BOSS Tip: Send an Agenda/Info For Your Meeting, Control the Narrative...

Capitalist Note: Quick hit today from the BOSS Leadership Series, the 7-module series of manager training designed to make your managers better leaders of people!

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I see you and I sense it. You've got an escalating situation - either inside your own team that you manage, via cross-departmental relationships or interacting Agendaswith clients. Things are spiraling and it seems like you can't get ahead.

I'm not embedded with you, so the reasons for the spiral can be many, right? But let's assume for the sake of this post that you're on top of your game, the path you're pursuing is valid and correct, you've got the talent to deliver, etc. You're just getting chopped up repeatedly as you deal with your team, other departments, and/or clients. You just can't seem to get ahead of it.

I'm going to give you one small thing to experiment with to regain control:

Start sending out Agendas for the meetings you're holding. As a senior level course, send some reports with favorable data/info with the agenda for best results.

Meetings suck. They suck more when you're the host and you lose control of them.

Agendas let everyone know what you're going to go through in the meeting. They allow you to be in control, and they allow you to bring wayward conversations back to what you - the organizer - wanted to accomplish.

Data/Info sent with agendas that's favorable to your cause/goals help you establish credibility. To the extent you have enemies in the mix or people who don't agree with your approach, data and info sent with agendas can help you frame the narrative.

It's easy to hijack a meeting away from someone who's not prepared. It's harder when they sent the agenda.

It's even harder when they share an agenda with some reports and info that suggests their path is valid.

Control the narrative and prevent meeting hijacking by sending an agenda. Start with no more than 5 items, each described in 4 words or less.

The floor is now yours. You're welcome.


HR Book Review: The Office (The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History)...

On my summer reading list is The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History. I originally grabbed the book because it presented an opportunity to connect with my youngest son, who like a lot of kids, has consumed the entire series 3+ times on Netflix. It quickly became a primer on team-based creative process, where ideas have to come in volume, then be culled down quickly to the point that only the best idea makes it, and everyone on the team is OK with that.

One example of lessons from this book is how the writer room was structured and how they blended ownership of ideas from individual to team. Here's the explanation from Office Aaron Shure, co-executive producer and writer for The Office:

"During my tenure [seasons five, six, seven, and eight] we had around fifteen writers, usually three rooms going, and we had inherited the Greg Daniels style of idea generation, which focused on manifesting and externalizing ideas in a physical way, usually in the form of three-by-five cards that came to festoon the walls of the writers’ room if they were worthy enough by Paul and Jen’s estimation. We also had a process called “blitzing” where the writers would hunker down in their offices for an hour or two and come up with as many ideas as we could on a given topic. For instance, a few blitz topics I have in my notes: “Obstacles to Erin and Andy dating.” “Ways Andy and Kelly can try to subvert Gabe.” “What happens with Hay Place?” We’d come back with as many ideas on those topics as we could, read them aloud, and put the promising ones on the wall.

Out of those ideas a few would be selected to move closer to a storyboard. It was a big bubble-sort played out on the walls. While writers would campaign for and champion various cards, it was hard for there to be specific ownership of any given idea, with plenty of duplication and accidental repitching. Similarly, stories were broken in rooms with five or so writers all working on the beats. We’d come back to the room and pitch those boards. There’s a lot of working in a writers’ room that’s similar to improv, where it’s like “Yes, and . . .” You want to be able to keep your mind incredibly open and think of all the possibilities.

Greg actually called it “blue-skying.” Let’s take an example: “Michael is being broken up with and he’s going to handle it like a fourteen-year-old boy because he’s at the emotional level of one. What does he do to process it? How does he deal with something like that?” Sometimes there’s a tendency to just go for the first good idea, but we would spend a lot of time trying to find the best version of something. We would send people off to think and say, “Let’s keep in the blue-sky zone. Don’t put restrictions on yourself. How would a person deal with that?” And every once in a while, something just brilliant would come”

Translation - traditional brainstorming followed by team activity to further develop ideas not only lead to a strong creative process, but it removes the sting of your idea not being chosen - you have ample opportunity to contribute to other idea streams, and when the whole thing is done it's hard to remember the originator of the idea in question.

