HR Capitalist Definitions: "Bespoke" (as Used in Corporate America)

I'll start you off with the regular definition, which is what you know:
 
--------------------------------------------------
be·spoke
/bəˈspōk/
 
--made for a particular customer or user.
"a bespoke suit"
 
--making or selling bespoke goods, especially clothing.
"bespoke tailors"
--------------------------------------------------
 
Sounds awesome, right? You're going to customize it to fit me? Could not be better! Thank you!
 
But there's a slippery slope going on in the corporate world. Providers, especially of technology solutions, are increasingly referring to implementations that aren't supported or standardized as "bespoke".
 
Which is code for, "this could go horribly wrong and cost much, much more in both time and expense than you're ready for."
 
Here's how you'll see it referred to:
 
"Our solution has a standardized integration for iCIMS and Workday. For bespoke implementations, we offer webservices SOAP API to utilize the functionalities of integrated ATS systems".
 
Translation: This is going to hurt you more than it hurts us.
 
But we're using the word "Bespoke" to make it sound like you're getting a custom suit from a London tailor.
 
If someone uses the word "Bespoke" with you to describe an integration, they're talking down to you and downplaying the level of sh#t you're going to deal with.
 
Proceed with caution. 

THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: E2 – MCLOVIN: WORKPLACE DATING AND HOOKUPS

NOTE FROM KD: Back with episode 2 of “The HR Famous Podcast”. Take a listen and we’ll be back on a weekly basis. See player below (email subscribers click through if you don’t see it), and HR Famous - e2please hit iTunesSpotify and Google Play to subscribe so you get notified whenever there’s a new show on your phone. Click here for Episode 1, where we talk about the title of the show and share a bunch of stories about being less than famous.

In Episode 2 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn get together to discuss Workplace McLovin – relationships, dating and hookups that occur inside your company between employees. The HR Famous team tells stories and talks about the role of HR and whether there is a need for deep policies to protect your company when people fall in love, as well as when Outlook Exchange and a digital copier are involved. Email subscribers click through if you don’t see the player below or click here for a direct link or hit iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

Show Highlights:

3:00 – The gang discuses KD’s choice of hotels, whether you can say “white” these days and if white is a primary color.

4:00 – JLee lays down the science behind how long you can say “Happy New Year” and Tim and KD turn it into an manager access issue and a discussion of the Chinese New Year.

5:50 – KD kicks off the topic of C-level McLovin and dating in the workplace with a review of the McDonalds CEO and the Alphabet/Google Legal Counsel going down for relationships at work.

8:40 – Tim and JLee discuss whether companies and the HR leaders need to be the relationship police, including risk management, positional power and more.

13:20 – The gang gathers around the campfire and listens to the gripping story of young KD’s first exposure to C-Level McLovin(s) and KD advocates for relationship policies being like a DUI Checkpoint. Tim and JLee weigh in with policy impact, including level considerations, reporting relationships, asking for waivers and potentially asking people to leave the company or change jobs as a result of falling in love.

31:00 – Tim tells his story from Applebees, which is epic and should not be missed, including perceived benefits that don’t have a Summary Plan Description or an Explanation of Benefits.

34:00 – KD breaks down another McLovin C-Level story that felt like the Matrix, and tells the gang why all McLovin sightings seem to happen around elevators.

Subscribe today at iTunesSpotify and Google Play.


MORE MUSIC TO WORK BY: Anna Meredith

Who out there likes to work to music?

When you're working on your laptop, music can either help or hurt your attention.  For me, Anna it's always felt better to have the TV in the background as music has generally interrupted my flow.

I've found exceptions to that rule - most notably, the soundtrack from the movie "The Social Network", created by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.  You remember the movie from 2010, chronicling the rise of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. 

What makes for good music in the background to work to?  One word - "ambient".  Here's the definition of ambient music:

"a style of gentle, largely electronic instrumental music with no persistent beat, used to create or enhance a mood or atmosphere."

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross created great ambient music for work with the soundtrack from "The Social Network".

Good news - I have another recommendation for music that's great for the background while you work - Anna Meredith.  Here's a description of who she is:

Anna Howard Meredith MBE (born 12 January 1978) is a British composer and performer of electronic and acoustic music. She is a former composer-in-residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and former PRS/RPS Composer in the House with Sinfonia ViVA.

In 2016, Meredith released her debut studio album, Varmints, to widespread critical acclaim. An electronica-based release, the album won the 2016 Scottish Album of the Year Award.

