The Tyranny of Accent Walls In Corporate America...

True story for a Monday morning.

My wife said the following over the weekend:

"I'm painting an accent wall in the bedroom." Accent wall

My response:

"Are you ###ing kidding me?"

She was kind of taken aback by the velocity of my response.

Now, for the record, my wife has much better taste of all things design than I do. She has not, however, been slung around by corporate America to the same extent as I have.

It's not that accent walls are wrong. If that's the new trend in home design, so be it. But if you've spent the amount of time I have in office parks and mid-tier hotels across America as I have, you understand the following truth:

Accent walls in corporate America are the opiate of the masses. A design element to trick you into thinking the vibe in a company is upbeat, the sky is the limit and the culture is engaging.

It's not that the presence of an accent wall means those things aren't true - we have some at Kinetix. It's just that the correlation of those positive cultural items and an accent wall is "zero", which is to say there's no relationship at all.

The dirty little secret is that your culture comes down to the quality of your managers of people, and the platform you give them to understand your expectations about how they deal and talk with their employees. I did a whole training series on that being the reality of your culture.

Need some other things that are as cool as your accent wall, but have a zero correlation to great culture? I thought you'd never ask. Here you go:

1--Cool furniture not related to the actual workspace people work at.  Love this one - there's nothing easier to dress up an office than slinging some furniture in corners while Tammy still has gum stuck under her cube desk that's 7 years old.

2--Foosball. Seems cool. Feels cool. I'm undefeated. Zero correlation with culture.

3--Open floor plans that ditched the cubes (even low lying ones) and forced you to work at tables. Man, if you work like that, I'm sorry. Hit me on Slack and tell me about it. I blame farm to table.

4--A proclamation that you are reducing email and putting quick hitting updates and comms on Slack or another similar tool. See what I did there? I presumed if you were working at tables with your brethren that you also work on Slack. So predictable. Sorry homeslice - just because you do less email than your competitors doesn't make you better culturally. Trendy? Yes. More productive? Show me the data.

The quality of your culture really all comes down to the quality of the conversations your managers have with their people. Are they two-way conversations? Does the employee get to come of with some of the ideas?  I could go on, but you get the drift.

As for that accent wall, I'll probably leave it up to Mrs. Capitalist. But if she starts naming the rooms in the house like we do conference rooms, that's where I'm drawing the line. And no, I don't need your recommendations for what a bedroom would be named. That's why the comments are "off" on this post.

KD out.


Today at the Michigan Recruiters Conference: Influence and Negotiation in Recruiting...

I'm hitting both coasts of Michigan this week to share a stage with some of the best at the Michigan Recruiter's Conference.  Crazy lineup of speakers - how's the saying go? If you're wondering who the weak one is, it's probably you?

Make sure you come up and say hi if you're up north this week.

My topic is as follows:

For those liking formality: How to Increase Your Ability to Influence and Negotiate

For those liking honesty: How to Raise Your Recruiting Game By Thinking Like a Money Hungry VP of Sales 

It's all about playing offense.  Here's your title slide (email subscribers click through for art):

MI Recruiters Conf

I have 7 strategies ripped from Sales to help recruiters manage things like hard to handle hiring managers.  Along the way, we'll play games like "Dude(ette), Does It Suck?", which is designed to show how badly you might need these strategies.

Tim Sackett does a great job with this conference and I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be than in Michigan in the winter. His speaker swag bag WAS OFF THE CHART though.  Coach bag, Pistons gear and a Shinola journal.  Simply the best.

Say "What Up, KD" if you're at the conference today.


The Removal of McDonald's CHRO Underscores Increased Expectations of HR...

In case you missed it, I shared some thoughts on company romance for managers of people yesterday, with the firing of the CEO of McDonald's as the backdrop.

On a related note, it was reported on Monday that the company's CHRO - David Fairhurst - had opted Wiredinto leave the company. Here's a quick rundown from the Wall Street Journal, then let's discuss:

"McDonald's said its top human-resources executive has left the company, days after the burger giant fired its chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, because of his relationship with an employee.

