Capitalist Office Conversation Definitions: "I'm Just A Caveman"

It's Friday. Let's do something fun. Definition time!

Caveman, kāvˌman, noun. Caveman

Beware of people in the workplace who refer to themselves as cavemen. It's a set up most commonly used in the following context:

"Well, I'm just a Caveman. I don't understand a lot of things and what you just said sounds so complex. But what I do know is __________."

The person in front of you isn't trying to make themselves look stupid, they're trying to railroad you into admitting that you're making something too difficult.  It might be that a complex explanation is needed, or maybe not. Check yourself on that. But when you hear "I'm just a caveman", it's really code for "I'm not going to do that or agree with you, and my path towards non-compliance is to diminish myself slightly before I try and knock you down a couple of pegs."

They don't agree with you. And they're saying you're fully of s##t in code. Good times.

Related word and phrases in the workplace that can do the same thing: "Blonde", "Country Boy" and "I grew up poor".

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Check out this classic video featuring Phil Hartman as Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer from Saturday Night Live for a great example.

Full video below (email subscribers click through for video below or click the link above)


How Buffer Approaches Salary Transparency (It's Kind of Cool)

Attention HR geeks who like to dabble in compensation...

Also, attention anyone who is interested in current events, which finds some highly compensated workers moving out of high priced areas (SF, NYC, LA) to work remote. As you're aware, companies have started communicating they'll be adjusting the salaries of some of this high priced talent to reflect the cost of living in their new locations. Buffer

For those of us used to formal compensation plans, this move is standard - it's called geographical grading, and most formal compensation plans set ranges for jobs, then adjust them upward or downward based on the area the talent lives in.  There are generally 5-6 geographical grades in a compensation plan.

Of course, it's the cancel culture and the "how dare you" culture that's SHOCKED a company would reduce compensation for someone moving from San Francisco to Iowa. 

Many of the same people who would rage against the audacity of a company reducing salaries for lower cost locations would also be huge proponents of salary transparency.

And this is the point where we merge both topics - salary transparency and geographical adjustments.

Consider the technology firm BUFFER.

Buffer does a nice job of describing it goals with salary transparency - you can read up on it here.

But what's super interesting about their view on transparency is how they set salaries within a range and how they adjust them up or down. More from Buffer's page that talks about their philosophy and even provides a <freaking> calculator

This multiplier is still applied by using a teammates’ location to determine one of three geographic bands, based on a high, average, or low cost of living area. We use data from Numbeo to figure out which band applies for each teammate. For high cost of living areas we pay 100% of the San Francisco 50th percentile, average is 85%, and low is 75%.

We figure out each teammate’s geographic band by comparing the cost of living index of a teammate’s location to the cost of living index in San Francisco.

So let's examine that a bit for what we know about formal compensation plans. The fact Buffer provides one salary they pay for each job (they don't adjust for who you are, that's how they keep it consistent and can do transparency) means that they have elected a single point to pay within a salary range recommended by salary surveys from a provider like Numbeo.  I'd assume they're likely paying at the midpoint in the range (ranges have minimums, midpoints and maximums) for anyone in the role to keep it real.  Then, as stated, they are adjusting through geographical grades or bands in the way described above.

So, if you're moving to Denver, you're taking a 15% cut, which by the way, is super consistent with the numbers reported related to VM Ware and Twitter adjustments (widely reported as 18% for a move from SF to Denver). If you're moving to Ames, Iowa - sad trombone - it's a 25% cut.

Geographical grades and band have been around forever. It's interesting to see a company committed to salary transparency be unapologetic for adjustments for geography.

How can they do it? Simple, when you pay everyone in the same job the same $$, the black box of comp mystery goes away. I'm not saying that's the way to do it, but it's a bit of a case study on how simple it could be, and it automatically addressed equity concerns. 

See the calculator online at Buffer by clicking here!!


United Airlines Takes a Lawsuit Over Preferential Treatment of Blondes...

A recent lawsuit filed versus United Airlines shows how complicated/dangerous staffing decisions involving customer-facing positions can be.

A rundown of the lawsuit appears below. Embedded in all of this is the perception of what customers want, the concept/definition of bias, and the obligation a company has across employment law when staffing decisions for premium assignments are made in a manner inconsistent with established norms. Flight-attendant-

For years, attractive people (both female and male) have had an advantage in the workplace - that's documented through research. However, there are attractive people across all races and nationalities. Good luck to the organization/company in 2020 that identifies the "right" kind of attractiveness as belonging to young, white blonde females.

The answer to this for United is pretty simple. Work through the lawsuit and work with sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL) to ensure inclusivity. Trust me, those sports leagues don't want anything to do with media attention that suggests they're requesting the stereotype outlined below.