Meredith first came to widespread public attention through her work froms created for the 2008 BBC Last Night of the Proms which was broadcast to 40 million people. She has since written another BBC Prom commission, her first opera (Tarantula in Petrol Blue – with libretto by Philip Ridley) and collaborated with the beatboxer Shlomo – writing the Concerto for Beatboxer and Orchestra. Meredith has been a judge for BBC Young Musician of the Year, a mentor to Goldie for the TV show Classical Goldie and is a frequent guest and commentator for the BBC Proms and other BBC Radio 3 and 4 shows.

As an alt rock/hip hop guy, Anna Meredith would not ordinarily be on my radar , but I caught a fragment of one of her songs - Orca - in the background of the Paul Rudd Netflix series "Living with Yourself", which I also recommend.

Link to the Anna Meredith cut "Orca" here, spotify player below (email subscribers click through to see player). To check out the catalog of Anna Meredith, use this Spotify link.


Manager Training: The Stars Are Never Who You Think They Are, But They're Right In Front of You...

I'm blessed to live a portfolio life. In addition to being a CHRO and partner at the recruiting firm Kinetix, I get to veer from the recruiting/Talent Acquisition world in various HR consulting opportunities, as well as deliver leadership/manager training through my BOSS Leadership Training Series.

This week, I was onsite with a great company looking to help managers get better related to interviewing candidates and making the right selection for open positions Hr-consulting-splash

As the primary facilitator, I was both honored and humbled. Honored because the client was great, the people were authentic and we had a great day. Humbled because what managers have to do to be successful is incredibly hard. 

As you might expect, we did live practice with real candidates on the interviewing skills we trained on.  And there it was, the reality and lesson that's present every time I get to train managers of people on any module in the Boss series:

The Stars Are Never Who You Think They Are, But They're Right In Front of You

What do I mean by that?  Simple - You expect the most experienced people in any manager training class to do the best in role play or skill practice. At times, that's true - but WOW - the most gratifying part of any training class I do is when the more junior people in the class absolute ROCK IT.

It always happens. There are always 1-2 junior people in every training class I do that are superstars related to the tools we're providing.

Those less experienced, often younger stars blow me away by displaying the following in role play:

--They're completely ****ing natural when it comes to stage banter and building trust/relationships. They're fluid, natural and weave what they're trying to get out of the employee session into a conversation that puts the person in front of them with ease.

--They think on their feet. Conversations with people who report to you are never easy. Employees object. They sidetrack you. They try and generally screw up your game.  The stars I'm talking about have a natural ability to bring the conversation back to what's important.  They don't get lost.

--They are technically superior. Got a coaching tool? Behavioral interviewing technique? Doing goal setting? These stars can memorize the outline of the tool and they always make sure they get what they need - and more. 

The most gratifying part of doing leadership/managerial training is when these unexpected stars emerge. It happens in every class I teach, so much so it's unexpected yet expected. I go into the class saying to myself, "OK, who's going to be the underdog out of this cast of characters who kicks everyone's ass?"

I'll leave you with this - if you've done managerial training and haven't seen this trend emerge, you're likely not doing enough skill practice/role play. That's dangerous since people in your training must fail with you in class in order to have the confidence to attempt the new skills with their direct reports/teams. Adoption of the skills your teaching requires in class role play.  Yes, they hate it and will cheer if you don't make them do it. But your adoption rate of the skills you're teaching drops by over 50% if you don't do skill practice/role play as part of your training.

The best part of doing leadership/manager training is the underdog star who emerges. 

You're a superstar, kid. I hope your company realizes what they have. I know I told them who you are, so you got that going for you - which is nice.


THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: e1 - Who Is HR Famous?

NOTE FROM KD: Here's a new podcast from me, Tim Sackett and Jessica Lee called "The HR Famous Podcast". Take a listen and we'll be back on a weekly basis. See player below (email subscribers click through if you don't see it), and please hit iTunes, Spotify and Google Play to subscribe so you get notified whenever there's a new show on your phone.

In the first episode of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn get together to brutally make fun of themselves, explain the tongue in cheek title for the podcast, talk about their long-term friendship as HR pros and generally discuss the low wattage impact of being "HR Famous." 

Show Highlights:

1:35 - JLee comes over the top to correct Kris for his pronunciation of Marriott, even though the way he says it is how the rest of the world says it.

