Taking Sides Politically: Wrong For Your Company and For You as a Manager of People...

I'll start this post by saying this: I've been on the corner of "no politics at work" way before 2020 happened. I've been on this corner so long that I questioned the wisdom of many small business owners pressuring their employees to vote GOP in the 2016 election for reduced taxation and concerns about Obamacare.

Ah, 2016. Ah, Obamacare. So long ago, such a simpler, innocent time. Mitch and nancy

When you choose political sides at work, you're alienating and decaying trust with close to 50% of your workforce. Go back historically and look at the vote splits. We're a 50/50 nation.  To choose either side politically is a bad look for any leader. You shouldn't do it. The great ones don't choose, because they know it's a suckers game from a leadership perspective.

"But, KD," you say, "times have changed! There's right and wrong!" I hear you, so let's dig into the topic a bit on 3 levels:

--The post 2020 escalation of what politics at work means

--The trap of picking any political side as a company—big or small

--Managing diverse sets of employees as a manager of people

Ready? Let's discuss.

The Post 2020 Escalation of What Politics at Work Means

It used to be that talking politics at work meant comparing, discussing, and arguing simple GOP vs Democratic platforms. You know the issues: taxes, government, social programs, etc.  Those days are gone. Discussing politics at work has exploded into nuclear identity politics and more. Regardless of what you believe, endorsing a political view as a company or a leader polarizes people more than it ever has and forces people to take sides.

In addition, allowing politics to be discussed in the workplace or taking a position as a company invites future employee activism that detracts from your goal—to serve customers/clients and be great at what you do. We'll talk more about that in the company section of this post.

Finally, if you have people in your company who aren't for opportunity for all, a world without racism, and other issues being discussed these days, you should get rid of those people. But that's not really the issue we're facing inside our companies when we talk politics and social issues identified with political platforms. Both major political parties weaponize the issues, which decreases meaningful conversations inside our companies, because the weaponization makes the issues (DEI, BLM, etc.) too hot to debate.

That loss of meaningful conversation means many view company positions as one of two things: 1) a call to make a portion of the business and their time about the political/social issues, or 2) empty virtual signaling. Neither outcome is great.

The Trap of Picking a Side or Allowing Politics/Causes to Be Discussed as a Company

Do Black Lives Matter? Of course, they do. Is BLM as an organization the carrier of the message we want to get behind? Uhhhh....

No one I know (including my GOP friends) argues with the fact that we need opportunity for all, a world without hate, and reasonable approaches to all the social issues on the table. Be about that 100% as a leader.

But the world, organizational life, and humanity gets in the way the more you try and formalize and activate your support of a platform. Are you in the business of focusing all your energy on your clients, or are you ready to channel 10-20% of your time talking about social/political issues (increasingly the same thing these days) whether you want to or not?  

You'll have a cross section of employees in any company who want you to formalize this support of social/political issues. The last year has shown us that formalizing your support for any political platform or cause creates activism inside your company.

Case in point: you're a US-based global company, and you promote Pride Month in the USA (good) complete with a logo change for the month, only to be reminded by a small section of your employee base that you didn't change the logo for all of your other country-based social accounts. Turns out, there are parts of the world that don't want anything to do with Pride month or what it stands for, and from a business perspective it's problematic to push this promotion in those parts of the world. Your employees on the left are disappointed in you and active in telling you about it, and your employees on the right think the whole show is PR. It's complicated.

As you wade into the political waters, a small percentage of your employees will become vocal activists, wanting to spend a percentage of their time at work active on politics. This has become a big enough issue that two companies with liberal, left leaning founders—Shopify and Basecamp—recently reversed course and sought to put firm limits/eliminate time spent at work on political/social issues, reminding employees that the company mission to serve clients was what work was about. While the Basecamp communication was bungled in many ways (link to outcomes here), the bigger of the two companies, Shopify, locked down the politics at work discussion hard.  See the entire note from Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke here.

Summary of this note to employees from Tobi Lütke:

We're not a family, we're a team. You came to Shopify to work with great people. Our record on liberal values and equality of opportunity. Sometimes we see opportunities to help nudge these causes forward. We do this because this directly helps our business and our merchants and not because of some moralistic overreach. Slack trolling, victimhood thinking, us-vs-them divisiveness, and zero sum thinking must be seen for the threat they are: they break teams. Teams survive and thrive on the actions of the collective, and the cohesiveness of the whole. Poor performance and divisiveness cannot be tolerated.  

How do I insert 1,000 handclap emojis? Magnificent. Get back to work and stop wasting time on things that aren't in support of our business goals.

Managing Diverse Sets of Employees as a Manager of People

It's simple for best results as a manager of people. You don't routinely share your political views or hot takes on things that could be considered to be political with direct reports.

The reasons are pretty simple. As a manager of people, you're responsible for shepherding a group of direct reports through a given week, quarter or year.

