Are You a Jerk for Sending that Email at 9 pm?

No, you're not. But a growing number of people in the world will say that you are a jerk for sending that 9 pm email.

The reality is . . . it's complicated. Let's dig in. IMG_3423

You being a total machine and working to get things done isn't the issue. The issue is the perception that you're projecting your workhorse mentality onto others who report to you who can't match your speed, urgency, or general kick-ass vibe.

In today's world of empathy, mental health awareness, and work/life balance considerations, a growing population feels like you're part of the problem with your drive, ambition and . . .

. . . after-hours emails.  

A recent Wall Street Journal column cited a study of perceived urgency of after hours emails.  Here's what they found (link to full column here):

"We examined this question in a series of studies with a total of more than 4,000 working adults. We had participants take the perspective of either a sender or a receiver of a non-urgent work email sent outside work hours. We asked “senders” to indicate how quickly they expected a response and asked “receivers” to indicate how quickly they thought senders expected a response from them. We consistently found that receivers overestimated the need for a fast response—something we call the “email urgency bias.”

In both studies, we found that, on average, receivers assumed they needed to respond 36% faster to off-hours work emails than senders expected. What’s more, the receivers reported feeling more stressed by off-hours work emails than senders expected them to feel, and the stress associated with this unnecessary pressure resulted in lower subjective well-being.

Without question, when a work email comes in after hours, a lot of your direct reports are going to treat it with more urgency. As they should, if you're the boss. The best practice is laying some ground rules for what you expect when you send the after-hours email.

But before we dig into that, let's further define the players in this email game of after-hours communication. Below is my roster of the players involved.

There are Three Types of Managers When It Comes to Sending an After-Hours Email:

1--Fire away, let's get s**t done. You might or might not expect an answer to your after-hours email. But you'll be damned if you're going to worry about how people feel when you send late or weekend emails. By the way, I support you getting things done. Shine on, you crazy diamond. There's a reason you're in the seat you're in. The bottom line is if no one is sending after-hours emails, you probably don't have much of a company.  Don't shoot the messenger. It's true. "A" players aren't held captive by broad, over-arching calls for empathy. 

2--I'm not sending this now, it will be seen as anti-work/life balance. This manager has seen the light related to work-life balance and is not sending the message out when they think of it, making a note to send it out during normal business hours. Is this rationalization? Is this the most efficient path? I could argue that many of these messages would be delayed by getting busy. In addition, managers who can say they never send out after-hours emails probably aren't—wait for it—working after hours! I could also argue that managers who don't work at least some after hours and weekends are on average trailing from a total production/results perspective. Again, don't kill the messenger. All things being equal, a manager putting in fifty hours is going to outperform one who works only normal business hours. Hard facts from the salt mine.

3--I'm sending now but via Outlook's send later tool, so people think I'm cranking it out in the morning. Ah! The evolved manager related to after-hours emails. This manager says the following: "I'm here kicking ass after hours, but I'm aware that culturally, people are starting to be criticized for work/life balance signals with off- hours emails. I'm using 'send later' so people think my work day starts at 6:22 am." This manager works when they want to work and, if they don't need the response immediately, is winning the game of public opinion by timing messages to be more palatable. They're still crushing the team to get s**t done; they're just showing that they are evolved, even if they wonder why others don't work the way they do.

But let's not forget the employee side of this after-hours email exchange. You can talk about work/life balance all you want, but the reality appears below.

There are Three Types of Employees When It Comes to Email Management:

1--I respond within the hour to anything you send. Nights and Weekends included. You love them. Maybe they do need protected a bit. But damn, it's nice to know they're there.

2--I don't respond during nights and weekends, but I'm in control and you aren't disappointed by my timeliness of response. Cool. You still love #1 better, but you see this group and trust this group. We're good. Look forward to your response to the 9pm email in the morning.

3--I have trouble being responsive to email. It doesn't matter when it is sent, you'll rarely feel like you're a priority. The dirty secret to all the work/life balance world yelling about your after-hours emails is that even if you send all your emails at normal times, this segment still sucks at responsiveness. They're also probably the first ones to bitch about your work ethic and drive, and yes, your 9:31 pm email about the Sparkman account.  

Run through it, and your choices are clear. Keep doing what you're doing or adapt.

The Wall Street Journal article recommends making these disclaimers in your after-hours emails—I kid you not:

--“Even though I’m sending this email outside regular work hours, which fits my own work-life schedule best, I don’t expect a response outside of your own work hours.”

--“Note that you might receive this message outside of my office hours but that I have no expectation to receive a message outside of your office hours.”