3:00 - KD, JLee and Tim discuss each other's backgrounds, starting to write and speak on all things HR and the impact all of it has had on them.

7:59 - The gang discusses their nicknames and JLee breaks the news that if she would have taken her husband's last name, future projects inside the team could have been named "Chun and Dunn."

10:05 - Tim breaks down the inside joke and self-deprecation of the name of the podcast, "HR Famous."

13:40 - Jessica, Tim and Kris discuss their top HR famous moments, which is enough to be recognized occasionally but quickly followed by something that returns them to reality. Highlights include bosses not realizing they write/speak, being asked to take selfies of other people after they speak, occasionally being recognized on airport walkways before boarding in coach, their likeness being broadcast on a book and friends/colleagues seeking to protect their rights, and being awful with names.

27:50 - KD Shares the origin story of how the gang met when he onboarded Jessica and Tim at Fistful of Talent.

Resources:

Jessica Lee on LinkedIn

Tim Sackett on Linkedin

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

HRU Tech

The Tim Sackett Project

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Kinetix

Boss Leadership Training Series


Cards Against Humanity Buys Small Company, Makes It Employee-Owned...

Interesting pull from the news for you today with a little Capitalist analysis.

You've heard of Cards Against Humanity. Have you heard of a acqui-hire?  It goes a little something like this: Clickhole

ac·qui·hire
/ˌakwiˈhīr/
noun
noun: acqui-hire
1. an act or instance of buying out a company primarily for the skills and expertise of its staff, rather than for the products or services it supplies.
"this would appear to be a straight acquihire to pick up an engineering and product design team"

The art of the acquihire is alive and well for companies like Google with unlimited resources, who often buy companies strictly for a key group of talent - often 10-20 key employees - even though they think the product of the company they are buying is trash. Put some wealth in the pockets of the targeted talent, lock them in with employment agreements and slowly push them towards projects/lines of business you think have more value.

Back to Cards of Humanity - they're in the news with an acquihire, but with a twist - they're giving a large part of the acquired company to the employees of the company. More from BuzzFeed:

Cards Against Humanity, the card game company, purchased ClickHole.com from its owners at G/O Media on Monday for an undisclosed amount in an all-cash deal, BuzzFeed News has learned. ClickHole’s employees will become the majority owners of the site. Although terms were not disclosed, the Wall Street Journal reported in November that the sale price was likely to be less than $1 million. The Onion, which created ClickHole, will remain a part of G/O Media.

Max Temkin, the cofounder of Cards Against Humanity, told BuzzFeed News that the deal will allow ClickHole to bring on additional staff — it currently has only five full-time employees — and explore new revenue streams. He also said the site would operate independently, with financial support from Cards Against Humanity. ClickHole staffers will not be involved in writing any Cards Against Humanity content.

“We’re giving them funding, and if they ask us, we’ll be an advisor,” Temkin told BuzzFeed News, saying that the ClickHole team will operate independently, with financial support. “We just want to give them a chance to do their thing. They’re really capable — really smart and innovative. And I don't know if they’ve had that opportunity before to try all these creative [ideas for the site].”

The Onion launched ClickHole in 2014 as a send-up of sites like Upworthy and BuzzFeed. It moved on to satirizing online political discourse with PatriotHole and ResistanceHole. Yet it has consistently transcended mere parody and created its own sublimely absurd universe. Quizzes like “Which One of My Garbage Sons Are You?” or its running series of fake banal quotes from celebrities earned it a loyal, independent following.

Cards of Humanity is doing an acquihire with a twist with this acquisition - they found a troubled company for sale, and believed in the talent that existed. BUT - this form of acquihire transfers wealth to the talent not directly to their bank account, but by giving them ownership in the company.  That's a powerful retention tool, and if for some reason they can't make it work, the talent is sure to remember that Cards gave them a chance to save the company and turn it around through their investment and subsequent transfer of ownership.

Moving acquired talent to ownership positions is a powerful play.  And by "talent", I mean people that make up quizzes like "Which one of my garbage sons are you?" It's 2020 - quizzes like these matter!

For great point of view on all things employee ownership and ESOP, follow who I do - Jennifer Briggs.


HR CAPITALIST DOWNLOAD: Building Your Culture Through Great Recruiting Practices...

Most of my readers at the Capitalist are interesting in building the right type of culture inside their organizations, which is a worthy goal. 

