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.


What We Can Learn From the Kohl's Response to the Amazon Crack Pipe...

Hi Capitalist Readers - 

I'm up at Fistful of Talent with some notes on what we can learn from the recent decision by retailer Kohl's to become a return center for Amazon. Here's a taste, hit this link to get to whole article at Fistful of Talent:

"In case you missed it, Retail – at least of the normal variety – is on life support.

We’re all to blame. That big sucking sound you hear? It’s the gravitational pull of Amazon, giving you two-day one-day delivery you didn’t even know you needed, but now expect. Amazon has a history of innovating, taking the long view of changing your behavior completely, reinvesting profits in the business to keep you coming back to the crack pipe of unlimited choice and immediacy and yes, paying almost no corporate taxes.

What could go wrong?

But I digress. I’m as guilty as anyone, seeing how I recently ordered two sizes of the same jacket from Amazon because I couldn’t be bothered with a single one not fitting and having to repeat the process. So I ordered two, then got the jacket and decided like an impatient aristocrat of the KG3 variety to send both of them back because I didn’t like it. The humanity!

I was an Amazon Aristocrat until I returned the jackets. You know how I returned them?

I went to ****** ******* Kohl’s."

Get the whole post at Fistful of Talent by clicking here!


Here's What Job Security/Being Untouchable/Arrogance as a Leader Looks Like...

If you've lucky, you've felt it at some point in your career. The swagger and incredible self-confidence that allows you to throw caution to the wind, confident you have the ability to provide for yourself and your family. 

"If you don't like they way I do it, find someone else to do the job."

To be sure, we've all thought that. But how many of us have actually said it? That's rare air for any working professional, and it usually means one of four things:

1--You're incredibly confident in your ability to find another job. In fact, you may already be on the market and have turned down a few offers Dantonio recently.

2--You at the tail end of your career and you've stored up enough acorns for a long winter (i.e., retirement).  You're daring someone to take you out.

3--You're an incredible ****, full of arrogance, disagreeable with all and really a negative force within your organization.

4--You're tired. You have to work, but you're at the end of your rope. You won't quit, so you're daring someone to make you go find another job.

I'm reminded of some leaders feeling untouchable by this report from last weekend's college football slate. Michigan State was at Wisconsin and just got drilled.  Here's how the post-game presser with Mike Dantonio went via ESPN:

"The Michigan State head coach drew even more attention to his inept offense in the aftermath of a 38-0 loss at Wisconsin, if that was even possible.

In his postgame news conference, Dantonio was asked if his offseason staff changes — he shuffled his offensive staffers’ responsibilities but did not fire any existing coaches or bring in anyone new — might have been a mistake.

“I think that’s sort of a dumb-a** question,” Dantonio replied."

That's taking "it you don't like it, find someone else" to a whole new level.

Let's put in context what 38-0 feels like in the corporate world.

--38-0 is being the incumbent provider in a renewal process and not making it to the final four and presenting live.

--38-0 is opening up a new call center and not taking a single call your first day - but you're not sure where the calls went instead - nobody got the calls.

--38-0 is agreeing to ship the new software release and when your CEO hits the site to test it, it crashes his Microsoft Surface.

Now imagine you're the manager in the call center scenario. Someone from corporate fixed the problem routing calls that your team couldn't fix. You go a meeting on the second day to revisit what happened.  Someone from corporate asks you, "Do you think you have the right people on your team moving forward?"

You don't miss a beat.  “I think that’s sort of a dumb-a** question,” you reply.

That's next level Job Security/Feeling Untouchable/Arrogance as a Leader.

"Next Question"

May you reach the level of success in your career when you can play offense and be belligerent rather than answer questions/concerns after failure.


LEADERSHIP SIGNALS WEEK: Elizabeth Warren Sends a Signal on Values...

Capitalist Note: It's "Leadership Signals Week" here at the HR Capitalist, where I talk about things I've seen leaders communicate over the last couple of weeks that speak volumes about what they want their followers to think.

Communication matters if you're a leader. It's the most visible sign of what you believe, and it drives the intensity and beliefs of those that choose to follow you. Don't be fooled into thinking all communication is part of a formal plan. Some leadership signals are purposeful, others just happen organically.

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

First up for Leadership Signals Week, I present democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

This isn's a political post (I'm a moderate Republican for the record, in many ways an independent), but an analysis of a recent leadership signal by Warren.

So what leadership signal did Elizabeth Warren send to the world recently? She signaled that anyone that doesn't share her values will be ejected from her Warrenorganization and the reason will be openly discussed. Before you cheer or jeer, let's analyze the signal and we'll discuss it length after this excerpt from Politico:

"Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign has fired its national organizing director, Rich McDaniel, after an investigation into allegations of what it called “inappropriate behavior.”