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United Airlines Holdings Inc. packs its charter flights for sports teams with young, blond crews and bars older flight attendants from working the plum routes, according to a new lawsuit.

In so doing, the airline bases the value of workers “entirely on their racial and physical attributes, and stereotypical notions of sexual allure,” according to two veteran flight attendants who sued Friday in California.

The attendants -- a Black woman who has worked for the airline for 28 years and a Jewish woman with 34 years of tenure -- say that they both tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get assigned to work the charter flights.

United Airlines has contracts to provide air travel for some three dozen teams in the National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Collegiate Athletic Association, according to the lawsuit. Attendants who work those flights earn more and are provided with premium accommodations. They also sometimes get tickets to games, including playoff and Super Bowl tickets, and “extremely valuable” infield passes, according to the lawsuit.

Sharon Tesler and Kim Guillory said they were told by supervisors that they were unable to get work on the charters because they weren’t on “preferred” lists that were based on team preferences, according to the complaint.

They said they later discovered that young, white blond attendants -- with less seniority -- were given the assignments. United Airlines “has adopted and continues to implement procedures that are designed to ensure that young, white, blond/blue-eyed, female employees receive positions with the charter program, while more senior, and Black and Jewish employees such as plaintiffs, do not,” they said in the complaint.

The women are asking for monetary, including punitive, damages.

The case is Guillory v. United Airlines, Inc, 20-civ-03889, in Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo.

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Section 7.A.9 of United’s 2016-2021 Flight Attendant Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (called JBCA for short) holds:

9 . Charters and Special Purpose Flights

a. Charters, extra sections and scenic flights assigned to a Base will be available for use in line construction or placed in open time, unless a particular Flight Attendant(s) has in open time, unless a particular Flight Attendant(s) has been requested by the charter organization.

Note the text in red. Although United’s flight attendant union (AFA) is strictly seniority-based in almost every respect, United’s collective bargaining agreement leaves open a loophole for charter customers to personally request flight attendants.

That's messy. The notes from Live and Let's Fly goes on to share that they've learned the average age of attendants on United charter flights is 46 years old, and United has a higher percentage of Black flight attendants in its sports team charter program than in its overall flight attendant population. Not sure of the source of that info.
 
It will be interesting to track this one.

HR Generalists (at all levels) Win By Adding Specialist Learning Paths to their Portfolio...

I'm on the record as believing the HR Generalist (CHRO to early career) is the most important component in the HR machine at any company. Of course, I love HR Specialists too. Shout out to the specialists! You're doing what you love and you are important! We love you!

But the HR Generalist is the one who's in the conference room when s*** has gone completely sideways, and they're also the one who business leaders at all levels and functional areas confide in when they have seemingly insurmountable issues on their team or in their business.

What's that? Of course Legal is in the room at some point, but they're the second or third call in times of distress. A trusted HR generalist who has developed a relationship of trust is always the first call.

So here we are - 2020. What a mess of a year. But if you're an HR Generalist, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first? OK, the good news followed by the bad news:

1--Good News! In a post-COVID world, good to great HR Generalists are worth more and increasing in value versus their specialist peers.

The logic behind this reality is pretty simple. Headcount has shrunk in many HR functions as furloughs and layoffs have occurred, and as a result the market is placing a premium on Generalist skills. CHROs are rebuilding teams around the Generalist skill set. Don't take my word for it, just take a listen to these podcasts I did with long-time HR headhunter Kathy Rapp and HR pros Jessica Lee/Tim Sackett (click on the links if you don't see the podcast players below).

The challenge in this good news is that you're going to be asked to do more with less as a Generalist. Better than not having a job, for sure. But you're going to have to invest and work at developing your skills to stay relevant in the years to come, and to ensure you're making the career progress you'd like. Interestingly enough, a lot of what you'll need to add is specialist-related, because the best way to be a great generalist is to slowly but surely add specialist skills to your portfolio.

This realty brings us to the bad news, aka "the challenge":

2--Bad News! To stay on top as an HR Generalist in a post-COVID world, you need to understand how the world is changing and seek training & development that will make you "critical" to those you work for.

This is pretty simple. It's called being strategic with your own development and also being intellectually curious. You seek development to make yourself more valuable, secure and hopefully, engaged with what you do in the world of HR.

It's always better to be motivated to get better via deep interest in what you do. But if you're not curious about where HR is going, then you have to invest to stay one step ahead of the masses, my friend.

