The Best of 2019: The 3 Rules About Kissing Your Boss!

I’m on a holiday break. Boys are home, we’re going on a trip. So, I’ve put together a Best of 2019 post list for you to enjoy. I’ll be back after the holidays with new stuff and some cool announcements for 2020! (This post was actually written in 2017, but for some reason got new life this year and was of the most read) 

May 20, 2013, I published a silly little post on my blog called “The Rules About Hugging at Work”. The post might have taken me twenty minutes to write. It was just an idea I got, like thousands of others, I thought it was funny, so I wrote about it. To date, it’s been read over 1 Million times. Huff Post picked it up, it went viral on LinkedIn (I got over 1300 comments), I’ve been interviewed and called, “The World’s Foremost Expert on Workplace Hugging”.

Twenty minutes of writing, a throwaway idea.

Months later I posted the exact same post on LinkedIn’s publishing platform. This was before everyone could publish (remember that), you had to be invited. I got a call from the LinkedIn chief editor offering me access. I didn’t know if it was really anything so I just threw up old posts I had already written but added a few new pieces.

On the Hugging post, I added at the bottom my next post would be: The 3 Rules About Kissing Your Boss! as a joke. I never wrote it. Until five years later I got a message last week from someone who found the hugging post for the first time asking how they could find the kissing post! I didn’t even know what they were talking about!

So, here’s the kissing post! 

It would be easy to dismiss the notion of kissing your boss as something that would never happen. When I say ‘never’ I mean never. I mean honestly do any of us ever feel it would be appropriate to kiss your boss!?

This one is hard for me. I come from a family of huggers and kissers! My father is 73 and he still kisses me on the lips when I greet him or say goodbye. Some folks would find that super weird. Different cultures do different things.

My son was overseas this summer visiting friends in Belgium and it was quite common for new people he met to give him that traditional kiss on the cheek, but he said those same people would not give you a hug or a handshake. This kiss on the cheek greeting is very common in many parts of the world.

In America, you would probably get punched in the face if you tried kissing someone on the cheek you were meeting for the first time! I mean, look, if I don’t know you, I certainly don’t want your germs all over my face! Most Europeans I meet for business purposes in the states who come here often have gotten used to handshakes, rarely do I see one of them do the cheek kiss greeting.

All of this is way different, though, then kissing your boss! Kissing your boss would have to be a special circumstance or special occasion. I’m guessing if you’re kissing your boss one of a few things probably hasn’t happened in that relationship. You’ve probably become very good friends, some once in a lifetime event is happening, or you’ve become romantically involved, in which case, not really your boss any longer!

So, if we can see a time in which you might kiss your boss, the great HR pro in me says we better put some pen to policy and make some rules! Here are my three rules for kissing your boss:

1. No kissing on the lips. Kissing on the lips is a slippery slope you can’t put back in the bag! Wants that happens you might as well just get undressed, stuff just got real! We’re going to assume this kiss is not romantic in nature, completely as professional as kissing your boss can be professional!

2. Do not leave moisture on your boss’s cheek. Okay, somehow we got down this rabbit hole to a point where I’m kissing my boss on his or her cheek, let’s not make this super awkward by leaving a nice big wet spot on the side of their face. If you’re so excited to be kissing your boss’s cheek that you leave it wet, you should be checked into a mental ward.

3. Do not have bad breath. First impressions are critical and even though your boss knows you, your boss doesn’t know the kissing you. Do not go in for that first boss kiss with bad breath! I love Ice Breakers Mints and I have some close by almost always. Why? I can’t stand bad breath. Coffee breath is the worst and I know a lot of you are major coffee drinkers! Guess what? Diet Mt Dew breath smells like a flower garden! Think about that next time you go for a fill-up at the coffee station at work!

See? That’s how you do it. That’s how the World’s Foremost Expert in Workplace Hugging becomes the World’s Foremost Expert on Boss Kissing. You can’t be a one-trick pony in this world folks, we all need to keep striving on reinventing ourselves. Watch out fall conference circuit! If you see Sackett coming I might have just raised the game!

So, hit me in the comments. What are your rules for kissing your boss!?

The #1 Employee Recognition Tool of All-Time!