“Over the past two weeks, senior campaign leadership received multiple complaints regarding inappropriate behavior by Rich McDaniel,” campaign spokesperson Kristen Orthman said in a statement after an inquiry from POLITICO Friday morning. “Over the same time period, the campaign retained outside counsel to conduct an investigation. Based on the results of the investigation, the campaign determined that his reported conduct was inconsistent with its values and that he could not be a part of the campaign moving forward.”

In a statement, McDaniel said, "I have separated from the campaign and am no longer serving as National Organizing Director. I have tremendous respect for my colleagues despite any disagreements we may have had and believe departing at this time is in the best interest of both parties.

"I would never intentionally engage in any behavior inconsistent with the campaign or my own values. If others feel that I have, I understand it is important to listen even when you disagree. I wish the campaign and my colleagues well."

So what's the leadership signal sent here?  The real signal isn't a termination due to something that certainly seems harassment-related (most of us get that and would likely do the same if evidence warranted)- the real signal is the fact that Warren put the reason for the term openly and aggressively on display for the outside world.

I've written before about your options related to communicating reasons for terms to the rest of your organization.  Most of us aren't presidential candidates, but we still term people from time to time, and if we communicate that someone is no longer with the company, we generally just throw out a note of "separation" indicating that John Doe is no longer with the company, etc.

Under normal circumstances, the lack of detail that the employee is leaving for another opportunity signals the fact that the term was for some type of cause. But, if you fired the person for a good reason and the company is better off without them, communicating in this type of fashion is a bit of a missed opportunity.

By putting the detail for the term out to the media, Elizabeth Warren sending an extreme signal.  The signal here is not just that "those who don't match my values won't be allowed to work in this organization", but that "I will aggressive eject and tell the team why I made this call in clear terms".

Of course, the cynics will say that this termination/ejection is good for her campaign. Maybe. You never want to term someone for the reasons stated, but doing so and communicating the reason with such clarity does send signals to her voter base.

But we all have a decision to make when terming folks who fall short (in a variety of ways) of our value structure. How do we communicate? Making the decision to fire fast when you see a values gap is a good leadership signal. Many in your organization will understand without you saying more.

Communicating the reason for the term in more specific fashion to your base (for most of us, that's not voters, it's employees) is going hard in the paint.

It's either genius or incredible tone deaf - I waffle. But it's a clear leadership signal, and that's what this series is about.

"Results may vary".


Emerging 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 stumble 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.

There's a lesson in reading progressive takes on emerging workplace issues, many of which have involved orientation/gender, then combining them with cautionary tales.  

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.
  3. When change comes and you're asked to consider the rights of yet another special class of people, it's easy to react as if it's a burden or worse.
  4. You can say it's all gone too far. Many will agree with you.
  5. But - You'll ultimately acknowledge the rights of the class of people in front of you - or you won't be allowed to lead anymore.

History shows this cycle to be true.

What if you weren't late the game? 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're early on inclusion, 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.  But I feel like we're moving quicker through the cycle to acceptance, and that' a good thing.

Performance goes up as bullshit goes down.  Just be crystal clear on what's bullshit in this cycle (Hint, it's the ones slow to acknowledge those with differences).

 

 

 


The 5 Ways You Intimidate People Without Directly Threatening Them...

I know - that post title feels ugly, dirty and any other identifier you want to put on it. But yet here we are - in the workplace, trying to do things the right way but under siege by the nature of humanity.

The art of influence has been covered by many people smarter than me.  But like you, I'm a student of the game as people attempt to get things done in the Succession workplace inside your company, an environment that's harder to navigate the bigger and more complex it gets.

This post title could easily say, "influence" rather than "intimidate", but that's just a nicer word for what's usually going on.  Your covert actions as a person of influence (at any level, but certainly the power is greater the higher up the org chart you go) make people see shadows and take actions based on attempts to read the tea leaves, your intent as a leader and more - without ever having a conversation with you.

I'm watching Succession on HBO (highly recommended), so maybe that's influencing me to think about this with this framing.

Here's my 5 ways you intimidate people and get them to take action without directly threatening them:

1--Say nothing. Given the circumstances, you should say something. Yet you fail to seek out the person in question and fail to address the issue at hand, even when you're having a 1/1 conversation with them.  Sometimes it's the awkward silence that matters most.

2--Talk to other people, or tell your subject of your intent to talk to other people. That issue at hand?  You didn't address it with the person you should, but you're talking to other people about it.  Or you fail to have a meaningful conversation with the person most impacted, simply telling that person you're "going to check the temperature of others."  You're just dangling them out there.

3--Show favor and affection to others and make a public display of it.  Who's up? Who's down? Who are you taking to lunch?  If there was a scoreboard, somebody would be falling from the top spot. How far will they fall? Only you know.

