Bro-tastic vs. We Care: A Quick Review of Uber's Current and Past Corporate Values...

I'm always fascinated by the choices that companies and leadership teams make when they create company values.  

The challenge, of course, is to cut through the noise and get to what's real for the employees who work for your organization. To me, values can be aspirational, but are always best served by words that describe what makes the high performers in your organization different/successful, regardless of position.

In that way, company values can be incredibly powerful. But too often they're mostly aspirational and don't tell you anything about the top talent in Uberyour organization.

Of course, it can go the other way as well.  Leadership teams can do a great job of making company values actionable and representative of culture, but the words can mean too much - at times justifying negative behaviors.  

It's a slippery slope. You want to find the sweet spot in the middle - actionable words that don't create rationalization for behaviors that seem counter to accepted people practices.

Need an example? I thought you would never ask... Let's take a look at the company values of Uber, both back in the old days under CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick, and then look at the current values under leadership of Dara Khosrowshahi, who was brought in to provide adult leadership when the company was spiraling in multiple controversies brought on by cultural failings of the earlier leadership.

First, the Uber company values under Kalanick:

Customer obsession (Start with what is best for the customer.)

Make magic (Seek breakthroughs that will stand the test of time.)

Big bold bets (Take risks and plant seeds that are five to ten years out.)

Inside out (Find the gap between popular perception and reality.)

Champion’s mind-set (Put everything you have on the field to overcome adversity and get Uber over the finish line.)

Optimistic leadership (Be inspiring.)

Superpumped (Ryan Graves’s original Twitter proclamation after Kalanick  replaced him as CEO; the world is a puzzle to be solved with enthusiasm.)

Be an owner, not a renter (Revolutions are won by true believers.)

Meritocracy and toe-stepping (The best idea always wins. Don’t sacrifice truth for social cohesion and don’t hesitate to challenge the boss.)

Let builders build (People must be empowered to build things.)

Always be hustlin’ (Get more done with less, working longer, harder, and smarter, not   just two out of three.)

Celebrate cities (Everything  we do is to make cities better.)

Be yourself (Each of us should be authentic.)

Principled confrontation (Sometimes the world and institutions need to change in order for the future to be ushered in.)

Damn. I love values that show what it takes to be successful at a company, but you can kind of see where it could go off the rails. More on that in a second.

Next, the current Uber company values under the all-grown up Khosrowshahi:

We build globally, we live locallyWe harness the power and scale of our global operations to deeply connect with the cities, communities, drivers and riders that we serve, every day.

We are customer obsessed. We work tirelessly to earn our customers’ trust and business by solving their problems, maximizing their earnings or lowering their costs. We surprise and delight them. We make short-term sacrifices for a lifetime of loyalty.

We celebrate differences. We stand apart from the average. We ensure people of diverse backgrounds feel welcome. We encourage different opinions and approaches to be heard, and then we come together and build.

We do the right thing. Period.

We act like owners. We seek out problems and we solve them. We help each other and those who matter to us. We have a bias for action and accountability. We finish what we start and we build Uber to last. And when we make mistakes, we’ll own up to them.

We persevere. We believe in the power of grit. We don’t seek the easy path. We look for the toughest challenges and we push. Our collective resilience is our secret weapon.

We value ideas over hierarchy. We believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere, both inside and outside our company. Our job is to seek out those ideas, to shape and improve them through candid debate, and to take them from concept to action.

We make big bold bets. Sometimes we fail, but failure makes us smarter. We get back up, we make the next bet, and we go!

See the difference? Wow.

The values from Kalanick's time that I've highlighted note fairly aggressive values that champion assertiveness, machismo and the confrontation that was really the genesis for Uber getting off the ground. Let us not forget the amount of confrontation Uber was taking on with almost every city as they launched their service. They truly begged forgiveness and were the barbarians at the gate. It's only natural that this spilled over into the values and into the culture. Of course, that was a choice - they effectively hard coded that macho vibe into the culture, and as we saw later it became a shitshow of harassment suits, bullying, etc. 

