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!

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!

You Can Love America and Not be a Racist

I had a big learning recently.

Might seem like a pretty obvious thing for me, but I really didn’t understand how it was shaping my thought process. Politically, right now in our country, we’re a mess.

You can actually love America and being an American, and you’re not a racist.

I wasn’t sure that was possible, but as we (Kris Dunn, Jessica Lee and I) were taping episodes of our podcast, This is HR, I was taken aback at how much Jessica Lee, my Millennial, female, Korean-American, liberal, podcast partner loved America. She is pro-America. She also, like many of us, very against some political forces in our country right now.

I think it’s a great reminder as we set out to celebrate our great country over this 4th of July holiday. We love our country which is why we are fighting so hard to make this country something everyone can look at and appreciate our place in the world.

Too often, currently, I think we are associating “pro-America” with “pro-right” or conservative. This isn’t the case. Pro-America is why so many people are trying to get into this country, because of the opportunity that is here, even with all of the flaws we struggle with and will continue to struggle with.

While we might not agree with those in charge, this great country of ours allows us to vote. Allows us to fund those we do align with. Allows us to protest and march and campaign. Our melting pot is far from perfect. Inclusion causes friction. Different ideas cause friction. Our country was founded on this friction.

I’m more scared of living in a society with no friction. Where we all believe exactly the same thing or we least believe we need to believe the same thing or there will be consequences.

I have friends and family on every side of the political spectrum.  They are good people on all sides. There are bad people on all sides. This is America and I love it.

The First Gay Person I Ever Met. #Pride

June was Pride month and as it wrapped up on Sunday I was loving all the pictures on my social feeds from New York and really all over the world. It really made me think about why I’m an Ally for this community. Where did it all start?

I was in seventh grade when my middle school basketball coach said he had an opportunity for us to jump higher. I’m short and white, so I was totally interested. Turned out, the opportunity was to play volleyball for a boy’s team, the only boy’s team in Michigan. The coach was local to my school district and looking for male athletes.

This coach was also a gay male.

Of course, as a 13-year old boy, I had no idea that he was gay. I went out for the team. Made it, and it really set me off on a path I could never believe. I traveled nationally with this team. I made the best friends from all over the country. I had a mentor in this coach who supported me as a coach, a dad, a friend.

It became apparent very soon to me that playing volleyball on the only all-boys team in Michigan had some advantages and disadvantages. I got used to being called “gay” by ignorant people when we tried to do some fundraising. “Hi, I’m Tim, and we’re fundraising to attend the Junior Olympics to compete in boy’s volleyball! We would love your support!” Boy’s volleyball? What are you gay or something?

It was a strange experience to be called “gay” because I was playing a game that I loved, and that people weren’t used to seeing boys play. To have someone assume because I liked doing this one thing, you could determine my sexuality. I’m like, no I really, really like girls, but still, so you don’t want to support us because you think only ‘girls’ play volleyball and because I’m a boy playing volleyball I must be gay?

I also got used to attending weekend tournaments where our team of 8 boys would be playing in gyms with hundreds of girls! It was a huge advantage for a short, red-headed, goofy teen boy who liked girls! I needed those odds to be in my favor!  

Eventually, my dad had a conversation with me. “You know your coach is gay, right?” By then I got it, but it didn’t matter to me. He was my coach. He just happened to be a gay male. Thankfully, for me, my dad was pretty accepting and could see I loved the experiences I was having.

This coach had a life long positive impact on my life. He was gay. I only say that because I think I was lucky enough to know this and have such a great experience that I grew up believing gay folks are great folks, and some folks are just assholes that judge you based on stupid stuff that has no correlation to anything.

I did grow up understanding that my gay friends face major prejudices and biases walking into life events that I don’t, even though they shouldn’t. We’ve come a long way since I was in seventh grade, but we still have such a long way to go.

I grew up an Ally without even knowing I was an Ally. I looked at those friends and mentors who were gay, not as gay friends and mentors, but as every other friend and mentor, I have in my life. My life is now filled with friends and family from the LGBTQ community and I’m so proud of the bravery these folks show every day. I hope that #Pride had a positive impact on you in June!

You Can’t Teach Your Employees to be Human! #Transform

You might have seen this in the news a few weeks back. Mom and Dad take their Autistic son to a Universal Theme Park in Orlando. The son is over the top excited for the Spiderman ride, and Murphy’s Law comes into play.