McDonald’s said Chief People Officer David Fairhurst left the company on Monday, without providing any details of the reasoning behind his departure. A McDonald’s representative said Mr. Fairhurst’s exit wasn’t related to the firing of Mr. Easterbrook.

New CEO Chris Kempczinski said in an email to employees Monday that Mr. Fairhurst was moving on from McDonald’s after 15 years of service, and had helped enhance the company’s brand. Mason Smoot, a McDonald’s senior vice president and company employee since 1994, was elevated to Mr. Fairhurst’s role on an interim basis, Mr. Kempczinski said.

Mr. Fairhurst didn’t respond to requests for comment. He had worked with Mr. Easterbrook for McDonald’s in the U.K. and was promoted to the top human-resources job soon after Mr. Easterbrook became CEO in 2015."

Did Fairhurst leave for reasons unrelated to the firing of the CEO for an inappropriate relationship? While that's possible, it's also unlikely.

Here's the top possible reasons for the departure of Fairhurst:

  1. He knew about the relationship and didn't escalate it appropriately.
  2. He didn't know about the relationship, but should have based on the circumstances.
  3. The board didn't evaluate whether he knew or not, they just decided he couldn't stay based on his long-term relationship with the CEO and the sensitivity of the issue related to the responsibility of the HR Function.

Regardless of the reason, the separation of McDonald's CHRO Fairhurst is a visible reminder of a shifting landscape for HR leaders. When it comes to issues of professional conduct in the C-Suite, we're increasingly being held accountable for the actions of the leaders we support. If we know of an issue, it's our responsibility to bring it up.  But more importantly, it's our job to be wired in to what's going on. At the end of the day, if we're not connected enough to have the information we need, we're going to be held accountable when bad stuff happens.

Fair? Maybe, maybe not. But it's the reality in the new world, and the removal of the McDonald's CHRO underscores the need to be wired in and take action swiftly.


Budget Season: Do You Have Any Ideal on Labor Costs By Project/Service?

It's budget season for a lot of us, and in addition to revenue projections, one American pastime is alive and well in the budget process, even in 2020.

Sandbagging!

You know it's true. If you're a leader in the field, you're attempting to load up the expense side of your budget as much as possible, often times because you may have no control F35of the revenue targets that are handed to you.  You NEED that expense side to be as high as possible so you can slash it as needed in an effort to meet your EBITDA or Net Income number, even if you miss the crazy revenue target.

Games people play. Right or wrong, you just can't stop them.

If expense loading is a game in budget season, guess what the favorite parlor game of all is during this time?

Sandbagging the headcount budget!

In most businesses, headcount is the biggest fixed (or is it unfixed) cost. The bigger the headcount budget, the bigger the pile of sand that can be used to make earnings if you miss revenue.

Which begs the following question:

Do You Have Any Ideal on Labor Costs By Project/Service at your Company?

While most of would say yes, that's a yes that we "kind of know" but can't give you "actual math".

I'm reminded of this fact by a conversation I had over the weekend. My son's a freshman in college and a Aerospace Engineering student. He started going down a rabbit hole of what it took to build an American Combat Aircraft.  As you might expect, numbers release are limited, but then he found this gem of an article on the production of America's latest generation fighter jet, the F-35:

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, better known as the GAO, has released a new report on the status of the F-35 program overall. One of the most interesting tidbits in the report was metrics on how many man hours of labor it takes to manufacture each type of F-35 and how those numbers have changed over time.

The chart below shows exactly how many labor hours are poured into constructing each F-35 variant on average. With the A model unsurprisingly being the lowest at 41,541 hours in 2017, the more complex B model taking 57,152 hours, and the carrier-capable C model coming in at 60,121 hours. 

Then, they shared this chart, which shows how production labor costs have dropped over time with the F-35:

F35

Using the standard 2,000 hours in a work year, that shows the highest value version of the F-35(c) actually takes 30 man years - just to deliver the airframe.  And it used to 50+ years!  Using either number, you can safely say it takes the equivalent of a worker's entire career/prime of career to deliver a F-35c.  Crazy.