Recommended book if you liked/loved the office and need a summer read.

PS: The Office probably couldn't be made in 2020.


Can You Chew Out an entire Team via a Zoom Call?

Here's the situation. The team is slacking overall, and you feel like the ole' team pep talk might be called for.

You know, you're going to chew them out via a team meeting. But wait! There's a pandemic going on my friend! What's that? It's been 3 months and you're tired of people mailing it in? I feel you. Before you do that team meeting, answer the following 3 questions:

1--Does the team have enough to work on? (many industries didn't in the height of the pandemic and still don't)

2--Does the team know there's enough to work on? (there may be things they can pivot to, but are they aware that's expected?)

3--Are you good at pep/chew talks? (Are you sure? Ask a trusted advisor)

If the answer to all those questions is "yes", it might be time for a team meeting where you lay down the law as the leader or the boss.

Of course, you have to answer a fourth question, and preferably the answer to this question is "yes" as well:

4 - Is most of your team in the same working space as they were before the pandemic? (many teams are still in makeshift home offices they didn't work in before)

I ask the last question for a specific reason. It's called Zoom.

In both television, movies and my career, some of the most epic scenes are always team pep talks/chew sessions. I'm a fan of the theatre, and there's specific elements that make up a great blow out session - I'll save those for another day.

But almost all of those epic team pep talks/chew out sessions are face to face with teams. It's really hard to deliver a CTJ (Come to Jesus) message on video conference no matter how good your framing or lighting.

I think the biggest reason for that is inability to command physical space. Whether standing or sitting as the speaker, everyone is in their own space on Zoom/Teams/Meet. You can't see body language, who's buying what you're selling, who's not, etc.

For that reason, I think only the masters can deliver the team chew/pep talk via Zoom. For the average Jedi managing during a pandemic, it's probably better to deliver a customized chew 1/1 with some notes on the team and the individual during that session.

Still going to use Zoom for the CTJ? Be sure to unmute your line before you start.


VIDEO: Using BHAGs as a Goal Setting Technique for High Performers...

Big, hairy, audacious goals, or BHAGs, are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They traditional differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are usually positioned toward by a large group (rather than individuals) and they typically span a large amount of time than any of our other goals. They’re huge.

Even though BHAGs are generally goals for companies and collective groups, smart managers are increasingly using them for individuals as well. I explain the merits of using BHAGs in this fashion in the following episode of TalentTalks from Saba Software.

Take a listen (email subscribers click through for video below if you don't see it) and hit me in the comments with a BHAG that's been useful in your career or managing a talented direct report!!! 


You Think Your Work Enemy Has Declared War: She Just Thinks It's Thursday...

"Some men just want to watch the world burn."

-Michael Caine in "The Dark Knight"

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Intent is a funny thing.  You're in the workplace, and the workplace has established norms: Some men

--We talk to each other before we make decisions or take meaningful action

--We give people a heads up before we announce something that won't feel good to them

--We try to play nice and if confronted, we try to make the person confronting us feel good about our intent.

Of course, those are norms - guidelines if you will, not hard rules.  Every once in a while, you run into someone that does not give two ****s about your norms.  They do what they want, when they want and generally don't give you heads up that it's coming or make you feel better if you ask them about it after the fact.

You know, ass####s.  We're pretty quick to assign full villain status to people who don't play by the rules.

What's interesting about the people like this you think are enemies in the workplace is the following:

You think they're out to get you based on chaos they cause.  They probably think it's Thursday.

They aren't even thinking about you.  Tearing shit up is just what they do.  In the age of Trump, we're likely to cast them as villains and think they're out to get us. That might be true, but in my experience, people who cause chaos can be factored into 3 categories when it impacts you:

1--They're out to get you.  It's what you thought.  They hate your guts, you're in the way and it's takedown time. 10% of the time, this is the reality.

