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    Tuesday
    Jan122016

    Reacting to a sudden change in leadership

    It's Monday night as I write this and of course just like you I am watching an NBA game and thinking about work, workplaces, and management. 

    The game in question is the Spurs vs. Nets and why this particular game is interesting (aside from it involving the always fun to watch Spurs team), is that it is the first game for the Nets following the (kind of) sudden firing of their head coach Lionel Hollins and the re-assignment/demotion of their GM Billy King on Sunday. The Nets players were certainly aware of their 10-27 record and position as one of the league's worst teams, but they would not have had much if any advance warning of the imminent sacking of their coach.From the Nets better days

    Fast forward about 36 hours and these Nets have to take the court against the Spurs, one of the NBA's elite franchises, and possessors of a 32-6 record and winners of 5 NBA titles in the last 20 or so years. But the Spurs success is not what matters for my point today, but rather how the Nets players, and by means of extension, any of us react to a sudden change in our own organizational leadership.

    The way I see it you, me, the guys playing for the Nets can react one of three possible ways to the news that the boss, the big boss, or the really, really big boss is suddenly gone, and there is a little bit of uncertainty about what is going to happen next.

    1. Panic - even though I advised yesterday that in most cases that it is probably too late to panic, some folks inevitably will. In the Nets example, the player's agent will immediately start working the phones, looking for a potential new team for the player and leak stories to the media that the former coach never really gave the player a fair chance or used him in a way that best exploited his talents. For us 'normals', that means an instant LinkedIn profile update and bending the ear of everyone who will listen that the former leader 'never liked me' or 'always had it in for me.' 

    2. Enthusiasm - Some players on the Nets will see the change in leadership as a way to get a fresh start, and to try and impress the new leaders with extra effort and diligence to their tasks. These guys are probably ones who felt like for whatever reason they were not able to be their best selves under the old regime. They will in the short term work extra hard, and spend more time talking about the potentially bright future instead of focusing on the disappointments of the past. This reaction is usual reserved for younger players who are in the early stage of their careers and don't have much time or emotional commitment with the outgoing leadership. 

    3. Insubordination - The worst of all three potential reactions, and the one that can possibly cause lingering damage, is outright insubordination. Veteran players, especially ones with long-term, guaranteed contracts could consider themselves pretty insulated from any negative consequences and out and out work against the new leadership. This is particularly dangerous because very often the new leaders need the support of the organization's most senior and influential players. But these players, and the similarly long-tenured staff at any organization, often have outsized levels of power inside the group, and any new leader is going to have to find some common ground with them in order to try and fix what needs fixing. 

    When there is a sudden, and possible unexpected change in leadership everyone in the organization immediately begins to evaluate their own position, their place in the organization, and the health of the organization overall.

    If you are a role player or a favorite of the old regime, it may indeed be time to start working your network and calling in some favors, as your days may be numbered as well. But if you were a solid worker who always thought you could do more but were never given the chance it could be your time to try and step up and fill in some of the leadership and talent vacuum.

    If you are the new leader suddenly thrust into power, you'd do well to assess the folks on the team and sort out what group they seem to be falling in with before too long. Some will be with you, some will be against you, and some will just be a mess. It is good to know who is who. 

    Either way, these kinds of quick changes in leadership force us to be at least somewhat honest about our own place in the organization, and perhaps more importantly, force us to consider if we have a future with said organization as well. 

    Complacency can be a real bastard. It sometimes takes some dramatic change to wake us up.

    Monday
    Jan112016

    It's probably too late to panic

    Do you follow the financial markets at all? If you do, then you would know that at least in the USA the first week of 2016 set the mark for the worst first week of a New Year for market performance, with most major indices down anywhere from 5 - 10% from the 2015 year-end closing. The Dow Jones, NASDAQ, the S&P 500 - pretty much all showing steep drops in the frst week of the New Year - driven lower by some combination of declining economic conditions in China, a lower and lower crude oil price, and various and sundry manifestations of 'uncertainty', which no one can define exactly, but generally spooks folks who control lots of money.

