Time to Transform Your Personal HR Brand By Saying Yes! (Even When You Mean No!)

Let’s talk about your personal brand inside the world of HR.

More to the point, let’s talk about saying “yes” as an HR leader/HR pro. The biggest stereotype the world has about HR is that we’re the corporate people police, there to say HYFno to everything we can – regardless of our level.

Our function declines a lot of things inside companies that need a hard “no.” The problem, is that a large percentage of our profession is behaviorally wired to say no—to everything.

And that, my friends, is bad for the brand. Your brand, the one that’s supposed to print money for you the rest of your life.

Being behaviorally wired to say no means you don’t say yes when you should. The people in our profession who are genetically programmed to say no are often the first people your peers in other departments experienced in HR, and as a result, most of the world hasn’t experienced a key HR pro or leader looking to say “yes.”

Those people suck. They’re bad for business.

But Kris (you say), it’s complicated. I feel you, HR.

How do you say yes more as an HR leader or a line HR manager? It’s simple:

1--Listen to someone’s problems. As Jay-Z and ASAP Rocky have explained to us in the last decade, the business leaders around you have many, many problems.

2--When they ask you for permission to do something that feels icky and risky, resist the urge to say “no.”

3--After fighting off the surge of blood to your throat to avoid saying “no,” say “yes.”

4--After saying yes, quickly follow the affirmative with a list of things you need them to do to make the “yes” a reality.

Need an example? Let’s help a manager looking to fire an employee we’ll name “Shirley”:

Manager: “Shirley’s killing me. She’s gotta go.”

You (the HR leader/HR pro): <huge gulp as you resist the urge to say no>

You: “I agree, if you say she’s gotta go, she’s gotta go. You have my support, but here’s what I need from you in the next thirty days to get it done.”

Instead of saying “no, you can’t, because you haven’t done this,” you said, “I agree, here’s the plan.”

Breathe deeply, control freaks of the world.

You said yes instead of no. That’s freaking huge, and here’s why - you interrupted a ten-year pattern of that manager thinking HR was going to tell them no. The list of things they need to do to make it happen is exactly the same, but the difference is that you just agreed to partner with them to make it happen.

Saying yes doesn’t mean “go crazy, manager.” Saying yes means “I support what you want, so here’s what I need to help you get that done.”

Advantage: You and your personal brand in HR.

This Just In: A Lot of People Are Counting on HR to Say No

So you said yes, rocked their world, and ceased to become a corporate cop. Oddly enough, some of these managers are actually looking for you to say no.

They’ve grown addicted to you saying no because it means they don’t have to deal with their own s***.  You’re the excuse, the reason they can’t do proactive work on behalf of the mother ship.

Here’s a list of things that the managers in your company are counting on you to say no to:

--Firing low performers. It’s just easier if you say no, especially if they haven’t been manager of the year to the person in question.

--Paying high performers more money. “Want more money? I’d love to give it to you, but any pay increase request out of cycle is going to be denied by HR.”

--Giving the highest rating on a performance review. One of my favorites is hearing the following from employees: “My manager said she’s been told that no one can get the top rating.” Grrrr.

--Proactively coaching their employees on tough issues. We ask to be in those coaching meetings too much. At times that’s for good reason, but our need to be part of tough conversations makes the manager move slower, or not at all.

Some of you are looking at that list and thinking, “That seems like a level or two below where I’m at.” Don’t kid yourself, if you’re an HR Leader, you’re saying no too much and being a cop for those that won’t deal with their own problems.

The managers and leaders you support have grown addicted to HR saying no. When you say no, it means they’re off the hook and don’t have to have the hard conversations. They simply report your “no” to the requesting employee or candidate.

They love when you say no, because the alternative is messy. If you say yes and quickly follow it by what you need to execute the “yes”, the burden is on them.

I say screw being the fall guy/gal for bad managers. I say let’s embrace saying “yes” with a bunch of conditions that looks like the Treaty of Versailles and see what happens.

Start saying yes to change the narrative of how you’re viewed as a leader and build a better brand as an HR leader/HR pro.

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Looking for help in enhancing your brand as an HR Leader? I recommend you take a look at SHRM Education Spring 2020 Catalog and pay close attention to these programs and e-learning modules:

  • 32 – Consultation: Honing your HR Business Leader Skills
  • 33 – Investing in People with Data-Driven Solutions
  • 34 – Powerful Leaders – Transform your personal brand and executive presence. Strategies for Leadership in HR.
  • 35 – Future of Work Fast Track

 Use the code “HRRocks” when registering for a Spring or Summer SHRM Educational Program and receive $200 off until May 15th! (excludes SHRM specialty credentials and SHRM SCP/CP prep courses)


#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. 


THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: e3 - Companies Get Frisky With Glassdoor, Changes to SHRM Influencer Program

In episode 3 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn discuss recent legal proceedings designed to force Glassdoor to disclose reviewer identities, take a look at the company involved by reviewing their Glassdoor page and activity, and talk about dramatic changes to the SHRM Annual Conference Influencer Program.

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

Show Highlights:

2:45 – Tim walks though recent changes to the Influencer Program at the SHRM Annual Conference.

12:06 – Tim and JLee discuss the challenges of Glassdoor as employers and discuss Tim’s CEO rating on Glassdoor.

13:42 – KD lays out a recent court proceeding where a company (Kraken) is asking for the identities of Glassdoor commenters due to violation of confidentiality clauses in signed severance agreements.

16:15 – JLee labels Kraken as a JV squad. Tim reviews the timing of the layoffs, the targeting of former Glassdoor employees with a cease and desist letter about Glassdoor comments, smart Glassdoor management and more.

21:18 – The gang breaks down the Kraken Glassdoor page and activity. JLee comes in with breaking news of a warning at the top of the Kraken page. Heavy discussion of the relationship between paid customers and Glassdoor ensues.

22:55 – More Kraken analysis as the gang looks deeper into their glassdoor page and starts sorting by low and high ratings and see what’s most popular and reads titles of negative reviews and analyzes traffic to positive vs negative posts. Spoiler – people read the negative reviews more.

26:34 – The gang discusses the right way to respond to Glassdoor reviews to be credible and authentic. Code words in employer responses are also discussed.


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


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

 


FAKE IT: Acting Interested in Corporate America Is a Succession Factor

Who's to know if your soul will fade at all
The one you sold to fool the world
You lost your self-esteem along the way
Yeah

--"Fake it" by Seether

One of the biggest things that separates contenders from pretenders in Corporate America - across all functional areas - is the ability to fake interest and attention.

You're in a 7-hour training class.  Next week you're in a 3 hour ops review.  Boredom happens.

If Darwin were a noted OD thought leader in business, he would write that an adaptation that allows some to survive and thrive is the ability to fake interest and attention with body language, eye contact and just enough participation to make it seem like they're engaged.

Does it matter?  Only if you want to get further than you are now. Competition is fierce. The real players in corporate America look engaged - at all times - even when they aren't.  

Look around at your next meeting.  You'll know what I'm talking about.  Some people have this type of opposable thumb, some don't.

Of course, faking it leads to learning because you're dialed in juuuuuust enough not to miss important shit. 

Seether video below, people.  Worth your time but a little NSFW. Happy 2020... (email subscribers click through for video)


2020 Is The Year of HR Playing Offense...

Welcome to 2020. New year, new decade, new YOU.

I don't have resolutions as much as I have needs. And my biggest need in 2020 is to not be a victim.

Of course, I'm not really a victim in the clinical sense. I have 1st world problems, I'm not currently impacted by health issues, depression, crime, etc. But, when I think about the things that are causing me stress, I can almost always track it back to my own accountability in getting in front of issues and trying to resolve them.

That's just me being vulnerable. But when I look around, I see everyone else with the same problem. It's not just me.

That's why I hope that 2020 is the year of you and me playing offense, not defense.

What's playing offense in your career look like?  A couple of thoughts:

--Not letting negative situations linger without trying to proactively resolve them, not matter how sensitive.

--Being proactive with counsel to the people who need to hear from you.

--Taking one action step today on a project rather than waiting for yourself to develop the perfect plan.

--Developing systematic approaches for recurring issues - basically developing products/services that you can repeatedly use because you took the time to deal with something the right way.

--Proactively communicating your take/stance/point of view in a formal way so you're on record with what you believe/recommend and why.

--Doing things today rather than waiting until tomorrow.

--Confronting people who need to be confronted in a professional way - but keeping the message clear.

Playing offense in your career is all about not being a victim.  The world of work is a tough place, and what's generally limiting an individual's success (once the talent is obviously there) is their ability to act, communicate, position and build relationships proactively rather than waiting for feedback from others or the perfect time.

Act today, win tomorrow.  Stop planning - or plan less - and do more. 

