FALLING INTO HR WEEK: One Kid's Path Into the Rock and Roll Lifestyle of HR...

Note from KD - It's “Falling Into HR” series this week at The HR Capitalist.  Go check out my post on Fistful of Talent from Monday as part of this series.  This is the second post in that series.

THERE ARE 8 MILLION STORIES IN THE NAKED CITY

Some of you knew you wanted to be in HR in middle school.  It’s rarely that clean for the rest of us.

Consider the story of how I (Kris Dunn, aka “KD”) fell into HR. It’s a doozy:

1--I graduated from Northeast Missouri State (now Truman State) and automatically started a career as a young Division 1 college basketball coach at UAB (University of Alabama-Birmingham), because that’s how great HR is born, right? LOL. 

2--As a coaching staff member at a Division 1 program, I probably witnessed 9,000 conflicts with widely accepted people practices in corporate America, even though I wasn’t familiar with the terms “people practices” or KD head shot“corporate America,”or “HR”.

3-- After 3 years in coaching, I decided I was likely to be poor for a long time and exited the coaching game to go back to get my MBA, then took a job working overnight in a wireless call center to pay the bills.

4-- While working overnight in the call center, a soon to be mentor named Marilyn Brooks (Director of HR) figured out I had some potential in random post-shift interactions in the hallways and parking lot. She decided to seek me out for a project evaluating staffing vendors as part of a RFP process they were going through. I worked on the project overnight and delivered a lot more than was required. Mrs. Brooks was pleased.

5-- After getting my MBA, my wife and I relocated back home to Missouri (St. Louis area) where she became a staff prosecutor and I went to work doing market research for IBM Global.

6-- We went through one winter from hell, looked at each other and said, “what the hell are we doing?” Even though we were from the Midwest, 5 years in the new South had thinned our blood, and we wanted to get back to the Southeast.

7-- With LinkedIn not even a glimmer in venture capitalist’s eye at the time, I started calling people I knew, Marilyn Brooks among them, seeking career opportunities that would get me back to warm winters.

8-- Marilyn’s words: “I don’t have anything in what you’re doing now, but I do have a HR Manager spot. Would you be interested in that? You used to be a coach and there’s a lot of coaching in this role.”

9-- I interviewed and got the job. I was on my way in the world of HR.

Many of you are reading this and shaking your head. Some of you hate me for falling into this opportunity without paying my dues. Bottom line is this – I had a mentor of sorts, did good work to reinforce the mentor’s belief in me, and the mentor ended up plugging in a non-traditional protégé into an opening on her HR team.

Shit like this happens all the time in HR. Film at 11.

THERE ARE 8 MILLION STORIES IN THE NAKED CITY - what's yours?


Founder's Rules: Marriott to Put Copies of Bible and Book of Morman in Starwood/Westin/Sheraton Hotels...

There's a lot of pros and cons about working for a company that's still controlled by a founder.  For me, I think the pros dramatically outweigh the cons.  Every once in awhile, a little company grows into a giant that's still controlled by the founder and because they still call the shots, things get interesting related to what's important to them.

Case in point - Chick-fil-A - while the founder has passed away, the company is still run by the son - Don Cathy, who's conservative Christian views have been front and center in recent years.  There was past drama related to the Cathy's views on same-sex marriage, etc.   Since the company is still thriving, you have to guess that the service and food is still so stellar that the controversy didn't make an impact.

Here's another founder-controlled company with some new ripples - Marriott International plans to place copies of the Bible and the Book of Mormon in 300,000 rooms of its Marriott newly acquired Starwood, Westin, and Sheraton hotels, the Associated Press reports:

The big picture: The number of hotels that offer those kinds of religious materials fell 16% over 10 years, per the AP. Starwood-owned hotels haven't offered religious materials at all until being acquired by Marriott. But Marriott requires "its 6,500 properties to have the books in each room."