But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the RPO recruiting world at Kinetix, it’s that “company culture” is hard to define. Some of it is real, and some of it is aspirational. As we attempt to build the culture we want at our companies, we focus on engagement surveys, features like free meals, etc, WP-Coverbut at times forget about the messages we send in our recruiting process.

Ever feel like your recruiting process and vibe is disconnected from your true culture? Mmm hmm...

That’s why I created this 2020 roadmap for you – Building Culture Through Great Recruiting Practices (click link to download)Download this PDF, and you'll get my thoughts on how to build your recruiting practice with an towards the culture you're trying to build. Deep dives include the following areas:

1--Keys to building a Recruiting Team and Process that reinforce culture

2--The impact of communicating Mission and Values on the recruiting trail

3--How the right Assessment Tool helps you make cultural matches

4--Building an Employment Brand that shows candidates how you’re different

5--Acquiring Talent Acquisition (TA) Tech that signals who you are as an organization

Whether you're proud of your culture or just getting started in the build, let’s dig in and see if you’re reinforcing that culture in all the gritty details of your talent acquisition/recruiting process. 

Use this roadmap if you want to evaluate how you're currently recruiting or need some leverage to talk to others about it. Have fun and ping me if you see something I missed or just want to toss some ideas around.

Bonus: You get to see some of the great faces we're lucky to have on the team at Kinetix (Smiles everyone! Smiles!!!)

--KD

DOWNLOAD THE PDF BY CLICKING HERE (short registration required)

 


SUPER BOWL BIG THOUGHT: We Expect the Great Leaders to be in a Bunker, Not Domesticated...

Leadership is a funny thing in many ways. 

For example, the better leader you are, the more you get stereotyped, and those stereotypes usually involve: Bill

--Crazy work ethic

--Never seen them weak

--Always distant enough to make tough calls, or willing to make those calls

--Uber competitive

--Keeps people guessing 

--Everyone assumes they're in the lab cooking up the next thing

That's why it was so hard for me when a friend sent me the picture that appears to the right of this post of Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots. It's a stretch to call me a Patriots fan, but like Alabama and Nick Saban, you have to admire the track record, as well as the total commitment and legendary stories of obsession/long hours/evil mastermindedness (it's a word now).

But evil masterminds don't show up to a beach party that's going to be heavily photographed in attire that makes them look awkward and (gasp) normal, as well as duds that run counter to the legend.

I get that great leaders are people too. Take a look at the picture to the right (email subscribers, click through if you can't see it) and tell me if you can see any of the following great ones in similar attire - Steve Jobs, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Jeff Bezos, etc.

Is it unfair to say that great leaders can't let their guard down and be normal? Absolutely.

But we expect the great ones to be untouchable - to transcend being normal. We expect them to be in a bunker, not acting domesticated like the rest of us.

The end is near, Patriots fans. Your evil genius has left the bunker, tasted sunlight and a tropical drink in Miami, and the edge is less sharp than it once was.

KD out.

 

 


Deflection Devices: When Direct Reports Go Nuclear and Suggest You're The Problem...

If you're the manager I think you are, you're not hiding from providing feedback and coaching to your direct reports.

But a funny thing happens on the way to you being manager of the year. Your people may not take the coaching - they may have reasons why they're doing what they're doing. Hazmat

In the BOSS Leadership Series Coaching Module, we call these things SIDETRACKS.  You attempt to coach, and the reasons/excuses roll back to you from the direct report.  As we discuss in the BOSS series, these sidetracks include variations of the following:

--What about them? (Others are doing the same thing)

--What about you? (You're doing the same thing, or preventing them from resolving)

--My tools suck! (I don't have the systems/support I need to do it)

--The customer/client sucks! (it's impossible to deal with the situation)

--My life is messed up! (I have a lot of sh#t going on. Wanna hear about it?)

All of these sidetracks can be dealt with by acknowledging them when real and coming back to personal accountability regardless of the challenges.

But there's a more serious item you have to be ready for as a manager when giving feedback for improvement to your people. I call them Deflection Devices and they're harder to absorb than the sidetracks listed above.

Deflection Devices go beyond normal coaching sidetracks. Deflection devices are designed to sting the manager directly, and to make you think twice before you coach again.

Deflection Devices are designed to place doubt in your head as a manager, to make you feel substandard. They're mean and if your direct report uses them with you, designed to MAKE YOU COACH LESS BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT TO BE FRAMED IN THAT WAY.

