Time to Transform Your Personal HR Brand By Saying Yes! (Even When You Mean No!)

Let’s talk about your personal brand inside the world of HR.

More to the point, let’s talk about saying “yes” as an HR leader/HR pro. The biggest stereotype the world has about HR is that we’re the corporate people police, there to say HYFno to everything we can – regardless of our level.

Our function declines a lot of things inside companies that need a hard “no.” The problem, is that a large percentage of our profession is behaviorally wired to say no—to everything.

And that, my friends, is bad for the brand. Your brand, the one that’s supposed to print money for you the rest of your life.

Being behaviorally wired to say no means you don’t say yes when you should. The people in our profession who are genetically programmed to say no are often the first people your peers in other departments experienced in HR, and as a result, most of the world hasn’t experienced a key HR pro or leader looking to say “yes.”

Those people suck. They’re bad for business.

But Kris (you say), it’s complicated. I feel you, HR.

How do you say yes more as an HR leader or a line HR manager? It’s simple:

1--Listen to someone’s problems. As Jay-Z and ASAP Rocky have explained to us in the last decade, the business leaders around you have many, many problems.

2--When they ask you for permission to do something that feels icky and risky, resist the urge to say “no.”

3--After fighting off the surge of blood to your throat to avoid saying “no,” say “yes.”

4--After saying yes, quickly follow the affirmative with a list of things you need them to do to make the “yes” a reality.

Need an example? Let’s help a manager looking to fire an employee we’ll name “Shirley”:

Manager: “Shirley’s killing me. She’s gotta go.”

You (the HR leader/HR pro): <huge gulp as you resist the urge to say no>

You: “I agree, if you say she’s gotta go, she’s gotta go. You have my support, but here’s what I need from you in the next thirty days to get it done.”

Instead of saying “no, you can’t, because you haven’t done this,” you said, “I agree, here’s the plan.”

Breathe deeply, control freaks of the world.

You said yes instead of no. That’s freaking huge, and here’s why - you interrupted a ten-year pattern of that manager thinking HR was going to tell them no. The list of things they need to do to make it happen is exactly the same, but the difference is that you just agreed to partner with them to make it happen.

Saying yes doesn’t mean “go crazy, manager.” Saying yes means “I support what you want, so here’s what I need to help you get that done.”

Advantage: You and your personal brand in HR.

This Just In: A Lot of People Are Counting on HR to Say No

So you said yes, rocked their world, and ceased to become a corporate cop. Oddly enough, some of these managers are actually looking for you to say no.

They’ve grown addicted to you saying no because it means they don’t have to deal with their own s***.  You’re the excuse, the reason they can’t do proactive work on behalf of the mother ship.

Here’s a list of things that the managers in your company are counting on you to say no to:

--Firing low performers. It’s just easier if you say no, especially if they haven’t been manager of the year to the person in question.

--Paying high performers more money. “Want more money? I’d love to give it to you, but any pay increase request out of cycle is going to be denied by HR.”

--Giving the highest rating on a performance review. One of my favorites is hearing the following from employees: “My manager said she’s been told that no one can get the top rating.” Grrrr.

--Proactively coaching their employees on tough issues. We ask to be in those coaching meetings too much. At times that’s for good reason, but our need to be part of tough conversations makes the manager move slower, or not at all.

Some of you are looking at that list and thinking, “That seems like a level or two below where I’m at.” Don’t kid yourself, if you’re an HR Leader, you’re saying no too much and being a cop for those that won’t deal with their own problems.

The managers and leaders you support have grown addicted to HR saying no. When you say no, it means they’re off the hook and don’t have to have the hard conversations. They simply report your “no” to the requesting employee or candidate.

They love when you say no, because the alternative is messy. If you say yes and quickly follow it by what you need to execute the “yes”, the burden is on them.

I say screw being the fall guy/gal for bad managers. I say let’s embrace saying “yes” with a bunch of conditions that looks like the Treaty of Versailles and see what happens.

Start saying yes to change the narrative of how you’re viewed as a leader and build a better brand as an HR leader/HR pro.

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Looking for help in enhancing your brand as an HR Leader? I recommend you take a look at SHRM Education Spring 2020 Catalog and pay close attention to these programs and e-learning modules:

  • 32 – Consultation: Honing your HR Business Leader Skills
  • 33 – Investing in People with Data-Driven Solutions
  • 34 – Powerful Leaders – Transform your personal brand and executive presence. Strategies for Leadership in HR.
  • 35 – Future of Work Fast Track

 Use the code “HRRocks” when registering for a Spring or Summer SHRM Educational Program and receive $200 off until May 15th! (excludes SHRM specialty credentials and SHRM SCP/CP prep courses)


ASK KRISTIAN DUNN, LIFE COACH: What's The Equivalent of the Informal Office "Hey" During the COVID Lockdown?

Capitalist Note: From time to time, one of my high-level friends will ask me a question that causes me to cease being Kris Dunn (HR Leader and HR Pro) and morph into Kristian Dunn (life coach/executive coach, my real name btw). These are their questions and my well thought out answers worth at least $500/hour (ha). Submit your questions to Kristian Dunn, Life Coach, by messaging him on LinkedIn.

