The Non-Working, Non-Credible Executive at Your Company...

Let's talk about something that impacts every organization - The perception of whether your executives do anything, and in a related topic, whether they are viewed as credible.

There's 4 buckets every executive at your company falls into: Magic

1--Works hard/does stuff and viewed as credible.

2--Doesn't work hard/do stuff but is viewed as credible.

3--Does stuff/works hard and isn't viewed as credible.

4--Doesn't work hard/do stuff and isn't viewed as credible.

The gold standard is to have execs in #1 - Does stuff/is credible.  Engagement is always easier when this is the case.  For the most cynical of executives, they'd love to be viewed as credible without really trying to dig in and work or understand what's going on 4-5 levels below them.

Entire TV series have been based on the disconnect - Undercover Boss, anyone?  The CEO puts on a stupid wig, goes to the front lines and finds that special person they want to help moving forward - everyone cries and the CEO is now aware of how hard the work is.  Check. Then it's back to the corporate jet and the Ritz.

Why am I posting about this today? I was reminded of the four buckets of Executive perception when Magic Johnson resigned as the President of the Los Angeles Lakers (pro basketball).  For the uninitiated, Magic is a top 5 player all time in pro basketball, and he's royalty when it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers. So the Lakers hired him 2 years ago to return their organization to glory.

There was just one problem. Magic wanted the job, but he didn't want to have to work hard. In addition, the fact he didn't work hard in a job he didn't know how to do destroyed his credibility in his workplace, which for him was the community of other GMs doing work within the NBA.  You can get a good rundown of the Magic Johnson scenario here.

But back to your company.  Evaluating whether an executive works hard and is viewed as credible is tough for the following reasons:

a--It's not necessarily the executive's job to understand what everyone does and how the sausage gets made. They have a job that's different that the first layers of your company, and at times, just as important.

b--Employees love to hate. Just because they don't know what the executive does doesn't mean the exec in question doesn't work hard.  But it might tell you they need to connect more to be credible.

So how do you determine whether an executive works hard and is credible?  My first suggestion is to ask their executive peers who rely on them for services.  If the peers don't feel they work hard or are credible, it's likely you have a problem.  After all, peers at the executive level are aware of the demands of the job.  They're slow to say, "I don't know what he does", because they've heard that before about themselves.

Finally, look for command related to talent management 2 to 3 levels below them. Someone trying to understand the work and add value to the way your company's product or service gets delivered is likely to know who's good and who's not, and base it on tangible items clearly linked to success in the job, not politics or rumors.

There's a lot of people at your company who think your executives don't do anything.  They might be right.

You should try to understand if you're dealing with Jeff Bezos or Magic Johnson and take action accordingly.


Know Your Numbers, HR and Talent Pros: The US/China Trade Deficit...

I know, the whole thing about the wall is sexy to talk about. Caravans of immigrants!  Tear gas! The Government Shutdown won't be resolved until the wall debate is resolved!

Meanwhile, there's another issue that's playing out that arguably more important than immigration for HR and Talent Pros: Trade with China. Trade wars

The USA had a $375 BILLION dollar trade deficit with China in 2017.  Trump said he was going to play hardball with China, and for the most part, that's exactly what's happened.  Other than knowing that the trade deficit was $375B in 2017, here's a laundry list of what has gone on in the last 4-5 months to catch you up so you look smart as an HR/Talent/Recruiting pro when you're talking to operations people:

1--The Trump administration hit China with the first round of tariffs, designed to punish China economically for not coming to the table on a serious of free trade issues, including IP theft from American companies in addition to the dollar amount of the deficit. (Jan-March 2018)

2--China hit back with their own round of tariffs vs the US. (April 2018)

3. The US hit China with a second round of tariffs when China chose not to come to the table, China retaliates with more tariffs of their own. (June-August 2018)

4. Officials from both countries meet and agree to a cease fire related to additional tariffs announced and planned beyond those already in place, agreeing to keep negotiations alive. (December 2018)

5- China blinks first, offering U.S. trade negotiators a six-year boost in imports totaling 1 trillion dollars. (January 2018)

It's safe to say that no administration has hit the Chinese as hard on trade as Trump.  If you hate him, that's cool. Just know the China trade issue is important to win on. There's probably no bigger issue economically to take on, and it seems prudent to pick that fight when the economy is strong by GDP-style metrics.

