You Probably Need This In Your D&I Stack: Microaggression Awareness...

Saw a social post last week from a friend in the HR Business that said a manager was providing performance feedback to an employee, and the employee told them they had used a microaggression. The manager didn't know what that was and had to look it up.

But that's why you have me. You know what a microaggression is even if you don't know it by name.  Here's the definition from Wikipedia: Micro

Microaggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.[1] The term was coined by psychiatrist and Harvard University professor Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals which he regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflicting on African Americans. By the early 21st century, use of the term was applied to the casual degradation of any socially marginalized group, including LGBT, people living in poverty, and people that are disabled.  Psychologist Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as "brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership". The persons making the comments may be otherwise well-intentioned and unaware of the potential impact of their words.

A number of scholars and social commentators have critiqued the microaggression concept for its lack of scientific basis, over-reliance on subjective evidence, and promotion of psychological fragility. Critics argue that avoiding behaviours that one interprets as microaggressions restricts one's own freedom and causes emotional self-harm, and that employing authority figures to address microaggressions can lead to an atrophy of those skills needed to mediate one's own disputes.  Some argue that, because the term "microaggression" uses language connoting violence to describe verbal conduct, it can be (and is) abused to exaggerate harm, resulting in retribution and the elevation of victimhood.

You know - saying stupid ***t.  Need examples of Microaggressions?  I thought you'd never ask, click here for some doozies of the racial category.

When I think about microaggressions, I also think about some related factors - what is the intent and what's the relationship between the people involved?  As you look at the link above, there are some microaggressions listed that are never OK. But as you get away from that page and get into the gray area, it becomes murky.

Case in point, I'm attempting to limit my greeting of groups of people by saying, "Guys". I didn't try and limit this based on feedback, but on reading that some females were bothered by it. My struggle to improve in this area is real, and it's not helped by all the women in my life who walk into a room and say, "what's up, guys?"

My struggle. Not yours. But a good example of how seemingly accepted language can seep into the microaggression category.

At the end of the day, microaggression belongs somewhere in your D&I training stack.  I'd simply introduce the concept (I guarantee you that 80% of your people, maybe more, don't know what it is) and then list 20 potential questions, phrases, etc and have the team say yes/no - is this phrase or question a microaggression?

Some will be over the top, but a lot will be in the gray area and drive disagreement. But it's the dialog that others have from a training perspective that matters.

As soon as your folks discuss, awareness goes up.  And microaggressions automatically go down.

I worry that we've become too political correct, but microaggression awareness is worthy of attention inside your organization.


How To Not Get Killed In A "What's Wrong" Focus Group At Your Company...

Simple post today.  From time to time, HR pros have to do focus groups to determine the climate of the employee relations environment at their company.  Ideally, this is done before there's smoke in the air.  But at times, especially in a multi-location environment, that's impossible.

So how do you approach a group of 10-12 employees (focus group) to get them to talk about the challenges, but not get beheaded in the process?  You're going to have to ask open-ended Valley
questions to get employees to give you details about what's messed up, so the best approach I've found is this:

--Ask each employee to give you TWO THINGS THAT ARE WORKING WELL FOR THEM AT YOUR COMPANY and TWO THINGS THAT NEED FAST IMPROVEMENT

It sounds simple, right?  I think we'd be surprised how many HR pros who walk into hostile environments don't force the attendees of focus groups to give them some positives.

The positives are there to balance the feedback loop.  It forces people to articulate the positives in their environment, which is important for fellow employees to hear.  

Of course, the negatives/opportunities for improvement are going to be there. You'll get those.  But if you know you're walking into a tough session and fail to be brave enough to ask for the positives, you run a higher probability of losing control of the group.

Some responses you'll hear when you ask for the positives:

"The people I work with"

"The people I work with"

"The people I work with"

"The people I work with"

Not a typo.  Expect that if you're walking into a tough environment, the answers will focus on fellow employees enduring the struggle, not anything that gives credit to the company.  That's OK - you're just looking to balance the feedback loop.  You can accept this answer from as many people as want to give it.

You also might here some smart### responses like:

"I haven't lost any fingers yet"

My advice?  Accept the "people I work with" response from all and if you get a wisecracker, laugh with everyone else and then follow up and ask for a serious one.  Accept "The people I work with" from all and ask for at least one other positive that someone hasn't given the group yet.

Good luck with your paratrooper-like focus group sessions.  Don't be afraid to ask for the positives - it will make your session much more productive.


Sheryl Sandberg and the Balancing Act of Personal Mission vs Company Mission...

