#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. 


"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. 
 
-----------------------------------
 
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
 
------------------------------------

Framing As A Working Professional: What It Is and Why You Should Do It...

“The most talented successful people in the workplace consistently “frame” their goals, work and outcomes via varied communication strategies.”

-Kris Dunn, aka “KD

When someone quotes themselves, hold on tight!  Buckle up! Framing

What is framing? It's not being a victim. It's being proactive. It's getting your story out there as a professional, "framing" the dialog about who you are, what you're working on and most importantly to you - how you're doing.

It's using of a variety of communication techniques to ensure all know what you are working on - including face to face, email, reporting and more.

Framing includes:

--Communicating what your goals are for a specific period.

--Communicating your challenges and progress.

--Communicating your wins and finished work product.

--Communicating your opinions and takes on what's going on around you in your area of subject matter expertise.

How's not bothering people with your goals, progress and outcomes going?  Not great, right?

You should frame more.  Don't let others build the narrative about who you are or how you are doing - take responsibility for the story. 

Framing is necessary for your career. Framing, for lack of a better word, is good.

Framing works. Do it - stop being shy.


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!

 

 

 


Ask The HR Capitalist: I Work at Tesla, and I'm Tired of the S**t...

From the mailbag:
---------------------------------------------------------------------

KD -

I first ran into the HR Capitalist based on you writing on Tesla and our founder Elon Musk.  I work in The_doctor_is_in a professional grade position managing people in our Fremont location. I've been at Tesla for a little under 8 months, and I'm exhausted. While I expected the pace to be fast, the blurred line between work and life is tough for even me - a long time believer that people who work hard get the most done and deserve the rewards.  While I love the Tesla mission and product, the grind is too much.  Based on what I've described about myself, what advice can you give me for the best way to leave?  I almost quit before the holidays, because the end of year at Tesla is a big bag of coal for most employees.  I've never been at a job less than 3 years, but there's no way in hell I can make it that long here.

--Name Withheld by KD

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

Hey My Friend- 

It's a tough spot for sure, but I've got a couple of things for you to consider:

--Don't quit before you have another job. It's always easier to get a job when you already have a job, and if you quit, there's always people who will hold it against you that you didn't stick it out.  

--Don't quit or take another job before you get to the 1-year mark in your current role at Tesla. Based on what I hear from people like you, 1 year at Tesla is like 7 years everywhere else.  If you can get to the 1-year mark and then accept another position at another company, it automatically crosses a threshold of acceptability in the marketplace, and you'll carry that premium for the rest of your career on your resume.

--Since you're a manager of people, don't forget others are facing the same struggle. The more you help them and listen, the more you'll be providing therapy for yourself as well.

In short, start your job search in earnest at 11 months and leave after you cross the one-year mark. It's cool that you did the Tesla thing, but if it's eating you up, find someone who values that experience (many will in the marketplace) and make your move. But you need to survive until you get to the year mark at Tesla.  #optics

--KD


What I Hate About SharkTank...and How to Deal With It...

And as you might suspect, it's linked to leadership and talent.

I love SharkTank as a show - when I'm not sure what to watch, especially with my teenage sons around, SharkTank is the go- Shark-tank-to.  It's entertaining, educational and conversation-provoking with my sons able to think about deals, negotiation, etc.

But there's one thing that drives me crazy:

I absolutely hate it when a shark makes and offer and tells the target he/she has to decide RIGHT NOW!!!  Without entertaining other offers...

I know what you're thinking.  "That's why they call it SharkTank, KD."  "Grow up, KD."  "Sucks to be them, KD."

You're right.  BUT - the very things people like Mark Cuban value most in a partner are the things they're trying to bully them out of.  Standing up for yourself - keeping deals/offers afloat why you shop for something better, etc.

The sharks in SharkTank would never be bullied like that.  But, they have people in front of them that value their involvement, want to go away with a deal, etc.  I'd say over half the time the strategy works.  The other half of the time the entrepreneur fails to deal with the expiring offer/bullying tactic in an effective way.