Could they have pivoted on the values once they saw the negative behaviors inside the company? Of course they could have. But that type of pivot means you can't have a founder-driven cult of personality.

Exit Kalanick, enter Khosrowshahi. The second set of values are from a grown up company. The words are softer. They're reflective of a pivot in values for a company that lost it's way, but also reflective of a company where the tough founder-driven stuff has already been done.

Could Khosrowshahi have grown Uber from scratch with this cultural DNA?  Nope.  Should Kalanick pivoted his culture once market share had been obtained and his values began to be a liability? Yep.

Welcome to the goody room of "words matter".  Nothing is easy when it comes to using values to drive culture.  


Old Town Road, Lil Nas X, and Your Creativity...

External reading/case study time today at the Capitalist.  If you haven't heard of Lil Nas X, you should ask your kids.

His short cut "Old Town Road" is a streaming sensation. This video of him surprising an elementary school in Ohio went viral this week. Lil-nas

But the real lesson is in how he put this cut together.  Rolling Stone dropped a piece related to the emerging scene of sites offering musical tracks on the cheap:

"No one saw Lil Nas X coming. His race to ubiquity came impossibly quickly, and it’s a rare instance of an artist’s industry story — the making-of chronicle of an underdog star — becoming to wide audiences as compelling as his music. Ever since the 20-year-old rapper rose into the public eye a few months ago, first on the madcap video platform TikTok and then in headlines amid controversy over country-music charts, fans and executives alike have been scrambling to work out the method behind his one-song success.

Of the dissections of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which has sat at the top of music charts for eight weeks now, neither the treatises on its roots as a social-media meme nor the examinations of the charming sonic wackiness of its melody have paid much attention to one crucial aspect of the story: how and why the song’s underlying beat — the source of its all-important Nine Inch Nails banjo sample — only cost the rapper $30. That Lil Nas X was able to put together a chart-smashing song for less than the price of a tank of gas is a perfect testament that the traditional structure of the music business has blown apart.

“I don’t know if I’m living in some type of simulation at this point,” Lil Nas X recently told Rolling Stone. His smash hit only started taking shape in June 2018, when a Dutch teenager named Kiowa Roukema, a.k.a. Young Kio, tossed a trap beat under a banjo loop pulled from the Nine Inch Nails song “34 Ghosts IV,” which he’d found on a whim while browsing YouTube’s recommended section. He uploaded it as “Future type beat” (though it doesn’t really sound like a Future type beat) to a website called BeatStars. In November, it caught the attention of Montero Hill, a.k.a. Lil Nas, who had only been making music for a few months “out of boredom” from his sister’s home in Atlanta, Georgia. Nas recorded a song to the beat, and by the close of the year, the pair’s work was all over the internet, without the two ever meeting.

BeatStars is a digital marketplace where producers and artists are able to link up without ever getting into a studio together. Artists can pay a bargain-rate fee to download a beat, leaving it open to other artists to use as well, as Lil Nas X did. If they shell out a little more, they can get an exclusive license. The website is the brainchild of Abe Batshon, a musician-entrepreneur who only found out that “Old Town Road” came out of a BeatStars deal after the track blew up on music charts and he checked his records. “I don’t think Young Kio even knew about the song until it started having legs and trending on TikTok,”

The Rolling Stone article is worth reading in it's entirety.

The lesson here is pretty simple. Creativity matters, but there's creativity with a capital "C" and creativity with a lower case "c".

Lil Nas X is somewhere in between.  Old Town Road likely wouldn't have been made if he had to be the original source of all of it's elements. But sampling ideas from others (in this case a trap beat) and mixing them into something greater matters just as much as truly original ideas.

If you want to be valued, you've got to do more than make the trains run on time.

The Lil Nas X story shows that intellectual property rights are shifting faster than ever. People say their are no new ideas. I'd say that the true value of workplace creativity is being a mix artist, combining old ideas into new cuts/solutions.