The family gets to the ride and it’s broken down. The son loses it. Full blown, five-alarm tantrum on the ground in front of the ride. Mom and Dad are doing all they can to help him calm down, he’s having none of it, when this happens:

So, you see the son with his headphones and you see an actual park employee from Universal from the Spiderman ride who came over and got on the ground and just laid down with this child. Let everyone know who was gawking that you know, it’s okay, some days the Spiderman ride breaks down and it sucks and we all want to scream about it.

The child eventually calmed down with the help of the employee. The parents were all so grateful for the assist and help.

This is a great human story. This is also a great story for Universal’s recruiting team! Let’s be honest. The reality is, the TA team really had nothing to do with this. They ran their process, and out of that, got lucky enough to hire a person who had these capabilities and a giant heart.

You can’t expect or set out to hire, individuals like this woman. She’s a unicorn. In fact, I would bet that Universal in their training would probably use an example like this of what not to do from a liability standpoint! All that said, it happened and it was wonderful.

You might see a story like this and say to yourself, “we need to add this example into our onboarding so that our new employees know this is what we want them to be like!” That’s really unfair to your new hires. Some might see this and think that’s the scariest thing I can imagine, but they might be willing to do a thousand other great things.

The biggest learning from an HR standpoint on this for me is that we can’t eliminate risk in our environments. Things are going to happen. We hope we hire and train employees to do the ‘right’ thing. To be kind. To be human. To do what they would want someone to do for them in a similar circumstance.

Also, to know, when we ask our employees to take the risk of being kind, being human, etc. that sometimes it’s going to backfire, but if it was done with positive intent and good heart we are willing to take that risk.

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.

 

Should You Put a Rank and File Employee on Your Board?

Most boards of companies are made up of current company executives and/or executives from other companies are former executives from other companies. Almost never will you find a “regular Joe” on the board of directors.

Last week, a worker’s rights organization, United for Respect, presented to Congress and then to Walmart’s board the idea of adding hourly Walmart workers to its board, with full voting privileges. From the New Yorker:

“The practice of constantly cutting costs and squeezing workers often stems from the short-term-profit-oriented mind-set that has come to dominate corporate America over recent decades, in which moves to boost a company’s stock price are given priority over longer-term investments in infrastructure and employees. Murray believes that, if there had been a meaningful number of people with a stake in Walmart’s longer-term health—such as store associates—involved in the business decisions, some of these changes wouldn’t have happened, and the company would be better off. This led Murray, with the help of a worker’s-rights organization called United for Respect, to join in drafting a resolution that she plans to present to Congress on Tuesday—and, later, at Walmart’s annual shareholders’ meeting—urging the company to place a significant number of hourly retail employees on its board of directors so that they might have input on major corporate decisions.”

I love the idea. The only way it works is if the hourly employees who are on the board, have full voting rights as other board members, and they are not compensated in a way that makes them vote differently than they would as a normally compensated hourly worker. Basically, you couldn’t allow management to game the system by making it financially rewarding to those hourly employees that incentives them to make decisions in ways they normally wouldn’t.

So, would it be better for organizations to have hourly employees on their board? That’s the real question! More from the article:

“Because workers have so rarely been invited to participate in board-level decisions at companies in the U.S., there are few domestic examples to look to for a sense of how it would play out. In Germany and a handful of other European countries, however, having worker representation on boards is required. Baldwin’s office found research that showed that companies with worker representation invest twice as much in their businesses as those without; wages are higher, and profits are distributed more evenly. These firms also performed better. None of this is surprising. Low-level employees are deeply invested in a company’s long-term success, because their families depend on it in ways that top executives waiting for a bonus may not.” 

I’m definitely one of those people who believe we have an issue with executive compensation. Sure you see examples that are grotesque, but for the most part, executive compensation is market driven, and if organizations want to find effective leadership that has the ability to lead on a giant scale, it costs money.

I think what we are missing is the re-investment piece. Most boards and executives are concerned with financial performance, but in the short-term, not long. Quarter to quarter earnings drives short-term decision making that many times doesn’t include re-investment into the business to ensure long-term, steady success.

The market doesn’t reward steady success, so boards make decisions that are many times counterintuitive to long term success. Hourly employees, in turn, would tend to make better long-term business decisions because this business success long-term has a much bigger impact on their life, versus short-term business gains.

I’m not sure I want to see this regulated, I tend to believe the market will show companies how to run. That being said, in the past few decades the market has led many strong companies down the wrong path.

What do you think? How would you feel about having hourly employees on your board of directors?

I’m Afraid of Being Me Too’d!

For the last ten days, I’ve been at HR and TA conferences. It was the longest, consecutive run of speaking I’ve done in my career. Basically, in ten days I did a total of 14 sessions. I now want to crawl into a dark sensory deprivation chamber for a week!

