In Defense of Not Broadcasting Salaries in the Jobs You Post...

When you try to optimize your openings for Google Jobs, you'll turn to the Google Jobs schema for guidance. If you've already been working on this, you'll find that most of the world has two remaining opportunities:

--Address information for individual openings, and Accountant

--Salary Information about the job.

Optimizing location/address information for Google Jobs is a transaction/project. You either have an ATS that can accurately index this information or you don't, and you either want to do the legwork to get location/address info broadcasting or you don't. No big deal. Either do it or don't.

But providing salary information about the job?  That's a whole other can of worms, my friend.

Most of my HR friends doing the work would agree with this statement. They know they can't broadcast this information at their company due to compression issues, company culture and more.

But their's a growing voice in the world that says we should be more transparent about what jobs pay, and even what everyone earns inside our companies. The reasons for this call are legit - there's a lot of inequity across workplaces when it comes to gender, race and other factors. 

We should fix those things.  I personally like moves like the one Salesforce made, where they made a big push towards pay equality. Sure, they promoted the hell out of the move, but they took action, and their company is stronger for it.  Let me say it again - WE SHOULD FIX PAY EQUALITY.

Now let me give you a reality. I think posting salaries in the recruiting process is a weak play.

When I post a job, I'm entering a marketplace. There are overqualified people (code for old people, but that's another post), people who are a direct fit for the job, and people who don't have what it takes, but on livin' on a prayer.

When you post the expected salary for the job, or its weak cousin - the salary range - you're narrowing your marketplace. People with great experience won't apply because you're 10K light. The rest of the people come in with a clear expectation of what you're going to pay.  That sounds fair, right?

Not really. The interview process is a marketplace. When I post a job, I'm looking for the best person available.  Here's a couple of scenarios that happen when I post the $$ for a job:

1--Person with great experience doesn't apply. I never get the chance to feel the experience, see the match and go to bat for the extra 15K I need to sign her up.

2--Person who is a fit comes in expecting the offer to be 80K, but as it turns out, they don't have the experience I need and they're not a true fit. They're actually worth 70K in my eyes, but I never get to make the offer because the negotiation is done once I post a salary.

3--The person with no experience who applied and was lucky enough to catch my eye with that project they worked on in their first job? Well, I can't hire them because they applied for an 80K job, and they'll always think I screwed them by offering them 55K.  I'm actually filling the FTE with a different job, but it doesn't matter, the damage is done.

I won't even bore you with the fact there are a ton of sites that provide research on salary levels that candidates are using that may or may not match up with the salary info you provide (See Glassdoor screenshot at the top of this post). There are a ton of stupid people out there who are horrible human beings. I'm not one of them, and neither are most of you.

I believe we can be trusted with pay equity moving forward. If you have issues in your company, do what Salesforce did - invest and solve the problem.

But stop telling me we need radical transparency in areas like listing salaries in job postings.  You think you're promoting equal opportunity, but the unintended consequence of this action is you're actually making it harder for great people to find their next job.


Meet Jim: A Questionable Performer, But Willing to Kill at a Moment's Notice...

Meet Jim.

Some of you know Jim (some of you know this person as Janice, but regardless of the name, the profile is the same).

You joined your company and as expected, it took you a year to figure out all the relationships. As you got acclimated, you understood Jim's title, who he reported to and more.

You just weren't sure what Jim did. Jim

Another year went by. Then another. Then it came into focus.

Jim isn't good at a lot of things. But Mike, the exec he reports to, trusts him. And as it turns out, you finally figured out what Jim is good at.

Jim can kill things.

Jim is ready to be dispatched at a moment's notice on behalf of Mike to handle ugliness that Mike wants no part of. Jim is willing to say the things Mike can't, to do things Mike doesn't want to do, to act as Mike's proxy when unpleasantness and nasty things are required.

Here comes Jim.

See Jim kill. 

Where's Jim today? Well, he really doesn't have to be "here" all the time because Mike needs him about once a quarter or 4X a year.  If you want urgency, you'll see it when Jim is called into action.  Jim understands his role. Jim is the fixer, the cleaner - the one who does the things.

He's tenacious. He's resented. He's also feared, because when people see engagement from Jim, it means Mike is looking to close some business.

