BREAKING: Big Data Is Going to Tell Us Our Workforce is Hopelessly Flawed...

If you're a leader, you probably understand that the workplace is flawed. Whether you believe it is merely flawed or hopelessly flawed probably depends on your natural outlook and disposition.

Glass half-full? You know the workplace is flawed but you're confident we can make it better. Glass half-empty? You're jaded and shaking your head at what Skynetgifyou see.

But there is one emerging trend that's going to make even the most optimistic, Ned-Flanders types incredibly jaded.

Big Data.

If you mine the data from the systems you have access to, you're going to see a lot of ugly humanity. The smarter we get about ways to mine data and automate observations/trends, the more access we're going to have to the underbelly of human nature at work. Once these systems advance to a certain level, the only thing saving us from becoming incredibly jaded is....a Concern for privacy.

Case in point - a company named Synergy Sky, which has the following mission:

Synergy SKY that can leverage data from sensors, behaviour and your calendar to make all meetings more efficient.

We make use of the smart sensors in Cisco Room Series and third-party sensors for all other meeting rooms to achieve smarter utilization of meeting resources, through features such as no-show detection and booking vs actual usage reports.

Daaaaaaamn. Here's a recent press release on a product from Synergy Sky called Synergy of Things. Enjoy the total commitment to full control and the need for perfect efficiency:

New data from meetings technology providers Synergy SKY reveals 10% of workers are regularly booking fake meetings into their diary to keep colleagues thinking they are busier than they really are. 

The study conducted by Synergy SKY, who's meeting technology Synergy of Things tracks almost every possible conference call metric including “no-show detection” allowing managers to see stats on meeting attendance, reveals the average UK worker that books fake meetings is clocking up some 3 hours a week or over 150 hours a year in "fake meeting time". That works out at just over a whole month of deliberately wasted meeting-resources & time per year!

The study which analysed over 2500 meetings conducted via its software in 2019 was able to identify clusters of repeat meeting behaviour and it was on this basis Synergy SKY decided to conduct this study and uncover the truth.

Synergy SKY’s products Synergy Analyze and Synergy of Things were able to analyse over 2500 meetings and look at how many meetings were being booked but nobody was attending as the software tracks physical attendance through motion detection in meeting conference rooms and seamlessly synchronises with users personal calendars therefore allowing more insight into meeting events and workers schedules. 

It's coming for all of us. There's going to be as much data as we want, and we're going to have to make decisions on what data matters and what doesn't. If you believe that fake meetings are a problem, you'll want this type of solution. Of course, what you do with that information and how you engage your organization with this access to data depends a lot on your values as a company or leader.

You know the values I'm talking about...Trust, Respect for Privacy, Autonomy...LOL.

Put on your helmet folks, the privacy issues you've been exposed to are only the tip of the iceberg.


Unlimited Vacation vs. Remote Work: Who Wins?

If there's ever been a hype machine that reached peak myth status in the world of HR, it's unlimited vacation, trailed closely by:

--no performance reviews PTO

--dog-friendly company

--peer feedback

--HSA accounts

But I digress. Much has been written about the cool, trusting and performance-first view of any company that would dare to offer unlimited vacation. I have to admit, it's intoxicating, until you figure out that most employees are dramatically underprepared to think about the responsibility and accountability that goes with the perk. I'd argue that there are 3 types of employees related to how their perceive and get their heads around unlimited vacation:

--The clueless. They think they can really take as much vacation as they want and really don't look inward at their performance related to their level of PTO. (10% of your employee population)

--The strong. High performers who operate at a higher level. They already understand that they're generally always on and appreciate unlimited vacation giving them the change to work and play something other than the office. They always answer the phone, so no one really challenges their face time.  They've already proven in. The also understand that their vacation is only vacation until it isn't, at which they hop online or on the horn and knock the required #### out. (10%)

--The huddled masses. Please - these people need rules and routines. They've been around the block enough to know that nothing is free, so they end up taking the same amount of vacation as they had under the old policy and are secretly pissed because they feel like the new rules create just enough gray area where no one really respects the fact that they are "off" when they are "off". (80%)

That scenario begs the following question - would employees rather have unlimited vacation or a healthy remote work schedule?

No question - they want remote work.