    But as we all know financial markets rise and they fall - and they rise and fall again, forever and ever as they always have. The reason why I wanted to write about this today was an almost offhand comment I heard from one of the financial commentators on CNBC i think, (I can't remember the specific person, I was in a bit of a Nyquil haze this morning), who said this when asked by the show's host about whether or not investors should 'panic' due to these highly volatile market conditions. His reply:

    "It's probably too late to panic."

    And then he went on to talk about various scenarios and strategies that he felt like would be the most successful given the current conditions. The specifics of his financial/investing advice don't really matter, the key to why what this one gentlemen said and why it stuck out to me through the Nyquil hangover was just how much sense it made in its simplicity, and how applicable it is to just about every 'crisis' at work.

    Almost always when you have enough information in order to make the conscious decision to 'panic', it is probably too late for that 'panic' to do you or anyone else any good. It's kind of like throwing gasoline on the already burning fire, and doesn't help you even start to get to solutions or at least stabilization of the situation. The right time for 'panic' is probably just before things really spiral out of control, not after. Or as is the case of financial markets, perhaps the right time to get really worried and to take defensive actions is after a 5% drop, not after a 15% drop.

    Whether it is investing, dealing with a difficult colleague, or trying to rescue a deteriorating customer (or even personal) relationship, 'panic' is probably almost never a great idea simply because most of us are not at all good at reading the signals well enough to accurately time our panic. Better of taking a few deep breaths, think about what signs we missed on the way, and then set to being as calm and rational as possible to make things better.

    Does panicking sometimes feel good? Feel like the right and only thing to do? Sure.

    Does it ever really help? 

    Probably not. 

    Unless you win the $1.5B Powerball this week, then it is perfectly fine, acceptable, and expected to panic.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Jan082016

    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 230 - Email Me! Battling Constant Connectivity

    HR Happy Hour 230 - Email Me! Battling Constant Connectivity

    Recorded Wednesday January 6, 2016

    Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

    Listen HERE

    This week on the show Steve and Trish recorded the first HR Happy Hour Show of 2016 by chatting about email and the impact of connectivity on multiple platforms.   We somehow get derailed a little bit and end up hearing what Steve plans to do before conference season starts.  Hint....it has to do with facial hair!

    We wind talking about not making predictions about the HCM industry.  Instead, we cover what should HR leaders be talking about in 2016.  From intelligent technology, the world of benefits, to the importance of the employee experience, we cover it all.  Please listen in and then weigh in on what you think is important for the upcoming year.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widget player below, (Email and RSS subscribers will need to click through)

     

    And of course you can listen to and subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or via your favorite podcast app. Just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to download and subscribe to the show and you will never miss a new episode.

    Thursday
    Jan072016

    As much as it pains me to write this, I would rather you send an email

    Even though I have a 'hate-hate' relationship with email, as many of us do, I have to make my annual stand/defense/plea for email once again, even in 2016. I touched upon this issue in my 'Ways in which to contact me, ranked' post from late 2014, when I laid out a pretty persuasive argument for what I feel compelled to re-litigate once again in 2016. And that is unless you have some kind of prior understanding, or are corresponding with a close associate or friend that you know really, really well, the default medium for business communication still has to be email.

    Hang on, I need a second before continuing with the post. I think I many have threw up in my mouth a little...

    Ok, I am better. Here goes the rest of the take.While most of us, especially me, has come to loathe many elements of email, it remains the default communication media for global business. Everyone has email, everyone still uses email in some capacity, everyone in business understands you have to check your email at least daily, if not several times a day. It may be the lowest common denominator for business communication, but it is the common denominator nonetheless.

    And that can't be said for the seemingly 293 other ways that we can use, or try to use, to contact one another for business reasons. There are the obvious mechanisms from the popular social networks - Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, even Instagram. And then the less obvious ones like SnapChat or Skype. And most of those networks have multiple ways in which they can be used for communication - mentions, messages, private messages, tags, etc. It all adds up to an enormous set of potential 'places' to check for communications. And that is not mentioning old-fashioned phone calls, voice mails (which I hate), and text messages, (which I like). 

