THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: E2 – MCLOVIN: WORKPLACE DATING AND HOOKUPS

NOTE FROM KD: Back with episode 2 of “The HR Famous Podcast”. Take a listen and we’ll be back on a weekly basis. See player below (email subscribers click through if you don’t see it), and HR Famous - e2please hit iTunesSpotify and Google Play to subscribe so you get notified whenever there’s a new show on your phone. Click here for Episode 1, where we talk about the title of the show and share a bunch of stories about being less than famous.

In Episode 2 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn get together to discuss Workplace McLovin – relationships, dating and hookups that occur inside your company between employees. The HR Famous team tells stories and talks about the role of HR and whether there is a need for deep policies to protect your company when people fall in love, as well as when Outlook Exchange and a digital copier are involved. Email subscribers click through if you don’t see the player below or click here for a direct link or hit iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

Show Highlights:

3:00 – The gang discuses KD’s choice of hotels, whether you can say “white” these days and if white is a primary color.

4:00 – JLee lays down the science behind how long you can say “Happy New Year” and Tim and KD turn it into an manager access issue and a discussion of the Chinese New Year.

5:50 – KD kicks off the topic of C-level McLovin and dating in the workplace with a review of the McDonalds CEO and the Alphabet/Google Legal Counsel going down for relationships at work.

8:40 – Tim and JLee discuss whether companies and the HR leaders need to be the relationship police, including risk management, positional power and more.

13:20 – The gang gathers around the campfire and listens to the gripping story of young KD’s first exposure to C-Level McLovin(s) and KD advocates for relationship policies being like a DUI Checkpoint. Tim and JLee weigh in with policy impact, including level considerations, reporting relationships, asking for waivers and potentially asking people to leave the company or change jobs as a result of falling in love.

31:00 – Tim tells his story from Applebees, which is epic and should not be missed, including perceived benefits that don’t have a Summary Plan Description or an Explanation of Benefits.

34:00 – KD breaks down another McLovin C-Level story that felt like the Matrix, and tells the gang why all McLovin sightings seem to happen around elevators.

Subscribe today at iTunesSpotify and Google Play.


Deflection Devices: When Direct Reports Go Nuclear and Suggest You're The Problem...

If you're the manager I think you are, you're not hiding from providing feedback and coaching to your direct reports.

But a funny thing happens on the way to you being manager of the year. Your people may not take the coaching - they may have reasons why they're doing what they're doing. Hazmat

In the BOSS Leadership Series Coaching Module, we call these things SIDETRACKS.  You attempt to coach, and the reasons/excuses roll back to you from the direct report.  As we discuss in the BOSS series, these sidetracks include variations of the following:

--What about them? (Others are doing the same thing)

--What about you? (You're doing the same thing, or preventing them from resolving)

--My tools suck! (I don't have the systems/support I need to do it)

--The customer/client sucks! (it's impossible to deal with the situation)

--My life is messed up! (I have a lot of sh#t going on. Wanna hear about it?)

All of these sidetracks can be dealt with by acknowledging them when real and coming back to personal accountability regardless of the challenges.

But there's a more serious item you have to be ready for as a manager when giving feedback for improvement to your people. I call them Deflection Devices and they're harder to absorb than the sidetracks listed above.

Deflection Devices go beyond normal coaching sidetracks. Deflection devices are designed to sting the manager directly, and to make you think twice before you coach again.

Deflection Devices are designed to place doubt in your head as a manager, to make you feel substandard. They're mean and if your direct report uses them with you, designed to MAKE YOU COACH LESS BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT TO BE FRAMED IN THAT WAY.

How's it happen? Easy. You're coaching a person on your team, and they decide to "be transparent" and give YOU HARD FEEDBACK. Common nuclear Deflection Devices include the following:

--You're weak and get run over in the organization

--You're a political animal in a negative way

--You're a micromanager

--People talk about you in less than glowing terms behind your back

--You don't have the background to managing the function you're managing

Deflection Devices go beyond the normal "what about you?" sidetracks. They're designed to feel personal and signal that the real problem is you at a deep level - not them.

It takes an aggressive sort to drop a nuclear deflection device at you while you're having a performance/coaching conversation of any sort. 

Don't give in - if anything, coach harder, my friends. Put on your HazMat suit.


Unions and Your Company: A Cautionary Tale (The Ringer)...

Most of the readers of this blog are leaders, managers of people and HR pros. That means many of you have union avoidance either directly or indirectly in your job descriptions, meaning part of your job is to create a culture and employee relations environment where unions aren't necessary.