Couple of other data points on trade with China for you. Jim Cramer of CNBC reports that tech executives support the tough stance, even if they can't say it publicly at the risk of showing support for Trump.  More from CNBC:

Technology executives are telling CNBC's Jim Cramer that they're willing to endure short-term pain from the U.S.-China trade war in favor of the long-term payoff.

"When I went out to San Francisco last week, I heard the same thing from a surprising number of people in the tech industry who do not like President [Donald] Trump one bit," the "Mad Money" host said Monday.

"What they said was 'If we're going to take on China, now's the time to do it,'" he said. "They may not be fans of the president, but they're on board with the trade war."

Part of the reason could be tied to the pain points emerging in China's economy, Cramer said. On Sunday, Chinese government data revealed that China's overall December exports fell by 4.4 percent and imports sank by 7.6 percent year over year. The data also showed the largest trade surplus with the United States in more than a decade.

"This harsher-than-expected view ... may be more realistic than you think" when it comes to how tech leaders feel about China's unfair trade practices, Cramer said.

And finally, this tweet from Brad Setser shows how hard it is to reset the trade imbalance without fundamentally changing where things like smartphones are made, or at least assembled:

Ready to pay more for that smartphone or pair of AirPods?  I thought not.  That's why the 1 Trillion in additional USA purchases by China - or something like it - will have to happen.

Winning the trade war with China is more important than the wall, but gets 1/100th of the coverage.


Helping Unemployed/Underemployed People Is Part of Your Job...

If you're like me in the world of HR and recruiting, you get asked for career help as a normal rite of passage. For me, it's tough because there's only so much you can do to help people find opportunities outside of the company you work for.

That process can make you jaded in the world of HR. People think you're more connected than you are, and as a result, you're going to get more of these inquiries than the average person.

But you matter more than you realize, even when you can't help as much as you'd like.  I recently caught up with another HR leader I ran into by chance in our community.  A few years back, she was down but I had references that said she was talented. I introduced her to 5 people I thought might be able to help her in her career.  None of those contacts generated the lead she needed, but she eventually landed on her feet.  Flash forward to our chance meeting a month or two ago - we caught up, and she was borderline emotional about how I helped her, even if it didn't result in the lead that got her the current role.

It's the long tail of career assistance for you and me as HR and recruiting pros. Treat all with respect, do what you can, and underpromise and overdeliver. The results don't matter as much as your empathy and intent.

I've been fortunate to have had a role in helping to start/build some great careers across the direct reports I've had over the years.

Then I get this note yesterday. Take a look and see you below:

--------

From: Kevin
Date: Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 6:02 PM
To: Kris Dunn 
Subject: Hey old friend

KD!

Hope all is well in your world.  I was at lunch with some customers today and we all told our stories of how we wound up in the wireless industry.  

SO... I got to tell them the story one more time about you "lighting me up" in that pickup basketball game in early 1995. Who would ever think a chance thrashing on the basketball court would lead to a new friend and a great career? 

Thanks for all you did to help me get started. I learned so much from you and have tried to replicate as much as possible by helping as many people as possible network and find jobs, especially when they find themselves without one.

I hope things are going good for you and yours! God Bless!

Kevin

---------

I was just starting my career when I met Kevin.  Like you, I have a great bullshit filter, and he was a real person with humility and ambition. So I referred him into the company I worked for and we became co-workers.

The rest is history.  Kevin's built a career in that industry long after I left.  And I get this random email on a Thursday evening, 23 years later.

You have a lot more impact than you know. The next time someone reaches out to you for career help, be patient.  They need you and their expectations are managed.  

Be empathetic and do what you can.  There but for the grace of god, go I.

They need you.  Remember the long tail that exists with this part of your job and identity. Every time you push away the voice in your head that says you don't have time or can't help and provide an ear, everyone wins.

Including you.

 


Call Up The Co-Worker or Boss You Used to Hate and Tell Them You Understand...

We've all had alpha personality co-workers or bosses we couldn't connect with.  

They were overbearing. They had to do it their way. They were too far in the weeds and hyper-critical of your work.  You didn't like them. Hate's a strong word, dislike is not.

