One Way To Turn an Unexpected Resignation into a PR Win...

If there's one cool thing about my career, it's that I'm surrounded by masters.  People doing great things. Leaders.. wait for it.. leading.  Innovation everywhere.

And when required, the best people I'm surrounded by aren't afraid to play a little hardball.  The kind Board room of hardball that's not afraid (when you're out of line and the company might get hurt) to throw a 105 mile per hour fastball at someone's upper extremity.

Because, you know - they had it coming.

Case in point.  A CEO friend of mine (Knowledge Management company, appox 1500 FTEs) recently had a high-level resignation on her team. Here's the specs of the situation: The spot being vacated was an important role, and the incumbent gave her no notice that they were thinking about leaving, although the division being managed was struggling. The incumbent had actually been put in place to turn around the struggling division, transferred into the role as a high potential with the capability of getting the turnaround done.

Then the incumbent resigned. My friend thought about that for 12 hours, then released an org announcement to the rest of the company that did the following:

  1. Announced the news that the leader was leaving.
  2. Thanked the incumbent for their service.
  3. Announced the leader who was taking over the struggling division in the interim, and maybe forever.
  4. Talked openly and honestly about the challenges the new leader would have, with hard detail about the divisional earnings issues that had become more negative in the last quarter before the resigning leader called it quits.
  5. Say "bye" and hoped everyone had a great week.

Did you catch it? Did you see how my friend took her negative situation and framed it in a way that turned an organizational problem (key resignation) into something that most people considered a tough call that the company made proactively?

She simply embedded facts on recent negative trends in the division into her announcement.  As a result, the reader doesn't assume this was voluntary turnover at the highest level. They assume that Janet has once again proven she's a pragmatic leader capable of making tough calls in tough situations.

I share this example not to encourage anyone to speak poorly of those departing voluntarily. Let's treat people with class.  Let's celebrate great people who did great things for us and might be leaving to do more great things as alumni of our company. Up with people, "thousand points of light".

But every once in awhile, someone's going to hand you a flaming bag of dog do as a leader.  And at that point, you might be able (based on the circumstances) to decide who's doorstep that flaming bag belongs on.

Don't be afraid to put that bag - flaming as it might be - where it belongs.


The HR Capitalist Is Back In Business...

I'm back.  After taking 3 months off to finish a book that will be out in mid-2019 (The 9 Faces of HR), I'm returning to a normal schedule at the HR Capitalist.

Some of you noticed I was gone. Some of you didn't. Good thing I'm low sensitivity and didn't expect you to beg.

The conversation - with snark, pro-business moderate views and a certain level of detachment to protect my fragile emotions - continues... starting now.

Don't be afraid to say hi.

KD


What I'm Thankful for in 2018!

Thanksgiving. Can't let it come and go without telling you what I'm thankful for. First and foremost, I'm thankful for an incredible family, my faith, the blessing of meaningful work, etc. 

Next up? I'm thankful for the incredible melting pot of America. 

I had the good fortune to be on a call with someone I met earlier this year at the HR Technology conference on Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. At that show, I saw a natural opening based on her comments about her family and asked if she was Persian. I'm always amazed at immigrant stories. They're so inspiring and humbling.

Her story goes something like this - Her father gets the hell out of Iran sometime around the Iranian revolution (look it up Gen Z, there used to be a "Shah" in Tehran), comes to American with next to nothing, builds an incredible life and business. He and his wife have kids, who become 100% American and are the envy of their now distant relatives in Iran.

The kids grow up, have careers and at times, complain, as all kids do. You know what the Persian matriarch's quote is every time they whine?

"In America, every day is a vacation day".

Mind. Blown. On Tuesday, she told me when the family goes around the table to say what they're thankful for, her dad will invariably get to this quote. Iran to Cali. 100% American. 110% Awesome.

I'm also reminded of how thankful I am for the American melting pot by other stories. A caring soul at Kinetix (my company) put together a benefit for Syrian refugees in Atlanta. The family cooked, members of our team donated money and the company provided some laptops. Guess who translated for the Syrian mom and dad? The pre-teen kid.

