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.


The Top 10 Reasons Recognition Programs Fail...

A valued reader weighs in below on why Recognition programs fail in reaction to this column I wrote over at Workforce.com... Thanks Ron!

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At 75, I have witnessed several formal Recognition Programs and have seen the flaws in all of them.   The downsides overweigh the upsides. Trophies

1. There is never a substitute for daily recognition from the boss – it is personal and real time.  Anything else is Management by Gimmick. 

2. Bosses are stingy with their thank-you’s because there is a formal program.

3. Recognition Programs typically evolve into personality contests.  Introvert contributors tend to get ignored.

4. For every winner, there are many losers and they feel like losers after the gala is over.

5. The losers tend to downgrade the alleged contributions made by the winners.

6. Instead of emulating the winners, the average person does what they always do.

7. The awards are not always  treasured by the winners, ala, give me money, not a parking space.

8. Most of the programs I have seen evolve into peer recognition programs due to the many flaws in the top down programs which become apparent.

9. The peer programs fade away too, because they are very popularity-driven.

10. A process of every manager of Catching People Doing Things Right is 10X more powerful.

I would have liked your dad.  My dad was a college teacher and I heard his shoes hitting the ground everyday too.  I also learned my work ethic from him.  External hoopla meant nothing to him and he didn’t wear a blue collar.

Employees are starved for meaningful work, a larger purpose and the need for a good boss.  Article after article are saying that employees leave bosses, not companies even the companies with Recognition Programs.

Ron
Ronald Ulrici
HR Director


"Framing" - You Can't Be a Top Performer Without It...

As I've grown in my career, I've noticed that the best talent - not good talent, not good to great talent, but the best - has one thing in common.

The most talented people consistently "frame" their goals, work and outcomes via varied communication strategies. Speakers

What is Framing?  As I've watched the best among you grow, effective "framing" includes the following philosophy and actions:

--Use of a variety of communication techniques to ensure all know what the individual is working on - including face to face, email, reporting and more.

--Communicating what your goals are for a specific period.

--Communicating your challenges and progress.

--Communicating your wins and finished work product.

--Communicating your opinions and takes on what's going on around you in your area of subject matter expertise.

Effective framers among top performers are always proactive in these communications - vs reactive.  They also have a style that makes communications from them seem like a mix of status updates, op/ed and entertainment.  So no one is ever sorry to see the communication coming from them.

The naysayers to "framing" say that you're over-communicating.  If you suck at communication, context and perspective, that might be true.

The best performers, however, don't suck at framing as a form of communication.

That's one of the reasons they are the best.  They'll never be victimized by people claiming not to be in the know as a result.


The Elon Musk Test For Whether You Deserve a Raise....

You're going to love this one...

In his 2015 book, "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future," Ashlee Vance shares the story of how Musk stopped working with his longtime executive assistant in early 2014. Elon musk

According to Vance, the assistant, Mary Beth Brown, asked Musk for a significant raise after she'd been working with him for 12 years. In response, Musk told Brown to take two weeks off, during which he would assume her responsibilities and see whether she was critical to his success.

When Brown returned, Musk told her he didn't need her anymore.  

Whoops.  

OK, couple of things.  While Musk generally is on the record as saying this book is accurate he strongly denies the reporting of this encounter.  Brown also denies the reporting that she lost her job through the rigid efficiency study conducted by Musk.  Also, after Brown was no longer in the role, Musk says he needed the position, as evidenced by the fact he hired 2-3 specialists (PR, etc.) rather than a generalist executive assistant.

Still, where there's smoke, there's fire.  My take is that Musk probably did consider whether the position still worked for him based on the way his business has changed.

Add this to the list of things to be careful asking for.  The most common error employees make is taking an offer to their boss expecting a counteroffer.  The boss, rather than countering, wishes the employee luck in the new position.

Want a raise?  Interesting.  How about you take a couple of days off while I determine how vital you are to the organization?

Elon Musk.  The most interesting man in the world.


ASSESSMENTS (With Video): Your Best Feature Is Also Your Worst Feature...

Short post today with a "coaching others" slant.  Let's say you've just taken a behavioral assessment.  Which one?  Doesn't matter, because as the video below alludes to, almost all of them are based on the same science.