With those numbers in mind, you don't have labor and headcount problems, you have labor and headcount concerns.

The bigger point here for the budget season?  It's the fact that the smart finance pro in front of you - the one who is going to make the final decision on whether to cut the fat out of your headcount budget - is not only evaluating the sand in your numbers, he or she is asking for the numbers behind the numbers. The smart Finance pro asks questions about your assumptions and wants to know that you're a good steward of the headcount received.

All things being equal, they'll cut someone else's headcount numbers instead of yours - IF you can articulate how responsible you've been with the resources provided and how you're doing more with the same headcount.

Showing improvement in production costs over time like the F-35 program (you can do this even if you're delivering service rather than product) is good backup to have during budget season.

Good luck with the final budget meetings with Finance. May your sand continue to flow.

 


Amp Up Your Employment Brand Like Domino's...Or Maybe Not...

When it comes to attracting candidates to your employment brand, purpose matters.

Candidates are increasingly seeking a sense of purpose in their work, so it makes sense to embed purpose in your values through connection to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) themes.  Companies like Unilever have gone all in on this approach and even mandated executives assign a purpose to every product in the company's portfolio. An examination of how Uber's company values changed after a period of turmoil show a transition from focusing on winning to working with others, serving community and valuing differences. Intent of your messaging matters.

BUT.... and there is a but....It's dangerous to reach when it comes to the purpose you assign to your business. If you're simply a nice business/company with a good product, don't suggest that you're trying to save the world.

I was reminded of this danger when Domino's used footage of employees as they marketed their Delivery Insurance/guarantee, which says that if your order isn't right, they'll make it right quickly and free of charge.

That's good business, but not a 8.3 on the Richter Scale of CSR and corporate purpose. Watch the following video (email subscribers click through if you don't see the player below) and we'll break it down afterwords:

Amp up your employment brand like Domino's... or maybe not.

“we're going to be expediting this order, people”

If I close my eyes on that audio, it feels like I'm in an emergency room and someone's life is at risk.

Then I remember, "no, Jenny just called to complain and she didn't get the cheesed stuffed crust".

Flash forward from the pizza oven room to drivers running up steps to help get Jenny's calorie count up. What really happens when that complaint comes in? I'd imagine it involves talking about who screwed it up. But someone's Netflix night is in peril, so let's expedite the order and send the fastest sprinter in the room, but let's make sure we obey all relevant traffic laws.

Somebody's going to blow out an ACL if we're not careful.

You get the vibe. Mission and purpose for your company is important. But don't chase world-defining purpose when showing your employees if it doesn't exist. But showing pride and the love of the craft for the people who make the product?  That never goes out of style.

Don't chase world defining purpose with your employment brand if it doesn't exist.  Just be you.


Feedback Notes on KD From the Speaker's Circuit: If Everyone's Happy, You Didn't Do Your Job...

My friend Jennifer McClure is a speaker and loves to share actual feedback that's been gathered by organizations that bring her into speak. Overall ratings that are numbers-driven are appropriate and you have to have them for overall measurement.

But the real gold? It's in what I'll call the "verbatim" comments, where people can say anything they want.  Jennifer is known for sharing chippy comments from attendees about her outfit - dress, shoes, etc. Good stuff.

You'll never please everyone in the room when you put yourself out there to speak. It's one of the first things you learn as a speaker, and over a decade ago (when I first started speaking at conferences) it was a hard lesson to learn.  But it's probably also a lesson for anyone who's going to share a strong point of view (POV) inside their company as well.

I've spoken 4 times in the last two months - audiences range from 800 to 70 attendees.  To underscore the reality you can't please everyone with your POV, I thought I'd offer up an overall rating and some verbatim comments from the speakers trail.  Enjoy and scroll to the bottom for analysis and the soul crushing, hard criticism:

Date - sometime in the last 2 months.

Audience size and type:  200 attendees,

Overall Ratings: 

"The content was valuable to me" - 8.90 out of 10

"The Speaker was knowledgeable and engaging" - 9.38 out of 10.

