If You Don’t Stretch, You’ll Never Know Where The Edges Are…

Did you know the N95 mask that is critical PPE for healthcare workers right now was invented by a woman at 3M in the late 1950s?

The title of the post is a quote from Sara Little Turnball, she was a designer who started consulting for 3M in 1958. She was super sharp and made a name for herself prior to 3M, and then 3M came calling. They didn’t know what to do with her (it was 1958 women aren’t supposed to know more than men, right!?! ;), so they started her in the gift wrapping section, because you know she’s a woman!

She decided she needed to do something and created a famous product presentation called “Why?” where she presented one hundred ideas to 3M executives for various products that actual people would use. She told them there were so many uses for this moldable, woven textile they had created.

So, they hired her to make a molded bra cup. Of course, they did! But, she persisted and let them know she was also using the design and material to make a better type of surgical mask. Her first attempt failed, but eventually what she started turned into basically the N95 mask that 3M started producing in mass in 1961.

“If you don’t stretch, you’ll never know where the edges are.” 

You guys know I’m not a “failure porn” person. Just fail more. Fail faster. Etc. Sara Little Turnball was a designer and inventor and it her world you needed to fail. She estimated about 90% of her work was failure.

The world takes both types. Creatives will fail way more than they succeed to reach their genius. Producers can’t fail as often, and shouldn’t. We need all types in this crazy gumball factory we live in.

We need people willing to stretch themselves to find the edges. Today, as we take off for a long holiday weekend, I’m grateful for this lady who was willing to find the edges and I’m betting so are millions of healthcare workers who are fighting for our lives.

 

#CoronaDiaries – The Travesty of Hero Pay!

I’m back in the office and I’m feisty as ever about all this “Hero” pay going on across the world! I love Heros, I mean who doesn’t love Heros, but…

Can I be real a second?
For just a millisecond?
Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?

Also, beyond excited that Disney+ is releasing the Original cast of Hamilton on July 3rd! In the comments give me your over/under number of the amount of times I’ll watch Hamilton on Disney+? (I’ll tell you what my wife’s number on me was after a bit!)

Do you root for American Companies to Succeed?

(I wrote this original post in 2010-ish – but I could have written it today! Updated for today’s COVID crisis.)

As HR Pros I think we have the slight ability to come off as anti-union and pro-management, emphasis on “slight”! It probably comes from too many interactions where we feel our hands get tied with contract language that either negatively impacts our ability to do our jobs effectively, or language that just lacks plain common sense.

The one thing I always hope for though is, in the end, the union and management still have the same goal (I said I hope!) to make the company successful. Having a successful company usually ends up working out well for both parties. A successful company has more profits, more profits allow for larger pools of dollars to negotiate over, and while both parties never get everything they want, both get more for sure. If the company isn’t successful both don’t get more. Pretty easy to figure that out.

Years ago, 60 Minutes interviewed then General Electric CEO, Jeff Immelt, and he made a very interesting comment at the end of the interview when talking about his own employees at GE, that got quite a bit of media play –

They root for us. They want us to win. I don’t know why you don’t.”

The “you” at the end of his statement, was America!

His point is that people around the world “root” for their local companies to succeed. In Germany the German citizens root for Siemens to be the best in the world, the Japanese want Toshiba, Honda, Toyota, etc. to be wildly successful.

In America, we have too many citizens who think our big companies are “evil” if they are succeeding. Isn’t that strange?

I get why this tide has turned too many big companies have done bad things so we think it’s alright to put them all into the same bucket. But that goes against all common sense. If we want a strong economy and more jobs, we need our companies to kick butt!

I hear people, in the media, on blogs, in person, etc. rail against American corporations for being profitable, for hoarding cash, for basically being a successfully run company. My company works with General Motors. During the Great Recession when GM declared bankruptcy and the government bailed them out, as a supplier, we had to make some concessions if we wanted to continue that relationship (I think anyone of us running the company would have asked for the same thing). GM has once again become profitable, they renegotiated our contract and increased our contract.

Now, GM doesn’t determine if my company stays in business or not they are a small part of our overall business but I root for them to succeed. I hope they make a Billion dollars a day! I hope Marriott and Amazon and Apple do the same. I hope all the Banks succeed. We need all of our American companies to be successful, globally.

Here’s what I know. I have friends and neighbors who work for GM some in management, some on the line. When they go out and buy a car/truck/SUV they buy GM.  They want their company to succeed. They want their company to make money. It’s good for their family, it’s good for their cities and it’s good for America.

I root for American companies to succeed (quite frankly I root for all companies to succeed!).  Do you?

If You Are Efficient You’re Doing it the Wrong Way!