But some of you have probably thought, what would a union look like - would it be as bad as Ringer2I'm told?

I'm here today with a brief story that most of you probably missed in the news this week. Note that this is not a terrible tale of union relations or behavior gone bad (I'll leave that to the experts), but a cautionary tale of what can happen when you grow soft and allow others to drive your point of view related to whether unions are a good thing or not.

Here's the story.

I'm a big fan of a sports site called The Ringer, founded by long time sports personality Bill Simmons, a talented guy you can read about here.  Here's the chronology of what has gone down:

1--Bill Simmons founded The Ringer in 2017, investing his own money and taking capital from entities like HBO.

2--Bill Simmons is a slightly left of center sort, and has openly talked about his displeasure with the Trump administration, etc - specifically on podcasts on The Ringer. He also had a long history of issues with management when he was an individual contributor at ESPN.

3--Sensing ownership that grew up in the journalism business, was left leaning and might be more open than most owners to a union, staff at The Ringer made the aggressive move at organizing and announced their intent to organize in August 2019 via social media, which by the way, is a big part of how to The Ringer markets to the world.  You can see that tweet announcing the intent by clicking here.

4--The public display of organizing had the intended affect of pressuring Simmons to recognize the union without a process or election. As writers at The Ringer came forward one by one to announce their support and liberal Twitter weighed in, the pressure on Simmons was real. He had attempted to build something different at The Ringer and succeeded, but he had been anti-management during his time as a high-paid employee of ESPN and was on the record politically.  To take the organizers through a process saying that they didn't need representation would seem hypocritical.

5--Simmons ultimately folded. Less than 4 days after the group announced their intent to organize, Simmons opted to voluntarily recognize the union without a process. For all the aforementioned reasons, he didn't much of a choice, and he may have thought this was a great outcome.  See the story of the recognition in Variety here.

6. Everybody celebrated and went back to work.

7. January 2020 (that's right, 4 months later): Spotify is reported to be in talks to buy The Ringer, with the true target likely being the 20-30 podcasts that the Ringer has built - not the website. Business rationale - podcasts at the Ringer are very successful, and every minute Spotify pushes users to original content is a minute they don't have to pay royalties to the music industry. 

8. After Spotify's M&A intent was reported, The Ringer Union (that's what they call themselves on twitter) started demanding access to information repeatedly and generally flopping around with the expectation they have perfect clarity of any intent by Simmons to sell and what it means for them. You can see the frantic tweets here and here.  There's a bunch more, and a bunch of retweets of their messages. Of course, I'm not an attorney, but I'm pretty sure with Spotify being a publicly traded company, there's no way for Simmons to satisfy his union here.  Information=Insider Trading.

9. The lesson? There are many unintended consequences of the path taken by The Ringer Union and Simmons.  I'm detailing them below:

--By voluntarily recognizing a union, you're likely to making the entity brash and bold for the future. The public tweets from The Ringer Union during the M&A activity are exhibits 1-29.  They actually are asking for a Slack update on the negotiations. 

--The fact that you've activated a vocal union is likely to impact negotiations on any strategic deal you want to make. Whoever the stakeholders are related to ownership, it's not going to been seen as a positive and could impact the deal size or the willingness to close.

--Now for the real issue. By this union being bold, vocal and critical, management serving up voluntary recognition and the vast majority of the union members not being in the part of The Ringer that Spotify values in the acquisition (podcasts), the entire scenario of events leading to recognition actually makes the union members LESS SECURE in a Spotify acquisition than they would have been if they were union-free. Put yourself in Spotify's shoes - if you're buying the podcasts and aren't sure you want to continue with the money losing website, you might look at the vocal union and say... No thanks. We'll take the podcast operation only.

Of course, Simmons can be a hero and say no if Spotify has the intent of dismantling the website/traditional news/social media operation. But the path to quickly voluntary recognize the union has actually made the union employees LESS SECURE in a world where The Ringer sells, which it was built to do.

I like the journalism at The Ringer. I hope the website survives. But there's a big chance it won't, and recognition of a union plays a part.

Unintended consequences everywhere.


Ask The HR Capitalist: I Work at Tesla, and I'm Tired of the S**t...

From the mailbag:
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KD -

I first ran into the HR Capitalist based on you writing on Tesla and our founder Elon Musk.  I work in The_doctor_is_in a professional grade position managing people in our Fremont location. I've been at Tesla for a little under 8 months, and I'm exhausted. While I expected the pace to be fast, the blurred line between work and life is tough for even me - a long time believer that people who work hard get the most done and deserve the rewards.  While I love the Tesla mission and product, the grind is too much.  Based on what I've described about myself, what advice can you give me for the best way to leave?  I almost quit before the holidays, because the end of year at Tesla is a big bag of coal for most employees.  I've never been at a job less than 3 years, but there's no way in hell I can make it that long here.

