Thinking About Work in 2021: It's Probably Time To Get Out of the Fetal Position...

It's the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, and for me that means I'm working, but a bit reflective on the year we've just had. That's me every year during this time, but obviously, 2020 makes you reflect even deeper.

As I think about 2020 and what I want for me, my company and the world of work in 2021, one phrase comes to mind: Love what you do

"Let's Get Out of the Fetal Position"

There's a multiple reasons that 2020 put a bunch of incredible people on the defensive about doing their best work:

--Pandemic
--Widespread Social Change
--Political Firestorm
--Cancel Culture, Virtue Signaling and Shaming for anyone who dares to stray from the promoted mainstream media norm on the issues above

Add it all up, and it's fair to say that most of us haven't done our best work in 2020. And that's a shame, because so many of you are kick ass talents at what you do. But there's been risk in 2020, and you did what you had to do.

Congrats, you made it through.

What comes next?

For me, I have to get back to playing offense. That's where I'm at my best, and on most of the issues where I might stray from the promoted mainstream media norm, there's no question in my mind that my views are valid and deserving of a view.

Of course, there's also the value of doing the work the right way. Check out this great video of JJ Watt of the Houston Texans talking about doing the work and why it's important. I watched it and thought about all the excuses that are around us why we shouldn't be at our best at our companies. Are many of those reasons valid in 2020? Sure - but the question is how long does all the change we've experienced in 2020 impact the work you do in a negative way?

The work, as it turns out, deserves the best you. The people around you remember the best you - the pre-2020 version. They believe in that version of you, and you owe it to them, the business and yourself to provide that.

Work matters. But half-assed, scared work matters much less than the best version you can provide.

My biggest resolution for 2021 is to get back to playing offense. 

What about you?


Faking It vs. Being Authentic at Work: A Primer...(with Podcast after post)

I'm on the record that I like people who have the ability to "fake it until they make it".

Of course, there's a lot to unpack in that statement, namely whether people can do more harm than good with that approach - not only to their organizations, but also to themselves.

A different and more important question surrounds the ability to bring your authentic self to work, vs. being in an organization where you feel like you have to "fake it" to survive and thrive. That's different than "faking it until you make it" (which is more knowledge, skill and ability based), right?  

Faking it to survive in an organization is no way to live. If you can't be you and have to proactively hide the real you in a professional setting, that sucks.

Take a listen to the podcast below with industry expert and friend Jason Lauritsen as we talk through the benefits of bringing your authentic self to work. Turns out, it's a process and harder than it looks, but I learned a lot from the conversation with Jason below.

KD

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

In Episode 16 of BEST HIRE EVERKris Dunn chats with Jason Lauritsen on the always hot topic of Faking it at Work vs Being Authentic at Work. Jason and KD discuss what being authentic really means as a candidate and an employee, the risks and rewards of being authentic, and the zombie-like existence of those who choose a life of faking it at work (whether by choice or via tough economic circumstances). 

KD and Jason also discuss building teams as a hiring manager on the recruiting trail via authenticity.

Please subscribe, rate and review (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Click here if you don't see the player below!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS
 
1:43 - Jason and KD talk about his current focus - speaker, writer and consultant in the world of HR and healthy workplaces, and he's currently ramping up online courses for that domain.  He's also learning the harmonica, KD actively envisions him breaking the harmonica out is pocket and jamming with a house band. Which. Is. Awesome.
 
4:00 - Jason and KD set the stage by talking about a post he did this month on being authentic at work vs faking it.  Jason reacts to someone who encouraged people to fake it at work, defines his view of being authentic in the workplace and why it's so valuable.
 
10:35 - Why do people feel compelled to fake it in the recruiting process or the workplace?  Jason and KD chop it up.
 
12:13 - KD and Jason talk about how average level opportunities go down when you're authentic, but the intensity of opportunity across what remains goes exponentially up.
 
15:27 - Jason and KD carve up definitions of fake it, fake it until you make it, being authentic and more related to the workplace.  Turns out being authentic isn't just letting your freak flag fly, it's hard work and intentional, and protects relationships rather than destroying them.
 
23:40 - Jason and KD talk about being authentic on the recruiting trail, breaking down what it means for candidates and hiring managers.  How does it differ from employees already working for a company? Jason/KD discuss.
 