Lil Nas X was sitting in ATL doing nothing less than a year ago.  But he was curious.

What's your excuse again for not creating new things in your job in 2019?  Mmm hmm.  Good luck with not adding additional value. I hope that works out.


HR Spotify: Fast and Furious Soundtrack Songs, Ranked...

In case you missed it - I did the following review of a Netflix documentary - Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.  Go read that and watch that Netflix joint.  But at the end of that post, I let my readers know that if anyone could give me a Ja Rule song (one of the organizers of the Fyre Festival that went so wrong), I'd give them the proper recognition in this space and at Fistful of Talent.

Turns out, I have a lot of Ja Rule knowledge amongst my reader base.  Among those offering up a Ja Rule song for reference - Jess, akaBruno, E, HR mime and HR footprints, and that's Fastjust those brave enough to own Ja Rule knowledge with a comment - also got a bunch of emails.

All this Ja Rule talk took me to the topic of the Fast and Furious movie franchise. If you need an explanation of what is is, click the link to the left.  Turns out, Ja Rule has done quite a bit of music for the F&F series.

That made me want to provide the following: Fast and Furious Soundtrack Songs, Ranked.  Spoiler alert - Ja Rule made it, if only because my readers have a s**t ton of Ja Rule knowledge.

HR disclaimer: I'm not accountable for the language in any of these songs. Check your kid's or nephew's playlist before you wag the finger at me.

See the Spotify playlist I made for my hard charging HR pros below (email subscribers, click through to the site if you don't see it).

As always, these rankings are unscientific, unresearched, highly subjective, and 100% accurate. Use at your own risk.

To the list of Fast and Furious Soundtrack Songs, Ranked:

10--Ja Rule feat. Lil Mo & Vita "Put It On Me" (Remix)
The Fast & The Furious (2001) - I had to put Ja Rule in, so here we are.  I'm told that this classic Ja Rule love song not only represented the romance of the first Fast film while capturing the urgency and vulnerability of the respective couples in the movie.  It just made me think he sounds a lot like DMX. 

9--Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth “See You Again”
Furious 7 (2015) - In the wake of the tragic death of leading man Paul Walker in 2013, the somber melody of this hip-hop ballad was an appropriate farewell tune that grew to become a smash.  Can't do the list without this one. I'm putting it at 9 because I like energy in my F&F cuts and this is chill.  RIP, PW.

8 -Teriyaki Boys "Tokyo Drift"
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) - I heard they’re doing some crazy **** in Tokyo. This song is by Teriyaki Boyz, a Japanese hip-hop collective that worked with just about every important producer 10 years ago. I don’t think they’re making music anymore, but I could be wrong.  This cut gets included as Tokyo Drift is DISRESPECTED in the F&F series since they didn't use the original cast.  I think Lucas Black is dope.

7 - Bad Meets Evil "Fast Lane"
Fast and Furious 6 (2013) - Dark horse entry to this list, Bad vs Evil is comprised of Royce da 5'9" and Eminem, with this track included in the Extended First Look trailer for Fast & Furious 6.  Great music in the track and it's gotten around, as it was featured on both the soundtracks of the 2011 film Real Steel, and on 2K Sports' NBA 2K12. The track was also used for HBO's Entourage season 8 trailer and for the Final Fantasy XV trailer "Ride Together'

6--NBA (Never Broke Again) Youngboy "Murder"
Fate of the Furious (2017) - Okay, this is a bit of a cheat. This song was a hit before they decided to put it on the soundtrack and it barely even has anything to do with aftermarket parts. Not my scene, but shoutout to the kids who listen to this stuff today, they all love NBA YoungBoy. Filthy lyrics. Don't listen if easily offended.