--Name Withheld by KD

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

Hey My Friend- 

It's a tough spot for sure, but I've got a couple of things for you to consider:

--Don't quit before you have another job. It's always easier to get a job when you already have a job, and if you quit, there's always people who will hold it against you that you didn't stick it out.  

--Don't quit or take another job before you get to the 1-year mark in your current role at Tesla. Based on what I hear from people like you, 1 year at Tesla is like 7 years everywhere else.  If you can get to the 1-year mark and then accept another position at another company, it automatically crosses a threshold of acceptability in the marketplace, and you'll carry that premium for the rest of your career on your resume.

--Since you're a manager of people, don't forget others are facing the same struggle. The more you help them and listen, the more you'll be providing therapy for yourself as well.

In short, start your job search in earnest at 11 months and leave after you cross the one-year mark. It's cool that you did the Tesla thing, but if it's eating you up, find someone who values that experience (many will in the marketplace) and make your move. But you need to survive until you get to the year mark at Tesla.  #optics

--KD


Comparing Job Offers: Always Pick The Best Boss...

From our Kinetix Tips series (email subscribers click through for photo):

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 6.54.10 PM

Of course, I was operating with limited characters in that space, so one elaboration. A potential boss's comfort with that question really doesn't include him automatically saying "yes".  The comfortable potential boss reflects on that question and compares the good and bad he/she brings to the table.

A quick "yes" to the question, "are you a good/best boss?", probably means they're not great at managing talent. Because it's way too hard to be that cocky about being good.

 


AWAY BAGS: When Your Horrible People Practices Turbocharge Sales...

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. That might be true.

For proof, look to Away Travel, which is the maker of the ultra-hip and ultra-cool Away Suitcase.  It's a Away trendy product, but one that I had an only passing awareness of.

Of course, that's before the shit hit the fan. My awareness is incredible now - more on that later.

Many of your are aware of a scathing article about Away that published on The Verge, detailing a bullying culture based on the communication tool of Slack. The gist is this - Away promoted radical transparency and attempted to force all communication on the public tool that is Slack, and as a result, there was little to no privacy in communications. When a diverse set of employees tried to set up their own private Slack channel, a high ranking exec popped in to monitor/participate in the group, even though she didn't fit the diversity the group was based on.

A few days later, members of the group started being fired. The Verge article hit, and it was an internet sensation for a couple of days. If you want more detail about what's being called a toxic culture at Away, go read the Verge article now.

But I'm here to talk about what happened AFTER that article hit.  Here's the chain of events that I saw:

1.  Within days, CEO Steph Korey stepped down amid criticism of the ruthless internal culture at the luggage startup she co-founded.

2.  Away named a new CEO.

3.  I listen to a pretty ruthless podcast called Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. They had Away on their list of things to talk about during the week it all broke. That wasn't going to go well for Away, because these two are ruthless with bad stuff at companies.

4.  Away didn't run. Instead, they leaned in and sponsored the podcast. I've never heard Away as a sponsor of this podcast, so I'm assuming they bought the ad rights to the episode that aired with their news.

5. Scott Galloway, one of the hosts, did a live read as a result - in his usual personality, having fun with it.  They had already made the call with the CEO, so the talk was more about the action the company took rather than the bad cultural stuff.

The lesson here? If you act quick enough (fire the people in question) and lean in to the coverage, you can actually create buzz around a product and turn the negative talk into a business opportunity.

Here's what I did after hearing the podcast - 

  1. I went and checked out the product.
  2. I'm at least 50/50 to buy an Away bag as a result.
  3. I never would have gotten that close to purchase without the hard lead in on the podcast and controversy by Away.

The lesson?  Act fast when bad stuff happens and don't hide.

If you run the right type of business, you might just end up with a boost to your business. While that's not a recommendation to bully people on Slack, it's a case study on how to react when bad stuff happens.

BONUS READING: A Guide to Away Bag Knockoffs on Amazon


BREAKING: Big Data Is Going to Tell Us Our Workforce is Hopelessly Flawed...

If you're a leader, you probably understand that the workplace is flawed. Whether you believe it is merely flawed or hopelessly flawed probably depends on your natural outlook and disposition.

Glass half-full? You know the workplace is flawed but you're confident we can make it better. Glass half-empty? You're jaded and shaking your head at what Skynetgifyou see.