2--They have a plan and a place they want to be unrelated to you.  They have a POA (plan of action) that's bigger than their relationship with you. You're taking it personally, but the "tearing shit up" and chaos impacts multiple people, not just you.  They're not even thinking about you, Skippy. 70% of the time, this is the reality.

3--They don't have a plan but love to keep everyone off balance as part of their managerial DNA.  Again, it's not about you.  Their business is chaos and by the way, the more positional power they have, the better that business is. 20% of the time, this is the reality.

Unless you're experiencing flavor #1 above, your best strategy is to keep an eye on it but ignore it.  Go about your business.  You do you, let them do them and save your emotional reaction and gun powder for when it really matters.  

If you're high sensitivity, this is going to be hard.  They're going to wear you out.  You think it's the workplace version of Normandy.

It's actually Thursday.  What's for lunch?


BHAGs: You're Afraid. Elon Musk is Not...

Shout out to SpaceX for the recent mission on behalf of NASA, launching astronauts and sending them to the International Space Station.

None of it would have happened without a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal).

BHAGs are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are positioned toward by a large group (rather than individuals) and they typically span a large amount of time than any of our other goals. They’re huge.

BHAGs can come in several flavors. Most are focused on one of four broad categories: reaching a defined target or metric, competition, organizational change, or reputation. Here are a few examples from some companies Elon-musk-mars you’ve probably never heard of…

-Reaching a defined target

“Attain 1 billion customers worldwide” – Citicorp, 1990s

-Competition

“Crush Adidas” – Nike, 1960s

-Organizational Change

“Transform this company from a chemical manufacturer into one of preeminent drug-making companies in the world.” –Merck, 1930s

-Reputation

“Become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” – Sony, 1950s

Wait - Nike wasn't always the leader? Japanese products were once considered low quality before Japan was kicking our ass in the 80's?

Well, before the world as we know it at Nike and Sony became the reality, leaders at those companies created a BHAG as a single unified vision for their people to rally around.

You know who else is good at BHAGs?  Elon Musk.  Musk basically BHAG'd his way into Tesla and Space X becoming great companies.  

Electric Car with quality and luxury?  BHAG.

Reusable rockets with segments that can land back on earth on pads?  B-freaking-HAG.

Well, here comes Musk again, probably the most adept user of BHAGs in the world.  The ultimate BHAG for him is Mars - more from The Guardian:

Elon Musk has unveiled plans for a new spacecraft that he says would allow his company SpaceX to colonise Mars, build a base on the moon, and allow commercial travel to anywhere on Earth in under an hour. The spacecraft is currently still codenamed the BFR (Big Fucking Rocket). Musk says the company hopes to have the first launch by 2022, and then have four flying to Mars by 2024.

Last year Musk proposed an earlier plan for the spacecraft, but at the time had not developed a way of funding the project. Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide Australia on Friday, Musk said the company had figured out a way to pay for the project.

The key, he said, was to “cannibalise” all of SpaceX’s other products. Instead of operating a number of smaller spacecrafts to deliver satellites into orbit and supply the International Space Station, Musk said the BFR would eventually be used to complete all of its missions. “If we can do that then all the resources that are used for Falcon9, Dragon and Heavy can by applied to this system,” he said.

BFR.  Musk isn't messing around.  The BHAG is set.

Getting NASA astronauts to the ISS doesn't happen without the bigger BHAG. 

If history tells us nothing else, it tells us that Musk will probably make it happen.  Maybe not by 2024, but you can't have a BHAG without making it seem impossible.


BEST BOSS EVER Podcast: e3 - Pat Lynch and the State of Outplacement During COVID-19

Welcome to Best Boss Ever, the podcast dedicated to helping you develop managers who build great teams. In this episode, Kris Dunn talks with Patrick Lynch, President of CMP’s Southeast Region, to talk about the current state of outplacement during COVID-19.

Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Play. Rate and Review if you like what you hear!

On to the show (email subscribers, click here if you don't see the player below)...