If you haven’t seen me speak, I do some hugging!

At one of my stops, I had a fellow come up to me during a private moment and ask me if I was afraid. “Afraid of what!?”, I asked. “Well, you are doing this hugging thing and I’ve seen you hug people outside of the sessions as well, aren’t you afraid of #MeToo? (I added the hashtag, he just said Me Too’d) I’m afraid if I did that, I would be #MeToo’d!”

I might be super naive, but I said, “No, absolutely not.” I hug in a context around my speaking. It’s about rules, and rules of hugging. It’s not me, drunkenly throwing myself at HR Ladies, trying to hit on them. In fact, it’s the opposite of that, I’m telling them we have rules about this kind of thing! (half making a joke about us HR pros and our rules!)

He persisted. “Doesn’t matter, Tim, it only takes one who feels like they might want to make an example out of you!”

Yeah, still, hard No. I’m a hugger. I’m an equal opportunity hugger. I hug all pronouns, very comfortably.

I think someone who is afraid of being MeToo’d is probably doing some stuff that they shouldn’t be doing. I’m not saying that someone couldn’t take a hug from me and spin it, but I hope with all my being someone wouldn’t do that. I also hope I’m smart enough not to put myself in a position where anyone would even consider that a hug from me was inappropriate!

I’ve had a career in HR and I’ve investigated some pretty nasty stuff where people were willing to do some pretty bad stuff to each other, for a million different reasons, mostly around hate and anger. So, I think I know what someone, improperly motivated, is capable of. I still was uncomfortable with the conversation, because it made me feel like somehow this person was trying to lessen the power of #MeToo.

“Well, someone could lie!” Of course, ‘someone’ could, but we would need to ask ourselves, why? And in 99.99% of those cases, there isn’t a why only some dude doing something stupid.

I’m going to keep hugging. I like hugs. I love the feeling of hugging someone who hugs me back for real. It makes both of our days a little better. I’m going to keep asking those I hug if they actually want a hug. That’s one of the rules!

Career Confessions from Gen Z: Texas Tops List for Women Entrepreneurship!!

Did you know that, currently, there are more CEOs named “John” than all women CEOs combined? But fear not! There is hope on the horizon. Texas has recently been named the best state for women entrepreneurs based on several scoring categories.  All your exes live in Texas, and they might be entrepreneurs!

When I first saw the rankings, I expected to see New York and California at the top of the list, yet neither of those states was even in the top three! So, how did our great Lone Star State receive the number one spot? The rankings were measured by the following factors: general business climate, opportunity for women in business, economic and financial health, and livability for women. Not only did Texas score the highest average on these factors, but thanks to Texas’ generally low cost of living, paired up with exponential startup growth, Texas beat out New York and California (Focus).  Additionally, Texas has a progressive political climate in its capital and no corporate income tax.

While this is great news, it also opens the conversation of how we can improve the climate for women in business even more. Women in business, whether they live in Texas or Maine still face challenges. For instance, did you know that on average, women receive 45% less capital than men when applying for business loans? (fitsmallbusiness.com) Consider this, of all the investing decisions from venture capitalist firms, 94% of these decisions were made by men- one of whom probably is named John. So, while the business environment for women is improving, we still depend mainly on men to invest in our ideas and pursuits.

Recently, I attended a presentation hosted by Suzi Sosa, co-founder, and CEO of Verb Inc., a leadership software company. In her presentation, Ms. Sosa discussed her struggles as a woman in the business world. She told us when she was looking for funding for her company, her mentor suggested she change her hair, put more makeup on, and dress more “femininely”. She also disclosed that several married men who invested in her company propositioned her romantically afterward. She told us she felt pressured to change the way she looked and acted in order to “fit in” to man’s perception of business. In response to this, Sosa brought to light the fact that women need to help each other out more in order to shift this perception.  Sosa described her attempts to find new investors through her female connections in the Austin area, all of whom politely declined for fear it might make them look unprofessional in their respective business circles.

To clarify, I am not writing this as an attack on men, quite the contrary. I am writing this as a call to action to women. The business climate is changing for us, and for the better. However, if we truly want to be on par with men, we need to start by being more confident in our own abilities.

As a junior in college, I have started to notice not only fewer women in my classes but also less participation from them; we don’t ask as many questions and we don’t give our input as much as our male peers do. College should be a healthy environment for women to learn to trust their business guts and to question the status quo. But, whatever the reason might be, we as women are less participative in business classes, which then transfers into the greater business world. While this may sound like a bit of a bummer, the good news is we have the power to change it. It is time that we, as women in business, start speaking up, ask more questions, and learn to trust our guts.