100% American, that kid.. He's never going back to Syria - he's probably run away to stay in the US if his parents go back.

My oldest son and I were in a gym lifting weights a couple of weeks ago. A family who I later found out was from Bangalore (India for the uninitiated) was taking a tour of the facility. I pointed out the family and decided to drop some knowledge on my son, which I know he loves. The lesson? People in American from the sub-continent are among the most driven, talented, achievement-oriented folks you'll meet. They came a long way to get to the States and they're here to win! Amazing in a lot of ways. The implied lesson? Get ready to compete in the workplace, because these folks are really good.

I could go on, but I'll stop there. This post is not political. It's not a subtle message to tell you anything other than I'm amazed by the melting pot of America. If anyone hijacks the post with political comments, I'll simply reply, "I'm thankful for the people profiled in my post and everyone like them."

I live in an area of the US where college football reigns supreme. In most stadiums, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" will ultimately be trotted out for the sing-along (da-da-da!) on game day. 

They should roll out "They're Coming to America" by Diamond once in a while instead. That song always gets me.

America is awesome. For all the division, there are so many stories like this. I'm thankful for every one of them. Have a great Thanksgiving.


The HR Capitalist is on Break Finishing a Book...

Quick post - to let all who are kind enough to subscribe and read this site daily know where I am.

After 11 years of posting almost every business day, I'm taking a month off to put the finishing touches on a book that will be published next year (projected now for April 2019).

For a similar vibe to the HR Capitalist, make sure you visit and subscribe to my other site - Fistful of Talent - for daily riffs by 14 contributors, including me (KD).

See you back here in November!


Amazon Raising All US Workers to a Minimum of $15/hr Is The Simplest Business Decision Ever...

In case you missed it, Amazon announced today that it would establish a $15/hr minimum hourly wage for all 350,000 of its U.S. employees.

The new pay threshold will go into effect Nov. 1 and impact all full-time, temporary and seasonal workers across the company’s U.S. warehouse and customer service teams as well as Whole Foods, the company said in a blog post. It did not disclose what its current minimum pay wage is for U.S. workers, perhaps in part because there is not one set rate. Jeff-bezos-

You can say that it's the right thing to do, but beyond providing a livable wage for employees, THIS IS THE SMARTEST THING AMAZON COULD HAVE DONE FROM A BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE.

Why is that? Because the Amazon effect is on the cusp of being like the Wal-Mart effect of a decade ago.  Remember that vibe?  Wal-Mart put small, local mom and pop shops out of business.  Then they were accused of providing bad jobs and poor working environments.

We all love Amazon Prime.  But Amazon is eliminating as many jobs as Wal-Mart.  They just aren't as visible as the mom and pops that went out of business a decade or two ago.  They're putting big box retailers, malls, strip malls and e-commerce shops out of business.  Why?  Amazon Prime.  We love it.  It's changing a lot of things.

Meanwhile, click on the links below to learn about some reports of working conditions at Amazon:

Workers at Delivery Services contracting to Amazon claim deplorable conditions

Amazon Execs Admit "Employee Cages was a bad idea"

With AI coming on the scene and more disruption on the way from Amazon, the decision to pay all workers a minimum of $15 should have been easy.

If you work for Amazon in Kentucky, you're feeling great today.  If you are based in California, you're probably asking "where's mine?"  If you work for a contractor of Amazon in delivery, it doesn't impact you.

Amazon's going to have the same PR issues as Wal-Mart did within 2 to 5 years.

This move made perfect sense.  Way to get ahead of the coming storm, Amazon.

 

 


HR HATER WEEK: Why Passive HR People Fail to Deal With The Problem...

Capitalist Note: This week is HR Haters week at the Capitalist. Let's ID the personas out there who don't respect HR and figure out how to deal with them.  See the first two posts in this series here and here.

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THE PASSIVE BEHAVIOR YOU’LL SEE ON YOUR TEAM RELATED TO DEALING WITH HR HATERS

If you’re reading this series, you’re either an alpha or would like to become an alpha. The same is not true for your team. One of the reasons I wanted to do this series on HR Haters is that is our profession is full of behavioral profiles that drive the way we respond to clients. Haters

Tell me if you see yourself or your team in any of the following passive paths taken with people who question (aka, HR Haters the validity of HR:

1--HR is service oriented, therefore we tell ourselves the customer is always right. It’s pure rationalization, of course. The customer of HR is not always right, we’ve just got a cross section of people who would rather not think about the alternatives.