Along the way, Jason and KD discuss the expert definition of being authentic, as well as some of the greatest advantages and risks to anyone in the workplace who focuses on being authentic.
 

VIDEO: Future Jobs in HR and Recruiting (and how HR Pros can get ready!)

In this video, FOT leaders Kris Dunn and Tim Sackett talk about future jobs in the world of HR, recruiting and talent (from HBR), then discuss how HR Generalists should get ready for the trends by up-skilling through continuing education and development.

(email subscribers click through if you don't see the video below or click here to view)


HR Generalists (at all levels) Win By Adding Specialist Learning Paths to their Portfolio...

I'm on the record as believing the HR Generalist (CHRO to early career) is the most important component in the HR machine at any company. Of course, I love HR Specialists too. Shout out to the specialists! You're doing what you love and you are important! We love you!

But the HR Generalist is the one who's in the conference room when s*** has gone completely sideways, and they're also the one who business leaders at all levels and functional areas confide in when they have seemingly insurmountable issues on their team or in their business.

What's that? Of course Legal is in the room at some point, but they're the second or third call in times of distress. A trusted HR generalist who has developed a relationship of trust is always the first call.

So here we are - 2020. What a mess of a year. But if you're an HR Generalist, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first? OK, the good news followed by the bad news:

1--Good News! In a post-COVID world, good to great HR Generalists are worth more and increasing in value versus their specialist peers.

The logic behind this reality is pretty simple. Headcount has shrunk in many HR functions as furloughs and layoffs have occurred, and as a result the market is placing a premium on Generalist skills. CHROs are rebuilding teams around the Generalist skill set. Don't take my word for it, just take a listen to these podcasts I did with long-time HR headhunter Kathy Rapp and HR pros Jessica Lee/Tim Sackett (click on the links if you don't see the podcast players below).

The challenge in this good news is that you're going to be asked to do more with less as a Generalist. Better than not having a job, for sure. But you're going to have to invest and work at developing your skills to stay relevant in the years to come, and to ensure you're making the career progress you'd like. Interestingly enough, a lot of what you'll need to add is specialist-related, because the best way to be a great generalist is to slowly but surely add specialist skills to your portfolio.

This realty brings us to the bad news, aka "the challenge":

2--Bad News! To stay on top as an HR Generalist in a post-COVID world, you need to understand how the world is changing and seek training & development that will make you "critical" to those you work for.

This is pretty simple. It's called being strategic with your own development and also being intellectually curious. You seek development to make yourself more valuable, secure and hopefully, engaged with what you do in the world of HR.

It's always better to be motivated to get better via deep interest in what you do. But if you're not curious about where HR is going, then you have to invest to stay one step ahead of the masses, my friend.

OK - let's assume you agree with me. Where do you start to seek training and development that will make you critical for the future?  I always recommend you start with a conversation with the person you work for. Whether that's a C-level, a CHRO or a Director of HR, having a chat about what L&D opportunities they think are important for your future has multiple effects. It cements a connection that you sought their feedback, which creates a perception of investment in you. It also makes them more likely to pay for it.  Advantage: You.

Of course, you can't just walk into that meeting without some prep, right? Here are a couple of big ideas on the best way to map specialist skills to add to your generalist portfolio:

--Look for trends that your company/industry/boss feels are important for the future. I wrote a few weeks ago on 21 Future HR Jobs (click link to review), and as it turns out, I'm not sure any of them are standalone jobs in the next decade. But I'm 100% sure many of the trends covered will be important for high-end, high achieving HR Generalists. You likely could develop a short list of 3-4 of these to guide your path.

--Then match those trends and look at resources like SHRM which is actively creating high-end continuing education for HR pros. For best results using SHRM as you seek to build out your Generalist knowledge and portfolio, do this:

--Flip through SHRM's Fall catalog to find your 2020 program fit(s) and map your future.

--Take a 6-question quiz to receive a curated list of recommended programs, based on your interests, learning style, and expertise.

HR Generalists are in the driver's seat in a post-COVID world. But any high performing HR pro knows they have to stay current and continually add to their portfolio to stay on top and get the career results they desire.

Map it out, invest and go make it happen, my friends!


21 HR Jobs of the Future...Do You Buy It?

Do you believe that HR is going to look dramatically different in 5, 10 or 15 years?  Shoutout to the all the deep thinkers and futurists out there!