--“Please know that I respect boundaries around personal time. If you receive an email from me during your personal time, please protect your time and wait to respond until you are working. It’s important that we all prioritize joy over email whenever possible.”   (KD note - !!!!!)

I honestly am fatigued by these messaging suggestions. The problem with these messages is that you're still the boss, and you need service on the things you need service on. 

I'd recommend the following options: 1) do nothing different and keep on rocking emails when you want, 2) adapt and use the "send later" option and still rock how you want to rock, or 3) make sure everyone on your team knows that you'll text or call them if you need an immediate reply to an after-hours email, which prevents you from the absurd messaging recommended above in every after-hours email.

If you're concerned about this, I'd recommend the "send later" option. It still says you're working harder than most and need people to be in range of your sense of urgency. I'd text people as needed without making the proclamation.

The bigger the company, the more you'll need the strategy in this area in years to come. Big companies follow broader society trends more responsively than smaller companies.

Your employees' feelings matter. But then, so do yours.

KD out.

-9:54 pm


COVID Vaccine Incentives/Penalties for Leaders, Ranked by Harshness...

Editor's Note: This post was published before the proposed Vaccine Mandate for all private employers with more than 100 employees by the Biden Administration in September 2021.

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We're just going to shut everything down for two to three weeks, and we'll be good.

--Everyone, late March 2020

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In a pandemic, wouldn't it be cool to say, "I don't know?"

Masks, distancing, hybrid school, vaccines and more. The reasonable position on all of it is that most of it makes sense. But, if you become absolute about your position and your position turns out to be wrong, it kind of undermines your authority to be absolute moving forward. This is the problem with COVID hot takes eighteen months in. Lalapalooza

Three weeks to flatten the curve.

Masks are effective. Wait, two masks might be better!

Say hello to leisure travel and eating out with freedom once you get the vaccine.

You can't get COVID once you get the vaccine.

Uhhhh. Like a lot of moderates, I'm stuck in the middle. I'm OK with how we've handled it to this point. Pandemics seem to be tricky (shocking!), and we've tried some stuff and have a vaccine. It makes sense. But we've been wrong enough on all the non-vaccine stuff that it's human nature that some people are going to be skeptical of the vaccine.

That's where you come in, HR Leader. Time to rally around the Covid vaccine.

What's that? You say you don't want to be involved? Good luck with that. Having no plan or point of view still means you have a position. With FDA approvals starting to roll out, you're going to be looked to for an opinion on how to maximize the percentage of your workforce that is vaccinated.

I'll stop here and offer up the reality. Different companies have different views on COVID and using incentives/mandates/penalties to get people vaccinated. If you are at a business that's not going to get involved with mandates/driving behavior, that's fine from my moderate point of view—you do you. This post is for HR and Talent leaders who have to help find the path to higher vaccination rates, because their business, leadership and/or boards make it a necessity.

Maximizing vaccine rates at your company is a game of incentives, threats and intrigue.  Especially in a tough labor market where it's hard to find people. In a morbid turn, the Delta variant probably makes it easier for you to take a stand related to vaccination.

That's why I'm here. To rank the Vaccine incentives/penalties—by harshness.

Here. We. Go. On to the rankings, from softest to hardest:

1--Incentives - You're so nice. Kind even. You're throwing out extra PTO days or $500 to get the vaccine. This is the least harsh of all the options. It's also the one least likely to move the needle, because you're likely just paying for someone to get the vaccine with more urgency than they would have anyway. They were likely to get it, and you gave them the final prod with a free Honey Baked Ham. Well played. Not likely to get you to 90% vaccinated, however.

2--Vaccine Mandates - I know what you're thinking. This isn't the harshest one? No, it isn't. If vaccinations are important to your organization, this is the one that signals where you're at. You can also talk about all the reasons why you're doing it: keeping people safe (really important for healthcare organizations), etc. There's nothing like clarity when you're trying to lead.

3--Medical Insurance Penalties/Surcharges - Delta Air Lines will impose a monthly $200 surcharge on unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company's health care plan, CEO Ed Bastian announced in a memo earlier in August. This is undoubtedly the harshest way to deal with employees when you want them to get vaccinated.

Why are additional premiums a dumb idea? Let's start with the broad strokes. If you want all your employees to be vaccinated, LEAD and go to vaccine mandates as your strategy. The whole, "it's going to cost you" strategy just leads to ill will, indecision, and creates a long trail of dissatisfaction in your organization. You're creating a class of people and asking others to look down on them. Just cut the cord, mandate the vaccine if that's what you want to do, and get ready to recruit.

