Can Organizations Lead by Darth Vader/Nick Saban Thrive When Leaders Retire?

Short post today.  I'm interested in the longevity of performance when a dynamic individual leader either leaves or simply GTDTTKDT.

GTDTTKDT - Gets Too Damn Tired To Keep Doing This

GTDTTKDT happens at the end of a dynamic leader's career.  A good example is Nick Saban, who is the head coach and let's face it, the CEO of the University of Alabama football program.  He hasn't got GTDTTKDT yet, but if he stays around too long, it will happen.

Saban's ruled Alabama Football with an iron fist, and it shows in multiple national championships.  Has he created a culture than can be sustained when he retires? Saban

The answer is probably no.  Leaders who rule organizations with a iron fist are effective because they are control freaks who value process and one way above everything else.  They aren't delegators, which means they generally don't build culture than can sustain results after they are gone.

There's probably a good reason for that. 

Iron fist/command leaders are rare birds, individuals who are willing to focus on things and generally be disagreeable at any moment to people who aren't down with the "plan".

I was watching an ESPN special on Saban and Alabama last night, and Saban went on a 3-minute rant as 30 coaches and hired hands for practice listened regarding the following topic - that there should be a visual illustration of a drill to be ran that's covered in a meeting, then a walk through, before you actually attempt to run a drill in practice.

He was proposing that there was a 3-day process before a new drill should be attempted in a football practice.

He was pissed that it didn't happen on a single drill on an pedestrian August day.

He's a freak, an outlier.  You can't teach it. 

When Darth Vader shows up, you either commit to the process and hand him to the keys to the Space Force complex, or you run like hell.  Once you're in, you're in.

But don't expect the command and culture leader to transfer a culture to his assistants.

As it turns out, no one has the will of the Darth Vader in front of you.  

#wareagle


EMAIL + WORK: We Need Tags Like "Facts", "Opinions" and "Danger"

Most of us have been overwhelmed by email at work.  Even though the advent of the smart phone has made it easier to keep up, it's been pointed out that the digital leash this provides is of questionable value.

When you really think about it, the contrast of traditional Outlook Exchange and Gmail provides a pretty good backdrop for what's possible.  Outlook is clunky, hard to personalize and not very flexible, but it wins a lot of users because it's the defacto choice for the enterprise.  Gmail, on the other hand, has become the defacto choice for everyone else who doesn't have an email choice forced on them by the company.

Gmail features like enhanced search and tagging provide flexibility Outlook can't match.  A recent product annoucement for Google News got me thinking about what else is possible with email.  More from TechCrunch on advanced tagging:

"Today Google added a new “fact-check” tag to its popular Google News service. The site aggregates popular timely news from multiple sources and has traditionally grouped them with tags like “opinion,” “local source” and “highly cited.” Now readers can see highlighted fact-checks right next to trending stories.

The company cites the growing prominence of fact-checking sites as one of the reasons for creating the tag. Content creators will be able to add the new fact-check tag to posts themselves using a finite set of pre-defined source labels.  

ClaimReview from Schema.org will be used to compile and organize stories offering factual background. The Schema community builds markups for structured data on the internet. The group is sponsored by Google but also has support from Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex."

The fact that tags are in play everywhere got me thinking.  Why can't email be smarter related to the type of email that's flowing into our work inbox hundreds of times per week?  Gmail already has transcended what's possible in Outlook by sorting emails into tags that include "primary/social/promotions" and delivering those types of emails into separate inboxes.

What would help us for work-related to emails?  I'm thinking tags that would separate our non-junk emails into three primary groups:

--Facts - Similar in some aspects to the Google News feature, this would use smart technology to determine an email is an attempt to educate with facts of some type with limited opinion added to it.  We all get emails that are fact-based and designed to be consumed when we have time.  This would be the tag for those data dumps.

--Opinions - This email tag would tell us that an email contains primarily opinion about something in the workplace.  There might be facts in the background, but this email type would tell us that someone or a group is providing their opinion about a topic.  Let's face it, these are the most interesting to us.

--Danger - The most valuable of all my proposed tags, I'd love to see smart technology sift through the emails and tag the ones that cross a danger threshold, telling me I really need to consider the way I respond.  This would sniff out email chains related to my work, a boss or skip level exec who's emotional about something in my wheelhouse, or people I've responded to a in less than optimal way in the past.

It's probably time that email becomes smart and helps us figure out what to prioritize and when more caution/rigor is necessary.

