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!

“I Fully Reject the Employment Model of Pre-Pandemic America!”

This was an exact quote on a comment on one of my blogs about how hard it is right now for companies to find talent in America to work hourly jobs. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this from an old GenZ or very young Millennial (basically early to mid-’20s).

What does this even mean!? 

Let me interpret, for the older millennials and GenXers in the crowd who are actually working and don’t have time to learn the GenZ vernacular. This is actually a cross of GenZ and Snowflake which can be very confusing sometimes to understand.

What this person is trying to convey is that they don’t believe they should have to work a job for pay and benefits (employment model of Pre-pandemic America). They actually love the employment model of Pandemic America – which is either sitting at home and getting paid to mostly not work, or actually just collecting unemployment and government stimulus to the tune of about $1000 per week, to do nothing at all.

Their idea is in Post-Pandemic America they would like to continue to get paid a living wage and benefits to do what they want. That might be something very productive and useful, like volunteering to help children to read or older people to have a better life in their later years, or it might be growing weed in their basement. This employment model is much more attractive to them. I get great pay and benefits to do what I want, not being told what to do by “the man”.

“The man” doesn’t actually have to be an actual “man”, it might be a rich woman or rich non-binary person. Basically, anyone who would make money off of their labor is now “the man”. They also reject anyone making money from their efforts, except for themselves. Which is actually wonderful if they would start their own business, but that would take work that feels too similar to an employment model of pre-pandemic America. Because of course, they would then become “the man”.

And you wonder why you can’t find anyone to come work for you? 

Some would believe this to be a socialist movement that has began to grow in America, mostly started by Bernie followers. No, this isn’t socialism, this what happens when you helicopter and snowplow parent your way to a generation that thinks the world should revolve around them.

I should only get A’s because my Mom says I’m the smartest little boy on the planet. And I should only get first-place medals because I showed up to the game. In fact, we should all get first-place medals because there should be no losers in the world, only winners.

And we truly wonder why terrorists want to bomb our country.

The world, in the end, will be truly harsh for these people if they don’t change. The world, since the beginning of time, has winners and losers. If you think socialist societies don’t have winners and losers, you might actually want to read about the history of socialist societies and inequality.

Do CEOs of companies need to make one hundred times more or a thousand times more than the average worker? No, probably not, but if you think you can just show up to a job and you should be within ten times of a CEO’s salary, you’re actually just ignorant.

This isn’t a political statement. This is the real world. Every single elected politician in the house and the senate is more wealthy than the average American by a giant margin. All of them. Winners and losers. People who take risks to start a business get all the bad and all the good. America, for good and bad, was built on Capitalism. It’s not perfect. I don’t know of a perfect society or culture in the world.

So, I do not fully reject the employment model of pre-pandemic America! 

Is it great? Nope. Can we do better? Yes.

Have we changed the employment model any over the past century? 1000%

Worker safety, health and wellness, D&I, training and development of skills, employee engagement, candidate experience, you could literally list a thousand improvements that have been made to the American employment model. And we’ll continue to improve.

I have hope that we’ll get better and solve our pay equity issues and we’ll continue to improve our diversity, inclusion, and belonging for all employees. America is a big and complex situation. Change does not happen overnight. For how bad young people think we are now, we have made tremendous strides along the way.

Okay, time to end this, I’m starting to feel like this guy…

The Future of Work, Is More WORK!

I’m sure you’ve read an article or listened to a podcast in recent weeks that had something to do with “the future of work”. It’s a hot topic to talk about, primarily because it’s all just a big fat guess and the best content is content where I just get to tell what I think will happen, but really have no idea for sure.

When I take a look at the HR technology landscape this week at The HR Technology Conference and see the tech that is hitting the market around work and performance, I think the future of work is actually just more work!

When I say ‘more’ work I really mean “More” work! Much of the technology that is being created and launched around HR Technology falls into a few buckets:

  1. How can we make workers more efficient at what they are currently doing?
  2. How can we monitor workers on what they are doing (tracking)?
  3. How can we leverage A.I. to do certain tasks workers are doing right now?

