Leaders Secretly Hate Succession Planning!

Do you want to know what you’ll never hear anyone on your leadership team say publicly? Well, let me stop before I get started, because there are probably a ton of things leaders will say behind closed doors, off the record, and then open the door and say the exact opposite. Welcome to the PC version of corporate America.

One of the obvious, which always causes a stir is veteran hiring. I’ve written posts about Veteran Hiring many times, in which I state that companies will always, 100% of the time, publicly say they support veteran hiring, but behind closed doors they don’t really support veteran hiring. At best they want to offer veterans their crappiest jobs, not their best jobs.

If they did truly support veteran hiring, we would not have a veteran hiring crisis in this country! If every organization that claims they want to hire veterans, would just hire veterans, we would have 100% employed veterans! But we don’t. Why? Well, it’s organizational suicide to ever come out and say we don’t really want to hire veterans.  The media would kill that organization. Yet, veterans can’t get hired.

Succession planning is on a similar path. Your leaders say they support succession planning. They’ll claim it is a number one priority for your organization. But, every time you try and do something with succession planning, it goes nowhere!

Why?

Your leaders hate succession planning for a number of reasons, here are a few:

1. Financially, succession planning is a huge burden on organizations, if done right. Leaders are paid for the financial success of your organization. If it comes down to Succession Planning, or Michael getting a big bonus, Succession Planning will get pushed to next year, then, next year, then, next year…You see Succession Planning is really overhiring. Preparing for the future. It’s a long-term payback. Very few organizations have leadership in place with this type of long-term vision of success.

2.  Leaders get too caught up in headcount. We only have 100 FTEs for that group, we couldn’t possibly hire 105 and develop and prepare the team for the future, even though we know we have a 6% turnover each year. Organizations react. Firefight. Most are unwilling to ‘over hire’ and do succession in a meaningful way.

3. Leaders are like 18-year-old boys. They think they can live forever!  Again, publicly they’ll tell you they’re planning and it’s important. Privately, they look at some smartass 35-year-old VP and think to themselves, there is no way in hell I’ll ever let that kid take over this ship!

So, what can smart HR Pros do?

Begin testing some Succession Planning type tools and data analytics in hot spots in your company. Don’t make it a leadership thing. Make it a functional level initiative, in a carve-out area of your organization. A part of the organization that is highly visible has a direct financial impact on the business, and one you know outwardly has succession issues.

Tinker. Get people involved. Have conversations. Start playing around with some things that could have an impact in terms of development, retention, cross-training, workforce planning, etc.  All those things constitute succession, but instead of organization level, you are focusing on departmental level or a specific location.

Smart HR Pros get started.  They don’t wait for the organization to do it all at once. That will probably never happen. Just start somewhere, and roll it little by little. Too often we don’t get started because we want to do it all. That is the biggest mistake we can make.

Delta Airlines Charging Unvaccinated Employees $200/mnth! Why?

At this point, if you’re in HR, you have seen news of Delta Airlines charging unvaccinated employees an additional $200 per month in health insurance premiums. Needless to say, there has been a strong reaction from the HR community to this announcement.

It’s interesting for sure as you have most HR pros believing everyone should get the vaccine, but also that corporations should not be charging employees if they do not get the vaccine. Some other reactions have been why should an employee be charged a premium, now that we know the vaccine won’t stop you from getting Covid. And an unlimited amount of other opinions as well!

Isn’t this just the smoking premium?

About a decade ago employers started charging employees who smoke higher health care premiums. Walmart charges employees who smoke an additional $2000 per year in increased health insurance premiums. When this was first done by a small employer in Lansing, MI a decade ago, lawsuits were filed, the HR community became unglued, and we had these huge ethical arguments over whether this was right or not to do to an employer.

What right is it of an employer to charge me more if I want to smoke or not! You’re not charging Tim over there eating a Big Mac and drinking a gallon of soda!?

Delta’s Covid decision is causing similar outrage about the vaccine.

Here’s the thing…

From the data we currently have, and the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, we know statistically those with the vaccine are much less likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid. The “average” cost of a Delta employee who gets the virus and is hospitalized is $50,000!

