The Value of a Confidential Search BEFORE You Fire an Incumbent...

We've all been there. There's an incumbent in a key position, and for whatever reason, they're not getting it done.

So you do what you have to do. You make a move (more gracefully known as an organizational change) and you open up the role. If you're lucky, you nail the search, and within 45 days, you've got the new person starting. 

But, of course, sometimes the search in question is a train wreck, or maybe it's just a difficult search. 30 days turns into 60, then to the siren-emoting 90 day mark. In the interim, team members who now have no manager or a weak position interim leader are sending each other videos of famous castaways to note their rudderless floating in your organization.

Which begs the question - should you have done a confidential search and kept the struggling person in their role until you found a replacement?

Confidential searches feel bad - a true d**k/ass**** move in the mind of many. But before you discount this type of search as counter to your organizational ethos/values/integrity, you should probably ask yourself what the true cost of having the spot open for 60-90 days is.

Let's workshop whether a confidential search is right for you. How does the team feel about the person underperforming in the role in question?

--They hate him. OK! Your instincts to term and do a search are on the money. You'll be seen as a liberator, someone who "gets it" and made a move. Victory lap time, maybe even an email that majestically positions you as a liberator. If you are really up for it, hold a F2F meeting after the change with the team!

--They like/love her. DANGER. This team is likely focused on the person, not the performance. You term her, and you're the ass****, and the longer it takes you to fill it, the more chaos there is going to be. THIS SCENARIO IS THE ONE WHERE DOING A CONFIDENTIAL SEARCH MAKES THE MOST SENSE. Protect yourself before you (as Ice Cube so eloquently once put it) wreck yourself.

--They're neutral. There's no love or hate. This is the jump ball, and the big question is whether you feel lucky. Well, do you?  Because if you think you can make the move and get this thing filled in 45 days, you're probably OK. But the longer the spot is open, the shittier people are going to get. This one's on you. Tough call for sure.

For a nice primer on the potential value of the confidential search, I present two scenarios from the world of college football in 2020. Auburn University decided to part ways with Head Coach Gus Malzahn after 8 years, firing him in season and starting a national search. After a reported 7 candidates told them no in a very public way, they finally made a hire. The fan base (parallel to your employees) widely believed the search to be a complete clown show, because it took a long time (which can and will happen to you) and because the misses were so public (less likely to happen to you, except if you decide to make the team part of an interviewing process).

Now contrast that with the University of Texas (UT).  UT also wanted to change their football coach, but chose to talk to candidates in the background (confidential search) and have a deal done before they made a move. As a result, the announcement of the firing of Tom Herman was followed up by the announcement that UT was hiring Alabama Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian within 24 hours of the press release of the firing.

In other words, it was a done deal. They had their candidate via a confidential search and had agreed to terms. 

By the way, Steve Sarkisian was also a candidate for the Auburn job, but told them no in a public way. Cue the water cooler talk of whether management knows what the **** they are doing.

Auburn = Traditional Way Auburn

Texas = Confidential Search

RESULT: Auburn leadership plugged into Clown Memes, Texas leadership viewed as decisive, credible

The need for both searches was the same. Good, but not a great, leader who had not met oversized expectations at the organization they were serving. But one search was public, created organizational disruption that could have been avoided, and resulted in a perception that the organization got its 8th choice for the job in the marketplace - that is the recruiting marketplace we live in. The other search allowed the organization to recruit from a point of leverage, with a coach in place and the signal that we don't have to backfill this position unless we find the right deal for us.

I get it. It still feels itchy-scratchy, doesn't it?

Being more open to confidential searches is hard, because it doesn't feel like we're being 100% honest. But the brutality of what happens when you make a move, then miss a few times and hear the clock ticking sound and organizational float growing more prominent with each passing day, means you should always consider it as a business person.

Confidential searches are a tool for consideration. You should probably be using them more than you are if you're a C-level leader in your company.