Fear Jim. If he reaches out to you directly, there's a message attached to whatever he asks you to do.

Say yes to Jim.


Mediocre People Don't Like High Achievers...and Vice Versa...

Saw this video clip below from Alabama coach Nick Saban and had to share. As an Auburn season-ticket holder, it's hard to post about Saban, but - no one's had more success, seems more demanding or non-tolerant of sloppiness.

The video below is pure Saban - after a disappointing year by his standards - talking about his goals for spring practice. The gems include:

--"Mediocre people don't like High Achievers"

--and "High Achievers don't like mediocre people"

Don't let other coach-speak like "on the bus". "off the bus" and "do your job" distract you. The real message here is that Alabama Football, led by Saban - which never takes a recruit who isn't elite, period - is headhunting the players and people in his organization that are net negative to the cause.  

At Alabama, being net negative to the cause as a player doesn't mean a thing about ability - it's mindset, ability to work with others, play a role, etc.

Saban goes on to tell his players that one day, they're going to be in the world of work, and someone like him is going to be on mission to get mediocre people out of their company as an agent of change.

"Which one do you want to be?", says Saban.

Saban is telling them they could lose their jobs, scholarships, etc. He's also channeling Good to Great from Jim Collins with the reference to mediocre people.

I'll allow it - Saban is a maniac, and bonus points to the work reference to his players, all of whom believe "work" is the NFL, which is assuredly not for everyone in this meeting. Topgrading is alive and well and if Saban is doing it, we should be thinking about it as well. 

Video below (email subscribers click through for post to view) and at link above.


Why Paying 100K for a Taco Bell Manager Makes Complete Sense...

Taco Bell is going to pay managers 100K per year.  Insert your joke <here>.

The home of Doritos Locos Tacos says it’s going to test paying managers $100,000 a year at some company-owned locations in the Northeast and Midwest Taco bellstarting later this year. Taco Bell/Yum announced the plan Thursday and also said that as of Jan. 1, 2020, all of its company employees “can become eligible to receive” at least 24 hours of paid sick time per calendar year.

Translation - the job market is really, really tight. The people we see landing in our store GM roles aren't what we need them to be.

But 100K to run a Taco Bell location?  That's crazy, right?

Not so fast, my friend. It's not crazy. Let's run some numbers.

Taco Bell said it will start the six-figure salary pilot later this year, but did not name an exact date. The company does not yet know how many managers at its 450 company-owned stores will get the $100,000 salaries or how long it will offer the higher salaries. Current salaries for general managers at Taco Bell’s company-owned stores range from $50,000 to $80,000, a spokeswoman said.

According to Statista, the average per unit sales for Taco Bell restaurants in 2017 was $1.5 million.  The average reports have found that average pre-tax income for franchisees in the food and beverage industry is roughly $90,000

Let's say you own a string of 10 Taco Bell locations, and your stores average 1.5M in revenue per year and 90K in pre-tax income. You replaced 3 of your managers last year, and you offered a salary of 70k. You were concerned about your inability to find good people.

If you're progressive with how you view the impact the right manager can have on revenue, the decision to test a 100K salary from your current level of 70K is a no-brainer.

BTW - note that this trial is at company-owned stores. My scenario was as a franchisee, but in reality, franchisees ARE GOING TO HATE YUM BRANDS FOR DOING THIS. 

What impact can a 100K person have on a single Taco Bell location? I think it's dramatic impact. 

But you still have to find the right person, then sell them on the opportunity and convince them to give it a try. Simply paying the talent you see now more money doesn't do anything - you have to go out and upgrade the type of candidate you're talking to in order for this trial to have the impact Taco Bell seeks.  And that's the catch - there's work to be done with how you recruit to unlock the potential of this trial.

Me? I'll take 3 Bean Burritos, fresco-style. And a large Diet Mt. Dew with no ice.

No sauce.


Framing As A Working Professional: What It Is and Why You Should Do It...

“The most talented successful people in the workplace consistently “frame” their goals, work and outcomes via varied communication strategies.”

-Kris Dunn, aka “KD

When someone quotes themselves, hold on tight!  Buckle up! Framing

What is framing? It's not being a victim. It's being proactive. It's getting your story out there as a professional, "framing" the dialog about who you are, what you're working on and most importantly to you - how you're doing.