2--HR fails to confront people doing bad things and begging forgiveness. The alternative to the customer always being right, of course, if to first confront the general sense of lawlessness. It doesn’t matter what could come next, if you’re unwilling to confront, the next step never comes. And the craziness continues.

3--HR fails to negotiate a middle ground with HR Haters. HR is great at a lot of things. Negotiation is not one of those things. The solution is often as simple as confronting, then negotiating. More on this fun fact later.

4--HR fails to understand all the tools at their disposal to play offense with those who dare to question the function’s credibility. Some HR leaders are political masters, Machiavellian in their daily craft. But others are unwilling to do what it takes to wrestle control of the organization.

Dealing with HR Haters is - at times - about that political wrestling match. Recognize any of these behaviors on your team? You’ve got great people on your team, but many of them are uncomfortable with activity that at times feels like confrontation.

As luck would have it, willingness to confront is the only consistent factor that converts a HR Hater to a friend/colleague of you/the profession – at least someone who respects the function.

Be careful out there.  But not too careful.


HR HATER WEEK: How the People Who Hate HR Will Stick It You...

Capitalist Note: This week is HR Haters week at the Capitalist. Let's ID the personas out there who don't respect HR and figure out how to deal with them.

HOW THE PEOPLE WHO HATE HR WILL STICK IT TO YOU

The first thing you must realize about the people who hate HR is that it’s never personal. If someone hates HR, those feelings were solidified long before you came on the scene. There’s a chance you’re awesome.

The downside of being awesome in HR is that you’re expecting business leaders/managers of people around you to see your talent. Most of them won’t. That’s why you need to be able to spot how HR haters are running around you to do their bidding, run fast and at times, perform at a lower level than they would have if they would have included you.

Here’s the behaviors to be on the lookout for as the people who hate HR attempt to avoid you and your team.

--Make employment decisions without consulting you. They just do it. Begging forgiveness and thinking you’re so weak you can’t check them. They’re daring you to do something about it.

--Give counsel to their direct reports about people issues without having them check in with you. They’re the expert, not you. You’ll slow them down. They move fast. Rationalization: They run the business, you don’t.

--Use outside resources without giving you the chance to provide service. Whether it’s training, recruiting or another service, when they have a need for service they don’t even think about you – they call an outside expert.

--Talk s**t about you and your team to others not yet in the hating camp. Business conversations happen everywhere in your company. The HR haters are always quick to scoff at your team’s ability to handle things beyond payroll, which impacts your reputation in organization.

--Run their own HR related sessions (think succession planning) without your help. A favorite of the “Reader of Best-Selling Business Books” profile, HR haters with maximum confidence love to run their own HR processes within their departments and functions. They must be stopped.

--Attack HR’s credibility when confronted. After dealing with assorted bullsh**t from these haters, the strongest among you will be compelled to confront them. Don’t expect them to be contrite, the first thing they’ll do is go on the attack.

Life isn't about the haters of HR, but in order to maximize yourself from a career perspective, you have to identify and understand the haters to be able to deal with them. That would be easy if it were just you. But most of you have an HR team, which increases the complexity of the situation to the level of Space X landing a reusable rocket segment on a landing pad in an ocean.

Good luck!


HR HATER WEEK: Identifying People Who Hate HR...

Capitalist Note: This week is HR Haters week at the Capitalist. Let's ID the personas out there who don't respect HR and figure out how to deal with them.

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I’ve been in HR for over 20 years. I’m somewhat of an expert on people who hate HR. Haters

For the youngsters reading this post, I’m sorry. You’re full of hope and energy and you’re going to do great things. But I’m here to tell you there are people who will try to kick you in the groin/slap you in the face simply because you’re an HR pro. Those people suck.

This post and series is about figuring out who they are and how to deal with them.