How's it happen? Easy. You're coaching a person on your team, and they decide to "be transparent" and give YOU HARD FEEDBACK. Common nuclear Deflection Devices include the following:

--You're weak and get run over in the organization

--You're a political animal in a negative way

--You're a micromanager

--People talk about you in less than glowing terms behind your back

--You don't have the background to managing the function you're managing

Deflection Devices go beyond the normal "what about you?" sidetracks. They're designed to feel personal and signal that the real problem is you at a deep level - not them.

It takes an aggressive sort to drop a nuclear deflection device at you while you're having a performance/coaching conversation of any sort. 

Don't give in - if anything, coach harder, my friends. Put on your HazMat suit.


What Does Being an HR Capitalist Mean?

Had a couple of people reach out to me in the last week with the express purpose of getting help to describe to others what being an HR Capitalist means.

It's a cool question. I like "HR Capitalist" as an identifier, and while all great HR pros and leaders aren't HR Capitalists (there's more than one way to be good at HR), I do believe that all HR Capitalists are great HR pros.

The readers that reached out to me were both non-HR execs who needed help describing to others what good HR looked like. It's a cool compliment that they reached out, and their question is humbling and one I take seriously but don't pretend to know the answer to.

For me, being an HR Capitalist means you identify yourself as an HR pro who does the following things naturally:

--Understand the business your company is in better than some or all of your peers in other departments.

--Understand the truth that the best talent wins, and anything you can do to help your company upgrade talent is win/win.

--You're not afraid to admit that recruiting isn't a burden, it's a necessity as part of your identity as an HR/Talent pro.

--You are a source of counsel for employees, peers and the C-level alike. They all know you're practical as hell, don't sugarcoat your feelings and generally give great advice. They also know you can put the conversation they have with you on complete lockdown from a confidentiality perspective.

--Understand the need for rules and process, but you don't let it run your life as an HR pro.

--Try to say "yes" more than "no" as a HR pro, even if the "yes" is a list of things that the person in front of you might have to do to in order for you to help them.

Those are the highlights, but I wrote a book that explores the lifestyle of an HR Capitalist as well - The 9 Faces of HR. 

9 facees

In The 9 Faces of HR, my forward to the book is a bit of a private letter to the people who do great HR, many of whom are HR Capitalists. I'll leave this post with a clip from the forward to The 9 Faces of HR:

If I’ve learned one thing over twenty years as a manager, director, and VP of HR for big and small companies alike, it’s that great HR matters. While HR has long been considered a backwater by the salty characters from other departments, we all encounter in our daily corporate lives great HR pros who have a way of making people standup and take notice, often causing the following reaction: “WTF?”

When the non-believers curse, they don’t curse because they find the HR pro in front of them non-credible. They curse because they didn’t expect to be challenged. And that’s the whole point—non-believers love bad HR. They love bad HR because it means they either do what they want as quickly as possible, or inaction and delays get blamed on someone else.

Great HR, on the other hand, is a revenue producer. No, I don’t have the return on investment (ROI) study on that—stop reading now if you need that. I didn’t need the stat sheet to know that Steph Curry was different or that Carrie Underwood was going to be the most successful American Idol contestant. Like great HRPros, Steph and Carrie were just different. They had “it.”

Great HR pros and HR Capitalists have "it". If you've ever been told that "you're not like other HR Pros I've known", odds are you do HR in an unexpected way.  

Being told that also means there's a high likelihood I would define you as an HR Capitalist.


Are There Any New Ideas in HR and Recruiting? The Difference Between Trademark/Copyright/Patent...

There's gon' be another cat comin' out
Lookin' like me, soundin' like me, next year I know this
They'll be a flipside, do whatchu you do
Somebody'll try to spin off like some series

--Everlast, "Rock Superstar", Cypress Hill

We love to talk about doing things differently in the worlds of HR, Recruiting and Talent. Innovation matters, and that's a good thing.

But what if you truly came up with something new? How would you protect your IP? Let's start with a refresher course on the differences between trademarks, copyrights and patents, because these are referred to horrifically wrong about 50% of the time in our industry.

For those in need, here's the difference:

--A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

--A copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. 

--A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. Patentable materials include machines, manufactured articles, industrial processes, and chemical compositions. 

(email subscribers, click through for graphic below on the differences between the three, including length of protection)

Trademark vs copyright

Innovation naturally begs the question whether you're doing something truly different or simply repackaging someone else's past ideas.