Personal values in the business world are tricky. While we all have the code we live by, we also have to go out and make a living for ourselves and are families.

Generally speaking, the average professional doesn't have huge conflicts between their Gallowaypersonal code of ethics and who they work for. Of course, from time to time their might be a meaningful "situation" that causes us to take a personal inventory of what's most important, but for the most part the biggest struggle we have is having to eat large amounts of **** to stay employed, because that's just the way world is.

Work is hard. Business is harder. Put on a helmet.

BUT - the most lofty among us have choices. I'm talking about people who have truly made it, creating wealth throughout their careers that helps them arrive at the point where they no longer have to eat large amounts of ****.  People who have arrived have choices - but do they have an obligation to make things better for the rest of us or take a stand against disconnects between their code and the company they work for?

This is on my mind as I read, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway. In the book, Galloway fires off this gem regarding Sheryl Sandberg:

“Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg told women to “lean in” because she meant it, but she also had to register the irony of her message of female empowerment set against a company that emerged from a site originally designed to rank the attractiveness of Harvard undergraduates, much less a firm destroying tens of thousands of jobs in an industry that hires a relatively high number of female employees: media and communications.”

---"The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway

Shots. Fired.

I don't believe that Sandberg has any requirement to leave Facebook due to the origin/mission disconnect referenced between Facebook and someone who would author a powerful book like Lean In. I could easily make the argument that Sandberg can do more good for women at Facebook than she can anywhere else in the world.

But the stronger your push related to mission, the more disconnects matter. Especially when you have acquired the means, which automatically reminds me of this Ferris quote.

Is Sandberg a hypocrite as Galloway seems to be alluding to? I say no. But it's an interesting case study related to this reality - the more you go on record and define your professional brand by mission, the more people will identify the inconsistencies and attempt to hold you accountable.


Use This Quote When Convincing Someone to Decline An Offer From a Big Company...

"It's better to be a pirate than join the Navy."

-Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was brutal in many ways, but with his brutality came moments of pure clarity.  This quote is one of those moments. Johnny-depp

The stale way to make the same point is obvious - "Why do you want to go work for that big company?  They're going to bury your talent. You know all those ideas you have?  You won't get to chase any of them at IBM.  They'll just pod you up in the matrix and suck your energy over the next decade, leaving you a husked-out former version of yourself."

Wait - that's actual pretty good.  A more standard version is "You're going to there and be bored immediately."

Still, I like the clarity of the Jobs quote.  If you're working for a smaller firm, you need every competitive advantage you can get as you fight for the hires you need.  This quote, while not perfect, is a good tool to have.

It just so happens that the only people that it works on are the people who are actually inclined to believe that they're more than cogs in the corporate wheel.  Use this quote on a person who's happy being a cog, and they might dance with you a bit - but ultimately they're going to grab for the security that only thousands (often tens of thousands) of employees can provide.  Doesn't make them bad people or not talented - it's a preference for security and risk management.

But they're looking to enlist with a big entity like the Navy - not roam the seven seas on that cool, but rickety boat you call a company and wonder if you'll be around in a year.

If you're at a smaller firm, the best hires you will make are the people that don't look like pirates - but have it buried in their DNA.  If you think you have one of those people, I'd talk in broad terms about the pirate-like things you're going to do at your company.

Pirates like Johnny Depp, BTW - not Somali pirates.

Go buy some eye patches for your next round of interviews. Dare a candidate to ask you why you're wearing one.


WHEN THE BOSS BULLIES THE TEAM: METH, I'M ON IT...

By now, most of you have seen the anti-drug campaign coming out of South Dakota with ads that show regular people with one of two tag lines:

"Meth, I'm On It"

"Meth, We're On It"

There's a lot of layers to the visual campaign, including:

1--South Dakota, like many states, has a huge Meth problem. Meth+we're+on+it

2--The ads show regular people. The assumption is that by being on "it", the people show are either using Meth and you don't know it, or the people shown are mobilizing to fight the epidemic.  A double entendre, perhaps.

3--When the campaign launched, there was laughter. Ridicule, even.

Here's some analysis from the Huffington Post. Take a look and I'll give you my take after the jump:

South Dakota’s governor on Monday unveiled what she considered a powerful new anti-drug campaign to combat the use of methamphetamine in the state. Now, TV spots, billboards, posters and a website featuring South Dakotans saying “Meth. We’re on it” is going viral ― for better or for worse.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem launched the campaign to raise awareness about the meth epidemic in South Dakota. The state spent $450,000 for a Minnesota ad agency to come up with the slogan and campaign, reported the Argus Leader. Noem also requested more than $1 million in funding to support treatment services.