5--Limp Bizkit, Method Man, Redman, Swizz Beatz, & DMX "Rollin’ (Urban Assault Vehicle)"
The Fast & The Furious (2001) - Out of the more intense records throughout the franchise’s history, this one is top-five material. The original chart topper, “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)” was already an icon nu-metal smash, but with the help of Swizz Beatz, it has more of a club feel. Fun Fact: “Rollin (Air Raid Vehicle)” was featured in the Fast & The Furious film while its hip-hop remix was only on the soundtrack.

4--Saliva "Click, Click, Boom"
More Fast & Furious (2001) - “Click, Click, Boom” is an iconic nu-metal smash of the early 2000s. The extreme intensity from the M-Town band allows their radio smash mesh with The Fast & The Furious’ rugged and raw energy perfectly.  Of course the white guy is following up Limp Bizkit with Saliva.  

3- Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott "Go Off"
Fate of the Furious (2017) - If you're old and trying to represent, your safest choice is ALWAYS Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott - hard to go wrong with that duo. Thus, they make the list.

2--Wiz Khalifa & 2 Chainz “We Own It”         
Fast & Furious 6 (2013) - Wiz and 2 Chainz deliver the goods here. 2 Chainz probably appears with the hologram of Conway Twitty next, because he's everywhere. Can't listen without humming along.

1--Ludacris “Act A Fool”
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) - Luda’s first entry in the Fast & Furious franchise was an outlandish banger that flooded the airwaves and MTV consistently back in ’03. This was also at the height of his career, when his Chicken-n-Beer album was making waves at the same time.  This cut is so Fast and Furious I'd list it 10 times, but that would be boring.  If you have time for one song to capture the essence of Fast and Furious, this one is it.

Disagree? Have something to add?  You're probably wrong, but hit me with your views in the comments.


Nothing Says "Sell Your Stocks" More Than Corporate Events That Feature This...

You know you're living in a peak economic cycle when you go to a corporate event, and the entertainment rivals old Rome in the Coliseum. 

Lions. Tigers. Potential loss of life.  ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

Email subscribers, click through to the site if you don't  see the Instagram video embedded below. OC Tanner, by all counts a fine, outstanding recognition firm (trying like everyone else in the game to become a cloud-based technology firm) had an analyst event last September in Snowbird, UT.

The video is of some ski stunt jumpers doing something like 15 flips in a row - no snow, so they land in a pool of water.

An HR Capitalist correspondent was there and met at least one of the jumpers, who was on the last US Winter Olympic team.

Post recession, you had a crappy DJ at your company event.

Peak economic cycle? You better get an Olympian risking his life for the mob to the tune of Ozzy's Crazy Train.  After all, that transition to becoming a cloud-based company just doesn't happen. Bells and whistles are needed.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?  Make sure you pick up our goodie bag with a t-shirt and a flash drive before you leave the park.

And yes, we all saw this and left our investment accounts in 90% equities.  No shocker the market dropped hard in Q4 when we saw this at the end of Q3.


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. 


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.  


Quit or Be Quiet: Examining Employee Behavior Using DiCaprio's "The Beach"...

We all know that any company isn't a match for everyone.  What's always been interesting to me is the power of the flock - your employees - being the best stewards of who fits and who doesn't.  When someone isn't a match for what's going on (across all factors) at your company, the most talented opt out and gone.  They come in, check it out and say, "this is not for me."  Then they get another job.  Simple as that.  No harm, no foul, they say a couple of things about having a great opportunity they couldn't pass up and everyone moves on.

It's the people who aren't a fit without many options that are often the bigger issue.  Because they fall lower on the talent spectrum, they have fewer options, and don't leave as quickly.  And if others around them are happy, they can serve initially to be a bit of a cancer but before long, the teammates around them just kind of get sick of their BS.  It's what happens next that is the key.