Don’t get me wrong, the technology doesn’t scare me in the least, I think it’s amazing, but the reality is much of it is designed to help us humans reach our full potential. If my couple of decades in HR has taught me anything it’s that very few of us humans want to reach our full potential!

Reaching your full potential means you are working really hard!

I have a great story about working in a union job the summer I first got out of high school. My Dad got me the job working in a grocery warehouse picking orders to be delivered to supermarkets. The warehouse just implemented a new software system that tracked the productivity of each worker.

Basically, I would be given an order and the system had estimated how long that order should take for me to complete. If the order was complex I got more time, it is was simply pulling a full pallet of one type of item, I might only get ten minutes or so to complete, some orders were estimated to take 75+ minutes to complete.

The union had negotiated that I only had to work 77% of the time. Yes, you read that correctly! If you added up all of my order minutes, in theory, to keep my job, I had to be 77% efficient. So, in an eight-hour shift of 480 minutes, once I reached my 369.6 minutes of work, I could actually just stop. In fact, I was encouraged very strongly by my union brothers to stop at the exact point!

Now the “new” computer system didn’t account for the extra effort. So, if I had an order that was supposed to take 60 minutes, but I worked really hard and completed it in 45 minutes, I just earned myself an extra 15 minutes. By the end of the summer, I was efficient enough in getting orders completed that I spent about three hours a shift playing cards with my union brothers in the back of the warehouse until my shift was done!

The new HR Technology that is in play right now, based on AI and machine learning, would have made these corrections individually within a few shifts, knowing I could do that work more efficiently than another person and soon my orders would have been adjusted. The technology would have ensured that my ‘extra’ effort turned into my normal effort.

We already know that my warehouse work will be replaced by robots, so my example is already dated. But what about that office job? Will a robot replace you? No, not right away, we are a ways off from that, but that same AI/Machine learning technology will track and measure everything you do and soon you will feel as busy as ever, because ‘down time’ is unproductive time and the tech can compute that!

The future of work is more work.

 

Covid made us fat, lazy, and depressed! How do we turn that around?

My go-to answer for most things is, Cocaine. I’m sure if I did Cocaine I would be less fat, less lazy, which would lead to me being less depressed. Most likely, this is flawed thinking, but I never have tested it to know for sure.

A brand new study on the effects of Covid on our mental well being was just released and to no one’s surprise, it’s not a rosy picture:

What does this tell us? 

  1. We are moving way less than we did pre-Covid.
  2. We are sleeping more.
  3. We are getting up later.

Also, in the study, depression has increased by over 90% in the past year! That is massive, and while we love the flexibility of remote work, we are also craving the need for personal contact and normalcy. Humans are pack animals by genetics. We don’t thrive in cages (like being locked in our homes).

By the way (from the picture at the top), who are these people who don’t wake up until 10 am!? And even more puzzling, pre-covid, who are these monsters who didn’t get up until 8:30 am!? Surely, I gest. But, only for free of being canceled by some new pro-sleeping, don’t judge us movement.

How can we turn this around? 

I was raised by Baby Boomers who weren’t all too keen on schedules and the importance of a consistent schedule on mental and physical wellbeing. They just grew up during a different time in our world where you just kind of went with the flow. Yes, hippies, kind of.

My wife, bless her soul, rescued me and trained me to understand how having consistency in your life leads to a less stressful life. Less stress leads to less depression. Turns out, we as humans, actually do really well when we know the parameters of our world. We actually like being put in a box. It’s warm and cozy. We perform better. Covid took us out of our boxes, out of our schedules, out of our routines.

And like a flower without water and sunlight, many of us wilted. We stopped moving. we started putting on weight, we started sleeping more, and we became depressed.

We love the newfound flexibility, but we want some semblance of our lives back. Getting up, going to work, hitting the gym, etc. We need to turn these negative trends in our health, physically and mentally, back in the right direction. Even if you stay remote or hybrid, really work to build a more permanent, more healthy schedule into your day.

Part of building that new schedule is an understanding that we aren’t living a temporary life. We all have this belief that once Covid is over, we’ll be back to normal and then I’ll start getting healthy again, but our reality is we aren’t getting back to the old normal. For most of us, we’ll have a new normal, and we need to adjust to that new normal now.