Check your feelings at the door.


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?


Resilience and the Art of Taking an "L" As a Predictor of Talent Success...

When it comes to long-term success for a working class professional in today's world, nothing is more important than knowing how to "take the L".  

Let me explain.

"L's were taken" or "Take the L" has been around in phraseology since the early 2000's.  Here's the Urban Dictionary cite:

TAKE THE L

Stands for "Take the loss". Frequently used to describe flunking a test, being dumped, being stood up, being beaten up or robbed, or losing one's money in the stock market, gambling, or through exploitative business schemes. I really took the L on that history exam. The-art-of-taking-an-l-header
 
While those cites are mostly from one's personal life, Taking the L as a skill is easily transferred to the professional realm.
 
Note from my personal life: I've got a son in an Engineering program, and it's been a challenging first couple of years. He's not a 4.0, but he works his ass off, and to his dismay, he doesn't always see correlational results to that work (from his view). I've tried to counsel him on what's coming for him in the professional world when he gets there. The guidance goes something like this:
 
"I take L's every week, sometimes every day in my business life. That meeting didn't go as well as it should have. Someone tells me "no" on new business. The L's are everywhere if you look hard enough."
 
We're trained by social media that life is nothing but success. Social media is bullshit, and comparison is the thief of joy.
 
Nobody loses on social media, and kids get a lot of trophies growing up these days. Everyone, it seems, is a snowflake.
 
But the L's are coming for them in life and at work.
 
With that in mind, the counsel to me son goes like this:
 
"In baseball, failing 8 of 10 times at bat (hitting .200) confirms you're no good. Failing 7 of 10 times (hitting .300) makes you an All-Star.
 
"Teams in Major League Baseball are desperately trying to get to a 92-70 win/loss record so they can make the playoffs (success!) as a Wild Card.
 
"Professional life is a lot like the MLB. You're trying to get to 92-70. Take the L and do the work in your career - there's a game the next day."
 
Of course, what we should be looking for is resilience in candidates as we recruit. Can they take a loss and rebound?  Resilience is hard to measure, and in my opinion, it's driven by a few things:
 
1--Behavioral makeup - Sensitivity as a behavioral measurement matters. Low sensitivity people can take rejection, high sensitivity people take longer to recover. Assertiveness is also a tag along trait we should measure as well to look at resilience. Taking an L in the workplace is going to make people with low assertiveness even more unlikely to get back in the game the next day.
 
2--How someone grew up and overall hunger level - Silver spoons haven't taken as many L's. Understanding how someone grew up can tell you a lot about how bothered they are going to be when Cheryl throws up all over their idea in a team meeting. 
 
3--Mentoring to this point in their career - It's true, guidance in the professional realm matters. The more you've had someone who has seen you fail and been a muse for you - in big ways and in small ways - the more likely you are to have resilience and the perspective that proceeded your desire to show up the next day and grind.
 
If you're looking for someone with resilience, spend some in the recruiting process digging into to how they bounce back and what happens after a big/small failure.  If you're looking to grow resilience on your team, talk more about reactions to failure and setbacks.
 
You want a team that can take an L.  Most of us are striving to go 92-70 in the game of life and squeak into the playoffs.

Post-Election Skill for Leaders: Making All Feel Welcome & On Equal Ground...

I read this post recently by William Wiggins at Fistful of Talent on Transgenderism. It's a simple, insightful piece on being aware. 

Prior to reading William's post, I finished Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac. It's the story of how Uber rose from humble beginnings to become a Unicorn, then stumbled from the top as it's bro-tastic culture caused it to be tone-deaf to the world around it via PR fiasco after PR fiasco.

Both are highly recommended reading. One is 500 words and one is 80,000 words.

Then of course, like you, I've been through the shit show that is the 2020 Election Season.

There's never been a bigger need for awareness for making all feel like they belong and are welcome than post-election 2020. 