If you've done a good job of hiring, you're leading a diverse team - which broadly defined, means your people don't all look, sound or think like you. You're in a position of power, so the more you broadcast polarizing information like political views, the more you risk alienating good people who aren't a carbon copy of you.

I'm not saying you can't be you. And note I'm 100% saying you should be clear that you're against racism an a supporter of other ideas of note. You can and should share those views, and it's an important part of leading on issues.

I'm saying that the stronger/hotter you are on a polarizing take - whether you come from the hard left or hard right - the more you risk shutting someone down on your team from talking to you, which almost always results in lower engagement and one foot out the door.

Managers from both the hard right and the hard left struggle with this. For best results, remember that in competitive election years, the country is split pretty much evenly between two political parties.

Some of you will email me and say, "But Kris, how do I find the line?" Well, if you're manager of people, that's what the money is for.

Your job is to keep all the good people on the bus. The team that successfully navigates 2021 and arrives at 2022 at a different place with the highest percentage of talented employees retained and rowing in the right direction wins.

Leadership is art. I'm sorry I'm saying you shouldn't share that op/ed you loved from The New York Times or Fox News with the team. 

Listen more than you talk. Connect with everyone on your team on a 1/1 level. Show empathy to all.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the average employee, that sounds exhausting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

AND IT'S GOING TO SUCK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


GOAL SETTING: A Question on OKRs/KPIs/SMART Goals from a KD Client...

CAPITALIST NOTE: The email below is a summary I sent to a client last weekend. For background, the client is a technology company with 500 employees, and they've made a real run at goal setting in 2021. They rolled out training on SMART goals with my BOSS Leadership series, have really stayed with it post training, and the CEO has gone through her own key area +KPI (Key Performance Indicators) process to establish some "big rocks" designed to measure progress apart from the SMART goal activity that's going on at the grass roots level.

Investors in the company have introduced the concept of OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) to my leader in the last two weeks, and she asked me for my take on how OKRs, KPIs and SMART goals can play together. Below is the rundown I sent over. I thought it was a meaningful question, and my response reinforces that terminology/methodology can often get in the way of just getting stuff started and done. Enjoy!

-------------------------------

Jill -

Good connecting with you on Friday.  I spent some time this weekend thinking about your question on OKR/Smart Goals. I think they can go together 100% from my perspective. Okr

I could write up something from my research and claim it as my own, but here’s the best rundown I could find, which directionally sets up what I would have told you on Friday if I was on a call with the consultant in question and forced to take a position.

https://www.perdoo.com/resources/okr-vs-smart-goals/

Simply put, I think you can have both. I think your process at the top—where you are focused on KPIs—is similar in my eyes to OKRs.  With your KPIs, you’re identifying a broad area, then you're setting a measurable goal (the KPI). I think any adjustment to looking at OKRs should probably first address the question: What additional work do we need to do on these KPIs to modify them and evolve them into OKRs? I feel like you’ve already done a good bit of this work at the company level.

There might be an opportunity to create departmental KPI/OKRs at the next level down in your company, but candidly, I feel like you’ve done that with your work at the company level.

I think the SMART goal process still works. As the referred link mentions, it gives your people a consumable process that’s easy to understand with goal setting. That’s a good thing. Also you’ll see in the referred link that they say SMART goals exist in isolation. I think that’s true but necessary. You want the manager and employee to work on goals together and figure out what the most important things are to create goals within the employee’s area.

But the link between OKR/KPIs that we had talked about—going out and collecting SMART goals that contribute to individual OKR/KPIs—still stands. In this way, you can create a OKR/KPI and track it, and talk openly about the “big goal” but reward linkage that happens with the SMART goal process.

As I mentioned on the call, execution is still the key. The hard work of your managers working through the goal setting process with their people is where the true magic happens in my eyes.

To summarize from my view:

  • Your KPIs are close to OKRs.
  • You’ve already done a lot of the work if you want to move to OKRs.
  • The SMART goal process is still a great way to make goal setting accessible for the masses and get some traction.
  • The hard work is still at the manager/employee level to use goal setting to get better results and velocity at the ground level.

Does this help? Ping me back with questions or we can jump on a call.

--KD


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. 


Are Ageist Microaggressions a Thing?

2020 has been a hell of a ride. Pandemic, recession, re-invention of the workplace and an intense focus on racism.

Without question, we'll make it through to 2021. Things will be better on all fronts. Let's assume the events of 2020 will put us in a better place related to racism, although that topic is a journey, not a destination.

What classes of people aren't getting a lot of attention that are routinely discriminated against? 

For me, old people, overweight people and ugly people all come to mind. Some of you just laughed out loud, but it's true. Attractiveness still rules the selection process, whether we're consciously aware of it or not.  But protecting the candidate who's unattractive (so subjective) is down the road. For now, let's focus on what we actually have laws on to prevent discrimination.