It starts with moving more. Spring is a great time to start!

Do you ask your interviewer about your competition?

So, here’s the deal. Timmy gets his big break and gets the interview he’s always wanted. Goes in. Kills it. You know how Timmy does! The interviewer is doing interviewer things and drops the question, “So, Timmy, do you have any questions for me?”

Do “I” have questions for you!?! Heck, yes! I’ve been preparing for this interview for all of my life, or at least for about thirteen seconds before walking in the door! I do have some questions!

What question can an interviewee ask that will totally turn you off? 

There are probably a lot. We covered one a few weeks back in terms of asking about money, which is a big turn-off for a lot of interviewers. But one question came up and I wanted to crowdsource some results! Here’s the question:

“So, Mrs. Interviewer, can you tell me how I stack up against my competition?” (The other candidates who are also interviewing)

Hmmm….

I’ve got some feels on this:

  1. Gutsy. It could definitely blow-up on you in a hurry! Might be an immediate turn-off, and I’m not sure it would ever be a real turn-on.
  2. It does allow you to redirect the conversation back to strengths if your competition has some things they like over you. “Well, let me tell you a little more about how I also bring this to the table…”
  3. Most Hiring Managers will politely decline to talk about other people interviewing, maybe chuckle a little at the question, it’s a bit old school, so the older the people in the room, probably more likely to get a positive response.
  4. It’s aggressive, so if the role is a position where aggressiveness is a trait that is desired, it might be worth a shot.

I think there might be a better way to ask the same question, but use different wording to engage the conversation:

“What have you seen, by others interviewing, that you really liked about what they would bring to this position? Or, was there something you were hoping to hear from me, or others interviewing, that you’re not hearing?” 

This now takes it off the personal comparison of one candidate to another, and back to what the hiring manager is really looking for. Which again, allows you to redirect to your strengths, or minimize a weakness.

What say you TA and HR Pros? Hiring Managers? Does this question turn you off? If not, is there a question that would turn you off on a candidate?

Hit me in the comments!

Get Back to HQ as Fast as You Can!

I know you want to keep working remotely. It’s awesome to be able to wake up, throw on some sweats and just check email. I mean this is what “work” should be, right!? Like not really working, but getting paid for it, this is the best time to be alive!

Okay, where was I? Sorry, Bridgerton is on in the background and episode 5 so, well, you know! No. No! I wasn’t really watching, just background noise. Similar to Steve from Accounting stopping by the cube to talk about nothing.

You’re a complete idiot if you don’t go back to Headquarters! 

I’m sorry to have to be your big brother and break the news, but the future of work isn’t you sitting on your couch in sweatpants deciding if you should paint an accent wall, or add some succulents to the shelf behind your “desk” that people see when you’re on a Zoom call.

If you actually care about your career, you are pushing your leadership team to get back to work, in the office. At some point, people who make decisions are going to start promoting people and the people who will get promoted will be the people with who they have the best relationship. Oh, sorry, you thought it was skill-based, performance-based promotions! That’s cute. Anywho.

The moment someone asks if you want to return to in-office work, you say, “Yes!” You tell them, you’ll actually come in right now, this moment. You already have your desk stuff packed and are ready to come back.

Yeah, yeah, it’s a “New World of Work”! 

Like a Robinhood Game Stop trader, the world is about to teach you a lesson or two. The world of work doesn’t give a sh*t about what you actually want. Oh, we’ll tell you we do, but at the end of the month, there’s this little thing we look at called financials. Look it up, it’s important. Turns out, you working at half capacity at home, isn’t the greatest thing for our financials. I mean, it is the greatest thing for your home design skills and you teaching sign language to your cat, so there’s that!

I know, it’s me, not you. I’m sure I’m wrong.

You know what. The best companies and leaders in the world have already figured this out. They figured out if you really want high levels of collaboration. Great decision-making. Great creativity. To build the next biggest thing in the world. You kind of have to be together, not on a video.