OK - let's assume you agree with me. Where do you start to seek training and development that will make you critical for the future?  I always recommend you start with a conversation with the person you work for. Whether that's a C-level, a CHRO or a Director of HR, having a chat about what L&D opportunities they think are important for your future has multiple effects. It cements a connection that you sought their feedback, which creates a perception of investment in you. It also makes them more likely to pay for it.  Advantage: You.

Of course, you can't just walk into that meeting without some prep, right? Here are a couple of big ideas on the best way to map specialist skills to add to your generalist portfolio:

--Look for trends that your company/industry/boss feels are important for the future. I wrote a few weeks ago on 21 Future HR Jobs (click link to review), and as it turns out, I'm not sure any of them are standalone jobs in the next decade. But I'm 100% sure many of the trends covered will be important for high-end, high achieving HR Generalists. You likely could develop a short list of 3-4 of these to guide your path.

--Then match those trends and look at resources like SHRM which is actively creating high-end continuing education for HR pros. For best results using SHRM as you seek to build out your Generalist knowledge and portfolio, do this:

--Flip through SHRM's Fall catalog to find your 2020 program fit(s) and map your future.

--Take a 6-question quiz to receive a curated list of recommended programs, based on your interests, learning style, and expertise.

HR Generalists are in the driver's seat in a post-COVID world. But any high performing HR pro knows they have to stay current and continually add to their portfolio to stay on top and get the career results they desire.

Map it out, invest and go make it happen, my friends!


Google Gives Up and Moves to Unhip Annual Performance Reviews (The HR Famous Podcast)

Got a good one for you this week on The HR Famous Podcast! We cover news of Google giving up and moving to an Annual Review Cycle schedule, how their employees participate in writing their own reviews and are concerned they have to wait a year for a salary increase (sound familiar?).  Included in the discussion is the fact they call their performance process a "perf", which is too close to other words for our comfort.

Bonus - we break down the CHRO move of the week, with IBM changing out their HR leadership. Please subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

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In episode 31 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn and Jessica Lee discuss Google's move to a very uncool/unhip annual performance review cycle (called a "perf" which is dangerously close to bad stuff), David Blaine’s recent dangerous endeavor, and the latest CHRO move of the week involving IBM's new HR leader.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

1:30 - Did you watch David Blaine’s balloon descension excursion? Tim doesn’t think that he’s human. 

4:30 - Do you ever dress up at home just to feel better? JLee dressed up today because she’s sick of athleisure.

5:30 - Time for the CHRO Move of the Week! IBM Senior Vice President of HR and CHRO Diane Gherson announced her successor, Nickle LaMoreaux, this week as she has decided to retire. JLee commends IBM for this classy move of publicly passing the gauntlet onto their next CHRO.

9:00 - KD points out LaMoreaux's former positions at IBM and how that helped her get into the top HR spot at the company. 

12:00 - KD talks about how IBM was one of the first to move people to remote work and also the first to take it away, and why it had a number of lawsuits around age discrimination based on allegations of a strategy, to bring in younger people, that would cost less. 

14:20 - The HR Famous crew doesn’t know what IBM does anymore! Does this mean that they’re on the outs?

15:00 - Who remembers the old adage “No one ever got fired for buying IBM”? JLee has never heard it, but Tim and KD remember those days.

17:00 - Next topic of the day: Business Insider published an article about Google’s performance reviews being resumed and how some employees are concerned that the new 12 month cycle will hurt their chances for promotions. 

18:00 - Internally, Google’s performance reviews are known as “perf”... That’s something the HR Famous crew has never seen! Tim sees this as a sign of Google growing up.  The gang also has fun with the word "perf" which borders on the worst corporate slang ever.

21:30 - A lot of companies either had to or chose to pause performance reviews during the beginning of the pandemic. KD thinks it was a good move to pause performance reviews for the first months of the pandemic to allow employees to focus on other worries. 

24:30 - JLee and Tim comment on their frustration with the fact that Google employees are so worried about their pay increases when so much else is going on in the world. KD reminds everyone that there are a lot of people in the company who aren’t complaining about their lack of a raise. 

27:45 - One of the things that Google is doing to make performance reviews more simple is having employees list up to 5 of their biggest accomplishments/achievements, but they must say less than 160 words for each item. KD notes the fact that via this strategy, managers at Google are like everyone else - they'd prefer you write your own review!!

28:30 - Reach out to Tim Sackett if you need help writing your perf!

30:30 - Tim laughs at the fact that the pandemic has forced HR to go back in time to once a year performance reviews, when research for years has shown that more frequent performance reviews are more effective. 

32:00 - JLee brings up the fact that those with children they are taking care of at home may be negatively affected by performance reviews right now. Tim thinks that people are going to be judged by their performance during the pandemic anyway and there’s not much you can do to change that. 