$50,000 is not a small cost! Multiply that by hundreds of employees and it’s becoming a major issue. The issue being, on individual employee’s personal decision to not get the vaccine, is actually costing every single Delta employee, with upcoming increased insurance costs!

“Yeah, Tim, but someone made the personal decision to light up a cigarette. No one is making the personal decision to get the Covid!” Ugh…

You know you can’t send your kid to public school in the U.S. unless they have their approved vaccines. Millions of kids each year, go get their vaccines and go to school. We’ve pretty much eradicated all kinds of terrible diseases. An extremely tiny amount of parents have an issue with this. Ultimately, science has proven to be effective in helping our kids stay alive. Yay! Science!

More employers will go down this path.

Already we are seeing more and more employers mandate vaccines for employment. SHRM, the largest HR association in the world, has mandated vaccines for its employees. This isn’t a political statement. It’s actually not a statement of empathy, either, although most PR teams will try and turn it into one. It’s a financial statement of fact. We can’t afford for you to be stupid and play Russian Roulette with the virus.

All of this does lead us down a slippery path. It started out with something we all now know is harmful to our health, smoking. If you smoke, you will pay more for health insurance. Now it’s Covid. If you don’t protect yourself, by getting a vaccine, we will charge you more for health insurance. What’s next?

If you’re fat…don’t think it’s not coming…

The Dance We Call Work.

I read a statistic the other day that said on average a person works about 6 hours per day, Monday through Friday. The number of hours worked per day has actually decreased during the pandemic. It’s interesting because when you ask people how many hours per day they work almost all would say at least 8, or more.

But, do we really “work” eight hours per day?

Prior to the Pandemic when most people went into an office, you definitely “worked” at least eight hours most days. Or at least you were present in your office environment for eight hours. How much work you actually did during that time varies widely!

The Pandemic hits and people work remotely and we begin to hear a different narrative around work. The conversation switches from “hours” to what actually got done. Let me be clear, this should have always been the conversation, but culturally we still have so much “asses in seats” management going on it was tough to break through.

When people started “working” remotely they began to have the flexibility to integrate all of their life at one time. No longer did you have to shut down one part of your life to go to work. You could now seamlessly start a load of laundry on the way to fill up your cup of coffee and still make it back in time for the beginning of your sales Zoom meeting. It all just kind of made sense, for those who could do it.

All of this now makes “The Dance” we do in the office seem a bit silly!

I’ve always been a giant fan of set solid productivity goals and if someone hits those goals, I could care less if it takes them 10 hours a week or 60 hours a week. You make life decisions on how you work at the office, at home, etc. If you are super productive and kick out your job in 32 hours a week, but still get paid a full salary, you’re winning the game! If it takes you 50 or 60 hours a week to complete your job, you need some development to help you, or to find a new job/career!

You show up at the office at 8 am, dink around a bit, catch up with co-worker-friends on what happened in the 12-16 hours since you saw them last, do some stuff until lunch, do some more stuff, wait until 5 pm, then run off to do life stuff. Rinse, lather, repeat. The Dance is never-ending.

But something cool happened during the Pandemic and now everyone wants to dance a different dance! It’s not that everyone wants remote. If you say that out loud, just know I’m judging your intelligence! Everyone doesn’t want to work full remote. A lot of people love working with others and seeing them face-to-face, many on a daily basis! You might not like your co-workers, company, job, etc., but actually, most people do.

The New Work Dance is really about finding ways to add in some flexibility.

A little bit goes a long way! “Yeah, but Tim, our jobs don’t allow flexibility! We open the doors at 7 am and customers start coming and we need our workers there!” Yep, I get that. You can’t have someone make coffee at home for customers who come to your location to buy coffee! But that doesn’t mean you can treat your employees like adults and allow for some flexibility.

Let me share an example. I have a friend who manages a retail chain. She’s a really good manager. A single mom who works her tail off to make ends meet. Her child is starting to play sports and on Saturday mornings for an hour, she wanted to go watch him. She was told she couldn’t have every Saturday off, so she would have to miss some games. She said I don’t want to take off every Saturday. I’ll come in, open up, run over to the game, run back, and the other workers said they’ll cover for me. Adults working out a solution.