Show Highlights:

1:15: KD intros with the topic of Outplacement and introduces guest, Patrick Lynch (Who insists we call him Pat) who will be our tour guide related to what’s going on in the world of Outplacement.

3:05: Pat tells us about what he does and what CMP does. CMP helps companies and individuals with outplacement and career transitions.  They also do about executive search needs, assessments for selection, hire and development as well as executive coaching.

4:34: KD asks Pat: What’s changed in Outplacement in the last few months with COVID? Pat says pre-COVID, outplacement levels were down overall, but despite a skyrocket in unemployment, they haven’t seen the same uptick in outplacement. There are a few reasons for this, being on furlough is a big one and they delve into the details.

8:15: Pat says things are different from 2008/2009 because employee brand is so important. Companies are trying their hardest to avoid layoffs. KD comes in and they talk about the message of hope – are we springing back or entering a recession?

10:45: KD asks Pat about levels of Outplacement Packages. Pat says the programs are based on time periods, level of service and seniority, and helping those in outplacement with access to resources. He says CMP works with people until they’re re-employed.

17:30: Pat gives some career advice during outplacement: Don’t waste your time applying for everything. Instead, ask what are your highest levels of opportunity and focus on those. Pat continues to give tips on the most important steps to take when job hunting.

25:45: Pat and KD go into the details of how some companies are handling COVID outplacement, and how Airbnb’s leaders handled the outplacement with empathy and sincerity.

33:00: KD says, even if you can’t afford Outplacement, call Pat. Pat compares Bryd to Airbnb with their Glassdoor reviews, how you handle the outplacement will matter for your company’s recovery.

37:45: They close it out talking about what’s to come, and what resources are available for the future.

Resources:

Boss Leadership Training Series

Patrick Lynch on LinkedIn

CMP Website

Kinetix

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

KD's Book - The 9 Faces of HR


 

THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: e15 - Is Your Company Ready for RTW?

In episode 15 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee and Kris Dunn come together to discuss Tim’s extravagant Southern Utah adventure, return to work plans, Twitter’s WFH forever proclamation, and Microsoft Teams. The team discusses the different return to work plans and ideas, new office norms, and a potential boom in the workplace real estate market.

Listen below (email subscribers click through if you don’t see the player) or click here for a direct link. Be sure to and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review via iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

Show Highlights:

1:00 - No Tim on this episode! Are we sad or happy? Stay tuned to find out ;)

2:00 - Is JLee still a kid? Sound off in the comments

3:30 - Tim Sackett is a jerk!!!! His Instagram is making the HR Famous crew jealous with his Southern Utah golfing, jeep trips, and luxurious escapades. Safe travels Timmy!

4:30 - Today’s topic: return to work! Some companies have their plans ready to go but all companies are going to have to get ready for “the new normal”. What is that going to look like? Are you ready?

7:00 - RTW = return to work

7:30 - Jlee sounds off on the differences of work returns there can be and the potential anxiety employees could bring with them. Will there be a major fear from workers?

8:45 - KD is taking the approach of surveying his employees on how they want to return to work. Who wants to stay home? Who wants to return to the office? Who is unsure and has concerns? 

9:40 - One size fits all? Not for RTW plans.

11:15 - KD fills us in on how Kinetix is facing RTW: Branded face masks: check! How do you feel about the decorative/branded face masks?

13:15 - Sexy brand check! Jack Dorsey has announced that all Twitter employees can work remote forever. What really is forever? Jlee thinks it’s a cool idea but may be too early to make this call. Only a diamond is forever ;)

16:00 - Will there be an increased need for real estate for workspace? Due to physical distancing needs, there may need more space needed to ensure employee safety. 

18:00 - Have you ever had an employee sit on the floor in your office during a meeting? Jlee hasn’t but she thinks that cramped small office meetings are on the way out and virtual meetings are here to stay.

20:30 - KD and Jlee are turning this into a Microsoft ad! Microsoft Teams chat is the new norm for Jlee but may be NSFW because of their raunchy gifs.

