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November 2015

GREAT REALITIES OF MANAGEMENT: It's Not Your Fault, But It's Your Problem...

It's one of the unwritten rules of management.  It's also one of the hardest things for new managers to wrap their heads around.

"It's not your fault, but it's your problem."

Let's deconstruct that a bit.  New managers were often very high performing individual contributors (ICs).  The great thing about being an IC is that you only have to worry about one person - and that person is you.

But your performance as an IC convinced us that you'd make a good manager of people. For the most part that's true.

One point that sneaks up on new managers is taking feedback on what needs to happen related to their team as failure on the part of themselves (the new manager).

Here's what I mean - If you're managing other managers of people and some of those are first time managers, you're going to spend more time talking about what's going on within those teams than you will with a more experienced manager of people.  You have to be the coach for the new manager.

As you're coaching that new manager of people, it's important to separate their individual identity as a high performer from the brand new - and at times, scary - role as a manager of people.

Example - someone on their team is struggling in a certain area, and the new manager delays a bit.  Your job is to push as the director, but careful!  Your feedback might be perceived as failure on the part of the new manager.

I've always found the best way to handle that with new managers is to use the title of this post -"It's not your fault, but it's your problem."  

What I'm trying to convey with that is simple - "Look, you're going to manage people who struggle in your life as a manager.  Just because they're struggling doesn't mean you're a bad manager.  It's what happens next that is key - are you gong to address it, coach for improvement, etc.  Or are you looking the other way?"

The only way you lose is if you don't get in there and address it.  Bias for action is the key for new managers.  Left to their own devices, most will wait too long to address whatever performance issue is in question.

"It's not your fault, but it's your problem."

The Best Sports Movies of All Time...

I'm up today as part of a post over at the Chairman of all things HR Tech - Steve Boese.  Steve's got a great post up from the 8 man Rotation - Steve, Tim Sackett, Lance Haun, Matthew Stollak and myself - on the best sports movies in the opinion of that committee. Go check it out, lots of good stuff from the aforementioned gang.  Here's my submittals as part of that post:
He Got Game: Denzel, Spike Lee, a backdrop of hoops and Ray Allen starring as “Jesus Shuttlesworth”.  I love the story of a complicated father/son HeGotGame-posterrelationship as Denzel tries to parlay his way out of prison by encouraging his son (Jesus) to play at Big State U, which just happens to be the school of choice for the governor.  Great music spanning a lot of tastes from dramatic orchestra scores to Public Enemy.  Spike Lee perspective in Camera shots.  Fun fact: One of my sons got asked at church at a young age what the last name of Jesus (son of god, not Ray Allen) was.  That’s a trick question in a church setting.  My young son didn’t miss a beat – he raised his hand like Horseshack in Welcome Back Kotter and enthusiastically said, “Shuttlesworth”.  Welcome to the Dunn family, where everything has a hoops influence.
Bull Durham: You haven’t lived until you’ve had a son who’s played baseball and coached with another guy who knows all the lines to this movie.  The game in front of you actually becomes secondary.  You sit down next to a 10 year old in the dugout and say, “get a notepad, because it’s time to practice your cliches.”  Two minutes later, the kid is repeating the wisdom of Crash Davis - “I just hope I can help the team” and “It’s a simple game – you throw the ball, you catch the ball”.  After he has the cliches down, you bring the kid inside for senior level Crash Davis: “Anything that travels that far should have a stewardess” as an example.  Then, the fun is suddenly over when he commits two errors in the field and you resume screaming at him to "man up”.  Sports movies can only take you so far.
Any Given Sunday:  A must for any sports fan who wants to think about talent from the lens of sports.  While I agree with Tim Sackett that the Pacino speech is classic, I’m going deep in this movie and tell you that hall of famer Jim Brown is the hidden gem.  Playing the role of Defensive Coordinator, he steals the movie from Pacino and Jamie Foxx with two scenes that are coaching classics.  The first scene involves Brown going on a sidelines diatribe towards his defense and a player encouraging him to calm down before he has a stroke, to which Brown replies, “I don’t get strokes Mother#######, I GIVE THEM”.   The second scene involves Brown addressing the team at halftime and using a chalkboard diagraming X’s and O’s, with the following gem: “Now you’re dumb enough, so we made it simple enough.  We made this #### real ####ing simple (as he pounds the chalk against the board)”.  Who among us couldn’t use that line at times in corporate America?

Some Perspective on Employee Engagement: "Entire Crops Were Lost"...

First up, let me say I believe in employee engagement.  I really do.  I believe in a simple definition of engagement, though, one that's too simple to really generate consultant revenue, books or anything else that might be of value in my professional life.