What happened? You know! Nope, you can’t do that, because if we allow you, then everyone will want to start doing stuff like that!

Yes!!! They will, and if it works out, fine, that’s okay! Adults being adults, making adult decisions and solutions. Let them Dance! Find ways to give them a bit of flexibility in a mostly inflexible world. They’ll be happier, perform better, feel good about working for you, etc.

Will it always work out? No. Real-world, some folks will take advantage of the situation and those are the people you don’t want working for you. But, we have to change the dance. We have to find more dances that work for more people. We will not find one for everyone, but we can find more.

My hope is the Pandemic taught us one thing. This dance we call work is a fraud. 8 hours, 40 hours, whatever it is, it’s not about time, it’s about results, it’s about getting a job done well. I want to hire people who think about how to get the job done well in less time verse hiring people who want to show up and dance for forty hours a week.

How Realistic Is It for Your Entire Company to Take Collective PTO? #SummerShutDown #HRFamous

On episode 70 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss the 2021 Summer Olympics, the concept of collective time off and entire companies shutting down, and the lack of women returning to the workforce.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)

Show Highlights

2:30 – The Olympics are here! Tim’s wife is Olympic-obsessed and watches anything and everything.

4:00 – KD’s favorite Olympic sports are men’s basketball and the decathlon. He loves seeing some bigger dudes struggling with the run at the very end. Tim is a swimming and track-and-field fan.

6:45 – JLee is more of a winter Olympics fan, but she loves watching archery during the summer. She loves watching the Koreans kick butt in archery at the Olympics.

9:00 – To help combat burnout, companies have started to implement the concept of “collective time off,” where the entire company shuts down. Bumble recently decided to give their entire staff a week off at the same time.

11:00 – KD is skeptical of the concept — calling it Privilege — since a lot of companies cannot afford to let all of their employees take off a day like that.

14:00 – JLee mentions that at her company, Marriott, they cannot afford to give every employee time off since they are a 24/7 operation and that opens them up to controversy and criticism.

17:20 – JLee asks Tim if this can be used as a recruiting tactic. When he was working at Applebee’s, he found himself working an HR job on Black Friday even though there was nothing to do. Then they got a new CEO that changed the mindset not to treat everyone the same.

22:45 – There has been some more data released recently about women in the workforce. JLee mentions how it might not be an option for some women to return to the workforce now. Tim recently found a data point that said there are 2 million people that still have not returned to the workforce.

27:45 – KD thinks this isn’t an issue that HR can fix on its own. It can be a lot of work, but it can be very worthwhile since it’s one of the biggest untapped segments out there.

30:00 – JLee remembers seeing two moms that job-shared and thinking how progressive and seamless it was.

32:00 – Tim mentions how his brother-in-law is a teacher and only took home $10-15k a year after paying for childcare.

2.9 million Americans have been unemployed for at least a year! Why?

When I saw this number released this week, I was shocked. This month that number increased by almost 250,000! The 2.9M number represents 29% of all unemployed workers. I found myself asking, Why and How? How can someone who wants to work be unemployed for one year?

Being someone who is in the business of hiring people my gut reaction wants to say, “well, these people must not really want to work!” But that’s a cop-out and mostly ignorant way to think about it. The truth is, there are 2.9 million reasons why 2.9 million people remain unemployed for a year or more!

If we could easily go to each of these 2.9 million people who have been unemployed for at least a year I think we would start to hear some common reasons:

  • Pandemic related reasons: They have medical issues that make it very dangerous for them to return to the type of work there were doing prior, and possibly they are also concerned over an experimental vaccine that could protect them, or even that the pandemic shuttered the work they do, and it still has not come back. Childcare issues do to normal school and after-school programs not running as usual.
  • Pivot Reasons: We talk about “Reskilling” all the time but we don’t truly talk about the logistics of truly reskilling yourself. I was employed as an “X” and because of whatever reasons I left the workforce to reskill because I now want to be a “Y”. Maybe this was of their own doing, maybe this was pandemic related, etc. Some probably are unemployed because they lost their job and decided to go back to school.
  • Executive Positions: There is a lot of data around how long it takes someone to find a job the higher up in a company or your salary is. At a VP level for large organizations, on average it takes six to twelve months for people to find their next position after a job loss, at that same level. This is simply do to the fact that very few of those positions come up, so there’s a waiting game that takes place.
  • Retirement: For a number of reasons I made the decision to retire, but because it’s to my benefit to not actually retire, and claim unemployment, I now get this soft landing going into retirement by taking advantage of extended unemployment benefits, etc.
  • Stimulus and Extended Unemployment Benefits: Let’s not be naive and act like this doesn’t have an impact as well. It does, but probably not to the extent that most people believe. If I can make more money not working than working, well many people will decide to ride that out as long as possible. Some would even find that you know after doing this for 6-9 months, maybe our family can actually live on one income for a while, etc.
  • Habitual poor performers: Have you ever noticed that some folks just aren’t good at working, any job, ever! For whatever reasons, these folks just are not wired to work. They constantly get fired, and eventually it’s really hard for them to get a job. Could be cognitive issues, mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues, etc.

What I know is having 2.9 million workers out of the workforce for a year, is a problem for US companies. We need those individuals, or at least we need those within the 2.9 million capable of working, to return to the workforce in whatever capacity they can!

The unemployment rate currently sits at 5.9% that is still rather high as compared to early 2019, but actually not very high historically. Those of us in HR and TA figure that once you get below 5% unemployment, you have slim pickings when it comes to talent, for many of the reasons listed above. Within that 5% or less, many of those folks just don’t want to work, or can’t work, in the jobs we have open.

Currently within the US today we have one open job for every unemployed worker, but as we all know, those jobs are not aligned in a way that we can fill those jobs with those who are unemployed.

If you are one of those folks who have been unemployed for a year or more, I would love to hear your reason and see if it aligns with mine above. Hit me in the comments!

In HR (and life) the story that wins becomes the truth!

In HR we hear a lot of stories.

We love to tell ourselves we are hearing the truth from one side and a lie from another side, but the reality is both sides are stories with a little truth and a little lie built-in. We then ‘measure’ who we feel is telling more truth than lie, and that side becomes the full truth.

Throughout history, this plays out. The winners of war decide what the truth is, not the losers. One side is good and righteous, one side is bad and evil. Before the war, both sides were just trying to make it through the day and make their society better. Truth.

We fire someone because they harassed another person. That person is a bad person. The person who got harassed is a victim and is a good person. The problem is, that’s not really reality, is it? Many times the person we fire is actually a pretty good person and the victim is a piece of garbage. But, the winner gets to decide the role they want.

We fire an employee because we are told by their manager that they are not performing well. We trust our manager. We have to it’s what our structure is built on. If we didn’t then what are we really doing? The employee claims they weren’t trained properly, they weren’t given good direction, they were put in a position to fail. You’re fired, you’re a bad employee. You lose, you don’t get to decide the truth.

It’s one major reason why I tend not to really care that a person was fired from a job. The reason probably matters. I don’t want to hire someone who embezzled from their former employer or some other major offense, but if it’s performance, let’s talk. I’m willing to talk because I know there are always two sides to the story. It just happens that this candidate lost their last story, but they might win the next.

It’s important as HR pros and leaders we understand this concept, not just for hiring, but also that we understand most times we don’t deal in complete black and white wins and losses. In HR we deal in the middle, in the gray. Once we make a determination, we are making a determination of ‘win’. We are validating one story over another. We like to tell ourselves and our leadership that this one story is the truth, but it’s really just another version of a story.

So be careful this week as you decide which stories will win and which ones will lose. Truth can be a pretty powerful thing even when it’s just a story.

7 Very Short Rules For Being Better At Recruiting!

Over the past few months have had dozens of conversations with Talent Acquisition leaders across America. From SMB to Enterprise, all types of markets, and all with basically the same kind of problem. The need to get better at recruiting, and the need to do it very quickly! (By the way, I actually wrote a book on how to do that! Duh!)

The reality is, none of these folks wanted to read my book (TL;DR). Okay, actually, some have, but they still wanted those silver bullets. Yeah, yeah, I can read the book, but “really” just tell me what I need to do right now to get better! We are desperate to hire better, NOW!