But there is one emerging trend that's going to make even the most optimistic, Ned-Flanders types incredibly jaded.

Big Data.

If you mine the data from the systems you have access to, you're going to see a lot of ugly humanity. The smarter we get about ways to mine data and automate observations/trends, the more access we're going to have to the underbelly of human nature at work. Once these systems advance to a certain level, the only thing saving us from becoming incredibly jaded is....a Concern for privacy.

Case in point - a company named Synergy Sky, which has the following mission:

Synergy SKY that can leverage data from sensors, behaviour and your calendar to make all meetings more efficient.

We make use of the smart sensors in Cisco Room Series and third-party sensors for all other meeting rooms to achieve smarter utilization of meeting resources, through features such as no-show detection and booking vs actual usage reports.

Daaaaaaamn. Here's a recent press release on a product from Synergy Sky called Synergy of Things. Enjoy the total commitment to full control and the need for perfect efficiency:

New data from meetings technology providers Synergy SKY reveals 10% of workers are regularly booking fake meetings into their diary to keep colleagues thinking they are busier than they really are. 

The study conducted by Synergy SKY, who's meeting technology Synergy of Things tracks almost every possible conference call metric including “no-show detection” allowing managers to see stats on meeting attendance, reveals the average UK worker that books fake meetings is clocking up some 3 hours a week or over 150 hours a year in "fake meeting time". That works out at just over a whole month of deliberately wasted meeting-resources & time per year!

The study which analysed over 2500 meetings conducted via its software in 2019 was able to identify clusters of repeat meeting behaviour and it was on this basis Synergy SKY decided to conduct this study and uncover the truth.

Synergy SKY’s products Synergy Analyze and Synergy of Things were able to analyse over 2500 meetings and look at how many meetings were being booked but nobody was attending as the software tracks physical attendance through motion detection in meeting conference rooms and seamlessly synchronises with users personal calendars therefore allowing more insight into meeting events and workers schedules. 

It's coming for all of us. There's going to be as much data as we want, and we're going to have to make decisions on what data matters and what doesn't. If you believe that fake meetings are a problem, you'll want this type of solution. Of course, what you do with that information and how you engage your organization with this access to data depends a lot on your values as a company or leader.

You know the values I'm talking about...Trust, Respect for Privacy, Autonomy...LOL.

Put on your helmet folks, the privacy issues you've been exposed to are only the tip of the iceberg.


You Probably Need This In Your D&I Stack: Microaggression Awareness...

Saw a social post last week from a friend in the HR Business that said a manager was providing performance feedback to an employee, and the employee told them they had used a microaggression. The manager didn't know what that was and had to look it up.

But that's why you have me. You know what a microaggression is even if you don't know it by name.  Here's the definition from Wikipedia: Micro

Microaggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.[1] The term was coined by psychiatrist and Harvard University professor Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals which he regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflicting on African Americans. By the early 21st century, use of the term was applied to the casual degradation of any socially marginalized group, including LGBT, people living in poverty, and people that are disabled.  Psychologist Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as "brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership". The persons making the comments may be otherwise well-intentioned and unaware of the potential impact of their words.

A number of scholars and social commentators have critiqued the microaggression concept for its lack of scientific basis, over-reliance on subjective evidence, and promotion of psychological fragility. Critics argue that avoiding behaviours that one interprets as microaggressions restricts one's own freedom and causes emotional self-harm, and that employing authority figures to address microaggressions can lead to an atrophy of those skills needed to mediate one's own disputes.  Some argue that, because the term "microaggression" uses language connoting violence to describe verbal conduct, it can be (and is) abused to exaggerate harm, resulting in retribution and the elevation of victimhood.

You know - saying stupid ***t.  Need examples of Microaggressions?  I thought you'd never ask, click here for some doozies of the racial category.

When I think about microaggressions, I also think about some related factors - what is the intent and what's the relationship between the people involved?  As you look at the link above, there are some microaggressions listed that are never OK. But as you get away from that page and get into the gray area, it becomes murky.

Case in point, I'm attempting to limit my greeting of groups of people by saying, "Guys". I didn't try and limit this based on feedback, but on reading that some females were bothered by it. My struggle to improve in this area is real, and it's not helped by all the women in my life who walk into a room and say, "what's up, guys?"

My struggle. Not yours. But a good example of how seemingly accepted language can seep into the microaggression category.

At the end of the day, microaggression belongs somewhere in your D&I training stack.  I'd simply introduce the concept (I guarantee you that 80% of your people, maybe more, don't know what it is) and then list 20 potential questions, phrases, etc and have the team say yes/no - is this phrase or question a microaggression?