Having worked at 6-7 companies in my career, here's the cold hard truth.  You can do a lot of stuff right Agent smith as a company, and people are still going to bitch, to think that the grass MUST be greener somewhere else.  That simple, yet profound strand of the human DNA is just too much to overcome to arrive at a place where you could say that you've maximized engagement.

Oddly enough, I've never seen that human need for despair characterized clearer than Agent Smith did when he was getting ready to break Morpheus in the first Matrix.  For those of you not down, in The Matrix, machines had replaced humans in a future world and generated computer code to run the minds/imaginary lives of humans while they slept in pods and generated electricity.  Here's what Agent Smith said to Morpheus about a failed attempt to generate code to run the human mind:

"Have you ever stood and stared at it, marveled at its beauty, its genius? Billions of people just living out their lives, oblivious. Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world, where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this, the peak of your civilization. I say your civilization, because as soon as we started thinking for you it really became our civilization, which is of course what this is all about. Evolution, Morpheus, evolution. Like the dinosaur. Look out that window. You've had your time. The future is our world, Morpheus. The future is our time."

It was designed to be a perfect human world, where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program.  Entire crops were lost.  

That's your money quote on broad-based engagement efforts.  Do them.  I get it, you'll do some good.  But never (never!) think that what you do, no matter how progressive/cool/upstream, is going to turn all the people.

We're conditioned to look for misery and suffering.  Drama.  That's called a +1 in real world.

Play the clip and look around you.  I'm rooting for you.  Don't let them drag you down.

Sometimes Dictators Make Business Sense... #Paris

If you're like me and following what happened last week in Paris, a lot of the dialog has turned to our approach to related items like Refugees - so let's talk about what causes that instability.

I'm not really into politics, but the dialog that's going on reminded me of a conclusion that I reached a few years back about our involvement in the middle east in a post 9/11 world.

My conclusion - sometimes dictators are the best option and just make business sense.

Work with me on this.  Post 9/11 was full of emotion for America, and to a lessor extent, the world.  We did what we thought we needed to do, a reaction that included taking down a dictator in Iraq's Saddam Hussein.  We cleaned house in an imperfect way (because that's all that's possible), lost a lot of American lives in the process and did what we thought was right, handing over a more democratic government to the people of Iraq.

Just one little problem - Iraq wasn't and isn't ready for democratic rule.  The result has been that the government we've tried to turn the country over has been unwilling or unable to govern.  Enter into that vacuum ISIS, complete with beheadings, brutal rule of large tracks of the middle east, the attacks in Paris, etc.

Would the world be better off - in net/net fashion - if Saddam Hussein was in power?  Of course, I understand that's a mixed bag as well.  But still - the middle east if full of non-democratic leaders for a reason, and the United States has a long history of propping up questionable leaders if it's the best option from a security and economic perspective.

I think it's the same thing in the business world.  There are companies and environments that aren't ready to be managed in a semi-democratic style.  Sometimes the dictator is the best option to run your business.

Do you like it? No. Does it go against every management book you've ever read? Yes.

Is the dictator the best option in many company cultures? Without question.

Sometimes the evil you know is better than the evil you don't know.  Real talent pros aren't afraid to admit that the best management option in some situations isn't the guy who wants to hug it out.

Black Friday Items You Could Sell In HR - To Employees...

Hi Capitalist Nation - I'm on the road on the West Coast getting reading to get on a plane today, so you get a timely blast from the past - 2013, originally ran over at Fistful of Talent... You know you could sell these items, hit me in the comments on what you would add...

We’re a week away from crazy-town—from the experience that basically defines what a consumer-driven, non-savings-focused culture we’ve become in America. A week away from the time when suburban moms and drifters barely hanging on will find common ground standing outdoors at Target at 4am, in 25-degree temperatures, with a 15-mile an hour crosswind.

It’s almost Black Friday in America.

Which makes me think about how much stupid **** I’ve bought in my life as an adult consumer. I’ve never participated in Black Friday, but I’m not exempt from poor purchases. Maybe if I would have been a Black Friday guy I would have done better.  After all, there has to be nothing sadder for a retail worker than seeing KD hit the mall at 7pm on 12.23 and see him drift past your station for the 4th time.

Clueless. Catatonic. Sad.

But wait!  There’s hope for HR pros like KD and for this post to have a point.  What if we took the features that people want the most out of HR, packaged them as products and put fliers out for Black Friday to sell them in limited quantities?

We’d be rich, that’s what.  If America can add .2% to the GNP by selling 6M Xbox’s on one day, why can’t HR monetize it’s booty?  Sure, there would be outcries, but after the first year, people would just accept this as part of Black Friday.

