WORKPLACE ARTIFACTS: "Patient Zero" Drives Dress Norms at Your Company...

Ever notice that everyone in your company pretty much dresses the same?

Me too.

Note that you didn't hire with this criteria in mind. Before joining your company, your employees had a much greater degree of diversity in the way they dressed.  Then once they joined your organization, conformity and groupthink became the order of the day, and something called "regression to the mean" occurred.  Examples of groupthink dressing in the workplace include:

--Patagonia vest for hedge fund people

--Dress sneakers for tech company people

--Blue Blazers and specific pants choices for white guys over a certain age EVERYWHERE (click the links for my takedowns on these topics)

--and countless more examples.

It's sociology 101.  Norms, customs, etc.  I was reminded by the consistency of the pack by the following from Esquire:

"I work at Morgan Stanley."

Pause.

"It's a bank."

I fight the imminent eye roll with my entire being, like you'd fight an alarming wave of nausea in public:

"Oh, wow! Cool! Are you, like, a bank teller?"

Unidentified Banker No. 1 and I did not speak again after that. He wasn't a teller. (Of course.) He was an analyst. (Of course.) But not just any old analyst. He was a capital B Banker. He lived and breathed the lifestyle, the attitude. He was a douche bag. And, like any true capital B Banker douche bag, he carried the bag. The Douche Bag.

If you're unfamiliar, the Douche Bag is a small-sized duffel bag (the "good" ones are navy), with straps embroidered with the name of the bank the bag's owner works for. The owner is probably a dude. He's probably an analyst. He definitely peaked in college.

The bag itself has many names. It has been called the "corporate duffel" (by the issuing firm), the "deal bag" (by Bankers), the "banker bag" (by New Yorkers), and the "douche-tastic man purse" (by my fellow misanthrope, Renata Sellitti). And, of course, the Douche Bag. By me.

It is a known quantity: the mark of a first-year associate, and a symbol of belonging to the trade. But it is also a known problem. I am not the first person to rail against the obnoxiousness of the banker bag. I'd even call the argument tired, if it weren't for the fact that nothing thus far has stopped these guys from treating promotional canvas duffels like they're limited-edition Louis Vuitton holdalls.

What gives with the follower/norm/desperation to fit in related to workplace dress? I thought about it for awhile. What causes people to conform and who leads trends in your company when they break?  Here's my thoughts:

1--People follow trends inside companies and conform to norms because existing outside of the norm can introduce risk. If there's one thing that average performers don't want, it's more risk.  

2--The older someone is at your company, the less they want risk.  They've made it this far, have closet full of clothes of the existing uniform, and they really don't care about fashion. Translation - they're not picking up a fad or trend at your company - you guessed it - unless NOT picking up the new trend presents them with risk.

3--Changes in dress trends at your company are usually introduced one of two ways - by overall societal trends or industry specific changes.  Industry specific changes are things like the duffel bag above, the Patagonia vest in hedge fund land, etc.  A trend starts at one company in the industry, then is shared via conferences and other forms of networking and spreads like wildfire.

4--Whether changes in the dress norms at your company are due to broad fashion trends or something industry specific, there always has to be a "Patient Zero" at your firm (aka the first one at your company/location to break ranks and embrace the new fashion).

5--"Patient Zero" - the one who embraces the new trend at your company - must be considered trendy enough for people to follow, but also be viewed as a high enough performer to modify the norms at your company - aka, if he/she did it, no one is going to call BS on them because they produce results.  

When patient zero picks up a new dress trend and 3-4 people quickly follow, you've got change when it comes to dress norms at your company.

The patient zero of dress trends at your company is generally not only a high performer, but a manager of people as well.  After all, there's nothing that will make the lemmings be fast followers quicker than their upwardly mobile manager trending a certain dress direction on a casual Friday.

Look around - odds are you have a Patient Zero at your location. Don't smile the next time you walk by them.

 


Firing Lab: Dairy Queen, a Birthday Cake and "Moana"...

It's judgement on terminations day here at the Capitalist. HR pros get their stripes from helping the business decide when employees need to stay, and when they need to go.

The decisions are probably most important for what we'll call "overall judgment in critical situations."  You know the deal on these - an employee is thrust into a situation involving an interaction with a customer/client, a co-worker or a manager - and their judgment is on full display.

