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March 2020

Furloughs/Layoffs During COVID-19: Best Delivered Via Video or an Analog Call?

I've got a post up at Fistful of Talent this morning called How S**T Got Sideways as Companies Furloughed/Laid Off People in the COVID-19 Meltdown.

The gist of that post is as follows - a LOT of companies over the last two weeks have communicated bad news (personal news of impact due to furlough/layoff) to groups of Up in the air2employees at the same time, which is about as far from a best practice as you can get.

But it begs another question. During this COVID-19 period where everyone is home, my first instinct when doing it the right way would be to use the tools companies are already using - Zoom, Skype, etc - and do a personal video call with any employee impacted by furlough or layoff.

As HR leaders and pros, we're conditioned to deliver the news in person. Facing the music and not avoiding the discomfort of the situation, we've been conditioned to believe that this news is best delivered face to face.

I still believe that, but here's a twist. Since working from home is new to many, and since circumstances are so unusual (kids at home because school isn't running, spouses at home from their work), is it possible that the best way to deliver layoff news in a 1/1 setting isn't a video call, but a normal analog audio call?

Based on my training, it's hard not to want the face to face interaction. But we're in unusual times, and many of the folks you might have to talk to via video call in a COVID-19 furlough/layoff situation aren't used to communicating via video - there is and will continue to be a form of discomfort with the medium, especially for unusual news and circumstances.

In that situation, is it better to deliver the 1/1 news via a normal phone call than a Zoom/Skype video call?  A call might be the best way to go.

The right answer is it depends - you have to know your team, the company, the culture - and make the best choice for you.

Hang in their HR, TA and manager of people peeps. Things are going to get better. Ping me if I can help you.

 


THE OWL: A Metaphor For Life During the COVID-19 Lockdown...

It's a weird time for all of us right now. Coronavirus. COVID-19. Being at home 100% of the time.

It's a time for reflection. For meaning. Owl

Earlier this week I couldn't sleep.  I looked at the clock  - 4:30am - and I decided to make a bathroom run. On the way I heard it - an Owl calling/hooting in the woods outside my house.

Owls are beacons of wisdom. An owl hooting in the distance is full of context and full of promise that there's a bigger meaning to all of this.

On my way back to the bedroom, I decided to stop at a window to spend a minute or two listening to the owl. As I waited, I looked out at the woods on the hill that I live on.  

So much going on in the world. But there it was - nature doing what nature does best - being calm, soothing and full of meaning.

I closed my eyes to wait for for the owl. I don't do mindfulness or meditation, but I had it at that moment. Solitude and Perspective.

"GIVE ME THE #*#*#*$$ BALL!!"

Damn. That was 100% not the Owl.

I was directly underneath my high school son's bedroom. He was up gaming and playing NBA2K at 4:30am. 

Meditation interruptus. I backed away from the window.

As I crawled back in bed, I texted him. "GO 2 BED". 

Outside, the owl still had the wisdom.

Inside, it was Day 10 of the great Coronavirus shut-in.  


THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: E7 – COVID-19 + Work From Home (WFH) Advice from Dawn Burke...

In Episode 7 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn (Jessica Lee on break) get together to with Dawn Burke (Senior Writer at Fistful of Talent, Sr. Consultant at Recruiting Toolbox) to talk about Work From Home, as tens of millions of American workers have been told to stay home, keep working and figure it out on the fly.

Dawn shares her advice and background from a recent Fistful of Talent feature, focusing on the need to maintain work rituals (eating lunch in your car and watching Netflix rather than in the house) as well as thoughts on productivity expectations, print cartridges, PETS, kids, laundry, etc. Tim and Kris weigh in with stories about day drinking (not them, other people) and the psychology behind work from home productivity and the need to stop texting and emailing everyone ALL THE TIME from your bunker.

If you’re new to work from home or managing people who are, this is the podcast for you.

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!!! Listen on iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

Show Highlights:

1:30 – Tim discloses he’s not working from home since he owns his building at work, which is really just another form of working from home. Dawn Burke, longtime HR leader, Senior Writer at Fistful of Talent, Sr. Consultant for Recruiting Toolbox introduces herself.

