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    #HRHappyHour 163 PODCAST - 'Bullying and the Workplace'

    This week the HR Happy Hour Show/Podcast is back with a fresh episode recorded earlier this week -'Bullying and the Workplace' with guest Jennifer Hancock. Jennifer is the author of The Bully Vaccine, and a frequent speaker and expert on the increasingly important issue of bullying - both in and out of the workplace. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter as well -@jenthehumanist).

    You can listen to the show on the show page here, using the widget player below, and of course on iTunes - just search the podcasts area for 'HR Happy Hour'.

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    It was a fascinating conversation with Jennifer - bullying has become such an area of focus for parents, schools, and certainly even leaders and HR professionals in the workplace. You'd never guess just how prevalent bullying behaviors have become.

    Jennifer shared ideas on how to define and identify bullying, insights behind the root causes of these behaviors, and some specific and relevant ideas about how the victims of bullying can deal with bullies.

    Chances are someone you know, maybe even your own child, or a colleague at work is facing these kinds of challenges. Or you are an HR professional that has to make sure your workplace is free from these behaviors. Either way I think you will find some great ideas and tips for how to address these situations from the show.

    It was an interesting and enlightening conversation, and I hope you will find it valuable as well.

    Also, in June and July Jennifer is offering a 6-hour course titled 'Workplace Bullying for HR Professionals' and you can learn more about that program here.

    Thanks to Jennifer for a great conversation. 


    Finally, for listeners of the show a quick reminder. For the next little while anyway, co-host Trish McFarlane and I will be doing the HR Happy Hour Shows more as a traditional podcast - recorded in advance, perhaps a little shorter than the live shows were, and hopefully posted to the site every other week. With our schedules and lots of travel on the horizon this year, doing the shows 'live' on Thursday nights has become increasingly challenging. Trish and I hope that by changing how the shows are produced it will allow us the opportunity to continue doing the show/podcast in a way that will work with our schedules as well as our future guests.

    Have a great weekend!


    What's your workplace's signature scent?

    Ever walk into a high-end retail store or a fancy hotel lobby and suddenly feel compelled to think, 'What is that smell?' or ask someone nearby 'Do you smell that?'

    It could be that you actually do smell something faint, lurking in the background, and it also could be that what you are smelling is a 'signature scent' that has been purposely released into the building by the owners in order to achieve a specific impact and effect. This olfactory technology, created by companies like ScentAir, allows businesses to add to or augment their customer experience by (in their words), 'connecting on an emotional and memorable level with customers' via the release of specific fragrances into the environment at specific times and for specific purposes.

    I would not have heard about this if not for a connection of the ScentAir technology to the sports world - it seems like professional teams like basketball's Brooklyn Nets (a fresh smelling fragrance with citrus notes),  and the NFL's St. Louis Rams (cotton candy) have experimented with pumping in their own custom scents inside their stadiums. ScentAir offers solutions that scale to really large spaces like in these examples, but also smaller, more targeted scent solutions that can be deployed in more intimate business and office environments.

    The idea, then, is that since we experience and interact with the world using all of our senses, that organizations can benefit from purposefully leveraging one that is often ignored - the sense of smell, to create more complete and memorable experiences. 

    My question is, how about deploying these kinds of scent-delivery mechanisms into internal, or non-customer facing environments? What if you could set up a little personal 'signature scent' for your next all-hands meeting, product review, or even your managerial 1-1 meetings?

    Wouldn't we at work also like to be able to also 'connect on an emotional and memorable level' with our colleagues, employees, and bosses? Could a subtle 'vanilla with hints of alder and lime' scent wafting in the air make that next really uncomfortable 'You are getting placed on a performance improvement plan' meeting you have to facilitate more complete?

    Probably not. But I bet the vanilla and alder would be an improvement from what you normally smell in those kinds of meetings - 'despair, with hints of loathing and perspiration, and a final note of Copenhagen.'

    What's your workplace's signature scent?


    Thinking about what no one knows they're missing

    A couple of months ago I posted about the continuing advances in driverless vehicle technology, and the implications on work and worker's commutes to the office in an environment where essentially, everyone has a technological chauffeur to ferry them to their job. My point in the piece was, more or less, that driverless vehicle technology would potentially one day add hours of 'productive' time to a commuter's day - taking calls, reading documents, even creating and writing while on the go.  Freed from the task of actually driving the car, the driver becomes a passenger - and gains the benefits from reduced stress, (driverless cars probably won't pass on their road rage to you), and more flexibility. 

    Whether you think driverless cars, (and trucks, and eventually even planes), are dangerous, unreliable, or even scary, the truth seems like they are coming - and probably sooner than most of us think. 

    Similar could be said for some of the other latest advances in technology. Take Google Glass for example. Just a year or so ago the idea of a wearable, always-on, internet connected, and voice activated computing device seemed pretty far-fetched. Today the initial wave of beta-testers are using the device, developers are building new and purpose-built apps for the platform, and a slew of 'experts' (including me), have offered up advice and opinion about the implications and use of Glass in work and business. I saw another slightly different manifestation of wearable computing this week when my pal Lance Haun rocked a Pebble smartwatch at a recent event.

    What do driverless vehicle technology and wearable computing tech like Google Glass have in common?

    Probably a few things, but the one element I want to call out is this - they are technology breakthroughs that are not directly responding to some express need or desire on the part of either existing customers or the general public.  They are for the most part - green field, blue ocean, 'insert-your-favorite-hack-expression-for-something-brand-new-here'.

