Here's What Job Security/Being Untouchable/Arrogance as a Leader Looks Like...

If you've lucky, you've felt it at some point in your career. The swagger and incredible self-confidence that allows you to throw caution to the wind, confident you have the ability to provide for yourself and your family. 

"If you don't like they way I do it, find someone else to do the job."

To be sure, we've all thought that. But how many of us have actually said it? That's rare air for any working professional, and it usually means one of four things:

1--You're incredibly confident in your ability to find another job. In fact, you may already be on the market and have turned down a few offers Dantonio recently.

2--You at the tail end of your career and you've stored up enough acorns for a long winter (i.e., retirement).  You're daring someone to take you out.

3--You're an incredible ****, full of arrogance, disagreeable with all and really a negative force within your organization.

4--You're tired. You have to work, but you're at the end of your rope. You won't quit, so you're daring someone to make you go find another job.

I'm reminded of some leaders feeling untouchable by this report from last weekend's college football slate. Michigan State was at Wisconsin and just got drilled.  Here's how the post-game presser with Mike Dantonio went via ESPN:

"The Michigan State head coach drew even more attention to his inept offense in the aftermath of a 38-0 loss at Wisconsin, if that was even possible.

In his postgame news conference, Dantonio was asked if his offseason staff changes — he shuffled his offensive staffers’ responsibilities but did not fire any existing coaches or bring in anyone new — might have been a mistake.

“I think that’s sort of a dumb-a** question,” Dantonio replied."

That's taking "it you don't like it, find someone else" to a whole new level.

Let's put in context what 38-0 feels like in the corporate world.

--38-0 is being the incumbent provider in a renewal process and not making it to the final four and presenting live.

--38-0 is opening up a new call center and not taking a single call your first day - but you're not sure where the calls went instead - nobody got the calls.

--38-0 is agreeing to ship the new software release and when your CEO hits the site to test it, it crashes his Microsoft Surface.

Now imagine you're the manager in the call center scenario. Someone from corporate fixed the problem routing calls that your team couldn't fix. You go a meeting on the second day to revisit what happened.  Someone from corporate asks you, "Do you think you have the right people on your team moving forward?"

You don't miss a beat.  “I think that’s sort of a dumb-a** question,” you reply.

That's next level Job Security/Feeling Untouchable/Arrogance as a Leader.

"Next Question"

May you reach the level of success in your career when you can play offense and be belligerent rather than answer questions/concerns after failure.


Amp Up Your Employment Brand Like Domino's...Or Maybe Not...

When it comes to attracting candidates to your employment brand, purpose matters.

Candidates are increasingly seeking a sense of purpose in their work, so it makes sense to embed purpose in your values through connection to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) themes.  Companies like Unilever have gone all in on this approach and even mandated executives assign a purpose to every product in the company's portfolio. An examination of how Uber's company values changed after a period of turmoil show a transition from focusing on winning to working with others, serving community and valuing differences. Intent of your messaging matters.

BUT.... and there is a but....It's dangerous to reach when it comes to the purpose you assign to your business. If you're simply a nice business/company with a good product, don't suggest that you're trying to save the world.

I was reminded of this danger when Domino's used footage of employees as they marketed their Delivery Insurance/guarantee, which says that if your order isn't right, they'll make it right quickly and free of charge.

That's good business, but not a 8.3 on the Richter Scale of CSR and corporate purpose. Watch the following video (email subscribers click through if you don't see the player below) and we'll break it down afterwords:

Amp up your employment brand like Domino's... or maybe not.

“we're going to be expediting this order, people”

If I close my eyes on that audio, it feels like I'm in an emergency room and someone's life is at risk.

Then I remember, "no, Jenny just called to complain and she didn't get the cheesed stuffed crust".

Flash forward from the pizza oven room to drivers running up steps to help get Jenny's calorie count up. What really happens when that complaint comes in? I'd imagine it involves talking about who screwed it up. But someone's Netflix night is in peril, so let's expedite the order and send the fastest sprinter in the room, but let's make sure we obey all relevant traffic laws.

Somebody's going to blow out an ACL if we're not careful.

You get the vibe. Mission and purpose for your company is important. But don't chase world-defining purpose when showing your employees if it doesn't exist. But showing pride and the love of the craft for the people who make the product?  That never goes out of style.