That's why it's about time for the pitching entrepreneurs to wise up and have a strategy to deal with the bully.  Here's the strategy they should use whenever a Shark makes them an offer and tells them it goes away unless they accept immediately without hearing other offers:

1--Thank them for the offer.

2--Remind them of the type of partner they want. "Mr. Wonderful, I know you're going to expect me to negotiate for you/us if we become partners, so please allow me to hear any other offers.  Since you were first, I'lll guarantee I'll come back to you and give you the right of counteroffer/first refusal if someone else makes an offer that's better than yours."

3--Proceed.  If they go away, they go away.

4--If you proceed and there aren't any other offers or you want the original offer, come back to the Shark who tried to use the bullying tactic and say, "Mr. Wonderful, your offer expired and I told you why I wanted to do what I did.  I'd love it if you came back in with that offer.  While I didn't heed your ultimatum, you now know I'm a partner that can seek the best deal for our business if I'm in a environment that requires negotiation."

I'm shocked more people aren't prepared for this tactic when they appear on SharkTank.   

The only time entrepreneurs who appear shouldn't use this talk track is when the Shark gives them 100% of what they asked for, or when 3 or more Sharks are already out.  That's common sense. 

But if a Shark gives you a lower than expected offer (as the first or second one in) and tries to bully you to accept right then and there, have some spine people.  Be prepared and use the talking track above in your own words.  It effectively turns the energy against the Shark and forces them to publicly confront what they want in a partner.

Oh, and never take an offer from Mr. Wonderful. 


New Research Show Income Gaps Are (at least partly) Due to Working More Than 40 Hours Per Week...

Hat tip to my homeboy Tim Sackett on the research cite below. Sacks must have crazy email subscriptions and Google alerts to mine this gold.

Cut and paste from Marginal Revolution appears below. Littlefinger

That is a new paper by J. Rodrigo Fuentes and Edward E. Leamer:

This paper provides theory and evidence that worker effort has played an important role in the increase in income inequality in the United States between 1980 and 2016. The theory suggests that a worker needs to exert effort enough to pay the rental value of the physical and human capital, thus high effort and high pay for jobs operating expensive capital. With that as a foundation, we use data from the ACS surveys in 1980 and 2016 to estimate Mincer equations for six different education levels that explain wage incomes as a function of weekly hours worked and other worker features. One finding is a decline in annual income for high school graduates for all hours worked per week. We argue that the sharp decline in manufacturing jobs forces down wages of those with high school degrees who have precious few high-effort opportunities outside of manufacturing. Another finding is that incomes rose only for those with advanced degrees and with weekly hours in excess of 40. We attribute this to the natural talent needed to make a computer deliver exceptional value and to the relative ease with which long hours can be chosen when working over the Internet.

Our good friend Kathy Rapp will be back later this week with analysis of the Microsoft 4-day work week pilot in Japan. While we can all agree that 4-day work weeks are awesome, can we also agree on the following points?

1--There's always going to be some maniacs who are incredibly talented and will work 6-7 days a week for decades.

2--Those maniacs will generally climb the corporate ladder and assume more wealth than similarly talented individuals who worked 40-45 hours a week.

3--There's always going to be some absolute grinders who don't have the natural talent cited in #1, but due to the fact they'll work themselves just shy of having a stroke, will achieve as much or more than the individuals with more talent that those cited in #2.

I'll leave you with this cite from the research above:

"Another finding is that incomes rose only for those with advanced degrees and with weekly hours in excess of 40. We attribute this to the natural talent needed to make a computer deliver exceptional value and to the relative ease with which long hours can be chosen when working over the Internet"

Work-life balance is cool.

But work-life choices are everywhere.

My advice to my sons is to rack up the hours and advance as much as you can in the first 10 years of your career, then make some choices on work-life balance after you've kicked a little ass of the people listed in #2. You might be able to downshift by the time you're 35 and have a family if you do it right.

Don't assume because everyone agrees that work-life balance is good that everyone will opt in,
 or that everyone is limited to 40 hours as productivity and performance is measured.