I read this interview with Jerry Seinfeld recently and I wanted to share a piece from it below:

A few thoughts on this…

  1. You know I’m all about efficiency when the process calls for being efficient, like in recruiting. When you start talking about being creative, like Jerry is above, that’s when you have to throw efficiency out the window. Genius doesn’t have a timeline. Sometimes working smarter not harder isn’t the right answer.
  2. “Who’s McKinsey? Are they funny? Then, no I don’t need them.” Too often we ask for help from folks who don’t know what we do or how to do it, but they have an MBA from an Ivy League school so they must be smarter than us, right? Right!? Well, they might be smarter at somethings, but you know your business and you probably know what needs to be done. The question is do you have the courage to do it or are you using a consulting firm because you want someone to share the blame?
  3. “The show was successful because I micromanaged it.” When I speak to really successful entrepreneurs almost all are successful because they micromanage the crap out of every aspect of their company. We like to act like this is a bad trait because it can be destructive, but most of the great leaders find ways to micromanage and still treat people really great. It’s not one or the either, it’s both.

 

I love reading and listening to really successful people talk about why they are successful when they aren’t trying to be impressive. When you get the real stuff. I think this was some real stuff from Jerry.

 

Are you more productive working at home? #WFH

If you want and like working from home, your answer is “Yes!”

If you hate working at home and can’t wait to return to work, your answer is “No!”

The truth?

Some people can be productive anywhere. You could put them on the moon and they would find a way to get done what needs to get done. Many of us, need a great deal of structure and guidance, and proper motivation.

We have this giant Work from Home experiment going on right now and a lot of HR folks are pointing to this and going, “See! I told you it would work!” But, is it really working?

The problem is what most of us are doing right now isn’t truly working at home. If you are trying to do childcare to co-habitat with multiple people in a house all trying to do work, it’s not really what a normal work at home situation would be.

Pre-Covid most studies on Work at Home were done by folks who had a mission to get more people to work at home, so quite frankly, I think most of those studies are crap. They didn’t really set out to see what situation would be better, only that working from home is better.

One of the main issues we see with working from home is that your real workers, those ten percenters who put in the most work, put in even more when working from home which could lead to burnout of your best talent. So, you might see productivity gains, but it’s not equal across the board. Like most work, the vast amount of gains is coming from folks who already probably gave you the most!

I’m not a work from home hater by any means. I think it’s a great way to add some flexibility for those employees who need it and can actually make it work. To be very clear, that is not all of your employees. The vast majority will not be more productive at home. And those who love working at home the most might actually be your least productive.

So, should you allow your employees who can continue to work from home? I think during a pandemic the answer is yes! I think once this is all behind us, we have to look at productivity in a normal work from home environment and make those determinations on our own.

In the small sample size, I have with my own company I know there are folks who would kill it no matter where they were working, and I have some folks who better get ready to return to the office!

The key to working from home isn’t your ability to actually be able to work at home. It’s your ability to be as good or better working at home as you were working from the office, in a normal business environment. We are not in a normal business environment. So, you working at 40% compacity at home doesn’t mean you’ve proven anything.

So, during this great Work from Home experiment, do you think you are more productive, less productive, or about the same? Hit me in the comments and let me know what you think!

What does the C-suite want out of an HR Leader?

You may be sitting at home right now, asking yourself this very question! I wonder what my CEO prefers I do in my role. It’s a valid question, and one I find that great HR leaders already know the answer to, because they ask the question, often!

When I wrote my SHRM published book, The Talent Fix, part of the research I did was to interview hundreds of c-suite executives. CEOs, COOs, CHROs, CIOs, etc. I wanted to find out what made a world-class HR and Talent leader versus an average leader. From that research came some definite DNA traits.

It’s fascinating to have these conversations, and one thing I did was pull them away from just talking about their current HR and TA leaders. All that would turn into is a performance review, and they were giving it to me, not the person who needed and wanted it! We delved into the concept of if you could choose the ‘perfect’ leader to run your HR and TA functions, what would that person look like? What would they do differently than all before them?

Here is what your CEO wishes we would do in our role as HR and TA leaders:

1. Provide Data-Driven Solutions.

So often what we provide our solutions based on gut and feel. Solutions that are generated to be CYA and eliminate HR work, while increasing work on our employees. Data-driven solutions are desired by the c-suite because it shows you understand the goals and outcomes of the overall business and you are designing a function that will help meet those outcomes. Old HR used subjective measures of success because those were easy to meet. New HR, better HR, uses the same measures of business success that our c-suite uses to measure actual success.

2. Increase your Executive Presence to become that Executive Mentor.

It’s really lonely at the top! I know, I know, cry me a river for the CEO and her new Mercedes SUV, right!? But seriously, think about the role of CEO. As a CEO you can’t really just go to a direct report and say, “Hey, I need some help, I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing!” That will never happen! But as an HR leader, we have this ability to be that confidant and executive coach for our c-suite, but only if we actually put ourselves into that role! That takes executive presence. The greatest HR leaders I’ve been around in my life, all played this role for their c-suite!