If you need more of a reason than pure leadership to know why insurance penalties are a bad idea, let's so some math. I'm using the Georgia workforce for Delta Air Lines as an example:

Total Delta Employees in GA: 33,000

Estimate of count of non-vaccinated: 9,000

Annual cost of non-vaccinated insurance penalty per employee: $2,400

Total pool created annually by the penalty payments: $21.6 million

Cost per COVID hospitalization: $24,000

Number of Hospitalizations that would need to happen to use the entire pool: 900

I'd note here that Delta says their cost is north of $50,000 per COVID hospitalization. Clearly, they are self-insured and have access to the data, but all cites available show average hospitalization cost from $17K to $24K, so I used the higher number of those two.

To give you a sense of COVID hospitalization rates, Georgia has had 72,822 COVID hospitalizations since the start of COVID on a population north of ten million. If I plug in those numbers to the Delta population, it comes to a projection of roughly 237 hospitalizations (versus the 900 they've funded via the penalty) that could be expected over the same period. You could argue that the rate would be lower since we now live in a world with many vaccinated, but variants like Delta put that analysis at risk, so let's assume the run rate might be the same.

So the Delta program isn't looking to simply pay the costs of hospitalizations; they had to make the number much bigger to provide the penalty needed to move human behavior. Anyone who stays and pays that penalty is going to hate the company for the rest of their life. Gallup says employing people and making them hate you is a bad idea.

All of that to say the following. If you are at a business that's not going to push, that's fine from my moderate point of view—you do you.  

BUT, if you're going to push for vaccinations, incentives won't get you there. You can stop short of the vaccine mandate, but I'd argue things like the Delta COVID penalty are just going to create ill will. If you want people to be vaccinated, make the call and lead—and mandate the vaccine.

Good luck with the educational campaign. And fire up the recruiting engine regardless of your approach.

Leadership is hard.


Five Questions to Determine if a Potential Boss Will Invest in Growing Your Career

The best candidates don't want a boss or a manager. They want a Career Agent.

A boss/manager of people who is a Career Agent is there to get the job done and get business results, but they'll accomplish something very important along the way. A career agent, as a manager of people, approaches every assignment to the team, every task, and all feedback through a simple lens related to the team member/employee in question.

What's in it for you to do what I'm asking you to do? David-Costabile-billions-interview-gq

Think about that for a second.  Whether you're assigning work, talking about a project, or giving hard feedback for improvement, a boss who is also a career agent isn't simply telling you what to do. They're telling you WHY doing what they are encouraging you to do is good for you.

There's a big difference between normal bosses/managers of people and ones who are actively career agents.

That difference? The direct reports of Career Agents think their bosses actually give a shit about them. I'm not talking about empathy, which is a cheap word these days. I'm talking about advocacy.

Advocacy over empathy in a manager means this - "I care about how you feel, but I'm more interested in pushing you to see the game and absolutely crush it in your career, so you can thrive workwise, take care of your family, and feel great about who you are professionally."

Of course, not everyone is ready for Career Agent-type advocacy. Some just want their manager to leave them alone, to let them do the basics and not think about what's next, where they want to go, etc.

To the average employee, that sounds exhausting.

To the high performer with ambition, that sounds like the boss they want and need.

A funny thing happens with managers who are Career Agents for those who work for them. Word gets around, and they end up with stronger teams.

But if you're out there as a candidate, you have imperfect information on the potential future boss in front of you. If you have ambition, start with some or all of these 5 questions to figure out if your interviewer is going to be a true advocate for your career:

1--Are you considered one of the best in your company/location/business unit for developing people and seeing them promoted multiple times? (Spoiler alert: avoidance of the question isn't great. Neither is overconfidence, because the true manager as career agent knows how hard this status is to achieve. Following up with examples is fair to the interviewer with great confidence.)

2--How do you approach a direct report you feel has more to give, but you haven't seen the results yet? (Listen closely for the difference between getting the minimum out of non-performers versus developing performers.)

3--What's your approach to the grunt work that has to be done in any job vs. the activities that grow someone and prepare them for the next step in their career? (You want to hear that the manager always has their eye on getting you out of the weeds and helping you grow.)

4--Have you ever made a referral hire from a former direct report who now works at another company? Tell me more! (Testing the fact that they keep relationships warm when someone has the audacity to leave the company nest—average managers hate that.)

5--Who have you managed in your career that you now consider your peer? (Testing for a complete devotion to development and low ego related to hiring people who have the potential to be as good as or better than they are.)