Don't chase world defining purpose with your employment brand if it doesn't exist.  Just be you.


Emerging 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 stumble 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.

There's a lesson in reading progressive takes on emerging workplace issues, many of which have involved orientation/gender, then combining them with cautionary tales.  

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.
  3. When change comes and you're asked to consider the rights of yet another special class of people, it's easy to react as if it's a burden or worse.
  4. You can say it's all gone too far. Many will agree with you.
  5. But - You'll ultimately acknowledge the rights of the class of people in front of you - or you won't be allowed to lead anymore.

History shows this cycle to be true.

What if you weren't late the game? 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're early on inclusion, 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.  But I feel like we're moving quicker through the cycle to acceptance, and that' a good thing.

Performance goes up as bullshit goes down.  Just be crystal clear on what's bullshit in this cycle (Hint, it's the ones slow to acknowledge those with differences).

 

 

 


5 Questions With Sharlyn Lauby - Author of "Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success"....

Sharlyn Lauby is an author, writer, speaker and consultant. And a friend of mine!

She is president of ITM Group Inc., a consulting firm which focuses on developing training solutions that engage and retain talent in the workplace. SharlynThe company has been named one of the Top Small Businesses in South Florida.

She's also an incredible, trusted, practical voice on all things related to talent.  That's why I wanted to feature this book today.

She is well-known for her work on HR Bartender, a friendly place to talk about workplace issues. The site has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 Blogs HR Pros Love to Read” by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Sharlyn is the author of “Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success” and “The Recruiter’s Handbook: How to Source, Select, and Engage the Best Talent” (both available in the SHRM Store).

Sharlyn previously served as a member of SHRM’s Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) and Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility special expertise panel. Her personal goal in life is to find the best cheeseburger on the planet.

I loved the Manager Onboarding book and wanted to learn more.  Below is my 5 Questions Feature with Sharlyn on Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success:

1--Sharlyn, employee onboarding has been a hot topic for a while, but you zigged while others zagged and wrote an entire book on MANAGER onboarding (which I love).  What drove you to write an entire book on the need to properly onboard managers of people?

When it comes to new hire onboarding, there’s no training program that I’m aware of that says, “This is how you effectively onboard employees.” We learn how to onboard from our own onboarding experiences. So, if we onboard managers badly, guess what?! They will onboard employees badly. And there’s a statistic from Korn-Ferry that says 98% of CEOs think the key to employee retention is good onboarding.

The other piece that’s frustrating for new managers (and I’m sure you’ve heard this too) is when managers receive no guidance or instruction on something, then they make a mistake, and then they’re scolded by “Here’s how you do it…” Why not avoid the mistake and just tell managers what they need to know so they do it right the first time?

2--When it comes to manager onboarding, what’s the focus point or activity we neglect that has the biggest return on investment of time or money?

I believe it’s telling managers what their goal is. And I’m not talking about the common functions of management: planning, staffing, organizing, directing, and controlling. A manager’s true goal is to find and train their replacement.

Managers can’t work on the CEO’s super-secret pet project, take a vacation, or participate in training if every time they leave their office, their department falls apart. Managers need to learn how to develop talent and delegate. And they need to realize that doing this will not make them dispensable. It will make them more valuable.

3--What are some tips you have from your deep experience in helping organizations perform at a higher level related to introducing a new manager to an incumbent team?  How can we create a form of trust/transparency/authenticity with the team earlier with a new manager through onboarding?

I believe it starts with the hiring process. Does the incumbent team know what’s going on? Are they a part of the recruiting process? I’m a big fan of collaborative hiring. It allows key stakeholders – like the incumbent team – to get involved and be invested in the new manager’s success.

Then when it comes to onboarding, there’s an opportunity for the new manager and incumbent team to start building camaraderie. I recently read about a concept called a “personal guide”. It’s what you would think it is – a personal guide of how someone likes to work. Years ago, I had a boss who every time he took a profile or assessment, he would copy the results and distribute them to his direct reports. At first, I thought it was weird. Then I came to realize that he was teaching me how he liked to work. And how he wanted me to work with him. I could see that type of activity being a great way for new managers to build relationships and create a sense of team.

4--What’s 3 things that new managers do (without the help of your onboarding blueprint) that undermine their ability to be effective?

Here are three but let me say that I don’t know that all of these are the new manager’s fault. Organizations need to take some responsibility for setting the right expectations with new managers.