The lesson? Being a leader in modern times is tricky. Consider the following realities:

  1. You're a leader.
  2. You're full of personal thoughts, a specific background and some form of bias. You think how you think. Politics included.
  3. When change comes and you're asked to lead everyone, it's easy to react as if it's a burden or worse.
  4. You can say it's all gone too far you shouldn't be asked to manage people on the far right or the far left. Many will agree with you.
  5. But - you'll ultimately acknowledge the views of the group of people in front of you - everyone - or you won't be allowed to lead anymore. Unless you're in a groupthink organization where everyone thinks the same.

History shows this cycle to be true. Your job is to lead everyone. When you don't engage or find the good in a group of people in front of you, you won't get the results you want or need as a leader in your organization.  When you think about the election we just went through in 2020, it's easy to become polarized and lose sight of this universal truth.

Saying that the vocal people on the left want to ruin America is lame. Saying that anyone that voted republican must be a racist is lame. Both are intellectually lazy. 

What if you decided that rather than be late to the game, you made it a priority to make all feel welcome and on equal ground in your company or on your team as a leader?

What if?

I'll tell you what if, my friend.  If that was your approach, you'd find the people in question - the special class of people currently causing others discomfort (the groups change over time) - incredibly willing to work for you and just as importantly, freed to do their best work.  You'd be maximizing your ability to get great work from the resources you have.

When you choose to lead everyone and not take the polarized bait the world wants to feed you, a funny thing happens. Performance and the ability for someone to do their best work goes up.

None of us are perfect when it comes to the change cycle outlined in #1 through #5 above.  Stop reading things in your bubble and start thinking about the best way to bring everyone on the team into the fold in 2021.

Performance goes up as bullshit goes down.  Just be crystal clear on what's bullshit in this cycle (anything that makes you slow to accept that reasonable people can think differently).


5 Reasons I'm STILL Bullish On America: Election Day 2020...

Election day is here. So many voices shouting, so let me add my thoughts to the mix with a bi-partisan thought that's not said enough these days:

AMERICA: STILL THE BEST THING GOING. Yikes

Let's start with my favorite songs from Hamilton, which you can find on Disney+. If you're looking for a reason to feel good on election day, you could do much, much, much worse.

Yorktown

One Last Time

What Comes Next?

It's been a rough year in America. Pandemic, George Floyd, second phase of the first wave of the pandemic and now, one of the most disruptive elections in history. The economy is questionable and things have never felt more divisive - which obviously spills over into the workplace, thus the post on something you thought had nothing to do with HR... 

Note that I'm hardcore moderate that thinks both polar extremes politically in the states are 100% crazy.

Here's 5 reasons I'm still bullish on America, with some HR/management thoughts embedded within:

1--We live in a country where you can actually tell the leader to "F off" directly to him/her via his social account. He might even "@" you! I just think it's interesting and a complement that our society/constitution allows for that and people aren't afraid to do it.  Try that in Moscow, Wuhan, Istanbul or Cairo these days, friends.

I don't agree with the decision to tell a leader from any party to F-off publicly. But I'll support your right to do it until the day I die. Side note - be careful with this approach with a leader in your company. Like the Dixie Chicks in the early 2000's, you'll find out that your right to free speech is protected, but the free market can and will remove you from corporate consideration. Also note the Dixie Chicks are now The Chicks, because Dixie didn't survive the cut in 2020 but "chicks" is OK, but as FYI, I've issued an advisory for dudes not to get comfortable using that term. Got it? Cool.

2--We have a history in the USA of being getting fed up, then vocal and moving for change. It's a long history and I could list all the problems America has had through the years - but you're aware of the history. Instead, I'm going to focus on what actually happens over time in America. People are vocal, critical mass is formed and change happens. It's easy to say it takes too long  - it sure does  - but just grab a live look in at St. Petersburg, Tabriz or Shenzhen for perspective. Also noted that it remains very much a work in process - as the George Floyd events illustrate (see my posts on the aftermath of George Floyd here and here, as well as these posts by great writers at my other site (FOT) if you doubt my intent). It's a rough look for the USA right now, but I believe America is 100% going to get this right - both now and in the future.