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Dear Kristian:

I'm an executive who should break through to the C-level in a major company in the next 5 years. I find that during the COVID-era working remote I'm struggling to find informal Life coachplaces to connect with my team. What's the equivalent of the informal office "Hey" during the COVID lockdown?

Signed - Janet

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Janet - 

Great question. The short answer is that there are no natural informal "hey" moments in COVID lockdown life. You're not going to walk by someone on the way to the ladies room, in the break room or in the lobby. There are no random encounters when you're working from your plush, Pottery Barn-styled home office at the home McMansion and your direct report is set up at their Kitchen table and has their 3-year old throwing Cheerios at them the majority of the day.

Your instincts are right. Having no informal moments may make you seem unapproachable, and you're right to understand that could be career limiting for you if this whole pandemic thing goes on too long. The verbatims that could be written on your 2nd quarter engagement flash report from your directs and 2nd and 3rd level team members include the following:

--"Janet feels a little aloof"

--"I sometimes wonder about Janet's EQ"

--"You know that boss on The Devil wears Prada"?  That's how Janet makes me feel"

--"Janet's kind of cold bitch. I'm not feeling it"

Any and all of these are like kryptonite to your career. That means you're going to have to work a little harder in the COVID period to seem approachable. Simply put, here's your reality:

"During the COVID lockdown, there are no random encounters. That means your job is to plan random encounters/engagement that provide the appearance of warmth and empathy"

Not sure how to do that?  Ideas include the following:

--Text each direct report 2x a week with an article that would interest them that shows you're connected. Ask your assistant for help if you're not sure what that is.

--Message each person (Slack, Glip, whatever) who reports to your direct reports once every two weeks with some recognition for something they did well. Ask your direct reports how their teams are doing in your 1/1s for fodder for this activity.

--Share a story on your team calls to show you're struggling just like everyone else. Note: Talking about how your direct connection to Fiber at your house seems a little slow these days is not the story to use. Remember most of your team has a cable modem, not Fiber to the house.

Bottom line - there are no chance encounters during the COVID period. You can't 1/1 meeting or Zoom team happy hour your way out of this one. Do the work if you want to appear warmer than you are during COVID.

Yours in leadership and life, 

Kristian Dunn


Just Your Customary Friday Quote from Vladimir Lenin on The HR Capitalist...

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

--Vladimir Lenin Lenin

Uhh...well, I don't use quotes from Lenin often on a blog called the HR Capitalist.

But this one seemed meaningful and like one I should ponder for a few minutes. H/T Harry Joiner who reminded me of this quote.

The fact that Lenin said this is proof that if you say enough stuff, eventually something profound comes out.

#CovidLockdownDay28

 


The HR Famous Podcast: e9 - For HR Leaders, "1" is the Loneliest Number...

In Episode 9 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee and Tim Sackett (Temporarily “Furloughed” from HR Famous, KD) come together and talk about what it’s like to be an HR Leader during the COVID-19 Crisis.

The team talks about how home/work life has changed for them the last month and the importance of finding your support system. We acknowledge the challenges up ahead for HR leaders and look to past experiences during times of crisis. Listen as the team discusses how industries are relying on each other, the birth of “Gen C” and how to implement fluid strategies during constant change.

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!!! Listen on iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

1:30 - Jessica is Back! Kris is now furloughed and Tim and JLee talk about how young they look! Tim says we hate hiring two types of people: Old people and Fat people!

4:00 – Things the bug you about your WFH partners! JLee dishes on what bugs her most about BobbyJ, and Tim shares an amazing drink recipe. Tim found out his house isn’t big enough for WFH for him, since the rest of his family already took all the good spots!

9:00 – What’s it like to be an HR Leader in the world of COVID? JLee believes being an HR leader today can be lonely and isolating when we are dealing with so much heavy stuff. So, Tim and JLee talk through how do we support each other and find coping mechanisms. Everyone thinks HR knows the plan, which adds so much stress to us and our teams. Tim comes clean that he and KD talk every day!

13:10 – It’s okay to be human during a crisis in HR. It’s super hard to prepare for the crap side of HR. Laying folks off, delivering bad news, etc. We all love the great side of HR, but the last decade has made most of us forget about the bad side of HR. Tim gives stories from the trenches when he was considered the Grim Reaper!

17:25 – All Industries rely on each other in times of crisis. The big question is do we become more global or less global from the fallout of all of this. We rely on other countries for so much, but we now know we might need some America-based supply chains to protect ourselves in major crisis.

19:38 GenC is created! We are now calling kids who grow up during Coronavirus times – GenC’s! Tim talks about how his GenZ sons are graduating college in a bad economy and how that has a real impact for those kids who went through primary school during the Great Recession and now come out to the real work world during a pandemic.

23:15 – Fluidity with how you lead. In times of crisis we still need to plan, but you better be fluid with those plans because the only thing we know right now about leadership is as soon as you think you have it down, things will change!

25:15 – Tim gives a shout out to friend of HR Famous Trish McFarland! Introverts you need to contact your extroverted friends and make sure they’re doing okay, and JLee tells Tim he needs to watch Tiger King on Netflix!


#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.