#COVID-19: The Truth About Video Calls and Your Career...

Time for some tough love. If you're a white collar worker and you've been moved to WFH (work from home), odds are your team/company is experimenting with video meetings/calls to keep you connected with your team.

They providers are many - Zoom, Go To Meeting, WebEx, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc. Video

The provider really doesn't matter. Here's a piece of advice on team video calls from your friend, aka KD:

Don't get comfortable. Get your head around how to separate yourself from the pack on video meetings/calls.

The tiles I've seen of people sharing meetings of 15-20 people in a Zoom meeting show the humanity. It's a freak show.

Why is this on my mind? Just got done taping an episode of The HR Famous Podcast, with Tim Sackett and guest Dawn Burke (Jessica Lee on break), and some of the things we worked through were best practices for making yourself look great during video calls, but more importantly, the game behind the game with video calls.

A lot of white collar workers are new to the video meeting/call game. Let me give you three pieces of solid advice:

  1. Frame yourself well - head and shoulders shot, pec level and above. Be seen in a good way.  See this awesome video by Craig Fisher (aka Fishdogs) for the basics, but get to head and shoulders in your framing. Now that the basics are covered, let me break down the most important things for your career...
  2. Look into the camera. It matters more than you think it does.
  3. When important people to your career are talking - look into the camera and give non-verbal cues that you're listening and agree - head nods, etc.

I'm guessing 20-25% of all white collar work hours were remote in nature before COVID-19. It just went to 95% plus. That means a lot of you need someone to tell you the truth related to how to do video meetings at work the right way.

The workplace has always been competitive. If you're part of a 5-10 person team that is meeting virtually for the first time, you've got an opportunity.

The opportunity is that no one is coaching you on how to do video right. Do the three things I've outlined above, and subconsciously, the people that matter and have influence in your career are going to feel better about you vs your peers who aren't following the same advice.

You - framed well, took Fishdogs buying guide, looking at the camera and nodding when important people are talking (do it when everyone is sharing thoughts if my "important people" advice is troubling).

Them - not framed well, never look at the camera and zero non-verbal cues that they are listening and engaged.

Who wins that battle if you're the boss looking over a team? 

Who wins that battle when tough decisions are made to decide who has the capability to work from home in an uncertain economic environment moving forward?

You win, that's who - if you follow the basic advice.

It's me - KD - with real talk. Your friend. Don't think your normal approach works on video. Get connected and be present on video calls. The tiles I've seen of people sharing meetings of 15-20 people in a Zoom meeting show the humanity.

We're in uncertain times. You think you're a high performer if you've read this far.

Go perform and win in the video call, my friends. It matters. 


Telling a Leader They're Wrong: A Survival Guide...

One of the trickiest parts of growing your career is the following:

The leaders you work for aren't always going to be right. Council

You're going to see that they are wrong from time to time.

You're got a choice - tell them or not?

If you tell them and don't nail the landing, you will hurt your career.

If you tell them and make them trust you, your career has no limit.

If you don't tell them, you're average like everyone else.

What do you do when a leader you work for is wrong, or at the very least, you've got a different opinion/perspective?

Your should tell a leader they are wrong as needed. But the key is finding a way to tell them they're wrong in a way that makes them trust you more.

There's a couple of great ways to do this:

1--There's a problem, but it's not you - it's them. This is the strategy that tells the leader he/she is wrong, but not because they made a miscalculation, but because someone else is screwing up. You have additional information they need to consider, and you want them to have the information because you're concerned the results might not be what they envisioned.

It's not the leader, it's them. You know, the stupid people.

2--You've got additional information, and you're sharing it because you've always got your leader's back. There's some stupid people doing stupid things. You're leader's plan won't work as well with these people screwing it up.  

I've always got your back. I'm reporting that there are things in play that you might not control.

Again, it's them. Not you.

Your decision was f###ing brilliant. But the damn people with agendas are getting in the way. I'm here to make sure you have all the information and don't get hurt.

