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!

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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


 

Capital Riots: Considerations for Great HR Leaders...

Welcome to 2021 friends! Had a couple of publications reach out to me for comments on employee situations related to the Capital Riots, so I thought I would share the responses I gave to one of them. 

Any time you're starting your response with the phrase, "In a world" in a classic movie trailer guy voice, you know that reality has officially jumped the shark. I can only assume I'll be answering questions about the best way to onboard Alien employees in 2022. Politics

Onto the questions I answered about whether we should term employees wearing Trump stocking caps only, versus those carrying the speaker of the house podium while wearing said hat:

-Beyond legal questions, what kind of ethical and cultural considerations do HR leaders need to think about if they learn an employee participated in the Capitol riots?  

I'm going to start my answer sounding like the movie trailer guy with the great voice that always starts each trailer with "In a world..."   In a world where almost every election of note is a 50/50 split, HR leaders thinking about the Capital riots are going to have to dig deep and do what they normally do related to showing judgement with employment decisions. That includes logic, judgment and common sense rarely seen in social media, and at times in the media cycle.

Great HR leaders will start with the obvious - for the employee in question, what did they actually do? If they were in the Capital on the day of the riots, did they a) participate in some low level demonstrations somewhere around the mall, b) attend the Trump rally at the White House, c) march with the crowd to the capital, d) protest outside the capital and/or e) enter the capital (and if so, did they cause damage)?

This is the world of the HR leader and employment calls. People come to us with a claim, and it's up to us to figure out what actually happened. An employee that was in DC on approved PTO but did not enter the Capital building and wasn't otherwise arrested, etc. isn't a relevant call to term. People will make the case that it is, but assuming the employee is a functioning member of your company and didn't do anything illegal, real HR leaders have to look at the facts. 

That's what the money's for as an HR Leader.  People pay HR leaders to be the grown ups when bad situations happen and calm minds are needed, and the good news is that's exactly what we are.

-What is your advice for HR leaders concerned about action they take looking partisan or political?

Welcome to the world of HR. The more HR leaders have pitched their political beliefs in the past, the less they have the ability to lead in times of crisis where employment calls can be considered politically driven. Note this isn't rationale for HR leaders not to make tough calls, just the reality. The more you've shown you're less than politically neutral in the past, the less you'll be able to make a tough employment call (fire, don't fire) in your company that both sides of the political spectrum will respect and acknowledge as fair. 

-Do you think this event should prompt HR to revisit codes of conduct? If so, what should they look out for or consider including in light of current events?

It's 100% imperative that HR has access to a broad-based "Professional Conduct Policy" that gives them the ability to take employment action across a broad range of unforeseen circumstances. A great Professional Conduct Policy (PCP) not only lists specific things for consideration in the workplace, but includes broad language that suggests conduct and behavior outside the workplace that is inconsistent with the values of the organization may warrant an employment decision by the company, if the company deems the behavior and conduct makes it impossible for the company to more forward with the individual as a member of the team.

Great Professional Conduct Policies provide flexibility for HR leaders, because you can't cover every scenario this crazy world is going to throw at you. 

That said, great HR leaders treat these policies as a last resort for action, only using them if it's apparent the employee can't move forward.

2021 is the best! You know I'm around for the punishing emails. Don't hate me because won't automatically term someone. Great HR Leaders evaluate, consider, then show decisiveness. That's what makes them great.


The Value of a Confidential Search BEFORE You Fire an Incumbent...

We've all been there. There's an incumbent in a key position, and for whatever reason, they're not getting it done.

So you do what you have to do. You make a move (more gracefully known as an organizational change) and you open up the role. If you're lucky, you nail the search, and within 45 days, you've got the new person starting. 

But, of course, sometimes the search in question is a train wreck, or maybe it's just a difficult search. 30 days turns into 60, then to the siren-emoting 90 day mark. In the interim, team members who now have no manager or a weak position interim leader are sending each other videos of famous castaways to note their rudderless floating in your organization.

Which begs the question - should you have done a confidential search and kept the struggling person in their role until you found a replacement?

Confidential searches feel bad - a true d**k/ass**** move in the mind of many. But before you discount this type of search as counter to your organizational ethos/values/integrity, you should probably ask yourself what the true cost of having the spot open for 60-90 days is.

Let's workshop whether a confidential search is right for you. How does the team feel about the person underperforming in the role in question?

--They hate him. OK! Your instincts to term and do a search are on the money. You'll be seen as a liberator, someone who "gets it" and made a move. Victory lap time, maybe even an email that majestically positions you as a liberator. If you are really up for it, hold a F2F meeting after the change with the team!