Anyway, you took the assessment.  On some of the dimensions you're a part of the crowd, lumped somewhere in the middle of humanity.

But wait - there's a couple of things where you really stand out!  Examples:

--You're high assertiveness...(you deal with things that need to be dealt with)

--You're high people....(you engage with others easy and are seen as approachable)

--You're low sensitivity...(you take feedback easily - and make quick adjustments based on the feedback with little emotion)

See what I did there?  The brackets tell you why your outlier score in the areas mentioned can be considered a super-strength.  

But for every interpretation of an outlier assessment score as a positive, there's also a negative.

Turns out, when it comes to assessments, your best feature is also your worst feature.

High assertiveness can bite you in the a$$ when you don't understand a situation where it will be perceived as highly negative. High people individuals tend to talk more than the listen, which often limits their effectiveness/results.  Low sensitivity people are often low empathy and don't automatically understand how others feel.

So celebrate your outlier scores, or those of your direct reports.  Then coach on a daily basis on where that super-strength is best deployed, and what situations the super-strength needs to be muted for best results at work.

Your best feature is your worst feature.  Video below of me talking assessments at Disrupt HR (email subscribers click through if you can't see the video)...

Lies, Damn Lies, and Using Assessments | Kris Dunn | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.


White People and College Admissions - It's Complicated...

Of course, I kid with that title - you know that, right?

But I have to tell you, there's stuff going on with white people and college admissions that, given the fact I have a rising junior who I expect will go to college, I should be interested in. Lottery_1

It all revolves around who gets the offer - which seems talent-related (as is education as a whole) so I'm covering it here.

There's two flavors going on with white people and college admissions.  Allow me to break down what I see:

1--The first flavor is white people without stellar GPAs, test scores, etc. not being able to get into universities that were once thought to be a given.  In Georgia, the state used lottery money to guarantee a form of college scholarship for the masses (read more on the Hope Scholarship by clicking on the link).  One result of more people having the means to attend college was that some affluent families no longer had the ability to get a middling-performing son or daughter into the University of Georgia, because now everyone could afford it.  Interesting, right?  

2--The second - and more problematic - flavor of white people and college admissions is that many families have kids with great GPAs and test scores, but a) due to universities seeking to become more diverse, some high achieving white kids can't get in, and b) if they do, there's no financial aid available on merit (Georgia notwithstanding) due to what the family earns.  

I don't understand all the issues yet, but a year or so ago I read a great post by my friend Tim Sackett who went on a parent rant and penned a gem of a post.  Here's taste, you should go read it all:

"My middle son is about to make his college choice. He’s got some great schools that have accepted him. He has some great ones that did not. His dream school was Duke. He also really liked Northwestern, Dartmouth, and UCLA. He has a 4.05 GPA on a 4.0 scale (honors classes give you additional GPA) and a 31 on his ACT (97th percentile of all kids taking this test).  He had the grades and test scores to get into all of those schools.

What he didn’t have was something else.

What is the something else?

He didn’t come for a poor family. He didn’t come from a rich family. He wasn’t a minority. He doesn’t have some supernatural skill, like shooting a basketball. He isn’t in a wheelchair. He isn’t from another country.

He’s just this normal Midwestern kid from a middle-class family who is a super involved student-athlete, student government officer, award-winning chamber choir member, teaches swimming lessons to children, etc., etc., etc.

What is the other something else, from a financial perspective?

He got into Boston College, another dream school for him, and one that wanted him to come and continue his swim career at the Division 1 level. BC also costs $68,000 per year.

Colleges and U.S. Federal Government hate kids who come from families that do the right thing.  What’s the “right thing”?  He comes from a family that pays their mortgage, saved some money for his tuition and put money away for retirement.

Because he comes from a family that made good decisions, Boston College, and the Federal Government thought it was a good idea for him to pay $68,000 per year to attend their fine university."

I liked the initial comments coming from both sides in reaction to Tim's post that I subscribed to the comments.  Every week, like clockwork, I get a gift - someone else has posted a comment with a hot take on the situation Tim identified.