What did I miss?  A "hot take" tag?  A "crazy" tag?  You tell me.


Must Listen Interview: Robert Hohman of Glassdoor...

You hate Glassdoor. Check.

You can't get your good employees to rate you on Glassdoor. Understood.

Are you done? Can I move on?  Ok, finish your tweet - I'll wait.

Look, I know Glassdoor is a sticky issue. But it's a reality in our world.  You might as well seek to understand it.

That's why this interview with Robert Hohman, co-founder and CEO of Glassdoor, is a great listen.  Hohman appeared on Recode/Decode, a podcast hosted by Kara Swisher, one of the strongest female figures in Silicon Valley and the business world.

One to the things you'll learn in the podcast is that Hohman was part of the early team at Expedia, and the goal of that team was to bring more transparency to the travel industry.  After the team gradually left that company after being purchased by Hotwire, Hohman and people on that team looked for other industries that needed more transparency. 

Guess what came up on that list? Careers and a look inside companies - and Glassdoor was born.

Other team members found similar opportunities elsewhere - a Expedia teammate of Hohman's disrupted real estate and founded Zillow.

Regardless of how you feel about Glassdoor, throw this podcast on on the drive home. Hohman is engaging, educational about the thought process behind Glassdoor and insightful about the research the company has on our workplaces.  (email subscribers click through if you don't see the player below)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BROOOOOADDDDWAYYYYYY!!!!!!!


The Art of Timing Submission of Your Best Candidate to Difficult Hiring Managers...

And they ask you about the game you claim you got
Drop science now, why not?
You start to sweat and fret, it gets hot
How'd you get into this spot?
You played yourself...
Yo, yo, you played yourself...
 
--Ice-T

You know where I'm going with this if you clicked through, right?

Difficult hiring managers.  Not to be confused with those who suck.  Or maybe that's the same thing - I'll let you decide that...

There's an art to dealing with difficult hiring managers that pride themselves on only agreeing to interview candidates who are a direct match to the 15 things they gave you in the intake meeting.  You know how this goes, you work hard, have a decent slate of 3-5 candidates that represents what the market is in the first 7 days - then the difficult hiring manager won't talk to any of them.

That's why you might need to change your strategy with any hiring manager who fits this profile.

Instead of giving them the full slate, hold your best candidate back from your first set of submissions.

The hiring manager who rejects everything but the perfect candidate early usually becomes more flexible later.  Once the opening moves in the 30-60 day age range, pressure to get the position filled mounts.  The same candidates that were rejected at face value early suddenly become what I'll call "possibly viable" late (also know as grudgingly viable).

If you know specific hiring managers are going to hate everyone early, don't give them everyone.  Hold your best back.

Let them cycle through the superiority complex, including the following gems:

--"This is a great job - I need a great candidate"

--"This is a unique opportunity"

--"I think we can find someone who has X, Y, K and Z.  But I really need U, N, Q and E also.  Let's keep looking"

--"I need someone in the 60K range who has all those things. These people want 75k?  Let's keep looking"

If this feels nasty, I get that. But you''re working hard as the HR pro/recruiter on the case.  Your work is good. Don't allow it to be thrown in the trashcan if you know someone is going to do that 9 of 10 times with your first round of submissions.

Let the clock tick. Let the pressure mount. Manage the expectations of the candidate you're holding like the card that gives you the full house.

Then at the right moment, put the candidate/card down.

#winning

 

 


Mindfulness and Meditation Might Be Bad For Your Company...

There's a great scene in the movie The Matrix i'll use as the intro to talking about mindfulness.  It goes something like this - one of the machines (Agent Smith) has captured the leader of the human resistance, and he can't help but taunt his prisoner (Morpheus) about how stupid the human race is.  The quote is as follows:

"Did you know that the first Matrix (editors note - this is the software program the human minds are plugged into as prisoners) was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that as a species that human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this, the peak of your civilization. I say "your civilization" because as soon as we started thinking for you, it really became our civilization which is, of course what this is all about."

Translation - there can be a lot of unintended consequences to what seems like the right thing to do. Smith

So let's talk about mindfulness and meditation. I haven't been bitten by the bug, but I've actually been at conferences where someone asked the question if they could force people to use the meditation rooms at her company.

I'm not joking. 

Mindfulness and meditation are hot topics/trends in the cutting edge of corporate America.  There are a lot of people experimenting with this.  We accept through research that this is good for our employees (I'm assuming, I don't have research to quote), but we've never really asked if it's good for the company or even the employee's career.  Hmm.