Of course, your leader may send you to fix the people/problem. But you didn't want to be average, which is why you're telling your leader he/she is wrong.

So go fix the problem. Congrats on not being average - or scared - like everyone else.


Coaching Your Ambitious Direct Report to Not Be Hated...

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
--Bill Bradley

If you're like me, you love a direct report with ambition.  People with Ambition get shit done. Do they get shit done because they believe in you as a leader or they believe in themselves?

If you're asking that question, you're concerned with the wrong things.  Just celebrate the execution that comes with ambition and stop thinking so much. (the answer, btw, is that they believe in themselves and are motivated by moving their careers forward)

One problem that is universal related to direct reports with high ambition levels is that they can become hated by their peers - the folks they work with.  It's pretty simple to see why.  The folks with ambition treat life like a scoreboard and more often than not are low team (on a behavioral assessment).  Their peers want to do good work for the most part but don't have designs to rule the world.  Friction ensues. The team views the high ambition direct report like an opportunistic freak. A brown-noser. Someone that would run over his own mother for the next promotion.

So how do you coach your high ambition direct report to play nice with the lower ambition locals?

The key in my experience is to confront the reality with the high ambition direct report - you're looking to do great things.  You're driven.  You want to go places and you're willing to compete with anyone you need to in order to get there.  Start with that level set.

Then tell them they have to get purposeful with recognition of their peers.

If a high ambition direct report starts a weekly, informal pattern of recognition of their peers, a funny thing happens.  They start to look human to those around them.

But in order to make it work, you have to confront them and convince them that work life is not a zero sum game - just because you give kudos doesn't mean a high ambition FTE won't get the promotion or the sweet project assignment.  It actually makes them stronger, because in addition to all the great individual work they do, they start to be perceived as a good to great teammate, which unlocks some doors to management/leadership roles in a way that great individual work can't.

But that doesn't happen for the high ambition direct report unless you are honest with them about this:

1.  You're high ambition and would run over grandpa to win/survive/advance.

2. You're peers think you're a dick, and that's going to limit you.

3.  You're going to fix it by recognizing those around you on a weekly basis for great work, and you're going to reinforce that recognition by sharing your thoughts informally beyond the email you send, the shout out you make in a meeting, etc.

Don't be a dick, high ambition direct report.  Share the love and you'll actually get to where you want to go sooner.

Signed - KD


Pete vs. Amy: It's the Conference Room Dust Up That Becomes Legend at Your Company...

Regardless of your politics, the Democratic Debate in Las Vegas on 2/20/20 was must see TV.

Because of policy? Nope. Watching everyone try to destroy Mike Bloomberg? Not even close.

The debate was clutch because we saw some good old fashion hate, loathing and rivalry that looks a lot what you see a couple of times a year between workplace rivals in your Amycompany. 

I'm talking, of course, about snipping between Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg. Here's the description of what we saw, we'll talk about why it feels so much like your conference room gone wrong after the jump:

The hostility building between the two Midwestern Democrats burst dramatically into the open in Nevada, as they clashed repeatedly on the debate stage and tried to slash the momentum out of each other’s campaigns. Klobuchar and Buttigieg have fought before over their experience and their political records in past debates — but the feud took a deeply personal turn.

After the Minnesota senator defended her “momentary forgetfulness” when she failed to name the president of Mexico in a recent Telemundo interview, Buttigieg leaped in, surely thinking of the criticism he’s taken from Klobuchar in recent debates.

“You’re staking your candidacy on your Washington experience. You’re on the committee that oversees border security. You’re on the committee that does trade,” Buttigieg said, turning to face Klobuchar just to his left on the stage. “You’re literally in part of the committee that’s overseeing these things and were not able to speak to literally the first thing about the politics of the country to our south.”

“Are you trying to say that I’m dumb? Or are you mocking me here, Pete?” Klobuchar shot back.

That's pure gold. If you're at the Director level or above, you've seen a version of this movie in your career. Here's the workplace-related notes...