3--America is still the premiere melting pot of the world.  When I look around at the world my sons live in, I'm happy and proud that their world is more defined by meritocracy via equal opportunity more than mine was growing up. They see race, national origin and gender less than our generation did, and are accepting of people who don't look like them totally kicking a## in various walks of life. Why? America. Also see this map from the Washington Post that is a visual representation of the most and least racially tolerant countries in the world. Spoiler alert: Racism is a problem around the world, and while the USA has so many miles to go, we have some common ground to work from. (Note: I ran this map by some of my liberal friends and they had a hard time processing it. But still, it's the Washington Post on the left and they haven't pulled it down, which to me means it's solid for me to quote).

When I see a Black, Asian or Indian kid/family achieving in America, I'm not threatened. I'm proud they are American. I love it when the melting pot kicks ass. 

4--There's still a role for moderates in America. If you're not feeling the polar extremes of either political party here, it's OK. While the polar extremes are less tolerant than ever of your lack of willingness to commit, you've become the swing voter block that drives both sides crazy. You're also probably uniquely qualified to manage people as you've learned to see different points of view and co-exist with the highest % of people. This just in - the best managers of people are the ones who can get as many people in the bus to where we are going in 2021, 2031 and 2041 as possible. It's hard to do that when you say - as both parties do - you're either with me or against me.

5 - AMERICA ALWAYS COURSE CORRECTS. We've had a lot of dark times in our country and we've made some questionable decisions. What I love about America is that WE ALWAYS THROW THE BUMS OUT. Every. Single. Time. Regardless of party. In addition, just when you think you know what the answer will be, America rises up and pleasantly surprises you. Who saw a 6-3 vote FOR LGBTQ+ rights in a Supreme Court loaded with Republicans? No one, and you'd be fair to be skeptical on why that wasn't celebrated more. So be active, shoot your shot and trust the process. If you don't like how things are going in the USA - all you have to do is wait - we are junkies for change and can't accept too much of a single point of view. (side note - the picture in this post is my 4th of July t-shirt. It says, "YIKES", with subscript that says "England 1776")

Let's dig into that "Yikes" reference to close this July 4th post. This recent article from The Atlantic called "The Decline of the American World" digs into the perception of America around the world, especially in Europe. I found the article to be incredibly balanced and why it certainly focused on some negative perceptions of our country, it also featured hot takes by many that the world needs America to be great.

The article is highly recommended. I can't let you go without sharing the close of the article with you, focused on what Charles Dickens found in America:

"Over America’s history, it has had any number of crises—and any number of detractors. Le Carré is just one of many who have delved into the conflicting well of emotions that the United States manages to stir in those who watch from outside, part horrified, part obsessed. In his travel book, American Notes, for instance, Charles Dickens recalls his loathing for much of what he saw on his adventures through the country. “The longer Dickens rubbed shoulders with Americans, the more he realised that the Americans were simply not English enough,” Professor Jerome Meckier, author of Dickens: An Innocent Abroad, told the BBC in 2012. “He began to find them overbearing, boastful, vulgar, uncivil, insensitive, and above all acquisitive." In other words—it’s the aesthetic again. In a letter, Dickens summed up his feelings: “I am disappointed. This is not the republic of my imagination.”

Dickens, like le Carré, captured America’s unique hold on the world and the fundamental reality that it can never live up to people’s imagination of what it is, good or bad. As it watches today, it recoils but cannot stop looking. In the United States, the world sees itself, but in an extreme form: more violent and free, rich and repressed, beautiful and ugly. Like Dickens, the world expects more of America. But as le Carré observed, it is also, largely, an aesthetic thing—we don’t like what we see when we look hard, because we see ourselves."