Marriott told the AP in a statement: "There are many guests who are not digitally connected who appreciate having one or both of these books available. It’s a tradition appreciated by many, objected to by few." Gideons International provides the Bibles, and the Books of Mormon are purchased with the help of the Marriott Foundation and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Other major hotel chains like Hilton and IHG, owner of Holiday Inn, let hotel managers decide whether or not to provide Bibles in their rooms.

Marriott, whose namesake founding family is active in the Mormon church, has been putting both the Bible and the Book of Mormon in its rooms since opening its first hotel in the late 1950s. Like most major chains, Marriott doesn't own the majority of its hotels. However, it stands out from the other companies by requiring — in franchise or licensing agreements — its 6,500 properties to have the books in each room.

There are some other Starwood properties acquired by Marriott that won't be get the book - the W and Moxy brands won't, for example. Turns out that condom packs in the rooms, etc - is inconsistent with the messages in the books.

A quick scan/text stream of 4-5 Marriott employees I know at decent levels in the company - and having a variety of political views - found my Marriott friends to be comfortable with the decision. They see all the progressive moves that go unnoticed by the company and are happy to shrug off the power play of 300K Bibles and Books of Morman going into rooms.

Founder-driven companies that scale are always an anomaly.  Good enough operationally to get big, small enough via the founder vibe (even at Marriott's size) to do whatever they want - damn the critics.

Long live the American entrepreneur. See you at the Westin, my home away from home, now with new books. 


Mindfulness and Meditation Might Be Bad For Your Company...

There's a great scene in the movie The Matrix i'll use as the intro to talking about mindfulness.  It goes something like this - one of the machines (Agent Smith) has captured the leader of the human resistance, and he can't help but taunt his prisoner (Morpheus) about how stupid the human race is.  The quote is as follows:

"Did you know that the first Matrix (editors note - this is the software program the human minds are plugged into as prisoners) was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that as a species that human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this, the peak of your civilization. I say "your civilization" because as soon as we started thinking for you, it really became our civilization which is, of course what this is all about."

Translation - there can be a lot of unintended consequences to what seems like the right thing to do. Smith

So let's talk about mindfulness and meditation. I haven't been bitten by the bug, but I've actually been at conferences where someone asked the question if they could force people to use the meditation rooms at her company.

I'm not joking. 

Mindfulness and meditation are hot topics/trends in the cutting edge of corporate America.  There are a lot of people experimenting with this.  We accept through research that this is good for our employees (I'm assuming, I don't have research to quote), but we've never really asked if it's good for the company or even the employee's career.  Hmm.

A new study digs into that question. More from the BBC:

"Meditation has long shed its Buddhist roots to become a secular answer to all of our ills in the West, with numerous studies finding benefits like reduced stress and better concentration.

Some of the world’s biggest firms, including Google and Nike, have embraced the practice, using meditation programmes as a way of tackling stress, staff turnover and absenteeism.

Meditation is also used as a tool to motivate workers, partly thanks to research on the relationship between wellbeing and productivity. But a new study suggests that mindfulness meditation, a popular type of meditation that practises being aware in the present, may not be the best way to increase your motivation at work."

That's the level set for the research.  Here's what the study found about mindfulness meditation, which is a flavor you''ll encounter on your journey if you explore the sector of meditation:

“Meditation is about accepting the present, which is the opposite to being motivated to do something, where the present moment isn’t acceptable, so meditation is inconsistent with being motivated to achieving a goal,” argues Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study.  

Vohs enlisted hundreds of participants to test her theory across five studies. In the first, 109 participants were given audio instructions in common mindfulness meditation techniques by a meditation coach. A comparison group were asked to simply let their minds wander.

After one 15-minute session, all participants were asked to tackle some simple tasks including doing an anagram puzzle and editing a cover letter. They were then asked how motivated they felt to carry on with the task.

Vohs, and her co-author Andrew Hafenbrack from the Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics in Portugal, found that the self-reported motivation levels of those who had meditated were lower than the control group, though their performance of the task wasn’t affected. The meditators also had fewer thoughts about the future, which the researchers said could interrupt the behavioural processes that contribute to achieving goals.

