The Solar Eclipse Killed Work Productivity in America...

OK - that title's click bait, but wait, don't leave.

First up, Reuters DID report that American employers saw at least $694 million in missing output from the roughly 20 minutes that outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimated workers took out of their workday on Monday, Aug. 21 to stretch their legs, head outside the office and gaze at the nearly two-and-a-half minute eclipse.

I shared that on social media and meant to add this tongue in cheek preface - "If they think that's bad, they should check out the lost productivity around talking about Game of Thrones."

The feedback on LinkedIn (one place I posted it where the preface cited above wasn't included) was swift.  People called BS on the number.  Kinda said I was stupid for sharing it.  I tried to explain the witty add I planned didn't make it on the post.  They didn't care.

But Netflix came out with another number I thought was interesting - see tweet below:

Hey, just wondering why 10% of you chose to watch a giant rock cover a giant ball of gas when I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THERE FOR YOU.

— Netflix US (@netflix) August 22, 2017

According to the streaming service, Netflix lost 10 percent of its usual viewership during the total solar eclipse that took place Monday, which put a portion of the US in a state of total darkness while the moon blocked out the sun.

The workplace numbers likely assume that 100% of working Americans stopped working to view the eclipse.

The Netflix numbers say that only 10% of Netflix viewers stopped watching to check out the event.

Netflix is taken more seriously than work.

Think about that one for a bit.  

 


The Tyranny of Single Stall, Gender-Neutral Bathrooms in the Workplace...

Notes to follow from life on the road...

Topic: Transgender individual's rights to use either bathroom (men's or women's) they desire.

Buckle up, people. But it's probably not going to be what you think. TG

I spend a lot of time on the road, and I spend that time in a lot of different parts of the country.  One thing that's happening in retail (shops, restaurants, etc) points to a trend I hope doesn't come to office parks.

Here's the trend... Businesses - faced with legal pressure or simply wanting to accommodate Transgender individuals - are increasing changing single stall bathrooms (one for men, one for women) to gender neutral status.  That "reclassification" means that either men or women can use either bathroom that is available.  That solves the transgender issue without the economic burden of retrofitting a third bathroom to exist alongside men's and women's facilities.

I understand that I'm probably going to get emails from what I've wrote already, because I'm not an expert in Transgender issues.  Send your emails, however, because I do want to learn more and understand to a greater degree.

But I am an expert in some things.  Allow me to school you on why reclassifying a men's and women's bathroom to gender neutral-status doesn't work:

Men are pigs.  Females deserve better.  

If 10 dudes use a bathroom during the day, odds are it is not going to be suitable for a woman, or anyone who wants to sit down.  This just in - Men often go to the bathroom standing up.  Hit this link if you want to see the legal world in action on this issue.  

When businesses make existing single-stall bathrooms gender neutral, females (anyone identifying as female) lose.  And this trend is alive and well in some areas of the country.  It's a natural, completely understandable reaction to the capital cost of building new facilities.  

I can only hope this trend can be avoided as transgender issues become more accepted and we work through the same challenges in the workplace.

Rights for everyone - Ok and check.  Let's evolve together.

Rights for dudes to use bathrooms on a frequent basis that females will have to use afterwords - we're better than that America.  

No.  Just no.

 


Can The Fired Google Engineer Show Us The Political Affiliations of Tech Companies?

By now, you've likely heard about the Google engineer who got fired for writing a diversity manifesto.  If not, here's what happened:

"Google employees are up in arms after a senior engineer at the company penned an anti-diversity manifesto that has spread through the Google-row-diversity-1company like wildfire. 

The manifesto criticizes company initiatives aimed at increasing gender and racial diversity and argues that Google should instead focus on "ideological diversity," according to a report by Vice's Motherboard, which first reported the news late on Friday. The 10-page treatise also claims that biological difference between men and women are responsible for the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry.

"We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism," reads the document, a copy of which was obtained by Gizmodo."

As you might expect, that type of manifesto was greeted with much criticism.  So much so, it created the following events this week:

  1. Google fired the engineer.
  2. There was a backlash related to the decision to fire the engineer.
  3. The Google CEO sent an email telling everyone it was all going to be OK.
  4. The email didn't tamper down the storm.
  5. Google's CEO understood the storm was so bad inside his company that he came back from a vacation in Africa with his family to be present for an all-hands meeting.

As I've said before in this space, freedom of speech is alive and well in the American workplace.  The problem is that employees believe that freedom of speech means they can't be fired.  As Google demonstrated in firing the engineer, a company's code of conduct and professional conduct policies generally give them the right to move people out if they are communicating ideas that aren't embraced by the majority of the company.

And there, my friends, is the rub.

Google fired the engineer because they thought the employee base dramatically would support that move.  As it turns out, a lot of people at Google thought his macro point was right - female engineers are hard to find because there's some genetic wiring in females that make careers in engineering less attractive to them.

So the sh*t show builds after the firing, and the CEO is coming back from halfway across the globe - because he knows he's ultimately responsible for calming this thing down.  

There's some macro points in the manifesto that many of you, if not most, would agree with.