Very Short Rules for Better Recruiting!

1. You must advertise your jobs.

No, posting your jobs on your own career site doesn’t count! Also, this isn’t free. Quality advertising that gets results will cost some money. Also, just posting on job sites, for most, will not be enough. Job sites are for people looking for jobs. The best organizations advertise to people who are not actively looking for a job, and those people are not on job sites.

2. Stop working on requisitions for Hiring Managers who are not “immediately” ready to hire.

Your team already has limited capacity to recruit. You don’t need to be messing around with openings with a hiring manager who is unsure. “Well, just leave it open. Maybe someone will apply.” No, it’s canceled, when you’re serious about hiring we’ll re-open that position and make a hire.

3. If a job is always open, it’s never open.

No one wants a job that is always open. There is a problem with that job. Why can’t you fill it? Why is it never closed? “But, Tim, this is a greenfield position!” Stop it! Think about this from a candidate’s perspective and the recruiter’s perspective. A candidate doesn’t want a position that never closes, and a recruiter doesn’t want to work that position. Plus, it’s very difficult to get both recruiter and hiring manager ownership over a position that never closes. If you have openings that never get filled, there’s a bigger issue at play.

4. It’s not Quality or Quantity, it’s both.

When it comes to measuring a recruiter’s activity and performance, quality and quantity are not mutually exclusive. We need both. You must work through enough candidates to get both a certain level of quality and enough quantity to meet the obligations of the job. We don’t have a quality issue, because every one of our recruiters would only send high quality. Not having enough quantity then becomes a work effort issue, that can be solved in a number of ways.

5. If your recruiters aren’t using your old ATS, they will not use your new ATS.

We buy technology because we truly believe it will make our TA team/process better. Thus, if they are not using our technology, there is a belief that they are better than your investment in technology. So, you must assume that this will happen with any new technology you buy as well. In my experience, this actually happens in about 90% of cases. It’s not a technology issue, it’s an adoption issue.

6. You must know your own baseline recruiting capacity, then improve upon that.

Yes, I can tell you how many reqs, on average, a recruiter can effectively carry. Also, that number is basically meaningless to you. Your team, your leadership, your technology, your market, is different than everyone else. Continuous improvement of yourself, should be your true measure. You only know if that is happening, if you know your baseline performance.

7. Stop doing anything that doesn’t lead to or help you fill jobs.

Most of my job, as a recruiting consultant, is not about finding out what you’re not doing, but finding out what you are doing that you should stop doing. 100% of the time I find recruiters and recruiting teams doing things that have very little to do with filling open requisitions. While, organizationally, those things might be important stuff. Functionally, they are a waste of time.

Bonus Rule:

If you have recruiters who love to administer your recruiting process, but they do not love to actually recruit, you have two options: 1. Fire them; 2. Move them into Recruiting Operations if you’re an enterprise-size shop. You need recruiters who recruit, not ones who talk about the process. We do not have the time nor the resources to carry non-recruiting, recruiters on our teams. FYI, letting them go, won’t hurt your capacity, they weren’t really recruiting anyway!

What are your favorite recruiting rules for being better at recruiting? Share in the comments so we can all get better together!

How can you become a great HR/TA Pro?

I met an aspiring HR college student recently. The question was asked, “Tim, how can I be great at HR?” I told them to buy my book and read my blog and that’s really all there is to it! Just kidding, I said something after that as well! 😉

It’s a great question that ultimately has very little to do with HR or Talent Acquisition. To be great at HR, or anything, rarely do you have to be great at that certain skill set. For some things, it’s important: doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. But in most professions, you can learn the skills, so it’s about these other things that I told this young Padawan:

Go deep on a few things. The world needs experts, not a generalist. Don’t kid yourself to think being a generalist is really what your organization wants. People say this when they are an expert in nothing. Be an expert in something and a generalist in a bunch of stuff.

Don’t be super concerned with what you’re going deep on, just make sure it interests you. While it might not seem valuable now, at some point it probably will be. I’m not in love with employee benefits, but someone is and when I need help with that I’m searching for that person.

Consume content inside and outside of your industry. Those with a never-ending appetite to learn are always more successful.