In corporate America, Amy and Pete both work for a C-level of SVP type. Amy's been around for awhile and has done great work in her career.  Pete's only been with the company for 18 months and is 10 years earlier in his career, but in that time he's solidified his spot as a go-to guy for the SVP they both report to. There's tension because Pete has a history of framing things with himself as the savior - often at the direct or indirect expense of Amy. Pete's not really interested in paying his dues.

Then it happens. Pete overreaches. Amy stumbles on some issue in the staff meeting, and Pete tries to pounce, talking down to her and pointing out the miss isn't great.

And Amy has absolutely ####ing none of it. She fires back. "I guess I'm dumb, right Pete?"

Suddenly the smoldering loathing is is front of everyone with outright hate. Let it soak in observers, you don't get these moments too often.

Here's how it works in the real world. Pete's boneheaded play causes the SVP to distance himself from Pete a bit. Pete was a dick, and the male SVP values Amy for all her contributions and the last thing he's going to do is side with Pete. He's been through the inclusion training. Pete just left the inside circle.

Amy's good at what she does. She remains in the inside circle, because although her reaction wasn't great, it was human and even warranted.

The rest of us in that conference room? We huddle up and can't stop talking about it.

LEGEND. 


THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: E2 – MCLOVIN: WORKPLACE DATING AND HOOKUPS

NOTE FROM KD: Back with episode 2 of “The HR Famous Podcast”. Take a listen and we’ll be back on a weekly basis. See player below (email subscribers click through if you don’t see it), and HR Famous - e2please hit iTunesSpotify and Google Play to subscribe so you get notified whenever there’s a new show on your phone. Click here for Episode 1, where we talk about the title of the show and share a bunch of stories about being less than famous.

In Episode 2 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee, Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn get together to discuss Workplace McLovin – relationships, dating and hookups that occur inside your company between employees. The HR Famous team tells stories and talks about the role of HR and whether there is a need for deep policies to protect your company when people fall in love, as well as when Outlook Exchange and a digital copier are involved. Email subscribers click through if you don’t see the player below or click here for a direct link or hit iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

Show Highlights:

3:00 – The gang discuses KD’s choice of hotels, whether you can say “white” these days and if white is a primary color.

4:00 – JLee lays down the science behind how long you can say “Happy New Year” and Tim and KD turn it into an manager access issue and a discussion of the Chinese New Year.

5:50 – KD kicks off the topic of C-level McLovin and dating in the workplace with a review of the McDonalds CEO and the Alphabet/Google Legal Counsel going down for relationships at work.

8:40 – Tim and JLee discuss whether companies and the HR leaders need to be the relationship police, including risk management, positional power and more.

13:20 – The gang gathers around the campfire and listens to the gripping story of young KD’s first exposure to C-Level McLovin(s) and KD advocates for relationship policies being like a DUI Checkpoint. Tim and JLee weigh in with policy impact, including level considerations, reporting relationships, asking for waivers and potentially asking people to leave the company or change jobs as a result of falling in love.

31:00 – Tim tells his story from Applebees, which is epic and should not be missed, including perceived benefits that don’t have a Summary Plan Description or an Explanation of Benefits.

34:00 – KD breaks down another McLovin C-Level story that felt like the Matrix, and tells the gang why all McLovin sightings seem to happen around elevators.

Subscribe today at iTunesSpotify and Google Play.


Manager Training: The Stars Are Never Who You Think They Are, But They're Right In Front of You...

I'm blessed to live a portfolio life. In addition to being a CHRO and partner at the recruiting firm Kinetix, I get to veer from the recruiting/Talent Acquisition world in various HR consulting opportunities, as well as deliver leadership/manager training through my BOSS Leadership Training Series.

This week, I was onsite with a great company looking to help managers get better related to interviewing candidates and making the right selection for open positions Hr-consulting-splash

As the primary facilitator, I was both honored and humbled. Honored because the client was great, the people were authentic and we had a great day. Humbled because what managers have to do to be successful is incredibly hard. 