I was reminded of this dynamic in Shea Serrono's description of "The Beach" (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) as he relayed the feelings of San Antonio Spurs fans related to the Kawhi Leonard trade demands and ultimate trade this week.  More from the Ringer:


"Have you seen the movie The Beach? It came out in 2000. It starred Leonardo DiCaprio. He played a character named Richard, a young American kid out exploring culture in Bangkok. One day, he hears a tale of some pristine beach on some pristine island and so, using a rough map given to him by someone who says he’s been there, he heads out after it, eventually finding not only the beach but also a colony of people living there as a mostly self-sufficient community of beach bums. The_beach

The movie ends up being something like 85 percent fun and 15 percent terrible. (It was one of those movies where it felt like they got to where the end was supposed to be and just went, “Umm … what the f**k do we do now?”) But there’s this part in it that serves as a good analogy for this whole Spurs-Kawhi debacle.

While spearfishing one day, two people get attacked by a shark. The shark bites a large chunk out of one of the guys’ thighs and also bites him across his torso, killing him. The second guy lives but is severely wounded (he was bitten on his shin). And so now he’s there at the beach, screaming and miserable and in an unfathomable amount of pain. And he refuses to leave by boat to get medical help because he’s too afraid of the water now, but the leader of the beach community (a woman named Sal) (played by Tilda Swinton) won’t allow for anybody to come to the beach to help him for fear of the beach eventually getting turned into a tourist trap. So the guy, that poor bastard, suffers through it for a few days, just lying there with his leg bitten too far open to ever heal. And after a bit, everyone else on the island gets fed up with him, and the sadness they felt for him turns to frustration and anger.

Leo, narrating the scene, explains the setting, saying, “You see, in a shark attack — or any other major tragedy, I guess — the important thing is to get eaten and die, in which case there’s a funeral and somebody makes a speech and everybody says what a good guy you were. Or get better, in which case everybody can forget about it.”

Then the scene cuts away and we see a group of the people carrying the guy on a gurney into the forest.

“Get better or die,” says Leo, narrating again. “It’s the hanging around in between that really pisses people off.”

Then we see them set the gurney down on the ground, and the guy has a blanket and a tent they’ve set up for him, plus a few supplies. Then they turn around and leave him there to die. The camera cuts away again and we see everyone on the beach playing volleyball and smiling and laughing and having a very good time, same as they were before the shark attack. 


The Beach is your normally functioning company - not perfect, but not bad either.  They guy who died immediately from the shark bite is the employee who decides they're not a fit and gets out.  The guy with bad wounds that's impacting everyone else is the person that's not happy but won't leave.

The people around person #2 is your relatively happy employee base.  

“Get better or die,” says Leo, narrating again. “It’s the hanging around in between that really pisses people off.”

Your employee base can't carry person #2 into the forest.  That part is up to you.

It's knowing when it's time and having the guts to make a call that's the hard part, right?


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.

 


5 Reasons I'm Bullish On America...

Seems like it's been a rough year in America.  The economy is still going, but 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... 

I'm writing this on 7/3, getting ready for July 4th in the states.  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: Yikes

1--We live in a country where you can actually tell the leader to "F off" directly to him/her via his social account.  No judgement of the sides here.  I just think it's interesting that our society/constitution allows for that and people aren't afraid to do it.  Try that in Istanbul or Cairo these days, friends.

I probably don't agree with the decision to tell a leader to F-off publicly.  But I'll support your right to do it until the day I die.  Side note - don't try 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.

2--We have a history of being disagreeable and moving for change.  It's a long history and I could list 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.  Just look at America's path to course correct regarding Equal Rights across all Title 7 classes and the extension of those rights beyond Title 7.  It's easy to say it took too long - and it did - but just grab a live look in at St. Petersburg, Tabriz or Shenzhen for perspective.  Also noted that it remains a work in process.

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 defined by meritocracy 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.  Also, whatever your definition of America is, second generations to the states become more much more assimilated into our country than is seen in many European countries.  Why?  America.

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 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.

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.  To be fair, points #1 and #2 have a lot to with that.  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)

Happy Birthday America.  You're imperfect, dysfunctional at times and a loud, drunk roommate.

But you're still the best thing going.  See you at the cookout.