filled observation about said team member's response.  Turns out, feedback is required and there's a bit of tunnel vision.  I'm on the road, so an email back from a plane somewhere on the way to Boston is how it's going to go down.

3--I get distracted by a huuuuuuuuuge basket of snacks.  You're not handing them to me, so I take what I want?  Multiple items?  I take enough to prepare for the next tropical event that impacts the SE United States.  

4--I'm back.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, direct feedback.  Let's do this.  I have a some observations you might be interested in.

5--F***.  GoGoInFlight my ###.  It's down again.  No immediate feedback for you.

6--I read the email after waking up the next day from the hotel.  Might have made someone feel bad if I sent that.  Context is hard via email.

The path of least resistance (for me!) is immediate feedback.  But immediate feedback with face-to-face communication is hard.  Misunderstandings ensue.

I never sent the email.  I put it in the journal and hope to give the feedback 1-1.  Hard to do when remote so much of the time.

Not blowing #### up as a road warrior employee/manager isn't easy.  But if you're not telling someone that they did something right before you give them the notes for improvement, you're probably asking for trouble.

The snacks?  They were excellent.  GoGo still sucks.


3 Candidates: Know Your Role and Your Recruiting Strategy...

"The problem we're trying to solve is that there are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there's fifty feet of crap, and then there's us. It's an unfair game. And you guys just sit around talking the same old "good body" nonsense like we're selling jeans. Like we're looking for Fabio. We've got to think differently. We are the last dog at the bowl. You see what happens to the runt of the litter? He dies."

--Billy Beane, Moneyball

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Recruiting is sales.  To be effective at either, you've got to know your market.

More importantly, you've got to know where you slot in within that marketplace.  Knowing both of these things allows you to create a recruiting strategy. Bell_curve

Without knowing the market, where you slot and your strategy, you're a spaz.  You're just flopping around and as you do that, you're wasting a lot of time and energy.

Let me give you an example - the following are three candidates, functional area doesn't matter.  Take a look at tell me which one you'd target for your company.

--Candidate A - the best candidate available.  Has the experience you need, but cost 120% of what you'd like to pay.  Works at a company that seems to have a better brand than yours.

--Candidate B - a good candidate with some experience you need, but not the perfect candidate "A" is.  Costs 105% of what you'd like to pay. Looks less accomplished than candidate "A".  Has only been at currently company for 15 months and is in the marketplace.

--Candidate C - recent grad with 18 months of semi-related experience in the area you need.  Can be acquired for 65% of Candidate "A".   No other details available.

Which one do you hire?

We're all attracted to "A", right?  We want all of that, but it's more than we can really pay and the candidate's used to being at a company with some brand swagger.  You, my friend, have no brand swagger.  

If you're chasing "A" without the means to satisfy them, you're going to be disappointed.

That's why the key for most of us is thinking about the options that remain - B or C - and creating a strategy around that.  Are we hiring experienced talent that we can afford and doing our best to pick the players from the rejects in this group, or are we saying "#### it" and committing to a strategy of hiring new grads - and creating the training/development that's necessary to bring the kids on?

If you can chase and land "A", good for you.  Most of you/us can't.  And yes, there are functional area considerations and many candidate profiles you could add to the list above.  Do that and come back to the question - what's your strategy?

Stop wasting time by knowing who you are and where you can be most effective in the talent game.

Knowing who you are and what you can land on the recruiting scene and then creating a strategy to deal with those realities is key.  You've got to make lemonade out of lemons. 

Or you can keep trying to date the hottest candidate and get crushed.


Are People Who Have 8-10 Years at Their Current Company Dinosaurs?

I think an interesting thing has happened when it comes to careers, and it's probably not a good thing.  People have historically judged you by switching jobs too often.  That's why I always counsel people to stick it out a year (preferably two) before jumping out of a less that perfect situation.

But in today's high change environment, there's another way candidates are getting judged:

Candidates who are approaching the decade mark (10 years) with the same company are increasingly being viewed as Get off my lawn being low-change, less-than-nimble dinosaurs.

Too harsh?  Well, I'm working on my 8th year at Kinetix, which far outlasts any other stop I've made in my career (previous record - 5.5 years.  I don't feel less nimble, but I can understand how the marketplace might think I'm "settled in."

"Settled in" is code for:

--set in my ways

--telling young kids to "get off my lawn" at work

--digging the long lunch

--not stirring up necessary change

--understanding it's "beer-thirty" somewhere.

OK, I'm an owner/investor at Kinetix, so maybe my situation is a bit different.  Like the Eagles once said, I can check out, but I can never leave - but I don't feel like I've checked out.

Unfortunately for those of my ilk (minus the ownership part) that would like to make a move - The 8-10 year professional grade worker who has risen to Director level, etc - the market might view them as settled in/tired.   For some, that's absolutely an accurate description.  For others, it's unfair.

If you're part of the latter group - open to a change but wearing the scarlet letter of too much time at your current company - there are things you can do to signal to the world that you don't sleep at work and could actually #### some #### up if they take a chance and hire you.  Things like:

1--update your LinkedIn profile (turn off notifications if you don't want your company to be notified)

2--write something that shows your passion for what you do

3--if you're cranking out killer work product that's non-proprietary, share the slides/excel/word docs publicly

4--participate in professional groups/events outside of work

What am I missing 1-company people?  What else can people who have been at the same place 8-10 years do to show they are open to new opportunities?  

It's hard being a middle-aged professional and straddling the line between being content and being eligible for the external game.

If you want to be in the external game, you've got to act accordingly.

Now get the #### off my lawn.