With a rising junior starting to look at colleges, I just became interested in this talent issue.  I'm sure I'll be back to write about what I see.  Buckle up - I'll be back next spring with a hot take of my own.


Best Predictors of Higher Income Attainment in 12 Year Old Kids? Rule Breaking/Defiance of Parental Authority Of Course...

Ready for some science today?  Of course you are.  You want to be taken back to the college days where you'd figure out how to game the Dewey Decimal System to find the right cites for that lame research paper you had to write.

Actually, this cite is kind of cool - it comes from the Journal of Developmental Psychology Defiant kidand breaks down Best Predictor of Higher Income Attainment in 12 Year Old Kids... That's right, they measured a bunch of kids 30-40 years ago and tracked them.

Turns out, the rule breakers and the kids who are hard on their parents win.  Check out the full abstract below for some details...

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Student characteristics and behaviors at age 12 predict occupational success 40 years later over and above childhood IQ and parental socioeconomic status.

Spengler M, et al. Dev Psychol. 2015.
 
Authors
Spengler M1Brunner M2Damian RI3Lüdtke O4Martin R1Roberts BW3.

Author information

  • 1University of Luxembourg.
  • 2Free University.
  • 3University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • 4Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education.

Drawing on a 2-wave longitudinal sample spanning 40 years from childhood (age 12) to middle adulthood (age 52), the present study was designed to examine how student characteristics and behaviors in late childhood (assessed in Wave 1 in 1968) predict career success in adulthood (assessed in Wave 2 in 2008). We examined the influence of parental socioeconomic status (SES), childhood intelligence, and student characteristics and behaviors (inattentiveness, school entitlement, responsible student, sense of inferiority, impatience, pessimism, rule breaking and defiance of parental authority, and teacher-rated studiousness) on 2 important real-life outcomes (i.e., occupational success and income). The longitudinal sample consisted of N = 745 persons who participated in 1968 (M = 11.9 years, SD = 0.6; 49.9% female) and 2008 (M = 51.8 years, SD = 0.6; 53.3% female). Regression analyses and path analyses were conducted to evaluate the direct and indirect effects (via education) of the predictors on career success. The results revealed direct and indirect influences of student characteristics (responsible student, rule breaking and defiance of parental authority, and teacher-rated studiousness) across the life span on career success after adjusting for differences in parental SES and IQ at age 12.

One surprising finding was that rule breaking and defiance of parental authority was the best noncognitive predictor of higher income after accounting for the influence of IQ, parental SES, and educational attainment. Given the nature of our archival data, the possible explanations are rather ad hoc and our exploratory results need to be replicated.

For instance, individuals who scored low on Agreeableness were also shown to earn more money (Judge, Livingston, & Hurst, 2012). One explanation Judge and colleagues (2012) gave for this finding was that it might be because of the fact that such individuals value competition more than interpersonal relations and therefore want to advance their interests relative to others. Another explanation might be that individuals with higher levels of rule breaking and defiance of parental authority also have higher levels of willingness to stand up for their own interests and aims, a characteristic that leads to more favorable individual outcomes (Barry & Friedman, 1998)—in our case, income. This may be one of the reasons why defiance of parental authority plays a role in determining income—students who show higher levels of rule breaking and defiance are more likely to engage in negotiations about earning and payment (see Judge at al., 2012) and fight more strongly to achieve personal benefits. We also cannot rule out that individuals who are likely or willing to break rules get higher pay for unethical reasons. For instance, research in the field of organizational psychology showed that employees invest in unethical or deviant workplace behavior when they are not satisfied with their income and when they have a high level of love of money (Tang & Chiu, 2003). Thus, this kind of behavior might in turn lead to higher income. Nevertheless, further research is needed to better understand the construct and its mechanisms.

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KD NOTES - My favorite parts of that abstract are as follows...

--individuals who scored low on Agreeableness were also shown to earn more money

--students who show higher levels of rule breaking and defiance are more likely to engage in negotiations about earning and payment

--We also cannot rule out that individuals who are likely or willing to break rules get higher pay for unethical reasons (whoops!)

The kids are alright.  It's just that some of them are going to get paid based on how they are wired, and some of them aren't.  Embrace the difficult child in your household, people.