3. Be a Futurist.

Our CEOs believe we are firefighters, first responders at our best. While we love our real-world first responders, being viewed as that by your leader in HR isn’t a good thing. Having to fight fires all day, every day means we can’t figure out how to get ourselves out of the firefight and begin building a better state of being. Our c-suite also believes we do not have the level of technical savvy to even choose our own tech stack, so they choose it for us like we are children. Becoming a futurist, pulling ourselves above the fires, and building a strong understanding of how technology can help every aspect of HR, will put you on another level of HR and TA leadership.

Becoming great at anything isn’t easy. Don’t allow yourself to be told by anyone that it is. It’s something you’ll work towards the rest of your career. I find that super exciting, as lifelong learning and development is what keeps HR and TA new and interesting to me every single day!

I’m an SHRM-SCP. I’ve been certified in HR for over 20 years! I’m proud of the certification and the continual learning I’ve done to increase my skill sets. I recommend you take a look at SHRM Education Spring 2020 Catalog and pay close attention to these programs and e-learning modules:

  • 32 – Consultation: Honing your HR Business Leader Skills
  • 33 – Investing in People with Data-Driven Solutions
  • 34 – Powerful Leaders – Transform your personal brand and executive presence. Strategies for Leadership in HR.
  • 35 – Future of Work Fast Track

Use the code “HRRocks” when registering for a Spring or Summer SHRM Educational Program and receive $200 off until May 15th! (excludes SHRM specialty credentials and SHRM SCP/CP prep courses)

Are We Still Pissy About Unpaid Internships?

Back in the height of the Great Recession (think 2008-2010), when we had double-digit national unemployment numbers. It was dark times, especially for those students who were graduating and those trying to get internships.

Most organizations in hard times cut internship programs. It’s not that they are not important to recruiting, it’s just the ROI drops as unemployment numbers rise. If you have a lot of candidates, it’s tough to spend valuable resources on interns who aren’t really adding much value, if any, to most organizations.

Internships, at its core, is mostly a one-way proposition on the front side. We hire you to get experience. We pay you. We hope you’ll come back and take one of our open jobs and in the future help us be successful. It usually works out, but it’s not a guarantee. In hard times, “not a guarantee” is a hard budget item to get approved!

During the Great Recession the idea of offering “Free Internships” was being used by many organizations and a lot of people lost their minds!

“You have to pay people for the job they do!” “All Interns should be paid fairly!”

Basically, this all went away pretty quickly because the economy took off and we got to the point where we weren’t just paying interns, we were competing for interns and developing all kinds of programs and incentives for interns because talent was so scarce.

The argument wasn’t really solved, it just disappeared because it was no longer relevant. Well, say hello to my little friend! The Free Internship concept is back! Thanks, COVID!

Let’s talk a little bit about our current internship situation!

  • Most organizations have canceled internships for this summer. There will be significantly fewer internships for the summer of 2021, as compared to summer 2019
  • As unemployment rises and layoffs grow, more will cancel these programs.
  • New graduates who can’t find jobs, need experiences to build their resumes.

Should we offer Unpaid Internships? 

YES!!! 1000% YES!!!

Now, let me explain. If you can afford to pay your interns, but be a dick and not pay them! If you can’t afford to pay interns, but you can afford to give students and graduates valuable experiences, give them those experiences!!!

I never understood the argument that you must pay interns for their time. I did student teaching as part of my undergrad degree. I worked a full semester as a teacher and I paid full tuition and never got a dollar for that work! My wife is a Physical Therapist and she did many practicums (medical internships) where she had to pay for school, work full time without pay. Many professions have this happening.

We turn a blind eye to these examples and just believe it’s part of getting that degree, but it’s truly no difference. The reality is, the experience you get, the ability to put that brand on your resume and have a professional reference is very valuable. So, working for free almost always works out for the best for those who take on those experiences and give it there all.

For the record, I have paid my interns. I will pay my interns this year. But, I can’t tell you I’ll always be able to pay interns. At that point, I have a decision to make. Not have interns, which only hurts those kids who need an internship, or have unpaid interns. I’m completely comfortable having unpaid interns, as I know the value it gives those individuals.

I’ve gotten questions recently about unpaid internships, as I hear so many people canceling their internships for this summer. “Can we have an intern work remotely and be unpaid?” Well, it’s not officially an employee, but if you want to “mentor” a student, and that student what’s your mentorship, nothing is stopping you from helping that person out!

Understand, if you aren’t going to pay someone, you get what you pay for. But, I also truly believe that a student who says, “Hey, I can give you twenty hours per week to learn the business” we have a moral obligation to help these students out in a time of crisis!

Okay, hate me in the comments – but we need to be open to Unpaid Internships!

Do you have your CEOs cell phone number?