38:30 - Who else has become a cycler in the pandemic? JLee and Tim are now fans!


Attempting to Build Consensus or Get Change? Watch this Helpful Seinfeld Video...

The older I get, the more I know absolutes rarely work. 

The HR Leader/Generalist motto is true - the clear path always lies somewhere in the middle. Case in point - 2020! What a year, and it's only going to get better!  An election coming up in a less than 2 months! #freakshow Seinfeld

Examples from 2020 that the truth is always somewhere in the middle (listing the extremes on each side below, and all of these things impact the workplace, which is why they're being discussed here):

-People who can work from home are never coming back to the office/WFH and isolation is crushing people

--We need to go on lockdown until Covid cases are at zero/The economy is the most important thing

--Masks and face shields are mandatory at all times/I should never be forced to wear a mask

--Big Ten Football/SEC Football (gotcha!)

This list goes on, plus it includes all the issues our country has dealt with in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

2020 is hard. For everyone seeking to build consensus, get change and generally make things better, I present a group you'll need called "the middle":

The middle is an interesting group. They're watching and listening and agree with most or all of what you say, but many in this group are wary of extremes. The more your position is framed as non-negotiable and you refuse to include them in the dialog, the more they fade away. You'll never even know they're gone.

Conversation is key. For my visual friends, I offer up the following classic from Seinfeld called "The Ribbon Bully" (click on the link if you don't see the video below, it's a keeper). Let's stay together, have conversations, get meaningful change and figure this out. And for all my friends in the middle, when someone surprises you and wants to have dialog, it's non-negotiable to engage and try to listen more than you talk.


Cost of Living Pay Cuts for Twitter Employees Moving from Bay Area: Valid or BS?

By now, you're aware that hundreds or thousands of companies have announced that their white-collar jobs won't be returning to the office until 2021, and perhaps until a vaccine is approved, deployed and effective.

That means people working for those companies can work anywhere. Add that the densely populated cities were the first hotbeds of COVID infection, and you've got a recipe for a talent migration - individuals determining that this is a good time to leave coastal areas like NYC, the Bay Area and Los Angeles (click link for one of hundreds of reports). Twitter

But as every HR pro knows, salaries offered via compensation plans get adjusted based on how much it costs to live in specific geographical areas. To no HR pro's surprise, that means companies at some point are going to adjust the compensation of people leaving areas like San Francisco for more remote areas where a 3-bedroom home doesn't cost 2-3 million.

Surprise! The process has started even at the most tech friendly (fair to say progressive) companies.  Last week, Twitter and VM Ware announced the plan to adjust salaries of those fleeing the Bay area was formally being rolled out. Here are some of the details via Bloomberg:

--VMware (NYSE:VMW) offered to let employees work from home permanently, but those who opt in and move out of the Bay Area will receive pay cuts. .

--The salary reductions depend on where the employee relocates. Denver, for example, would come with an 18% annual pay cut (San Diego, 8%), according to Bloomberg sources.

--Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) is using a similar strategy with its newly permanent employees, and Facebook is mulling adopting the compensation scheme.

--Twitter employees who move and lose pay will get a $3,000 one-time allowance

--VMware tells Bloomberg it adjusts pay depending on the "cost of labor" for the region and notes that employees moving to more expensive areas could receive raises.

Is this fair? The talent pros who have been around the block will undoubtedly say yes. After all, if you open up a software developer shop in Denver as a means of relieving recruiting pressure in SF, and your compensation plan tells you the cost of a developer is 98k instead of 120K, that guidance would drive the recruiting plan related to what you wanted to pay. You might use the range based on what you find in the market, but that guidance is there for a reason, and most of the delta is cost of living guidance.

As expected, the Twitter mob is losing its mind. It's unfair, another example of the man attempting to screw the little guy, etc.

It's actually just data and math, folks. And for the most part, it's 100% legit.

Having said that, booming markets where a bunch of California people flee to in order to escape oppressive state taxes (and whatever else they're fleeing from) can lag a bit related to what the best compensation surveys might show. Denver and Idaho are red hot, but 18% still seems in range if you're trying to escape San Francisco.  Austin is another hot location, which begs the question of state taxes (0% in Texas) being included in the calculus.

Of course, what's normal and customary is also an opportunity. Tech companies looking to grab talent could take the market position of "we're not reducing salaries for those who move!", and use it as a recruiting advantage.

But that would cause compression and resentment for those that remain, which is kind of what the whole geographic thing related to compensation was designed to handle in the first place.

Good luck with the move, Twitter people! May your W-2 remain robust and in conjunction with your locale...