So you ran away and got the hell out.  Time to do your own thing. 

Then a funny thing happened. You grew up, got promoted a couple of times and found yourself being a lot like them.  You didn't notice the similarities until you had a flash point with a direct report.  Then it hit you:

"OMG. I've become what I used to hate."

That's probably true. But the failure didn't happen today, it happened with the younger version of yourself.  You didn't know how hard it was to run the show. 

Need an example?  How about Kyrie Irving of pro basketball's Boston Celtics? Kyrie is infamous for running away from the demanding, badgering, bitchy shadow of Lebron James, requesting a trade after winning a NBA Title with Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017.

Now he's around a bunch of youngsters with the Celtics and feels like the parent Lebron tried to be to him. So he called Lebron to tell him he finally grew up, and apologized for being a bratty kid.  More from ESPN:

Celtics guard Kyrie Irving said that in the wake of his outbursts at coach Brad Stevens and forward Gordon Hayward on the court at the end of Saturday's loss at the Orlando Magic and pointed criticisms of Boston's young players afterward, he called LeBron James and apologized for the way he handled criticism from James when the two were teammates in Cleveland.

"Obviously, this was a big deal for me, because I had to call [LeBron] and tell him I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything at my threshold," Irving said after scoring 27 points and dishing out a career-high 18 assists in Boston's 117-108 home victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. "I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that, and the responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people.

"[LeBron] was one of those guys who came to Cleveland and tried to show us how to win a championship, and it was hard for him, and sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world."

Some of the people you used to hate were bad people. Some were good people trying to keep the wheels on the bus as it rolled along at 150 mph and were better than you gave them credit for.

Now that you're running things, you should reach out to the latter group and tell them you appreciate them - if only belatedly.

It might be the start of an important relationship you need professionally.


Elon Musk Knows How to Embarrass/Frame Talent Leaving for a Competitor..

It's been a tough couple of weeks for an iconic leader in America - Elon Musk.

First, he tweeted/floated an idea for taking Tesla public and may face securities fraud charges as a result.  Then he had a rapper over to the house that started live tweeting a bunch of stuff that was unflattering and the beef continues.

But you know what's going well for Musk?  Embarrassing employees who are jumping to Apple (the companies are infamous Musk2 for training development and design talent) by tagging them all a certain way.  Consider this:

"We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Graveyard.' If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding," Musk told German newspaper Handelsblatt in 2015.

CNBC reports that Apple is on a current hiring spree, poaching "scores" of ex-Tesla employees for a variety of projects, citing better pay at the iPhone giant.

If Tesla was doing an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) study, two of the themes would undoubtedly be "we work on the bleeding edge" and "everyone here is all in".

Then culturally, Musk and his direct reports do what they do - framing defections to a world class company/competitor for talent as the "lazy people" or "not good enough to work here".

Love it or hate it, it's an aggressive approach you can learn from.  Our body language and framing when people leave our companies tends to be too passive.

Play offense when talking about turnover.


Saying "No" Helps Train the Recipient What "Yes" Looks Like...

If there's a big problem in corporate America, it's that we say "Yes" too much at times.

Yes to that request..

Yes, I can help you..

Yes, I'd be happy to be part of your project team...

Yes, your response to my request is fine...

There's a whole lot of yes going around.  The problem?  Only about 1/2 of the "yes" responses are followed up with action that is representative of all of us living up to the commitment we made.

That's why you need to say "no" more.

Of course, simply saying no with nothing behind the no positions you as jerk.  So the "no" has to have qualifiers behind it:

Say "no" more to peers asking you for things, but then qualify it with how the request could be modified to move you to say "yes".

Say "no" more to your boss, and qualify your response to her by asking for help de-prioritizing things on your plate - which might allow you to say "yes" to the new request.

We say "yes" in the workplace when we want to say "no". We do it because we don't like to say no, and because we are horrible at negotiation.

Say "no" and tell people how the request could be modified to get to "yes".

Or just say "no" and walk away.  Either way, you've helped the organization's overall performance by providing more clarity. 


Why Facilitating Leadership Training Is Hard (Video)...