    This week I've been at the SilkRoad Connections event - a conference for the company's customers, partners, and some media and analysts.  At the event, keynoter Dan Pink, (famous for the book Drive), offered, almost as an aside from his speech on motivation, what he thought was going to be the most important skill in the future, (paraphrased in my tweet below)



    Glass, planes that fly themselves, the next incredible technological or business breakthrough - the common factor will be that none of them will be really based on listening to customers or conducting focus groups.

    They will spring from the imagination of innovators and from people savvy enough to 'discover' needs that today don't exist.

    It's wonderful and important to spend your day thinking about and helping to solve people's problems. But even there, advances in computing threaten to turn 'problem solving' into a game for the robots and super computers.

    If you want to be really memorable and outlast the rest, you have to solve problems that don't even seem to exist and to give people things that they never knew they needed.


    Features vs. Benefits

    You probably have a smartphone with a data plan. When you turn on the phone you see those little bars letting you know the strength of the current signal, (sort of easy to understand - more bars is better even if we aren't totally sure how much better).Do I need this? I don't know, really.

    You probably also see on the phone some kind of 'network' indicator as well - it could be something like 3G or 4G or LTE - that kind of thing. And while we recognize, or at least assume, that '4G' has to be better than '3G', after all it's a whole additional 'G', once LTE or LTZ or any other tiny technical code gets introduced to the equation, well then it gets much tougher unless you are really into this kind of thing, what is better or worse and how much better or worse. I suppose there are folks who have upgraded their devices or switched carriers in order to obtain that additional 'G', and have some direct and hands-on experience that allows them to more precisely judge the addtional benefits of the extra 'G'. But most of us, and for sure most non-technical folks, or as they are sometimes called 'normals', we only know that 4G is better, somehow, and we think we should want it. 

    A message certainly, reinforced by millions and millions of dollars of carrier and device manufacturer advertising. If you don't think so, just think about the AT&T TV spots with the little girl going on and on about 'more' and 'we want more.' I'm sick of that kid.

    But 3G or 4G or even the things like coverage maps that the carriers talk about all the time aren't really why anyone has a smartphone and pays for a data plan. The 'G' level is just a feature. It matters to engineers and I suppose marketers, but not to probably 95% of the actual smartphone users. What matters is what additional work or entertainment or fun that the extra 'G' will provide. What matters are the benefits of the technology.

    Almost no one not directly involved in the creation of a technology cares all that much about features.

    But just about everyone cares about benefits.

    Even the little girl who can't stop talking about 'more'.


    The obligatory 'Commencement Address' post

    It seems that May for the last few years that one or two 'famous person college commencement addresses' gets significant attention from the press, blogosphere, and social media. The reasons that any one of these generally similar and forgettable speeches seems to catch on in the zeitgeist are sometimes different though - it could be that the speech-maker is so famous and powerful that the speech itself begets coverage, or it could be, and I think this is more  interesting, is that it allows said famous person to share his/her thoughts in forum and manner in which we are no accustomed.

    I think that reason, largely, was why the commencement address given at Bard College by Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke got so much play over the last few days.

    We are used to, and expect, economists like Bernanke to focus on the nuts and bolts of economic policy. Interest rates and inflation. Money supply and surpluses and deficits. The kinds of eyeballs are glazing over topics many of us have last thought about in Economics 101 and then spent years trying to forget. The brain only has so much room for stuff, and did you hear a new season of Arrested Development is getting made?

    But what made Bernanke's speech interesting was I think two things - that is wasn't really, primarily what we are used to hearing from him; and secondly, that the essence and importance of the entire message is relevant not just for 21 year-old new grads about to return to Mom and Dad's house, but for all professionals that need to come to terms with how work, workplaces, and careers are changing - mainly driven by technological advances.

    Here's Bernanke's money quote:

    "During your working lives, you will have to reinvent yourselves many times. Success and satisfaction will not come from mastering a fixed body of knowledge but from constant adaptation and creativity in a rapidly changing world. Engaging with and applying new technologies will be a crucial part of that adaptation."

     I'd suggest that his advice - about adaptation, creativity, and mastering, (or at least coming to terms with), the changing nature of human-technology relationships in the workplace (and in society), are crucial not only for people just starting out in their careers, but perhaps more acutely, for mid-career professionals as well. 

    Change, especially change to the definitions, organization, and execution of work and industry impacts the people caught up in the middle much more that the new grad that often is still on outside looking in.

    A new grad might spend the next year or three on the sofa at home coming to terms with the fact that the shiny, expensive degree they went $86,000 in debt to obtain doesn't really matter to many employers, or that the all-knowing market and its career-selection process seems to equate their skills, experience, and degree with 'barista'. That kind of stinks, but it isn't, at least not yet, a fatal outcome. When you are that young you still have time to react, to pivot, to try out a Plan B or C even. 

    At least until Mom and Dad kick you out, you lousy freeloader.

    But if you are say, 44, been working for two decades, have a house, mortgage, big SUV, kids that need new iPhones - well getting caught up unprepared for the kinds of dramatic shifts we are seeing and will continue to see in the workplace is a much more serious matter.

    While it seems like the game is more and more getting rigged to the detriment of the new college grads at least they have something that the mid-career pro doesn't - lots and lots of time. And also, often, the luxury of being able to make a mistake or two.

    Bernanke's address really isn't that remarkable on it's own. But instead of giving it to the class of 2013, it should be read at all the 20 and 25 year class reunions coming up. Those folks need the advice more.

    Have a great week!