The question of whether to term based on a single event of questionable judgment is something HR pros deal with all the time. Moana

Today's lab exercise: A Dairy Queen employee fielding a customer request for a birthday cake involving "Moana."  Here's more on the DQ situation from USA Today:

"A cake mix-up that went viral is drawing national attention, but the whole scenario is a nightmare for one Georgia woman who lost her Dairy Queen job.

The incident started gaining attention on July 2, when Kensli Taylor Davis shared a Facebook post with a picture of her 25th birthday cake purchased from Dairy Queen. The cake shows a marijuana leaf and what appears to be a high "My Little Pony" smoking with bloodshot eyes. 

Davis said her mother asked for a "Moana"-themed cake from a Milledgeville, Georgia, Dairy Queen. Instead, she got a marijuana-themed cake. The post has garnered more than 12,000 reactions and has been shared more than 13,000 times, mostly by people laughing at the mix-up. 

"I think they thought that she said 'marijuana' because we are from south Georgia and kind of have an accent. So, 'Moana,' marijuana?" Davis told WMAZ-TV in Georgia.

That's your situation. Here's how it went down in the workplace:

Cassandra Walker, the Georgia mother of two who made the cake, isn't laughing. She told USA TODAY she made the cake after her manager, who she says misheard Davis' mother, told her it was OK. Walker said Dairy Queen fired her for the mistake on Monday, which was her birthday. 

"The manager stood behind me while I pulled the images off the internet," Walker said. "She walked by as I decorated the cake. As I boxed the cake up, she was the one who walked it up to the front."She said she was told by Al Autry, who is one of the Dairy Queen's owners, that she couldn't be employed anymore.

"This was a simple misunderstanding from the beginning," Autry said in a statement to USA TODAY. "Our cake decorator designed a cake based on what she thought she heard the customer order. When the customer picked it up and said it was not what she ordered, we immediately apologized for the error and offered to redesign it the way she originally intended. The customer said it was fine, paid for the cake and left."

The statement did not address Walker's claim that she was fired. 

So what say you? Do you fire this employee?

My takes below:

1--The employee went through the manager and the design was approved.

2--The customer picked it up, laughed it off and had some fun with it.

3--Most HR pros wouldn't support a term in this circumstance.

If you're digging in from a investigation perspective, the fact that a manager saw and approved the design is a key thing to verify, as is the alleged fact that the manager actually took the call.  Confirm those two facts are true, and you really can't term.

But even if the employee rolled out that cake on her own - the fact that the customer laughed it off and took the cake means a term probably isn't in order.  

Notable in this situation is that Al Autry, identified as the owner of a DQ, is likely a franchisee, which at times can struggle with a lack of deep HR support from people like the ones reading The HR Capitalist.

VERDICT: The fact that pot is generally illegal in GA means you need to do a written warning (don't create work product that illustrates illegal activity), but a term is over the top. 


How to Respond to Negative Glassdoor Reviews...

You love to hate Glassdoor.  You feel like the negative reviews are disgruntled ex-employees who can hide behind not disclosing their identities. 

You're halfway right. There's still plenty of disgruntled takedowns of your company that are probably unfair.  But remember we are living in the review economy, with sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp and Amazon making the process of reviewing products and services feel commonplace to a higher percentage of your workforce.

The review economy means a greater total percentage of your employees are open to reviewing you on Glassdoor - which means you're going to be treated more fairly than you were during the dark days of Glassdoor Glassdoordisgruntlement 5-10 years ago.

You should ask good employees to write fair reviews as a result of the review economy. But that's a post for another day.

Today, I'm here to give you some simply templates to help you respond to Glassdoor reviews. Note that I'm not going to write them for you, but instead show you the elements of a solid response that doesn't attack the reviewer in question. The goal here is to give a playbook to respond to 4 types of reviews:

--The "You're the Best" review. (5 stars)

--The "You're Pretty Good" review. (4 stars)

--The "Balanced" review. (3 stars)

--The "Negative Takedown" review. (1-2 stars)

Ready? Let's do this.

1--The "You're the Best" review. (5 stars)

Believe it or not, you should take a victory lap and reply to this review.  The template goes something like this:

"Tim, thanks for taking the time to submit your thoughts on working at ACME.  While we have things to work on, we're glad you've sensed the <insert positive factor 1 identified by the employee> and <insert positive factor 2 identified by the employee> that we've worked hard to make part of our culture at ACME.  We appreciate everything you do for us and look forward to working hard to make ACME the best place possible to work and build a career."