4:25 – Dawn breaks down a post she wrote at Fistful of Talent entitled “Working from Home Can Be Awful! Unless You Do These Things”, in which she provides great advice on how to set yourself to work from home, especially if you haven’t done It before.  It’s harder than it looks, as she details her transition to work from home and where she struggled as a result. Dawn also talks about people around her – like her sister – struggling over the last few days as they transition from no WFH to full time WFH with zero planning and prep.

11:20 – Dawn, Kris and Tim get into Dawn’s advice for people transitioning to full-time work from home – focused on the needs to maintain “rituals”. Kris goes right to one of the sizzle parts of Dawn’s article/advice, which is the disclosure that just like when she used to try and get out of the corporate office mid-day, she also has a history of trying to get out of the home office mid-day – BY EATING LUNCH IN HER CAR AND WATCHING NETFLIX. Fascinating and scary all at the same time. The gang ends up loving the idea for new folks doing the WFH thing. It’s actually brilliant.  Other references – Magic Mike, etc.

17:23 – Speaking of work rituals, Tim and Kris share alcohol-related stories from their time as trench HR pros.

21:00 – Dawn breaks down her top advice for folks moving to 100% work from home. Making appearances in the discussion – print cartridges, PETS, kids, laundry, etc. Tim talks about the productivity bump/burnout function that’s coming for new WFH people.

27:00– The gang talks about the need to stop messaging via Text and Slack when you’re a new WFH person and pick up the phone and talk to people (or via video) – to get human interaction. Interaction is going to be important to prevent isolation.

28:50 – TOP ADVICE FROM THE GANG RELATED TO WORK FROM HOME – Tim and Dawn break down their biggest pieces of advice for folks who are new to work from home. Tim shares his view that things get lost in translation, and you have to pick up the phone, facetime or hop on a video call rather than try to resolve something through 23 emails.  Dawn talks about her background and lighting in her WFH set up, and points to exercise/wellness/mindfulness platforms as a huge help to mental and physical health. KD feels like the key to WTH is find a way to reconnect with someone who’s important in your life  – personal and/or professional – at least a couple of times a week.

NOTE – We’ll be back mid-week with a pod focused on nothing but ZOOM and the art of the video meeting!


#COVID-19: The Truth About Video Calls and Your Career...

Time for some tough love. If you're a white collar worker and you've been moved to WFH (work from home), odds are your team/company is experimenting with video meetings/calls to keep you connected with your team.

They providers are many - Zoom, Go To Meeting, WebEx, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc. Video

The provider really doesn't matter. Here's a piece of advice on team video calls from your friend, aka KD:

Don't get comfortable. Get your head around how to separate yourself from the pack on video meetings/calls.

The tiles I've seen of people sharing meetings of 15-20 people in a Zoom meeting show the humanity. It's a freak show.

Why is this on my mind? Just got done taping an episode of The HR Famous Podcast, with Tim Sackett and guest Dawn Burke (Jessica Lee on break), and some of the things we worked through were best practices for making yourself look great during video calls, but more importantly, the game behind the game with video calls.

A lot of white collar workers are new to the video meeting/call game. Let me give you three pieces of solid advice:

  1. Frame yourself well - head and shoulders shot, pec level and above. Be seen in a good way.  See this awesome video by Craig Fisher (aka Fishdogs) for the basics, but get to head and shoulders in your framing. Now that the basics are covered, let me break down the most important things for your career...
  2. Look into the camera. It matters more than you think it does.
  3. When important people to your career are talking - look into the camera and give non-verbal cues that you're listening and agree - head nods, etc.

I'm guessing 20-25% of all white collar work hours were remote in nature before COVID-19. It just went to 95% plus. That means a lot of you need someone to tell you the truth related to how to do video meetings at work the right way.

The workplace has always been competitive. If you're part of a 5-10 person team that is meeting virtually for the first time, you've got an opportunity.

The opportunity is that no one is coaching you on how to do video right. Do the three things I've outlined above, and subconsciously, the people that matter and have influence in your career are going to feel better about you vs your peers who aren't following the same advice.