Connect with people in your field outside of your company. We are in a time in the world where your network can be Pitbull Worldwide! Use that to your advantage. There is someone smarter than you a thousand miles away just waiting to help you.

Just because someone older and more experienced than you might think something is unimportant, don’t give up on it. We all get used to what we are used to. Older people think Snapchat is stupid and it might be, but it also might unlock something awesome in our employment brand. Experience and age are super valuable until they aren’t.

Constantly make stuff and test it. Some of it will fail, most of it will be average, some of it will be awesome. Give yourself more chances for awesome! Don’t let someone tell you, “we tried that three years ago and it didn’t work”. Cool, let’s do it again, but this time change the name!

Take a big chance early in your career. Find a company that you absolutely love and just find a way to work there in any position, then be awesome for a couple of years and see what happens. Working for a brand you love is beyond the best career feeling you’ll have.

Don’t expect to be “HR famous” overnight, but the work you do right now will make you HR famous ten years from now. Do the work, fall in love with it, the fame will come down the road. “I want to blog and speak just like you, Tim!” Awesome, I started doing this a decade ago. Let’s get started right now!

Don’t discount social skills in the real world. You can be the smartest most skilled person in the room, but the one with a personality is the one people will pay attention to. This is a skill that can be learned and constantly improved upon if you work at it.

Spend time with Great HR and Talent pros. No one is really hiding their secret sauce, you just aren’t asking them questions. The key in spending time with others is not asking them to invest more in helping you than you’re willing to invest in making it happen. I get asked weekly for time from people who rarely are willing to help me in return.

Get Tech Savvy. This does’t mean you need to learn to code, but you have to be comfortable with the capabilities and advances that technology is having on your specific field. You should demo technology consistently. You should put yourself in a position where you feel knowledgeable enough to make technology decisions for your function, so someone else is not making these decisions for you. Especially as a young professional, because most old pros won’t have this skill and few have any desire to acquire this skill late in their career.

Okay, as internships are concluding for the summer let’s help these aspiring professionals out! Give me your best advice in the comments!

The Rules for Hugging at Work Post-Pandemic

Okay, I’ve been known as the guy who likes to hug, and I’m not sure why I have this designation but it might be because of this post here. Also, I tend to like hugs! And, I might have hugged a bunch of folks to kick off my speaking engagements demonstrating the Official Office Hugging Rules!

My mate (that’s what English male friends call each other) Chris Bailey (who is a world-class hugger in his own right) and I were messaging back and forth the other day on WhatsApp (Editor note: Tim has to tell you he was messaging on WhatsApp so he seems cool and worldly) and he said, “Mate, you need to write the rules for Hugging at Work after Covid”. He’s right, it’s time.

The key to great rules is you get them out before people start making up their own rules. Since organizations are just not figuring out return-to-work strategies, and a bunch of people are getting their Covid Juice (vaccines), the world, or at least Chris Bailey, is clamoring for how can we start hugging again!

The Rules for Hugging at Work, Post-Pandemic

1. Read the Original Rules of Hugging at Work, they still apply, but we needed some additions.

2. If both parties are Vaxed you are free to party! Hug away! Hug me like you missed me! Hug me so hard it might start an HR investigation! But only hugging, Sparky, don’t get too excited!

3. If one party is Vaxed and one party is stupid (err., not vaxed), Hug that moron if you want. Now, if you are vaxed and the non-vaxed person is wearing a mask, well that probably just helps knock down that coffee breath.

4. If you are not vaxed and the other party is not vaxed, please not only hug, but lick each other. The world is built around natural selection and there is nothing more exciting than watching natural selection take place in the wilds of the office!

5. Understand coming back into the office, Post-Pandemic, the world has changed a bit. Everyone is a bit on edge. There’s a good chance you hugging someone at work will get you fired. So, my recommendation is to hug anyway, no one wants to work in a world where “Karen’s” rule the world!

6. Don’t hug someone who is trying to give you an elbow bump. That person is weird.

7. Don’t hug someone who says, “It’s just a little bit of allergies” as they are hacking up a lung. Also, if you’re sick, have enough self-insight to let folks know so they don’t come in for a snuggle!