Note the "we have things to work on" is key.  Humility is the right way to go with the stellar review. We're never satisfied!

2--The "You're Pretty Good" review. (4 stars)

Now we get into mixed feedback a bit.  Take the components of the 5-star review response and address any cons the employee lists in this still overwhelmingly positive review:

"Tim, thanks for taking the time to submit your thoughts on working at ACME.  While we have things to work on, we're glad you've sensed the <insert positive factor 1 identified by the employee> and <insert positive factor 2 identified by the employee> that we've worked hard to make part of our culture at ACME.  When it comes to <insert negative factor 1 identified by the employee>, we have some room to grow and are looking to <insert ongoing or planned initiative 1 to address the concern> and <insert ongoing or planned initiative 2 to address the concern>.  We look forward to hearing how you feel about the progress in this area, and thanks again for leaving this review."

Things are still pretty good in this review, but you're starting to address the negatives head on - with existing or planned initiatives in the area of concern.

3--The "Balanced" review. (3 stars)

Probably the most valuable of all reviews, the balanced review doesn't say you're the best - it says that there are pros and cons to working for you, which by the way, is the majority of workplaces that exist. Because the review doesn't imply that you're awesome, you have to back off taking too much credit and make sure you acknowledge the concerns.  It goes something like this:

"Tim, thanks for taking the time to leave this review.  We are working hard to build a good culture at ACME, and we're glad see the value in areas like <insert positive factor 1 identified by the employee> and <insert positive factor 2 identified by the employee>.  That's great feedback for us.  When it comes to <insert negative factor 1 identified by the employee>, we are working hard in this area and are looking to <insert ongoing or planned initiative 1 to address the concern> and <insert ongoing or planned initiative 2 to address the concern>.  We appreciate everything you do for us and thanks for being at ACME"

Note that you can repeat the insertion of areas of concerns and add additional initiatives you are working on to address concerns. A good rule of thumb is to address no more than two concerns, primarily the ones you have great traction on and active initiatives addressing the areas of concern.

4--The "Negative Takedown" review. (1-2 stars)

Here's where it gets dark.  The negative takedown review gives you credit for nothing, and provides a long list of problems and issues at your company. Allegations of hard working conditions, managers who don't care and general cultural dysfunction are common in the Negative Takedown review as well.  Most of these reviews will come from ex-employees, many of whom didn't perform well at your company.  With this in mind, the key is acknowledge the level of negativity in the review (even saying you're sorry they didn't have a good experience), then transitioning to promoting the fact your company isn't for everyone.  The response to the 1-star review using this model goes something like this:

"Tim, thank you for sharing your thoughts about your time at ACME. I'm sorry you didn't have a great experience during your time here, and it's true that working at ACME isn't for everyone. Change is constant in our business, and we ask our team members to be incredibly nimble as we serve customers in an industry that changes daily. Related to your comments on <insert negative factor 1 identified by the employee>, we are working hard in this area and are looking to <insert ongoing or planned initiative 1 to address the concern> and <insert ongoing or planned initiative 2 to address the concern>.  Thanks again for taking the time to leave this review and we wish you the best in your career."

Note the acknowledgment that the ex-employee did not have a great experience in the template above, including you sharing regrets if your brand will allow that - it's all about humility.  Once that's out of the way, you want to say that working at your company isn't for everyone, and the pace of change and related challenges is the best way to identify the profile of someone who can be successful at your company.  That effectively neutralizes the negative review to the extent you can by referring to motivational fit as a key to someone being successful at your company.  Once you have acknowledged the negative review and shared regrets the ex-employee didn't have a great experience at your company, you're on to show you're working on one or two of the areas that the review took you to task on.

The biggest problem HR faces when it comes to Glassdoor reviews is how to respond. If you're someone who hasn't got around to being consistent with your responses, I hope my templated approach helps you.

Naturally, context changes slightly related to whether the employee in question is a current or past employee. Also, you'll need to change up you intros and outros so every response doesn't sound the same, but insertion points for positive, negatives and what you're working on as a company to resolve generally will work as described with every review.

Get busy responding. Don't be a victim, HR.


Would You Fire Starbucks Employees Who Ask People to Leave for Questionable Reasons?

If you're reading this while sitting in a Starbucks, be aware - you're sitting a location where bad things can happen.