But the new slogan is being ridiculed by many and attacked on Twitter in viral hashtags.

Bill Pearce, assistant dean at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, criticized the campaign. “I’m sure South Dakota residents don’t like being laughed at. That’s what’s happening right now,” he told The Washington Post. 

Noem defended the new slogan, saying all the uproar suggested the campaign was working. “Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working,” she tweeted.

When I've brought this up to my friends and laughed about it, they've brought up a good point- if people are talking about it, isn't that the goal? Hasn't South Dakota already won with the coverage?

To that, I say, NO.  Somewhere in South Dakota, here's how the decision making process went:

1--The ad firm pitched the boss the idea for "Meth, We're On it".

2--The boss adopted the idea as her own and sponsored it HEAVILY.  The message was clear, "Meth, WERE ON IT, right? I love this idea", said the boss.

3--The underlings couldn't bring themselves to tell the boss what they really thought. As time passed, the stakes were higher. Costs were sunk.

4--The campaign launched and what everyone around the Boss thought happened. The state took a huge "L" and the mockings dramatically outweighed the benefit.

My friends, this is what happens when a leader has a reputation for having to have all the best ideas and operates as a non-collaborator.  When direct reports can't win debates and arguments - even when they are right - really bad decisions get though and big failure happens.

Was the campaign worth the attention? Ask the 2,000 families in the state that got a mock Christmas card of their family created by relatives outside the state. Their family is pictured, with the now famous font "Meth, We're On It" superimposed and distributed to 100 other people in the family outside the state of South Dakota.

Good times. But that leader got what She wanted - and for good effect, immediately requested 1M in funding for the epidemic, which is like you and me requesting $1 for help with our annual cost of health insurance.

Always ask and listen to your team. Give them a chance to help save you.


What Sales Rep Title Will Generate the Most Traffic to Your Job Posting?

Great research and post over at OnGig related to which Sales Titles generate the most traffic to job postings.

You can click on the image to the right to blow up the pie charts to a more readable view. Sales titles

To summarize what OnGig found, here's some numbers on the most prevalent sales job titles and the traffic they generated.  Take a look and we'll talk about it after the jump:

Sales Associate:

# of Google Searches per month:  37,900

# of Results on Indeed.com: 148,582

Sales Representative:

# of Google Searches per month:  15,800

# of Results on Indeed.com: 42,775

Account Executive:

# of Google Searches per month: 13,300

# of Results on Indeed.com: 16,312

Business Development Manager (BDM):

# of Google Searches per month: 8,000

# of Results on Indeed.com: 4,638

Salesperson:

# of Google Searches per month: 6,700

# of Results on Indeed.com: 5,229

What's it all mean? Go read the OnGig post for greater depth, as they have quality insights into the trends into the sales world. Here's my thoughts:

--Sales Associate is going to net you people who want to work in retail. If that's not you, don't use the title.

--When comparing Sales Representative vs Account Executive, I would tell you that the higher end the sales position, the more it leans to "account executive".  My experience is that the AE title delivers more white collar sales pros who are "hunters" vs "farmers" in sales world.  Also notable is that while there's almost 3X as many Sales Rep positions as there are AEs, the search traffic is the same - meaning there's no penalty for using the AE title if a hunter is what you're after.

--Business Development Manager (BDM) - if your intent is to find an independent sales pro, be careful with manager titles in the posting. Better to use Sales Rep or AE to clarify what you're looking for, then give them whatever title you need to in your company's convention of titles once they are hired and in the door.

--Not listed here but a problem - the use of Account Manager as a title. If you're looking for a hunting sales rep and post using the AM title, you're inviting relationship people who aren't used to hunting to apply for your role. You'll either tell all of them no or make an ineffective hire - either way you lose, so stay away from that title if closed new business is your goal.

As with all job postings, title matters. So does a clean, effective job posting that allows people to see what's most important to you, and most importantly - opt out without applying if they aren't a fit.

Be clean on title and what's most important to you early in the posting, and your false positive hires will go down.

Happy Hunting!


Trigger Warnings on Disney+...Could They Work for Managers?

Did you sign up for Disney+ over the last couple of weeks?  10 million other households did.

You didn't know you needed another streaming service, but Disney+ comes with some unique features, mainly that the entire catalog of Disney is available for streaming. That's a deep catalog.