HR Capitalist Definitions: "Success Theater"

2020 has been a bear. For many, there haven't been a lot of wins or success to focus on. But as the economy stabilizes and you realize the new normal, you may find the team around you slipping back into some habits that were normal in the 10-year economic expansion that happened between 2010 and 2020. Those habits are likely counterproductive in a post-COVID world, even if your company goes from being on the brink to being "safe" (whatever that means these days). Success theate

One of those habits is called "Success Theatre".  Below is a quote from John Flannery, the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GE who took over for Jeff Immelt (the guy who followed Jack Welch):

“Flannery had taken to uttering a new mantra around the company’s shiny new offices in Boston: “No more success theater.””

— from Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric by Thomas Gryta, Ted Mann

Success theater. There hasn't been a lot of that for most of us in 2020, but as stabilization occurs, it's likely to sneak back in. Success theater happens when business units and departmental leaders report the good stuff that's happening in their area, but don't report a lot of challenges. This condition is a big part of operations reviews during up periods, where groups use result readouts as PR campaigns, emphasizing the good and hiding/minimizing the bad or challenges.

2020 has been a terrible year. As you get back to normal as a leader, don't lose sight of the new muscle memory you were forced to develop regarding asking for bad news - either before the good news or closely following a brief golf clap of the good news.

A lot of us had success theater around us from 2016 to March of this year. Remember the hard times, and ask for the bad news early in any operational review you're doing. Institutionalize that ask.

Be paranoid once your company has stabilized or recovered. No success theatre in 2021 or 2022, right?


21 HR Jobs of the Future...Do You Buy It?

Do you believe that HR is going to look dramatically different in 5, 10 or 15 years?  Shoutout to the all the deep thinkers and futurists out there!

Harvard Business Review recently ran an article focused on 21 HR Jobs of the future - here's a taste what they researched and what they found:

The Cognizant Center for Future of Work and Future Workplace jointly embarked on a nine-month initiative to determine exactly what the future of HR will look like. We brought together the Future Workplace network of nearly 100 CHROs, CLOs, and VP’s of talent and workforce transformation to envision how HR’s role might evolve over the next 10 years. This brainstorm considered economic, political, demographic, societal, cultural, business, and technology trends.

The result was the conception of over 60 new HR jobs, including detailed responsibilities and skills needed to succeed in each role. We then created a ranking of each job by its organizational impact, allowing us to narrow the list to an initial 21 HR jobs of the future.

We arranged these HR jobs on a 2×2 grid; the X-axis depicts time, and the order in which we expect them to appear over the next 10 years, while the y-axis depicts “technology centricity” (i.e., all jobs will utilize innovative technologies, but only the most tech-centric will actually require a grounding in computer science). Furthermore, each job was analyzed in the form of a job description (overall requirements, specific responsibilities, skills/qualifications, etc.) similar to those an HR organization will need to write in the coming decade.

Ready?  Here's the grid that lists the new jobs they found (email subscribers click through for the chart and the jobs):

21 hr jobs for the future

OK! What's your call? Is this the future we're looking at, or is this all hype?

The truth, as you might expect, is somewhere in the middle. While the trends associated with these 21 projected new jobs are real, the reality of whether any of these jobs make it through a future budget process is dicey at best.

Is HR going to need better competency at helping organizations prevent bias? Absolutely. Will we need to guide employees and candidates who are displaced by technology in a more effective way in the future? Yes!  Are the other 19 job titles reflective of future needs? I can't argue that they're not.

What I can argue is whether any of these things rises to the level of a stand-alone job. For the biggest companies that are fully funded and flush with cash, maybe. But for the rest of us? Nope.

Think of these 21 areas not as jobs that will be available, but areas to invest in related to training, knowledge and education as a part of your broader HR career.

Don't count on these jobs being what you do in 10 years. Count on the fact that if you dig in with curiosity in 3 or 4 of these areas, you'll make yourself more valuable, especially in larger companies.

Most companies can't hire a "Distraction Prevention Coach" - now or in the future. But they can value and reward the HR Generalist who digs in and becomes more valuable and knowledgeable in this and the other 20 areas.

Get busy living or get busy dying, my HR leader and HR Generalist friends.

 

 

 


Great HR Pros Learn to Ask Very Specific Questions...

Deep thoughts for my HR friends and managers of people doing hard work in the field this week:

“Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask. After all, conscious thinking is largely asking and answering questions in your Mentors own head. If you want confusion and heartache, ask vague questions. If you want uncommon clarity and results, ask uncommonly clear questions.”

— Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Timothy Ferriss
https://a.co/crLGIsN

I'm a big believer that all of us can be better negotiators. At times, that requires cutting through the bulls**t and rather than dancing around the issue, asking very specific questions designed to box someone in related to how they feel and what you want - rather than worrying about this thing some call "feelings".