You - framed well, took Fishdogs buying guide, looking at the camera and nodding when important people are talking (do it when everyone is sharing thoughts if my "important people" advice is troubling).

Them - not framed well, never look at the camera and zero non-verbal cues that they are listening and engaged.

Who wins that battle if you're the boss looking over a team? 

Who wins that battle when tough decisions are made to decide who has the capability to work from home in an uncertain economic environment moving forward?

You win, that's who - if you follow the basic advice.

It's me - KD - with real talk. Your friend. Don't think your normal approach works on video. Get connected and be present on video calls. The tiles I've seen of people sharing meetings of 15-20 people in a Zoom meeting show the humanity.

We're in uncertain times. You think you're a high performer if you've read this far.

Go perform and win in the video call, my friends. It matters. 


myCorona: Let's Leave the #COVID19 Messages to the Experts...

You know what I'm talking about, my friends. COVID-19 messages from the companies you have some type of relationship with.

There's a set of organizations where messages on COVID-19 are either mission-critical or welcomed. Included in that group are hospitals and health care organizations, companies communicating with workforces, government entities, schools, places for food and a few others. Gotta hear from those mission critical folks, and for the most part, they are doing an outstanding job.

Then there's everyone else. Here's a running list of who I didn't need to hear from related to COVID-19:

--Any clothing retailer, either online or bricks and mortar. Shopping for your gear isn't at the top of my list. Just because I ordered an Alkaline Trio t-shirt from you in 2015 doesn't mean I need to know where you're at on all of this. Express is closing at the mall? Got it, thanks. 

--Any tech or information provider I pay. Last time I checked, your tech worked. Not super critical I hear from you. Ping me if it goes down and tell me what the plan is then. Note that I will be thinking that still having internet access is awesome at least 4 times a day. But, if you're offering additional services (New York Times dropping paywall for some content, energy and tech companies not cutting people off due to unpaid bills, etc.), you can email me as much as you want, even if I don't benefit or need it. Good job by you!

--Cole-Haan. I know, they're a retailer (shoes), but I had to list them here for special consideration, as they sent me a note last night that they "Are With Us". Check, good to know. Are the 11.5's still available in the grey ZeroGrand? Damn, never mind.

--Anyone selling something that's not mission critical. Of course, that's in the eye of the beholder, so if you have a solution that can help someone right now, do your thing. But that guilt ploy note (the 7th in a series) I got from the LinkedIn Learning guy late yesterday noting that "learning and development must not be at the top of my list right now" felt a bit off, right?  Probably stand down on the raw lead generation troops for a week as a best practice.

I get it, you feel the need to tell people you're connected and understand - but if you're on the outer ring of what really matters right now, just be responsive when we have a question. I guarantee your Net Promoter Score will be more impacted by that than the 5-paragraph email you just sent that says your company - a fine provider of mid-range men's shirts- is tracking the situation.

As for the hospitals, government entities and retailers of essentials (food, etc) - god bless you and thanks for all you're doing and everything to come!


myCorona: The One Thing To Remember As a Manager of People on 3.20.20...

Short post today, because there's a lot going on.

What, just me?

Seriously, though - what follows is all you need to remember and the biggest value I can provide for the good people that read this blog and are managers.

You've got a lot going on as a manager at your organization in a pandemic world. There's craziness everywhere and lots to do, and nothing to be done all at the same time.

Don't forget this reality - the world likely changed from a candidate's market to something completely different in less than a week. We've yet to see it or hear it, but businesses impacted by decreasing revenues are likely to slow hiring and at times, impact employees through reduced schedules, unpaid leave and yes, layoffs.  

That means for the foreseeable future, it's not a candidate's market anymore.

The flip side of that is that there's a lot of doubt among employee ranks when it comes to what the future holds.

You probably aren't sure what the future holds. That's OK. The most important thing you can do is be available.

I'm coming off of a killer two-week schedule on a couple of projects. I haven't been as available as I would like.

This week is important. I don't have to have all the answers, I just have to be available and around. Faster response time to emails and texts. Quality calls (no face to face, right?).