Littlefinger: "Chaos is a ladder."

The crazy talented/driven people described in #1: "The fascination with work-life balance makes me ever more special."

Good luck with the balance, folks.


The Removal of McDonald's CHRO Underscores Increased Expectations of HR...

In case you missed it, I shared some thoughts on company romance for managers of people yesterday, with the firing of the CEO of McDonald's as the backdrop.

On a related note, it was reported on Monday that the company's CHRO - David Fairhurst - had opted Wiredinto leave the company. Here's a quick rundown from the Wall Street Journal, then let's discuss:

"McDonald's said its top human-resources executive has left the company, days after the burger giant fired its chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, because of his relationship with an employee.

McDonald’s said Chief People Officer David Fairhurst left the company on Monday, without providing any details of the reasoning behind his departure. A McDonald’s representative said Mr. Fairhurst’s exit wasn’t related to the firing of Mr. Easterbrook.

New CEO Chris Kempczinski said in an email to employees Monday that Mr. Fairhurst was moving on from McDonald’s after 15 years of service, and had helped enhance the company’s brand. Mason Smoot, a McDonald’s senior vice president and company employee since 1994, was elevated to Mr. Fairhurst’s role on an interim basis, Mr. Kempczinski said.

Mr. Fairhurst didn’t respond to requests for comment. He had worked with Mr. Easterbrook for McDonald’s in the U.K. and was promoted to the top human-resources job soon after Mr. Easterbrook became CEO in 2015."

Did Fairhurst leave for reasons unrelated to the firing of the CEO for an inappropriate relationship? While that's possible, it's also unlikely.

Here's the top possible reasons for the departure of Fairhurst:

  1. He knew about the relationship and didn't escalate it appropriately.
  2. He didn't know about the relationship, but should have based on the circumstances.
  3. The board didn't evaluate whether he knew or not, they just decided he couldn't stay based on his long-term relationship with the CEO and the sensitivity of the issue related to the responsibility of the HR Function.

Regardless of the reason, the separation of McDonald's CHRO Fairhurst is a visible reminder of a shifting landscape for HR leaders. When it comes to issues of professional conduct in the C-Suite, we're increasingly being held accountable for the actions of the leaders we support. If we know of an issue, it's our responsibility to bring it up.  But more importantly, it's our job to be wired in to what's going on. At the end of the day, if we're not connected enough to have the information we need, we're going to be held accountable when bad stuff happens.

Fair? Maybe, maybe not. But it's the reality in the new world, and the removal of the McDonald's CHRO underscores the need to be wired in and take action swiftly.


Is What I'm About To Say Going To Blow Up In My Face? A Simple Guide...

I know.

You're a straight shooter. A truth teller. A no-BS kind of guy or gal.

We love that about you. You do you. But based on your position in the middle of the political machine in which you operate, that truth teller vibe can blow up in your face.

Saying what needs to be said is admirable. But so is staying alive in the game and living to fight another day. Stakes vary based on the issue at hand and the power of those involved. 

Here's a few questions that need to answered before you shoot the bastards straight on the issue in question. Enjoy:

Does it need to be said?

Does it need to be said by me?

Does it need to be said by me right now?

If the answer to any of those questions is no, don’t say it.

Additionally, answer this question:

Who is present (or will get word of my truth telling) that has a different position than me and do they have power? Will they react in a negative way and perhaps try to stop the form of direct deposit I've been receiving and enjoying as a result? (either now on in the future, because they have a memory like an elephant)

I could write 10 more questions in this guide about whether to blown them up with your crazy accurate and disruptive thoughts. I'll stop at 4.

Sometimes you gotta pull out the Bazooka and shoot 'em straight and be the sole voice of dissent. Sometimes you gotta fold and live to fight another day.

Knowing what to say is science, based on your subject matter expertise and the fact you're always right.

Knowing whether to say it is art, based on your accurate read of 107 factors, none of them reasonable or rationale.

Good luck players. The game needs you.