4--Talk openly and honestly about outcomes that don't match the needs of your subject, without addressing the fact that their needs aren't being met. Oh, OK - you're having a conversation, but it's a subtle counter to what you know the conventional wisdom is accordingly to the person in front of you. Also notable, you seem pretty locked in to the path you're recommending, which makes it unlikely the person you're trying to intimidate influence is going to speak up.  <insert bulldozer emoji>

5--Be erratic as hell. You're happy. You're sad. You're angry. You're forgetting things. You're a unlovable mess, and damn, who really wants to try and be direct with you related to talking opening and honesty? You're like a rouge state with limited economic options that just took another round of sanctions. At most, people will only ask you questions they know the answers to, and they'll just accept and try to figure out the rest. You're a mess. Congrats on the ups and downs as a management philosophy.

There are more strategies related to this for sure.  Hit me in the comments or reply via email to tell me what I missed.

I see you, Machiavelli. And the first task with figuring you out is understanding the game being played.


REAL TALK: Managers are Looking for Alphas for Succession...

There's a millions things that go into a decision on succession, who gets the promotion and other spoils of career advancement.

I'm here today to talk about one of those things - being an alpha.

All things being equal, the leaders who make decisions about who moves up in the organization want someone who can take charge and lead. Gruden

I was reminded of this as I watched Hard Knocks, the series on HBO that follows a single professional football team in training camp.  The coach of the Oakland Raiders, Jon Gruden, spent over 5 minutes in a recent episode evaluating backup quarterbacks, with a job in the NFL on the line.  

Both quarterbacks were equal. What did Gruden want most? He wanted one of them to stop being passive/blending in and start taking charge, directing others and being vocal - and he was telling them as much.

In other words, he was equating leadership with alpha qualities that are visible in nature.

Most managers are looking for the same thing when it comes to promotional decisions, especially in spots that manage others.  All things being equal, alphas get the nod.

That's not you? You might need to fake it!!!  Or at least understand you have to summon your Alpha in select spots.

You may not be a natural alpha. That's OK.  Just understand that if you're in a competitive spot with others, sometimes succession and promotions are decided by observing who naturally asserts themselves in fluid situations.


Taking My First to College: One Reflection from the Capitalist...

It happened.

Last Thursday, we took my oldest son to college.

Drew Dunn is the first member of the Dunn nuclear family to leave the nest. For some pictures, take a look at the embedded Instagram post below (email subscribers can click through on the post or click this link if you don't see the IG post below).

I did fine - He's ready. He'll do great, and it's probably more important for him to be ready for the times he doesn't do great related to the next four years.  The world we live in tells us we have to be perfect, and he's a bit obsessive when he turns his full focus on something. That's an incredible asset when it comes to getting results, but can be be a derailer if you don't keep it all in perspective.

I started thinking on the drive back from moving him into college about what I've learned in the 19 years we've had him under our roof. What have I learned that I wish I would have known 1, 5, 10 and 15 years into his life?

What advice would I give the younger version of me (as well as parents in the early stages of raising a kid)?

There's a ton of things I wish I knew back then. I'll share one big one that comes to mind, and I'm sure I'm not alone in learning this lesson from the school of hard knocks in parenting.

A lot of what I was worried about as my son grew up was complete Bullsh*t.

The biggest load of bullshit? The comparison between your kid and others that invariably goes on in your mind as they grow up. It's all or mostly Bullsh*t.  Here's some examples:

Who's talking first?

Who's reading first?

Who's ugly?  Who's pretty?

Is my kid where he needs to be academically? How do we make him better?  Are we working hard enough?

Related to interests outside the classroom (could be sports, the arts, etc.), is my kid where he needs to be?  How do I make him better?

What's my kid's ACT score?  How's that compare to others?  What can we do to improve it?

All bullshit.  To be clear, I'm a big believer in the fact you have to train your kids to compete in life.  So to the extent you push your kids to excel in all the things listed above and more, you're doing the right thing. You gotta compete, because the world's a tough place.  I put Drew solidly in the "achiever" camp.

But the bullshit is what we do after we use comparison to gauge where we are and use it as ammo to compete. We obsess over where our kid is at in any pecking order, including the unattainable. We lose sleep over it. We chase resources to improve our kid's lot in any of the areas (and more) listed above to improve their lot in life.  We point fingers and try to drag others down (hopefully only in our mind), often times not even being aware that we're doing it.

We're all guilty. You're in denial if you say you're not as a parent.

Along the way, bad things happen to other kids who are great in a lot of ways. We judge and rationalize that. We see kids and families emerge late or fade away late in all the areas above, and we rationalize and obsess some more. 

None of it means anything. As long as you competed from where you started and did the work, you won.  If you're healthy, free of addiction and of sound mind, you have already won.

Comparison is the thief of joy.  

Celebrating what you accomplished is key - regardless of whatever your "slot" is.