It's using of a variety of communication techniques to ensure all know what you are working on - including face to face, email, reporting and more.

Framing includes:

--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.

How's not bothering people with your goals, progress and outcomes going?  Not great, right?

You should frame more.  Don't let others build the narrative about who you are or how you are doing - take responsibility for the story. 

Framing is necessary for your career. Framing, for lack of a better word, is good.

Framing works. Do it - stop being shy.


FAKE IT: Acting Interested in Corporate America Is a Succession Factor

Who's to know if your soul will fade at all
The one you sold to fool the world
You lost your self-esteem along the way
Yeah

--"Fake it" by Seether

One of the biggest things that separates contenders from pretenders in Corporate America - across all functional areas - is the ability to fake interest and attention.

You're in a 7-hour training class.  Next week you're in a 3 hour ops review.  Boredom happens.

If Darwin were a noted OD thought leader in business, he would write that an adaptation that allows some to survive and thrive is the ability to fake interest and attention with body language, eye contact and just enough participation to make it seem like they're engaged.

Does it matter?  Only if you want to get further than you are now. Competition is fierce. The real players in corporate America look engaged - at all times - even when they aren't.  

Look around at your next meeting.  You'll know what I'm talking about.  Some people have this type of opposable thumb, some don't.

Of course, faking it leads to learning because you're dialed in juuuuuust enough not to miss important shit. 

Seether video below, people.  Worth your time but a little NSFW. Happy 2020... (email subscribers click through for video)


2020 Is The Year of HR Playing Offense...

Welcome to 2020. New year, new decade, new YOU.

I don't have resolutions as much as I have needs. And my biggest need in 2020 is to not be a victim.

Of course, I'm not really a victim in the clinical sense. I have 1st world problems, I'm not currently impacted by health issues, depression, crime, etc. But, when I think about the things that are causing me stress, I can almost always track it back to my own accountability in getting in front of issues and trying to resolve them.

That's just me being vulnerable. But when I look around, I see everyone else with the same problem. It's not just me.

That's why I hope that 2020 is the year of you and me playing offense, not defense.

What's playing offense in your career look like?  A couple of thoughts:

--Not letting negative situations linger without trying to proactively resolve them, not matter how sensitive.

--Being proactive with counsel to the people who need to hear from you.

--Taking one action step today on a project rather than waiting for yourself to develop the perfect plan.

--Developing systematic approaches for recurring issues - basically developing products/services that you can repeatedly use because you took the time to deal with something the right way.

--Proactively communicating your take/stance/point of view in a formal way so you're on record with what you believe/recommend and why.

--Doing things today rather than waiting until tomorrow.

--Confronting people who need to be confronted in a professional way - but keeping the message clear.

Playing offense in your career is all about not being a victim.  The world of work is a tough place, and what's generally limiting an individual's success (once the talent is obviously there) is their ability to act, communicate, position and build relationships proactively rather than waiting for feedback from others or the perfect time.

Act today, win tomorrow.  Stop planning - or plan less - and do more. 

If you like this blog and the voice it's written in, pick up my book as a tool for a fast start in 2020. You'll laugh, you'll cry and it will make you want to kick some a**.

My hope for me - and you - is that we play more offense in 2020. 

Good luck, my friends!

 

 

 


Ask The HR Capitalist: I Work at Tesla, and I'm Tired of the S**t...

From the mailbag:
---------------------------------------------------------------------

KD -

I first ran into the HR Capitalist based on you writing on Tesla and our founder Elon Musk.  I work in The_doctor_is_in a professional grade position managing people in our Fremont location. I've been at Tesla for a little under 8 months, and I'm exhausted. While I expected the pace to be fast, the blurred line between work and life is tough for even me - a long time believer that people who work hard get the most done and deserve the rewards.  While I love the Tesla mission and product, the grind is too much.  Based on what I've described about myself, what advice can you give me for the best way to leave?  I almost quit before the holidays, because the end of year at Tesla is a big bag of coal for most employees.  I've never been at a job less than 3 years, but there's no way in hell I can make it that long here.