Spent the Last couple of weeks onboarding a great HR pro to help me facilitate a bunch of Leadership Training via my BOSS series in the next month.  It's reminded me of what I already knew, but sometimes forget:

Being a good to great facilitator of Leadership Training is hard.  Why?  5 quick observations:

1--You can't be a robot. You have to weave your stories into the training if you're going to keep their interest.

2 - Mechanics matter. You've got participant guides, slides, flip charts and a bunch of stuff.  Something that sounds simple - referencing page numbers that you're on in the guide so people don't get lost - is hard when everything's flying at 100 mph.

3--Don't Paraphrase the Exercises - You wouldn't think of this if you hadn't done it as much as we have. Don't be cute on the exercises you have - read the instructions, because if you paraphrase what you want people to do, they get lost and it all goes to hell.

4--Pace, Pace, Pace - Keep your eye on the prize.  If you're doing a day of training and you get 1/2 way through and you've only made it 1/3 of the way through the material, you're in trouble.

5--Conversations involving participants matter more than you covering material - It's an art to how long to let the sharing go on.  Participation is key, disagreements amongst the attendees are gold.  Let them roll, but keep your eye on pace mentioned above.

Bottom line - you need a great SME who's comfortable with high degrees of chaos and ambiguity to facilitate your leadership/manager of people training.

PLUS - they have to be a bit of performer in front of groups.  That's probably the overriding key.

When I say performer, what do I mean?  I'm always reminded of this video from David Allen Grier from In Living Color.  40 second clip (email subscribers click through if you don't see the video below), well worth your time.

BROOOOOADDDDWAYYYYYY!!!!!!!


When Employees Challenge Others to Step Up or Get Out...

The Cleveland Browns (pro football) are bad.  HBO has a show called "Hard Knocks", which embeds cameras at a training camp of one team each year.  This year, they are on campus with the Browns.

The hope, of course, is that the organizational dumpster fire that is the Cleveland Browns will provide notable moments.

Look, kids!  The Browns are doing it to themselves!  Those lovable losers!! Jarvis

Good news - Hard Knocks at the Browns started us off with a notable human capital moment.  More from the Ringer:

"After a particularly disappointing practice where Jarvis Landry and Hue Jackson were visibly frustrated with the effort of Cleveland’s pass catchers, Jarvis Landry asked whether he could address the receivers room.

“Fellas, I don’t know what the f**k is going on here, and I don’t know why it’s been going on here,” Landry says, “But if you not hurt, like your hamstring ain’t falling off the f**king bone, or your leg ain’t broke, I don’t even know, you should be f**king practicing. Straight up. That sh*t is weakness, and that shit is contagious as f**k. And that sh*t ain’t gonna be in this room, bruh. That sh*t been here in the past and that’s why the past has been like it is. That sh*t is over with here.”

The words land because Landry, who the team acquired in a trade this offseason and signed to a five-year extension with $47 million guaranteed, spends the episode walking the walk. His workouts include catching medicine balls one-handed while balancing on a Bosu ball with one foot, which explains why his dazzling one-handed catches look so effortless. In practice, Landry’s aggressive work ethic routinely rises above the other players on the field. Every catch he makes is inevitably punctuated by “bless you,” which he delivers with a sincerity that is more effective than actual trash-talking."

Sorry about the language.  But it's notable in that Landry is coming into an organization as an employee, knows what he's walking into isn't world class, and is trying to change the culture.

If my career managing people has taught me anything, it's that change agents are needed.  Some thoughts about change agents who come into organizations with statements and challenges like Landry - and what has to be present for them to be successful:

1--Change Agents who are highly verbal and challenging must perform at a high level.

2--The same change agents must mentor others, rather than simply dressing people down verbally.

3--In order for the change agent to be successful, managers and the company must support those efforts and embrace the cause, removing people who don't get on the bus of change.

In short, Jarvis better perform, should use the development of others in positive terms as a leader for an equally powerful statement as a change agent, and the organization (the Browns) should be ready to move people out - if they believe that Jarvis Landry represents their view of what the future is.

The same thing applies to your company - except your change agents can't get that many F-bombs in.

 


Check Out My Interview on Jennifer McClure's Impact Maker's Podcast...