But the guy is an engineer.  Of course, he takes it way too far.  That's what engineers who know no shades of gray do.

The most interesting thing I've seen about this case is polling on whether the engineer should have been fired across the major tech companies in America. Blind, an anonymous corporate chat app,  asked its users if they thought Google should have fired Damore, over 4,000 from different companies weighed in.

Perhaps most pertinently, 441 Google employees responded. Of them, more than half  – 56% to be precise– said they didn't think it was right for the company to fire Damore.

Here's how the poll worked out across the major tech companies - enable images or click through if you don't see the chart below.

Blind

Notable is that at Uber, 64% of employees who participated in the survey thought Google shouldn't have fired Damore. Employees at Apple and LinkedIn were nearly evenly split in the poll but leaned slightly toward approving Google's decision. Meanwhile, 65% of respondents from Lyft were good with the way it went down.  That kind of follows what we know at Uber and Lyft related to how they view the world.

The chart feels like most presidential elections, and tells you that even in the tech bubble, what seems obvious is not obvious.

Which is why the CEO of Google had to cut his vacation short to come back and try and hose down the situation.

Good times - and a reminder that employee sentiment isn't always (hell, ever) as simple as we think it is.

 


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.


You Think Your Work Enemy Has Declared War: She Just Thinks It's Thursday...

"Some men just want to watch the world burn."

-Michael Caine in "The Dark Knight"

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

Intent is a funny thing.  You're in the workplace, and the workplace has established norms: Some men

--We talk to each other before we make decisions or take meaningful action

--We give people a heads up before we announce something that won't feel good to them

--We try to play nice and if confronted, we try to make the person confronting us feel good about our intent.

Of course, those are norms - guidelines if you will, not hard rules.  Every once in a while, you run into someone that does not give two ****s about your norms.  They do what they want, when they want and generally don't give you heads up that it's coming or make you feel better if you ask them about it after the fact.

You know, ass####s.  But in the era of Donald Trump, we're pretty quick to assign full villain status to people who don't play by the rules.

What's interesting about the people like this you think are enemies in the workplace is the following:

You think they're out to get you based on chaos they cause.  They probably think it's Thursday.

They aren't even thinking about you.  Tearing shit up is just what they do.  In the age of Trump, we're likely to cast them as villains and think they're out to get us.  That might be true, but in my experience, people who cause chaos can be factored into 3 categories when it impacts you:

1--They're out to get you.  It's what you thought.  They hate your guts, you're in the way and it's takedown time. 10% of the time, this is the reality.

2--They have a plan and a place they want to be unrelated to you.  They have a POA (plan of action) that's bigger than their relationship with you. You're taking it personally, but the "tearing shit up" and chaos impacts multiple people, not just you.  They're not even thinking about you, Skippy. 70% of the time, this is the reality.

3--They don't have a plan but love to keep everyone off balance as part of their managerial DNA.  Again, it's not about you.  Their business is chaos and by the way, the more positional power they have, the better that business is. 20% of the time, this is the reality.

Unless you're experiencing flavor #1 above, your best strategy is to keep an eye on it but ignore it.  Go about your business.  You do you, let them do them and save your emotional reaction and gun powder for when it really matters.  

If you're high sensitivity, this is going to be hard.  They're going to wear you out.  You think it's the workplace version of Normandy.

It's actually Thursday.  What's for lunch?


UBER-ing: 5 Thoughts About Naming Your Primary Conference Room The WAR ROOM...

In case you missed it, one of the outcomes of the Uber fiasco - in addition to an indefinite leave for the CEO, departure of a board member for an inappropriate comment during an all-hands meeting among other things - was that the company will be renaming it's primary conference/board room from "The War Room" to "The Peace Room".  More from Bloomberg:

Uber is trying to turn a new chapter in its history, and is renaming its "War Room" the "Peace Room," according to Bloomberg. Uber

On Tuesday, Uber released a 13-page report it had commissioned from Eric Holder, the former US attorney general, and his firm, which sought to evaluate and make recommendations for changes to Uber's corporate culture.

"Several of Uber’s planned changes are symbolic," Bloomberg's Eric Newcomer wrote. "For example, a conference room known as the War Room will be renamed the Peace Room."

Uber will also jettison many of its "cultural values." Here are a few that are getting the ax: “Let Builders Build; Always Be Hustlin’; Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping; and Principled Confrontation.”

Where at we meeting at Kinetix today?  THE WAR ROOM.  Should we change thatname?  Here's some thoughts from the a company where the halls are orange and the majority owner is a woman:

--If I'm apologetic to anyone from our primary conference room being named the War Room, it's not the folks who expect political correctness, it's veterans who have participated in armed conflict.  Business isn't war.  If a hat tip is necessary to anyone, it's vets.

--Our culture is pretty far from Uber.  I'm not sure renaming the room is necessary for us.

--We've named all of our offices, and most of them are pop culture movie and music references.  So the rest of the names are pretty soft.

--We don't have the values that Uber had, but our values are pretty action-oriented.  War room fits the action orientation.

--My CEO would fire me if I changed the name of The War Room to The Peace Room.  Too much.  I'd fire me too.