If these questions sound like a lot to spring on someone who is interviewing you, you're 100% right. You'll hear things earlier in the interview process that tells you the manager in front of you is average, and they won't respond well to this line of questioning. It's up to you whether you want that job or not. Sometimes you have to feed the family and just get paid. I get it.

But if you're lucky enough to have options, and you want to be developed (regardless of career level), these questions are fair game. If you ask them and you get average or even slightly irritated answers, you know the deal. Stay where you are.

But if the potential manager in front of you perks up to the questions, is humble about what they are capable of, and engages, proceed and get as much as you can from the conversation. End the session with a request for referrals (current or otherwise) where people will talk about what it is like to work for them.

Find this person, and you've found your home related to who you want to work for.


Remembering Facebook vs Google+: The Value of the Rally BHAG...

There's a lot of hate heading Facebook's way these days. But step away from the politics and the obvious corrosive, addictive drawbacks of social media, and you'll see a company that has fought like hell, got lucky at times and generally rallied the troops better than most around BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). See this post for more on the value of a good BHAG.

BHAGs at Facebook include the move from campus focus to the general public, the move to mobile first and more.  But let's talk about one BHAG that most of us have forgot about.

Let's talk about Google Plus (or Google+) and remember the threat and the response. Lockdownlogo

Google+ ------ Man, some kids don't even know what this was. Here's a definition of the social app launched by Google back in 2011:

Google+ (pronounced and sometimes written as Google Plus; sometimes called G+) was a social network owned and operated by Google. The network was launched on June 28, 2011, in an attempt to challenge other social networks, linking other Google products like Gmail, Google DriveBlogger and YouTube. The service, Google's fourth foray into social networking, experienced strong growth in its initial years, although usage statistics varied, depending on how the service was defined. 

Google+ was introduced in June 2011. Features included the ability to post photos and status updates to the stream or interest-based communities, group different types of relationships (rather than simply "friends") into Circles, a multi-person instant messaging, text and video chat called Hangouts, events, location tagging, and the ability to edit and upload photos to private cloud-based albums.

Google+ was shut down for business and personal use on April 2, 2019. Google+ continued to be available as "Google+ for G Suite".

Google+ was perceived as a huge threat inside Facebook when it launched. After all, many of us live our lives through the Google Suite, so it makes sense that a social network that liquified that usage was going to pop in a big way.

At Facebook, the launch of Google+ was scene as a declaration of war. The company had a large sign in its Bay Area HQ that simply said "LOCKDOWN." It was rarely used. The sign was lit up upon the launch of Google+ and it was an all hands on deck moment.

Mark Zukerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, wasn't a great public speaker. But he took the mic during the all hands meeting that followed shortly after the LOCKDOWN sign was lit up. Here's how the scene was described in the book Chaos Monkeys:

"Rounding off another beaded string of platitudes, he changed gears and erupted with a burst of rhetoric referencing one of the ancient classics he had studied at Harvard and before. “You know, one of my favorite Roman orators ended every speech with the phrase Carthago delenda est. ‘Carthage must be destroyed.’ For some reason I think of that now.” He paused as a wave of laughter tore through the crowd.

The aforementioned orator was Cato the Elder, a noted Roman senator and inveigher against the Carthaginians, who clamored for the destruction of Rome’s great challenger in what became the Third Punic War. Reputedly, he ended every speech with that phrase, no matter the topic.

Carthago delenda est. Carthage must be destroyed!"

There's nothing more BHAG than a big ass sign that's the size of a family sedan that says "LOCKDOWN" and your CEO pointing at a competitor and saying, "Carthage Must Be Destroyed."  The internal PR team also went into BHAG mode as evidenced by another passage in Chaos Monkeys:

The Facebook Analog Research Laboratory jumped into action and produced a poster with CARTHAGO DELENDA EST splashed in imperative bold type beneath a stylized Roman centurion’s helmet. This was Facebook’s ministry of propaganda, and it was originally started with no official permission or budget, in an unused warehouse space. In many ways, it was the finest exemplar of Facebook values: irreverent yet bracing in its martial qualities.

The Carthago posters went up immediately all over the campus and were stolen almost as fast. It was announced that the cafés would be open over the weekends, and a proposal was seriously floated to have the shuttles from Palo Alto and San Francisco run on the weekends, too. This would make Facebook a fully seven-days-a-week company; by whatever means, employees were expected to be in and on duty. In what was perceived as a kindly concession to the few employees with families, it was also announced that families were welcome to visit on weekends and eat in the cafés, allowing the children to at least see Daddy (and, yes, it was mostly Daddy) on weekend afternoons. 