Examples of the specific ask by HR pros:

--If I source these candidates for you, are you actually going to hire someone?

--I'd like to be in charge of that project. Will you support me in that and assign it to me?

--Why did you offer that person less than the person who went to your Alma Mater?

--Did you put both of your hands on Janet's shoulders? (follow up: "creepers")

Ping me with your specific asks/questions from the HR hall of fame. And they next time you're dancing around the real issue, remember this advice from Tim Ferris and start asking uncommonly clear, specific and direct questions.

You'll be shocked at the results you get. Nobody dies, and you either get what you wanted or save 3 hours doing follow-ups trying to get to the same point.

Advantage: You.


Imposter Syndrome: When's the Last Time You Questioned Your Ability?

Uh...Yesterday?

Imposter syndrome is real my friends, especially when you're in the middle of a Pandemic. That's why I took the time via BEST HIRE EVER to talk to John Whitaker, EVP and CHRO at National Partners in Healthcare about onboarding executives.

We discuss what new leaders get right, where it goes wrong and what new leaders need to think about as they enter a new organization. We discuss the condition called "Imposter's Syndrome" and provide our hot takes on the best way out of the funk. John shares his experiences onboarding into companies as a new leader and tells me what he's learned.

If you want to hear more from John, go subscribe at HRHardball.com, read Whit’s back catalog on FOT, and look for the HRHardball podcast debuting October 1st!”

Please subscribe, rate and review (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Click here if you don't see the player below!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

2:10 - John and KD start by talking about Texas A&M (John) and Auburn (KD) football, the pandemic, et al. John shares that his road trip to Auburn was better than the one he took to Tuscaloosa (Alabama).

4:20 - John talks about his recent move from Sage to National Partners in Healthcare as an HR Leader, how the pandemic encouraged the move.

6:05 - KD and John talk about not knowing the language in a new industry, and John shares the fact he had his own slang he was throwing around to new teammates. 

8:25 - Topic is being an incoming new leader at an organization – what do coming leaders generally mess up related to this?  John and KD talk about where they feel like they've failed before?  Announcing presence with authority is discussed.

13:00 - What the heck is “Imposter Syndrome” when it comes to new leaders?  We talk about how it impacts women, men, etc.

19:50 - John and KD talk about what type of new leader doesn't feel imposter syndrome. 

24:00 - KD and John discuss Imposter Syndrome at lower levels in the organization, good movement in companies on asking individuals to Lean In and learned roles in gender and beyond.

26:55 - What are the coping mechanisms for imposter syndrome? John tells the story of challenges he's faced from direct reports early in new roles, etc. John and KD discuss the agendas of people who come to you first, share their opinions about others, etc.

30:00 - John and KD discuss two profile new leaders meet in new roles - the "The Quiet One" and the "Apple Polisher."  

38:00 - John and KD discuss whether onboarding for a new leader is necessary, or whether it's better for a new leader to figure it out on their own. "That's what the money is for" is discussed.


WORST BOSS EVER: Just Watch How They Treat Others When Off Camera...

It's a line as old as time itself. The wisest person in your family gave you the following advice when it comes to the true test of any individual:

"If you really want to know who someone is, watch how they treat others when they think no one is watching"

Without question, you've heard that saying or a variant of it. And it's 100% true. 

This wisdom was on full display last week on a virtual Senate hearing. Here's the rundown from New York Mag:

In the middle of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s testimony before (a video-chat version of) Congress on Friday morning, Delaware senator Tom Carper experienced the kind of tech hiccup so many of us have while working from home over the last few months. And Carper — not realizing his screen and audio were being recorded for everyone to see — didn’t hold back his frustration.

After being called on to speak and almost missing his window because of the technical difficulties, Carper suddenly appeared, directing his ire over the problems at a masked staffer to his left. The senator intoned “f**k, f**k, f**k,” after which the poor man fiddled with Carper’s setup — which had already been restored.

What's interesting about this is that the Twitter mob, quick to cancel almost anyone, played it off and said words to the effect of "that's so 2020" and "who has not faced this?" - which are both correct sentiments.

But you know me. I like to dig a little bit deeper. My folks did tell me to watch how someone treats others when they think no one is watching - because it matters. Let's run through what I saw.  First, watch the whole video multiple times below (email subscribers click through to view or click this link):

OK, got it? Here's what I saw:

1--Yes, this can happen to anyone. Which is why patience is valued in these circumstances.