Of course, even though the catalog is deep, there's some issues. Material sourced from the 1930's, 40's and 50's might have some theme that aren't Lady and tramp warninginline with today's world. For this reason, Disney has implemented a "trigger" warning of sorts on any material that might be challenging.  More from the Washington Times:

Disney’s new streaming service has added a trigger warning to certain classic movies like “The Jungle Book” and “Lady and the Tramp” to address possible “outdated cultural depictions” that could offend viewers.

Disney Plus, which launched Tuesday amid a host of technical issues, issued a disclaimer on some decades-old movies that reads, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

The warning appears in the movie descriptions for “Dumbo,” “The Jungle Book” and “Lady and the Tramp,” among others that have faced criticism for depicting racial stereotypes.

My super-conservative friends view that as more political correctness. I view it as a masterful stroke by Disney. Let me share the warning/disclaimer again, by itself:

“This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

That's solid communications work by Disney. It allows them to share the material and satisfy fans, but also warns that this stuff is from another day and time, even another world. It's even educational and can drive conversations in households with reasonable people who want that type of conversation. And of course, the warning allows you not to watch as well.

Of course, I'm a HR/recruiting/talent nerd. The first thing I thought of was this:

Could we use the same type of trigger warning for good people in your organization who are insensitive to the needs of others and seem to run afoul of public opinion at least once a quarter?

I'm not talking about people who are blatantly racist, etc. I'm talking about the people who are likable but grew up different from you and me and haven't made the complete turn to the 2020. They mean well. But they can't get out of their own way.  We don't want to give up on them.

Let's say you've got an incoming email from this person. There could be a pop-up that could say the following before you read the email:

"This individual is presented as a work in progress. He/she may contain outdated cultural norms, beliefs or depictions. We believe they're evolving, but it's a work in progress."

That's truthful for a lot of people in the average organization. It feels right.

Of course, some of you would snap the warning or share it in your IG story and ruin the feature.

This is why we can't have nice things. Continue about your day without organizational warnings that could make our work life better. LOL.


Who Sucked Out The Feeling? You Did.

Look around could it bring somebody down
If I never made a sound again?

Who sucked out the feeling?

--Sucked Out by Superdrag

Quick thought while I'm on vacation.  Let's say you're on a conference call, you've got 3 people in a room and either another person or team on the other line.  Something comes up you're not sure about or perhaps you have a disagreement on your end - in your room.  To resolve the issue, you make the decision to mute your line so you can discuss on your end without being heard.

You just sucked all the good times and trust out of the relationship.  If not forever, for awhile.

I'm not talking about two sides battling on an issue.  I'm talking about two or more parties working for a common good, be it a project, an initiative or a product launch.  

You muted your line. #Interesting

Who sucked out the feeling? You did.  We'll be on the other end feeling small.  Holler when it's time for the kids to come back in the room!

Unless you're negotiating an armistice to an armed conflict or a legal matter, just tell people you're going to discuss and get back to them.  That feels 100 times better than a 2-minute mute session.

Enjoy the Superdrag video below.  If you've heard this cut, tell me you haven't screamed the chorus along with the lead singer of average talent.


Work with KD: Content Creator/Brand Accelerator Job at Kinetix in Atlanta...

Attention Atlanta Connections - Cool opportunity to do fun brand and marketing stuff with yours truly. Please share this with folks you think might be a fit!

Click this link to apply - full job posting at link and also below:

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

Content Creator/Brand Accelerator

As a Content Creator/Brand Accelerator at Kinetix, you’ll work with our team to amplify the already strong primary and secondary brands of Kinetix to create brand awareness and help us fill the top of our sales funnel. We’ve got great brands at Kinetix and have long believed in content marketing. Kinetix We’re looking for you to help us ramp up the unbelievable assets we have in place and send a consistent, daily message to the marketplace.

The right person for this role will be someone comfortable using content and thought leadership in B-to-B marketing capacity. Creative and editing skills in video and graphic design are preferred, as is an intermediate to expert level on social media platforms. An appreciation of brand voice is required, as our brands have a point of view that should be present across all platforms.

Still reading? Here’s some stuff you’ll focus on:

·        World Domination – There, we said it. But the good kind, not the bad kind.

·        Create and manage editorial and social content calendars - designed to accelerate the primary and secondary brands of Kinetix (kinetixhr.com, hrcapitalist.com, fistfuloftalent.com, bossleadershiptrianing.com and more!)