And if you're skeptical of the value of a true BHAG moment like LOCKDOWN AND "Carthage Must Be Destroyed," that's cool. Just know it matters when the survival of your company is at question. The final passage I'll share from Chaos Monkeys talks about the difference in moods at Google versus Facebook:

Facebook was not f**king around. This was total war.

I decided to do some reconnaissance. En route to work one Sunday morning, I skipped the Palo Alto exit on the 101 and got off in Mountain View instead. Down Shoreline I went and into the sprawling Google campus. The multicolored Google logo was everywhere, and clunky Google-colored bikes littered the courtyards. I had visited friends here before and knew where to find the engineering buildings. I made my way there and contemplated the parking lot.

It was empty. Completely empty.

Interesting.

I got back on the 101 North and drove to Facebook.

At the California Avenue building, I had to hunt for a parking spot. The lot was full.

Was there any question who would come out on top?

In a time of crisis, BHAGs matter.


KD's Personal Mission Statement on HR/Recruiting/Talent in Troubled Times...

If you're like me, 2020 and 2021 has felt rough in a lot of ways. But I'm incredibly blessed - I had a job, my company survived and my family is healthy. Check, check  and check.

But in a world with so much political and social unrest, it's easy for all of us to feel disrupted in some way. For me, all the change going on around us made me less confident to speak to many of the hard business+talent truths I have learned in my career.  Example - I was hesitant to put my thoughts down on the recent Union Vote at the Amazon Distribution Center (Bessemer, Alabama) because pro-business thoughts aren't super welcome in the cancel culture we live in. The things we think

I wrote the post (you can find it here), but I expressed my reservations of being cancelled, shamed or—God forbid—being called a Republican.

The hesitation that so many people feel toward having real conversations got me thinking - what I really needed to do was to create a mission statement of how I view HR/Recruiting/Talent that addresses the times and communicates what I believe.  I needed to do that more for me than anyone else. So I did it. I kept it short and note this is a living breathing document I'll update and fine tune moving forward.

Here's my personal mission statement for who I am and what I believe HR/Recruiting/Talent should be about in 2021:

I believe every employee deserves an opportunity to earn a great living based on their performance. They deserve a safe environment that respects all people and provides maximum opportunity to all, regardless of race, gender, orientation and any other identifier.

Of course, I'll get emails that say this isn't good enough on a variety of levels in 2021. That's OK. I'm not writing war and peace here, or even a 35-page document similar to the one that got Jerry Maquire fired (read the whole thing from Jerry here).  What's needed for me is a lightweight mission statement to keep me grounded and focused on what the most important things are in the world of HR/Recruiting/Talent in 2021 and beyond, which also allows me to call BS on things that make no sense (spoiler, there's a lot of that these days).

Let's break that simple statement shown above (in green) down a bit so I can tell you what's in my heart:

1--It all starts with performance wherever you are in life. The world is a hard place, and different people have different talents, different work ethic, etc. Someone less talented needs to work harder, and many do and absolutely crush it. Some are naturally talented and skate by without putting in the hours. Put on your helmet and get ready to compete, because this world is tough. Effort, focus and not being a victim matters.  

2--There are crazy talented people from every walk of life - every race, gender, orientation, country and any other identifier you want to name. I know this because I've worked for them and been fortunate enough to have them on my teams during my career - from all walks of life. I want to recruit them all BTW, not because of any identifier, but because they are great at what they do. High performer and achiever is a segment that is not limited by tag, identifier, identity politics, employment law, etc.  It is a DNA strand that elevates above the conversations we're having today.

3--The world works hard to try and lure high performers back to the pack. There's a bunch of quotes I could give you here. Whether it's a political conversation about how the business community mistreats labor, a co-worker pissed at you because you're killing it and they can't/wont, or Ricky Bobby's dad in Talledega Nights encouraging students to go fast, it's noted that the world around you wants you to be average.  See #1 and #2.  

4--Safety in the world - inside and outside of work - should be a given.  You should be safe in the workplace and not have to deal with bullshit, whether it's dealing with COVID, personal safety or just not getting tied up with non-work related conversations that make you feel at-risk because you're not in the cool clique, etc. I want people to feel safe outside of work as well, but that's a complicated post that transcends the scope of this work mission statement. Let's just say I'm open to all conversations and feel there's a clear path forward for safety for all - but I'm not drinking anyone's kool-aid. The path is complicated.