IDENTIFYING PEOPLE WHO HATE HR

Whether you’re a HR leader of a Fortune 500 HR team or a solo practitioner in a company with 100 employees, you’ve got people in your company who hate HR. Hate might be a strong word. They hold your profession in contempt. They view you as a secretary with a policy manual.

No, on second thought, they hate you. They hate you because they view you as one of several things based on their viewpoint:

--A no talent hack

--A blocker impeding them from doing whatever they want to do

--Someone who doesn’t know as much about people-related issues as they do

--The source of more work for them and 6 new passwords they must remember based on your commitment to “best in breed” HR technology solutions.

Maybe you can solve that last one by running a workshop to show people how Chrome can automatically save passwords for future automated use, right? Wrong. They won’t attend your workshop because they loathe you. Let’s cover the type of people who hate HR via the following list:

1-- The Control Freak – Sally’s a control freak. She’s a really smart person, has 10-20 years of experience in her non-HR functional areas as has a hard time giving up control, which is code for the fact she can’t collaborate beyond allowing her assistant to order lunch from Chipotle. She’ll be damned if she’s going to let you horn in on her hiring process for her next departmental hire.

2-- The Power Broker – The close cousin of the control freak, Rick’s a power broker which means he’s learned multiple times in his career that getting HR involved in his business just slows him down. There’s rules, policies and various other distractions, and Rick just needs to execute. As a result of his experiences, Rick has learned that it’s far better to beg for forgiveness than to ask you for permission. He has a smirk on the rare occasion he thinks of calling you, right before he tells his minions there’s no need to reach out to HR.

3-- The Victim of Bad HR – Jean’s an executive in your company. She grew up in a very conservative organization with a basic HR team that did payroll, fired people and did recruiting via the post and pray model. Every two years, the HR function at her old company attempted to move upstream and it always failed, causing Jean to trust HR as much as her ex-husband who ran around on her.

4-- The Reader of Best Selling Business Books – Bobby is a young Director-level talent in your company. During his rise from the associate level, Bobby experienced two things – he didn’t consider the HR team to be helpful or his peers, and he started reading best-selling business books like The Five Dysfunctions of the Team. He’s all in on the management trends he’s reading about and has asked some members of your team if they’ve read the books. When they say they haven’t, it just solidifies Bobby’s belief that he’s got a better view on how to manage talent than your HR team.

Are the thoughts of any of these people true related to HR? That’s complicated. If you’re reading this post and looking inward at the HR function, it’s likely that you’re part of the solution, not part of the problem. Unfortunately, most of you read the profiles and thought something along the lines of, “yeah, that person has totally worked with Margie.”

Margie is someone you work(ed) with in HR. She’s the person all of the HR haters love to point to.

Dammit, Margie – get your s**t together.


FALLING INTO HR WEEK: Hollywood Examples of People Waking Up in HR...

Note from KD - It's “Falling Into HR” series this week at The HR Capitalist.  Go check out my post on Fistful of Talent from Monday as part of this series.  This is the third post in that series.

LOOK CLOSELY AND HOLLYWOOD SHOWS US HOW PEOPLE FALL INTO HR

There aren’t a lot of great HR characters coming out of Hollywood. But all you have to do is look closely and you can tell how they fell into the world of HR. Here’s five that come to mind and their match related to how they fell into our world of people, process and corporate politics:

1-- Toby Flenderson from The Office – Poor Toby. We smile and cry as HR pros as we watch him fumble through his day. Quick to rely on policy/process and slow to confront anyone directly and aggressively, Toby without question fell into HR by taking a transactional role and finding a place where he could survive. You and I get to the deal with the stereotype. Lucky us.

2-- Mary Winetoss, the rules-obsessed head of human resources hell bent on curtailing the hijinks of office workers planning to throw a wild holiday bash in the 2016 R-rated film "Office Christmas Party." A less known Hollywood HR character, you might be tricked based on her early reliance on policy that she’s like Toby. That’s an incorrect take, as her connection and problem solving with the leaders of her company clearly tells us she fell into the role based on being a “people person”.