Black Friday in HR.  Here’s what we’re putting on the flyer today, to drive traffic and make people fight for position outside the HR suite:

1.  The VOTED-OFF-THE-ISLAND PACKAGE.  You’ve got 7 people on your team.  There’s one freak.  He doesn’t really do anything wrong, but no one really likes him.  He’s destroying the team mojo.  Everyone on your team signs off, and he’s not there on the Monday following—wait for it—Black Friday.  Or “HR Christmas,” as it will come to be known.  $399.

2.  SMOKER CAM.  There’s a garden industry being built around hating smokers (see how they fishbowl them in airports), but this one has more to do with location than the choice to smoke.  What “Smoker Cam” does is give you a panoramic view of the smoker’s area outside the building at your company from your laptop or mobile, and you can log in to see who’s having trouble that day and making demonstrative gestures with their hands while they try to control ashes from the bud.  Watch the executives try to stay away from the crazy hourly people, even though they have to go there to smoke. There’s also a Meme-Builder where you can take snapshots and build a viral photo+caption combo at your leisure.  $69.

3. CUBE MOVE NEXT TO THE HOT GUY/GIRL. Things are always more pleasant when you’re next to scenery.  This Black-Friday-in-HR deal allows you to move either next to the hot cube, or have your back to the hot individual in question.  If you keep getting new cube neighbors, look in the mirror.  You’re smoking hot, and the people buying this package forgot to check the details that basically give them no rights to stay there any length of time.  You’re only there until someone buys the package again.  $49 to move to the side of the equator, $99 to move to the cube that allow you to look across into the abyss.  $15 for a creeper mirror that allows you to look across and your screen at the same time.

4. HARASSMENT DRIVE-BY.  This Black Friday deal allows you to pick a person, pay HR, and a HR pro will set up a time to come investigate a harassment situation with the person in question.  There’s no specifics, just a lot of broad questions that start something like “Have you ever… ?”   The package includes at least 10 questions.  $69 for a HDB (harassment drive by) about other people, $99 for it to be implied it’s about the person we’re talking to.  Add $25 to either package for the door closed.

5.  THE “I P*SS EXCELLENCE” T-SHIRT.  The most affordable option, and let’s face it, we’re only doing it to build brand awareness that we’ve got stuff to sell on Black Friday in HR.  The front has the “I P*SS EXCELLENCE” slogan, back says “HR SAID SO” in all caps with smaller subscript that says, “HR BLACK FRIDAY 2013”.  Were actually not sure if you p*ss excellence or not, but we’re building the brand.  $24.

6. THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE 360 ASSESSMENT.  You can’t afford option #1 for the boss that’s not working out or the co-worker that’s killing the teams mojo?  That’s too bad, but we’ve got another option for you.  Scrape together half the money of option #1, have the team sign on the line that is dotted, and we’ll run a 360 on that sucker and promise the results (with a two paragraph summary because who reads those things?) will be distributed to 3 levels of executives around that team.  Affordable at $199.

7.  FAKE EXPLANATION OF BENEFITS MAILED TO THE HOME.  Who knows who’s going to open this ticking time bomb.  The wife?  The mother in law?  What’s included?  How much money do you have?  HR has standards, so we’ll never do something morbid or fatal, but we will have fun with lesser conditions.  There will also be a clear marker on each EOB to show that it’s fake, but most people won’t get that.  EOB for a cold sore that’s loosely associated with an STD—$49.  Condition that causes Viagra to be prescribed—$59.  EOB for Toenail Fungus—$69.

It’s Black Friday in HR.  What are you selling that I didn’t hit?  Tell me in the comments.  It’s time for HR to become marketers, and there’s no better time than Black Friday.  It’s America, dammit.


Breaking Down the Gender Equity Pay Adjustments at Salesforce...

Salesforce just made a move to provide pay equity increases across its workforce to eliminate any and all gender pay issues, job by job.

Here's a rundown of what just happened at Salesforce from the Atlantic:

"In a panel at a conference organized by Fortune last week, Marc Benioff, the CEO of the cloud-based software company Salesforce, said that he recently ordered a review of all 17,000 Salesforce-ceo-marc-benioff employees’ salaries to see if female employees’ pay was in line with those of male employees doing similar jobs. According to Fortune, Benioff said that the company is spending about $3 million extra this year on its payroll to make these adjustments. “We can say we pay women the same that we pay men,” he said the conference. “We looked at every single salary.”