If you look at the scenarios above related to how groups react to unlimited vacation, only one group is self actualizing - the strong. But unlimited vacation becomes a form of remote work for them.  The clueless? They think they're living the dream, until you swoop in and deal with the issue by removing them from the company. The huddled masses can't stand your unlimited vacation free-for-all because they're scared to death of the consequences for not being around or having face time.

Remote work wins over unlimited vacation ALL DAY LONG.

Did I mention we might go to a dog-friendly workplace (said in my best carnival barker voice)?  Did I mention we're thinking about replacing the PPO with HSAs, which are cool, progressive and allow to manage the cost of your healthcare?

Unlimited vacation is a dream - it's the opiate of the masses.  Remote work is an OD strategy that actually can improve lives, productivity and retention.

Remote work beats unlimited vacation 10 times out of 10.  It's a four game sweep in a seven game series.


You Probably Need This In Your D&I Stack: Microaggression Awareness...

Saw a social post last week from a friend in the HR Business that said a manager was providing performance feedback to an employee, and the employee told them they had used a microaggression. The manager didn't know what that was and had to look it up.

But that's why you have me. You know what a microaggression is even if you don't know it by name.  Here's the definition from Wikipedia: Micro

Microaggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.[1] The term was coined by psychiatrist and Harvard University professor Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals which he regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflicting on African Americans. By the early 21st century, use of the term was applied to the casual degradation of any socially marginalized group, including LGBT, people living in poverty, and people that are disabled.  Psychologist Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as "brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership". The persons making the comments may be otherwise well-intentioned and unaware of the potential impact of their words.

A number of scholars and social commentators have critiqued the microaggression concept for its lack of scientific basis, over-reliance on subjective evidence, and promotion of psychological fragility. Critics argue that avoiding behaviours that one interprets as microaggressions restricts one's own freedom and causes emotional self-harm, and that employing authority figures to address microaggressions can lead to an atrophy of those skills needed to mediate one's own disputes.  Some argue that, because the term "microaggression" uses language connoting violence to describe verbal conduct, it can be (and is) abused to exaggerate harm, resulting in retribution and the elevation of victimhood.

You know - saying stupid ***t.  Need examples of Microaggressions?  I thought you'd never ask, click here for some doozies of the racial category.

When I think about microaggressions, I also think about some related factors - what is the intent and what's the relationship between the people involved?  As you look at the link above, there are some microaggressions listed that are never OK. But as you get away from that page and get into the gray area, it becomes murky.

Case in point, I'm attempting to limit my greeting of groups of people by saying, "Guys". I didn't try and limit this based on feedback, but on reading that some females were bothered by it. My struggle to improve in this area is real, and it's not helped by all the women in my life who walk into a room and say, "what's up, guys?"

My struggle. Not yours. But a good example of how seemingly accepted language can seep into the microaggression category.

At the end of the day, microaggression belongs somewhere in your D&I training stack.  I'd simply introduce the concept (I guarantee you that 80% of your people, maybe more, don't know what it is) and then list 20 potential questions, phrases, etc and have the team say yes/no - is this phrase or question a microaggression?

Some will be over the top, but a lot will be in the gray area and drive disagreement. But it's the dialog that others have from a training perspective that matters.

As soon as your folks discuss, awareness goes up.  And microaggressions automatically go down.

I worry that we've become too political correct, but microaggression awareness is worthy of attention inside your organization.


How To Not Get Killed In A "What's Wrong" Focus Group At Your Company...

Simple post today.  From time to time, HR pros have to do focus groups to determine the climate of the employee relations environment at their company.  Ideally, this is done before there's smoke in the air.  But at times, especially in a multi-location environment, that's impossible.

So how do you approach a group of 10-12 employees (focus group) to get them to talk about the challenges, but not get beheaded in the process?  You're going to have to ask open-ended Valley
questions to get employees to give you details about what's messed up, so the best approach I've found is this:

--Ask each employee to give you TWO THINGS THAT ARE WORKING WELL FOR THEM AT YOUR COMPANY and TWO THINGS THAT NEED FAST IMPROVEMENT

It sounds simple, right?  I think we'd be surprised how many HR pros who walk into hostile environments don't force the attendees of focus groups to give them some positives.

The positives are there to balance the feedback loop.  It forces people to articulate the positives in their environment, which is important for fellow employees to hear.  

Of course, the negatives/opportunities for improvement are going to be there. You'll get those.  But if you know you're walking into a tough session and fail to be brave enough to ask for the positives, you run a higher probability of losing control of the group.