At the Michigan Recruiter’s Conference last week I got into a side conversation with a TA leader who had her team at the event. She was talking about motivating and recognizing her team, and that it seemed to be more difficult with younger generations versus the Gen Xers she has managed in the past. I told her I wasn’t sure it was generational, but I had a couple of examples of recognition I thought might work for her.

The first example happened when I was working in my first HR manager position.  One of the executives I supported had a good, young, enthusiastic worker, a top-notch kid who had a great work ethic.  I sat down with this executive and the employee to do their annual performance review. Everything went perfect, as it usually does with that type of employee.  It was what happened afterward that blew me away.  The executive asked me to get him the address of this employee’s parents.  We knew he thought highly of his folks, and he mentioned them when we gave the employee praise for his performance.

I went back and found the address, the executive drafted a short letter, handwritten to these employee’s parents.  He didn’t tell the employee he was doing this, he just did it.  The executive basically told the parents you should be extremely proud of your child, our organization is lucky to have them, and our organization wants to thank you for raising such a fine person.  End of letter. Send.

About a week later, I got a call from the front desk. It was the employee’s father, asking the front desk to talk to the executive and telling them they were the father of this employee.  The front desk person called me (HR), believing something bad must have happened, so I took the call.  I spoke with a man in his mid-50’s who had a hard time holding back tears of pride, thanking me (and our executive) for sharing such a wonderful story and how proud they were of their son.

Later, the employee also came into my office to thank me for doing this, believing I must have put the executive up to it (it’s an HR touchy-feely thing).  The employee said that they could never imagine a better place to work.  A 3-minute handwritten letter = powerful recognition and engagement.

The other example I have is of an experience that happened to me a few years ago. I was working as a director in a large health system, and my mom was in town and came to my office to meet me for lunch.  Being a hospital, she came into the building and walked into the HR office.

I introduced her to some of my team and we were walking out when the head of HR came walking in.  I introduced him, and he shook her hand and said: “I want to thank you for sharing Tim with us, he’s an extraordinary individual, and I’m sure you are responsible for that.”  Bam!  My mom talked about that moment all the time!  I felt pride and respect, and most of all, loyalty to my supervisor for such a gesture.

Employee recognition doesn’t have to be hard, or take a long time, or be a part of a process.  It has to be genuine, in the moment and meaningful.  Too many times we forget this on the organizational front.

The Employee Walk of Shame

I’ve lost jobs and I’ve called old employers to see if they would want to hire me back. I’ve usually gotten a response that sounded something like, “Oh, boy would we want you back but we just don’t have anything. Good Luck!”  Many of us in the talent game talk about our employee Alumni and how we should engage our Alumni but very few of us really take true advantage of leveraging this network.

I was reminded of this recently when a friend of mine took a new job.  You know the deal, shorter drive, more money, growing company and oh, boy, just where do I sign!?  The fact was, it was all they said, shorter drive, more money and they were growing, but they forgot to tell him was our operations are broken beyond repair, you will work 7 days a week and probably 12-14 hours per day because of the mess we have, but keep your head up it’s the only way you won’t drown here!

So, now what does he do?

He already had the going away party, bar night out with the work friends with the promises to do lunches and not get disconnected, packed up and unpack the office into the new office.  Let’s face it, big boy, you’re stuck!  Not so fast.  He did the single hardest thing an employee can do he called his old boss after 7 days and said one thing, “I made a mistake, can I come back?”

Luckily for him, his past boss was a forward-thinking leader and so this past Monday he did the 2nd hardest thing an employee can do he made the “Employee Walk of Shame“.

You can imagine the looks from people who didn’t know him well, “Hey, wait a minute, didn’t you leave?” Having to tell the same story over and over, feeling like he failed, like he wasn’t good enough to make it in the new position.

HR plays a huge part in this story because it was HR who can make this walk of shame a little less rough.  Let’s face it, it is different.  You just don’t leave and come back as nothing happened. Something did happen, there was a reason he left and that reason isn’t going away.  A transition back needs to be put into place even though he was gone seven days.  It’s not about just plugging back in, it is about re-engaging again and finding out what we all can do better so it doesn’t happen again.

