Framing As A Working Professional: What It Is and Why You Should Do It...

“The most talented successful people in the workplace consistently “frame” their goals, work and outcomes via varied communication strategies.”

-Kris Dunn, aka “KD

When someone quotes themselves, hold on tight!  Buckle up! Framing

What is framing? It's not being a victim. It's being proactive. It's getting your story out there as a professional, "framing" the dialog about who you are, what you're working on and most importantly to you - how you're doing.

It's using of a variety of communication techniques to ensure all know what you are working on - including face to face, email, reporting and more.

Framing includes:

--Communicating what your goals are for a specific period.

--Communicating your challenges and progress.

--Communicating your wins and finished work product.

--Communicating your opinions and takes on what's going on around you in your area of subject matter expertise.

How's not bothering people with your goals, progress and outcomes going?  Not great, right?

You should frame more.  Don't let others build the narrative about who you are or how you are doing - take responsibility for the story. 

Framing is necessary for your career. Framing, for lack of a better word, is good.

Framing works. Do it - stop being shy.


Ask The HR Capitalist: I Work at Tesla, and I'm Tired of the S**t...

From the mailbag:
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KD -

I first ran into the HR Capitalist based on you writing on Tesla and our founder Elon Musk.  I work in The_doctor_is_in a professional grade position managing people in our Fremont location. I've been at Tesla for a little under 8 months, and I'm exhausted. While I expected the pace to be fast, the blurred line between work and life is tough for even me - a long time believer that people who work hard get the most done and deserve the rewards.  While I love the Tesla mission and product, the grind is too much.  Based on what I've described about myself, what advice can you give me for the best way to leave?  I almost quit before the holidays, because the end of year at Tesla is a big bag of coal for most employees.  I've never been at a job less than 3 years, but there's no way in hell I can make it that long here.

--Name Withheld by KD

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Hey My Friend- 

It's a tough spot for sure, but I've got a couple of things for you to consider:

--Don't quit before you have another job. It's always easier to get a job when you already have a job, and if you quit, there's always people who will hold it against you that you didn't stick it out.  

--Don't quit or take another job before you get to the 1-year mark in your current role at Tesla. Based on what I hear from people like you, 1 year at Tesla is like 7 years everywhere else.  If you can get to the 1-year mark and then accept another position at another company, it automatically crosses a threshold of acceptability in the marketplace, and you'll carry that premium for the rest of your career on your resume.

--Since you're a manager of people, don't forget others are facing the same struggle. The more you help them and listen, the more you'll be providing therapy for yourself as well.

In short, start your job search in earnest at 11 months and leave after you cross the one-year mark. It's cool that you did the Tesla thing, but if it's eating you up, find someone who values that experience (many will in the marketplace) and make your move. But you need to survive until you get to the year mark at Tesla.  #optics

--KD


2019 Employer Brand Song of the Year Winner - Amazon!

It's the end of 2019 and reflection time. One reflection I've had this year is how much Amazon is dominating my life.

As a consumer, it's obvious and great. I can get anything I want without leaving my house, and it generally comes no later than 2 days after I ordered it.

But as a citizen, you have to be a bit wary of what Amazon has become, both as a partner and an employer. The Bezos creation has so much market power and smartly reinvests most profits back into the business to build for the future.  That was really cool to write about in the past. No profits, all reinvestments. Then something happened and it went from being smart to also having some pretty remarkable societal impact. Consider the following:

--Amazon has long been written about as a hard place to work - both in professional grade positions and in warehouses. My favorite related piece of this was the trademark application that had humans in cages while the machines zipped around.

--Amazon's also having a well-documented impact on retail. We spent a decade complaining about WalMart putting small stores out of business. That seems cute now.

Being a hard place to work and representing the Grim Reaper of Retail still holds true for Amazon. But there are other trends that are newer, but just as troubling:

--Amazon's a tough partner. Their recent decision to build their own delivery fleet of transport jets is the right business decision, but looks pretty hard towards UPS and FedEx. That's life in the show. Read this great post on this impact on FedEx here.