What prompted this review was the allegation, made earlier this summer by Salesforce employees Cindy Robbins and Leyla Seka, that women at the company likely weren’t being paid as much as men. Benioff said he was initially skeptical, but commissioned an internal review anyway. Data on the compensation of employees in all departments at all levels of tenure apparently revealed Robbins and Seka’s suspicions to be warranted.

Salesforce has declined to clarify the $3 million figure or provide further details—the size of the average adjustment, how many employees saw their salaries changed, and how they reacted—but is going to put out a report with more information next year."

So Salesforce won't break it down further, but that's why you have me.  So let's break it down.

First, the easy math - if all 17,000 employees got an adjustment and 3M was spread out among them, that would be an average adjustment of $176.

Of course, that's not the right math. Assume half of those employees are female, and that brings the average adjustment to $353.

But wait, the article from the Atlantic lets us know that Salesforce is only 30% female, so that means 5,100 female employees splitting 3M for an average of $588.

What's all that mean?  Well, if the analysis was full, complete and accurate - and we have no reason to believe it wasn't based on the reputation of Salesforce - it means they didn't have much of an issue with gender pay equity.  Also, we know that things like this are never spread evenly - there were undoubtedly pockets in Salesforce that didn't look great, and female employees within those pockets got the majority of the adjustments, much higher than the average cited in the last example above.

Activists are still likely to be skeptic, but it's refreshing to see Salesforce take a run at this and then give an overall number for the adjustments they gave to eliminate pay equity across gender.

What say you? Do you believe the numbers and that Salesforce is all good as a result?

WHITEPAPER: How to Hire For Cultural Fit...

Some of you know my day job is being the CHRO and a partner at Kinetix, a national recruiting firm headquartered in Atlanta.  We've got a great whitepaper available on hiring for cultural and motivational fit called "Not The Drones You're Looking For - Using Motivational and Cultural Fit In Your Hiring Process".  We wrote it because of the following:

You know the drill. You did the work—sourcing great candidates, selling them on the opportunity at your company with the mission, the vision… the whole deal. Then Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 9.49.24 AMthe post-interview feedback comes back from the hiring manager—they didn’t like the candidate. You ask why and get:

“I just didn’t think she was a fit.” 

Frustrating, we know. Don't worry—we’re here to help you get your arms around the concept of “fit” and prevent hiring managers from using it as a utility tool to discard candidates with reckless abandon. 

Does that sound like your life?  Of course it does.  Hit us up and Download the Kinetix whitepaper by clicking the following link - "Not The Drones You're Looking For - Using Motivational and Cultural Fit In Your Hiring Process” today!

LIES IN HR: "We're Looking for People Who Are Great Teammates"

I'm speaking in the ATL tomorrow - specifically Buckhead - at a small breakfast gathering put together by the good folks at Halogen Software.  If you're in Atlanta on Thursday and want to join us, hit this link because I'm sure we can squeeze you in.  It's free, but there's a lot more value than that price tag would suggest.

My preso is about "The 5 Biggest Lies in HR".  I like doing this presentation and it's morphed over time.  Lies in HR happen because we have narratives that emerge that we think are great talking points, but over time, they get stale and a different reality emerges.

One of the lies I'll talk about is, "We're Looking for People Who Are Great Teammates".

That's a lie - if you really dig into the totality of the statement.

Do we want great teammates? Sure we do, but being a great teammate doesn't mean a lot if you're a poor fit behaviorally for the job. What makes this rise to the level of being included in the 5 Biggest Lies of HR?  The fact that when lazy, our profession and the hiring managers will replace ability to thrive behaviorally in the job/team/company with likability.

Likability is cool, but it fades when you can't get stuff done. 

A great example is Rules Orientation.  We'll hire people who can follow the operations manual, but in the freak show that most of our companies are, we actually need more people with low rules orientation so we can wing it and get results.  

Couple of slides from the preso below (email subscribers click through to see slides). Join us last minute if you can!

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Mizzou Football: Leaders Need To Make Sure Urgency Is Obvious to All...

Let me start by saying I really don't know what racism feels like.  The only time I've ever felt like I was in the neighborhood of being the subject of racism was when I played college basketball (I was the minority in that situation).  But was I the subject of real racism?  Nah...

White people problems, indeed. 

But everything that's transpired in the last week at the University of Missouri? If you're a leader who just Mizzou happens to be white, there's probably some lessons there for you - but probably for all leaders as well.  In case you missed it, here's a basic rundown from ESPN:

"The president of the University of Missouri system stepped down Monday, and the flagship Columbia campus' chancellor announced he will "transition" into a different position at the end of year amid criticism of their handling of student complaints about race and discrimination.

