Capitalist Office Conversation Definitions: "I'm Just A Caveman"

It's Friday. Let's do something fun. Definition time!

Caveman, kāvˌman, noun. Caveman

Beware of people in the workplace who refer to themselves as cavemen. It's a set up most commonly used in the following context:

"Well, I'm just a Caveman. I don't understand a lot of things and what you just said sounds so complex. But what I do know is __________."

The person in front of you isn't trying to make themselves look stupid, they're trying to railroad you into admitting that you're making something too difficult.  It might be that a complex explanation is needed, or maybe not. Check yourself on that. But when you hear "I'm just a caveman", it's really code for "I'm not going to do that or agree with you, and my path towards non-compliance is to diminish myself slightly before I try and knock you down a couple of pegs."

They don't agree with you. And they're saying you're fully of s##t in code. Good times.

Related word and phrases in the workplace that can do the same thing: "Blonde", "Country Boy" and "I grew up poor".

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Check out this classic video featuring Phil Hartman as Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer from Saturday Night Live for a great example.

Full video below (email subscribers click through for video below or click the link above)


Attempting to Build Consensus or Get Change? Watch this Helpful Seinfeld Video...

The older I get, the more I know absolutes rarely work. 

The HR Leader/Generalist motto is true - the clear path always lies somewhere in the middle. Case in point - 2020! What a year, and it's only going to get better!  An election coming up in a less than 2 months! #freakshow Seinfeld

Examples from 2020 that the truth is always somewhere in the middle (listing the extremes on each side below, and all of these things impact the workplace, which is why they're being discussed here):

-People who can work from home are never coming back to the office/WFH and isolation is crushing people

--We need to go on lockdown until Covid cases are at zero/The economy is the most important thing

--Masks and face shields are mandatory at all times/I should never be forced to wear a mask

--Big Ten Football/SEC Football (gotcha!)

This list goes on, plus it includes all the issues our country has dealt with in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

2020 is hard. For everyone seeking to build consensus, get change and generally make things better, I present a group you'll need called "the middle":

The middle is an interesting group. They're watching and listening and agree with most or all of what you say, but many in this group are wary of extremes. The more your position is framed as non-negotiable and you refuse to include them in the dialog, the more they fade away. You'll never even know they're gone.

Conversation is key. For my visual friends, I offer up the following classic from Seinfeld called "The Ribbon Bully" (click on the link if you don't see the video below, it's a keeper). Let's stay together, have conversations, get meaningful change and figure this out. And for all my friends in the middle, when someone surprises you and wants to have dialog, it's non-negotiable to engage and try to listen more than you talk.


Cost of Living Pay Cuts for Twitter Employees Moving from Bay Area: Valid or BS?

By now, you're aware that hundreds or thousands of companies have announced that their white-collar jobs won't be returning to the office until 2021, and perhaps until a vaccine is approved, deployed and effective.

That means people working for those companies can work anywhere. Add that the densely populated cities were the first hotbeds of COVID infection, and you've got a recipe for a talent migration - individuals determining that this is a good time to leave coastal areas like NYC, the Bay Area and Los Angeles (click link for one of hundreds of reports). Twitter

But as every HR pro knows, salaries offered via compensation plans get adjusted based on how much it costs to live in specific geographical areas. To no HR pro's surprise, that means companies at some point are going to adjust the compensation of people leaving areas like San Francisco for more remote areas where a 3-bedroom home doesn't cost 2-3 million.

Surprise! The process has started even at the most tech friendly (fair to say progressive) companies.  Last week, Twitter and VM Ware announced the plan to adjust salaries of those fleeing the Bay area was formally being rolled out. Here are some of the details via Bloomberg:

--VMware (NYSE:VMW) offered to let employees work from home permanently, but those who opt in and move out of the Bay Area will receive pay cuts. .

--The salary reductions depend on where the employee relocates. Denver, for example, would come with an 18% annual pay cut (San Diego, 8%), according to Bloomberg sources.

--Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) is using a similar strategy with its newly permanent employees, and Facebook is mulling adopting the compensation scheme.

--Twitter employees who move and lose pay will get a $3,000 one-time allowance

--VMware tells Bloomberg it adjusts pay depending on the "cost of labor" for the region and notes that employees moving to more expensive areas could receive raises.