“The Western world, Americans in particular, love a panacea,” she says. “If mindfulness meditation came in a pill form, we’d all be on top of it. It’s calorie-free, portable, it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s capitalised onto you sitting down and doing nothing. To think the antidote to what ails you is to ‘just be’ is probably a welcome message, but it’s pure speculation.”

Meditation is a fast-growing industry – in 2018 meditation services are expected to generate $1.15bn for the US economy, according to IBISWorld’s Alternative Healthcare Providers in the US industry report – and Vohs’ message is an unusual one amid a generally positive tide.

Another study from Germany and the Netherlands that looked at mindfulness in the workplace, meanwhile, found participants reported improved wellbeing and lower stress levels, but didn’t look at motivation. 

So, the picture is mixed and, according to Desbordes, compounded by confusion over what mindfulness actually is. Some mindfulness teachers, she says, teach the importance of putting your daily suffering aside to achieve a new level of consciousness, whereas others advocate gaining insight into these challenges and how to improve them; two very conflicting approaches."

Look, I'm just a kid from the Midwest who lived in a blue collar household growing up.  

Am I skeptical of meditation and mindfulness?  Yes.  Am I open to learning more? Yes - and I have an app on my phone as proof I know I should be exploring this more.

But the article referenced above is a cautionary tale to me.  Agent Smith had to make the Matrix less than perfect to get the results the machines wanted.  Mindfulness Meditation might put your employees so much as ease that they're more mellow than you'd like them to be about goals.

The truth and the right solution is out there somewhere - but you're going to have to invest a lot of time to find it - and to ensure you don't get unintended consequences from your meditation program.

(h/t to Jenny Briggs for the article referenced, she's one of the best Human Capital pros I know!!)

 


When Employees Challenge Others to Step Up or Get Out...

The Cleveland Browns (pro football) are bad.  HBO has a show called "Hard Knocks", which embeds cameras at a training camp of one team each year.  This year, they are on campus with the Browns.

The hope, of course, is that the organizational dumpster fire that is the Cleveland Browns will provide notable moments.

Look, kids!  The Browns are doing it to themselves!  Those lovable losers!! Jarvis

Good news - Hard Knocks at the Browns started us off with a notable human capital moment.  More from the Ringer:

"After a particularly disappointing practice where Jarvis Landry and Hue Jackson were visibly frustrated with the effort of Cleveland’s pass catchers, Jarvis Landry asked whether he could address the receivers room.

“Fellas, I don’t know what the f**k is going on here, and I don’t know why it’s been going on here,” Landry says, “But if you not hurt, like your hamstring ain’t falling off the f**king bone, or your leg ain’t broke, I don’t even know, you should be f**king practicing. Straight up. That sh*t is weakness, and that shit is contagious as f**k. And that sh*t ain’t gonna be in this room, bruh. That sh*t been here in the past and that’s why the past has been like it is. That sh*t is over with here.”

The words land because Landry, who the team acquired in a trade this offseason and signed to a five-year extension with $47 million guaranteed, spends the episode walking the walk. His workouts include catching medicine balls one-handed while balancing on a Bosu ball with one foot, which explains why his dazzling one-handed catches look so effortless. In practice, Landry’s aggressive work ethic routinely rises above the other players on the field. Every catch he makes is inevitably punctuated by “bless you,” which he delivers with a sincerity that is more effective than actual trash-talking."

Sorry about the language.  But it's notable in that Landry is coming into an organization as an employee, knows what he's walking into isn't world class, and is trying to change the culture.

If my career managing people has taught me anything, it's that change agents are needed.  Some thoughts about change agents who come into organizations with statements and challenges like Landry - and what has to be present for them to be successful:

1--Change Agents who are highly verbal and challenging must perform at a high level.

2--The same change agents must mentor others, rather than simply dressing people down verbally.