--Name Withheld by KD

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

Hey My Friend- 

It's a tough spot for sure, but I've got a couple of things for you to consider:

--Don't quit before you have another job. It's always easier to get a job when you already have a job, and if you quit, there's always people who will hold it against you that you didn't stick it out.  

--Don't quit or take another job before you get to the 1-year mark in your current role at Tesla. Based on what I hear from people like you, 1 year at Tesla is like 7 years everywhere else.  If you can get to the 1-year mark and then accept another position at another company, it automatically crosses a threshold of acceptability in the marketplace, and you'll carry that premium for the rest of your career on your resume.

--Since you're a manager of people, don't forget others are facing the same struggle. The more you help them and listen, the more you'll be providing therapy for yourself as well.

In short, start your job search in earnest at 11 months and leave after you cross the one-year mark. It's cool that you did the Tesla thing, but if it's eating you up, find someone who values that experience (many will in the marketplace) and make your move. But you need to survive until you get to the year mark at Tesla.  #optics

--KD


RIP David Stern: On The Need for Confrontation in Leadership...

In case you missed it, David Stern, past and longtime commission of the National Basketball Association (NBA), passed away over the weekend.  

But this post isn't about sports. It's about leadership, and the at times, ugly side of leadership.

Stern was arguably the best leader/commissioner in the history of sports. But to put it bluntly, Stern wasn't nice to those around him.  He had laser focus on what needed to be done.

And yes, at times, Stern played very rough. By all accounts, he was a BULLY. David-stern

As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski writes, Stern was unapologetic in his obsession to swell the league with stars in prime television markets, Stern was relentless in his pursuit of big, bigger and biggest for the NBA. This was Stern's NBA, and Stern did almost anything he wanted for those 30 years on the job as commissioner. He was a visionary and a dealmaker and a tyrant and a revolutionist.

Ever heard of the No A**hole Rule?  Sure you have. It's a good one, but the secret to the No A**hole Rule is that it doesn't apply to visionary leaders. Sometimes in key positions, you need a**holes.  A**holes get shit done. Of course, the a**hole in question better be world class in many things and deliver on the vision. If they deliver, you accept the a**hole tendencies.

Translation, if someone is good enough as a leader, you accept the tyrant tendencies because being a tyrant is all about EXECUTION.

David Stern was a Tyrant. But the NBA tolerated it because he was that freaking good. Go read the Woj story linked above and do a google search and read a few more memories of Stern as a leader.  

I'll leave you with one of my favorite accounts of Stern as tyrant from Ethan Strauss of The Athletic:

The previous commissioner’s old NBCA speeches did not welcome participation from coaches, especially the one given in Chicago, shortly after the NBA had signed its 2007 national TV contract. According to multiple coaches who were there, Stern communicated the importance of the TV side having access to locker rooms. Then-Chicago Bulls coach Scott Skiles raised his hand and told Stern, after a preamble of “no disrespect,” that the locker room was his “sacred space.”

Based on multiple coaches’ retellings of this legendary league story, Stern dispatched the response with withering sarcasm.

“Well, let’s see,” the smiling commissioner began. “On the one hand, we have eight billion dollars from our broadcast partners. And on the other hand, we have … Scott Skiles!” Stern then lit into him, telling Skiles in so many words and curses to shut up and that he didn’t want to hear any more out of him. Skiles went quiet, as did the room.

“He was neutered,” one coach relayed of Skiles. “Scott thought he was brave. And after Stern was done with him, he wasn’t brave no more.” All the coaches in the room got the message. Commissioner Stern wasn’t asking. He was telling. And woe be unto whichever clipboard clinger flouted the dictate.

RIP David Stern. You were a tyrant.  But you got sh*t done.


New Year's Resolutions For HR Pros Are All About Not Being a Slave to Transactions...

New Year's Resolutions. Seems like they're trending down these days, doesn't it?  Does anyone do them?

The drill is usually about weight loss or some other type of personal improvement. We don't do resolutions as much at work, and that's a shame.

Resolutions at work can be powerful if used correctly.  And the best way to use resolutions at work is to pledge to do less work that doesn't matter, and more that does.

Example - being a slave to email is something we all fall pray to throughout the year. We hear the incoming tone, and we have to look.  And react.  Most the time, it could wait.  The right new year's resolution is to stop being a slave to email, to schedule the blocks of your day that you're going to deal with email, saving you time to work on things that really matter.