Does most of your innovative work in HR, Recruiting or Talent rise to the level of a Copyright or Trademark?  The answer is no.

You might have a new company - with a logo, descriptive tagline and color palette - go to town, pay an attorney and get a Trademark if you think that's necessary. If your revenue is under 1M, I'm not sure you're focused on the right things.  But you do you.

When it comes to ideas, most of the work we do in HR/recruiting and talent doesn't rise to the level of a copyright. You put a new program together, but you're like the Cypress Hill lyric above - you're borrowing from others, and when you're at your best, you create your own flavor - a flipside of the work of others, with some value added by you.

When we're at our best in HR, we're stealing stuff from the smartest people - and proud to do it.

It's interesting to get clarity on the difference between trademark/copyright/patent.

It's humbling to know that most of us will never have the need to file for any of these creative protections.

It's smart to acknowledge the most talented of us are repackaging the ideas of others and focusing on communications and execution.

Alot of a...sharks out there...try'na take a bite of somethin'
What's hot
Lot of chameleons out there...try'na change up
Anytime somethin' new comes along...everybody wants a bite
Don't happen overnight

--Chino Moreno, Cypress Hill

 


Unions and Your Company: A Cautionary Tale (The Ringer)...

Most of the readers of this blog are leaders, managers of people and HR pros. That means many of you have union avoidance either directly or indirectly in your job descriptions, meaning part of your job is to create a culture and employee relations environment where unions aren't necessary.

But some of you have probably thought, what would a union look like - would it be as bad as Ringer2I'm told?

I'm here today with a brief story that most of you probably missed in the news this week. Note that this is not a terrible tale of union relations or behavior gone bad (I'll leave that to the experts), but a cautionary tale of what can happen when you grow soft and allow others to drive your point of view related to whether unions are a good thing or not.

Here's the story.

I'm a big fan of a sports site called The Ringer, founded by long time sports personality Bill Simmons, a talented guy you can read about here.  Here's the chronology of what has gone down:

1--Bill Simmons founded The Ringer in 2017, investing his own money and taking capital from entities like HBO.

2--Bill Simmons is a slightly left of center sort, and has openly talked about his displeasure with the Trump administration, etc - specifically on podcasts on The Ringer. He also had a long history of issues with management when he was an individual contributor at ESPN.

3--Sensing ownership that grew up in the journalism business, was left leaning and might be more open than most owners to a union, staff at The Ringer made the aggressive move at organizing and announced their intent to organize in August 2019 via social media, which by the way, is a big part of how to The Ringer markets to the world.  You can see that tweet announcing the intent by clicking here.

4--The public display of organizing had the intended affect of pressuring Simmons to recognize the union without a process or election. As writers at The Ringer came forward one by one to announce their support and liberal Twitter weighed in, the pressure on Simmons was real. He had attempted to build something different at The Ringer and succeeded, but he had been anti-management during his time as a high-paid employee of ESPN and was on the record politically.  To take the organizers through a process saying that they didn't need representation would seem hypocritical.

5--Simmons ultimately folded. Less than 4 days after the group announced their intent to organize, Simmons opted to voluntarily recognize the union without a process. For all the aforementioned reasons, he didn't much of a choice, and he may have thought this was a great outcome.  See the story of the recognition in Variety here.

6. Everybody celebrated and went back to work.

7. January 2020 (that's right, 4 months later): Spotify is reported to be in talks to buy The Ringer, with the true target likely being the 20-30 podcasts that the Ringer has built - not the website. Business rationale - podcasts at the Ringer are very successful, and every minute Spotify pushes users to original content is a minute they don't have to pay royalties to the music industry. 

8. After Spotify's M&A intent was reported, The Ringer Union (that's what they call themselves on twitter) started demanding access to information repeatedly and generally flopping around with the expectation they have perfect clarity of any intent by Simmons to sell and what it means for them. You can see the frantic tweets here and here.  There's a bunch more, and a bunch of retweets of their messages. Of course, I'm not an attorney, but I'm pretty sure with Spotify being a publicly traded company, there's no way for Simmons to satisfy his union here.  Information=Insider Trading.

9. The lesson? There are many unintended consequences of the path taken by The Ringer Union and Simmons.  I'm detailing them below:

--By voluntarily recognizing a union, you're likely to making the entity brash and bold for the future. The public tweets from The Ringer Union during the M&A activity are exhibits 1-29.  They actually are asking for a Slack update on the negotiations. 