Verbatim Comments:

Very entertaining speaker. Love this event.

The pictures used on the slides!

The speaker

Recruiters are sales people. Period.

Timely reminder of how employers SHOULD relate and deal with all candidates.

Valuable insights on making for TA experience human, the power of story telling, using assessments throughout the employment lifecycle.

What's up KD!! Speaker was great. (editor's note - I do a group exercise to get people comfortable referring to me as "KD", which is what my friends call me)

Good mix of data with tips to take back to the office.

Q&A session & some of the content

Actionable takeaways

The delivery was intentional and he told a story vs. a lot of words on a slide. He made the session relevant.

The speaker used compelling numbers and gave solid advice!

Learning valuable information and networking with my peers.

Engaging speaker

Wealth of knowledge of the speaker and the valuable insights provided during the presentation.

Conversation about finding low rules and highly organized individuals. Also Text Recruiting and the implementation of it.

The welcoming environment at my table. The relevant/timely presentation.

Value of story-telling in recruitment (company's TA website)

Kris' succinct style of communicating a complex message, real genuine info that is implementable

 

App length, Real people, 3:1 job posting, Text recruiting

Sell, not screen. Focus on differentiators in culture. Make it easy to apply.

Always Be Hustlin :-)

Dynamic presenter on a very relevant topic

Everything

Designing the career website so it's real and memorable.

How to manage effective recruiting processes

Company branding and culture tips

 

The application process should take no more than 5 minutes, assessments should be used to find people that fit the company, and should be used post hire as well.

Memorable in a bad way. Usually, I find the speakers interesting and informative so this was an exception. It felt like an infomercial. The advice was simplistic and often not evidence-based. At least at my table, his comments about the unattractive people on the Amazon website prompted groans and comments such as "is he for real." He might consider more humility. At least acknowledge that "sometimes" these strategies might work.

How difficult it is to confirm your company’s culture and how important it is to share and explain the culture during recruiting.

The critical importance of having the website to be mobile ready.

Engaging and practical

The helpful advice and key takeaways from the speaker

The dynamics of the speaker

Good presentation

Presentation mode - pictures and main thought.

The number of relate-able business scenarios the speaker talked about.

Kris' engaging personality and being a SME in the areas of culture, recruitment & retention.

Discussion on ATS and attracting employees though branding.

Great speaker and program!

I absolutely loved the presentation

KD would be good to have along with a panel of others to conduct a half/full day of talent acquisition/retention.

 

SHRM member.

Favorite speaker this year!

 

Great meeting!!!!

Offer some meetings around lunchtime as opposed to always in the morning

Great session quality and impact! Let's bring him back  :-).

Fantastic program! Would love to be back!

Glad to be a member of the local chapter.

Dynamic speaker

2nd program I've attended. First was Dec '17 or '18. Found program inspired. Now I'll return!

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

OK, so in the big scheme of things, that's pretty good feedback.  I had a great time at this session and the audience is a hidden gem in the speaking world, engaged and responsive. While I probably had something to do with that, the reality is that some audiences are just better than others. This was a great crowd!

But just like my friend Jennifer McClure knows, there's a lump of coal ready for anyone with a point of view willing to share in an authentic way on the speaker's circuit.  Usually there's more than one lump of coal, but in this case really just one.

Did you see it?  Here it is:

"Memorable in a bad way. Usually, I find the speakers interesting and informative so this was an exception. It felt like an infomercial. The advice was simplistic and often not evidence-based. At least at my table, his comments about the unattractive people on the Amazon website prompted groans and comments such as "is he for real." He might consider more humility. At least acknowledge that "sometimes" these strategies might work."

My favorite part?  "He might consider more humility."  Also, "memorable in a bad way." Translation: KD seems like a bastard.

Now that's not a chippy comment about shoes or dress that Jennifer gets at times.  Men don't get a lot of dress/look comments, which is good for me and another post. BTW, the Amazon thing was a crowd exercise where I ask the crowd to rate the attractiveness of some employees featured on Amazon's career site.  The crowd was unified, they're a bunch of 6's.  The point? You need to share real people, not pretty people in stock art as a part of a drive toward authenticity on your career site.