If you like this blog and the voice it's written in, pick up my book as a tool for a fast start in 2020. You'll laugh, you'll cry and it will make you want to kick some a**.

My hope for me - and you - is that we play more offense in 2020. 

Good luck, my friends!

 

 

 


New Year's Resolutions For HR Pros Are All About Not Being a Slave to Transactions...

New Year's Resolutions. Seems like they're trending down these days, doesn't it?  Does anyone do them?

The drill is usually about weight loss or some other type of personal improvement. We don't do resolutions as much at work, and that's a shame.

Resolutions at work can be powerful if used correctly.  And the best way to use resolutions at work is to pledge to do less work that doesn't matter, and more that does.

Example - being a slave to email is something we all fall pray to throughout the year. We hear the incoming tone, and we have to look.  And react.  Most the time, it could wait.  The right new year's resolution is to stop being a slave to email, to schedule the blocks of your day that you're going to deal with email, saving you time to work on things that really matter.

For HR pros of all levels, the resolution that matters most is to get out of allowing transactional work dictating the majority of your day.  Most transactional work for HR pros is delivered through email.  Somebody needs an answer to that.  Somebody else has a question about this.  You react all day long - so do I.  We're classical trained to react, to the point we trick ourselves into thinking that always being available is the best way to provide high service levels.

But - that take has more to do with being comfortable being needed and being able to have a sense of accomplishment.

It's like mowing the grass - when you do it, you look at the finished product and it's easy to see your effort led to the result.  That's comfortable.

BUT - it's fools gold. The big value add for HR pros isn't to answer questions, it's to do thinking work that leads to projects and initiatives that lead to added value.

And that added value, my friends, is uncomfortable.  What if we aren't good enough to add value in that type of work?  Most of us fear that subconsciously.

So we let email and other transactional work run our lives. 

My new year's resolution is to do email in three daily blocks - no more.  If I have gaps in my schedule with nothing to do, I'm going to pick the highest value project I can to work on and refuse to go back to email until it's time on my schedule.  

Wish me luck - and consider something similar.


AWAY BAGS: When Your Horrible People Practices Turbocharge Sales...

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. That might be true.

For proof, look to Away Travel, which is the maker of the ultra-hip and ultra-cool Away Suitcase.  It's a Away trendy product, but one that I had an only passing awareness of.

Of course, that's before the shit hit the fan. My awareness is incredible now - more on that later.

Many of your are aware of a scathing article about Away that published on The Verge, detailing a bullying culture based on the communication tool of Slack. The gist is this - Away promoted radical transparency and attempted to force all communication on the public tool that is Slack, and as a result, there was little to no privacy in communications. When a diverse set of employees tried to set up their own private Slack channel, a high ranking exec popped in to monitor/participate in the group, even though she didn't fit the diversity the group was based on.

A few days later, members of the group started being fired. The Verge article hit, and it was an internet sensation for a couple of days. If you want more detail about what's being called a toxic culture at Away, go read the Verge article now.

But I'm here to talk about what happened AFTER that article hit.  Here's the chain of events that I saw:

1.  Within days, CEO Steph Korey stepped down amid criticism of the ruthless internal culture at the luggage startup she co-founded.

2.  Away named a new CEO.

3.  I listen to a pretty ruthless podcast called Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. They had Away on their list of things to talk about during the week it all broke. That wasn't going to go well for Away, because these two are ruthless with bad stuff at companies.

4.  Away didn't run. Instead, they leaned in and sponsored the podcast. I've never heard Away as a sponsor of this podcast, so I'm assuming they bought the ad rights to the episode that aired with their news.

5. Scott Galloway, one of the hosts, did a live read as a result - in his usual personality, having fun with it.  They had already made the call with the CEO, so the talk was more about the action the company took rather than the bad cultural stuff.

The lesson here? If you act quick enough (fire the people in question) and lean in to the coverage, you can actually create buzz around a product and turn the negative talk into a business opportunity.

Here's what I did after hearing the podcast - 

  1. I went and checked out the product.
  2. I'm at least 50/50 to buy an Away bag as a result.
  3. I never would have gotten that close to purchase without the hard lead in on the podcast and controversy by Away.

The lesson?  Act fast when bad stuff happens and don't hide.

If you run the right type of business, you might just end up with a boost to your business. While that's not a recommendation to bully people on Slack, it's a case study on how to react when bad stuff happens.

BONUS READING: A Guide to Away Bag Knockoffs on Amazon