--The fact that you've activated a vocal union is likely to impact negotiations on any strategic deal you want to make. Whoever the stakeholders are related to ownership, it's not going to been seen as a positive and could impact the deal size or the willingness to close.

--Now for the real issue. By this union being bold, vocal and critical, management serving up voluntary recognition and the vast majority of the union members not being in the part of The Ringer that Spotify values in the acquisition (podcasts), the entire scenario of events leading to recognition actually makes the union members LESS SECURE in a Spotify acquisition than they would have been if they were union-free. Put yourself in Spotify's shoes - if you're buying the podcasts and aren't sure you want to continue with the money losing website, you might look at the vocal union and say... No thanks. We'll take the podcast operation only.

Of course, Simmons can be a hero and say no if Spotify has the intent of dismantling the website/traditional news/social media operation. But the path to quickly voluntary recognize the union has actually made the union employees LESS SECURE in a world where The Ringer sells, which it was built to do.

I like the journalism at The Ringer. I hope the website survives. But there's a big chance it won't, and recognition of a union plays a part.

Unintended consequences everywhere.


GUY TO GUY HUGS AT WORK: Let's Agree To Get Our #### Together...

My best friend Tim Sackett is an expert on workplace hugging. 

Tim even incorporates hugging into his speaking appearances.  When you go to watch him speak, get ready for what I like to call the “Tim Sackett package”.  He starts by announcing himself as the world’s leading authority on workplace hugging, shows a picture of him and his dog Scout (with Scout licking his face), then invites an audience member up to show what a warm workplace hug looks like with a willing partner (which is usually a woman, because guys don't want to hug).

As an expert in workplace hugging, Tim's next chapter should be to save the world from bad guy-to-guy hugs.  If he agreed to do this, he would be the hero we need in a broken world.

When you greet a guy professionally - as a guy - you've got two choices:

--Standard handshake.  Hard to go wrong there.

--Man to Man business hug.  Hold up.  This ###* is broken in today's workplace.  How many disjointed attempts at this have you seen in the workplace?  I've seen a lot.  The worst usually involves white guys.  But regardless of the Title 7 combos you throw into a man-to-man hug, the most important thing is that both parties know how it's going to go down.

If both parties don't know the rules of a man-to-man hug, one of the those parties is going to get awkward - like they're trying to get down to the latest Migos (shoutout to the ATL) cut at CPA convention.  Which begs the question about how Migos ever ended up on a playlist involving CPAs.  But I digress.

THERE ARE RULES TO PARTICIPATING AND EXECUTING A MAN-HUG IN A PROFESSIONAL SETTING. 

It's OK.  Here we go:

1--Start with a Soul Shake.

2--Move Soul Shake in and up to your front right shoulder.  (Note - your right shoulder should be across from your target's right shoulder and now almost touching your partners shoulder, but your soul shake is in the way)

3--Now that you're in side hugging position, give a light back slap with free left hand.

4--Release within 1-2 seconds.

5--Proceed with meeting on the Berkowitz Project.

It's in the manual people.  Let's get our #### together on this and stop looking uncomfortable.

UPDATE - My Twitter friend Vadim Liberman reminds me to expect different hugs from gay men.  Good point, see his advice here and here.  My experience tells me a hug between and gay and straight man goes better than most between two straight guys, if only because one party is at ease and knows how he wants to hug.


"PET or THREAT": When Leaders Try to Formally Mentor Those Who Don't Want the Relationship...

I think we can all agree that mentoring relationships in corporate America are a good thing. But like anything that's good, mentoring can get dicey if not used in the right way. From formal mentoring programs to mentoring relationships that happen organically, the devil's in the details.

I was reminded of this fact when I read the tweet by Tressie McMillan, which provides a WOC view of Liesa certain type of mentoring gone wrong. If you can't see the tweets below (usually my email subscribers), click through to get to the website, because you don't want to miss this. In fact, you may want to go to my website, then click on the tweet to the get the entire series of tweets, read the comments, etc. 

Did you get the vibe? Great. Let's start with the obvious - I'm not qualified to comment on the state of forced mentoring that gets thrust upon WOC. I don't have that identity or experience.

But I've been around a lot of mentoring programs, and I can tell you that a leader trying to create a formal mentoring relationship without the help of OD, HR or a formal program can come across as incredibly forced. It's only natural that the recipients of this type of mentoring advance might feel a bit suspicious. Add in the context of white female leader offering to formally mentor a WOC without the help of a true program, and there's no doubt that it can get weird.