The new world of work isn’t remote. At its best, it’s probably you get treated more like an adult. Like, “Okay, Timmy, you can not come in on Wednesday because there’s a snowstorm and we think you’ll at least stay up on email, and return a couple of calls.” The pandemic showed us the new world of work, can be more flexible, and in some additional cases, remote, but for the most part we need you back in the cube.

Why Won’t This Work? 

Basically, it because we won’t do two things:

  1. We won’t really define, in true measurable, non-subjective terms, what performance looks like for your position. If we did, you might be able to work remotely and actually meet expectations of performance.
  2. We won’t put a system in place that will truly measure what the hell you’re actually doing. The technology is out there, but you feel micromanaged that someone would actually check to see if you are doing what you’re being paid to do.

So, we’ll just have most of you come back to work. We’ll do the same dance we’ve been doing for a hundred years. It could be better, but better comes with a lot of change, and right now we don’t even change our pants daily.

In the meantime, get your ass back to HQ if you really want to advance your career. And, please, spare me the “I’m not being treated fairly” when you get passed over for a promotion while sitting on your couch in pants with animals on them.

The Single Most Desired Trait Employers Want: Being an Adult!

Don’t buy into the hype! “Oh, just do what you love!” That’s not being an adult, that’s being a moron! Just do what makes you happy! No, that’s what a child does.

“Tim, we just want to hire some ‘adults’!” I hear this statement from a lot of CEOs I talk with currently!

That means most of the people they are hiring, aren’t considered adults by these leaders. Oh, they fit the demographic of being an adult from an age perspective, but they still act like children!

I tell people when I interview them and they ask about our culture I say, “We hire adults”.

That means we hire people into positions where they are responsible for something. Because we hire adults, they take responsibility for what they are responsible for. If I have to tell them to do their jobs, they’re not adults, they’re children. We don’t employ children.

I think about 70% of the positions that are open in the world could have the same title –

“Wanted: Adults”.

Those who read that and got it could instantly be hired and they would be above average employees for you! Those who read it and didn’t understand, are part of the wonder of natural selection.

How do you be an Adult?

You do the stuff you say you’re going to do. Not just the stuff you like, but all the stuff.

You follow the rules that are important to follow for society to run well. Do I drive the speed limit every single time? No. Do I come to work when my employer says I need to be there? Yes.

You assume positive intent on most things. For the most part, people will want to help you, just as you want to help others. Sometimes you run into an asshole.

You understand that the world is more than just you and your desires.

You speak up for what is right when you can. It’s easy to say you can always speak up for what is right, but then you wouldn’t be thinking like an adult.

You try and help those who can’t help themselves. Who can’t, not who won’t.

My parents and grandparents would call this common sense, but I don’t think ‘being an adult’ is common sense anymore. Common sense, to be common, has to be done by most. Being an adult doesn’t seem to be very common lately!

So, you want to hire some adults? I think this starts with us recognizing that being an adult is now a skill in 2021. A very valuable skill. Need to fill a position, maybe we start by first finding adults, then determining do we need these adults to have certain skills, or can we teach adults those skills!

The key to great hiring in today’s world is not about attracting the right skills, it’s about attracting adults who aren’t just willing to work, but understand the value of work and individuals who value being an adult.

I don’t see this as a negative. I see it as an opportunity for organizations that understand this concept. We hire adults first, skills second. Organizations that do this, will be the organizations that win.

The Motley Fool has a great section in their employee handbook that talks about being an adult:

“We are careful to hire amazing people. Our goal is to unleash you to perform at your peak and stay out of your way. We don’t have lots of rules and policies here by design. You are an amazing adult and we trust you to carve your own path, set your own priorities, and ask for help when you need it.”

You are an amazing ‘adult’ and we trust you

If only it was so simple!

What was the hardest manual labor job I’ve ever had?

I was a “Picker” for a large supermarket chain in their warehouse on the second shift. What’s a “Picker”? I Picker was a position that would take an order from one of the grocery stores that used our warehouse, and I would drive around on a pallet jack and physically pick all the cases and items going to that store on a semi-truck.