But the overall comment underscores a reality about anyone in the professional world with a POV.  If you're going to have passion about something, you just need to know that when you share, a certain percentage of the world thinks you're a complete *** and should step back into the crowd. While this audience was a great one, I'd generally put presentation audiences in a bell curve of sorts - 20% of going to be supporters, 20% are going to be detractors - related to your content, your style, etc.  It's what you do with the 60% in the middle that matters. You want to convert them, because the more you convert them, the more muted the detractors become.

If you're a white collar professional in America who wants to rise, your career rides on your POV being perceived as value-added and/or innovative.  You can't communicate that POV without detractors.  Don't stop sharing your POV if you believe in what you do. Detractors will always be there.

Oh, and could you be a little bit more humble when you share your opinion in the next staff meeting, please?  That would be great.


When New CEOs Onboard, CHROs Are Often Gone...

One of the biggest reasons I wrote my new book (The 9 Faces of HR) was the sheer number of friends and colleagues I have in HR who have lost their positions, at least in part, to organizational change. 9 Faces

A recent report puts a number to how at-risk HR is when C-level leadership changes out. From The 2018 CHRO Trends Report from The Talent Strategy Group:

"There is a strong correlation between CEO and CHRO turnover. Within twelve months of a Chief Executive Officer appointment, 43% of Chief Human Resources Officers at that organization turned over. An additional 9% of CHROs came into the role three months or less prior to a CEO transition. Less than half (48%) of CHROs retained their seat for more than 12 months following a CEO transition."

Those numbers are staggering, but I believe them based on the experiences of my friends inside and outside of the Fortune 500.

When a new boss comes in, it's test time. Your new boss is really evaluating who you are as an HR pro.  For best results, you'll need to understand who you are and make sure your new boss understands you have the ability to connect, pivot and change as part of your personal identity.

The 9 Faces of HR is a perfect companion for that prep - a career guide of sorts, but not the boring kind. Change is coming, you may as well dig in and get ready now.  Order my book here.


One Big Difference Between The Naturals In Your Company - and Everyone Else...

First up, let's define a natural in your company.

A natural is someone who:

--Performs at a high level in their current job, and Natural

--Everyone with common sense understands they are promotable at least 3 levels above their current job - all they need is time, experience and a bit of guidance. 

There are many things that define a natural. This post isn't meant to be a comprehensive listing of those things.  This post will only feature the following characteristic of the natural:

The Natural fields inquiries from managers/execs 2 or more levels above them with a incredibly high sense of urgency and always seeks to overdeliver on work product and service related to these inquires.

I know what you're saying. Is this really that important, Kris?

Yeah. It is. 

There's a quote from Don Draper on Mad Man I'd like to throw in here. Enjoy:

"People tell you who they are, but we ignore it, because we want them to be who we want them to be."

We want to believe that all of our employees have the ability to do great things.  It's not true.

I was talking to a CFO I served at a past company and she was expressing frustration at getting things done across the team she had inherited.

She had identified one team member on a team of 20 as being high potential and had tagged the rest at being disposable. The criteria was pretty simple - it was related to how quickly the team members acted when she needed something or gave them an assignment.

Unfair? Maybe.

Are some of those team members good at their jobs? Probably. But most of them aren't naturals who are poised for great things in their careers. How do I know this?  When I think back across my career about the naturals I have known in my career, they could be juggling 30 things and when a request came in from a VIP in their domain, they always made that person feel like they were the most important person in the world.

--They didn't return the email 30 hours or more later.

--They didn't let the request go into the void without updating the exec on how it was going or a status that it was done.

--They didn't fail to engage the exec with their opinions about what might make the project better or how they went out of their way to do the best they could.

Average employees do all the things listed above.  Naturals never do those things.

You can be a good employee and not be a natural. You're just probably not going to be promoted on an annual basis.