2--It's not so much that he said the F word, it's how he said it. He turned directly to a staffer who was there to help him, and he didn't say words to the effect of "please help me" even with some cursing included, he basically turned to the staffer (turning away from the camera) and just started abruptly saying, “f**k, f**k, f**k"

3 - That whole deal - turning to a staffer and doing the whole grumpy, abrupt, “f**k, f**k, f**k" without actually asking for help basically puts you on the list of worst Bosses alive. It's a big list, but act like this and you're on the list.

4--Also notable is the fact that he couldn't handle the tech after being coached 100 times, and then clicks on something as he's turning to lambast his help and opens up the mic right before he turned to the staffer to drop f bombs - classic. It means he took responsibility for the tech, but then couldn't handle it, then kind of bullied someone under pressure.

The mob that usually cancels people was quick to play it off. To be clear, I'm not into the cancel thing, so I'm not interested in that angle. I'm not calling for anything.

But dig a little deeper on the mannerisms and call it for what it is. Powerful guy with awful habits related to how he treats people.

Worst Boss Ever - he's on the list.

 


Gap Years Are Sexy, But They Come At A Cost...

As COVID drags on, there's a popular topic that's coming up more often in families with college age kids - THE GAP YEAR!

What's a Gap Year? Here's how Wikipedia describes it:

"A gap year, also known as a sabbatical year, is typically a year-long break before or after college/university during which students engage in various educational and developmental activities, such as travel or some type of regular work."

Ah, the Gap Year. If you've had people in your family who have taken a Gap year to travel and "find themselves" and it was even remotely funded by your family, raise Saving-gap-year-backpacker-khaosan-road-thailand-istock your hand. That's a definition of comfort and privilege, regardless of your race or any other identifier.  I'm not hating on it, but it's a very comfortable thing.

As they used to say back in the day, "It's good work if you can get it."

But Gap Years are back in the news, more the result of the pandemic than of privilege.  Two factors make it a hot topic:

1--Remaining fears about the safety of being on campus and in a general college population, and more to the point, 

2--The fact that almost EVERY FREAKING COLLEGE IN AMERICA trumpeted the fact that they would be BACK ON CAMPUS this fall, only to move everyone in, secure the local economy for another 4 months (annual leases on and off campus) and CASH THE CHECKS before announcing they were moving back to a primarily virtual learning environment.

Thus, some people feel smart for taking a Gap Year this term, and others are considering taking one starting in the winter and spring terms, now that the cat's out of the bag related to "yeah, we didn't really ever think we would be back on campus - sorry!"

But the Gap Year ultimately has a cost, primarily in lifetime earnings.  More from USA Today:

A new study out this week  by SimpsonScarborough finds that 40% of incoming freshmen are likely or highly likely to not attend any four-year college this fall. Last week, Harvard reported that more than 20% of its first-year students are deferring enrollment.

But there could be a downside to delaying college by a year: the potential loss of $90,000 in lifetime earnings, according to a study from economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That might seem counterintuitive, given that the pandemic has pushed the jobless rate higher, prompting questions from families about whether it’s the best time to make a pricey investment in a college degree.

The pandemic has made a college degree more valuable, not less, partly because the prospects for people with only a high school diploma are far weaker in the pandemic than for those with a bachelor’s degree.  

So how does that $90,000 in lost income come about? Mainly by foregoing the first year of income earned by a college degree – about $43,000 on average, the study found. A gap-year graduate would start earning that same income a year later, and never quite catch up. For instance, a 25-year-old gap-year student would earn about $49,000 on average, compared with about $52,000 for a grad who didn’t take a year off. That adds up over a career to $90,000, the study noted.

As a parent with a kid in college, it's tough to see him back at school but not getting the true college experience. I'm OK with paying, as his 4-years is a reasonable cost ticket, which I'm thankful for.

But I suspect there's been a lot of trust that's been decayed with Universities in their relationships with families and students.

I suspect the new Gap Year will change over time to the Virtual Year, where families and students pick the lowest cost option to make progress on degrees from virtual locations, wait out COVID and transfer credits in to the brick and mortar school when this is all over.

Congrats colleges - glad you got paid. You should hope this COVID thing gets solved by Summer of 2021, because if not, the economy in your towns and cities is going to crater.


The Best Study I've Seen on How Work is Changing in a COVID World...

There's been a lot of guessing related to how the world of work is changing in a COVID world, especially for white collar professional jobs who have the ability to work remotely in the lockdown. Hot takes include the following:

--Remote work is here to stay, pack up the office.

--Productivity is at an all-time high! 

--Everyone hates Zoom.

Are any of those true? Maybe, maybe not - I find the truth always lies somewhere in the middle. 