It’s also about making sure you let those employees who you truly want back, that they are welcome to come back (assuming you have the job) and not just saying that to everyone.  There are employees who leave that you say a small prayer to G*d and you are thankful they left!  There are others where you wish there was a prayer you could say so they wouldn’t leave.

Make it easy for your employees to do the Walk of Shame, it helps the organization, but realize they are hurting, they are embarrassed, but they are also grateful!

It’s Super Hot outside, do I need to come to work?

With all the heatwave stuff hitting the news this week I’m assuming someone has gotten this request. I get it, if you’re working outside, this could be dangerous! I’m not talking to you!

I’m talking to the moron who works a job inside, but somehow they think it’s too hot outside to get their butt to work and work in air conditioning! The true HR pros know what I’m saying!

I’m in the north, in Michigan, so we get this when it gets super cold in the winter. Again, if you work outside, super cold is dangerous so it’s a concern for us as HR pros and leaders. If you work inside, what you’re really saying is “yeah, I hate to work. I hate this job. I hate this company. I’m trying to figure out anyway not to come to work…”

Nope! You don’t need to come to work! In fact, you don’t ever have to come to work again. You. Are. Fired! (Like “fire” Fired with hot flames, beat it!)

I want to hear from you on this super hot Friday! Hit me in the comments!

Have you, or do you expect, getting some calls today from any of your employees asking if they need to come to work because there is a heat emergency on the news!?!

Enjoy the Nelly cut!

DisruptHR Detroit 3.0 Speaker Applications Now Being Accepted!

For those who don’t know, I’m involved with DisruptHR Detroit with an amazing team of HR pros and leaders, and we are putting on our 3rd event on Thursday, September 19th at 6 pm.

Great DisruptHR events start with Great content and we are now Accepting Speaker Applications for DisruptHR Detroit 3.0!

Due Date is August 2nd!

Tickets for this event will go on sale on August 5th and we’ll announce the full slate of speakers and the agenda on August 9th.

The location of DisruptHR 3.0 will be downtown Detroit at The Madison. Click through to the DisruptHR Detroit site for more information.

Who makes a Great DisruptHR Speaker

Anyone with a passion for HR, Recruiting, People and pushing the envelope around what, why and how we do what we do every day in the world of work!

We especially love practitioners of all experience levels. You don’t know have to be a twenty-year vet to be great at DisruptHR! You can be an HR pro in your first year on the job. It’s all about passion and ideas!

So, what makes a great DisruptHR Talk?

  1. It’s 5 minutes – so you better be tight around what your topic and idea is!
  2. 20 slides that move every 15 seconds – you don’t control this, we do. So you better practice!
  3. No selling products or services – Yes to selling ideas and passions!
  4. Make us feel something – laugh, cry, anger – have a take and be proud of that take!
  5. We see and feel your passion.

We’ve built DisruptHR Detroit to be a supportive hub of HR and Recruiting. We want people to come and challenge us, but know you’ll be rewarded with an audience that will support you and cheer you on. These talks aren’t easy, and we get that! The audience gets that!

How can you speak at DisruptHR Detroit 3.0?

APPLY to Speak it’s easy! It’s a great development opportunity for those looking to get on stage and have some professional experience speaking. You actually get a professionally produced video of your talk that you can use as evidence of your ability. It’s also a great networking opportunity with the Detroit metro HR and Talent community!

Ford Layoffs – “Hey, stay a few days and say your goodbyes!”

A big announcement yesterday over at Ford where 7,000 or so white-collar workers will be getting laid off. For generations of automotive families, this is really anything new. You grow up knowing about once every ten years, the big autos will do some ‘right-sizing’ or reorganizations. The reality is, and other industries are much different, auto industries hire in good times like your drunk Uncle Lou buys drinks at the bar after he cashes his income tax return check!

In good times, there is nothing better than working in the automotive industry. Everyone gets hired for good wages, bonuses are good, and they throw money around like it’s monopoly money. In bad times, they ‘right-size’ and it’s not targeted, it’s pretty much we need to cut 10,000 people, make it happen!

Ford CEO Jim Hacket said this layoff is different, it’s not, but to prove the point he also said this:

He acknowledged saying goodbye to colleagues is “difficult and emotional.”