22:30 - KD thinks that Eric Schmitt’s perception of a workspace real estate boom is a little tone deaf. With more WFH employees and financial troubles, there may not be a real estate boom especially in spaces made for small to mid-sized businesses. 

24:00 - Should we be celebrating companies and CEOs who pledge not to lay off employees? The crew thinks it’s unrealistic to raise the expectation that companies should not lay off some workers in this pandemic, especially in service industries. 

26:10 - “Up your sunscreen game” - KD to Tim Sackett. 


There Are Six "Manager of People" Brands - Which One Are You?

Any manager of people has a lot on their plate. After all, a general pre-requisite to getting your first manager job is being a great individual contributor. Then, at some point in your first month in your new manager role, you realize the reality – you still have a bunch to do on your own as well as managing your new team.

Just because you're a manager doesn’t mean you stop cranking out individual contributor Proposalgreatness. You’re expected to that PLUS lead a group of people to team greatness, individual success and career fulfillment.

Inside all of us there’s a preset – a type of manager we’re most likely to be based on our behavioral DNA, the folks who have managed us in the past, etc.  Who you are and how you were raised in corporate America has a lot to do with how you manage.

What type of manager are you?  What’s your brand as a manager?

To dig into this topic, I reached out to my good friend and BOSS Leadership facilitator Dawn Burke to record an episode of my new podcast - BEST BOSS EVER - and talk about the "6 Manager of People Brands" I have identified - Doer & Individual Contributor, The Friend/Pushover, The Control Freak/Authoritarian, Trend Spotter/Reader of the Best Seller, Performance Based Driver, and The Career Agent.

Take a listen and be sure to subscribe via the links below as well!

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Welcome to Best Boss Ever, the podcast dedicated to helping you develop managers who build great teams. In this episode Kris Dunn talks with colleague and friend Dawn Burke, facilitator for BOSS Leadership and senior consultant at Recruiting Toolbox, about managing people and the six types of manager brands.

Don't forget to subscribe, rate and review wherever you get your podcasts - Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play.

Show Highlights:

4:00: KD brings in the topic, what is your manager brand? Dawn claims a lot of managers don’t know what their brand is, it even took her some time to figure out her brand.

6:22: A Manager’s brand is based on their behavioral DNA and how they were raised. Dawn says that’s a classic case of nature vs. nurture. Both play a part into a manager’s brand, and a lot of times we fall back on our nature but it’s important to focus on the qualities of leaders we admire and seek training and guidance to form a brand.

8:45: KD and Dawn run down the list of the 6 manager brands: The Doer & Individual Contributor, The Friend/Pushover, The Control Freak/Authoritarian, Trend Spotter/Reader of the Best Seller, Performance Based Driver, and The Career Agent.

11:09: “The Doer.” The first-time manager brand. Dawn talks about her personal retail experience with her first manager roles and the struggles first time manager. KD says: don’t change too much – it’s okay if this is your brand to an extent. Be a doer – but you need to grow your people, too. You can’t do it all yourself. Find training and learn to delegate and lead.

15:38: “The Friend/Pushover”. KD talks about how this brand showing up in a lot of former teammates that become managers. It’s also in folks who have high levels of empathy in their DNA. Dawn says you can make the best of the past team relationships by keeping the trust throughout your working relationship. She also asks “How much are you complaining about working together?” It might effect your credibility.

18:50: Dawn says “The Friend” also applies to managers who come in, and is a manager who tries to be friends, which isn’t inherently bad, but if you’re relying too much on the friendship, you’re heading in the wrong direction. KD says past friends especially have trouble as new managers if they are low on the assertive scale, Dawn says you can mitigate this with a 1:1 reset with those friends, acknowledging the new structure in the team and what it means. KD says you’ll have to be assertive to do that, which is why training from other managers is good to have!

21:22: “The Control Freak” introduction. KD talks about a recent WWII watch that was riddled with authoritative manager brands. Dawn says she’s seen this in new managers, too. When they become a manager they are thinking about their past managers and maybe more old school managers. She claims this brand doesn’t work anymore, even though it still exists in certain work places.

