HR Generalists (at all levels) Win By Adding Specialist Learning Paths to their Portfolio...

I'm on the record as believing the HR Generalist (CHRO to early career) is the most important component in the HR machine at any company. Of course, I love HR Specialists too. Shout out to the specialists! You're doing what you love and you are important! We love you!

But the HR Generalist is the one who's in the conference room when s*** has gone completely sideways, and they're also the one who business leaders at all levels and functional areas confide in when they have seemingly insurmountable issues on their team or in their business.

What's that? Of course Legal is in the room at some point, but they're the second or third call in times of distress. A trusted HR generalist who has developed a relationship of trust is always the first call.

So here we are - 2020. What a mess of a year. But if you're an HR Generalist, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first? OK, the good news followed by the bad news:

1--Good News! In a post-COVID world, good to great HR Generalists are worth more and increasing in value versus their specialist peers.

The logic behind this reality is pretty simple. Headcount has shrunk in many HR functions as furloughs and layoffs have occurred, and as a result the market is placing a premium on Generalist skills. CHROs are rebuilding teams around the Generalist skill set. Don't take my word for it, just take a listen to these podcasts I did with long-time HR headhunter Kathy Rapp and HR pros Jessica Lee/Tim Sackett (click on the links if you don't see the podcast players below).

The challenge in this good news is that you're going to be asked to do more with less as a Generalist. Better than not having a job, for sure. But you're going to have to invest and work at developing your skills to stay relevant in the years to come, and to ensure you're making the career progress you'd like. Interestingly enough, a lot of what you'll need to add is specialist-related, because the best way to be a great generalist is to slowly but surely add specialist skills to your portfolio.

This realty brings us to the bad news, aka "the challenge":

2--Bad News! To stay on top as an HR Generalist in a post-COVID world, you need to understand how the world is changing and seek training & development that will make you "critical" to those you work for.

This is pretty simple. It's called being strategic with your own development and also being intellectually curious. You seek development to make yourself more valuable, secure and hopefully, engaged with what you do in the world of HR.

It's always better to be motivated to get better via deep interest in what you do. But if you're not curious about where HR is going, then you have to invest to stay one step ahead of the masses, my friend.

OK - let's assume you agree with me. Where do you start to seek training and development that will make you critical for the future?  I always recommend you start with a conversation with the person you work for. Whether that's a C-level, a CHRO or a Director of HR, having a chat about what L&D opportunities they think are important for your future has multiple effects. It cements a connection that you sought their feedback, which creates a perception of investment in you. It also makes them more likely to pay for it.  Advantage: You.

Of course, you can't just walk into that meeting without some prep, right? Here are a couple of big ideas on the best way to map specialist skills to add to your generalist portfolio:

--Look for trends that your company/industry/boss feels are important for the future. I wrote a few weeks ago on 21 Future HR Jobs (click link to review), and as it turns out, I'm not sure any of them are standalone jobs in the next decade. But I'm 100% sure many of the trends covered will be important for high-end, high achieving HR Generalists. You likely could develop a short list of 3-4 of these to guide your path.

--Then match those trends and look at resources like SHRM which is actively creating high-end continuing education for HR pros. For best results using SHRM as you seek to build out your Generalist knowledge and portfolio, do this:

--Flip through SHRM's Fall catalog to find your 2020 program fit(s) and map your future.

--Take a 6-question quiz to receive a curated list of recommended programs, based on your interests, learning style, and expertise.

HR Generalists are in the driver's seat in a post-COVID world. But any high performing HR pro knows they have to stay current and continually add to their portfolio to stay on top and get the career results they desire.

Map it out, invest and go make it happen, my friends!


What Are The Compensation Questions Your Managers Should Be Able to Answer?

Putting together an online version of our BOSS Training (Compensation Module) for a client this week, and while our training on the topic is great, there's no question a fully functioning manager or people has to be really knowledgeable on the comp front to successfully answer all tough questions they're going to face.

What questions, you ask? He's a few of the infamous comp questions we base our manager training Boss Redesign - to the right
around on this topic:

--“Why doesn’t our company pay people enough? Can I get a raise?"

--“What is the pay range for my job?”

--“Why are you asking me to do things that aren’t part of my job? Do I get paid extra?”

--“What type of salary do you need to take this job and make a move from your current company?” (LEGAL ALERT. LOL)

--“I worked my tail off last year and all I got was a 3% increase. What do I need to do to get a big increase this year? Why should I try?”

--“Mary just told me what she makes and it’s a bunch more than I make. How is that fair? I need to be raised to her pay rate ASAP!”

--“Glassdoor shows that most companies pay people in my position more than I’m currently making. Why are we so cheap?”

--"I heard Google pays mailroom boys 100K." (not a question, but a test!)

Damn. There's a lot on a manager's plate related to be ready for comp questions from their team. If you have down time during COVID, it's a great time to think about doing some learning sessions to increase readiness and KSAs with your managers of people.