Starbucks - with its 30,000 locations and 300,000 employees - has become a lighting rod reflection of polarization in America.  Just over a year ago, a Starbucks Cops
manager in Philadelphia had two black men arrested because they sat in a restaurant and hadn't ordered anything.  It turned out they were waiting for another man to start a business meeting.  After that debacle, Starbucks instituted an open-door policy. Anyone could be in Starbucks for any reason, as long as it wasn't illegal or disturbing anyone else.

In July 4th, 2019, six police officers ordered drinks at a Tempe, Arizona Starbucks.  Things were normal until a barista asked them to either move out of the sight line of a particular customer who felt uncomfortable or leave.  The police did the latter and another controversy began for Starbucks.

With an infinite number of customer interactions every day, Starbucks has an interesting HR question to ponder - Do you counsel employees who make wildly bad judgements that blow up nationally or do you fire them?

Like most things in HR, the choice of counsel or fire when incredibly bad things happen isn't an easy one. You obviously want to help the person in question grow, but that person showed such poor judgement that the incident in question is the headline in USA Today.

What's your call?  Would you counsel or fire the person who asked the cops to leave?

Here's the checklist I would use as an HR Leader before I sign off on the decision to fire the employee:

1--Give me all the context. I know the broad details of the two examples I led with above - two black men in Phili and cops in Tempe.  What's the context I'm missing before the request was made by the employee in question?  Is there more to the situation that I don't understand? 

2--What's the history of the employee in question? Tell me about the person who made the call that led to national headlines. Are they a good employee? Do they have a history of making rash decisions? What have we done previously if so?  A history of bad decisions makes me less likely to want to make a save.

3--Is anyone in the organization telling me it would be an awful outcome if this person got fired? Big events should lead to someone telling me if would be a complete shame if this individual lost their job - if they're a great employee in many other ways.

4--How much political capital am I burning if I make the right call to save the employee when others want them fired? Real talk. If the mob and leadership I'm a part of want/need the employee to go, HR is generally the last line of defense to represent it might be best if they employee stays.  If you or I make that call, we need to understand the costs associated with that decision.

5--I'd remind myself that people generally show us who they are with the judgment calls they make. You can't ponder whether to fire/counsel without remembering this fact. People tell us who they are all the time by the judgment calls they make. We should look for all the facts/the entire picture, but when they tell us who they are, we should listen.

Note that I'm not advocating that the Starbucks employee in either situation should be saved.  BUT - the highly publicized employee issues at Starbucks provide a great backdrop on making employment calls when single, really bad events happen at a company.

Good luck with the judgment calls - here's hoping yours don't land in the Wall Street Journal.


PODCAST - e2 - This is HR (Employee Activism at Google, Netflix HR Series and Mandatory Sick Leave Laws)

(Email subscribers, if you don't see the podcast player, click here to see the podcast)

In this episode of THIS IS HR, Kris Dunn (CHRO at Kinetix), Tim Sackett (President of HRU), and Jessica Lee (VP of Brand Talent, Marriott) hit the following topics:

--A recent report on employee activism at companies like Google, Microsoft and Salesforce. If a small section of your employees starts protesting against your business plan or specific clients you serve, what do you do as an HR Pro? The gang digs in and finds that it's complicated (2:53)

--The team tries to bring the outrage at a new Netflix series, hosted by Dustin from Stranger Things, that take advantage of unemployed people who think they've finally landed a job.  They find their outrage uneven and too pedestrian so they start brainstorming Netflix pitches with an HR theme that would be cool (11:53)

--An exploration of the trend across some cities to enact mandatory sick leave laws.  Good thing or bad thing?  The gang digs in (18:51)

KD closes it out by going to the mailbag and getting a simple question from a manufacturing HR Pro on favorite interview questions, which Tim and JLee turn into a potentially ill-advised primer on passion in your job (27:21)

BONUS: We uncover that that one of the gang is stressed about prepping for Maternity Leave, while another one's not stressed but always preparing for the unexpected like a boy/girl scout.

What could go wrong with topics like these?  Give it a listen!


So You're a Tough Interviewer, Eh? How's that Working Out For You?

Let's talk about the myth of being a tough interviewer.
 
So you're a tough interviewer. You automatically go on the offensive in any interview setting, some would even call your style "on the attack."  You are confrontational, basically calling bulls**t on the candidate you have in front of you.  Are they sure they really belong in front of you with this background? What's missing?  You routinely attack what's missing in the first 10 minutes of the interviewer, satisfied you're doing your job of preventing people (who don't really have what it takes) to join your company.
 