Is this fair? The talent pros who have been around the block will undoubtedly say yes. After all, if you open up a software developer shop in Denver as a means of relieving recruiting pressure in SF, and your compensation plan tells you the cost of a developer is 98k instead of 120K, that guidance would drive the recruiting plan related to what you wanted to pay. You might use the range based on what you find in the market, but that guidance is there for a reason, and most of the delta is cost of living guidance.

As expected, the Twitter mob is losing its mind. It's unfair, another example of the man attempting to screw the little guy, etc.

It's actually just data and math, folks. And for the most part, it's 100% legit.

Having said that, booming markets where a bunch of California people flee to in order to escape oppressive state taxes (and whatever else they're fleeing from) can lag a bit related to what the best compensation surveys might show. Denver and Idaho are red hot, but 18% still seems in range if you're trying to escape San Francisco.  Austin is another hot location, which begs the question of state taxes (0% in Texas) being included in the calculus.

Of course, what's normal and customary is also an opportunity. Tech companies looking to grab talent could take the market position of "we're not reducing salaries for those who move!", and use it as a recruiting advantage.

But that would cause compression and resentment for those that remain, which is kind of what the whole geographic thing related to compensation was designed to handle in the first place.

Good luck with the move, Twitter people! May your W-2 remain robust and in conjunction with your locale...


HR Capitalist Definitions: "Success Theater"

2020 has been a bear. For many, there haven't been a lot of wins or success to focus on. But as the economy stabilizes and you realize the new normal, you may find the team around you slipping back into some habits that were normal in the 10-year economic expansion that happened between 2010 and 2020. Those habits are likely counterproductive in a post-COVID world, even if your company goes from being on the brink to being "safe" (whatever that means these days). Success theate

One of those habits is called "Success Theatre".  Below is a quote from John Flannery, the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GE who took over for Jeff Immelt (the guy who followed Jack Welch):

“Flannery had taken to uttering a new mantra around the company’s shiny new offices in Boston: “No more success theater.””

— from Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric by Thomas Gryta, Ted Mann

Success theater. There hasn't been a lot of that for most of us in 2020, but as stabilization occurs, it's likely to sneak back in. Success theater happens when business units and departmental leaders report the good stuff that's happening in their area, but don't report a lot of challenges. This condition is a big part of operations reviews during up periods, where groups use result readouts as PR campaigns, emphasizing the good and hiding/minimizing the bad or challenges.

2020 has been a terrible year. As you get back to normal as a leader, don't lose sight of the new muscle memory you were forced to develop regarding asking for bad news - either before the good news or closely following a brief golf clap of the good news.

A lot of us had success theater around us from 2016 to March of this year. Remember the hard times, and ask for the bad news early in any operational review you're doing. Institutionalize that ask.

Be paranoid once your company has stabilized or recovered. No success theatre in 2021 or 2022, right?


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

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

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

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

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

Examples of the specific ask by HR pros:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advantage: You.


WORST BOSS EVER: Just Watch How They Treat Others When Off Camera...

It's a line as old as time itself. The wisest person in your family gave you the following advice when it comes to the true test of any individual:

"If you really want to know who someone is, watch how they treat others when they think no one is watching"

Without question, you've heard that saying or a variant of it. And it's 100% true. 

This wisdom was on full display last week on a virtual Senate hearing. Here's the rundown from New York Mag:

In the middle of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s testimony before (a video-chat version of) Congress on Friday morning, Delaware senator Tom Carper experienced the kind of tech hiccup so many of us have while working from home over the last few months. And Carper — not realizing his screen and audio were being recorded for everyone to see — didn’t hold back his frustration.

After being called on to speak and almost missing his window because of the technical difficulties, Carper suddenly appeared, directing his ire over the problems at a masked staffer to his left. The senator intoned “f**k, f**k, f**k,” after which the poor man fiddled with Carper’s setup — which had already been restored.

What's interesting about this is that the Twitter mob, quick to cancel almost anyone, played it off and said words to the effect of "that's so 2020" and "who has not faced this?" - which are both correct sentiments.

But you know me. I like to dig a little bit deeper. My folks did tell me to watch how someone treats others when they think no one is watching - because it matters. Let's run through what I saw.  First, watch the whole video multiple times below (email subscribers click through to view or click this link):

OK, got it? Here's what I saw:

1--Yes, this can happen to anyone. Which is why patience is valued in these circumstances.