    1. They focus on the technical aspects of the job and not relationship building. The biggest mistake organizations make is hiring/promoting the most technically competent person and not giving them the people skills to do the job. Many managers think they’re being given the job for the technical expertise and forget they need people to get the work done.
    2. They forget to manage up. I learned a long time ago that I needed to build a relationship with my boss. And if I wanted them to support me that we needed to agree on A) when I could do something and never tell them B) when I could do something and drop them an email later and C) when I need to go to their office and have an immediate conversation. It builds trust.
    3. And they forget to develop their team. We’ve already touched on this but if managers want to move up in the company, they need to start thinking about developing their team. Otherwise, when they get a promotion, there will be no one to take their job. That leads to a new manager doing their “old job” and their “new job” until a replacement is found. No one wins when that happens.

5--Think about TV or the movies – and give us 2-3 Managers featured in Hollywood that are so good at managing others that you’re wondering if they’ve gone through proper onboarding for managers.

Wow! This is a toughie. Especially since there are so many ineffective managers on TV or in the movies who are simply portrayed that way to make us laugh – like Michael Scott in The Office or Director Ton in Aggretsuko.

I would point to a couple of managers like Morgan Grimes in Chuck who start out as a total goof but as he grows professionally, he really begins to deliver for his team. And he’s willing to admit and apologize when he makes a mistake. Another one is the Commissioner in Death in Paradise. He’s not actively directing all of the police investigations, but he’s there when the team needs him and seems to say just enough to help the team keep moving in the right direction.

Sharlyn Lauby is awesome.  You can order this book here - she's real people and a voice you should be following - Subscribe to her blog and follow her via the social accounts below:

Blog: http://www.hrbartender.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharlynlauby

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sharlyn_lauby

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HRBartender


The 5 Ways You Intimidate People Without Directly Threatening Them...

I know - that post title feels ugly, dirty and any other identifier you want to put on it. But yet here we are - in the workplace, trying to do things the right way but under siege by the nature of humanity.

The art of influence has been covered by many people smarter than me.  But like you, I'm a student of the game as people attempt to get things done in the Succession workplace inside your company, an environment that's harder to navigate the bigger and more complex it gets.

This post title could easily say, "influence" rather than "intimidate", but that's just a nicer word for what's usually going on.  Your covert actions as a person of influence (at any level, but certainly the power is greater the higher up the org chart you go) make people see shadows and take actions based on attempts to read the tea leaves, your intent as a leader and more - without ever having a conversation with you.

I'm watching Succession on HBO (highly recommended), so maybe that's influencing me to think about this with this framing.

Here's my 5 ways you intimidate people and get them to take action without directly threatening them:

1--Say nothing. Given the circumstances, you should say something. Yet you fail to seek out the person in question and fail to address the issue at hand, even when you're having a 1/1 conversation with them.  Sometimes it's the awkward silence that matters most.

2--Talk to other people, or tell your subject of your intent to talk to other people. That issue at hand?  You didn't address it with the person you should, but you're talking to other people about it.  Or you fail to have a meaningful conversation with the person most impacted, simply telling that person you're "going to check the temperature of others."  You're just dangling them out there.

3--Show favor and affection to others and make a public display of it.  Who's up? Who's down? Who are you taking to lunch?  If there was a scoreboard, somebody would be falling from the top spot. How far will they fall? Only you know.

4--Talk openly and honestly about outcomes that don't match the needs of your subject, without addressing the fact that their needs aren't being met. Oh, OK - you're having a conversation, but it's a subtle counter to what you know the conventional wisdom is accordingly to the person in front of you. Also notable, you seem pretty locked in to the path you're recommending, which makes it unlikely the person you're trying to intimidate influence is going to speak up.  <insert bulldozer emoji>

5--Be erratic as hell. You're happy. You're sad. You're angry. You're forgetting things. You're a unlovable mess, and damn, who really wants to try and be direct with you related to talking opening and honesty? You're like a rouge state with limited economic options that just took another round of sanctions. At most, people will only ask you questions they know the answers to, and they'll just accept and try to figure out the rest. You're a mess. Congrats on the ups and downs as a management philosophy.

There are more strategies related to this for sure.  Hit me in the comments or reply via email to tell me what I missed.