5 - Every employee and candidate deserves an environment/experience that provides maximum opportunity to all, regardless of race, gender, orientation and any other identifier.  Couple of things here - I'm no expert in what's required to put all on equal footing as they grow up and matriculate in our imperfect world (yes, that means outside the USA as well), so I'll leave that to the experts - I'm open to a lot of things. But when it comes to the workplace/workforce, I'm open and engaged to force conversations that need to happen to provide maximum opportunity to all.  I believe a proactive approach is needed to get to where we need to be, but note I'll never be a proponent of messaging that seeks to divide us instead of bringing us together. To accomplish both is part art and part science, and we need everyone in the tent to get to where we need to be.

That's it. Note I'll be updating this and I'll try to show a log below on what I add or take out in the future.

Edit Log:

First Created: 4.29.21
No Edits to date.


The Coming Epic Fail of Team Meetings Post-COVID (half in room, half on Zoom)...

There's a million things to think about in a Post-Covid world.  Here's one you don't think about but you might as well get ahead of, especially if your team is going to exist in some type of hybrid existence: White_House_Situation_Room_Friday_May_18_2007

THE NEW NORMAL WILL FEATURE PEOPLE TRYING TO HOLD TEAM MEETINGS WITH HALF THE TEAM LIVE IN THE OFFICE AND HALF ON ZOOM/TEAMS.

AND IT'S GOING TO SUCK.

Think about it. Before we accepted cameras on as the norm during COVID, you generally didn't try and hold a team meeting with half or more of the people live and half on Zoom.

Why not? Because it's impossible for the people who aren't live to have the same experience and rights as those live in the room. If you're not in the room, you are a second class citizen, and it's the way it has to be. Please listen, and we'll throw it to you for your stage banter when you're ready.

The Zoom/Teams rush during COVID changed those expectations. Since most, if not all were remote, we turned on the cameras and everyone was treated equal.

When we go back to the offices, many of us will try and keep the remote team on video, and it's going to be awful.

When half or more of your team is live and in the office for a meeting, you can't make the Zoom people equal. They can't see the room, read body language and know when they can informally interject and organically participate. But man, will they try. The people who are live can't do the same with the Zoomers,

The answer is simple and the new rules should be clear:

If half or over half of your team is live, you require the remote folks to call in (no video) and run their participation in the live meeting like it's 2019. They'll thank you for it.

If a number of people live is less than half (especially if it approaches only 25-33% live and in the room) you hold the entire meeting on Zoom or Teams. The 3 of 10 people in the office join from their personal office via Teams. You'll have a better meeting.

Some of you will try to do the live/Zoom mix with half or more of the people in the conference room on one camera. It will be an epic failure.  

Will you understand how awful it is?  That's a whole other question.

(email subscribers click through for Gary V video on this topic below)


My Conversation with Stephanie Lilak, CHRO at Dunkin' Brands....

In Episode 27 of BEST HIRE EVERKris Dunn talks with the amazing Stephanie Lilak (CHRO of Dunkin' Brands) on variety of topics, including her favorite interview questions, how she works to make sure Dunkin' gets the talent it needs, what she learned in her first year as a CHRO (that nobody told her) and more.

Steph and Kris share their favorite HR phrases and Steph shares the common characteristics of the people she considers her BEST HIRES EVER.  A great episode!

Please subscribe, rate and review (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Click here if you don't see the player below!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

Steph and KD hit some rapid fire items:

4:00 - Stephanie shares her favorite interview question - "6 words that describe you" and "6 words others use to describe you" and interviews KD live. KD does...sort of OK.

5:50 - Stephanie shares what she's after when she asks those questions (speed, attention to detail, views of others about you) and shares where at times, it goes a bit dark if candidates struggle.  

8:17 - Stephanie shares he "go-to" drink at Dunkin'.

9:03 - KD asks Stephanie for her favorite movie that reminds you how crazy her life in HR can be.

10:10 - KD asks Stephanie for the stage in the recruiting funnel in her career that always seems to need attention (apply, source, screen, hiring manager interview, make a selection, offer, hire).   

12:49 - SL names the Boston sports team she's adopted since she's moved from General Mills in the Midwest… Spoiler alert - it's not the Patriots.  KD talks about his love for the movie, "The Town"... 

Deeper Dives:

17:30 - Change – what a career at General Mills, then the move to Dunkin'. What did Stephanie learn about herself the first year in as a CHRO?   Anything she had to relearn since she had the great career at one company for so long?  Deep thoughts here - it's lonely being a CHRO, and Stephanie didn't fully realize that until she was in the seat.

24:38 - KD asks Stephanie to comment on the key to making sure a company like DD gets its fair share of talent in the recruiting world? Lots of discussion about  employment brand here - how does it contribute to the recruiting success, the "activation of employment brand" at Dunkin', both internally and externally by the tagline "Fueled by You."