Let's focus on age discrimination. Ageism

Here's where it gets tricky, friends. A recent Business Insider post: talked about the microaggressions older workers face in the work place. Here's your task - I want you to read the items in bold and tell me whether the comment could be used in a age discrimination case or whether we're all just too senstive:

"Maybe we shouldn't give that project to John, he might have trouble learning the new technology." 

The belief that older workers aren't technologically savvy or capable of learning new platforms is damaging and untrue.  

A 2016 Dropbox survey of more than 4,000 IT workers around the world found that workers ages 55 and older and those ages 18-34 used nearly the same number of forms of technology a week — 5 and 4.67, respectively, Fortune reported.

"We're looking for a youthful, energetic, agile worker to join our team." 

This type of language can make an older worker feel like they might not fit into your company culture. At best it's exclusionary, at worst, it's discrimination.  

"Ok, Boomer!" 

Many young people have taken up this phrase as a catch-all response to a problematic comment made by someone older than them. But it makes older workers feel dismissed or humiliated. If a coworker has said something you don't agree with, you can easily voice your opinion or state a fact without attacking them personally. 

Discrimination in the workplace. It's a real thing for older workers, but I have to tell you this as someone who suddenly has realized he could easily be working for a younger dynamo 10-15 younger than him - the goal of any older worker has to be to look, feel and talk like someone who these things, if said, would seem not to fit him/her.

Simply put, if you're hearing someone ballsy enough to say that you're bad with tech or calls you a boomer to your face, you've probably acted the part in some way.

I know that's hard to hear, and there's a lot of bad actors on ageism that are running around corporate America these days.

But Age Discrimination isn't going away. Be the ball and look, act and feel like someone who could be decade younger. Be curious about tech, new things, etc. Upgrade your wardrobe just a bit to trend younger without looking like a fool.

I'm not asking you to do Tic-Tok. I'm asking you to take action and prevent people from putting you in the "too old" box.  Good luck out there.

(Capitalist Update: I left the draft spelling of TikTok as it appears above when I published as a test of sorts. While this site isn't designed for perfection and I routinely have readers send me notes on grammar preferences, I was wondering who would come forward not only with the spelling correction, but also tell me it made me look old. I got about 3-4X the email I normally get, including 6 people who said or alluded the spelling made me look old. Interesting test. Some of those people did it out of care for me, some don't know me and basically used it to point out my age. Interesting add to the story.)


Trust vs Performance + BlackRock's New Intimate Relationship Policy (The HR Famous Podcast)

In episode 35 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn and Jessica Lee discuss their favorite Halloween candy, dig into BlackRock’s recent policy change that mandates employee report all romantic relationships, including those with all company partners and vendors, and wrap it up with a discussion on Performance vs. Trust via a famous Simon Sinek video. 

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player below) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

1:30 – Halloween is right around the corner! JLee is modifying the normal Halloween routine for her two young kids. She’s excited because her kids are getting into Star Wars and they’re doing a Star Wars family costume.

3:00 – Tim’s family is doing a Michigan vs. MSU football/Halloween neighborhood tailgate. He is trying to decide if he wants to be Biden or Trump for his costume.

4:15 – What is your favorite Halloween candy? Tim is team Reese’s pumpkin because of the peanut butter to chocolate ratio. KD likes the bite size (better known as fun size) Snickers. JLee likes a classic Kit Kat.

6:45 – First topic: BlackRock is now requiring all employees to disclose any sort of romantic relationship with anyone in the company or anyone related to the company, including all vendors and partners, which includes 1/5 of the known world by definition. The company may make alternative work arrangements depending on reporting from employees. 

8:00 – Tim, the HR Famous workplace harassment expert, thinks that this new policy is stupid because it limits so many romantic or sexual relationships.

9:30 – JLee doesn’t want to know every possible relationship between employees from an HR perspective. She says it’s TMI!

10:30 – KD says that this policy follows a few scandals with relationship reporting at BlackRock involving high level employees. 

14:30 – The gang suggests a hashtag for Blackrock – #sexlessnation

15:00 – JLee tells us what questions would have to be asked about these relationships. 

16:20 – The HR Famous crew wishes the best to the BlackRock HR crew with this new policy. #sexlessnation

19:30 – Second topic of the day: Simon Sinek’s video Performance vs. Trust. In this video, Sinek talks about the Marines and how value trustworthiness vs. high level performance.

22:40 – JLee thinks that this is a hard lesson for a leader to learn because you often only learn you can’t trust someone once someone has made a mistake.

23:30 – Tim brings up Malcolm Gladwell’s most recent book Talking To Strangers and how humans tend to default to trust when often people are not being trustworthy.

26:00 – Shoutout to Ed Baldwin and the book The Thin Book of Trust by Charles Feltman. He defines trust in his book as sincerity, reliability, and competence. 

27:00 – KD and JLee would love if Simon would button up his shirt one more button!