I see you, Machiavelli. And the first task with figuring you out is understanding the game being played.


REAL TALK: Managers are Looking for Alphas for Succession...

There's a millions things that go into a decision on succession, who gets the promotion and other spoils of career advancement.

I'm here today to talk about one of those things - being an alpha.

All things being equal, the leaders who make decisions about who moves up in the organization want someone who can take charge and lead. Gruden

I was reminded of this as I watched Hard Knocks, the series on HBO that follows a single professional football team in training camp.  The coach of the Oakland Raiders, Jon Gruden, spent over 5 minutes in a recent episode evaluating backup quarterbacks, with a job in the NFL on the line.  

Both quarterbacks were equal. What did Gruden want most? He wanted one of them to stop being passive/blending in and start taking charge, directing others and being vocal - and he was telling them as much.

In other words, he was equating leadership with alpha qualities that are visible in nature.

Most managers are looking for the same thing when it comes to promotional decisions, especially in spots that manage others.  All things being equal, alphas get the nod.

That's not you? You might need to fake it!!!  Or at least understand you have to summon your Alpha in select spots.

You may not be a natural alpha. That's OK.  Just understand that if you're in a competitive spot with others, sometimes succession and promotions are decided by observing who naturally asserts themselves in fluid situations.


Headphones at Work - Individual Contributor vs Manager of People...

In case you missed it, new research from AVS Forum polled 800 individuals for perceptions of people who wear headphones at work, at the gym and on public transportation. The full summary graph appears below (email subscribers, click through to my site if you don't see the graph).

TL:DR: Headphones don't make you viewed as pretentious as you might think - they've never been more accepted in the workplace, which makes 100% sense given the open floor plans in most of our organizations.

Headphones

One thing that the research didn't address was level of employee - my gut tells me headphones are most accepted for individual contributors, and maybe even for those who want to remain individual contributors for the foreseeable future.

So let's talk about upward mobility and headphone/earbud use.

First up - I'm not anti-headphones or a member of the abolish headphones at work party.  I get it - people can getHeadphones_at_work into a groove with certain types of jobs (creative, transactional, etc.) with the vibe that music provides.  That's cool and I'm all for it.  I also get that headphones are often an attractive option for dealing with the noise intrusion that comes with living in a cube environment.

But here's the reality that goes along with headphones in the workplace:

1) Managers of people probably need to limit their headphone time.  Managers can't afford to not be aware of their surroundings and be approachable.  Managers take calls and walk-ins from other managers, external partners and their superiors who put them in the job in the first place.  More importantly, managers are expected to be available for the teams they lead.  Nothing says, "I'm not approachable" more than a manager wearing headphones or earbuds. 

Well, maybe a closed door all the time says that to a greater extent.  But you get my point.

2) Employees who want to be upwardly mobile into the manager ranks typically take less headphone time. The type of employee who migrates into a managerial role is naturally available.  They thrive on the walk-in traffic and a service orientation to those who approach them.  For that reason, they wear headphones less than others.  The resulting service and approachability contribute to the organizational logic that they're good candidates to manage people.

So, if you are wearing headphones and are productive - ROCK ON.   It's all good and whatever makes you productive is a good thing.

Just be aware of what that says about your desire to lead teams if you have them on for 5-6 hours a day....

I'm just sayin'.....


One Big Difference Between The Naturals In Your Company - and Everyone Else...

First up, let's define a natural in your company.

A natural is someone who:

--Performs at a high level in their current job, and Natural

--Everyone with common sense understands they are promotable at least 3 levels above their current job - all they need is time, experience and a bit of guidance. 

There are many things that define a natural. This post isn't meant to be a comprehensive listing of those things.  This post will only feature the following characteristic of the natural:

The Natural fields inquiries from managers/execs 2 or more levels above them with a incredibly high sense of urgency and always seeks to overdeliver on work product and service related to these inquires.

I know what you're saying. Is this really that important, Kris?

Yeah. It is. 

There's a quote from Don Draper on Mad Man I'd like to throw in here. Enjoy:

"People tell you who they are, but we ignore it, because we want them to be who we want them to be."

We want to believe that all of our employees have the ability to do great things.  It's not true.

I was talking to a CFO I served at a past company and she was expressing frustration at getting things done across the team she had inherited.