·        Run pre and post production project management of all big content pieces (BCP): videos, podcasts, white papers, blog posts, etc. to end with amazing large form content pieces designed to promote thought leadership at Kinetix. (Bonus points if you have writing skills to participate in the creation of the BCP. Subtract bonus points if you like corporate acronyms like “BCP.”)

·        Digital skills to run any of the pre and post production elements using the Adobe Suite or InDesign is a bonus. We’re giving a lot of bonus points here - we’re like that teacher in college that’s really hoping you make it.

·        Independently create short-form pieces of content from BCP (posts, images, IG or FB stories, quotes, remixes, GIFS) - We’re looking to create great content pieces (BCP) and then chop them up and reuse them like the place your used BMW went to the time it got stolen.

·        Create and execute distribution of all content (big and small) on relevant social platforms - Social platform skills will be a big deal in this job. We’ll also want you to learn paid social as part of this gig if you don’t already possess that skill.

·        Community management when you’re not tied up with the content machine - Community management means helping us grow the social channels in a smart, authentic, non-sleazy way, as well as helping us grow our email marketing list. We’d also want you to help our thought leaders be uber-responsive on social as part of the job.

·        In your spare time, run a bootstrap speaker’s bureau - designed to put our thought leaders in front of audiences that are interested in our message.

·        Work with a cool existing creative marketing team at Kinetix - you’re not alone, although this posting made it sound like that. Our Kinetix marketing team does great creative work on behalf of our client brands, and they’ll help with delivery on your projects as needed. We won’t let you touch the client brands, because we’re being incredibly selfish.

Some Things the Right Candidate May Have:

·        Bachelor's degree in marketing, journalism, public relations, business or digital communications (if you don’t have any, but are a perfect fit – tell us why)

·        Writing skills

·        3-5 years of proven success in marketing, lead generation, digital and social media experience

·        Able to create good working relationships with colleagues

·        An affinity for Gen X leaders and acknowledgement that Gen X is the greatest generation, or the ability to fake this in the workplace

·        Able to work well independently and with a team

·        Complete comfort with social tools (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)

·        Creative and curious in a wide variety of media

·        Crazy detail orientation that leads to execution

·        Comfortable with chaos and daily changes

·        Working knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator)

·        Location – Atlanta strongly preferred. Would consider Birmingham for the right candidate. Remote only if you worked 2 years for Gary V or the Kardashians.

EOE - M/F/V/D/SO


Life Is Better When You Hire People With A Great Sense of Humor...

As an owner of a recruiting company, it's fun to be able to contribute to building a team.

What do we need at Kinetix? The same types of things you do - knowledge, skill and ability, as well as cultural fit. We've addressed trying to hire for cultural fit with something we call the Kinetix Code, which are potential factors designed to ID what's common across all of our best performers.

But there's one thing we probably don't work to ID in the interview process, but I love it when it's there.

A sense of humor and a general spirit of not taking one's self to seriously.

Case in point - I've got a Kinetix guy working on a website for me that includes a splash page for my book. As you might expect, we're showing the book, and giving some quotes about what people think about the book (shameless plug note - you can buy The 9 Faces of HR here!), etc.

My guy at Kinetix could have pulled a quote from my book page at Amazon. But that didn't feel like the best use of the opportunity, so he instead structured a placeholder for the quote window with the image you see below and wrote his own mock quote (email subscribers, click through if you don't see the image below):

Ben

Ah... Opportunistic humor. Rather than use a real quote, he simply made one up on the fly. Ben Martinez is what we call a "friend of the program" at Kinetix, a former HR leader now running his own consulting business. We've helped him, he's helped us, etc. The art was available, and away my developer at Kinetix went. In case you haven't figured it out - this is not a real quote. But it's a fun one!

We have a lot of people at Kinetix who have a great sense of humor and don't take themselves too seriously. 

How do you measure that in an interview process? That's hard to say, I think the best way is probably to listen closely and see what your candidates give you related to what I'll call the "and one." You've asked a serious question, the candidate gives you a serious answer and...they give you the extra comment that gives you context on how they view the world. If it makes you smile, there's a chance that candidate in front of you might have a decent sense of humor AND - good judgment about when to use it.

The "and one" comments from candidates during interviews are not without risk. Consider the following:

1--Go too far with the extra comments in an effort to build rapport with the interviewer, and the strategy falls flat.

2--Fail to give any "and one" comments and you'll likely see another candidate pass you up in the interview process - as they nailed the "and one" and built comfort and connection.

The "and one" strategy is probably what naturally funny people do in interviews.