“We have moved away from past practices in some regions where team members who were separated had to leave immediately with their belongings, instead giving people the choice to stay for a few days to wrap up and say goodbye,” he wrote.

Wow, really!?! Thanks, Jim!

Honestly, though, it is a bit more humane, right? Basically what you say when you walk someone out immediately during a layoff is this:

  • Hey, you no longer have a job but thank you for all those years of your life and discretionary effort you gave!
  • Also, we don’t trust you, so get the hell out, NOW!
  • Also, if you know of any younger workers who can do what you do, but for 30% less, please refer them to us!

Now, I am not saying Ford is laying off older workers and keeping younger workers. That would be slanderous, and I would never say such a thing! You can look at the data for yourself! It is a bit ironic though how white-collar layoffs tend to impact higher paid, more experienced workers. Turns out experience only matters to a certain salary point, then we are mostly the same in terms of productivity and knowledge.

No, Ford is in a very competitive industry and very fast-changing industry, and while all these ‘more experienced’ workers made us a lot of money, we now need to hire a different set of skills for our next generation of products. We no longer need all these mechanical engineers (true) and we need many more electrical and computer engineering skill sets (also true). Also, we probably need less more experienced finance, human resources, marketing, and operations folks as well, for these new more technical products we are creating.

So, back to the actual layoffs. Do you agree with Hackett (no relation, since my name, is “Sackett” with an “S”, and not an “H” but I see the confusion if you’re dumb) on his layoff approach of treating the Ford employees a bit differently and letting them close up shop and not walk them out immediately?

My take:

This should be an individual management decision. Your manager knows if you’re a terrorists or not. If she believes you can act like an adult and not sabotage anything on your way out, she should be able to make that call. If she believes you’re a problem, she should also be able to make that call on walking you out immediately.

I don’t believe this should be an all or nothing approach. I’ve seen people who have done some very bad things when given the chance to ‘pack up shop” on their way out. When you take the livelihood way from a person, you really don’t know how they’ll react. Some will become desperate and take anything they can get, staplers, information, etc.

Most, the vast majority, will be sad and grieve but also be able to handle this news in a respectful manner, knowing they’ll probably need that manager reference to land their next spot.

Layoffs suck, even when done for the best reasons to save the jobs of thousands of others. They just suck. I feel awful for those Ford employees having to go through this, just as I did for the GM employees who had to go through this at the end of last year. Organizations are living, breathing things, and as such, tend to make the same mistakes as well do in good times and bad.

 

If Your Company has a Chief Happiness Officer you Should Rethink Your Career Path!

In the past three weeks, I’ve been pitched by some well-meaning PR person about a story on how Google, Salesforce, Zappos, Airbnb, etc., have “Chief Happiness Officers” and how important they are to corporate success. Or at least, how “Happiness” as a measure is important to corporate success.

I’ve been pitched this idea four times, primarily so I would talk about their client, Snappy, which apparently is a chatbot of some kind that asks your employee questions to probably gauge their happiness or something, and in turn, you can then turn to your Chief Happiness Officer to fix the happy that is broken. (BTW – look for my new book in 2020 – “Fix the Happy!”)

Snappy might be some awesome tech, but I don’t like the pitch. I think that pitch is broken, for the real world. The real world is not Google and Zappos. Those are unicorns. Real companies have real issues and making their entitled employees happy is not one of those real issues.

I want to punch every Chief Happiness Officer in the smiling face!

Seriously, how completely warped do you have to be to think you actually bring happiness to another human being, let alone an entire company of human beings!?!

Will Smith is my Chief Happiness Officer:

Turns out CHO’s don’t make employees happy. Employees make themselves happy. No amount of money, or time off, or Taco Tuesdays, or standup desks or seven flavors of Kombucha in the employee cafe, will make a person happy. Happiness is an emotion controlled by the individual, no matter the environment they’re in.

There are great stories of prisoners at Auschwitz that chose love and happiness in the darkest hours and circumstances that anyone could imagine. There are people who win $500M lotteries that blow their head off because of how depressed they are. A CHO can’t change that.