A new study digs into that question. More from the BBC:

"Meditation has long shed its Buddhist roots to become a secular answer to all of our ills in the West, with numerous studies finding benefits like reduced stress and better concentration.

Some of the world’s biggest firms, including Google and Nike, have embraced the practice, using meditation programmes as a way of tackling stress, staff turnover and absenteeism.

Meditation is also used as a tool to motivate workers, partly thanks to research on the relationship between wellbeing and productivity. But a new study suggests that mindfulness meditation, a popular type of meditation that practises being aware in the present, may not be the best way to increase your motivation at work."

That's the level set for the research.  Here's what the study found about mindfulness meditation, which is a flavor you''ll encounter on your journey if you explore the sector of meditation:

“Meditation is about accepting the present, which is the opposite to being motivated to do something, where the present moment isn’t acceptable, so meditation is inconsistent with being motivated to achieving a goal,” argues Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study.  

Vohs enlisted hundreds of participants to test her theory across five studies. In the first, 109 participants were given audio instructions in common mindfulness meditation techniques by a meditation coach. A comparison group were asked to simply let their minds wander.

After one 15-minute session, all participants were asked to tackle some simple tasks including doing an anagram puzzle and editing a cover letter. They were then asked how motivated they felt to carry on with the task.

Vohs, and her co-author Andrew Hafenbrack from the Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics in Portugal, found that the self-reported motivation levels of those who had meditated were lower than the control group, though their performance of the task wasn’t affected. The meditators also had fewer thoughts about the future, which the researchers said could interrupt the behavioural processes that contribute to achieving goals.

“The Western world, Americans in particular, love a panacea,” she says. “If mindfulness meditation came in a pill form, we’d all be on top of it. It’s calorie-free, portable, it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s capitalised onto you sitting down and doing nothing. To think the antidote to what ails you is to ‘just be’ is probably a welcome message, but it’s pure speculation.”

Meditation is a fast-growing industry – in 2018 meditation services are expected to generate $1.15bn for the US economy, according to IBISWorld’s Alternative Healthcare Providers in the US industry report – and Vohs’ message is an unusual one amid a generally positive tide.

Another study from Germany and the Netherlands that looked at mindfulness in the workplace, meanwhile, found participants reported improved wellbeing and lower stress levels, but didn’t look at motivation. 

So, the picture is mixed and, according to Desbordes, compounded by confusion over what mindfulness actually is. Some mindfulness teachers, she says, teach the importance of putting your daily suffering aside to achieve a new level of consciousness, whereas others advocate gaining insight into these challenges and how to improve them; two very conflicting approaches."

Look, I'm just a kid from the Midwest who lived in a blue collar household growing up.  

Am I skeptical of meditation and mindfulness?  Yes.  Am I open to learning more? Yes - and I have an app on my phone as proof I know I should be exploring this more.

But the article referenced above is a cautionary tale to me.  Agent Smith had to make the Matrix less than perfect to get the results the machines wanted.  Mindfulness Meditation might put your employees so much as ease that they're more mellow than you'd like them to be about goals.

The truth and the right solution is out there somewhere - but you're going to have to invest a lot of time to find it - and to ensure you don't get unintended consequences from your meditation program.

(h/t to Jenny Briggs for the article referenced, she's one of the best Human Capital pros I know!!)

 


Asking for Salary Info: Your Latest Rundown of Which States/Cities Have Bans

Ok, kids - we're up to 10 states and 8 municipalities that have outlawed/banned asking candidates questions about pay history.

That's a lot.  Kind of sneaks up on you.

The laws are aimed at ending the cycle of pay discrimination and some go further than merely banning pay history questions. A few also prohibit an employer from relying on an applicant's pay history to set compensation if discovered or volunteered; others prohibit an employer from taking disciplinary action against employees who discuss pay with coworkers.

The best running updated list is found here - at HRdive.  Go check it out.

h/t to Jason Cimno at Kinetix for sharing the resource!

 


When Employees Challenge Others to Step Up or Get Out...

The Cleveland Browns (pro football) are bad.  HBO has a show called "Hard Knocks", which embeds cameras at a training camp of one team each year.  This year, they are on campus with the Browns.

The hope, of course, is that the organizational dumpster fire that is the Cleveland Browns will provide notable moments.

