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?

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)

Happy Thoughts by Tim Sackett

My local news station is doing just positive news for one of their half-hour shows on Thursday early evenings. I’m a cynic, I suspect it’s a play to grab ratings on a low ratings time, but you know what? We could all use some good news!

So, I sat down to think about all the Happy things that are going on that I could share. It’s not easy! There’s so much negative, I can’t even with the news anymore, but here goes:

The All-In Challenge!

Have you heard about this? A bunch of celebrities are auctioning off stuff and they’ve tried to make it inexpensive so everyone can have a chance, not just rich folks. So, you can be in Kevin Hart’s next movie and get the chance for $10 to put your name in the hat! Or Justin Beiber will come to your house and sing a song! You can play in the NBA Celebrity All-star game, etc. The entry fee for each is just $10 with all proceeds going to provide food for those affected by the pandemic. I’m obsessed with this, I want to do half of the stuff!

Hourly Workers Getting their Do! 

To be honest, I’m not a giant fan of everyone calling themselves heroes. I like to save the “H” word for those who really put their lives on the line for my freedom and safety on a regular basis. All that said, hourly workers usually just get dumped on with crappy pay and crappy jobs, and right now many of those folks are holding this country together. I was in a gas station today and the lady in front of me was running a laundry mat and she said, “I’m an essential worker! I’m needed right now!” Yes, you are my dear! Get all the feels you need right now!

Family Tik Tok Videos! 

They are corny. Some funny. Some not. All of them are families doing stuff together and I quite frankly think it’s awesome. Even those where they are just having their Mom or Dad hold the camera. At least you are finally doing something with your teenage kids! Family Tik Toks and Puppy Tik Toks, keep them coming. If you haven’t downloaded Tik Tok, it’s 99.9% stupid short videos and every once in a while some pure gold.

Conversations at the Dinner Table! 

Yep, we are all sick of each other by this point, but in a couple of months, I have had more real conversation at my dinner table than the combined past two years! That is awesome and makes me smile! My wife and I are actually getting tired of cleaning up after dinner because it’s happening every single night! I have boys so you usually don’t get a lot of conversation anyway, but it turns out if you actually sit down every night, they start talking.

The Return of Civility! 

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like everyone is a nicer right now. I mean I guess any of us could kick the bucket at any moment so we tend to just be a little nicer to each other. Of course, early on we were all fighting each other for toilet paper, but once we got settled in I think people are truly caring about their neighbors and community. Even in my work interactions, everyone seems to be really concerned for each other’s safety.

I like thinking Happy Thoughts. I’m reminded of a great quote by Viktor Frankl:

 

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!

Would you choose to live at your job 24/7 for a month? These workers did!

40 employees of Braskem America in Marcus Hook, PA unanimously decided they would lock themselves in their plant for 28 straight days, so they could safely make N95 masks for healthcare workers. Day and night, they worked, ate meals with each other, and slept at the plant to ensure there would be no spread of the virus to the products they were making.

The workers spent 12-hour shifts making polypropylene and a non-woven fiber in N95 masks, hospital gowns, and sanitary wipes.

Braskem has given the workers “enhanced employee compensation” for their work.

They were provided an onsite kitchen and supplies to sustain them as they operated the manufacturing facilities in isolation, according to Braskem.

Workers got TV breaks and drive-by visits from family during the 28-day period.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, I would do the same thing!” Especially given that most of us have just spent a full month or more with our families in lockdown in our houses! And I believe many people would have sacrificed as these employees did for the betterment of the healthcare workers who desperately need this PPE.

But don’t kid yourself, I’m sure this was an emotional decision for many! It’s not like the workers of a manufacturing facility do this on a normal basis. Most probably don’t travel for work, so they see their family and friends every single day. Going a month without that contact had to really difficult! I don’t like going for three days without seeing my dog!

The HR person in me loves this story and also knows that somewhere out of this probably comes a wedding, or bad breakup, or a baby! You just don’t keep 40 people together for 28 straight days, day and night, and not have some stuff go down! If HR has taught me anything, it’s humans will be humans!

I know the reality of this situation is this company was doing what companies do. Because of a crisis, they have a very short-term opportunity to make some great money and in the process help healthcare workers, help their employees, and help the stakeholders of that organization. It’s a win-win-win all the way around. It doesn’t stop this being a great story and we need all of those we can get!

So, my question for you today is, would you be willing to spend 24/7, for a month with your co-workers and your co-workers only!? Working, eating, sleeping, side by side? Hit me in the comments!

I loved that one of the workers being interviewed said one of the things they took for granted was being able to work next to someone and sit down to eat next to someone and not have to be six feet apart or even worry about that. When they came out into the ‘real’ world they realized they took stuff like that for granted.

Zoom Bombs! Let’s have some fun!

Okay, if you’ve been working at home for the last month or so, you’re getting bored with video conferences with your team! You’ve also probably heard of some Zoom meetings getting “Zoom Bombed” by folks outside of your organization that figured out your public link and come in cause all kinds of havoc.

I want to Zoom Bomb your weekly team meeting! But not to cause havoc, but to just have some fun and talk shop!

Most of us set up weekly meetings with our teams. The same day, same time, same meeting link. It doesn’t have to be Zoom, could be Web-ex, Bluejeans, Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams, etc. The key being you have a normal meeting where you talk shop with your team.

I think it would be fun to drop in on some of your meetings and shake things up! So, let’s play! Here’s my promise to all those leaders out there that might have interest:

  1. I’ll be fully dressed.
  2. I’ll be as professional as I am on this blog. That means no porno images or hate language! I might bash the University of Michigan if you consider that hate language please don’t invite me! 😉
  3. We’ll have some fun and learn some things, and I’ll try to help you out.
  4. I will not tell you if I’m coming on or not!