Some will be over the top, but a lot will be in the gray area and drive disagreement. But it's the dialog that others have from a training perspective that matters.

As soon as your folks discuss, awareness goes up.  And microaggressions automatically go down.

I worry that we've become too political correct, but microaggression awareness is worthy of attention inside your organization.


How To Not Get Killed In A "What's Wrong" Focus Group At Your Company...

Simple post today.  From time to time, HR pros have to do focus groups to determine the climate of the employee relations environment at their company.  Ideally, this is done before there's smoke in the air.  But at times, especially in a multi-location environment, that's impossible.

So how do you approach a group of 10-12 employees (focus group) to get them to talk about the challenges, but not get beheaded in the process?  You're going to have to ask open-ended Valley
questions to get employees to give you details about what's messed up, so the best approach I've found is this:

--Ask each employee to give you TWO THINGS THAT ARE WORKING WELL FOR THEM AT YOUR COMPANY and TWO THINGS THAT NEED FAST IMPROVEMENT

It sounds simple, right?  I think we'd be surprised how many HR pros who walk into hostile environments don't force the attendees of focus groups to give them some positives.

The positives are there to balance the feedback loop.  It forces people to articulate the positives in their environment, which is important for fellow employees to hear.  

Of course, the negatives/opportunities for improvement are going to be there. You'll get those.  But if you know you're walking into a tough session and fail to be brave enough to ask for the positives, you run a higher probability of losing control of the group.

Some responses you'll hear when you ask for the positives:

"The people I work with"

"The people I work with"

"The people I work with"

"The people I work with"

Not a typo.  Expect that if you're walking into a tough environment, the answers will focus on fellow employees enduring the struggle, not anything that gives credit to the company.  That's OK - you're just looking to balance the feedback loop.  You can accept this answer from as many people as want to give it.

You also might here some smart### responses like:

"I haven't lost any fingers yet"

My advice?  Accept the "people I work with" response from all and if you get a wisecracker, laugh with everyone else and then follow up and ask for a serious one.  Accept "The people I work with" from all and ask for at least one other positive that someone hasn't given the group yet.

Good luck with your paratrooper-like focus group sessions.  Don't be afraid to ask for the positives - it will make your session much more productive.


Trigger Warnings on Disney+...Could They Work for Managers?

Did you sign up for Disney+ over the last couple of weeks?  10 million other households did.

You didn't know you needed another streaming service, but Disney+ comes with some unique features, mainly that the entire catalog of Disney is available for streaming. That's a deep catalog.

Of course, even though the catalog is deep, there's some issues. Material sourced from the 1930's, 40's and 50's might have some theme that aren't Lady and tramp warninginline with today's world. For this reason, Disney has implemented a "trigger" warning of sorts on any material that might be challenging.  More from the Washington Times:

Disney’s new streaming service has added a trigger warning to certain classic movies like “The Jungle Book” and “Lady and the Tramp” to address possible “outdated cultural depictions” that could offend viewers.

Disney Plus, which launched Tuesday amid a host of technical issues, issued a disclaimer on some decades-old movies that reads, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

The warning appears in the movie descriptions for “Dumbo,” “The Jungle Book” and “Lady and the Tramp,” among others that have faced criticism for depicting racial stereotypes.

My super-conservative friends view that as more political correctness. I view it as a masterful stroke by Disney. Let me share the warning/disclaimer again, by itself:

“This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

That's solid communications work by Disney. It allows them to share the material and satisfy fans, but also warns that this stuff is from another day and time, even another world. It's even educational and can drive conversations in households with reasonable people who want that type of conversation. And of course, the warning allows you not to watch as well.

Of course, I'm a HR/recruiting/talent nerd. The first thing I thought of was this:

Could we use the same type of trigger warning for good people in your organization who are insensitive to the needs of others and seem to run afoul of public opinion at least once a quarter?

I'm not talking about people who are blatantly racist, etc. I'm talking about the people who are likable but grew up different from you and me and haven't made the complete turn to the 2020. They mean well. But they can't get out of their own way.  We don't want to give up on them.

Let's say you've got an incoming email from this person. There could be a pop-up that could say the following before you read the email:

"This individual is presented as a work in progress. He/she may contain outdated cultural norms, beliefs or depictions. We believe they're evolving, but it's a work in progress."

That's truthful for a lot of people in the average organization. It feels right.

Of course, some of you would snap the warning or share it in your IG story and ruin the feature.

This is why we can't have nice things. Continue about your day without organizational warnings that could make our work life better. LOL.