Look, kids!  The Browns are doing it to themselves!  Those lovable losers!! Jarvis

Good news - Hard Knocks at the Browns started us off with a notable human capital moment.  More from the Ringer:

"After a particularly disappointing practice where Jarvis Landry and Hue Jackson were visibly frustrated with the effort of Cleveland’s pass catchers, Jarvis Landry asked whether he could address the receivers room.

“Fellas, I don’t know what the f**k is going on here, and I don’t know why it’s been going on here,” Landry says, “But if you not hurt, like your hamstring ain’t falling off the f**king bone, or your leg ain’t broke, I don’t even know, you should be f**king practicing. Straight up. That sh*t is weakness, and that shit is contagious as f**k. And that sh*t ain’t gonna be in this room, bruh. That sh*t been here in the past and that’s why the past has been like it is. That sh*t is over with here.”

The words land because Landry, who the team acquired in a trade this offseason and signed to a five-year extension with $47 million guaranteed, spends the episode walking the walk. His workouts include catching medicine balls one-handed while balancing on a Bosu ball with one foot, which explains why his dazzling one-handed catches look so effortless. In practice, Landry’s aggressive work ethic routinely rises above the other players on the field. Every catch he makes is inevitably punctuated by “bless you,” which he delivers with a sincerity that is more effective than actual trash-talking."

Sorry about the language.  But it's notable in that Landry is coming into an organization as an employee, knows what he's walking into isn't world class, and is trying to change the culture.

If my career managing people has taught me anything, it's that change agents are needed.  Some thoughts about change agents who come into organizations with statements and challenges like Landry - and what has to be present for them to be successful:

1--Change Agents who are highly verbal and challenging must perform at a high level.

2--The same change agents must mentor others, rather than simply dressing people down verbally.

3--In order for the change agent to be successful, managers and the company must support those efforts and embrace the cause, removing people who don't get on the bus of change.

In short, Jarvis better perform, should use the development of others in positive terms as a leader for an equally powerful statement as a change agent, and the organization (the Browns) should be ready to move people out - if they believe that Jarvis Landry represents their view of what the future is.

The same thing applies to your company - except your change agents can't get that many F-bombs in.

 


Lessons for HR: A PhD on Netflix Revenue and Spending...

 "The goal, is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."

-Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

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

Simple task from the HRC today.  Watch this six minute video below and get a PhD on the Netflix spending spree on original shows and how it justifies burning money as they grow the subscriber base.

Netflix is pretty good at the pivot.  Lots to learn here... (email subscribers click through if you don't see the video below)

 More on the economics of Netflix in this Wired article from 2017 as well...


If You're Going to Fail, Fail Small, Grasshopper...

My friend, Tim Sackett, has a post/video about Failure Being The New Black.  His hypothesis is that we've all been fed a load of crap when it comes to failure.  His point is that all the new age thinking that failure is good in careers/business is total BS - and we ought to be more focused on success, not failure.

I'm going to cut down the middle on this one.  Is failure OK?  I think it is at times. Fd company

Is big failure OK?  No - because you should have done some homework and seen it coming.

The goal should be designing change in your company in a way that makes failure as small as possible.  To do that, you have to be disciplined in your approach to experimentation.

There are a lot of buzzwords out there that I could use here - Agile, Lean, Scrum, Kanban - just to name a few.  I'm an expert in none of those - but I think we can learn a lot from broad principles pulled from some of these development methodologies.

Let's say you're going to change how recruiting is delivered at your company.  You could put a big project plan together, slides, etc - and go on an approval tour in your company to show how this change is going to rock everyone's world.

You might believe it - but it's 50/50 at best that it's going to work.  If you fail, that's a big failure and not OK - and you're just proving Tim's point.

But if you simply carve out 5 open jobs, create a hypothesis of what you think will happen if you treat those a different way, then conduct an experiment and measure the results before deciding to try and sell the change globally - you're actually using broad Agile/Lean/Scrum/Kanban principles.

It's called Minimum Viable Product - which is designed to test your assumption before you spend a lot of money/time and potentially fail spectacularly.  Let's say there are 10 sub-strategies related to your big recruiting change.  Why not test one of those strategies on 5 jobs and see what happens, then evaluate it in an objective fashion?

Small failure is OK, big failure is not.  It sounds like a cliche, but failing fast - and cheap - is the way to go.  It's also the way to prove ideas for big change as part of a bigger plan.

If you fail spectacularly, you probably suck.  You should have broken it up and experienced the lighter pain waaaaaay earlier.