--Amazon's also putting together it's own network of local delivery, but they're pushing the responsibility to aspiring entrepreneurs to invest in fleets with the promise that Amazon will always have work/volume for them. In this way, they're also deferring the tough responsibility of running fleets of drivers to anyone that can finance a few 100K to ramp a franchise up.  Is there any doubt the cautionary tale from UPS/FedEx will hold true here as well?

--There are lots of tax issues with Amazon (meaning they don't pay a lot of them).

At the end of the day, things evolve. Change happens. Jobs and companies are destroyed and new ones emerge - I get that. And I'm certainly addicted to Amazon as a consumer. Their ability to create a marketplace and invest in money-losing free shipping as a means to put other people out of business is genius. You and I would do the same thing if given a chance.

But a couple of months ago (before the Christmas rush) I had the moment. I had ordered a pair of slacks from Amazon, and I got the notice they were being delivered - on Sunday. An hour later, there he was. A delivery person employed by a third party, looking like he had been in the van for 12 hours already.

Do I really need a pair of ####ing slacks on Sunday?  That's what Amazon has taught us to expect.

I got my slacks on Sunday, but a whole bunch of people got used in the marketplace and supply chain to make that happen.  That's why my 2019 Employer Brand Song of the Year award goes to Amazon and is - wait for it - "Use Me" by Bill Withers.

As Amazon continues to grow, everyone's getting used a little bit.  Song embedded below - click through for the post if you don't see it.  Worth a listen.

My friends feel it's their appointed duty
They keep trying to tell me all you want to do is use me
But my answer yeah to all that use me stuff
Is I want to spread the news that if it feels this good getting used
Oh you just keep on using me until you use me up
Until you use me up

I returned the slacks to the Amazon return center at Kohl's 29 days later.  Damn.


AWAY BAGS: When Your Horrible People Practices Turbocharge Sales...

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. That might be true.

For proof, look to Away Travel, which is the maker of the ultra-hip and ultra-cool Away Suitcase.  It's a Away trendy product, but one that I had an only passing awareness of.

Of course, that's before the shit hit the fan. My awareness is incredible now - more on that later.

Many of your are aware of a scathing article about Away that published on The Verge, detailing a bullying culture based on the communication tool of Slack. The gist is this - Away promoted radical transparency and attempted to force all communication on the public tool that is Slack, and as a result, there was little to no privacy in communications. When a diverse set of employees tried to set up their own private Slack channel, a high ranking exec popped in to monitor/participate in the group, even though she didn't fit the diversity the group was based on.

A few days later, members of the group started being fired. The Verge article hit, and it was an internet sensation for a couple of days. If you want more detail about what's being called a toxic culture at Away, go read the Verge article now.

But I'm here to talk about what happened AFTER that article hit.  Here's the chain of events that I saw:

1.  Within days, CEO Steph Korey stepped down amid criticism of the ruthless internal culture at the luggage startup she co-founded.

2.  Away named a new CEO.

3.  I listen to a pretty ruthless podcast called Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. They had Away on their list of things to talk about during the week it all broke. That wasn't going to go well for Away, because these two are ruthless with bad stuff at companies.

4.  Away didn't run. Instead, they leaned in and sponsored the podcast. I've never heard Away as a sponsor of this podcast, so I'm assuming they bought the ad rights to the episode that aired with their news.

5. Scott Galloway, one of the hosts, did a live read as a result - in his usual personality, having fun with it.  They had already made the call with the CEO, so the talk was more about the action the company took rather than the bad cultural stuff.

The lesson here? If you act quick enough (fire the people in question) and lean in to the coverage, you can actually create buzz around a product and turn the negative talk into a business opportunity.

Here's what I did after hearing the podcast - 

  1. I went and checked out the product.
  2. I'm at least 50/50 to buy an Away bag as a result.
  3. I never would have gotten that close to purchase without the hard lead in on the podcast and controversy by Away.

The lesson?  Act fast when bad stuff happens and don't hide.