A pallet jack isn’t a Hi-Lo, it’s more like a “Lo-Lo” it held two wood pallets, just off ground-level and the goal was to build those pallets up to six-eight feet, wrap them tightly in plastic shrink wrap, and then load them onto the truck. Some orders took 15 minutes to fill, some took over an hour, every single one was different.

The warehouse was giant. Like ten football fields with aisle after aisle of products, you would find in a large grocery store. Some heavy, some light, all shapes, and sizes. It was a Union shop, but I was a temp summer worker. So, most of the workers were full-time, long-term Union workers, over 90% men. My Dad was an executive in the offices of this company. A family friend was the Union Steward in the warehouse.

This job taught me that I didn’t want to work manual labor my entire life! 

But, it also taught me to respect the true value of manual labor jobs.

It also taught me so much about life, work, and fitting in on the job:

  • Instantly the union guys knew my Dad was in management, and boy did I catch sh*t for that! I quickly learned to have tough skin and you better give back as well as you were getting in that environment.
  • About a month into this job I came home at 2 am and woke up my Dad crying telling him I was going to college (Yes! Crying. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but it was memorable!). It was physically hard! It was hot. It was dirty. I didn’t want to go back in. I was working next to guys who had been doing that job for twenty-plus years!
  • A Union-shop has formal and informal rules. To survive you must quickly learn the informal rules or you won’t last. I was told specifically to slow down my work pace or all four tires of my car would be slashed. Even though I wasn’t even making rate and all the full-time union guys ran circles around me!
  • After you filled an order you had to go get another. There was one lady who did this, behind a glass window in an air-conditioned office. You could feel the cold air through the hole in the glass. Very quickly you learned there were easy orders and hard orders, and orders you could more easily make “rate” on. The lady was a big girl, normal looking, middle-aged, to see all of us guys sweet up to her like she was a runway model trying to get easy orders, boy that was a site! Always be super nice to the person doling out the work!
  • You need to find your tribe. I wasn’t the only summer temp, college kid, there were a bunch of us and we found early on it best we stick together. We ate lunch together, found each other on breaks, helped each other when we could. The union guys weren’t going to help.
  • Hard-ass manual labor jobs are marathons, not sprints. We worked 8-hour shifts, but almost every night had to do mandatory 2-4 hours of overtime. They wouldn’t tell us if we were working or not, because if you knew you had to work 12 hours that night, you were not working fast!
  • I was 18, the legal drinking age in Michigan was 21. After our shift on payday, all the guys would go to a bowling alley down the street that was open until 2 am. They would cash our checks and let us drink like men. Young guys would be drunk after two beers and the union guys would take the summer guys’ cash when they were in the bathroom and give it to the waitresses! Always keep your cash in your pocket!
  • Second-shit sucks! You go in around 3 pm, if you’re lucky you get out at 11 pm or midnight. Go home, can’t sleep, finally, get down around 3 am, wake up at noon the next day and basically start it all again.
  • Union or Non-Union manual labor shops are really going to test you. The fact is, they want to work with people who are going to work. Really work! If you don’t carry your weight, eventually it will come back to more work on everyone. So, they push you to try and quit because they only want people around them that really want to be there or have to be there, but show up and work!
  • I had so much fun at that job with probably the most diverse workforce I’ve ever been in. We were all in the middle of it and equally giving each other sh*t constantly. All of which would have gotten us all canceled and fired today. It was in many ways a brotherhood. What happened on the floor, stayed on the floor. Very much workers vs. management.

I think every single kid, male and female, right after high school, but for sure before they graduate college should have to work a manual labor job. Too many kids come into the work world with this warped perception of what work is, and too many look down on the millions of workers truly busting their backs doing the work you don’t want to do.

At the very least, I would prefer to hire a kid with a solid degree from a state school who I know worked a manual job or two in their life, then a perfect student from Harvard who never got dirty. Our society has in so many ways devalued ‘real’ hard work, manual labor, no-skill, low-skill.

What was that hardest manual labor job you ever worked?

The #1 Thing You Need To Do To Find The Job You’ve Always Wanted!