Some responses you'll hear when you ask for the positives:

"The people I work with"

"The people I work with"

"The people I work with"

"The people I work with"

Not a typo.  Expect that if you're walking into a tough environment, the answers will focus on fellow employees enduring the struggle, not anything that gives credit to the company.  That's OK - you're just looking to balance the feedback loop.  You can accept this answer from as many people as want to give it.

You also might here some smart### responses like:

"I haven't lost any fingers yet"

My advice?  Accept the "people I work with" response from all and if you get a wisecracker, laugh with everyone else and then follow up and ask for a serious one.  Accept "The people I work with" from all and ask for at least one other positive that someone hasn't given the group yet.

Good luck with your paratrooper-like focus group sessions.  Don't be afraid to ask for the positives - it will make your session much more productive.


Sheryl Sandberg and the Balancing Act of Personal Mission vs Company Mission...

Personal values in the business world are tricky. While we all have the code we live by, we also have to go out and make a living for ourselves and are families.

Generally speaking, the average professional doesn't have huge conflicts between their Gallowaypersonal code of ethics and who they work for. Of course, from time to time their might be a meaningful "situation" that causes us to take a personal inventory of what's most important, but for the most part the biggest struggle we have is having to eat large amounts of **** to stay employed, because that's just the way world is.

Work is hard. Business is harder. Put on a helmet.

BUT - the most lofty among us have choices. I'm talking about people who have truly made it, creating wealth throughout their careers that helps them arrive at the point where they no longer have to eat large amounts of ****.  People who have arrived have choices - but do they have an obligation to make things better for the rest of us or take a stand against disconnects between their code and the company they work for?

This is on my mind as I read, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway. In the book, Galloway fires off this gem regarding Sheryl Sandberg:

“Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg told women to “lean in” because she meant it, but she also had to register the irony of her message of female empowerment set against a company that emerged from a site originally designed to rank the attractiveness of Harvard undergraduates, much less a firm destroying tens of thousands of jobs in an industry that hires a relatively high number of female employees: media and communications.”

---"The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway

Shots. Fired.

I don't believe that Sandberg has any requirement to leave Facebook due to the origin/mission disconnect referenced between Facebook and someone who would author a powerful book like Lean In. I could easily make the argument that Sandberg can do more good for women at Facebook than she can anywhere else in the world.

But the stronger your push related to mission, the more disconnects matter. Especially when you have acquired the means, which automatically reminds me of this Ferris quote.

Is Sandberg a hypocrite as Galloway seems to be alluding to? I say no. But it's an interesting case study related to this reality - the more you go on record and define your professional brand by mission, the more people will identify the inconsistencies and attempt to hold you accountable.


Use This Quote When Convincing Someone to Decline An Offer From a Big Company...

"It's better to be a pirate than join the Navy."

-Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was brutal in many ways, but with his brutality came moments of pure clarity.  This quote is one of those moments. Johnny-depp

The stale way to make the same point is obvious - "Why do you want to go work for that big company?  They're going to bury your talent. You know all those ideas you have?  You won't get to chase any of them at IBM.  They'll just pod you up in the matrix and suck your energy over the next decade, leaving you a husked-out former version of yourself."

Wait - that's actual pretty good.  A more standard version is "You're going to there and be bored immediately."

Still, I like the clarity of the Jobs quote.  If you're working for a smaller firm, you need every competitive advantage you can get as you fight for the hires you need.  This quote, while not perfect, is a good tool to have.

It just so happens that the only people that it works on are the people who are actually inclined to believe that they're more than cogs in the corporate wheel.  Use this quote on a person who's happy being a cog, and they might dance with you a bit - but ultimately they're going to grab for the security that only thousands (often tens of thousands) of employees can provide.  Doesn't make them bad people or not talented - it's a preference for security and risk management.

But they're looking to enlist with a big entity like the Navy - not roam the seven seas on that cool, but rickety boat you call a company and wonder if you'll be around in a year.

If you're at a smaller firm, the best hires you will make are the people that don't look like pirates - but have it buried in their DNA.  If you think you have one of those people, I'd talk in broad terms about the pirate-like things you're going to do at your company.

Pirates like Johnny Depp, BTW - not Somali pirates.

Go buy some eye patches for your next round of interviews. Dare a candidate to ask you why you're wearing one.