Translation: The bumper sticker for America could easily be, "AMERICA: WE'RE MORE EVERYTHING THAN YOU ARE".

Which is why we'll be back. Happy election day, America. You are imperfect, dysfunctional, and at times, hard to look at.

But you're still the best thing going. Regardless of the outcome this time around, I believe you'll get this right, as you've gotten so many other things right.

See you at the cookout. 


What To Do When a Person of Influence Asks You For Extra Work...

Every couple of years, this question makes the rounds - "What would you tell the 25 year old version of yourself?" I've noticed that going around recently, so here I am.

Of course, there are 1,000's of things you could respond with. But assume we're talking about the world of work for a second. That probably cuts the answers down to the 100's, not 1,000's.

Now do forced choice - you can only share one thing.  It's tough to narrow it down. Ax

The reality is your response is likely to be focused on what you're experiencing in your career on a given week the question is asked. 

So what would I tell the 25-year old version of myself?

It's pretty simple. I'd tell them that you never - and I mean NEVER - say no or deprioritize a request from someone with power and influence over their career.

Let's dig in a little deeper. Let's say you're the younger version of yourself. You're a good to great performer, and people at your company have grown to regard you as someone who can be trusted to get things done. That means over time, people of influence at your company are going to be exposed to you, hear about you, and in many ways come to regard you as someone with potential and whom perhaps is performing above their pay grade.

That means the people of influence at your company are going to come to you with a request to do work. That request may or may not be a part of your normal job. That request may or may not come at a time that's convenient for you. That request may or may not be something you know how to do and it possibly could required you to roll up your sleeves and figure a bunch of shit out.  

Yet you've performed, and the request comes.

What happens next is the test.

All of the "may or may not" statements above are the debbie downers about the request. It's not your job, you're kind of busy this week or month, and it's in an area that you're not super interested in.

Let me be crystal clear. All of those things can be true. Average people say they are too busy or attempt to negotiate a later date to get the work/request/project done. True players - the ones who are promotable 2-3 levels above their current organizational level - never say no.

This rule has been true since your grandparents were on the factory floor or creating copies via real carbon copies (look it up).

As we've grown related to better workplaces, mental health and a sense of well-being, you'll read tomes on how to get the best out people through a variety of progressive people practices. You can believe all of the new ways of workplace engagement, but don't be fooled - when the call comes for help from people with influence because they've heard about you, it's test. They don't realize it's a test, but it is.

Say yes to the extra work, the longer hours, the problem to solve - and you've shown yourself to be part of the bigger chase.  Say no or try and schedule a later time and you'll never be asked again.

Maybe you don't want to be in the chase - that's OK!  Just remember not everyone is asked and few are rarely asked twice once someone hears "I could probably spend some time on that next month."

It's OK to not want to be in chase to the top.

Just remember that that not everyone is asked, and saying no is a long-term choice.


Talking About Glassdoor's New Diversity Ratings with Joel Cheesman...

In Episode 18 of BEST HIRE EVERKris Dunn chats with Joel Cheesman, founder of Poach and Ratedly (as well as a co-host of the aptly-named Chad and Cheese Podcast) about the addition of Diversity Ratings on the Glassdoor platform. 

Joel and KD discuss the new rating and what it means for company reputation, the complicated relationship between Indeed and Glassdoor and how smart EB/Marketing/HR/TA pros can use the DEI focus to grow and protect their careers in a recession.

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

1:25 - Joel breaks down his work at Poach and Ratedly. Poach follows employee sentiment and tells you when to reach out to great talent at a company that's thinking about jumping. Ratedly aggregates review sites so you can track what's being said about your company without logging into 15 review sites.

4:40 - Joel covers and outlines new Glassdoor ratings in the area of DEI and Diversity. Are you ready for your employees to rate your company on diversity?  Sure you are...