8. If it looks like someone needs a hug, ask them, and if they don’t say “No”, most likely they need a hug! The world has been an especially hard place the past year or so. A lot of folks need a hug!

9. Some of your folks are remote and they need a hug. Great leaders, in a new world of remote, hybrid, and on-premise, will travel and deliver hugs. It might be the single most important thing you do as a leader all year. Hug delivery.

10. Hug with DEI in mind! Have you hugged a person of color today? What about one of your Transgender co-workers or peers? What about someone of the same sex? If you only hug the opposite sex of the same color you are, you might want to ask yourself why is that? I’m an equal opportunity hugger! Come get some!

11. No group hugs. Let’s stay civilized, people! It’s a special kind of crazy the person who initiates a group hug. In HR we use “group hug” as profiling the truly psycho employees we have working for us! “Come on guys! Let’s all do a big group hug!” – Um, No!, Trevor!

Cancel Culture Can’t Cancel Hugs!

I did a survey recently and it turns out 89% of people want a hug, and the 11% who don’t like hugs, also hate puppies (this is my own survey, don’t @ me!). Here’s the thing, as we get back to work and see folks we haven’t seen in a while there will be emotion! We missed a lot of these assholes! Enough that we will want to give them a hug!

Also, if you have folks working hybrid that you don’t get to see as much, when you do see them you will want to do more than a cold handshake or fist bump. The world needs one big giant hug, and we certainly have some co-workers who need more than a few hugs!

Hugs don’t need to be canceled. Hugs are great! What needs to be canceled are creepy dudes who hug inappropriately and make the people they hug feel uncomfortable. Fix that problem! Leave hugs alone!

Professionalism vs. Civility at Work!

In Human Resources and Talent Acquisition we have gotten very use to hiring managers making a statement like, “I really need someone with a high level of professionalism in this role”. Having experience as both an HR leader and a Talent Acquisition leader for twenty-five years, I thought I knew exactly what that meant.

My view of the term “Professionalism” meant the hiring manager was looking for someone who had a high skill level in communicating appropriately for each situation. That they had an appearance that seems to fit the culture of the organization and those we served. That in times of stress or crisis, they were able to keep their composure and work through situations to come up with an outcome that would be satisfactory to both sides.

What I never realized was that the term “Professionalism” is or is thought to be rooted in racism and white supremacy. But, as the social justice and BLM movements have brought many things to light over the past couple of years, I’ve been reading and hearing from people of color that the use of “Professionalism” as a descriptor was akin to saying “what we really want is a white person”.

I have to be honest, and I know folks will say this is because I was blinded by my privilege, but I never once in my career thought when a hiring manager said they wanted someone who was “professional” they were secretly telling me they wanted a white person. I probably think this way because I’ve had men, women, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. tell me this as a descriptor/skill they desired as a hiring manager. But, this is also the difficulty of unconscious bias.

Is there a difference between “Professionalism” and “Civility”?

I can definitely see how the wrong individuals could easily use the term “professionalism” to mean white and not black. I’m not naive to the world. It does bring up the dilemma though on how do we actually measure or speak to how individuals should act in certain business settings. Of course, each company’s culture is different, so this is a constant moving target by company, by leader, by position, etc.

I think most HR leaders and Executives, regardless of gender, ethnicity, and nationality would believe there are appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and ways to conduct ourselves in a business setting. Probably 90% of which we could come to some sort of agreement on, and the other 10% would be personal preferences.

This then begs the question is “professionalism” really a racist ideal, or is it just an additional method some individuals/organizations/institutions could use to continue systematic racism where they see fit? If that is the case, then how can we communicate the 90% we agree on in a fair and equitable way where all employees feel like they belong?

This brought me to the concept of Civility.

Civility is defined as formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech. Sounds a bit like how we would define “Professionalism” so it makes me wary we are just using a different word. I did find a Civility expert, Sejal Thakkar, who trains organizations and employees on how to be more civil with each other. She had a post on Linkedin and shared a bunch of really great resources explaining that no matter your role at work, from the lowest-paid worker to the CEO, all should be acting with civility, at all times. (Click here for Sejal’s LinkedIn post with resources) (Also, go connect with Sejal, I really like what she’s doing around Civility in the workplace!)