26:52: “The Trend Spotter” KD says reading and growing is good, but you can’t change up your brand every time you read a new book. Dawn says this has good intention but it’s gone off the rails. You can be a life long learner, that’s a sign of a good leader, but you take the best of what you’ve learned or read and build your own style/brand – you can’t copy and paste.

29:59: “The Performance Driver.” This brand is all about the performance, they aren’t hesitant to ask their team to reach those organizational goals. Dawn says every manager’s brand should include a little bit of the Performance Driver. KD says sometimes you can be a little detached with your humanity here – just driving for results is okay, but it’s not growing your employees and as a result, over time it can fall flat.

32:22: “The Career Agent” KD claims this is the fully-evolved manager. The Career Agent is approaching their team to get the results through the lens of the employee. It benefits the company and the employee. Overall, Dawn agrees this is the fully-evolved manager. KD says part of being a career agent is investing, developing, and helping people grow and approaching every conversation from the view of the employee – what’s in it for them?.

37:50: KD runs us down the six brands again and the team closes it out.

Resources:

Boss Leadership Training Series

Kinetix

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Dawn Burke on LinkedIn

Recruiting Toolbox

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

KD's Book - The 9 Faces of HR


COVID Lockdown Netflix Recommendation - "American Factory"

I know, you're burned out on streaming. You've worked through a bunch of things during the COVID lockdown - you whipped through Joe Exotic, Ozark and Bosch - and you found yourself working through a 3rd tier series like Last Chance U.

I see you America. That's why I'm here with a Netflix Recommendation that only a professional manager or HR person could get excited about. American factory

AMERICAN FACTORY.

Let's get started with the description of this two-hour documentary from Wikipedia:

American Factory (美国工厂美國工廠) is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, about Chinese company Fuyao's factory in Moraine, a city near Dayton, Ohio, that occupies Moraine Assembly, a shuttered General Motors plant. The film had its festival premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It is distributed by Netflix and is the first film produced by Barack and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground Productions. It won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Filmed from February 2015 until the end of 2017, Reichert and Bognar were granted filming access by Fuyao at both their Ohio and Chinese plant locations. They were inspired to make this film as the events they aimed to depict were taking place in the same Moraine Assembly plant once occupied by General Motors, which was the central topic of their 2009 Oscar-nominated documentary short The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant.

I know what you're expecting: China bad, plight of the American blue collar worker miserable.

Turns out, it's more complicated than that.

GM closing the plant follows this script.  But then a Chinese company, Fuyao Glass America, shows up to reopen it. Chinese companies buy American companies all the time. Big deal, right? But Fuyao let the filmmakers film everything.

And so American Factory isn't 100% about the plight of American industry or the workers it left behind as globalization occurred . The part that is astonishing about American Factory is that it shows it all through the eyes of Chinese factory workers and managers arriving to reopen and restaff a plant in the rust belt - as well as through the eyes of the Americans. 

You'll be rocked when the crew travels to China for company celebrations and you see the attitudes of the Chinese workers and the whiplash cutaways to the American plant and team (spoiler alert - the USA team has about 20% of the urgency of the Chinese team).  The Chinese team doing the same work as the Americans are standing on marks for quick team meetings before the start of their shift. They're celebrating the company through skits, song and other group activities that would make 99% of Americans cringe.

You'll also be rocked as you see young Chinese managers and Chinese workers in the Toledo plant (brought over to help launch the plant) come to grips with the limitations of the American workforce they've hired.

If you haven't had great exposure to globalization yet in your career, I can't recommend American Factory enough. 10 out of 10. As a manager of people or an HR pro, you'll find the contrast between cultures fascinating and the HR and management issues in this culture mashup fascinating.

Globalization is full of gray. I'm 100% on team USA, but American Factory keep you honest about what it takes to compete in global economy. 

Trailer below (email subscribers click through to view):