WHEN THE BOSS BULLIES THE TEAM: METH, I'M ON IT...

By now, most of you have seen the anti-drug campaign coming out of South Dakota with ads that show regular people with one of two tag lines:

"Meth, I'm On It"

"Meth, We're On It"

There's a lot of layers to the visual campaign, including:

1--South Dakota, like many states, has a huge Meth problem. Meth+we're+on+it

2--The ads show regular people. The assumption is that by being on "it", the people show are either using Meth and you don't know it, or the people shown are mobilizing to fight the epidemic.  A double entendre, perhaps.

3--When the campaign launched, there was laughter. Ridicule, even.

Here's some analysis from the Huffington Post. Take a look and I'll give you my take after the jump:

South Dakota’s governor on Monday unveiled what she considered a powerful new anti-drug campaign to combat the use of methamphetamine in the state. Now, TV spots, billboards, posters and a website featuring South Dakotans saying “Meth. We’re on it” is going viral ― for better or for worse.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem launched the campaign to raise awareness about the meth epidemic in South Dakota. The state spent $450,000 for a Minnesota ad agency to come up with the slogan and campaign, reported the Argus Leader. Noem also requested more than $1 million in funding to support treatment services.

But the new slogan is being ridiculed by many and attacked on Twitter in viral hashtags.

Bill Pearce, assistant dean at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, criticized the campaign. “I’m sure South Dakota residents don’t like being laughed at. That’s what’s happening right now,” he told The Washington Post. 

Noem defended the new slogan, saying all the uproar suggested the campaign was working. “Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working,” she tweeted.

When I've brought this up to my friends and laughed about it, they've brought up a good point- if people are talking about it, isn't that the goal? Hasn't South Dakota already won with the coverage?

To that, I say, NO.  Somewhere in South Dakota, here's how the decision making process went:

1--The ad firm pitched the boss the idea for "Meth, We're On it".

2--The boss adopted the idea as her own and sponsored it HEAVILY.  The message was clear, "Meth, WERE ON IT, right? I love this idea", said the boss.

3--The underlings couldn't bring themselves to tell the boss what they really thought. As time passed, the stakes were higher. Costs were sunk.

4--The campaign launched and what everyone around the Boss thought happened. The state took a huge "L" and the mockings dramatically outweighed the benefit.

My friends, this is what happens when a leader has a reputation for having to have all the best ideas and operates as a non-collaborator.  When direct reports can't win debates and arguments - even when they are right - really bad decisions get though and big failure happens.

Was the campaign worth the attention? Ask the 2,000 families in the state that got a mock Christmas card of their family created by relatives outside the state. Their family is pictured, with the now famous font "Meth, We're On It" superimposed and distributed to 100 other people in the family outside the state of South Dakota.

Good times. But that leader got what She wanted - and for good effect, immediately requested 1M in funding for the epidemic, which is like you and me requesting $1 for help with our annual cost of health insurance.

Always ask and listen to your team. Give them a chance to help save you.


What Sales Rep Title Will Generate the Most Traffic to Your Job Posting?

Great research and post over at OnGig related to which Sales Titles generate the most traffic to job postings.

You can click on the image to the right to blow up the pie charts to a more readable view. Sales titles

To summarize what OnGig found, here's some numbers on the most prevalent sales job titles and the traffic they generated.  Take a look and we'll talk about it after the jump:

Sales Associate:

# of Google Searches per month:  37,900

# of Results on Indeed.com: 148,582

Sales Representative:

# of Google Searches per month:  15,800

# of Results on Indeed.com: 42,775

Account Executive:

# of Google Searches per month: 13,300

# of Results on Indeed.com: 16,312

Business Development Manager (BDM):

# of Google Searches per month: 8,000

# of Results on Indeed.com: 4,638

Salesperson:

# of Google Searches per month: 6,700

# of Results on Indeed.com: 5,229

What's it all mean? Go read the OnGig post for greater depth, as they have quality insights into the trends into the sales world. Here's my thoughts:

--Sales Associate is going to net you people who want to work in retail. If that's not you, don't use the title.

--When comparing Sales Representative vs Account Executive, I would tell you that the higher end the sales position, the more it leans to "account executive".  My experience is that the AE title delivers more white collar sales pros who are "hunters" vs "farmers" in sales world.  Also notable is that while there's almost 3X as many Sales Rep positions as there are AEs, the search traffic is the same - meaning there's no penalty for using the AE title if a hunter is what you're after.