The climate is shifting in our favor, and self-confidence is key. However, self-confidence alone is not enough for us to break through the glass ceiling. It seems that women in business are continually pitted against each rather than encouraged to help one another. If we want to be seen as true equals in the business sphere, we need to invest in each others’ ventures, bring fresh faces into our business circles, and not be afraid to advocate for our own ideas. I’m grateful for Texas and its opportunities for women in business, but there’s always room for improvement and for more women CEOs.


Elena Moeller is currently junior at the St. Edward’s University and Intern of all trades for Proactive Talent in Austin, Texas. Being born and raised in Minnesota I grew up playing hockey, riding snowmobiles, and fishing. One thing you should know about me is that I have never been labeled as shy- I live for getting to know new people and learning new things. This has enabled me to travel the world, become fluent in Spanish, and live in Milan, Italy where I learned a bit of Italian! I find I am happiest at work when I am able to spark my creativity and create something that is useful for our company but is also an entertaining read.

It’s International Women’s Day! Is Your CEO Female? #ReferHer #BalanceForBetter #IWD2019

6% of CEOs in the S&P 100 are female. 50.8% of the population is female.

I’m not super at math, but that seems like a disconnect, right?

Today is International Women’s Day and a young lady (Tatiana Hollander-Ho) reached out to me this week. She’s an entry level marketing pro for The Ladders, 2018 grad from NYU and she said, “Hey, you have a passion around women in the workplace and I want to get this #ReferHer going and make a difference. Can you help?” (FYI – go connect with her – she’s going to be a great one in our industry!)

I can do what I do, which is write about and socialize it and support it! #ReferHer is an awesome idea. We need to refer more women to leadership positions, period.

I’m not one of these dudes who just goes out and flies the female flag because it’s the politically correct thing to do. I’m also not one that buys into the bullshit studies that say “Female CEOs return better financial returns!” – those are bad studies with flawed data – you can’t run a regression on companies run by women and the financial performance and call that good data.

There might be a correlation, but there is absolutely no causation. If you believe in those studies, you also believe in the study that says if your name is Mike and you’re over six foot and you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you will have higher financial returns than anyone else, not named Mike. Those two studies say the exact same thing.

That’s the problem, right!? You see it, right!? You can’t just throw out garbage and expect smart people not to get it and just blindly support females. The opposite actually happens. Smart people see that and go, that’s not what that says, so now I don’t buy any of it. Smart people – both women and men.

I’ve worked for great women. Strong women who are great leaders. These women, in my opinion, had many traits that most of the male leaders I’ve worked for didn’t have. In most cases, these traits made them leaders employees wanted to follow, not forced to follow.

We have this awful bias that says white dudes over six feet make better leaders. It’s literally been drilled into us for 100 years. Look at the Presidents all the way up to Obama and after. White dudes over six foot have nothing buy stature. We are betting that the trait of stature is the most important thing for running a high functioning organization. It’s insanity, right?

The reality is we can solve this. We can. Not overnight, but little by little.

It starts with flooding your leadership ranks with women. That means we have to give opportunities to women to move into leadership in ways we haven’t before. We have to develop Women Leadership Councils in our organizations who can tap on the shoulders of female employees and invite them in and mentor them into leadership roles. We have to purposeful about doing this. It won’t happen organically, we’ve been waiting for a hundred years for it to happen organically.

So, how do you start?

It’s super simple!

Step 1 – Tell your c-suite you are starting a Women’s Leadership Council in your organization and you need their support. 100% will give their support because if they don’t the backlash would be tremendous.

Step 2– Be inclusive, not exclusive. If a woman in your organization shows any sign of potential leadership you pull them into your council.

Step 3– Focus on hard leadership skills, not soft skills. Give them the inside information around how the company makes money or doesn’t make money. Show them how to budget and write a budget. Teach them how to performance manage. Show them how to balance themselves for great success. Show them how to support each other in this drive upward.

Step 4 – Make your C-suite come, present, participate, and watch. They need to see your smart females in action.

Step 5 – Draft your high potential leader internal mobility charts and scoreboard it publicly within the c-suite. Tell them the minimum goal is 50/50. Show it to them monthly.

Step 6 – Make female leadership goals/hires part of your c-suite annual bonus. At least 30%.

It can be done. This isn’t hard. But it has to be purposeful.

Check out LinkedIn’s Gender Insights Report as well it’s loaded with great information on helping solve this problem!