2--It's not so much that he said the F word, it's how he said it. He turned directly to a staffer who was there to help him, and he didn't say words to the effect of "please help me" even with some cursing included, he basically turned to the staffer (turning away from the camera) and just started abruptly saying, “f**k, f**k, f**k"

3 - That whole deal - turning to a staffer and doing the whole grumpy, abrupt, “f**k, f**k, f**k" without actually asking for help basically puts you on the list of worst Bosses alive. It's a big list, but act like this and you're on the list.

4--Also notable is the fact that he couldn't handle the tech after being coached 100 times, and then clicks on something as he's turning to lambast his help and opens up the mic right before he turned to the staffer to drop f bombs - classic. It means he took responsibility for the tech, but then couldn't handle it, then kind of bullied someone under pressure.

The mob that usually cancels people was quick to play it off. To be clear, I'm not into the cancel thing, so I'm not interested in that angle. I'm not calling for anything.

But dig a little deeper on the mannerisms and call it for what it is. Powerful guy with awful habits related to how he treats people.

Worst Boss Ever - he's on the list.

 


The Best Study I've Seen on How Work is Changing in a COVID World...

There's been a lot of guessing related to how the world of work is changing in a COVID world, especially for white collar professional jobs who have the ability to work remotely in the lockdown. Hot takes include the following:

--Remote work is here to stay, pack up the office.

--Productivity is at an all-time high! 

--Everyone hates Zoom.

Are any of those true? Maybe, maybe not - I find the truth always lies somewhere in the middle. 

But the best study I've seen to date is the one below from NBER, which looks in depth at the impact of the COVID lockdown on a specific topic - meetings - across meta-data from 3 Million users. Yes, 3 million!  So meaningful that we talked about it on a segment of one of my podcasts, HR Famous.  See the top line notes from the study below and then take a listen to the podcast for discussion.

More meetings. More participants in those meetings, shorter meetings in length, longer workdays.  Best study yet, check it out and take a listen to the pod segment as well.

More from Marginal Revolution:

Using de- identified, aggregated meeting and email meta-data from 3,143,270 users, we find, compared to pre- pandemic levels, increases in the number of meetings per person (+12.9 percent) and the number of attendees per meeting (+13.5 percent), but decreases in the average length of meetings (-20.1 percent). Collectively, the net effect is that people spent less time in meetings per day (-11.5 percent) in the post- lockdown period. We also find significant and durable increases in length of the average workday (+8.2 percent, or +48.5 minutes), along with short-term increases in email activity.

That is drawn from data from Europe, North America, and the Middle East, in this new NBER paper by Evan DeFilippis, Stephen Michael Impink, Madison Singell, Jeffrey T. Polzer, and Raffaella Sadun.

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In episode 27 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn and Jessica Lee discuss theories on why meeting times have decreased during the pandemic (but the number of meetings is up) and workplace relationship issues that have reemerged surrounding former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook (McLovin from episode 2 of HR Famous).

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

1:00 - The resident ginger of HR Famous is back from vacation! Welcome back Tim!

4:40 - Tim got some flowers for his wife and tried to share the great deal with the HR Famous crew and Jlee had to kindly reject (she doesn’t like roses!) and KD had bought flowers for his wife 30 minutes prior to Tim's text. Jlee also implores her vast knowledge of flowers onto the men of the group. 

7:00 - First topic of the day - a new study was released from the National Bureau of Economic Research about changes in the workday. The study shows that the number of meetings and number of attendees per meeting have increased during the pandemic, but there is a reduction in meeting length. 

9:20 - Jlee thinks the reduction in meeting time can be attributed to less travel time from meeting to meeting and the convenience of meeting remotely. How far do you have to travel to get to meetings in your office? KD thinks the reduction is due to having more meetings. Tim thinks it can be attributed to the digital platforms. 

12:30 - KD had to lead his first in person, socially distanced, masked up long meeting recently and he said it was horrible. He would prefer to do it through Zoom. 

15:00 - One more stat from this study: the average work day has increased by 48.5 minutes while working remotely. Tim doesn’t believe people are actually working more but they are just working at different times of the day. 

17:15 - How early do you schedule your meetings? Jlee is a fan of 7:30 am meetings. 