Are you interested in having me Zoom Bomb your Team? 

All you need to do is send me a quick email to sackett.tim@hrutech.com and let me know you have an interest. Give me the day, the time, and the link for your meeting. Also, tell me who’s on the call and what you guys usually get on the call for.

I mean what could go wrong!?!

Like, please don’t send me a link to your meeting and then decide to use that meeting to lay off your entire team! I mean, while I would have a great story to share, I’m not sure your team would really appreciate that! Or maybe they would, no judgment!

I hope to see a bunch of you by surprise over the next coming weeks!

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.

The Top 4 Recruiter Lies We Tell Candidates!

The world quickly turned from a candidate-driven market to a company driven market, meaning for the first time in about a decade Recruiters will have the power. Now, as a candidate, you might have always felt that recruiters had the power, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a recruiter in full “I’ve got the power” mode!

I was thinking about this and wanted to share some of the top Recruiter Lies so candidates could spot them, and while you probably can’t call them out, spotting a recruiter lie will help you strategically begin to work on another way to get the response you need:

Send Us Your Resume, Even Though We Don’t Have a Job Lie – I would say this is a ‘semi-lie’. While the recruiter might not have the opening currently, they’re asking for a resume because they frequently have those openings and they never know when one is coming. The recruiter, though, is wrong by not telling you this upfront, so you know what to expect.

The Hiring Manager Hasn’t Gotten Back To Me Lie – This is a lie and not a lie,  potentially! For Corporate Recruiters this is a lie or lazy, I’ll let you pick. If you’re a corporate recruiter and tell the candidate that the hiring manager hasn’t gotten back to you get your butt up from your desk and walk over to the hiring manager’s desk! If they’re in a different location and won’t get back to you, then you have an influence problem you need to work on. Agency-wise it’s the one frustrating things recruiters have to deal with. Hiring Managers will get to ‘us’ when they feel like it, and usually after they’ve exhausted every other opportunity internally to fill the position.

The Never Call Back the Candidate Lie – this really isn’t a lie but this happens all the time!  For the sake of Recruiters everywhere if you do this please quit this profession! We (all Recruiters) Hate you as well. You give all of us a bad name. It takes 10 seconds to call back a candidate you spoke to a job about, and tell them “Sorry, you were not chosen and stay in touch, or don’t call me again, etc.” 10 seconds!

The You Didn’t Score High Enough On The Assessment Lie The company you’re trying to get into might actually have cut-off scores they’ve established and the lie comes into play when a hiring manager presents someone they’ve worked with previously and that person scores the same as you but they still get the job. If they really like you, the assessment wouldn’t stop them from hiring you.

The We’ve Decided To Go Another Direction Lie – This comes along with the ‘We really liked you, but” Lie.  This is Recruiter training 10, to not get yourself into trouble when telling a candidate they didn’t get the job we give them a reason that legally can never come back and bite you in the butt. “We really, really, really liked but have decided to not fill the position.” Two weeks later a job posting comes out that seems very similar but with a title change and a few description changes. They didn’t like you.

What’s the biggest reason Recruiters lie? 

They have major conflict-avoidance and are not willing to tell you the truth, which is usually there is something wrong with you based on what they are looking for and don’t want to hurt your feelings.  Unfortunately, many candidates would actually be helped by a little Recruiter honesty but recruiters are afraid of candidates who get told the truth and then get charges from the EEOC, other state or federal agencies, or just get flat out sued.  Candidates have a hard time with feedback like, “you’re really creepy”, “you’re annoying” or “your personality is grating”.  So, the lies come into play because Recruiters have found Lies are easier than the truth.

Leaders Aren’t Best Judged in Crisis, No Matter What You’ve Heard

We are in a crisis. Everyone would agree with this.

It’s been popular since the beginning of time to judge people based on their best moment. Stand up tall, when others are small and you are destined for greatness in history. No matter when you did before or after.

Rudy Giuliani, by most, is considered a great leader of our time for his leadership in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He was in charge when the towers came down. He said and did the right things during that time. He will be forever remembered for that time in his legacy.

The reality is, leaders are not best judged in times of crisis.

Great leaders should not be judged by how they reacted in a once in a lifetime event, but how they act every day. On good days, average days, bad days, and very rarely on crisis days. The problem is we aren’t paying attention on normal days. We don’t see the greatest. So, we judge them on the few times we see them, which are either celebrations or catastrophes.

Crisis management is incredibly difficult by leadership teams at organizations. You try with all of your might to put your own situation aside, but it’s always there in the background, while you try and do what’s best for all involved. The hardest thing a leader will ever do is make the decision that some will have to lose their job, so the majority can keep their job. Even putting your own name on that list of cuts, isn’t as difficult.

Nobody wants to be judged by his or her worst moment. In crisis management, we tend to have a lot of worst moments because we are often making quick decisions with limited information that in hindsight looks foolish.

As we are all going through some level of crisis management currently, I wanted to share Professor Scott Galloway’s three steps of crisis management from his NYU class he teaches on the same subject:

  1. Top Guy or Gal Takes Responsibility
  2. Acknowledge the Issue
  3. Overcorrect

Overcorrect is the key. Well, I’m not sure if we should do this, let’s just wait a little while longer and see what happens. NO! Overcorrect. Make the safest choice possible. Make the best choice possible for your people. Act swiftly.

If we watch, we will see great leadership moments in any crisis. Some of these moments will be by great leaders doing great leader stuff. Some of these moments will be done by idiots who just happen to be in the right place and make the right decision. Don’t confuse a moment of leadership competence with being a great leader.

Great leaders don’t just show up for a crisis, they show up every day.