    Note, this rant is 99% directed at cross-organizational communications, not internal company communications between co-workers that in many cases are moving away from email and into alternate productivity and communication platforms like Slack or HipChat. Those tools may be fantastic at simplifying collaboration and reducing email volume, but they are almost always internal tools. In my role probably 90% of my communication is with people from outside my organization.

    So when you send business and otherwise 'important' messages via one of these other media, (and you did not have an agreement or understanding to do that beforehand), you are creating two potential issues. One is that you are making a big assumption about the person you are contacting and their habits and preferences. You might even think that their methods are similar to yours. You may live all day sending Twitter or Facebook messages for work purposes, but that does not necessarily mean that I or anyone else does. I will admit here, I never check Twitter direct messages. I mean never. 

    Second, you are making an unfair ask of the person you are contacting via these messages to adapt to your preferred methods of communication. I have a LinkedIn account of course. But I do not want to conduct any meaningful correspondence in LinkedIn's messaging tool. It stinks to use. It is not searchable as far as I can tell. And it does not integrate with anything else. Frankly, it sucks. Just about every LinkedIn message I send says, 'Please send me an email directly on this.' I am not proud of this, but it is just how things have to be.

    And a quick disclaimer for folks that know me and might know this: I am not always great at email. In fact, sometimes I am pretty terrible at email. But I am more terrible at the dozen other potential ways that I can be reached, many of which I never or rarely even check. I am looking at you Facebook messages.

    Ok, that's the end of the 2016 version of my email/messaging/ways to contact me rant.

    I wish things could be different. I do.

    But until then, you, me, all of us, we are stuck with email. 

    Tuesday
    Jan052016

    CHART OF THE DAY: Is it a good time to find a quality job?

    Guess what? CHART OF THE DAY is back for another year of stats, data, and information about work, labor markets, demographics, basketball, and Tom Cruise movies. 

    For new blog readers, here is a quick reminder of how CHART OF THE DAY works. First, I find what I think is an interesting chart, graph, Venn diagram, or my favorite an exploding Pie chart that helps visualize some data set I find intriguing. I re-publish the chart here with a link back to the original source. Last, I toss out 2 or 3 thoughts on the data's significance or relevance for those of us in the HR, talent, technology, workplace spaces.

    Got it? Okay, here goes...

    For 2016's first submission courtesy of Business Insider and Gallup, a look at what American's think about the question "Is it a good time or a bad time to find a quality job?"

    Some quick thoughts about the data:

    1. Gallup has been asking this question in their surveys since 2001, and the latest data from 2015 that shows the percentage of Americans that feel it is a good time to find a quality job sits at 42%, which is just a shade under the series' all-time high of 43% from 2007. Said a little differently, since 2001, according to this survey American's attitudes about the job market conditions have NEVER been more optimistic.

    2. Gallup didn't specifically survey people 'actively' looking for work, so we can assume the increased confidence in the labor market is a reflection of the broader population's attitudes. That means just about everyone is feeling if not good, at least relatively better about labor market conditions. Which translates to the likelihood of increased turnover, even for those employees that you thought were 'safe', i.e., not likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. Will 2016 be the year that more people seek greener grass elsewhere? Maybe so.

    3. The recent HR technology trend towards developing 'predictive' models for providing insights into things like attrition and retention can provide tools that can possibly help HR leaders in this area. But the key question I would ask my HR technology provider of such predictive tools is the extent to which, if at all, these tools take into account these external trends in worker attitudes. Does the tool adapt to reflect the macro-trends and environmental conditions that exist and impact organizations? Or will your 'predictive' tool really act like more of a 'reactive' tool, failing to adapt quickly enough to changing market conditions? Good questions to ask. 

    Ok that's it, I'm out.

    Happy Tuesday!