Recently I had to the opportunity to appear on Jennifer McClure's Impact Makers Podcast.  Jennifer's doing a great job with this podcast - very high end, go subscribe here - and of course, take a listen to my interview by clicking play on the embedded player below (email subscribers, click through if you don't see the player) or simply click this link to go to the landing page for my conversation with Jennifer.

I've never been called the Oprah of HR - but I'll take it!  Excerpt from Jennifer's write up below:

"Are you ready to meet the Oprah of HR? On today’s episode of Impact Makers, Jennifer sits down with the infamous HR wizard, Kris Dunn. He is the founder of two popular blogs The HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent and is also the CHRO of Kinetix, an Atlanta-based recruiting, RPO and HR consulting firm.

As one of the first well-known HR bloggers, Kris is known for his conversation tone, fun references, and an impressive 5-day-a-week schedule. Jennifer asks him how this consistency has played into the success of his blogging and writing endeavors.

If you can manage to build and maintain a following of readers like Kris has, the potential for meeting new people and finding new opportunities skyrockets. Jennifer and Kris talk about the various relationships – both personal and professional – that have come about through blogging, as well opportunities for career advancement. Kris talks about how his blogging fit into his career at different points in his life."

Take a listen via the player below or through the links above.  Make sure to subscribe to Jennifer's podcast by clicking here as she's doing great things with this podcast.


WeWork's New Vegetarian Policy for Employees and Company Events: The Market Will Decide...

We live in a world where business owners can make political/moral/society statements and force those world views on their employees - especially if their companies are privately held.  On the conservative side of the aisle, we've seen businesses stand up for their right to not offer birth control as part of their health plan, and we've seen owners on both the conservative and liberal sides of the spectrum put pressure on employees to vote in elections according to the owner's views.

Add a new one to to the list.  WeWork wants you to know that eating meat isn't cool - and they're changing their business practice to reflect that.   We work

More from USA Today:

If WeWork employees want a burger while on business, the money is coming out of their own pockets. The global workplace startup told employees this week that the company will ban employees from expensing meals that contain red meat, pork or poultry, Bloomberg reported.

The company won't provide meat for events at its 400 locations, either — part of an effort to reduce its environmental footprint.

"New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact, even more than switching to a hybrid car," WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey said in an email to staffers.

The no-meat policy will also affect self-serve food kiosks at many of WeWork's 400 locations worldwide, according to Bloomberg. Employees wanting "medical or religious" exceptions can hash those out with a company policy team.

WeWork boasts 6,000 employees worldwide, according to Bloomberg. The company estimates its no-meat policy will save 15,507,103 animals by 2023, according to Business Insider, along with 16.6 billion gallons of water and 445.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that alters Earth's climate.

WeWork confirmed the policy change to both news outlets. WeWork is perhaps the most well-known company to emerge offering co-working spaces to freelancers, small businesses and even employees of large companies such as Microsoft. The Motley Fool named it one of the top five most valuable startups in America.

It would be easy to blast this policy, but I'm actually OK with companies making these kind of stands - both on the liberal and conservative side of the fence.

So WeWork won't allow employees to expense a meal involving meat and it won't serve meat at WeWork facilities as part of it's events business.  

Ok!  You know who decides whether WeWork is wrong?  Not you and me.  No, the people who decide whether WeWork has lost its mind are what I'll call "the aggregate."  It all comes down to whether this policy hurts WeWork as two groups consider it for business purposes:

1--Candidates and employees. I can't expense a chicken taco.  Does that make me want to avoid you as an employer? Does it make me want to leave you as an employee?  Ask that question 20,000 times in the next year and if a significant amount of people can't accept the policy and leave or don't join the company to begin with.

2--Companies who want to host events in a WeWork facility.  Same question.  Love your space, going to host my get together at WFW (we <expletive>work).  Wait, what?  I can't cater the brisket through you?  No?  I cam't have someone else cater that in?  Hmm.  Where do I go that can provide that?  Is their space just as good?

At the end of the day, WeWork is standing up for something the founders believe in.  The market will decide.  If I was selling against them, I'd use it to negatively sell every chance I got.

By the way, there is a loophole in the policy - fish is still allowed.  Because you know, not all animals have the same set of rights. 

Sorry, couldn't resist.