Last week I got a call from an old work friend. He wanted to have a “virtual” lunch or cup of coffee.  He just left a position and was in transition.  Not a bad or negative job loss, just parted ways.  When you get to a certain executive point in your career, it’s rare that bad terminations take place. It’s usually, “Hey, we like you, but we really want to go another direction, and we know you don’t want to go that direction, so let’s just shake hands and call it a day, here’s a big fat check.”

Executives get this.  For the most part, there aren’t hard feelings, like when you were young and lost a job. I usually find that the organization the person is leaving from are super complimentary, and usually takes the blame for the change.  Executives in corporate America are like NFL coaches. You get hired with the understanding that one day you’ll be fired.  It’s not that you know less, or aren’t going to be successful in your career, it’s just that the organization needs change, and you’re part of that change.

Welcome to the show, kid.

My friend decided that he was going to find his next position not through posting for positions online, or trolling corporate career pages, he was going to have lunches.  About two per week, with past work friends. Let’s connect, no pressure, we already know each other and I want to catch up.

You see, in 2021 you don’t find great jobs by filling out applications in ATSs and uploading your resume to Indeed. You get great jobs because of the relationships and personal capital you’ve built up over your career.  Having lunch and reconnecting turn on a relationship machine. I believe that people, innately, want to help other people. When a friend comes to you with a situation, and you have something to offer or help, you will do that.

The problem is most people who are looking for great jobs don’t do this. They lock themselves in their home office and apply to a thousand jobs online and get upset when nothing happens. Great jobs aren’t filled by ATSs and corporate recruiters.  Great jobs are filled through relationships. Every single one of them.

Want to find a great job in 2021?

Go out to lunch.

Covering Up a Career Hickey

I had a person work for me at a past job in HR.  She performed the HR cardinal sin of sins, she shared personal, confidential information with an employee outside of HR.  My problem was, this person was a high performer, an outstanding employee, she had a frustrating, weak moment, and did something you just can’t do in an HR position.  This is what we call a Career Hickey. Sometimes you can survive these hickeys and cover them up, and continue to work as normal.  Many times you can’t.

So now, this Hi-Po has a Huge Hickey.  Interestingly though, this Hickey can’t be seen when you look at their resume or interview them in person, but it’s a Hickey they can’t get rid of.  So, barring a life-turtleneck how does one cover this puppy up?

It’s interesting because I think that probably the best of us have a hickey or two that we would rather not have our current or future employer know about.  Sometimes they’re big-giant-in-the-back-of-a-Chevy-17-year-old-I-will-love-you-forever hickeys and sometimes they’re just oops-I-lingered-a-little-too-long type of hickeys. Either way, I would rather not expose my hickeys and have to worry about how this will impact the rest of my professional life. And here’s where most people drive themselves crazy.

As HR Pros I think it’s important for us to be able to help our organizations determine the relative value of individuals.  This person was a rock star at ABC company, did something wrong, and couldn’t maintain that position any longer with ABC because of said incident, and lost their job. Now we have a chance to pick up a Rock Star (and probably for a discount).

The question you have to ask is not could we live with this person if they did the same thing here?  Because that really isn’t the question, you already have that answer is “No.”

The question is: do we feel this person learned from said wrongdoing and is there any risk of them doing it again? 

You might come to the conclusion, “yes, they’ve learned, and yes, there is potential they might do it again” (let’s face it if they did it once, they’ve shown they can do it, so there’s always a risk), but it’s a risk we are willing to take.

So how does someone come back from a transgression at work? The answer is that they have some help.  Eventually, someone is going to ask the question: “why aren’t you with ABC Company anymore?”  They’ll give you the canned answer they’ve been developing since the moment they lost their job. If you’re a good interviewer, you won’t buy the first answer (I mean really – so you decided it was better off not to have a job – is what you’re telling me?!) and you will dig to see the hickey.  Hickeys are funny in that you really can’t take your eyes off of them, once you see them, but for those who can get by the hickeys, you might just find a great talent who is grateful for the second chance.

But, you also might find someone who just likes being in the back of that Chevy and getting Hickeys. You’re the HR Pro though and that’s really why your company pays your salary – to mitigate risk vs. the quality of talent your organization needs to succeed. So, you have to ask yourself, can you live with a Hickey?