For HR pros of all levels, the resolution that matters most is to get out of allowing transactional work dictating the majority of your day.  Most transactional work for HR pros is delivered through email.  Somebody needs an answer to that.  Somebody else has a question about this.  You react all day long - so do I.  We're classical trained to react, to the point we trick ourselves into thinking that always being available is the best way to provide high service levels.

But - that take has more to do with being comfortable being needed and being able to have a sense of accomplishment.

It's like mowing the grass - when you do it, you look at the finished product and it's easy to see your effort led to the result.  That's comfortable.

BUT - it's fools gold. The big value add for HR pros isn't to answer questions, it's to do thinking work that leads to projects and initiatives that lead to added value.

And that added value, my friends, is uncomfortable.  What if we aren't good enough to add value in that type of work?  Most of us fear that subconsciously.

So we let email and other transactional work run our lives. 

My new year's resolution is to do email in three daily blocks - no more.  If I have gaps in my schedule with nothing to do, I'm going to pick the highest value project I can to work on and refuse to go back to email until it's time on my schedule.  

Wish me luck - and consider something similar.


2019 Employer Brand Song of the Year Winner - Amazon!

It's the end of 2019 and reflection time. One reflection I've had this year is how much Amazon is dominating my life.

As a consumer, it's obvious and great. I can get anything I want without leaving my house, and it generally comes no later than 2 days after I ordered it.

But as a citizen, you have to be a bit wary of what Amazon has become, both as a partner and an employer. The Bezos creation has so much market power and smartly reinvests most profits back into the business to build for the future.  That was really cool to write about in the past. No profits, all reinvestments. Then something happened and it went from being smart to also having some pretty remarkable societal impact. Consider the following:

--Amazon has long been written about as a hard place to work - both in professional grade positions and in warehouses. My favorite related piece of this was the trademark application that had humans in cages while the machines zipped around.

--Amazon's also having a well-documented impact on retail. We spent a decade complaining about WalMart putting small stores out of business. That seems cute now.

Being a hard place to work and representing the Grim Reaper of Retail still holds true for Amazon. But there are other trends that are newer, but just as troubling:

--Amazon's a tough partner. Their recent decision to build their own delivery fleet of transport jets is the right business decision, but looks pretty hard towards UPS and FedEx. That's life in the show. Read this great post on this impact on FedEx here.

--Amazon's also putting together it's own network of local delivery, but they're pushing the responsibility to aspiring entrepreneurs to invest in fleets with the promise that Amazon will always have work/volume for them. In this way, they're also deferring the tough responsibility of running fleets of drivers to anyone that can finance a few 100K to ramp a franchise up.  Is there any doubt the cautionary tale from UPS/FedEx will hold true here as well?

--There are lots of tax issues with Amazon (meaning they don't pay a lot of them).

At the end of the day, things evolve. Change happens. Jobs and companies are destroyed and new ones emerge - I get that. And I'm certainly addicted to Amazon as a consumer. Their ability to create a marketplace and invest in money-losing free shipping as a means to put other people out of business is genius. You and I would do the same thing if given a chance.

But a couple of months ago (before the Christmas rush) I had the moment. I had ordered a pair of slacks from Amazon, and I got the notice they were being delivered - on Sunday. An hour later, there he was. A delivery person employed by a third party, looking like he had been in the van for 12 hours already.

Do I really need a pair of ####ing slacks on Sunday?  That's what Amazon has taught us to expect.

I got my slacks on Sunday, but a whole bunch of people got used in the marketplace and supply chain to make that happen.  That's why my 2019 Employer Brand Song of the Year award goes to Amazon and is - wait for it - "Use Me" by Bill Withers.

As Amazon continues to grow, everyone's getting used a little bit.  Song embedded below - click through for the post if you don't see it.  Worth a listen.

My friends feel it's their appointed duty
They keep trying to tell me all you want to do is use me
But my answer yeah to all that use me stuff
Is I want to spread the news that if it feels this good getting used
Oh you just keep on using me until you use me up
Until you use me up

I returned the slacks to the Amazon return center at Kohl's 29 days later.  Damn.