The tough interviewer could also be called the negative or confrontational interviewer. It's most common tenured employees who don't feel any risk of alienating candidates. If this interviewing style is you, you don't build a lot of dialog with the candidate. You just go negative and watch them squirm.
 
How's being a negative interviewer working out for you?
 
Great, you say.
 
The people around you probably beg to differ.  
 
You see, your hard interviewing style is costing your company candidates. In a peak economy, good to great candidates have a lot choices in where their next job comes from.  It's likely that if a candidate made it all the way to you that they are good or great. They're in front of you because they have already been vetted and someone believes they might be a hire for your company.
 
And you bomb them with negative and hard vibes.  Damn.
 
The path for the most effective interviewers is simple - selling your company and yourself as an leader or peer while getting what you need to evaluate the candidate.  Are you an effective interviewer by this definition?
 
--No. You’re hard on candidates. No one wants to work with you or for you.
 
--Maybe. You’re neutral enough not to hurt your company. But that's probably not good enough in today's competitive hiring landscape.
 
--Yes, Absolutely. You get great stuff to evaluate the candidate, asking tough questions but framing that dialog in a way that makes them think you're on their side and rooting for them.
 
If you've ever prided yourself for being a "hard" interviewer, time for a little self-evaluation. If candidates leave your interview thinking that the session went awful or worse yet - they wouldn't want to work for you or with you, you've got a problem. You're net negative to the employment brand.
 
You're better than that. You can still ask the hard questions, but cadence, taking the time to build positive dialog and demeanor means everything.
 
You can do this. Help us out. 

Men Who Are Uncomfortable Mentoring Women: I'd Guess You're Doing This...

Is the number of men who are afraid to mentor women really on the rise in the #metoo era? As crazy as it seems, a new report from Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn Organization says this is the case. Here’s what the report says, we'll discuss after the rundown:

--Female employees are now facing a new threat to their careers in the post #metoo era. Me too

--Their male bosses are avoiding 1:1 time with them, for fear of how being alone with a woman will look.

--This is based on new research released by Sheryl Sandberg's LeanIn organization which finds that "60% of male managers in the United States are afraid to do a one-on-one activity, and that the number of men that feel that way is on the rise since last year.

--Sandberg says senior male managers are also hesitating when it comes to business travel with their female employees as well as 1:1 dinners and that this number is on the rise since last year, up 33%.

--The obvious concern is already low mentoring rates when it comes to senior male managers mentoring women - and those rates dropping even further.

--This SurveyMonkey/Lean In online poll was conducted February 22-March 1, 2019, among a national sample of 5,182 adults in the U.S. ages eighteen and older. The modeled error estimate is +/- 2 percentage points. Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are from the February 22-March 1, 2019 SurveyMonkey poll. Data for all surveys have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age eighteen and over.

How do you feel about that?  I'm a guy, which means I should be careful, but I'm probably part of the problem if I'm afraid to share my opinion.

My advice to the men who aren't comfortable mentoring women is pretty simple. That vibe you're feeling in the #metoo era doesn't have much to do with the movement - it has everything to do with you.

If you've noticed women acting differently, being skeptical of you, etc.- it's probably time to take a hard look at your tendencies in meetings that include both male and female colleagues, direct reports and underlings.

You might be a brotastic mess. We get it, you're a guy. But if you're in meetings and all your small talk is with the other guys, that probably naturally flows into the work conversations when the meeting actually starts and work conversations are being executed. How often do you ask a woman in those meetings the subject matter expert over a man? How often do you make sure that a woman who's quiet and not participating gets a professional, clean shot at being a part of the conversation?

The answer is that a some of you don't do that. As a result, woman are likely to be a bit distant professionally from you. You feel that, and make the assumption that the distance is related to #metoo. Which leads you to report that you're really not comfortable with the whole 1/1 thing in the #metoo era.

Which is weak.

The answer is more engagement with the women on your team during the normal course of business. You're responsible for the distance you feel. Being comfortable in a 1/1 is easy - just go out of your way to engage with the women on your team during the normal course of business, and 1/1's will feel like an extension of that.

I'm far from perfect, but I know this. If you're afraid to do a 1/1, I can look at your meetings, conversations and more in public space and see subtle differences in how you engage men vs. women.

I'm just a guy. But if you defer shooting the sh*t with me in preference of engaging with our female co-workers before our meeting starts, you'll be well on your way to becoming comfortable with 1/1's with female.