Introduction of basic concepts +role play/skill practice = success.


Executive Coaches: When The Company Pays the Bills, Watch Out...

Let's say you're a rising star with a lot of potential, but a few things to work out. Your company finds you an executive coach, makes the introduction and pays the bills.

You probably need to be wary of who the coach works for. You'd be reasonable to ask that question, Twitterbut also to dig into the details/expectations of when, where and how the coach would communicate on your progress to others at your company, noted issues you're working through, roadblocks and more.

Here's a great excerpt from a book I'm reading - Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton. In this excerpt, noted Silicon Valley Executive Coach Bill Campbell is noted as being his student's biggest booster...and carving him up behind the scenes.

Here's the excerpt detailing his coaching of Ev Willams, one of the founders of Twitter:

“He (Ev) held his weekly meetings with Campbell, receiving his boisterous pep talk. “You’re doing a f**king great job!” Campbell would bellow. At board meetings Campbell would appear to listen to Ev’s presentations on the state of the company. After Ev’s sermons were done, the coach would clap loudly and hug his protégé, proclaiming again to everyone in the room that Ev was “doing a f**king great job!” and asking them to clap (none of this was a usual occurrence in a corporate board meeting). Then, after Ev left the room, proud that his mentor thought he was doing such a great job, Campbell would shout at the group: “You gotta get rid of this f**king guy! He doesn’t know what the f**k he’s doing!””

— Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton

LOL. Palace intrigue. It should be noted that Ev was matched with Campbell by a Twitter board member, and also that Campbell's Wikipedia page notes that he coached Jack Dorsey and Dick Costello at Twitter, but not Ev.

Who does the executive coach work for? Here's a hint: if you're not paying the coach and don't have clear rules of engagement on disclosure, the coach doesn't work for you. You might want to be a bit wary in those circumstances.

PS: Can I get an executive coach to stand up and get the applause going when I present in a normal conference room? THAT WOULD BE AWESOME, except for the part where he/she totally blades me when I leave the room.


COVID-19: It's Probably Time You Doubled Down Professionally On You...

Here we are - calendar dates vary widely, but by mid week, I'll be entering week 4 of my personal decision to shelter in place. I say personal decision because like a lot of states, mine was a bit late to the whole "mandate" thing.

COVID-19 sucks. I hope you're healthy. If you're not or you're taking care of people who aren't healthy, Hader godspeed to you.  

With that in mind, I'm going to switch gears and talk about everybody else. If you're still employed as a white collar professional, you fall into one of 2 camps regardless of the industry or your profession (HR and recruiting pros aren't exempt from what I'm about to say):

1--You've got a lot to do. Based on the circumstances and your company, your hair is on fire and you're working long hours with no breaks. Thank you. Nice job.

2--You don't have a lot to do. Many of you will refuse to put yourself in this category, mostly because it's dangerous thing to admit to yourself - and it comes with current and future responsibilities. But for any business with declining results, no one buying and an employer fortunate enough financially to retain you - many of you are in this group.

If you fall into group #2, this post is for you. I write it out of respect, with compassion, etc - but mostly to give you some tough love.

So you're still employed as a white collar professional and you don't have as much to do. You've probably got at least another month at home and some hours to fill.

Stop reading the news, get off your a**, out of the fetal position and use the hours you have - as well as the relative peace - and invest in you.

Get busy building the projects, work product or skills you always said you would do/chase if you weren't so busy.

The next month is a tale of two professionals in your industry/at your career level. You both have the same educational background, relative skills and career attainment at this stage in your career.

One of you is going to stay in the fetal position over the next 3 months (regardless of when you return to the office, things are going to stay slow, I'm calling it a minimum of 3 months, more likely 6), talking about how bad everything is, bitching about their 401k, etc.

The other one? That person is less available on demand to hop on a social Zoom call or a Slack/Glip/Whatever chat like everyone else.

The reason that other person is a bit less available? Because they're in the lab, taking blocks of time to work on the aforementioned projects, work product or skills that will add value to their company or themselves after this thing ends and the economy recovers.

The person in the lab becomes at least 5% more valuable to their company and the marketplace at the end of this 3-month period.

COVID-19 and what it's done to the world is awful. Most of us have some form of fear on a variety of levels. Take care of yourself and others, enjoy some time being physically close and present to your family, and meditate a bit.

But if you have down periods at work, It's time to flip the switch. Start planning and working for the June 1st or September 1st version of you.

Being 5%-10% better than your peers might make all the difference in the world over the 12 months - for you and your company.

Stay healthy. Do you.


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


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.


FAKE IT: Acting Interested in Corporate America Is a Succession Factor

Who's to know if your soul will fade at all
The one you sold to fool the world
You lost your self-esteem along the way
Yeah

--"Fake it" by Seether

One of the biggest things that separates contenders from pretenders in Corporate America - across all functional areas - is the ability to fake interest and attention.