"PET OR THREAT" is an incredible tagline for unwanted mentoring advances. In the context that Cottom provides in the tweets, you either say yes to allowing someone to mentor you, or you say no (hard to do for sure) and you identify yourself as a threat. Crazy stuff, but true. 

It reminded me of the following forced mentoring scene from House of Lies. If you don't see the video player below, just click here. It's a great scene that features an exec attempting to neutralize someone she considers a threat by offering to mentor them. Incredible. From Cottom's tweets, this happens more than we might otherwise believe.

So why am I writing about this and what value can I possibly provide since I'm not a POC?

I'm here to report on the tweets from Cottom that I found interesting, but more importantly to share mentoring types of arrangements that are available and to judge how effective they are.  

With that in mind, here's my list of mentoring arrangements, ranked from worst to first:

4--Forced mentoring relationship without controls, where an exec read about mentoring and decided to do her/his own program. This could be effective, but even if the intent is pure (unlike Cottom's tweets and my House of Lies share above), the exec likely doesn't know what she's doing. The attendee is likely to say "um, sure?" to the offer.  Forced to an uncomfortable degree. Picture the exec doing the robot, that's how stiff it is. At the far end of the spectrum, it's PET or THREAT.

3--Formal mentoring programs. OD and HR are involved and there's a process. Let's move on because all of you get this one.

2--Informal mentoring relationship where no one EVER SAYS THE WORDS, "I'M SO HAPPY TO BE YOUR MENTOR". Want to know how to determine if an informal mentor is legit? It's easy- they never say the word "mentor". It's a mindset, not a program.

1--A Boss with direct reports. Yep, surprise! The best mentors are, were and always will be the boss that was our Best Boss Ever. We've all have a Best Boss Ever, and that person delivered more mentoring value that anyone outside of the Boss/Direct Report could possibly achieve.  Note that most bosses aren't naturals and can't achieve this boss/mentor status - that's why we have mentoring programs. But the best boss you've ever had - he or she was a f***ing awesome mentor - but no one ever mentioned the word mentor.

That's my list. Remember the whole Pet or Threat thing - It's meaningful. Then remember the best mentoring relationships never or rarely use the word "mentor". They just naturally happen. 


Ask the Capitalist: "KD, I've Been Fired and Need Your Help"...

Heard from a great executive type in my network a few weeks ago. The story was a common one - this exec made a move, then figured out the culture, boss and job wasn't exactly as she had envisioned. As a result, she bounced out of the job voluntarily before she was fired, which she felt like was coming in short order.
 
The executive reached out to me and we met. I'm not a life coach, but I've got enough experience to be Lucy a career coach. After listening awhile, we said goodbye and I pledged to give her some notes on what I would do next if I were her.  
 
Below is the counsel I gave her. I thought she had some work to do related to thinking about the target of her search before she could really start generating leads. 
 
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Hi Janice - 
 
Great meeting with you last week. I'm confident you're gong to land just fine. Trust that my questions and comments about your moves from <Big Company Name> to <Small Company Name> to <a C-level role at Big Company >confirmed some of the things you felt as you exited your last role.
 
As for next steps, I think the biggest thing you have to do is get clarity about the role and work you want to do. Most of what we talked about was situational, and with that in mind, I don't know that I know what you want to do next.  You likely do, but in case you don't, here's what I think you need to have your head around to do an effective search for your next role:
 
The role - what do you want to do? (note, I look at the background, Finance degree and CFO role and automatically think finance, but many of your roles have been broader. What do you want the market to think of you as?
 
The company - what's your target company based on what you've learned across the last 3 companies?  It might be a target situation, such as an startup-type role in a larger company, but that's what the last big company said they wanted.  Still, you need a target, but a target that can be communicated to multiple types of companies of various sizes, etc.
 
The comp and to a lesser extent, the title.  The recent CFO role will scare some people off - because of the title, not the brevity.  You'll need to get your head around the types of roles you're willing to take and be ready to effectively communicate that to the market.  Think of comp first, then title second.  
 
I would start there, then if you'd like, I can give you next level feedback on your search. You'll want to redo your linkedin profile to support the search target you describe above.
 
Ping me back with notes or we can set up a time to talk after you soak on these things, then I'm happy to help you think about the search strategy.
 
Thanks - KD
 
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