Meetings In-Person vs. Video: See You On the Zoom Thing, Suckers...

So, I did it. We had a client who asked to do a face-to-face meeting in early August, socially distanced and with masks on in a conference room.

I was expected to handle about 40% talk time/time of possession across 90 minutes. Here's what I learned.

It freaking sucked.

I'm not super alarmed about doing an in-person meeting with all the right protections as described above. We sanitized before and after, had the masks up and were socially distanced in the conference room.

But it was awful. Here's what I learned and why I would dramatically prefer a Zoom meeting to the in person, masked version:

1--It's hard to talk for long periods of time through a mask. Running a meeting with a mask is not going into a store with a mask. Talking for any period of time is hard, forced and awkward.

2--I have a big a## head. Uni-size, one size fits all masks are not made for me. If you feel any pressure on your ears, that means the mask is tight on your face and that's going to make talking difficult for any period of time.  As they said in Jaws, you're going to need a bigger boat mask.

3 - Life and conversations are hard without facial expressions. You think you can smile with your eyes? I think you look like a hostage when you do your eyes that way.

4 - Almost everything is better with a Zoom call when compared to a masked, in-person meeting. Audio is better. Visuals are better. You build better understanding. You don't feel like you're in a bad movie that ends with zombies running said meeting.

I looked forward to the face to face meeting - a chance to get back to normal. I was wrong.

I'm pro-mask (why not?), but I'm not pro-mask, live meeting.

If you can, save the in-person business meetings for when we beat this thing. For all the essential people doing it day to day, you're professionals - I salute you! 


Pandemic/Recession Notes: It's Going to Get Hard to Recruit Candidates in Stable Situations (The Best Hire Ever Podcast)...

If there's one thing I learned in the last recession that's going to help me this time around, it's this:

All things being equal, when we are deep in a recession, reasonable people in stable employment situations are less likely to jump to a new job.

I know what you're saying - you've got multiple examples where that's not the case. I hear you, but note the start of the statement above - "all things being equal."

When we're in a recession, which we are as I write this in 2020 (pandemic, even!), it's harder to get stable people to move. Good boss, decent job, seems stable - why would they take a chance on you, especially when the pandemic flavor of the recession we're in makes them even less confident your company is going to survive?

Candidates ALWAYS have imperfect information on the companies they're moving to.  Will the company make it? Is my new boss secretly a crazy person?  The unemployed are relatively easy to recruit in recessions - they need a job, and they need it quick - the employed are harder to move when times are tough.

Your best chance is really good, incredibly transparent marketing related to your open job. Think job postings and everything around it.

That's why I recently chatted with Katrina Kibben, CEO and Founder of Three Ears Media, on my podcast BEST HIRE EVER. We talked at length on the value of great job postings and marketing materials, and I had Katrina break down the elements of a job posting that generates results and talk about influencing candidates through great copy writing across all job marketing materials.  

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

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

1:05 - "What up, KD?"

1:30 - KD is a ray of sunshine as he delivers the Q2 GDP numbers and connects it to great job postings.

2:52 - A bit about the artist known as Katrina and Three Ears Media.

5:15 - KD wants to know about the the decision for Katrina to specialize and go DEEEEEEEEEEP in the job posting/job attraction space – why?

9:30 - What are 3 things people can improve on related to their job postings?  Katrina breaks down the problems with 1) content being way too long, 2) bad intakes lead to bad content (buzzwords), and 3) Guessing and winging it.  Katrina goes deep in each area and drops incredible knowledge.

16:10 - KD asks Katrina for the most challenging personas across hiring managers. A story about Missouri is part of the magic!

19:30 - KD focuses on what he views as the the pandemic/recession dilemma. You’re a hiring manager and need great talent. How do you convince people that your company will make it through and they can jump from where they are and be OK at the company you’re a part of?  Katrina acknowledges the challenge but talks about people who have great jobs who are looking for more.

22:25 - Katrina and KD talk about the isolation via the Pandemic creating time to complement career paths with talented people.

24:00 - Katrina gets technical and breaks down the "Human About Us" portion of a job posting as being the place to create confidence in your company. Don't cut and paste a press release. Talk about where you're at right now. Acknowledge the past, talk honestly about the bounce back, etc. #transparency

29:00 - KD asks Katrina how hiring managers can make candidates believe in them as a candidate. 