Harvard Business Review recently ran an article focused on 21 HR Jobs of the future - here's a taste what they researched and what they found:

The Cognizant Center for Future of Work and Future Workplace jointly embarked on a nine-month initiative to determine exactly what the future of HR will look like. We brought together the Future Workplace network of nearly 100 CHROs, CLOs, and VP’s of talent and workforce transformation to envision how HR’s role might evolve over the next 10 years. This brainstorm considered economic, political, demographic, societal, cultural, business, and technology trends.

The result was the conception of over 60 new HR jobs, including detailed responsibilities and skills needed to succeed in each role. We then created a ranking of each job by its organizational impact, allowing us to narrow the list to an initial 21 HR jobs of the future.

We arranged these HR jobs on a 2×2 grid; the X-axis depicts time, and the order in which we expect them to appear over the next 10 years, while the y-axis depicts “technology centricity” (i.e., all jobs will utilize innovative technologies, but only the most tech-centric will actually require a grounding in computer science). Furthermore, each job was analyzed in the form of a job description (overall requirements, specific responsibilities, skills/qualifications, etc.) similar to those an HR organization will need to write in the coming decade.

Ready?  Here's the grid that lists the new jobs they found (email subscribers click through for the chart and the jobs):

21 hr jobs for the future

OK! What's your call? Is this the future we're looking at, or is this all hype?

The truth, as you might expect, is somewhere in the middle. While the trends associated with these 21 projected new jobs are real, the reality of whether any of these jobs make it through a future budget process is dicey at best.

Is HR going to need better competency at helping organizations prevent bias? Absolutely. Will we need to guide employees and candidates who are displaced by technology in a more effective way in the future? Yes!  Are the other 19 job titles reflective of future needs? I can't argue that they're not.

What I can argue is whether any of these things rises to the level of a stand-alone job. For the biggest companies that are fully funded and flush with cash, maybe. But for the rest of us? Nope.

Think of these 21 areas not as jobs that will be available, but areas to invest in related to training, knowledge and education as a part of your broader HR career.

Don't count on these jobs being what you do in 10 years. Count on the fact that if you dig in with curiosity in 3 or 4 of these areas, you'll make yourself more valuable, especially in larger companies.

Most companies can't hire a "Distraction Prevention Coach" - now or in the future. But they can value and reward the HR Generalist who digs in and becomes more valuable and knowledgeable in this and the other 20 areas.

Get busy living or get busy dying, my HR leader and HR Generalist friends.

 

 

 


Great HR Pros Learn to Ask Very Specific Questions...

Deep thoughts for my HR friends and managers of people doing hard work in the field this week:

“Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask. After all, conscious thinking is largely asking and answering questions in your Mentors own head. If you want confusion and heartache, ask vague questions. If you want uncommon clarity and results, ask uncommonly clear questions.”

— Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Timothy Ferriss
https://a.co/crLGIsN

I'm a big believer that all of us can be better negotiators. At times, that requires cutting through the bulls**t and rather than dancing around the issue, asking very specific questions designed to box someone in related to how they feel and what you want - rather than worrying about this thing some call "feelings".

Examples of the specific ask by HR pros:

--If I source these candidates for you, are you actually going to hire someone?

--I'd like to be in charge of that project. Will you support me in that and assign it to me?

--Why did you offer that person less than the person who went to your Alma Mater?

--Did you put both of your hands on Janet's shoulders? (follow up: "creepers")

Ping me with your specific asks/questions from the HR hall of fame. And they next time you're dancing around the real issue, remember this advice from Tim Ferris and start asking uncommonly clear, specific and direct questions.

You'll be shocked at the results you get. Nobody dies, and you either get what you wanted or save 3 hours doing follow-ups trying to get to the same point.

Advantage: You.


Good Call Center Jobs Teach You a Lot - But We Might Wonder Why You Didn't Get Promoted...

I love what jobs early in our careers teach and say about us.  There's literally 8 million stories in the naked city, and this is just one of those stories.

But in its own little way, it matters - a lot. Workaholics

This story is about what happens when a new graduate takes a customer service job at a big company. You know the person, the company and the type of job I'm talking about.

Person - New college grad or a person with a high school diploma who has had a couple of jobs where they strung a bit of success together.  If you're a new college grad, you probably have a business, marketing or liberal arts degree - you're not a STEM major, which is 100% ok.