8:30 - KD and Joel talk about the number of ratings needed at a company for the diversity rating to appear - a disadvantage for SMBs.

9:30 - KD breaks down big company current DEI ratings on Glassdoor and Joel reacts.  It's complicated.

12:05 - Joel breaks down the complicated relationship between Indeed and Glassdoor, which are owned by the same PE firm. The companies had a 28% drop in revenue during the COVID period.

14:50 - Joel and KD talk about who has more leverage in the world of HR and TA - Glassdoor or Indeed. 

16:40 - KD asks Joel about the potential to show Glassdoor ratings on the Indeed platform, etc.

19:20 - Joel breaks down the challenge specifically for Employment Brand and marketing pros during the downturn, and how DEI branding presents an opportunity for them to survive in a pandemic flavored recession.

RESOURCES AND SHOW NOTES:

------------Joel Cheesman

Poach.ai

Ratedly

The Chad and Cheese Podcast

Joel Cheesman on LinkedIn


------------Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

Kinetix

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Boss Leadership Training Series

Kris Dunn on Twitter

Kris Dunn on Instagram


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.
 

If You Work From Home, How Bad Do You Miss the Commute?

I've been blessed to have mostly worked from home over the last 10 years. When I did commute weekly, it was a doozy - 3 hours, one overnight and then back the next evening.

And you know what? As hard and shitty as that commute was going in and out of the ATL, I miss it a bit. Atlanta-traffic

A commute is a great time to get quality calls in. It's a great time to throw on a podcast. And of course, it's a great time to turn Drake or Metallica up to "10."

If you continue to work from home, who's going to help you with this intro or outro to your day (the commute) you'd never thought you'd miss?

How about Microsoft? Some of you just replied, STFU, right? I get it.

More from the Wall Street Journal:

"Microsoft's latest idea for Teams, though, may give many pause for thought.

As my colleague Mary-Jo Foley reported, one new feature of Teams -- coming in 2021 -- seems to be the Microsoft Virtual Commute.

I can already feel your shoulders rising toward your ears. Is Microsoft really going to make you sit on a virtual bus, while virtual passengers listen to actual loud music while cutting their virtual toenails? I very much hope not. The intentions here seem pure enough. This is an attempt by Microsoft to protect your mental health.

"The virtual commute feature is designed to help people mark the start and end of their working day, a more difficult prospect for those working at home."

It is, indeed, difficult as employers are taking liberties to squash the (remaining) liberties of employees. Microsoft itself discovered that more than half of company IMs were being sent between 6 pm and midnight. (And somewhere, Bill Gates smiles.)

I'd like to believe this, of course. But when I look at traffic jams at commute time -- they're building up again here in the Bay Area -- I worry that commutes tend to resonate with stress rather than its opposite.

More troubling, perhaps, is what Microsoft would actually like you to do during this virtual commute. Kamal Janardhan, general manager for workplace analytics and MyAnalytics at Microsoft 365, told the Journal that users will be asked to write a list of things they expect to accomplish during the day.

The Journal added more details. The virtual commute helper "will ask how users are feeling before they start work. If they say they are feeling overwhelmed, the virtual commute assistant will ask if they want to block time off in their calendars to focus on work or de-stress."

That's right. Microsoft's version of the end of day commute is to get you to build a list of s**t you have to get done the next day. 

No podcast. No music. No personal calls to bitch and complain to a trusted friend.

Instead, Microsoft's going to put on some classical music and make you build your to do list. Soon, there will be enhancements so you can prioritize your Wednesday and maximize productivity.

Most of us working from home miss the unwind period of the end of day commute. We might not admit that automatically, but there's something about rolling in your car and doing whatever the hell you want for 30 minutes with your time.

No update to Teams is going to give you that release or freedom.

A good, relaxing commute does not have 2-Factor Authentication.

You can quote me on that.


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!