My question to Sejal was simply, in these current times I get messages from leaders who feel like they are being held hostage by some of their employees. These employees feel empowered to say anything without any recourse. They can talk divisively at work about politics, their beliefs and ethics, while attacking other’s beliefs and ethics that are different than theirs, and leaders feel like they have to allow this to happen. How can leaders deal with this issue of feeling like they are being held hostage by some strongly opinionated employees who are causing dissension at work about non-work things?

Sejal’s response was what I expected. All employees, both leaders, and non-leaders should be acting civil towards each other at all times, with no exceptions. She was short and sweet in her response. There is no room for incivility in the workplace. Period.

It’s fine to disagree about big things in the world, and still act civil towards each other, especially in the workplace. An employee might have voted for Biden and hated Trump, and can’t fathom that another employee actually voted for Trump, but that doesn’t give license to either employee to act uncivil towards each other. You can have employee support BLM and have employees support Law Enforcement, all the while being civil towards each other. If both, or either does act uncivil, it should be dealt with in your normal course of discipline as if they acted inappropriately about anything else within your workplace.

What does Civility look like at work?

(I’m going cut and paste from one of the resources Sejal shared (Ten Ways to Create a More Civil Workplace) as this person can say it way better than I could ever write):

  1. Acknowledge Others. No one should feel invisible. Make eye contact. Greet people with “good morning”, “good afternoon”, etc. Use people’s names. Make people feel welcome in your presence.
  2. Think the Best. Most people are not trying to intentionally ruin things or do harm, try to assume positive intent. Until proven wrong, give the benefit of the doubt that people are trying to do the best they can with the resources and tools available to them.
  3. Listen. Stop focusing on yourself and your needs; instead, focus on other people. Don’t assume you need to solve anything, just hear and try to understand clearly what they are saying. Respect what others think and honor their right to see things differently than you do. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, just hear them.
  4. Speak Kindly. Be respectful in word and tone, particularly when delivering critical feedback. In addition, never gossip or speak unkindly of people when they are not present.
  5. Accept and Give Praise. It is said that one of the greatest things you can give someone else is a sense of their own worth. Praising the accomplishments of others and showing appreciation cost you nothing but deliver tremendous value. And when you are praised, a kind thank you is all that’s necessary. Gracious humility is a virtue.
  6. Be Agreeable. Be open to and look for opportunities where you can accommodate others, compromise, or simply allow someone else’s ideas to be implemented. Your way isn’t the only way.
  7. Respect Other People’s Time. Be punctual, end things on time, wait your turn to speak, show up to everything you’ve promised, and every time you fail to do so, apologize.
  8. Apologize Earnestly. Be clear about the error you’ve made and do not make excuses. Let others know that what you did was wrong and that you understand and regret the negative impact you’ve made.
  9. Accept and Give Constructive Criticism. Be clear about your intentions. If your intention is to help, then be helpful, however, if your intent is revenge or to manipulate things to your benefit, re-evaluate and walk away. When receiving criticism, assume the positive intentions of others. Be grateful, not defensive.
  10. Don’t Shift Responsibility and Blame. If you are part of the problem, own it, apologize if necessary, and help in finding a solution. Trying to place blame rather than working to find a solution makes you an obstacle. Don’t be that person.

I love these! Can you imagine, right now today, if we all worked in an environment where this was taking place! The world would seem lighter, for sure!

This is extra difficult right now in our work world because so many of our employees, who are working remotely, haven’t even met each other. It’s way easier to disregard another person when you don’t truly know them or their intentions.

Like I said above, I am not naive to the world. I understand people are hurting and fed up with the world they are living in, so we’ll see unrest and people being uncivil towards each other. I hope and like to believe, that we can create workplaces where people will feel like they belong and are safe to have civil discord. Because once it becomes uncivil it’s time for some folks to leave or are workplaces breakdown and that isn’t fair to the other employees who rely on the success of the business to pay their bills and feed their families.

We live in a world, currently, where most people seemingly do not first assume positive intent, and I can understand why. But for our workplaces to grow and thrive, we must fight to get to a place (understand I did not say “back to a place”) where we can all be civil towards each other working on common goals and successes.