Company - A big company with a professionally run customer service function - think more than 100 FTEs, and at times 1,000+

Type of Job - Sit your *ss in that chair and take the abuse make our customers happy through 80 inbound calls a day.

While a lot of these jobs are getting replaced by technology, they still exist, and in the opinion of this humble observer, they are great training grounds for a career in the business world. 

95% of graduates aren't STEM or technology majors, and they don't come from the Ivy League. The call center job is a natural starting point for a career, if you can land this job in a big company along the lines of what I described above.

You know what's sad? We've created an artificial expectation of careers via a cocktail of social media, college propaganda and related bulls**t that these types of jobs aren't good starting points for a college grad. Talk to new grads, and their expectation is that they should come out of the gate earning 60K. It's a lie for most of the world. Fewer kids are ready to work these days.

But (and there is a but) there's a Darwinian thing that happens in a professionally run, modern call center for a reputable company.

Promote or become staler than the 5-day old bread you left open and out on the porch. Career pathing happens, and the reps who do the work and are good at what they do get promoted - both up the ranks in the call center, and out into other areas of the company. That's how it should be.

But it begs another question.  What does someone in the same modern call center role/job with a big company for 3 years (no inline promotion, no career ladder move or anything else) mean?  It means they're well-placed and lost in the generally open bid for promotions, transfers to other departments, etc.

While the current crop of college grads doesn't want to pay dues in the call center, there's another reality. The world is quick to coddle the same grad who's spent 1 year in the same professional call center job and tell them things like this:

It's not your fault. The system was rigged. There's a bunch of favoritism associated with promotions in that arena.

Nope. You got beat, you didn't get it done. The professional grade call center that's internal at blue chip, well run companies knows what it's doing. You weren't good enough. You being in the same role in that company with a LOT of opportunity within the call center (not even looking at promotions to other areas) means you weren't in the top quartile, and you may be closer to the 50th percentile.

If you have a kid with a degree who's struggling to find his path, encourage him/her to find a great company with a good call center/customer service function, apply and win a job, then go compete like crazy.

Promotions for youngsters in well run call centers matter. They're literacy tests for the ability to grind, perform and compete in a career.

All other things being equal, I'd take a person who put on the headset and went to compete over one who hasn't.  


Executive Coaches: When The Company Pays the Bills, Watch Out...

Let's say you're a rising star with a lot of potential, but a few things to work out. Your company finds you an executive coach, makes the introduction and pays the bills.

You probably need to be wary of who the coach works for. You'd be reasonable to ask that question, Twitterbut also to dig into the details/expectations of when, where and how the coach would communicate on your progress to others at your company, noted issues you're working through, roadblocks and more.

Here's a great excerpt from a book I'm reading - Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton. In this excerpt, noted Silicon Valley Executive Coach Bill Campbell is noted as being his student's biggest booster...and carving him up behind the scenes.

Here's the excerpt detailing his coaching of Ev Willams, one of the founders of Twitter:

“He (Ev) held his weekly meetings with Campbell, receiving his boisterous pep talk. “You’re doing a f**king great job!” Campbell would bellow. At board meetings Campbell would appear to listen to Ev’s presentations on the state of the company. After Ev’s sermons were done, the coach would clap loudly and hug his protégé, proclaiming again to everyone in the room that Ev was “doing a f**king great job!” and asking them to clap (none of this was a usual occurrence in a corporate board meeting). Then, after Ev left the room, proud that his mentor thought he was doing such a great job, Campbell would shout at the group: “You gotta get rid of this f**king guy! He doesn’t know what the f**k he’s doing!””

— Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton

LOL. Palace intrigue. It should be noted that Ev was matched with Campbell by a Twitter board member, and also that Campbell's Wikipedia page notes that he coached Jack Dorsey and Dick Costello at Twitter, but not Ev.

Who does the executive coach work for? Here's a hint: if you're not paying the coach and don't have clear rules of engagement on disclosure, the coach doesn't work for you. You might want to be a bit wary in those circumstances.

PS: Can I get an executive coach to stand up and get the applause going when I present in a normal conference room? THAT WOULD BE AWESOME, except for the part where he/she totally blades me when I leave the room.


Do You Have a Direct Report With Writing Talent? You Should!

Look, I get it - some of you won't be hiring for a while based on COVID and the resulting economic struggles. 