3--In order for the change agent to be successful, managers and the company must support those efforts and embrace the cause, removing people who don't get on the bus of change.

In short, Jarvis better perform, should use the development of others in positive terms as a leader for an equally powerful statement as a change agent, and the organization (the Browns) should be ready to move people out - if they believe that Jarvis Landry represents their view of what the future is.

The same thing applies to your company - except your change agents can't get that many F-bombs in.

 


Lessons for HR: A PhD on Netflix Revenue and Spending...

 "The goal, is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."

-Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

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

Simple task from the HRC today.  Watch this six minute video below and get a PhD on the Netflix spending spree on original shows and how it justifies burning money as they grow the subscriber base.

Netflix is pretty good at the pivot.  Lots to learn here... (email subscribers click through if you don't see the video below)

 More on the economics of Netflix in this Wired article from 2017 as well...


Older Workers and Unconscious Bias...

I did a post over at Fistful of Talent last week on older workers, unconscious bias and a new org attempting to represent older workers call I, Too, Am Qualified.  Here's a snippet of the post, hit FOT for the whole thing:

"Why is better understanding of unconscious bias a good thing for older workers?  Mainly because it transcends what is merely legal and seeks to connect on a higher plane.  The key to getting better treatment in the recruiting world for older candidates is inclusion in the concept of unconscious bias as it gains traction, which goes something like this for your average hiring manager:

1--I'm a good person.

2--I'm a horrible person because I have bias I'm not even aware of.

3--I shall correct this unconscious bias by giving impacted groups of people more play than my mind is telling me too.

4--Did I mention I'm a good person?

5--I made a hire from an impacted group of people as a form of self-correction, and I'll be damned, that ended up pretty good.

6--I'm going to keep looking to hire people from groups of impacted candidates since that went well.

7--Told you I was a great person.  I'm not even sure I was part of that whole unconscious bias thing.  Other people, though? Heathens...

Go take a look and support I, Too, Am Qualified.  You'll know they (and others like them) are winning when we include age in the unconscious bias narrative."

Go hit Fistful of Talent to get the whole post!


WeWork's New Vegetarian Policy for Employees and Company Events: The Market Will Decide...

We live in a world where business owners can make political/moral/society statements and force those world views on their employees - especially if their companies are privately held.  On the conservative side of the aisle, we've seen businesses stand up for their right to not offer birth control as part of their health plan, and we've seen owners on both the conservative and liberal sides of the spectrum put pressure on employees to vote in elections according to the owner's views.

Add a new one to to the list.  WeWork wants you to know that eating meat isn't cool - and they're changing their business practice to reflect that.   We work

More from USA Today:

If WeWork employees want a burger while on business, the money is coming out of their own pockets. The global workplace startup told employees this week that the company will ban employees from expensing meals that contain red meat, pork or poultry, Bloomberg reported.

The company won't provide meat for events at its 400 locations, either — part of an effort to reduce its environmental footprint.

"New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact, even more than switching to a hybrid car," WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey said in an email to staffers.

The no-meat policy will also affect self-serve food kiosks at many of WeWork's 400 locations worldwide, according to Bloomberg. Employees wanting "medical or religious" exceptions can hash those out with a company policy team.

WeWork boasts 6,000 employees worldwide, according to Bloomberg. The company estimates its no-meat policy will save 15,507,103 animals by 2023, according to Business Insider, along with 16.6 billion gallons of water and 445.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that alters Earth's climate.

WeWork confirmed the policy change to both news outlets. WeWork is perhaps the most well-known company to emerge offering co-working spaces to freelancers, small businesses and even employees of large companies such as Microsoft. The Motley Fool named it one of the top five most valuable startups in America.

It would be easy to blast this policy, but I'm actually OK with companies making these kind of stands - both on the liberal and conservative side of the fence.

So WeWork won't allow employees to expense a meal involving meat and it won't serve meat at WeWork facilities as part of it's events business.  