But don't forgot, candidates mirror you as an interviewer. If you're too serious and don't invest in making candidates comfortable, you'll probably never know who has "it" in the area of humor - with good judgement.

Our workplaces need more people with humor - and great judgment about when to use it.


Google Ends Weekly "All-Hands" Meetings: Here's Why...

In case you missed it, Google has decided to stop holding a weekly "all-hands" meeting they call TGIF in response to leaks and the meetings being dominated by issues considered non-core to the business (my words, not theirs).  I grabbed the email announcing the change from Sundar Pichai, the Google CEO, but before I show you that email, I rewrote it for clarity and impact. Here's my version of his email to announce the weekly "all hands" meetings are gone. Enjoy:

We wanted to talk about strategy. You wanted to talk about politics. TGIF

That was OK, because we wanted to talk about what you wanted to talk about.

Then you started leaking everything we said that didn't live up to your political standards.

Then we realized that the people who only wanted to talk about politics where actually the ones doing the leaking.

Then we realized that the people who wanted to talk about politics and leaked info don't reflect the views of the majority of our employees, which was reflected in the reality that only 25% of our employees now attend the all-hands, an all-time low.

So we said, "Screw this" and decided to shut down the TGIF weekly town halls.

Along the way and before this, we realized that our infamous "20% time" that allowed you to work on your own projects wasn't actually contributing to business results. We also had to restrict political conversations on Google message boards because some of you weren't respecting other people.

In summary: You hijacked this whole thing, and we're shutting it down and finding another path.

This is why we can't have nice things.

That was mine. Here's Google CEO Sundar Pichai's email announcing the same change, let me know which version you like better.

More from The Verge:

From: Sundar

Subject: TGIF and internal forums

[TL;DR - We’re going to make changes to TGIF and offer a new mix of internal forums in 2020. We’ll solicit your feedback along the way.]

Hi Googlers,

The last month has made me proud to be a Googler in so many ways: we’ve substantially improved our core Search product thanks to our advances in ML. And we’ve made an incredible breakthrough in quantum computing that will give us an entirely new way of solving computational problems in the years ahead. Both of these milestones show how our scale allows us to invest in long-term technology problems to drive significant improvements.

But in other places -- like TGIF -- our scale is challenging us to evolve. TGIF has traditionally provided a place to come together, share progress, and ask questions, but it’s not working in its current form. Here are some of the biggest challenges:

First, people come to TGIF with different expectations. Some people come to hear more about Google’s product launches and business strategies, others come to hear answers on other topics. By splitting the difference every week, we’re not serving either purpose very well.

Second, we’re unfortunately seeing a coordinated effort to share our conversations outside of the company after every TGIF. I know this is new information to many of you, and it has affected our ability to use TGIF as a forum for candid conversations on important topics.

Third, as the company has scaled up and spread out geographically, the audience has steadily declined. Only about 25% of us watch TGIF any given week, compared to 80% a decade ago. In contrast, Googlers are more engaged in local and PA all-hands.

This engagement in product and functional area meetings is a natural and positive evolution for us. When we know the people in a discussion and understand their context, we can have more substantive and richer conversations focused around the work we do for our users. We’re going to keep investing in our PA and functional all-hands and make sure that Google leaders (including me) make more regular appearances there. Of course, we still need some company-wide moments to share product and business strategy, celebrate great work, learn from our failures, and ask tough questions. So we’re going to try something different for 2020:

TGIF will become a monthly meeting focused on product and business strategy, with Q&A on the topics being discussed.

We’ll keep holding regular Social TGIFs in offices around the world (this is really important, and is how the original concept of TGIF began).

We’ll continue to hold town halls on important workplace issues.

And, we’ll keep exploring new ways to communicate at scale to a global company of 100,000+ people across multiple timezones. One specific thing we’d like to do is share more videos (like this one on quantum computing) to give insight into the work our teams are doing.

We’re hoping this mix of forums will provide a better experience for Googlers. We know you have only so much time to attend meetings and we want to spend it well. We also have to account for how we spend our time as a company. In fact, we owe it to our users to be relentlessly focused on our mission and our goal to build a more helpful Google for everyone.

Since we’re trying something new, we’ll get your feedback as we roll these forums out. The TGIF team will set up some small group discussions to hear from Googlers across the company. If you want to share input, visit go/internal-forums.

We have become the company we are today by creatively tackling important problems head on -- it’s how we evolve. We now have the opportunity to shape the kind of company we want to be in the future by investing in better ways to communicate at scale. Look forward to working with you all to do this.