Chief Happiness Officers are what happens to organizations when leadership gets out of control. When we stop actually leading and managing the business, and we ‘become’ leaders. When we start believing our own bullsh*t to a level where we think we actually control the emotions of our employees.

Look, I get it. I also want to drink the Kool-aid and believe in Santa Claus. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful, fantasy-filled life?! But that is life. 99.99% of us have to work to pay bills. Within that, we can choose to be happy, or miserable, or somewhere in between and that actually might have many times in the same day. No one person is going to make me happy or miserable unless I make that choice to allow that to happen.

There you go. That’s my take. Chief Life Officer, out.

Should Employees Have to Payback Payroll Errors?

So, an in the trenches Recruiting and HR Pro, Kristina Minyard (@HRrecruit on the Twitters) brought up a really great question last week, that had a pretty big response. Kind of a black and white response, meaning you either were in one camp or the other. (BTW – go connect with Kristina – she’s a passionate HR pro who puts a ton of time into being a great HR pro)

Here’s her question:

This really isn’t a staffing agency question, which Kristna knows, but this was the specific example, it’s a payroll and employee relations issue that happens at all organizations, big, small, public, private, etc. anytime there’s a payroll mistake.

What are the two sides? 

Side 1 – It’s a company mistake, so the company should eat it.

Side 2 – It’s a mistake. It’s not the employee’s money. It should be paid back.

Which side do you fall on?

I’m guessing most of you would need more information. A situation like this needs details, right? Well, you don’t have any. You have the tweet, so what would your professional HR decision be?

What side did I take?

I’m fully and completely in the camp of – a mistake was made, the money should be paid back. Since this is my blog, I’ll lay out my argument!

1. By law, you can’t actually take the money out of an employees paycheck. The employee would have to sign an agreement, agreeing to have this money taken out of future checks in whatever payback schedule was agreed upon.

2. I look at this in a couple of ways. First, if the IRS overpaid you by $10,000 on your tax return, you would be legally obligated to pay back that money to the government, or you would be put in jail. BUT WAIT! It wasn’t my mistake! Yeah, so, you don’t get to keep the money it’s not yours! Second, if you underpaid an employee, do you think the employee would go, “it’s okay, I know it was a mistake, I’ll eat it’. No! Of course not, that’s ridiculous. So, why then should a company have to eat it? Because of a mistake?

3. It seems like the amount plays into this. Come on, Tim, we are only talking about $200 bucks! Just forget it about and move on. I have my SHRM-SCP and I’m 100% sure there was some stuff on the exam that talked about setting precedent. Precedent is a simple concept, although not always easy for employers to follow. It all boils down to this: what you do for one, you do for all. So, if payout this amount (to this white, male employee), but then we decide not to pay it out to another employee (a black, female) what do you think might happen? I’ll tell you in court.

4. So, if you agree with #3, you either have to pay it back every single time or never. Or, you need a payroll mistake policy that says, “if we make a payroll mistake less than $X dollars per week we will eat it, but any mistake over $X per week we will request repayment through a signed agreement”.

5. What if the employee refuses to pay back the mistake if the decision is made to request they pay it back? My answer? You fire them (this got me called “evil” – not by Kristina). Legally, if an employee is made aware they were mistakenly given money that isn’t there’s. Then they refuse to return it. You can fire them for cause, and because they were fired for cause you can without unemployment insurance benefits. Evil or not, that’s just the reality of the situation.

6. In a one-off situation, it seems ridiculous that you would ask for repayment and possibly go all the way to terminate this person for refusing to pay back the mistake. In an organization with hundreds and thousands of employees, where bigger mistakes, affecting more people, could be made, this seems very normal.

So, I’ll tell you I have had this exact situation happen many, many times in my career at organizations large to small, across many states, and never once have I had an employee refuse to pay back money that wasn’t really their money, to begin with. While it sucks, they understood. And part of that communication is letting them know, “this sucks, we’ve discovered a big mistake, and now we, together, have to figure out how to do what’s right”.