--They like/love her. DANGER. This team is likely focused on the person, not the performance. You term her, and you're the ass****, and the longer it takes you to fill it, the more chaos there is going to be. THIS SCENARIO IS THE ONE WHERE DOING A CONFIDENTIAL SEARCH MAKES THE MOST SENSE. Protect yourself before you (as Ice Cube so eloquently once put it) wreck yourself.

--They're neutral. There's no love or hate. This is the jump ball, and the big question is whether you feel lucky. Well, do you?  Because if you think you can make the move and get this thing filled in 45 days, you're probably OK. But the longer the spot is open, the shittier people are going to get. This one's on you. Tough call for sure.

For a nice primer on the potential value of the confidential search, I present two scenarios from the world of college football in 2020. Auburn University decided to part ways with Head Coach Gus Malzahn after 8 years, firing him in season and starting a national search. After a reported 7 candidates told them no in a very public way, they finally made a hire. The fan base (parallel to your employees) widely believed the search to be a complete clown show, because it took a long time (which can and will happen to you) and because the misses were so public (less likely to happen to you, except if you decide to make the team part of an interviewing process).

Now contrast that with the University of Texas (UT).  UT also wanted to change their football coach, but chose to talk to candidates in the background (confidential search) and have a deal done before they made a move. As a result, the announcement of the firing of Tom Herman was followed up by the announcement that UT was hiring Alabama Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian within 24 hours of the press release of the firing.

In other words, it was a done deal. They had their candidate via a confidential search and had agreed to terms. 

By the way, Steve Sarkisian was also a candidate for the Auburn job, but told them no in a public way. Cue the water cooler talk of whether management knows what the **** they are doing.

Auburn = Traditional Way Auburn

Texas = Confidential Search

RESULT: Auburn leadership plugged into Clown Memes, Texas leadership viewed as decisive, credible

The need for both searches was the same. Good, but not a great, leader who had not met oversized expectations at the organization they were serving. But one search was public, created organizational disruption that could have been avoided, and resulted in a perception that the organization got its 8th choice for the job in the marketplace - that is the recruiting marketplace we live in. The other search allowed the organization to recruit from a point of leverage, with a coach in place and the signal that we don't have to backfill this position unless we find the right deal for us.

I get it. It still feels itchy-scratchy, doesn't it?

Being more open to confidential searches is hard, because it doesn't feel like we're being 100% honest. But the brutality of what happens when you make a move, then miss a few times and hear the clock ticking sound and organizational float growing more prominent with each passing day, means you should always consider it as a business person.

Confidential searches are a tool for consideration. You should probably be using them more than you are if you're a C-level leader in your company.

Check your feelings at the door.


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).


5 Reasons I'm STILL Bullish On America: Election Day 2020...

Election day is here. So many voices shouting, so let me add my thoughts to the mix with a bi-partisan thought that's not said enough these days:

AMERICA: STILL THE BEST THING GOING. Yikes

Let's start with my favorite songs from Hamilton, which you can find on Disney+. If you're looking for a reason to feel good on election day, you could do much, much, much worse.

Yorktown

One Last Time

What Comes Next?

It's been a rough year in America. Pandemic, George Floyd, second phase of the first wave of the pandemic and now, one of the most disruptive elections in history. The economy is questionable and things have never felt more divisive - which obviously spills over into the workplace, thus the post on something you thought had nothing to do with HR... 

Note that I'm hardcore moderate that thinks both polar extremes politically in the states are 100% crazy.

Here's 5 reasons I'm still bullish on America, with some HR/management thoughts embedded within:

1--We live in a country where you can actually tell the leader to "F off" directly to him/her via his social account. He might even "@" you! I just think it's interesting and a complement that our society/constitution allows for that and people aren't afraid to do it.  Try that in Moscow, Wuhan, Istanbul or Cairo these days, friends.

I don't agree with the decision to tell a leader from any party to F-off publicly. But I'll support your right to do it until the day I die. Side note - be careful with this approach with a leader in your company. Like the Dixie Chicks in the early 2000's, you'll find out that your right to free speech is protected, but the free market can and will remove you from corporate consideration. Also note the Dixie Chicks are now The Chicks, because Dixie didn't survive the cut in 2020 but "chicks" is OK, but as FYI, I've issued an advisory for dudes not to get comfortable using that term. Got it? Cool.