--Sundar

So much fun doing "what he said" vs "what he wanted to say."  I'm glad Google is making a change for things that no longer work. Evolve or die.


Video Interviewing: It's OK to Love It, Just Know S**t Will Probably Get Real...

It's hard not to like video interviewing solutions as an HR Pro or Hiring Leader. After all, what's better than seeing how someone communicates on a basic level with some simple questions before you invest your time to bring them in and commit a minimum of an hour to interview them live?

We've all been to the bad place - you phone screen someone and it goes fine, then bring them in live and within 5 minutes, you know it's not going to happen. Video interivewingVideo interviewing can prevent that.

To be clear, I'm not talking about Skype or similar solutions when it comes to video interviewing - I'm talking about robust situations designed for the top of the funnel - when the candidate applies, they are getting a chance to answer 5-7 questions, the audio of which is designed to really replace the phone screen, and the video of which is to make sure they have the command and presence necessary to do well with your hiring manager if you bring them in live.

Of course, there are some issues with video interviewing. The first one is obvious - even in 2020 (I'm rounding up, folks), most people in the world today aren't comfortable firing up the smartphone or laptop camera for an on-the-fly, taped 1-way interview. It freaks them the F out, which means you're losing good talent because they can't deal with this digital test.

The second issue is one related to bias. There's been a lot of discourse lately about the presence of unconscious bias, and if that topic continues to trend and cause us to do things like redact certain portions of resumes, then showing all identifiers via a video interview can't really happen. In a world concerned with unconscious bias, a solution with risk of straight up, old-school bias seems destined for the scrap heap.

The third issue? The video interviewing solutions really stretching the boundary claim to have AI in mix that can measure items like "personal stability".  If that seems like more than our legally challenged world can bear, you're right. The FTC is being asked to investigate HireVue (a leader in the video interviewing industry) for their use of AI in the hiring process. It’s probably one of the first of a series of challenges to the use of AI in HR. More from TechCrunch:  

"The Electronic Privacy Information Center, known as EPIC, on Wednesday filed an official complaint calling on the FTC to investigate HireVue’s business practices, saying the company’s use of unproven artificial intelligence systems that scan people’s faces and voices constituted a wide-scale threat to American workers.

HireVue’s “AI-driven assessments,” which more than 100 employers have used on a million-plus job candidates, use video interviews to analyze hundreds of thousands of data points related to a person’s speaking voice, word selection and facial movements. The system then creates a computer-generated estimate of the candidates’ skills and behaviors, including their “willingness to learn” and “personal stability.”

Video interviewing solutions have long listed bias concerns and generally non-progressive, non-rationale hiring managers who make flippant decisions as threats to their future.

It will be interesting to see where the privacy world's issues with video interviewing go in the future and how those concerns stack with unconscious bias to impact this industry.


New Research Show Income Gaps Are (at least partly) Due to Working More Than 40 Hours Per Week...

Hat tip to my homeboy Tim Sackett on the research cite below. Sacks must have crazy email subscriptions and Google alerts to mine this gold.

Cut and paste from Marginal Revolution appears below. Littlefinger

That is a new paper by J. Rodrigo Fuentes and Edward E. Leamer:

This paper provides theory and evidence that worker effort has played an important role in the increase in income inequality in the United States between 1980 and 2016. The theory suggests that a worker needs to exert effort enough to pay the rental value of the physical and human capital, thus high effort and high pay for jobs operating expensive capital. With that as a foundation, we use data from the ACS surveys in 1980 and 2016 to estimate Mincer equations for six different education levels that explain wage incomes as a function of weekly hours worked and other worker features. One finding is a decline in annual income for high school graduates for all hours worked per week. We argue that the sharp decline in manufacturing jobs forces down wages of those with high school degrees who have precious few high-effort opportunities outside of manufacturing. Another finding is that incomes rose only for those with advanced degrees and with weekly hours in excess of 40. We attribute this to the natural talent needed to make a computer deliver exceptional value and to the relative ease with which long hours can be chosen when working over the Internet.

Our good friend Kathy Rapp will be back later this week with analysis of the Microsoft 4-day work week pilot in Japan. While we can all agree that 4-day work weeks are awesome, can we also agree on the following points?

1--There's always going to be some maniacs who are incredibly talented and will work 6-7 days a week for decades.

2--Those maniacs will generally climb the corporate ladder and assume more wealth than similarly talented individuals who worked 40-45 hours a week.