3-- Dirty Harry in “The Enforcer” (1976) – The iconic scene in this movie depicts Harry’s boss announcing he’s been demoted to “personnel”, which clearly matches our earlier “don’t fire them, move them to HR” path. Harry doesn’t take the demotion well, pondering the move for two seconds before saying, “Personnel? That’s for assholes!” Thanks, Dirty Harry.

4-- Pam Poovey from Archer (FX) – Many of you don’t know Archer, but your kids probably do. Archer is an adult animated sitcom created by Adam Reed for the basic cable network FX. It follows the exploits of a dysfunctional group of secret agents, with Poovey being the group’s Director of HR. Ridiculed by her client group, but secretly capable of spy work with no training, Poovey clearly fell into HR by being dropped into our function at some point on an interim basis and finding a comfortable home.

5-- Ryan Bingham in Up In The Air (2009) – Partial credit here since Bingham (played by George Clooney) is a specialist who lays people off for a living. Still, as you listen to Bingham wax poetic about travel program points and benefits and remain distant from the people he’s firing, it’s hard to imagine he’s not a HIPO who parachuted into the world of HR, got comfortable with the perks and never left.

My point to all this? Most of us fell into HR. Some of the stories are funny, some are cautionary tales and some reinforce stereotypes. How you got here doesn’t matter. To survive in a world of change, you’re going to have to connect to the world around you and have more self-awareness of how you’re perceived. 

I'm glad I fell into the world of HR, even if I'm not as good looking as Clooney or as cool as Dirty Harry.


FALLING INTO HR WEEK: One Kid's Path Into the Rock and Roll Lifestyle of HR...

Note from KD - It's “Falling Into HR” series this week at The HR Capitalist.  Go check out my post on Fistful of Talent from Monday as part of this series.  This is the second post in that series.

THERE ARE 8 MILLION STORIES IN THE NAKED CITY

Some of you knew you wanted to be in HR in middle school.  It’s rarely that clean for the rest of us.

Consider the story of how I (Kris Dunn, aka “KD”) fell into HR. It’s a doozy:

1--I graduated from Northeast Missouri State (now Truman State) and automatically started a career as a young Division 1 college basketball coach at UAB (University of Alabama-Birmingham), because that’s how great HR is born, right? LOL. 

2--As a coaching staff member at a Division 1 program, I probably witnessed 9,000 conflicts with widely accepted people practices in corporate America, even though I wasn’t familiar with the terms “people practices” or KD head shot“corporate America,”or “HR”.

3-- After 3 years in coaching, I decided I was likely to be poor for a long time and exited the coaching game to go back to get my MBA, then took a job working overnight in a wireless call center to pay the bills.

4-- While working overnight in the call center, a soon to be mentor named Marilyn Brooks (Director of HR) figured out I had some potential in random post-shift interactions in the hallways and parking lot. She decided to seek me out for a project evaluating staffing vendors as part of a RFP process they were going through. I worked on the project overnight and delivered a lot more than was required. Mrs. Brooks was pleased.

5-- After getting my MBA, my wife and I relocated back home to Missouri (St. Louis area) where she became a staff prosecutor and I went to work doing market research for IBM Global.

6-- We went through one winter from hell, looked at each other and said, “what the hell are we doing?” Even though we were from the Midwest, 5 years in the new South had thinned our blood, and we wanted to get back to the Southeast.

7-- With LinkedIn not even a glimmer in venture capitalist’s eye at the time, I started calling people I knew, Marilyn Brooks among them, seeking career opportunities that would get me back to warm winters.

8-- Marilyn’s words: “I don’t have anything in what you’re doing now, but I do have a HR Manager spot. Would you be interested in that? You used to be a coach and there’s a lot of coaching in this role.”

9-- I interviewed and got the job. I was on my way in the world of HR.

Many of you are reading this and shaking your head. Some of you hate me for falling into this opportunity without paying my dues. Bottom line is this – I had a mentor of sorts, did good work to reinforce the mentor’s belief in me, and the mentor ended up plugging in a non-traditional protégé into an opening on her HR team.

Shit like this happens all the time in HR. Film at 11.

THERE ARE 8 MILLION STORIES IN THE NAKED CITY - what's yours?