As you might expect, we did live practice with real candidates on the interviewing skills we trained on.  And there it was, the reality and lesson that's present every time I get to train managers of people on any module in the Boss series:

The Stars Are Never Who You Think They Are, But They're Right In Front of You

What do I mean by that?  Simple - You expect the most experienced people in any manager training class to do the best in role play or skill practice. At times, that's true - but WOW - the most gratifying part of any training class I do is when the more junior people in the class absolute ROCK IT.

It always happens. There are always 1-2 junior people in every training class I do that are superstars related to the tools we're providing.

Those less experienced, often younger stars blow me away by displaying the following in role play:

--They're completely ****ing natural when it comes to stage banter and building trust/relationships. They're fluid, natural and weave what they're trying to get out of the employee session into a conversation that puts the person in front of them with ease.

--They think on their feet. Conversations with people who report to you are never easy. Employees object. They sidetrack you. They try and generally screw up your game.  The stars I'm talking about have a natural ability to bring the conversation back to what's important.  They don't get lost.

--They are technically superior. Got a coaching tool? Behavioral interviewing technique? Doing goal setting? These stars can memorize the outline of the tool and they always make sure they get what they need - and more. 

The most gratifying part of doing leadership/managerial training is when these unexpected stars emerge. It happens in every class I teach, so much so it's unexpected yet expected. I go into the class saying to myself, "OK, who's going to be the underdog out of this cast of characters who kicks everyone's ass?"

I'll leave you with this - if you've done managerial training and haven't seen this trend emerge, you're likely not doing enough skill practice/role play. That's dangerous since people in your training must fail with you in class in order to have the confidence to attempt the new skills with their direct reports/teams. Adoption of the skills your teaching requires in class role play.  Yes, they hate it and will cheer if you don't make them do it. But your adoption rate of the skills you're teaching drops by over 50% if you don't do skill practice/role play as part of your training.

The best part of doing leadership/manager training is the underdog star who emerges. 

You're a superstar, kid. I hope your company realizes what they have. I know I told them who you are, so you got that going for you - which is nice.


SUPER BOWL BIG THOUGHT: We Expect the Great Leaders to be in a Bunker, Not Domesticated...

Leadership is a funny thing in many ways. 

For example, the better leader you are, the more you get stereotyped, and those stereotypes usually involve: Bill

--Crazy work ethic

--Never seen them weak

--Always distant enough to make tough calls, or willing to make those calls

--Uber competitive

--Keeps people guessing 

--Everyone assumes they're in the lab cooking up the next thing

That's why it was so hard for me when a friend sent me the picture that appears to the right of this post of Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots. It's a stretch to call me a Patriots fan, but like Alabama and Nick Saban, you have to admire the track record, as well as the total commitment and legendary stories of obsession/long hours/evil mastermindedness (it's a word now).

But evil masterminds don't show up to a beach party that's going to be heavily photographed in attire that makes them look awkward and (gasp) normal, as well as duds that run counter to the legend.

I get that great leaders are people too. Take a look at the picture to the right (email subscribers, click through if you can't see it) and tell me if you can see any of the following great ones in similar attire - Steve Jobs, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Jeff Bezos, etc.

Is it unfair to say that great leaders can't let their guard down and be normal? Absolutely.

But we expect the great ones to be untouchable - to transcend being normal. We expect them to be in a bunker, not acting domesticated like the rest of us.

The end is near, Patriots fans. Your evil genius has left the bunker, tasted sunlight and a tropical drink in Miami, and the edge is less sharp than it once was.

KD out.

 

 


Deflection Devices: When Direct Reports Go Nuclear and Suggest You're The Problem...

If you're the manager I think you are, you're not hiding from providing feedback and coaching to your direct reports.