If I could give younger parents one piece of advice, it would be this. Use comparison with other kids as a means to compete in all the areas that matter to you and move up a few notches.

Then chill the F out. 

Maybe you could celebrate the hell out of the small moves, and don't worry that your kid isn't going to make it to Broadway, the NFL, on American Idol or <Insert the stupid a** comparison, national or hyper-local that made you feel bad here>.

It's not about being number one, it's about the journey/process/road travelled, and your kid doing better than he/she would have done without some focus.  We learn it a bit with our second-borns as all parents chill out with the second one a bit.  But it's not enough.

It's about work and habits and nothing else. Comparisons that consume you as a parent mean nothing at the end.  

That's what I wish I could tell the 2004 version of me. 

I'm not sure he would have listened.


When New CEOs Onboard, CHROs Are Often Gone...

One of the biggest reasons I wrote my new book (The 9 Faces of HR) was the sheer number of friends and colleagues I have in HR who have lost their positions, at least in part, to organizational change. 9 Faces

A recent report puts a number to how at-risk HR is when C-level leadership changes out. From The 2018 CHRO Trends Report from The Talent Strategy Group:

"There is a strong correlation between CEO and CHRO turnover. Within twelve months of a Chief Executive Officer appointment, 43% of Chief Human Resources Officers at that organization turned over. An additional 9% of CHROs came into the role three months or less prior to a CEO transition. Less than half (48%) of CHROs retained their seat for more than 12 months following a CEO transition."

Those numbers are staggering, but I believe them based on the experiences of my friends inside and outside of the Fortune 500.

When a new boss comes in, it's test time. Your new boss is really evaluating who you are as an HR pro.  For best results, you'll need to understand who you are and make sure your new boss understands you have the ability to connect, pivot and change as part of your personal identity.

The 9 Faces of HR is a perfect companion for that prep - a career guide of sorts, but not the boring kind. Change is coming, you may as well dig in and get ready now.  Order my book here.


Get My New Book: THE 9 FACES OF HR...

It's true. I just launched a book and it is selling well. It's called THE 9 FACES OF HR.

If you like reading The HR Capitalist or Fistful of Talent, you're going to like the book and you should buy it. Here's the summary from Amazon for your consideration:

"Popular blogger and CHRO Kris Dunn presents a hard, but compelling reality: every HR professional on the planet can be classified as one of 9 “Faces” based on your
9 facescareer level and your ability to innovate and drive change. The book opens with a behavioral assessment, so readers can quickly identify their own “HR Face” then reveals career tracks, behavioral markers, ROI, macro-trends driving behavior, and market demand for each face. Which face are you? Which one do you want to be? Whether you’re a solo HR pro trying to make your way in the world or an HR leader trying to build a cohesive HR team, this is your no-BS playbook to empowering your HR career and elevating our profession."

I wrote the book because there's been a clear change in what CEOs, other leaders and even your CHRO/VP of HR is looking for when it comes to HR Pros at every career level. The pace of change has never been faster than it is today, and I've seen many of my HR friends hired - and fired - based on the new rules.

Things you'll get if you buy and read this book:

1--Entertainment - You know there's going to be snark.  I can't write any other way.  As I dig into some serious stuff, there's going to be some riffs and rants. I'm weaving pop culture through HR-related stories on people like Drake, Elon Musk and the CHRO at Uber, as well as leading every chapter with a related quote from a cast of characters including Lady Gaga, Oprah, Dirty Harry and Kanye. This is a serious book, but I'll be damned if I'm going to bore you.

2--A better understanding the changing HR marketplace in terms of innovation, change management and adding value.  Sh*t's changing fast for us in the world of HR, I've got your back with my model and notes.

3--My model for The 9 Faces of HR is based on a 9-Box grid - You'll see how career level mixed with cognitive/behavioral dimensions (such as assertiveness, rules orientation, detail orientation, etc.) converge to shape one's work world-view and determines which face you are.

4--You'll learn the details/profile on each of the “Nine Faces of HR” and have a blast identifying yourself, as well as thinking about which face the HR pros around you are (the ones you love, the ones you hate and everything in between).

5--Most importantly - You'll gain awareness of how others around you perceive your HR capability and get ready for change happening around you, regardless of your profile.

At the end of the day, The 9 Faces of HR is a guidebook for your career in the world's best profession - HR.  I love HR so much, I wrote this book to prevent you from getting hurt by the change swirling around us in the business world - and to help you reach your career goals - however ambitious they may be!

Buy The 9 Faces of HR on Amazon by clicking here

See the current reviews on my book on Amazon by clicking here

Note - someone pinged me looking for non-Amazon options, so here's a few:

Barnes&Noble.com

Books-A-Million

IndieBound

Target

Walmart

Google Express

eBay - grandeagleretail