Don't hide this week.


THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: E5 – CORONAVIRUS, FACE-TOUCHING AND HR

In Episode 5 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn get together to talk about all things Coronavirus (COVID-19) and HR, including their personal views, why companies don't plan more for bad things happening and of course, the HR mechanics that have to be figured out by HR leaders in the US if COVID-19 continues to escalate. 

Deep conversations around what a sniffle now means, bias around sniffles, managers with a bias to tell people to come to work, and the sticky mess that navigating pay for hourly workers with the condition or waiting to be tested will invariably cause for organizations with narrow profitability. 

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!!! Listen on iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

 

Show Highlights:

1:45 - Tim isn't a fan of the COVID-19 death tally. The gang discusses the requirement for government agencies to be transparent and inform vs the insane media cycle we're in related to the numbers, as well as all the things with huge negative numbers that don't get reported.

3:20 - Are we hopelessly behind in America related to planning for contagion? What's HR's role in preparing for the worst? The gang discusses not being the panicked HR leader vs the appropriate mode of prep and concern for your organization. 

6:21 - Tim brings up the point that it's not the team eligible for "work for home" you must figure out - it's the hourly employees who don't get paid if Funny-meme-about-people-touching-their-face-coronavirus-cdc-covid-19they don't come to work.

7:45 - KD talks about the challenges of someone getting sick - still the cold and flu season - how do you figure out when to let people work with sniffles and when it's a risk?  KD also breaks down what conferences are doing (if they are holding live conferences vs cancelling or going virtual). TRANSLATION: BE PREPARED TO BE TEMPERATURE SCANNED.

9:35 - The HRF team talks about how far we're willing to go as HR pros - are we ready to temperature scan employees before they're allowed to work? JLee talks about the fear that people have when someone coughs, as well as questions she gets asked - "have you been to Asia recently?" (aka, the cough of a PacRim person means more than someone else).

12:45 - KD talks about some hopeful news - that new cases in China have decreased (related to the trend line) for the first time and China is shutting down one of the first pop up hospitals it built in response to the decrease in the trend line.

15:20 - JLee, Tim and KD talk about the complexity of paid time off in the Coronavirus era. If someone comes down with COVID-19, will average companies provide 14 days of paid leave to impacted employees? Are they willing to put people on a form of paid leave when they are waiting for a test?  We're back to the issue of hourly employees who don't get paid if they're not at work being patient zero within a single company - they come to work when they're sick, a time-honored event we don't see changing with COVID-19 unless great HR pros help their companies figure it out.

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

 

The Origin of the Executive Compensation Industry...

From a book I'm reading - The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and its Secret Influence on American Business by Duff McDonald:

"A small number of McKinsey consultants did manage to stand out from the rest. In 1951, Arch Patton became the first consultant since the founder himself to Arch pioneer an entire field. General Motors had hired Patton to do a study of executive compensation, and he did so by surveying 37 major companies. The results, published in Fortune and the Harvard Business Review, showed something remarkable. Worker wages had risen faster than management wages. Management tool special note of this development, and demand for Patton's help on executive pay packages went through the roof.  Once started, this demand became a perpetual rotation machine, with Patton writing more than sixty articles on the subject over the years."

I'm only 50 pages in, but I've got a highlighter out for this book. Many things we take for granted in American business and management emulated from early McKinsey practices. 

As for the Arch Patton story above, it's a cautionary tale for giving the people what they want, as well as for giving people in power what they want. It's fair to say that this development at McKinsey created a whole segment/industry (executive compensation) that has a lot of implications for where we find ourselves today - regardless of your belief system.

When creating work product, it's always best to create something that more than one person has a need for. Create something - a process, a service, a product - and be capable of marketing it to many.

That's the gold standard. 

What can you create that could be repurposed multiple times in your job or help you get your next job (or two)?  That's the question all of us should be attempting to answer.


Telling a Leader They're Wrong: A Survival Guide...

One of the trickiest parts of growing your career is the following:

The leaders you work for aren't always going to be right. Council

You're going to see that they are wrong from time to time.

You're got a choice - tell them or not?