Kristina and I were on different sides of this. That doesn’t make her wrong and me right, or I’m right and she’s wrong. This is real HR. In HR, it’s our job to evaluate the risk of every situation an organization will face and advise on that risk. In Kristina’s analysis of this situation, she feels the risk is low and the employee shouldn’t have to pay back the mistake. In my experience, I feel it should be. Both, actually, could be the right answer, or the wrong answer. Welcome to the show, kids!

Okay, let me have it in the comments! What would you do in this situation?

You’re Banned From Changing My Mind…at Work!

Did you see Facebook’s internal announcement to their employees about banning an employee’s ability to change the mind of a co-worker about Politics and Religion? I think I need to use these for my family get togethers!

An internal memo was leaked (God Bless internal memo links) from Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer on some new workplace rules that Facebook is putting into effect immediately on all communication channels, and they are:

  1. Don’t insult, bully, or antagonize others
  2. Don’t try to change someone’s politics or religion
  3. Don’t break our rules about harassing speech and expression

Sorry workplace trolls at Facebook, your Employee Experience just took a major blow! (BTW “Workplace Trolls” is a great podcast name)

As you can imagine I have a few thoughts on this!

My actual first reaction to this had nothing to do with “the rules”, but had everything to do with who was communicating this message! Why is this coming from the CTO and not the CEO or CHRO? Definitely different than most organizations.

This tells me one of two things: 1. The CTO made these up on his own; and/or 2. Facebook’s leadership team wanted to make this seem like it wasn’t that big of a deal, so let’s not have it come from the CEO or CHRO, which normally would handle formal employee communications like this.

This is a bit of an employee experience course correction that I think we’ll start seeing in many organizations over the next couple of years with a softer economy. In an ultra-low unemployment economy the inmates run the asylum.

As we back to a bit of normal unemployment environment, employers will focus less on becoming a playground you get paid to attend, and more of a ‘back to work’ mentality. You shouldn’t have time to berate Billy all day because he worships Pokemon. Get your a$$ back to work!

Over the past couple of years with #MeToo and Trump, our workplaces have become littered with landmines of employee strife. We want and value inclusion, and at the same time this increases the communication issues and the need for rules like Facebook are instituting.

So, what do you think? Does your workplace need to adopt rules like this?

HR Pros! How often are you going to court?

There’s one thing we as HR pros are pretty consistent on. We never want to go to court! We do just about anything to mitigate risk for ourselves and our organizations.  The first rule of HR Club is don’t go to court!

Now, that’s how most HR pros feel.  I don’t.  I don’t believe it’s HR’s job to mitigate risk. I believe it’s HR’s job to advise our decision makers of risk. Of course, if you are a decision maker, in HR, then it’s your job to mitigate risk over what you’re responsible for. All that being said, I’m in the minority of that opinion.

So, why do I feel this way?  It’s all numbers to me. Check this out from FloridaOvertimeLawyer.com:

  • In 2014, there were 88,778 Employment Related Charges Filed in the U.S.
  • In 2014, from those charges, a total of $372,100,000 dollars was awarded to the winners of those cases.
  • That averages out to just: $4,191.35 per case.

Here’s the reality of employment related cases:

  • Most cases are won by the employer.
  • Employee and Past Employees believe their cases are worth millions.
  • Most end up settling for a few thousand dollars.

First, I’m not advising you to not be safe and just go all willy-nilly and go to court!  Don’t be stupid.  Also, don’t allow yourself and your organization to be held hostage by an employee or past employee threatening a lawsuit. Most you can settle for way less than you can ever believe!

When I first started in HR I was always shocked by how small of amount of money it would take to make ‘problems’ go away, from a legal standpoint. The numbers above say the same thing. Sure, there is always a risk of a big score.  Usually, the companies that get hit with those are truly doing something very bad.  If you’re doing good work and trying to follow the letter of the law, rarely do those cases turn into major scores for employees.

Do you want to go to court? Of course not.  You, also, don’t want to allow your organization to be bullied by an employee who is taking advantage of your fear of going to court.  Judges are really smart people. They see through most con-artists pretty quickly.  I’ve been to court on employment matters a number of times, and each time the judge was fair to my organization, and called out bullshit when they saw it.

Do good work. Do good by your employees. Don’t allow your organization to do bad stuff. Trust our legal system will do what’s right.  Don’t allow yourself to be held hostage!