--Business Development Manager (BDM) - if your intent is to find an independent sales pro, be careful with manager titles in the posting. Better to use Sales Rep or AE to clarify what you're looking for, then give them whatever title you need to in your company's convention of titles once they are hired and in the door.

--Not listed here but a problem - the use of Account Manager as a title. If you're looking for a hunting sales rep and post using the AM title, you're inviting relationship people who aren't used to hunting to apply for your role. You'll either tell all of them no or make an ineffective hire - either way you lose, so stay away from that title if closed new business is your goal.

As with all job postings, title matters. So does a clean, effective job posting that allows people to see what's most important to you, and most importantly - opt out without applying if they aren't a fit.

Be clean on title and what's most important to you early in the posting, and your false positive hires will go down.

Happy Hunting!


Trigger Warnings on Disney+...Could They Work for Managers?

Did you sign up for Disney+ over the last couple of weeks?  10 million other households did.

You didn't know you needed another streaming service, but Disney+ comes with some unique features, mainly that the entire catalog of Disney is available for streaming. That's a deep catalog.

Of course, even though the catalog is deep, there's some issues. Material sourced from the 1930's, 40's and 50's might have some theme that aren't Lady and tramp warninginline with today's world. For this reason, Disney has implemented a "trigger" warning of sorts on any material that might be challenging.  More from the Washington Times:

Disney’s new streaming service has added a trigger warning to certain classic movies like “The Jungle Book” and “Lady and the Tramp” to address possible “outdated cultural depictions” that could offend viewers.

Disney Plus, which launched Tuesday amid a host of technical issues, issued a disclaimer on some decades-old movies that reads, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

The warning appears in the movie descriptions for “Dumbo,” “The Jungle Book” and “Lady and the Tramp,” among others that have faced criticism for depicting racial stereotypes.

My super-conservative friends view that as more political correctness. I view it as a masterful stroke by Disney. Let me share the warning/disclaimer again, by itself:

“This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

That's solid communications work by Disney. It allows them to share the material and satisfy fans, but also warns that this stuff is from another day and time, even another world. It's even educational and can drive conversations in households with reasonable people who want that type of conversation. And of course, the warning allows you not to watch as well.

Of course, I'm a HR/recruiting/talent nerd. The first thing I thought of was this:

Could we use the same type of trigger warning for good people in your organization who are insensitive to the needs of others and seem to run afoul of public opinion at least once a quarter?

I'm not talking about people who are blatantly racist, etc. I'm talking about the people who are likable but grew up different from you and me and haven't made the complete turn to the 2020. They mean well. But they can't get out of their own way.  We don't want to give up on them.

Let's say you've got an incoming email from this person. There could be a pop-up that could say the following before you read the email:

"This individual is presented as a work in progress. He/she may contain outdated cultural norms, beliefs or depictions. We believe they're evolving, but it's a work in progress."

That's truthful for a lot of people in the average organization. It feels right.

Of course, some of you would snap the warning or share it in your IG story and ruin the feature.

This is why we can't have nice things. Continue about your day without organizational warnings that could make our work life better. LOL.


Who Sucked Out The Feeling? You Did.

Look around could it bring somebody down
If I never made a sound again?

Who sucked out the feeling?

--Sucked Out by Superdrag

Quick thought while I'm on vacation.  Let's say you're on a conference call, you've got 3 people in a room and either another person or team on the other line.  Something comes up you're not sure about or perhaps you have a disagreement on your end - in your room.  To resolve the issue, you make the decision to mute your line so you can discuss on your end without being heard.

You just sucked all the good times and trust out of the relationship.  If not forever, for awhile.

I'm not talking about two sides battling on an issue.  I'm talking about two or more parties working for a common good, be it a project, an initiative or a product launch.  

You muted your line. #Interesting

Who sucked out the feeling? You did.  We'll be on the other end feeling small.  Holler when it's time for the kids to come back in the room!

Unless you're negotiating an armistice to an armed conflict or a legal matter, just tell people you're going to discuss and get back to them.  That feels 100 times better than a 2-minute mute session.

Enjoy the Superdrag video below.  If you've heard this cut, tell me you haven't screamed the chorus along with the lead singer of average talent.