2--We have a history in the USA of being getting fed up, then vocal and moving for change. It's a long history and I could list all the problems America has had through the years - but you're aware of the history. Instead, I'm going to focus on what actually happens over time in America. People are vocal, critical mass is formed and change happens. It's easy to say it takes too long  - it sure does  - but just grab a live look in at St. Petersburg, Tabriz or Shenzhen for perspective. Also noted that it remains very much a work in process - as the George Floyd events illustrate (see my posts on the aftermath of George Floyd here and here, as well as these posts by great writers at my other site (FOT) if you doubt my intent). It's a rough look for the USA right now, but I believe America is 100% going to get this right - both now and in the future.

3--America is still the premiere melting pot of the world.  When I look around at the world my sons live in, I'm happy and proud that their world is more defined by meritocracy via equal opportunity more than mine was growing up. They see race, national origin and gender less than our generation did, and are accepting of people who don't look like them totally kicking a## in various walks of life. Why? America. Also see this map from the Washington Post that is a visual representation of the most and least racially tolerant countries in the world. Spoiler alert: Racism is a problem around the world, and while the USA has so many miles to go, we have some common ground to work from. (Note: I ran this map by some of my liberal friends and they had a hard time processing it. But still, it's the Washington Post on the left and they haven't pulled it down, which to me means it's solid for me to quote).

When I see a Black, Asian or Indian kid/family achieving in America, I'm not threatened. I'm proud they are American. I love it when the melting pot kicks ass. 

4--There's still a role for moderates in America. If you're not feeling the polar extremes of either political party here, it's OK. While the polar extremes are less tolerant than ever of your lack of willingness to commit, you've become the swing voter block that drives both sides crazy. You're also probably uniquely qualified to manage people as you've learned to see different points of view and co-exist with the highest % of people. This just in - the best managers of people are the ones who can get as many people in the bus to where we are going in 2021, 2031 and 2041 as possible. It's hard to do that when you say - as both parties do - you're either with me or against me.

5 - AMERICA ALWAYS COURSE CORRECTS. We've had a lot of dark times in our country and we've made some questionable decisions. What I love about America is that WE ALWAYS THROW THE BUMS OUT. Every. Single. Time. Regardless of party. In addition, just when you think you know what the answer will be, America rises up and pleasantly surprises you. Who saw a 6-3 vote FOR LGBTQ+ rights in a Supreme Court loaded with Republicans? No one, and you'd be fair to be skeptical on why that wasn't celebrated more. So be active, shoot your shot and trust the process. If you don't like how things are going in the USA - all you have to do is wait - we are junkies for change and can't accept too much of a single point of view. (side note - the picture in this post is my 4th of July t-shirt. It says, "YIKES", with subscript that says "England 1776")

Let's dig into that "Yikes" reference to close this July 4th post. This recent article from The Atlantic called "The Decline of the American World" digs into the perception of America around the world, especially in Europe. I found the article to be incredibly balanced and why it certainly focused on some negative perceptions of our country, it also featured hot takes by many that the world needs America to be great.

The article is highly recommended. I can't let you go without sharing the close of the article with you, focused on what Charles Dickens found in America:

"Over America’s history, it has had any number of crises—and any number of detractors. Le Carré is just one of many who have delved into the conflicting well of emotions that the United States manages to stir in those who watch from outside, part horrified, part obsessed. In his travel book, American Notes, for instance, Charles Dickens recalls his loathing for much of what he saw on his adventures through the country. “The longer Dickens rubbed shoulders with Americans, the more he realised that the Americans were simply not English enough,” Professor Jerome Meckier, author of Dickens: An Innocent Abroad, told the BBC in 2012. “He began to find them overbearing, boastful, vulgar, uncivil, insensitive, and above all acquisitive." In other words—it’s the aesthetic again. In a letter, Dickens summed up his feelings: “I am disappointed. This is not the republic of my imagination.”

Dickens, like le Carré, captured America’s unique hold on the world and the fundamental reality that it can never live up to people’s imagination of what it is, good or bad. As it watches today, it recoils but cannot stop looking. In the United States, the world sees itself, but in an extreme form: more violent and free, rich and repressed, beautiful and ugly. Like Dickens, the world expects more of America. But as le Carré observed, it is also, largely, an aesthetic thing—we don’t like what we see when we look hard, because we see ourselves."

Translation: The bumper sticker for America could easily be, "AMERICA: WE'RE MORE EVERYTHING THAN YOU ARE".

Which is why we'll be back. Happy election day, America. You are imperfect, dysfunctional, and at times, hard to look at.