30:55 - KD and Stephanie talk about COVID, company culture and the workplace. What are some things that are on her mind mind related to how her HR function and the company itself will morph as we (hopefully) get to the post-COVID period?  We discuss the saying, "Life is a Bell Curve", at length here!

39:07 - Close:  Who is Stephanie Lilak's BEST HIRE EVER and why?  There's been twelve of them (!!), and she has a list that defines what it takes to reach that designation. Smart.

SHOW NOTES AND RESOURCES:

---------Stephanie Lilak

Stephanie Lilak on LinkedIn

------------Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

Kinetix

Kris Dunn on Twitter

Kris Dunn on Instagram


 

Resilience and the Art of Taking an "L" As a Predictor of Talent Success...

When it comes to long-term success for a working class professional in today's world, nothing is more important than knowing how to "take the L".  

Let me explain.

"L's were taken" or "Take the L" has been around in phraseology since the early 2000's.  Here's the Urban Dictionary cite:

TAKE THE L

Stands for "Take the loss". Frequently used to describe flunking a test, being dumped, being stood up, being beaten up or robbed, or losing one's money in the stock market, gambling, or through exploitative business schemes. I really took the L on that history exam. The-art-of-taking-an-l-header
 
While those cites are mostly from one's personal life, Taking the L as a skill is easily transferred to the professional realm.
 
Note from my personal life: I've got a son in an Engineering program, and it's been a challenging first couple of years. He's not a 4.0, but he works his ass off, and to his dismay, he doesn't always see correlational results to that work (from his view). I've tried to counsel him on what's coming for him in the professional world when he gets there. The guidance goes something like this:
 
"I take L's every week, sometimes every day in my business life. That meeting didn't go as well as it should have. Someone tells me "no" on new business. The L's are everywhere if you look hard enough."
 
We're trained by social media that life is nothing but success. Social media is bullshit, and comparison is the thief of joy.
 
Nobody loses on social media, and kids get a lot of trophies growing up these days. Everyone, it seems, is a snowflake.
 
But the L's are coming for them in life and at work.
 
With that in mind, the counsel to me son goes like this:
 
"In baseball, failing 8 of 10 times at bat (hitting .200) confirms you're no good. Failing 7 of 10 times (hitting .300) makes you an All-Star.
 
"Teams in Major League Baseball are desperately trying to get to a 92-70 win/loss record so they can make the playoffs (success!) as a Wild Card.
 
"Professional life is a lot like the MLB. You're trying to get to 92-70. Take the L and do the work in your career - there's a game the next day."
 
Of course, what we should be looking for is resilience in candidates as we recruit. Can they take a loss and rebound?  Resilience is hard to measure, and in my opinion, it's driven by a few things:
 
1--Behavioral makeup - Sensitivity as a behavioral measurement matters. Low sensitivity people can take rejection, high sensitivity people take longer to recover. Assertiveness is also a tag along trait we should measure as well to look at resilience. Taking an L in the workplace is going to make people with low assertiveness even more unlikely to get back in the game the next day.
 
2--How someone grew up and overall hunger level - Silver spoons haven't taken as many L's. Understanding how someone grew up can tell you a lot about how bothered they are going to be when Cheryl throws up all over their idea in a team meeting. 
 
3--Mentoring to this point in their career - It's true, guidance in the professional realm matters. The more you've had someone who has seen you fail and been a muse for you - in big ways and in small ways - the more likely you are to have resilience and the perspective that proceeded your desire to show up the next day and grind.
 
If you're looking for someone with resilience, spend some in the recruiting process digging into to how they bounce back and what happens after a big/small failure.  If you're looking to grow resilience on your team, talk more about reactions to failure and setbacks.
 
You want a team that can take an L.  Most of us are striving to go 92-70 in the game of life and squeak into the playoffs.

Building the Perfect People Manager: Assertiveness and the Introversion/Extroversion Scale...

Had the opportunity to present/workshop on "Leveling Up Your Managers of People" to a Vistage CEO group earlier this week.

We had a great two-hour conversation about the best way to build a people manager development program, and it left me more convinced than ever that an investment in your core managers of people - the ones actually interacting with your employees - is a key investment in 2021 and beyond.

That's obvious, right?  Too bad we talk all day long about "leadership" (it's sexy, no doubt!), but we rarely get around to what our first time managers actually need to survive and thrive in their daily conversations with their direct reports on the front lines. Vistage-600x400-20190131_6f16da50af95e8511ca2a9e6a50991c9

Sucks to be them.  But it's right there, waiting for time, attention and investment from HR and the leadership team of any company you're a part of.