But the best study I've seen to date is the one below from NBER, which looks in depth at the impact of the COVID lockdown on a specific topic - meetings - across meta-data from 3 Million users. Yes, 3 million!  So meaningful that we talked about it on a segment of one of my podcasts, HR Famous.  See the top line notes from the study below and then take a listen to the podcast for discussion.

More meetings. More participants in those meetings, shorter meetings in length, longer workdays.  Best study yet, check it out and take a listen to the pod segment as well.

More from Marginal Revolution:

Using de- identified, aggregated meeting and email meta-data from 3,143,270 users, we find, compared to pre- pandemic levels, increases in the number of meetings per person (+12.9 percent) and the number of attendees per meeting (+13.5 percent), but decreases in the average length of meetings (-20.1 percent). Collectively, the net effect is that people spent less time in meetings per day (-11.5 percent) in the post- lockdown period. We also find significant and durable increases in length of the average workday (+8.2 percent, or +48.5 minutes), along with short-term increases in email activity.

That is drawn from data from Europe, North America, and the Middle East, in this new NBER paper by Evan DeFilippis, Stephen Michael Impink, Madison Singell, Jeffrey T. Polzer, and Raffaella Sadun.

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

In episode 27 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn and Jessica Lee discuss theories on why meeting times have decreased during the pandemic (but the number of meetings is up) and workplace relationship issues that have reemerged surrounding former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook (McLovin from episode 2 of HR Famous).

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

1:00 - The resident ginger of HR Famous is back from vacation! Welcome back Tim!

4:40 - Tim got some flowers for his wife and tried to share the great deal with the HR Famous crew and Jlee had to kindly reject (she doesn’t like roses!) and KD had bought flowers for his wife 30 minutes prior to Tim's text. Jlee also implores her vast knowledge of flowers onto the men of the group. 

7:00 - First topic of the day - a new study was released from the National Bureau of Economic Research about changes in the workday. The study shows that the number of meetings and number of attendees per meeting have increased during the pandemic, but there is a reduction in meeting length. 

9:20 - Jlee thinks the reduction in meeting time can be attributed to less travel time from meeting to meeting and the convenience of meeting remotely. How far do you have to travel to get to meetings in your office? KD thinks the reduction is due to having more meetings. Tim thinks it can be attributed to the digital platforms. 

12:30 - KD had to lead his first in person, socially distanced, masked up long meeting recently and he said it was horrible. He would prefer to do it through Zoom. 

15:00 - One more stat from this study: the average work day has increased by 48.5 minutes while working remotely. Tim doesn’t believe people are actually working more but they are just working at different times of the day. 

17:15 - How early do you schedule your meetings? Jlee is a fan of 7:30 am meetings. 


HR Leaders: How's the Quality of Your Direct Reports on Your Team?

Ah yes. The leader is only as good as their team. It's true everywhere, so why wouldn't it be true in the world of HR?

So HR Leaders, the question is this - how good is your team of HR direct reports? Do you have a world class team or did you settle? If you're not a leader, look around - how is the 9 facesstrength of the HR team around you? Perhaps the bigger question is this - how do you evaluate whether your team of HR direct reports is world-class or something far less?

Here are 3 questions to answer to give you guidance from Mark Efron and the Talent Strategy Group:

As a CHRO, you may believe that your HR team already performs at a high level. We hope they do, but we would like to hear your answers to three questions:

1--Would your company’s best leaders and employees say that your core HR processes are flawlessly executed, easy to use, and getting the results that top executives and employees need and want?

2--Are your team members able to influence top executives on difficult topics, changing the executive’s mind where needed through a deep understanding of the business and strong command of the relevant facts? And, perhaps most importantly,

3--Does the executive team trust your direct reports with their corporate lives?

If you can affirmatively answer each of those questions, you’ve built an outstanding CHRO team and your CEO should be thrilled with your deep succession chart.

A typical CHRO’s response to those questions ranges from “sort of” to “we’re still working on that.” When we ask about the specific plan to elevate the quality of their team, there is none.

I like all of the questions provided, but I like a mix of #2 and #3, which can be combined effectively when evaluating each member of your team with the following question:

Would you send your direct report to any meeting on your behalf with limited prep and be confident that they wouldn't hurt you?

Any meeting is code for one with important people - top executives, key clients, etc.  The same influence and trust topics outlined kind of all come down to whether you'd trust your direct report to represent you - and at the very least, do no harm, but in more ideal circumstances - help progress the meeting to an outcome you'd be proud of. An extension of you.

What about it? Go through your direct reports - would you send them to any meeting to represent you?

I'm fortunate to have hired a lot of people in my career about whom I can answer that question as "yes". But no one hits every shot.

For deeper notes on the construction of an HR Team, check out my book - The 9 Faces of HR.