3--There's always going to be some absolute grinders who don't have the natural talent cited in #1, but due to the fact they'll work themselves just shy of having a stroke, will achieve as much or more than the individuals with more talent that those cited in #2.

I'll leave you with this cite from the research above:

"Another finding is that incomes rose only for those with advanced degrees and with weekly hours in excess of 40. We attribute this to the natural talent needed to make a computer deliver exceptional value and to the relative ease with which long hours can be chosen when working over the Internet"

Work-life balance is cool.

But work-life choices are everywhere.

My advice to my sons is to rack up the hours and advance as much as you can in the first 10 years of your career, then make some choices on work-life balance after you've kicked a little ass of the people listed in #2. You might be able to downshift by the time you're 35 and have a family if you do it right.

Don't assume because everyone agrees that work-life balance is good that everyone will opt in,
 or that everyone is limited to 40 hours as productivity and performance is measured.

Littlefinger: "Chaos is a ladder."

The crazy talented/driven people described in #1: "The fascination with work-life balance makes me ever more special."

Good luck with the balance, folks.


The Tyranny of Accent Walls In Corporate America...

True story for a Monday morning.

My wife said the following over the weekend:

"I'm painting an accent wall in the bedroom." Accent wall

My response:

"Are you ###ing kidding me?"

She was kind of taken aback by the velocity of my response.

Now, for the record, my wife has much better taste of all things design than I do. She has not, however, been slung around by corporate America to the same extent as I have.

It's not that accent walls are wrong. If that's the new trend in home design, so be it. But if you've spent the amount of time I have in office parks and mid-tier hotels across America as I have, you understand the following truth:

Accent walls in corporate America are the opiate of the masses. A design element to trick you into thinking the vibe in a company is upbeat, the sky is the limit and the culture is engaging.

It's not that the presence of an accent wall means those things aren't true - we have some at Kinetix. It's just that the correlation of those positive cultural items and an accent wall is "zero", which is to say there's no relationship at all.

The dirty little secret is that your culture comes down to the quality of your managers of people, and the platform you give them to understand your expectations about how they deal and talk with their employees. I did a whole training series on that being the reality of your culture.

Need some other things that are as cool as your accent wall, but have a zero correlation to great culture? I thought you'd never ask. Here you go:

1--Cool furniture not related to the actual workspace people work at.  Love this one - there's nothing easier to dress up an office than slinging some furniture in corners while Tammy still has gum stuck under her cube desk that's 7 years old.

2--Foosball. Seems cool. Feels cool. I'm undefeated. Zero correlation with culture.

3--Open floor plans that ditched the cubes (even low lying ones) and forced you to work at tables. Man, if you work like that, I'm sorry. Hit me on Slack and tell me about it. I blame farm to table.

4--A proclamation that you are reducing email and putting quick hitting updates and comms on Slack or another similar tool. See what I did there? I presumed if you were working at tables with your brethren that you also work on Slack. So predictable. Sorry homeslice - just because you do less email than your competitors doesn't make you better culturally. Trendy? Yes. More productive? Show me the data.

The quality of your culture really all comes down to the quality of the conversations your managers have with their people. Are they two-way conversations? Does the employee get to come of with some of the ideas?  I could go on, but you get the drift.

As for that accent wall, I'll probably leave it up to Mrs. Capitalist. But if she starts naming the rooms in the house like we do conference rooms, that's where I'm drawing the line. And no, I don't need your recommendations for what a bedroom would be named. That's why the comments are "off" on this post.

KD out.


Saying "No" Helps Train the Recipient What "Yes" Looks Like...

If there's a big problem in corporate America, it's that we say "Yes" too much at times.

Yes to that request..

Yes, I can help you..

Yes, I'd be happy to be part of your project team...

Yes, your response to my request is fine...

There's a whole lot of yes going around.  The problem?  Only about 1/2 of the "yes" responses are followed up with action that is representative of all of us living up to the commitment we made.

That's why you need to say "no" more.

Of course, simply saying no with nothing behind the no positions you as jerk.  So the "no" has to have qualifiers behind it:

Say "no" more to peers asking you for things, but then qualify it with how the request could be modified to move you to say "yes".

Say "no" more to your boss, and qualify your response to her by asking for help de-prioritizing things on your plate - which might allow you to say "yes" to the new request.

We say "yes" in the workplace when we want to say "no". We do it because we don't like to say no, and because we are horrible at negotiation.

Say "no" and tell people how the request could be modified to get to "yes".

Or just say "no" and walk away.  Either way, you've helped the organization's overall performance by providing more clarity.