Which makes now the perfect time to look at your team of direct reports and ask the following question:

"Do I have someone to carry the writing load in this department?"

I'm not talking about hiring a writer as a standalone position. I'm talking about the need for you to always have someone on your team of direct reports with writing as a key secondary skill. Why is this important? Because you need someone to take the great reactions/outcomes/action plans from you and your team and create effective communications to the masses.

Simply put, you can be a great leader with a great team - but if you can't effectively win in how you communicate what's going on to the masses, you'll never realize your potential as a leader or a department.

If you're not managing others yet and think you have the ability to write well in a professional setting, it's time for you to figure out a way to make writing one of your key differentiators.

The topic of great writing on teams is why I taped an episode of BEST HIRE EVER (my podcast on recruiting topics) with Lance Haun, a former HR pro turned professional writer and editor. Take a look at the rundown for the podcast below and give a listen (please subscribe and rate if you like it).

--KD

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

In Episode 5 of BEST HIRE EVER, Kris Dunn connects with Lance Haun (Starr Conspiracy, ERE, Former HR Pro) to talk about why hiring at least one great writer for your team makes incredible sense as a leader – regardless of your functional area or line of business. Lance and KD chop it up about how to spot, find and engage a candidate with writing skills in your hiring process, and how professionals looking to leverage their writing skills for career gain can get noticed.

Never satisfied with one great topic, KD and Lance also explore the Haun family’s history of sustainable meat and how Lance’s dad sees an explosion of business at his butcher shop when things like COVID hit the American marketplace.

Please subscribe (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Email subscribers click here if you don't see the player below:

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

1:35 - KD starts by calling Lance Haun a killer writer. Lance blushes and begs off and calls his writing history a humbling experience.

2:04 -  KD breaks down Lance. HR pro at the start, starting one of the first HR blogs, then becomes a professional writer in our space at ERE and Starr Conspiracy. Lance describes when he knew writing was his differentiator.

7:30 -  Lance talks about “social proof” as being the addictive side of writing. Translation – reactions to your writing are good.

9:05: Lance and KD talk about the need for great talent to have writing skills. Lance talks about learning styles still including and being influenced by the written word. KD balks and says he thought that the world was being changed forever by video. #joking

12:55 – What’s the best way for a leader to test and confirm that someone can add value as a writer on their team?  Lance recommends communicating more than normal via email as a test – long email threads.  In addition, getting into someone’s process of creating written work product is key to understand their approach to the craft.

16:00 – Lance talks about knowing who the communicators are in your workplace and how that can help drive internal mobility in your company.

19:30 – KD talks about why all leaders – even if they are great writers – need to hire for writing skills so that leader can become an editor rather than a production writer.  #delegate

20:00 – Lance and KD talk about the right way to show your writing skills as a candidate. Maximizing your LinkedIn profile and presence is the path of least resistance and greatest reach for most professionals.

24:00 – Lance and KD talk about negative bias that may exist towards professionals who share their thoughts via blogs, LinkedIn and social.  Being vocal and sharing your thoughts may limit overall opportunity, but you’ll be a candidate of choice for many of the companies and hiring managers that remain.

28:30 – Lance talks about his dad, the butcher shop and how his dad’s business has gone up during the COVID crisis. KD thinks Lance could be the Gary V of meat. Lance talks about surprising his dad by running Facebook ads to drive traffic to the shop during normal times.  Haunsmeats.com


Links for Lance:

Lance Haun on LinkedIn

Lance Haun on Twitter

Haun’s Meats in Walla Walla WA!

KD's GPS

Kinetix

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Boss Leadership Training Series

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

Kris Dunn on Twitter

Kris Dunn on Instagram

 


VIDEO: Using BHAGs as a Goal Setting Technique for High Performers...

Big, hairy, audacious goals, or BHAGs, are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They traditional differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are usually positioned toward by a large group (rather than individuals) and they typically span a large amount of time than any of our other goals. They’re huge.

Even though BHAGs are generally goals for companies and collective groups, smart managers are increasingly using them for individuals as well. I explain the merits of using BHAGs in this fashion in the following episode of TalentTalks from Saba Software.

Take a listen (email subscribers click through for video below if you don't see it) and hit me in the comments with a BHAG that's been useful in your career or managing a talented direct report!!!