As leaders, treat employee urgency and responsiveness to your requests as the test that it is.  Step back and observe who steps up and who doesn't.

"People tell you who they are, but we ignore it, because we want them to be who we want them to be."

Your commitment to coaching is noted. But you can't coach someone into natural status, so don't try.  Take it all in - the naturals are identifying themselves, all you have to do is watch and listen.


Get My New Book: THE 9 FACES OF HR...

It's true. I just launched a book and it is selling well. It's called THE 9 FACES OF HR.

If you like reading The HR Capitalist or Fistful of Talent, you're going to like the book and you should buy it. Here's the summary from Amazon for your consideration:

"Popular blogger and CHRO Kris Dunn presents a hard, but compelling reality: every HR professional on the planet can be classified as one of 9 “Faces” based on your
9 facescareer level and your ability to innovate and drive change. The book opens with a behavioral assessment, so readers can quickly identify their own “HR Face” then reveals career tracks, behavioral markers, ROI, macro-trends driving behavior, and market demand for each face. Which face are you? Which one do you want to be? Whether you’re a solo HR pro trying to make your way in the world or an HR leader trying to build a cohesive HR team, this is your no-BS playbook to empowering your HR career and elevating our profession."

I wrote the book because there's been a clear change in what CEOs, other leaders and even your CHRO/VP of HR is looking for when it comes to HR Pros at every career level. The pace of change has never been faster than it is today, and I've seen many of my HR friends hired - and fired - based on the new rules.

Things you'll get if you buy and read this book:

1--Entertainment - You know there's going to be snark.  I can't write any other way.  As I dig into some serious stuff, there's going to be some riffs and rants. I'm weaving pop culture through HR-related stories on people like Drake, Elon Musk and the CHRO at Uber, as well as leading every chapter with a related quote from a cast of characters including Lady Gaga, Oprah, Dirty Harry and Kanye. This is a serious book, but I'll be damned if I'm going to bore you.

2--A better understanding the changing HR marketplace in terms of innovation, change management and adding value.  Sh*t's changing fast for us in the world of HR, I've got your back with my model and notes.

3--My model for The 9 Faces of HR is based on a 9-Box grid - You'll see how career level mixed with cognitive/behavioral dimensions (such as assertiveness, rules orientation, detail orientation, etc.) converge to shape one's work world-view and determines which face you are.

4--You'll learn the details/profile on each of the “Nine Faces of HR” and have a blast identifying yourself, as well as thinking about which face the HR pros around you are (the ones you love, the ones you hate and everything in between).

5--Most importantly - You'll gain awareness of how others around you perceive your HR capability and get ready for change happening around you, regardless of your profile.

At the end of the day, The 9 Faces of HR is a guidebook for your career in the world's best profession - HR.  I love HR so much, I wrote this book to prevent you from getting hurt by the change swirling around us in the business world - and to help you reach your career goals - however ambitious they may be!

Buy The 9 Faces of HR on Amazon by clicking here

See the current reviews on my book on Amazon by clicking here

Note - someone pinged me looking for non-Amazon options, so here's a few:

Barnes&Noble.com

Books-A-Million

IndieBound

Target

Walmart

Google Express

eBay - grandeagleretail


PODCAST: e3 - This is HR - Employee MBA Debt, Employer Brand Lies, EEOC Male Dress Code Hardships

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

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

--recent research from BusinessWeek that shows Top Tier MBA programs saddle 50% of their graduates with six-figure debt. The gang discusses whether they would push high potentials in their organizations on that traditional path with that set of economics in mind (3:30)

--a recent HBR op/ed piece that attacks how your company is approaching employer brand, citing an industry of 40 companies solely focused on the EB market, a number the gang thought was too low (15:12)

--Recent EEOC guidance that says males may be discriminated against via the use of traditional dress codes, guidance which the gang loves and hates at the same time (26:12). 

KD closes it out by going to the mailbag and getting a simple question about the thing HR Pros do to build culture that usually doesn't work (31:26)

BONUS: Disclosure that JLee isn't even in America on the 4th of July.  

What could go wrong?  Take a listen!