But a funny thing happens on the way to you being manager of the year. Your people may not take the coaching - they may have reasons why they're doing what they're doing. Hazmat

In the BOSS Leadership Series Coaching Module, we call these things SIDETRACKS.  You attempt to coach, and the reasons/excuses roll back to you from the direct report.  As we discuss in the BOSS series, these sidetracks include variations of the following:

--What about them? (Others are doing the same thing)

--What about you? (You're doing the same thing, or preventing them from resolving)

--My tools suck! (I don't have the systems/support I need to do it)

--The customer/client sucks! (it's impossible to deal with the situation)

--My life is messed up! (I have a lot of sh#t going on. Wanna hear about it?)

All of these sidetracks can be dealt with by acknowledging them when real and coming back to personal accountability regardless of the challenges.

But there's a more serious item you have to be ready for as a manager when giving feedback for improvement to your people. I call them Deflection Devices and they're harder to absorb than the sidetracks listed above.

Deflection Devices go beyond normal coaching sidetracks. Deflection devices are designed to sting the manager directly, and to make you think twice before you coach again.

Deflection Devices are designed to place doubt in your head as a manager, to make you feel substandard. They're mean and if your direct report uses them with you, designed to MAKE YOU COACH LESS BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT TO BE FRAMED IN THAT WAY.

How's it happen? Easy. You're coaching a person on your team, and they decide to "be transparent" and give YOU HARD FEEDBACK. Common nuclear Deflection Devices include the following:

--You're weak and get run over in the organization

--You're a political animal in a negative way

--You're a micromanager

--People talk about you in less than glowing terms behind your back

--You don't have the background to managing the function you're managing

Deflection Devices go beyond the normal "what about you?" sidetracks. They're designed to feel personal and signal that the real problem is you at a deep level - not them.

It takes an aggressive sort to drop a nuclear deflection device at you while you're having a performance/coaching conversation of any sort. 

Don't give in - if anything, coach harder, my friends. Put on your HazMat suit.


What Does Being an HR Capitalist Mean?

Had a couple of people reach out to me in the last week with the express purpose of getting help to describe to others what being an HR Capitalist means.

It's a cool question. I like "HR Capitalist" as an identifier, and while all great HR pros and leaders aren't HR Capitalists (there's more than one way to be good at HR), I do believe that all HR Capitalists are great HR pros.

The readers that reached out to me were both non-HR execs who needed help describing to others what good HR looked like. It's a cool compliment that they reached out, and their question is humbling and one I take seriously but don't pretend to know the answer to.

For me, being an HR Capitalist means you identify yourself as an HR pro who does the following things naturally:

--Understand the business your company is in better than some or all of your peers in other departments.

--Understand the truth that the best talent wins, and anything you can do to help your company upgrade talent is win/win.

--You're not afraid to admit that recruiting isn't a burden, it's a necessity as part of your identity as an HR/Talent pro.

--You are a source of counsel for employees, peers and the C-level alike. They all know you're practical as hell, don't sugarcoat your feelings and generally give great advice. They also know you can put the conversation they have with you on complete lockdown from a confidentiality perspective.

--Understand the need for rules and process, but you don't let it run your life as an HR pro.

--Try to say "yes" more than "no" as a HR pro, even if the "yes" is a list of things that the person in front of you might have to do to in order for you to help them.

Those are the highlights, but I wrote a book that explores the lifestyle of an HR Capitalist as well - The 9 Faces of HR. 

9 facees

In The 9 Faces of HR, my forward to the book is a bit of a private letter to the people who do great HR, many of whom are HR Capitalists. I'll leave this post with a clip from the forward to The 9 Faces of HR:

If I’ve learned one thing over twenty years as a manager, director, and VP of HR for big and small companies alike, it’s that great HR matters. While HR has long been considered a backwater by the salty characters from other departments, we all encounter in our daily corporate lives great HR pros who have a way of making people standup and take notice, often causing the following reaction: “WTF?”

When the non-believers curse, they don’t curse because they find the HR pro in front of them non-credible. They curse because they didn’t expect to be challenged. And that’s the whole point—non-believers love bad HR. They love bad HR because it means they either do what they want as quickly as possible, or inaction and delays get blamed on someone else.