35:10 - Katrina and KD wrap it up with WNBA talk.

RESOURCES AND SHOW NOTES:

------------Katrina Kibben

Katrina Kibben on Linkedin

Three Ears Media

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


Your Company's Probably Going to Ask You to Delete TikTok From Your Phone (The HR Famous Podcast)

Ah, company phones.  Here's the deal - they really don't exist much anymore. 

Why are we talking about company phones? Last week was a doozy as Amazon directed its employees to remove TikTok from company devices, only to take the request back later in Tik tokthe same day. Wells Fargo came in behind Amazon and gave the same directive - and held to its guns.

TikTok is a concern because of data security concerns combined with the fact that it's a Chinese company. China has a long history of being rogue with all types of IP. You can expect that more companies will follow suit and direct their employees to remove TikTok from company devices.

But can we be real a second? Companies long ago transferred the financial responsibility for devices to employees. While a small percentage of employees have company provided devices, at the end of the "Blackberry" age companies began the march to the "bring your own device" world, where employees had access to company email and other apps on the device that they chose. My Gen X and old Millennial friends will remember in the 2010 timeframe when IT departments started allowing personal iPhones to be able to get corporate email.

And like that, the need to provide devices to employees was gone. The pitch went something like this: Your choice, we can give you a clunky ass company-owned Blackberry, or you can use your iPhone to pick up email. Some companies provided a stipend, but most did not.

Poof! Expense related to telephony gone!

Unintended consequence of that revolution - companies don't own the devices that are being used by employees in 90% of the workforce in America.

That means mandating TikTok being off phones goes something like this:

1--Companies mandate no Tiktok on device being used for company work (but that the employee owns), employees say yes (sounds unlikely)

2--Companies mandate no TikTok, and provide phones to a higher percentage of employees (unlikely due to cost)

3--Companies say if you won't remove TikTok from phone, you can't use company apps like Outlook (unlikely due to the hit on immediate response and productivity)

4--Companies look at the do-do bag of options above, do nothing about TikTok (ding, ding! Most likely outcome!)

We talked about this issue on the latest episode of HR Famous.  Take a quick listen below, see the time stamps on this issue shared below and while you're there, subscribe to our pod!

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In episode 23 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn and Jessica Lee are back to discuss Jlee’s recent vacation, Tim’s new favorite shorts, different proposed plans for return to work bonuses, and privacy concerns about TikTok and other apps on company owned devices. 

Listen below (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

1:20 - Jlee is back from vacay! Jlee went on a working vacation to the beach and returned with a nice tan. 

3:45 - Do you turn on an out of office reply on your email when you go on vacation? The HR Famous crew has rarely if never turned on their out of office reply. 

6:00 - Tim comes through with the much needed fashion advice. He says to check out Fair Harbor shorts! (Also, we’re open to a sponsorship!)

21:45 - Next topic of the episode: TikTok and employer’s rights! Last Friday, Amazon emailed employees to delete TikTok from their phones. Later in the day, they issued a statement that the email was a mistake and their employees didn’t need to delete TikTok. Wells Fargo also directed their employees to delete TikTok from company owned devices. 

24:00 - Tim brings up the bitcoin hack on Twitter and privacy/security concerns on there as well. Although TikTok is a Chinese owned company, there is still risk coming from American owned companies like Twitter. 

25:50 - KD discusses the differences in security issues on different kinds of devices or softwares. Tim brings up how many tech companies have allowed their employees to work on whatever operating system they’re most comfortable with and how there may be IT concerns surrounding that. 

28:00 - KD asks Jlee if she thinks that people will delete TikTok from their personal mobile devices even though most people have other privacy sensitive information on their devices. Jlee thinks it’s not going to happen and says the only way employers could have complete control over the employee’s devices would have to be somewhat similar to government agencies that work with national security concerns. 

30:00 - Tim discusses concerns over TikTok being a Chinese company and therefore, somewhat state-controlled. He thinks a solution may be getting a US owned TikTok alternative to replace the platform. Jlee is very sad about the potential outlawing of TikTok. 

32:00 - Tim thinks that people should be allowed to have multiple logins on a phone like you can have on a laptop or a computer. KD thinks that companies should just pay for their employees to have their own company device to solve any security concerns. 

33:30 - The HR Famous podcast promotes wearing a mask! Mask up!