But you're still the best thing going. Regardless of the outcome this time around, I believe you'll get this right, as you've gotten so many other things right.

See you at the cookout. 


Attempting to Build Consensus or Get Change? Watch this Helpful Seinfeld Video...

The older I get, the more I know absolutes rarely work. 

The HR Leader/Generalist motto is true - the clear path always lies somewhere in the middle. Case in point - 2020! What a year, and it's only going to get better!  An election coming up in a less than 2 months! #freakshow Seinfeld

Examples from 2020 that the truth is always somewhere in the middle (listing the extremes on each side below, and all of these things impact the workplace, which is why they're being discussed here):

-People who can work from home are never coming back to the office/WFH and isolation is crushing people

--We need to go on lockdown until Covid cases are at zero/The economy is the most important thing

--Masks and face shields are mandatory at all times/I should never be forced to wear a mask

--Big Ten Football/SEC Football (gotcha!)

This list goes on, plus it includes all the issues our country has dealt with in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

2020 is hard. For everyone seeking to build consensus, get change and generally make things better, I present a group you'll need called "the middle":

The middle is an interesting group. They're watching and listening and agree with most or all of what you say, but many in this group are wary of extremes. The more your position is framed as non-negotiable and you refuse to include them in the dialog, the more they fade away. You'll never even know they're gone.

Conversation is key. For my visual friends, I offer up the following classic from Seinfeld called "The Ribbon Bully" (click on the link if you don't see the video below, it's a keeper). Let's stay together, have conversations, get meaningful change and figure this out. And for all my friends in the middle, when someone surprises you and wants to have dialog, it's non-negotiable to engage and try to listen more than you talk.


HR Capitalist Definitions: "Success Theater"

2020 has been a bear. For many, there haven't been a lot of wins or success to focus on. But as the economy stabilizes and you realize the new normal, you may find the team around you slipping back into some habits that were normal in the 10-year economic expansion that happened between 2010 and 2020. Those habits are likely counterproductive in a post-COVID world, even if your company goes from being on the brink to being "safe" (whatever that means these days). Success theate

One of those habits is called "Success Theatre".  Below is a quote from John Flannery, the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GE who took over for Jeff Immelt (the guy who followed Jack Welch):

“Flannery had taken to uttering a new mantra around the company’s shiny new offices in Boston: “No more success theater.””

— from Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric by Thomas Gryta, Ted Mann

Success theater. There hasn't been a lot of that for most of us in 2020, but as stabilization occurs, it's likely to sneak back in. Success theater happens when business units and departmental leaders report the good stuff that's happening in their area, but don't report a lot of challenges. This condition is a big part of operations reviews during up periods, where groups use result readouts as PR campaigns, emphasizing the good and hiding/minimizing the bad or challenges.

2020 has been a terrible year. As you get back to normal as a leader, don't lose sight of the new muscle memory you were forced to develop regarding asking for bad news - either before the good news or closely following a brief golf clap of the good news.

A lot of us had success theater around us from 2016 to March of this year. Remember the hard times, and ask for the bad news early in any operational review you're doing. Institutionalize that ask.

Be paranoid once your company has stabilized or recovered. No success theatre in 2021 or 2022, right?


Great HR Pros Learn to Ask Very Specific Questions...

Deep thoughts for my HR friends and managers of people doing hard work in the field this week:

“Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask. After all, conscious thinking is largely asking and answering questions in your Mentors own head. If you want confusion and heartache, ask vague questions. If you want uncommon clarity and results, ask uncommonly clear questions.”

— Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Timothy Ferriss
https://a.co/crLGIsN

I'm a big believer that all of us can be better negotiators. At times, that requires cutting through the bulls**t and rather than dancing around the issue, asking very specific questions designed to box someone in related to how they feel and what you want - rather than worrying about this thing some call "feelings".

Examples of the specific ask by HR pros:

--If I source these candidates for you, are you actually going to hire someone?

--I'd like to be in charge of that project. Will you support me in that and assign it to me?

--Why did you offer that person less than the person who went to your Alma Mater?

--Did you put both of your hands on Janet's shoulders? (follow up: "creepers")

Ping me with your specific asks/questions from the HR hall of fame. And they next time you're dancing around the real issue, remember this advice from Tim Ferris and start asking uncommonly clear, specific and direct questions.

You'll be shocked at the results you get. Nobody dies, and you either get what you wanted or save 3 hours doing follow-ups trying to get to the same point.

Advantage: You.