Great HR, on the other hand, is a revenue producer. No, I don’t have the return on investment (ROI) study on that—stop reading now if you need that. I didn’t need the stat sheet to know that Steph Curry was different or that Carrie Underwood was going to be the most successful American Idol contestant. Like great HRPros, Steph and Carrie were just different. They had “it.”

Great HR pros and HR Capitalists have "it". If you've ever been told that "you're not like other HR Pros I've known", odds are you do HR in an unexpected way.  

Being told that also means there's a high likelihood I would define you as an HR Capitalist.


"PET or THREAT": When Leaders Try to Formally Mentor Those Who Don't Want the Relationship...

I think we can all agree that mentoring relationships in corporate America are a good thing. But like anything that's good, mentoring can get dicey if not used in the right way. From formal mentoring programs to mentoring relationships that happen organically, the devil's in the details.

I was reminded of this fact when I read the tweet by Tressie McMillan, which provides a WOC view of Liesa certain type of mentoring gone wrong. If you can't see the tweets below (usually my email subscribers), click through to get to the website, because you don't want to miss this. In fact, you may want to go to my website, then click on the tweet to the get the entire series of tweets, read the comments, etc. 

Did you get the vibe? Great. Let's start with the obvious - I'm not qualified to comment on the state of forced mentoring that gets thrust upon WOC. I don't have that identity or experience.

But I've been around a lot of mentoring programs, and I can tell you that a leader trying to create a formal mentoring relationship without the help of OD, HR or a formal program can come across as incredibly forced. It's only natural that the recipients of this type of mentoring advance might feel a bit suspicious. Add in the context of white female leader offering to formally mentor a WOC without the help of a true program, and there's no doubt that it can get weird.

"PET OR THREAT" is an incredible tagline for unwanted mentoring advances. In the context that Cottom provides in the tweets, you either say yes to allowing someone to mentor you, or you say no (hard to do for sure) and you identify yourself as a threat. Crazy stuff, but true. 

It reminded me of the following forced mentoring scene from House of Lies. If you don't see the video player below, just click here. It's a great scene that features an exec attempting to neutralize someone she considers a threat by offering to mentor them. Incredible. From Cottom's tweets, this happens more than we might otherwise believe.

So why am I writing about this and what value can I possibly provide since I'm not a POC?

I'm here to report on the tweets from Cottom that I found interesting, but more importantly to share mentoring types of arrangements that are available and to judge how effective they are.  

With that in mind, here's my list of mentoring arrangements, ranked from worst to first:

4--Forced mentoring relationship without controls, where an exec read about mentoring and decided to do her/his own program. This could be effective, but even if the intent is pure (unlike Cottom's tweets and my House of Lies share above), the exec likely doesn't know what she's doing. The attendee is likely to say "um, sure?" to the offer.  Forced to an uncomfortable degree. Picture the exec doing the robot, that's how stiff it is. At the far end of the spectrum, it's PET or THREAT.

3--Formal mentoring programs. OD and HR are involved and there's a process. Let's move on because all of you get this one.

2--Informal mentoring relationship where no one EVER SAYS THE WORDS, "I'M SO HAPPY TO BE YOUR MENTOR". Want to know how to determine if an informal mentor is legit? It's easy- they never say the word "mentor". It's a mindset, not a program.

1--A Boss with direct reports. Yep, surprise! The best mentors are, were and always will be the boss that was our Best Boss Ever. We've all have a Best Boss Ever, and that person delivered more mentoring value that anyone outside of the Boss/Direct Report could possibly achieve.  Note that most bosses aren't naturals and can't achieve this boss/mentor status - that's why we have mentoring programs. But the best boss you've ever had - he or she was a f***ing awesome mentor - but no one ever mentioned the word mentor.

That's my list. Remember the whole Pet or Threat thing - It's meaningful. Then remember the best mentoring relationships never or rarely use the word "mentor". They just naturally happen.