Comparing Job Offers: Always Pick The Best Boss...

From our Kinetix Tips series (email subscribers click through for photo):

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 6.54.10 PM

Of course, I was operating with limited characters in that space, so one elaboration. A potential boss's comfort with that question really doesn't include him automatically saying "yes".  The comfortable potential boss reflects on that question and compares the good and bad he/she brings to the table.

A quick "yes" to the question, "are you a good/best boss?", probably means they're not great at managing talent. Because it's way too hard to be that cocky about being good.

 


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. 


Fake Hustle In Corporate America...

There's a term that coaches in sports are familiar with - it's called "fake hustle".

What's fake hustle in sports?  Fake hustle is when an athlete shows incredible effort, but only does it when the play in question has already been decided.  It generally has no impact on the play, and due to the theatrics involved, may hinder the team the athlete is playing for by Cable guy causing others to do additional work.

Example - Loose ball in basketball, and an opposing player has an obvious angle to the ball that's going to result in him gaining possession 99.9% of the time.  The fake hustle guy never misses this opportunity to dive on the ground or run by the opponent, often after he already has the ball.

To the naked eye, it look like great effort.  To the trained eye, it just took fake hustle guy out of the play, and the team is less prepared to defend as a result.

Fake hustle guy sucks.

What's the equivalent of fake hustle guy in corporate America?  It's the guy that comes in with lots of email comments after hours of work has already been completed.  He could have been part of that work, but instead, he'll ask the "big questions" to peers (not subordinates) in a public forum once the work is done.

To the untrained eye, it looks like he's value added.  The the trained managerial eye, it's fake hustle or fake smarts.  Don't take 10 minutes to lob stuff over the wall and try to be a hero.  Do the work, be part of the team.

Fake hustle guy sucks in corporate America as well.  Hit me with your example of fake hustle guy at your company in the comments.


AWAY BAGS: When Your Horrible People Practices Turbocharge Sales...

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. That might be true.

For proof, look to Away Travel, which is the maker of the ultra-hip and ultra-cool Away Suitcase.  It's a Away trendy product, but one that I had an only passing awareness of.

Of course, that's before the shit hit the fan. My awareness is incredible now - more on that later.

Many of your are aware of a scathing article about Away that published on The Verge, detailing a bullying culture based on the communication tool of Slack. The gist is this - Away promoted radical transparency and attempted to force all communication on the public tool that is Slack, and as a result, there was little to no privacy in communications. When a diverse set of employees tried to set up their own private Slack channel, a high ranking exec popped in to monitor/participate in the group, even though she didn't fit the diversity the group was based on.

A few days later, members of the group started being fired. The Verge article hit, and it was an internet sensation for a couple of days. If you want more detail about what's being called a toxic culture at Away, go read the Verge article now.

But I'm here to talk about what happened AFTER that article hit.  Here's the chain of events that I saw:

1.  Within days, CEO Steph Korey stepped down amid criticism of the ruthless internal culture at the luggage startup she co-founded.

2.  Away named a new CEO.

3.  I listen to a pretty ruthless podcast called Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. They had Away on their list of things to talk about during the week it all broke. That wasn't going to go well for Away, because these two are ruthless with bad stuff at companies.

4.  Away didn't run. Instead, they leaned in and sponsored the podcast. I've never heard Away as a sponsor of this podcast, so I'm assuming they bought the ad rights to the episode that aired with their news.

5. Scott Galloway, one of the hosts, did a live read as a result - in his usual personality, having fun with it.  They had already made the call with the CEO, so the talk was more about the action the company took rather than the bad cultural stuff.

The lesson here? If you act quick enough (fire the people in question) and lean in to the coverage, you can actually create buzz around a product and turn the negative talk into a business opportunity.

Here's what I did after hearing the podcast - 

  1. I went and checked out the product.
  2. I'm at least 50/50 to buy an Away bag as a result.
  3. I never would have gotten that close to purchase without the hard lead in on the podcast and controversy by Away.

The lesson?  Act fast when bad stuff happens and don't hide.

If you run the right type of business, you might just end up with a boost to your business. While that's not a recommendation to bully people on Slack, it's a case study on how to react when bad stuff happens.

BONUS READING: A Guide to Away Bag Knockoffs on Amazon