The world is moving pretty fast right now. Seems like you can’t step away from the news cycle for a minute without something new popping up and changing what we thought to be fact just seconds before.

That’s why I found it refreshing this week when I read a story about Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick giving out his personal cell phone number to all of his employees. If you work for a small or even medium-sized business you might not find this to be a big deal, but Bobby has 10,000 employees!

“The uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic can take its toll on employees. For the 10,000 or so who work at Activision Blizzard around the world, one person they can call is CEO Bobby Kotick

“About a month ago, we sent out an email from my email address with my phone number and we encouraged every single employee that has a concern that relates to their health care to just contact me directly,” Kotick told CNBC’s Becky Quick on “Squawk Box.”

Kotick said “a few hundred” employees have reached out to him since that email. “But we’re fortunate. Very few actually tested positive so far for Covid-19.”

I’ve met a lot of great CEOs in my time. Some wonderful, extremely caring folks, and a few assholes. There are not many who would do this with this number. There would be meetings with PR and Comms and HR, and eventually, there would be this rollout of a hundred underlings who would be taking your call directly.

The decision would be made that the CEO would do a weekly town hall, live, and you could send in your questions to be answered, etc. All of those questions would be washed and pre-loaded, and the CEO would say the exact right thing. That is how the sausage is made kids!

The vast majority of CEOs would tell you they would do the exact same thing as Bobby, but they haven’t and they won’t. I don’t know if Bobby is a great leader, but that was a great leader move.

Your people are nervous and scared and frustrated. They don’t want a perfectly prepared Q & A. They just want to let you know how they are feeling. The best CEOs I’ve worked with would find that information priceless. They search out unfiltered news from the trenches!

Turns out, all you have to do is email your cell phone number out to the email list titled”
All Employees” and hit send!

 

Performance Feedback for a New World

Channeling my inner Seth Godin today…

It really is a choice.

Either you can decide to perform the job you have, or you can decide to work someplace else.

Either you believe this is the right company for you, or you can decide it’s another company.

Either you treat your coworkers as peers, or you are welcome to go treat someone else’s employees like crap.

Either you follow our rules, or you will follow someone else’s rules.

Either you make a positive contribution to the organization, or you make me make a choice about your future.

Earning the right to work here isn’t hard; it’s just a simple choice that you control. Losing that choice is up to you until you make it up to me.

E9 – HR Famous Podcast – For HR Leaders – 1 is the Loneliest Number…

In Episode 9 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Jessica Lee and Tim Sackett (Temporarily “Furloughed” from HR Famous, KD) come together and talk about what it’s like to be an HR Leader during the COVID-19 Crisis.

The team talks about how home/work life has changed for them the last month and the importance of finding your support system. We acknowledge the challenges up ahead for HR leaders and look to past experiences during times of crisis. Listen as the team discusses how industries are relying on each other, the birth of “Gen C” and how to implement fluid strategies during constant change.

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!!! Listen on iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

1:30 – Jessica is Back! Kris is now furloughed and Tim and JLee talk about how young they look! Tim says we hate hiring two types of people: Old people and Fat people!

4:00 – Things the bug you about your WFH partners! JLee dishes on what bugs her most about BobbyJ, and Tim shares an amazing drink recipe. Tim found out his house isn’t big enough for WFH for him, since the rest of his family already took all the good spots!

9:00 – What’s it like to be an HR Leader in the world of COVID? JLee believes being an HR leader today can be lonely and isolating when we are dealing with so much heavy stuff. So, Tim and JLee talk through how do we support each other and find coping mechanisms. Everyone thinks HR knows the plan, which adds so much stress to us and our teams. Tim comes clean that he and KD talk every day!

13:10 – It’s okay to be human during a crisis in HR. It’s super hard to prepare for the crap side of HR. Laying folks off, delivering bad news, etc. We all love the great side of HR, but the last decade has made most of us forget about the bad side of HR. Tim gives stories from the trenches when he was considered the Grim Reaper!

17:25 – All Industries rely on each other in times of crisis. The big question is do we become more global or less global from the fallout of all of this. We rely on other countries for so much, but we now know we might need some America-based supply chains to protect ourselves in major crisis.

19:38 GenC is created! We are now calling kids who grow up during Coronavirus times – GenC’s! Tim talks about how his GenZ sons are graduating college in a bad economy and how that has a real impact for those kids who went through primary school during the Great Recession and now come out to the real work world during a pandemic.

23:15 – Fluidity with how you lead. In times of crisis we still need to plan, but you better be fluid with those plans because the only thing we know right now about leadership is as soon as you think you have it down, things will change!

25:15 – Tim gives a shout out to friend of HR Famous Trish McFarland! Introverts you need to contact your extroverted friends and make sure they’re doing okay, and JLee tells Tim he needs to watch Tiger King on Netflix!