If you run the right type of business, you might just end up with a boost to your business. While that's not a recommendation to bully people on Slack, it's a case study on how to react when bad stuff happens.

BONUS READING: A Guide to Away Bag Knockoffs on Amazon


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.


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.


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.


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.


Work with KD: Content Creator/Brand Accelerator Job at Kinetix in Atlanta...

Attention Atlanta Connections - Cool opportunity to do fun brand and marketing stuff with yours truly. Please share this with folks you think might be a fit!

Click this link to apply - full job posting at link and also below:

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Content Creator/Brand Accelerator

As a Content Creator/Brand Accelerator at Kinetix, you’ll work with our team to amplify the already strong primary and secondary brands of Kinetix to create brand awareness and help us fill the top of our sales funnel. We’ve got great brands at Kinetix and have long believed in content marketing. Kinetix We’re looking for you to help us ramp up the unbelievable assets we have in place and send a consistent, daily message to the marketplace.

The right person for this role will be someone comfortable using content and thought leadership in B-to-B marketing capacity. Creative and editing skills in video and graphic design are preferred, as is an intermediate to expert level on social media platforms. An appreciation of brand voice is required, as our brands have a point of view that should be present across all platforms.

Still reading? Here’s some stuff you’ll focus on:

·        World Domination – There, we said it. But the good kind, not the bad kind.

·        Create and manage editorial and social content calendars - designed to accelerate the primary and secondary brands of Kinetix (kinetixhr.com, hrcapitalist.com, fistfuloftalent.com, bossleadershiptrianing.com and more!)

·        Run pre and post production project management of all big content pieces (BCP): videos, podcasts, white papers, blog posts, etc. to end with amazing large form content pieces designed to promote thought leadership at Kinetix. (Bonus points if you have writing skills to participate in the creation of the BCP. Subtract bonus points if you like corporate acronyms like “BCP.”)

·        Digital skills to run any of the pre and post production elements using the Adobe Suite or InDesign is a bonus. We’re giving a lot of bonus points here - we’re like that teacher in college that’s really hoping you make it.

·        Independently create short-form pieces of content from BCP (posts, images, IG or FB stories, quotes, remixes, GIFS) - We’re looking to create great content pieces (BCP) and then chop them up and reuse them like the place your used BMW went to the time it got stolen.

·        Create and execute distribution of all content (big and small) on relevant social platforms - Social platform skills will be a big deal in this job. We’ll also want you to learn paid social as part of this gig if you don’t already possess that skill.

·        Community management when you’re not tied up with the content machine - Community management means helping us grow the social channels in a smart, authentic, non-sleazy way, as well as helping us grow our email marketing list. We’d also want you to help our thought leaders be uber-responsive on social as part of the job.

·        In your spare time, run a bootstrap speaker’s bureau - designed to put our thought leaders in front of audiences that are interested in our message.

·        Work with a cool existing creative marketing team at Kinetix - you’re not alone, although this posting made it sound like that. Our Kinetix marketing team does great creative work on behalf of our client brands, and they’ll help with delivery on your projects as needed. We won’t let you touch the client brands, because we’re being incredibly selfish.

Some Things the Right Candidate May Have:

·        Bachelor's degree in marketing, journalism, public relations, business or digital communications (if you don’t have any, but are a perfect fit – tell us why)

·        Writing skills

·        3-5 years of proven success in marketing, lead generation, digital and social media experience

·        Able to create good working relationships with colleagues

·        An affinity for Gen X leaders and acknowledgement that Gen X is the greatest generation, or the ability to fake this in the workplace

·        Able to work well independently and with a team

·        Complete comfort with social tools (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)

·        Creative and curious in a wide variety of media

·        Crazy detail orientation that leads to execution

·        Comfortable with chaos and daily changes

·        Working knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator)

·        Location – Atlanta strongly preferred. Would consider Birmingham for the right candidate. Remote only if you worked 2 years for Gary V or the Kardashians.

EOE - M/F/V/D/SO