I get why Uber is doing all of these visible things.  They need to overcorrect.  The rest of us don't.  "Always Be Hustlin'" as a value?  Tells you all you need to know.

Alternatives if you need to change the name of "The War Room" to something else:

--The Conflict Room (lame)

--Politically Incorrect (descriptive, but presents liability)

--Mosh Pit (rock is dead, won't work..)

--Hunger Games (probably true and pop culture reference fits)

--Let's Get It On 

Scratch that last one, that was from Uber's list right before they named it The War Room....

Hit me with your best option in the comments to rename "The War Room".... If you say "Conference Room 1", I'll slap you.


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...

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

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.

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

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. 


PEOPLE STAT OF THE DAY: Jobs in The Steel Industry & Automation...

I'll just leave this here...

14 people make 500,000 tons of steel annually at a location in Austria.

Not a typo.

From BusinessWeek on automation in the steel industry:

The Austrian village of Donawitz has been an iron-smelting center since the 1400s, when ore was dug from mines carved out of the snow-capped peaks nearby. Over the centuries, Donawitz developed into the Hapsburg Empire’s steel-production hub, and by the early 1900s it was home to Europe’s largest mill. With the opening of Voestalpine AG’s new rolling mill this year, the industry appears secure. What’s less certain are the jobs.

The plant, a two-hour drive southwest of Vienna, will need just 14 employees to make 500,000 tons of robust steel wire a year—vs. as many as 1,000 in a mill with similar capacity built in the 1960s. Inside the facility, red-hot metal snakes its way along a 700-meter (2,297-foot) production line. Yet the floors are spotless, the only noise is a gentle hum that wouldn’t overwhelm a quiet conversation, and most of the time the place is deserted except for three technicians who sit high above the line, monitoring output on a bank of flatscreens. “We have to forget steel as a core employer,” says Wolfgang Eder, Voestalpine’s chief executive officer for the past 13 years. “In the long run we will lose most of the classic blue-collar workers, people doing the hot and dirty jobs in coking plants or around the blast furnaces. This will all be automated.”

From 1,000 jobs in the 1960s, to 14 FTEs today. Sounds like a post for Labor Day weekend rather than the 4th of July.  Too good to wait until 2 months for, however.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys labor that can be automated...

 


Happy Father's Day, You Low Emotive SOB...

Father's Day is Sunday.  My dad passed away in 2005, but every now and then I get a reminder of how solid of a guy he was.

One thing about Kent Dunn - like a lot of guys born in the 30s/40s/50s, he wasn't much of a hugger.  Could you hug him?  Absolutely. Would he squeeze you hard back?  Highly debatable.

I'm reminded of Kent Dunn and others of his ilk by this great piece in the Onion called Dad Hands Phone Off To Mom Immediately After Being Wished Happy Father’s Day.  Here's a taste:

"Allowing no window whatsoever for additional conversation to take place, the father of local man Luke Asbury reportedly handed off the phone to Luke’s mother on Sunday immediately after his son wished him a happy Father’s Day. “Wow, he didn’t waste any time—he just said thanks, told me Mom was there if I wanted to speak to her, and then got off the line before I could really answer,” said Asbury, 32, who told reporters that while he in no way expected to chat at length, he did anticipate at least having one or two minutes of small talk about whether his father planned to watch any golf that afternoon."

Hilarious, but also true of guys from this generation.  Not everyone is built for long missives, showing emotion or even carrying out small talk.  Remember that as you deal with folks both old and young at your company as an HR pro.  Sometimes when someone's short with you it doesn't mean anything towards you, the situation you're talking about or anything else.

Sometimes they're just not down with the small talk.  Or your bull###t.  It's not you.  It's wired in their DNA.

RIP Kent Dunn.  Still hear your boots in the hallway.


Unlimited PTO - More For the Employer or the Employee?

Check out a recent post I did at my other site - Fistful of Talent - on the optics of unlimited PTO - what it means for companies over employees and more.  Here's a taste:

In my darkest moments, I’m a bit of a skeptic.  And I think unlimited PTO might just be a scam to not pay out accrued vacation and sick time.

With me?  Against me?  As with most things, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.  Here’s 5 things I know about vacation/sick time and the connection to the concept of unlimited PTO:

Unlimited PTO is limitless in its attraction as a component to “Best Place To Work”.  It’s hard to hear the concept exists at a company and not view said company in the top quartile of places to work.  Whatever the reality is, WHO CARES PEOPLE – THEY HAVE UNLIMITED PTO.  That’s how it comes across – in all caps, being shouted from the mountaintop.

I’ve worked for incredible CFOs in my career, and they all would evaluate Unlimited PTO with a form of glee reserved for Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.  The exchange is simple – you tell them you want to do unlimited PTO, and after they blast the dead weight in the company they think is going to abuse it, they get that thoughtful look in their eyes as they say, “wait, that means we’ll never pay out banked time again, right?  Hmmm…”

Get the whole post by clicking here.  Regardless of your opinion on unlimited PTO, let's just agree there's at least mutual benefit, OK?