Ok!  You know who decides whether WeWork is wrong?  Not you and me.  No, the people who decide whether WeWork has lost its mind are what I'll call "the aggregate."  It all comes down to whether this policy hurts WeWork as two groups consider it for business purposes:

1--Candidates and employees. I can't expense a chicken taco.  Does that make me want to avoid you as an employer? Does it make me want to leave you as an employee?  Ask that question 20,000 times in the next year and if a significant amount of people can't accept the policy and leave or don't join the company to begin with.

2--Companies who want to host events in a WeWork facility.  Same question.  Love your space, going to host my get together at WFW (we <expletive>work).  Wait, what?  I can't cater the brisket through you?  No?  I cam't have someone else cater that in?  Hmm.  Where do I go that can provide that?  Is their space just as good?

At the end of the day, WeWork is standing up for something the founders believe in.  The market will decide.  If I was selling against them, I'd use it to negatively sell every chance I got.

By the way, there is a loophole in the policy - fish is still allowed.  Because you know, not all animals have the same set of rights. 

Sorry, couldn't resist.  


When Great Places to Work Outsource Jobs That Are... You Guessed It, Not Great...

Part of the game of building a great place to work is that you never let down your guard.

--Never admit that things are less than perfect...

--Never agree with someone that suggests things are less than perfect...

--Keep adding benefits or features of your culture that are cool but few people will actually use...

And today, I'm adding one.  Here's how it goes:

--When faced with a job that is so objectionable it will burn people out in 7 months, deem it "non-core", outsource it to another company and transfer the cultural liability. Social network

That's what Facebook has traditional done with the people they need to review flagged posts.  A job reviewing flagged posts exposes the worker responsible to all types of objectionable humanity, and let's face it, after a year in that job, you hate life and hate people.  That doesn't transfer well to the employee survey scores or other ways to measure cultural health, so high-end companies make the obvious choice to outsource it.

Problem is, the job is still ruining someone's life and you're still responsible.  More on the "reviewing flagged posts" job at Facebook:

"A former Facebook moderator said the pressure to churn through a never-ending pile of disturbing material eventually made her desensitized to child pornography and bestiality.

Sarah Katz, 27, worked as a content reviewer at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, through a third-party contractor, Vertisystem, for eight months in 2016. Her job was simple: figure out whether posts reported to Facebook violated the company's detailed community standards.

Practically, this meant eyeballing new and potentially horrific material every 10 seconds and making a snap decision about whether it needed to be ditched. Posts that needed reviewing were called "tickets," and there were about 8,000 every day.

To deal with this onslaught, Facebook had 4,500 moderators like Katz on its books last year, and in May 2017 it announced plans to hire another 3,000 to help it in the fight against the darkest corners of its user output. Facebook is also investing in artificial intelligence to help police posts that break its rules."

Any guesses whether those 3000 additional hires will be contractors or full-time employees?

They're going to be contractors.  To be fair to Facebook, you can't hire that many people in this type of role without help.  BUT - you can bet a lot of them - if not all - will stay contractors because Facebook will consider this to be a non-core part of their people business.  

The dirty side of maintaining a great place to work is how you define a Great Place to Work.  But contracting in the toughest, lowest level jobs, you're playing with definitions - to your benefit.

I'm not saying I wouldn't do the same thing.  But related to the culture you have, when you outside dirty/shitty jobs, people are getting an incomplete view of happiness and engagement at your company.

The real win for Facebook is when AI can do it all and humans don't have to touch this stuff.  That will be awesome - until the machines take over, off course.

 


Asians FTW: The 2018 Google Diversity Report...

The latest Google Diversity report is out.  The baseline is this - female, black and latino numbers still struggling, both in the overall workforce and in management ranks.

But Asians?  Doing just fine, thank you very much.

For context, I thought I'd start with how the overall numbers match up from 2014 to 2018 (email subscribers, click through to site for charts, you'll want to see these):

Here's the 2014 chart:

Google2014

Here's the 2018 chart:

2018

The downside - little progress overall in black, latino and women representation at the company.