If you tell them and don't nail the landing, you will hurt your career.

If you tell them and make them trust you, your career has no limit.

If you don't tell them, you're average like everyone else.

What do you do when a leader you work for is wrong, or at the very least, you've got a different opinion/perspective?

Your should tell a leader they are wrong as needed. But the key is finding a way to tell them they're wrong in a way that makes them trust you more.

There's a couple of great ways to do this:

1--There's a problem, but it's not you - it's them. This is the strategy that tells the leader he/she is wrong, but not because they made a miscalculation, but because someone else is screwing up. You have additional information they need to consider, and you want them to have the information because you're concerned the results might not be what they envisioned.

It's not the leader, it's them. You know, the stupid people.

2--You've got additional information, and you're sharing it because you've always got your leader's back. There's some stupid people doing stupid things. You're leader's plan won't work as well with these people screwing it up.  

I've always got your back. I'm reporting that there are things in play that you might not control.

Again, it's them. Not you.

Your decision was f###ing brilliant. But the damn people with agendas are getting in the way. I'm here to make sure you have all the information and don't get hurt.

Of course, your leader may send you to fix the people/problem. But you didn't want to be average, which is why you're telling your leader he/she is wrong.

So go fix the problem. Congrats on not being average - or scared - like everyone else.


THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: E4 – Microaggressions

In Episode 4 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn get together to dip into uncomfortable territory by talking about microaggressions - what are they, how they manifest themselves and what HR leaders can do to make awareness of microaggressions part of their broader D&I stack.

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!!! Listen on iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

Microaggressions can be defined as brief and commonplace daily verbal or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.

There's less laughter in this one - but more real talk. Tough topic, but if you're an HR leader or HR pro, 100% worth your time to raise your awareness and lead your organization accordingly.

Show Highlights:

3:10 - KD intros the topic of microaggression, tells the gang why it's on his mind and gets sidetracked automatically because JLee and Tim don't donate at least annually to Wikipedia. 

6:20 - KD finally gets the definition of microaggression out using Wikipedia as his primary source. Turns out the concept has been around since 1970.

7:40 - JLee and Tim react to the concept of microaggression as individuals and HR pros. JLee talks about being from Cali, but people persisting in asking where she's from. Tim talks about the fact that people seek connection by asking others where they are from in metro/urban environments and may be unaware of the connection to microaggression, as well as the fact they might be offending someone.

11:25 - KD leads the gang through the game, "Is it a microaggression? JLee gives great thoughts about low awareness of those providing the microaggression and why the subject of a microaggression should think about giving feedback to the provider. 

Covered in this game:

--Where are you really from?

--Asking where are you from to white people with accents.

--Gender references (Sir, Ma'am) and being wrong.

--You don't speak Spanish?

--No, you're white!

--Hey Guys!

22:00 - The gang talks about the impact of microaggressions in the workplace, and how HR leaders should start the conversation in their companies, etc.  Linkage to bias training and starting to raise awareness as well as training to lay down a form of behavioral muscle memory across employees is discussed. Framing awareness training as civility rather than the foreboding term microaggression is also discussed.

25:20 - Tim talks about the need to train and coach people to accept feedback (someone telling them they're using a microaggression) in a graceful way rather than feeling attacked or defensive. 

28:00 - KD talks about introducing the topic of microaggressions at your next training session/meeting by conducting a simple quiz like the one performed on the podcast to get people talking.  Get ready! Tim talks about the fact that many people would say that doesn't actually happen, and a better path might be to have people who have experienced microaggressions talk about their experiences.

29:40 - KD points out that the quiz they did didn't include the nuclear bomb of all microaggressions - "You're so articulate". 

30:45 - "OK, Boomer!" Tim drops the fact that when it comes to bias, ageism is an under discussed topic, including microaggressions towards older workers. KD talks about JLee referencing the fact that he looks older while she looks the same. 

31:57 - KD talks about the fact that he routinely calls JLee a Tiger Mom and asks her if she's considered that a microaggression in the past.  JLee provides positive feedback, but notes that others that hear it might consider it a microaggression even if she doesn't.

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