With do much opportunity, where do you start? Well, how about at the beginning, starting with how you choose/hire managers of people?

Domain expertise is important, but overvalued in the hiring process for first time managers of people. We're addicted to the fact that the best individual contributor in your business must be the best candidate to fill an open first-level people manager role.

It's a lie. At my Vistage talk this week, I showed the C-level a chart of 7 behavioral characteristics that comprise the behavioral DNA of any employee.  I asked them to rate the most important ones to getting great results as a manager of people.  They didn't need my help, they got it, and they selected the following:

--Assertiveness. YUP. Let's face it, being a manager is all about confrontation. That's confrontation with a small "c", not a big "C", folks. To the mid to low assertiveness person, every conversation needed to get a small change or tweak from an employee feels like it might be a massive thing. The result is these folks will delay necessary on the fly coaching. It's not that big of deal, and delivered with a quality coaching tool, employees will be connected and actually engaged by the feedback.

--Introversion/Extroversion. This one's a bit trickier, because we naturally feel that extroverted people are more likely to engage their direct reports. That's true in a broad sense, but the downside is highly extroverted people talk more than they listen. If you want behavioral change from your direct reports, you have to make the employee talk and be part of the solution. Better to have a mid-range person on the introvert/extrovert scale from this to happen. While the C-levels in my group correctly picked this one, they followed the conventional belief that max extroversion is a good thing related to managing people. Turns out, it's more complicated than that.

To close this post up, the most important behavioral trait in my eyes in hiring managers of people is ASSERTIVENESS.  Low assertiveness means your people manager will feel conflict at every turn and will rationalize reasons not to have the conversation they need to have today.

Can you hire a low assertive person to be a people manager? Sure, but you'll have to tell them what's required and to perform as they need to, they'll likely feel their batteries drained on a daily basis.

There's a thousand things that go into building a team of effective people managers at your company. The best place to start is to evaluate candidates in a more intense way when hiring managers of people.  Once you accomplish that, you can build your leadership academy on your own or use a system like the BOSS Leadership Training platform to jump start your efforts.

Good luck getting your manager development program in place in 2021!


Post-Election Skill for Leaders: Making All Feel Welcome & On Equal Ground...

I read this post recently by William Wiggins at Fistful of Talent on Transgenderism. It's a simple, insightful piece on being aware. 

Prior to reading William's post, I finished Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac. It's the story of how Uber rose from humble beginnings to become a Unicorn, then stumbled from the top as it's bro-tastic culture caused it to be tone-deaf to the world around it via PR fiasco after PR fiasco.

Both are highly recommended reading. One is 500 words and one is 80,000 words.

Then of course, like you, I've been through the shit show that is the 2020 Election Season.

There's never been a bigger need for awareness for making all feel like they belong and are welcome than post-election 2020. 

The lesson? Being a leader in modern times is tricky. Consider the following realities:

  1. You're a leader.
  2. You're full of personal thoughts, a specific background and some form of bias. You think how you think. Politics included.
  3. When change comes and you're asked to lead everyone, it's easy to react as if it's a burden or worse.
  4. You can say it's all gone too far you shouldn't be asked to manage people on the far right or the far left. Many will agree with you.
  5. But - you'll ultimately acknowledge the views of the group of people in front of you - everyone - or you won't be allowed to lead anymore. Unless you're in a groupthink organization where everyone thinks the same.

History shows this cycle to be true. Your job is to lead everyone. When you don't engage or find the good in a group of people in front of you, you won't get the results you want or need as a leader in your organization.  When you think about the election we just went through in 2020, it's easy to become polarized and lose sight of this universal truth.

Saying that the vocal people on the left want to ruin America is lame. Saying that anyone that voted republican must be a racist is lame. Both are intellectually lazy. 

What if you decided that rather than be late to the game, you made it a priority to make all feel welcome and on equal ground in your company or on your team as a leader?

What if?

I'll tell you what if, my friend.  If that was your approach, you'd find the people in question - the special class of people currently causing others discomfort (the groups change over time) - incredibly willing to work for you and just as importantly, freed to do their best work.  You'd be maximizing your ability to get great work from the resources you have.

When you choose to lead everyone and not take the polarized bait the world wants to feed you, a funny thing happens. Performance and the ability for someone to do their best work goes up.

None of us are perfect when it comes to the change cycle outlined in #1 through #5 above.  Stop reading things in your bubble and start thinking about the best way to bring everyone on the team into the fold in 2021.

Performance goes up as bullshit goes down.  Just be crystal clear on what's bullshit in this cycle (anything that makes you slow to accept that reasonable people can think differently).