The race complaints came to a head over the weekend, when at least 30 black members of the football team announced they would not participate in team activities until Wolfe was gone.

For months, black student groups have complained of racial slurs and other slights on the overwhelmingly white flagship campus of the state's four-college system. Frustrations flared during the homecoming parade Oct. 10, when protesters blocked Wolfe's car, and he did not get out to talk to them. The protesters were removed by police.

Black members of the football team joined the outcry Saturday night. By Sunday, a campus sit-in had grown, graduate student groups planned walkouts and politicians began to weigh in.

Until Monday, Wolfe did not indicate he had any intention of stepping down. He agreed in a statement Sunday that "change is needed" and said the university was working to draw up a plan by April to promote diversity and tolerance.

The Tigers' next game is Saturday against BYU at Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs. Canceling the game could have cost the schoolmore than $1 million. Players have confirmed the game will be played as scheduled, and they'll practice Tuesday.

"The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe 'Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,'" the players said in their statement Saturday. "We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students' experience. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!"

Football coach Gary Pinkel expressed solidarity on Twitter and posted a picture of the players and coaches locking arms.

Now - onto the lessons.  First up, we don't really have any information that tells us the university president had any issues with race on an individual level.  Let's assume for purposes of this post that he's a straight up guy that way.

If that's the case, here's what I think leaders can learn from the Mizzou race situation:

1. When you see low level hate activity with no names or individuals to attach to it, it's not enough at times to say we're "looking into it" or "we're going to work on that". You have to take action, and if you don't, you may be held accountable in a way that is career-threatening and embarrassing to you.

2. You can't be stand-offish to small interest groups that form. You have to engage, or the problem is probably going to get worse.

3. Social media can blow any situation through the roof.

4. All it takes is one group with over-weighted power to take a stand and you'll be out.  Let's face it, the deans of the various schools came forward and recommended the president stand down. Crickets. The football team came forward and it was all over for that president in less than 48 hours.  Money and viral pressure from social media, the kind that maybe only sports can deliver in our country, reigns supreme.

Take action when you see bad stuff.  Bring the special interest groups in and make them part of figuring out the solution when it comes to race. You can't afford to wait around and hope that everything calms down.

PS: if you want to contrast the approaches of white guys who lead organizations, compare the Mizzou president vs Gary Pinkel.  Is Pinkel, the head football coach at Missouri, the man when it comes to inclusion?  First, he had the first major college football player to come out as being gay, and apparently the whole team knew for a year and it was no big deal in Pinkel's program.  Whatevs. Michael Sam likes guys - so what?

Then Pinkel has a team meeting last weekend on the race issue at Mizzou, takes a couple of photos to tweet and indicates the team won't play until the situation with the president and the hunger strike is resolved. 

That's action vs inaction, folks. (see photo of football team after Pinkel's meeting below, click on it to make it bigger)

Go ahead and try to remove Pinkel after his next 4-7 season, Mizzou. I double dare you.


Good HR? Steve Jobs Might Say It's Like a Bicycle For Your Employee's Career...

I haven't been to the new Steve Jobs movie yet.  Mrs. Capitalist is chronically uninterested and while my oldest would like the story, at 15 going to the movies with dad isn't on his priority list.  

So I did what any professional grade ADHD television browser would do last night - I watched the 15 minute sneak peek on HBO. Steve-jobs-movie-poster-800px-800x1259

The new Steve Jobs movie has struggled a bit at the box office.  Still, there's a lot to like.  Aaron Sorkin has a style about him.  Michael Fassbender is one of the most underrated actors of our time.  Seth Rogen plays the Woz.  Lots to like.

But all I got was the HBO sneak peak.  And it was there I uncovered this nugget of wisdom from the annuals of Steve Jobs, one I hadn't heard before:

"I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list....That didn't look so good, but then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle and a man on a bicycle blew the condor away. That's what a computer is to me: the computer is the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with. It's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds."  --Steve Jobs

That's pretty brilliant.  And because I'm a HR/Recruiting/Talent nerd, I started wondering about the application of that quote to HR. Here's what I came up with:

"Good HR is the equivalent of the bicycle for your employee's career."

Love that quote/application or not, it's true.  

Good HR enables employees to be everything they can be.  Good HR encourages, nudges and grows employees in all the right ways.  Good HR also tells employees the truth, even when it might not be in HR's best interest to do that.  Good HR maximizes the prospects of the individual employee, because it knows that approach maximizes the long term interests of the enterprise, even if short term pain is inflicted.

Bad HR? That makes employees look like they're walking - rather than riding - on the journey.

Steve Jobs probably hated HR. But he would love a great HR pro who's more like an artist than a transaction.