Stop being creepy in your assumed stance of avoiding being creepy.


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.  


Better Marketing For Corrective Action in HR...

I recently dropped a post titled "Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?", which explored the fact that all too often, corrective action/progressive discipline is the beginning of the end. When an employee gets that document, all too often they have the opinion they can't save their job.
 
Of course, it doesn't have to be that way. What if we entered into the corrective action world actually
expecting that the employee could make it? That's the way it should be in my eyes. Of course, that The planmeans a couple of different things:
 
1--Our companies have to go into any type of corrective action plan thinking the employee can make it, with the right type of support.
 
2--The employee in question has to want to raise their performance to meet the requirements of your plan - not always the case.
 
3--No one can act surprised if the employee makes it.
 
Which brings us to the garden variety corrective action/progressive discipline plan.  Here's a couple of things to think about:
 
--It's not over just because you "wrote them up".  Identifying what the performance is and why it's not great is only half the battle.
 
--The other half of the battle? Actually telling them what they need to do to get off the plan.
 
What's acceptable performance look like?  Too often corrective action/progressive discipline documents don't describe what performance that meets expectations looks like.  That's a miss.
 
So if you're going to do corrective action/progressive discipline the right way, you have to provide a path where they are off the plan. Most of us don't do that. We're just taking a "step".
 
If you're different than that, you probably should consider renaming what you call corrective action/progressive discipline at your company. I know what you're thinking - just because I call it something else doesn't mean anything has changed - and you're right.
 
I'm only telling you to change what you call it if you're actually open to someone getting their performance together and coming "off'" the plan. By all means, if you're just taking steps, keep doing what your doing. I hope the corrective action/progressive discipline process goes well for you.
 
But, if you're doing it differently and providing the aforementioned path, you should rename it.  Here's some real options, all with elements of truth in them:
 
Real Options/Recommendations
 
--Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) - Frequently used by sales teams with hard numbers to back it up, the ole' PIP means what it says. Do this, and you're good.  Don't do this, and we probably can't keep you.
 
--Back on Track Plan - This name for the plan does what it says it's going to do. You're off track. We need you on track. Here's the plan to do it.
 
--Individual Development Plan (IDP) - I know, I know. This is usually centered around true employee development in the L&D space. But if you don't currently have IDPs as part of your human capital stack, this name is available to you for to use for performance situations.
 
If you had the exact right culture, you could also use naming conventions like the "Get Them Off Your Back Plan", which is 100% honest but likely way too cheeky for the seriousness of what's in front of you.
 
The bottom line is this - if you don't have corrective action that shows the path to get off the plan, you're signaling a lot of bad things. I understand those bad things are likely to happen in a lot of circumstances, but aren't we better than that?
 
Change the name if you're willing to work on it and provide clarity in feedback to those that are struggling in your organization.  Keep it as is if you're not - don't destroy the opportunity for others.

Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?

Short post today about an important topic.  

Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?

First, definitions for some of my readers who aren't HR pros.  Corrective Action is a formal process where you tell an employee, usually in a written document that is delivered in a formal Kick in the meeting with a witness - that their performance is below standards and unless they improve, they likely will be removed from the company in time.

Corrective Action is usually a three to four step process in most companies.  It's designed to reduce legal liability in firing someone, even in "at-will" employment environments.

Back to the question - Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?

Well, that depends Sparky - what type of manager are you anyway?

Here's what corrective action means to the players involved:

The Company - "the employee in question isn't going to make it."

The Employee him/herself - "I need to look for another job."

Who's missing?  Oh yeah... The manager.  What corrective action means to the manager depends on what type of manager you are:

The manager as coach - to this type of manager, corrective action is just a escalated tool to show an employee they've been coaching that things are esclating.

The manager as bureaucrat - this type of manager isn't a coach and may in fact be a bit of a coward.  He/she hasn't really coached the employee from the heart, so when they show up with a formal corrective action document, the employee feels like he needs a lawyer.  Of course, they don't have that right.

Again, back to the question - Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?

Corrective Action is never a death sentence to the manager who's an effective coach.  That manager is going to keep coaching for improvement and wants the employee to recover.  They've used corrective action to show the urgency and hope is turns around.  Unfortunately, to all other types of managers, corrective action IS a death sentence - because if you aren't actively coaching, your struggling employee has no shot at turning it around.

Which one are you?