She had identified one team member on a team of 20 as being high potential and had tagged the rest at being disposable. The criteria was pretty simple - it was related to how quickly the team members acted when she needed something or gave them an assignment.

Unfair? Maybe.

Are some of those team members good at their jobs? Probably. But most of them aren't naturals who are poised for great things in their careers. How do I know this?  When I think back across my career about the naturals I have known in my career, they could be juggling 30 things and when a request came in from a VIP in their domain, they always made that person feel like they were the most important person in the world.

--They didn't return the email 30 hours or more later.

--They didn't let the request go into the void without updating the exec on how it was going or a status that it was done.

--They didn't fail to engage the exec with their opinions about what might make the project better or how they went out of their way to do the best they could.

Average employees do all the things listed above.  Naturals never do those things.

You can be a good employee and not be a natural. You're just probably not going to be promoted on an annual basis.

As leaders, treat employee urgency and responsiveness to your requests as the test that it is.  Step back and observe who steps up and who doesn't.

"People tell you who they are, but we ignore it, because we want them to be who we want them to be."

Your commitment to coaching is noted. But you can't coach someone into natural status, so don't try.  Take it all in - the naturals are identifying themselves, all you have to do is watch and listen.


Why "Unlimited PTO" Is Stupid and Needs to be Replaced with Work/Life Integration...

Remember when "Unlimited PTO" was a fresh thought and really made you think about the relationship employees had with the organizations they worked for?

Yeah, me neither.

I just did a google search titled, "The Long Con of Unlimited PTO".  It didn't give me what I wanted, which was a simple take on a once hot idea.  I'm probably going to write that post in the future, just for the SEO benefit.

Most people have discounted Unlimited PTO at this point, citing the following downsides: Vacation

--Many jobs don't fit unlimited PTO (work that has to be scheduled).

--The worst employees always take advantage of the system.

--Without official rights to a certain amount of days, politics and perception intervene and employees will actually take fewer days.

--The whole premise of "just perform at a high level, then take all the time you want" is clouded by the fact we're HORRIBLE at measuring performance in most organizations. What's good? What's great?  Hmmm - I know it when I see it, which isn't actual guidance you can use.

Taking vacation was always about having work-life balance.  For those of you that routinely rep the need for balance and the need to disconnect, I feel you.  You do you and let me do me.  Here's my big thought:

For most people with families and complex lives, work-life balance isn't the issue. Flexibility is, which means we should probably be talking about something called work-life integration rather than work-life balance. 

There's a lot of confusion between the two terms. As work-life balance has shifted toward work-life integration, organizations have worked to understand the gap between the concepts. UC Berkeley offers a smart description of the difference between the two. They suggest using work-life integration in place of work-life balance because "the latter evokes a binary opposition between work and life."

Futurist Jacob Morgan suggested in a piece for Inc. that this is simply a progression of the way we do business. Morgan wrote that since it's nearly impossible to avoid work and life merging, today's employees should align their goals and experiences to create the life they want.

Amen. Work and life have been merging for awhile, and the higher up the food chain you go, the less you can uncouple the two sides of your life from one another.

That's why Unlimited PTO should be dead and work-life integration should be what we're working on.  A quick summary of what most professional grade employees need could be summarized like this:

"I have enough vacation (suck it, unlimited PTO!). What I really need is to leave work when I want/need to with you (my manager) not backbiting me when I leave at 4pm to get to an activity for one of my kids/<insert what people with no kids want the flexibility to do here>, because you understand I'm going to be on email later tonight or (gasp) while I'm actually doing the personal thing I left at 4pm to do."

That last part is critical. Work-life integration is a two-way street. As an employee, you've got to be willing to do things when you're not at work (which most of you are, anyway). If we could all grow up a bit and say that's how we're living our lives, maybe our organizations would step up and be more supportive of you booking out from work whenever you want/need to.

If you don't want that as an employee - I get it.

I've got something else for you.  It's called Unlimited PTO, and it's FANTASTIC.


Breaking Down the Onboarding Style of Steve Ballmer, Former Leader at Microsoft...

I'm over at my other site today - Fistful of Talent - talking about the leadership style of former Microsoft leader Steve Ballmer.  Ballmer is retired and now owns the Los Angeles Clippers, and his leadership style was on full display earlier this week.

Check out my post at FOT - "Could Your Onboarding of New Hires Be More Like Steve Ballmer?" - by clicking here.