You're in a 7-hour training class.  Next week you're in a 3 hour ops review.  Boredom happens.

If Darwin were a noted OD thought leader in business, he would write that an adaptation that allows some to survive and thrive is the ability to fake interest and attention with body language, eye contact and just enough participation to make it seem like they're engaged.

Does it matter?  Only if you want to get further than you are now. Competition is fierce. The real players in corporate America look engaged - at all times - even when they aren't.  

Look around at your next meeting.  You'll know what I'm talking about.  Some people have this type of opposable thumb, some don't.

Of course, faking it leads to learning because you're dialed in juuuuuust enough not to miss important shit. 

Seether video below, people.  Worth your time but a little NSFW. Happy 2020... (email subscribers click through for video)


Let's Look at the Numbers Behind Amazon's Program to Retrain 100,000 Employees...

Odds are you’ve heard that Amazon plans to make a huge investment in retraining its existing workforce, partly due to the displacement of employees by emerging automation and A.I., and partly due to scarcity of talent in key job families.

I want to take a look at the Amazon re-skilling investment with a critical eye, but first here’s a primer of what Amazon has planned for the uninitiated: Amazon

"Amazon (AMZN) today pledged to upskill 100,000 of its employees across the United States, dedicating over $700 million to provide people across its corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores, and transportation network with access to training programs that will help them move into more highly skilled roles within or outside of Amazon.

Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 pledge invests in a range of new upskilling programs to serve employees from all backgrounds and Amazon locations. Programs include Amazon Technical Academy, which equips non-technical Amazon employees with the essential skills to transition into, and thrive in, software engineering careers; Associate2Tech, which trains fulfillment center associates to move into technical roles regardless of their previous IT experience; Machine Learning University, offering employees with technical backgrounds the opportunity to access machine learning skills via an on-site training program; Amazon Career Choice, a pre-paid tuition program designed to train fulfillment center associates in high-demand occupations of their choice; Amazon Apprenticeship, a Department of Labor certified program that offers paid intensive classroom training and on-the-job apprenticeships with Amazon; and AWS Training and Certification, which provide employees with courses to build practical AWS Cloud knowledge that is essential to operating in a technical field."

700M is a lot of money. Let’s do some simple math and then start evaluating how to the investment could intensify if it wasn’t spread evenly (which is never is):

--First the simple match.  700M across 100,000 impacted employees equals a base investment in retraining/upskilling of $7,000 per employee. Compare that to the average annual per employee investment in Learning and Development cited by Bersin ($1,200), and the investment seems solid above and beyond what Amazon already does.

--Now imagine a world where the investment isn’t spread out equally across all employees.  Since the Amazon upskilling initiative will have a voluntary vibe to it (similar to AT&T’s upskilling efforts require the employee to proactively opt in and spend their own time preparing their skills for the future), it’s not hard to imagine the opt in rate won’t approach anywhere near 100%. 

--Spread the 700M investment over 50% of the employees, and you’ve got an investment of $14,000 per employee.

--Spread the 700M investment over 30% of the targeted employees, and you’ve got an investment of over $23,000 per employee.

The devil, as it always is, is in the details.  It's a cool program. Will Amazon spend the same total amount of money if just 30% of the impacted employees opt in to the program? The presence of pre-paid tuition and certification programs suggests no.

The voluntary, opt-in nature of the Amazon Upskilling 2025 program is necessary. After all, employees impacted by A.I. and automation have to WANT to improve their long term career prospects. That's why so much of this program will have to be completed after work hours.

That's going to sound like a second job (unpaid as well) to a lot of employees. That means Amazon likely won't spend as much as projected.

If you were in Vegas, you'd take the "under" related to the bet of whether Amazon will spend more or less than 700M by the year 2025 on this program.


PODCAST: e3 - This is HR - Employee MBA Debt, Employer Brand Lies, EEOC Male Dress Code Hardships

(Email subscribers, if you don't see the podcast player, click here to see the podcast)

In this episode of THIS IS HR, Tim Sackett (President of HRU), Jessica Lee (VP of Brand Talent, Marriott) and Kris Dunn (CHRO at Kinetix) cover the following topics:

--recent research from BusinessWeek that shows Top Tier MBA programs saddle 50% of their graduates with six-figure debt. The gang discusses whether they would push high potentials in their organizations on that traditional path with that set of economics in mind (3:30)

--a recent HBR op/ed piece that attacks how your company is approaching employer brand, citing an industry of 40 companies solely focused on the EB market, a number the gang thought was too low (15:12)

--Recent EEOC guidance that says males may be discriminated against via the use of traditional dress codes, guidance which the gang loves and hates at the same time (26:12). 

KD closes it out by going to the mailbag and getting a simple question about the thing HR Pros do to build culture that usually doesn't work (31:26)

BONUS: Disclosure that JLee isn't even in America on the 4th of July.  

What could go wrong?  Take a listen!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BROOOOOADDDDWAYYYYYY!!!!!!!