But the upside - and if you're going to knock them for the downside you have to note this - is that Google is significantly less white than it was 4 years ago.

It just so happens that Asians took the majority of those gains.  So while work still needs to happen in the aforementioned classes, I'm always a little shocked that companies like Google don't get more props for their workforce representation of Asians.

If I react to anything in those numbers, it's this.  Daaaaaaaamn - Asians are kicking some ass.  For real.  If careers at Google are what you want for your kids, we probably need to take a look at the various nationalities that comprise the Asian category (a very broad catagory that includes Indian Continent as well as Pacific Rim) and figure out what they are doing right - even in American schools - to prep their kids for this type of work.  My kids are smart and actually decent at Math and Science, in advanced classes, but there's a couple of Asian kids that are the Michael Jordan and Larry Bird (threw in a white guy for balance - did you catch that?) of math at their school.

My kid was on the college bowl team for the stuff that didn't involve Math.  When a math question came up, all the other kids took their hand off the buzzer and just looked at the Asian kid I'll call "MJ" - as to say, "you've got this one MJ - we'll be over here reading TMZ if you need us to sharpen your pencil."

MJ's going to work at Google.  His family doesn't need Google to do anything to get him there.

I'm looking at the Google diversity numbers and resisting the urge to wag the finger.  Keep on crushing product and eroding overall privacy, G-town.  I'll give you a golf clap for the good faith efforts to build more diverse math and science pipeline, but then give a knowing nod to the people who are really crushing it in those numbers - the many nationalities that comprise the fictional, yet powerful, EEO category of "Asian".

 


If You're Pointing Me To Your Automated Calendar to Pick a Time, You've Already Lost Me...

Stop me when you've felt one of these before:

1.  You and Person B are friends and/or business associates and have a relationship that is beyond the initial stages.

2.  Person B (without the relationship listed above) has asked you for help/assistance via a meeting where they can have some your your (valuable?) time.

3.  Person B works for a company you're paying for some type of service.

So imagine one of the forms of Person B has reached out to you.  All of those forms of Person B are a bit different, but one thing is for sure - you're at least equal in the relationship, and in #2 and #3, it's fair to say that at least for now, you're the more important party in the 2-way relationship.

Which is neither good nor bad.  Until Person B does the following to set up a meeting with you after you've agreed to meet:

PERSON B SENDS YOU AN AUTOMATED LINK TO THIER CALENDAR AND ENCOURAGES YOU TO SELECT A TIME THAT THEY ARE OPEN.

PERSON B IS VERY BUSY.  THEY'VE AUTOMATED THEIR SCHEDULING.

PERSON B NEEDS YOUR TIME.  BUT RATHER THAN WORK A COUPLE OF EMAILS WITH YOU TO FIGURE OUT WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOU, THEY'RE TELLING YOU WHAT'S GOOD FOR THEM - VIA TECHNOLOGY.

Goodbye relationship.  Hello automated future!

Here's what you signal to me when you are Person B and you send me an automated process that "invites" me to select a block on your busy calendar:

1--You're treating me like the cable company does.

2--The cable company doesn't really give two shits about making me feel like there's a relationship.

3--The last time I checked, you didn't provide HBO (game of thrones) or Showtime (Billions) as part of our relationship.

4--It's fair to say since you aren't the distributor of Game of Thrones, I'm less willing to feel like a transaction related to our relationship and your unwillingness to spend a little time to make me feel like we're connecting when asking me to spend time with you.

Hey Person B (which is all of us from time to time, right?), watch the transactional nature of the scheduling services you're using when you ask me for time.

Or as an alternative - find a service that will easily look at my calendar without setting up an account or will automate the process of you having a brief conversation with me.

Isn't that the promise of AI?  How about automating the process and making me feel like I'm having a conversation with Person B?  That would be cool and acceptable.

Or you can just treat me like the cable company does and see how that works out for you.

Related: Get off my lawn.