Quantcast
Subscribe!

 

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

E-mail Steve
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio

    free counters

    Twitter Feed

    Entries in career (170)

    Tuesday
    Oct092018

    You had me at "Almost no email"

    I had come across a few pieces about the tech company Glitch, (formerly Fog Creek Software, one of the most innovative tech companies of the last two decades), but until recently had never actually explored around their site to try and see what was so unusual and refreshing about their approach to openness and transparency.

    While their Employee Handbook has been the usual focus of articles that talk about just how different Glitch is, I found myself absolutely stunned into silence (and admiration) for this the paragraph below, buried as bullet point number three in a section called 'Working at Glitch'. And here is it: 

    • Almost no email. Most people at Glitch get fewer than a dozen email messages in a week from their coworkers. We use email for especially urgent company-wide alerts, and to work with people at other companies. For ordinary chat, we prefer to use Slack, and for lengthier conversations, we write out our ideas in full and share them for feedback and comment. It's common for people to come to work in the morning at Glitch and have no new emails in their inbox, and Inbox Zero is common enough that nobody even talks about it

    I know, I know what you are saying - our company isn't a small, tech company and we can't operate on just a handful of emails per day. We have too many things going on, too many moving parts, too many people we have to deal with on a regular basis to ever function in the way Glitch seems to function. Besides, if 273 emails not sent just turn into the same number, if not more, pings on Slack, then what is the difference. Fair point.

    But the other fair point I think, and one that is doubled-down on in the next 'Working at Glitch' bullet point titled 'We Respect Working Hours', is that Glitch has seemed to recognize that a barrage or onslaught of electronic messaging that you are expected to remain on top of all day long (and all night and weekend long too), is probably not the best way to create an inspired, engaged, and productive workforce.

    It's so easy to default back to the way we have always done things, the way we are conditioned to do things. I would guess that at least some portion of the team over at Glitch arrived there from some other workplace where 24/7 connection and hundreds of emails per day were the norms. But I would also guess that many of these same people now can't imagine going back to that kind of an environment. Good luck, by the way, cold-calling someone like that and luring them back to the dark side.

    Over time, and especially when things get really busy, I more and more send an email or a text almost begging that we stop emailing each other and just get on the phone. I am not sure all this email is doing us and our workforces the service it once did, back when we really thought for moment or too about sending the email in the first place.

    There are lots of other interesting ideas over at the Glitch careers site. I recommend checking it out. If only to dream 'What if?' for a few moments.

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday
    Sep052018

    One way legacy companies can change the recruiting and retention equation

    One challenge most older, 'legacy' companies can face when recruiting and attempting to retain their most desired people and keep them from flocking to the newer, more exciting, and often more lucrative startups in their industries is their very own legacies and brands.

    One could argue that 25 year old hotshot developers are not that interested in joining say an IBM, when they could jump on a new AI or blockchain startup. Or in finance, the allure of say a JP Morgan Chase might not hold all that much resonance when that same 25 year old has been immersed in crypto currency exchange technology for the last few years. Or in retailing, what would draw someone who has many options to a company like Walmart or Target, when modern, fast-moving, and tech-driven startups like Stitchfix seem to be much more exciting?

    Well, one 'legacy' company is trying a really clever strategy for to address this challenge - the legendary auto manufacturer GM is looking to improve its success in recruiting and retaining talent for its new self-driving unit named Cruise, by offering new employees equity directly in the Cruise unit, and not in legacy GM. From a recent piece in TechCrunch describing the plan:

    In what will be seen as a big recruiting and retention win for Cruise, employees will be offered equity in GM’s self-driving technology subsidiary rather than shares of GM. The securities offering was disclosed in a recent SEC filing for GM Cruise Holdings LLC.

    The equity structure gives all Cruise employees the chance to own actual shares of Cruise, not in GM. It’s a critical development for a company, even one flush with new capital like Cruise, that is working to deploy autonomous vehicles on a commercial scale.

    “The goal was primarily to create a new equity structure so that we could recruit and retain the best talent by giving them direct participation in potential upside in Cruise through owning actual shares in Cruise, which we didn’t have before,” Cruise CEO and co-founder Vogt told TechCrunch.

    So how does a company like GM better compete for in-demand talent, that may be drawn to their smaller, upstart competitors? By making it seem for the most part that this talent doesn't really work for GM, they work for a self-driving car startup called Cruise that just so happens to be subsidiary of GM. And this allows GM not only to get a lift from not being wed to 100+ years of GM history from a branding perspective, it allows loosens up the compensation purse strings for these Cruise employees, as large, legacy companies like GM have much more rigid and formal methods of allocating compensation - ones that their startup competition usually are not encumbered by.

    And if things work out for Cruise, the prospect for employees of really cashing in with a spinoff and an IPO add the carrot of potential future millions that 'legacy' GM would never be able to match. It's a clever way to combine the strengths of GM's legacy and history with some new ideas that shore up some of the weaknesses in that legacy.

    And yes, I am a GM owner. But I am still driving my own car. For now anyway.

    Have a great day!

    Friday
    Aug172018

    Expect Great Things

    The other day I caught an interview with Kevin Dann, the author of 'Expect Great Things: The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau'. I don't know any more than the average person about Thoreau, I read Walden Pond I am pretty sure back in high school, but that is about it.

    But the interview with Dann, the most recent of Thoreau's many biographers really resonated for me, and mainly for the author's reasoning behind the book's title.

    Here's the section from the interview, courtesy of the Art of Manliness Podcast:

    Kevin Dann - And you’re pointing to my contextualizing Thoreau in this way. A big part of that was a signature I found right away was this sense, you know, I used it for the title of the book. “Expect great things”. So his mantra was, that he said in a hundred different ways, “In the long run, we find what we expect. We shall be fortunate then if we expect great things.” And whether it’s astrology, or reading tea leaves, the operative principle of magic is that what we think manifests in the world as being real, and that’s what his mantra was. “Expect great things”.

    I pretty much stopped really taking in the rest of the hour-long conversation after hearing that. The 'Expect Great Things' concept I just could not stop thinking about. Maybe because it is so different than what I am comfortable or used to doing. I might, on a good day, 'hope' for good things to happen, but I have to admit it is the more rare situation that I 'expect' great things. 

    And Thoreau's point, as far as I think I understand it, is that eventually we find what we expect to find. We find what we think or believe we are going to find. There is also at least a bit of mysticism in what Thoreau was talking about. We also, I came to learn, communicated with faeries out in the woods.

    But if Thoreau was right, and we do indeed, eventually, find what we expect to find, then it makes perfect sense to expect great things. Who would expect less?

    Ok, I am signing off for the week. I am going to try better to expect great things in work, at home, for my Liverpool FC team, and for the folks that I hold dear. I hope you will too.

    Have a great weekend!

    Friday
    Jul272018

    Job Titles of the Future: Chief Non-alcohol Beverages Officer

    A quick dispatch for a middle of Summer Friday from the often-imitated, easily duplicated Job Titles of the Future series. For the latest offering I submit a job title I've never seen before - 'Chief Non-alcohol Beverages Officer'. For details, see this piece from Fortune:

    American beer drinkers keep shunning Bud, and Anheuser-Busch InBev is going to extreme measures to meet their changing tastes.

    The brewer announced Thursday that revenues in the U.S. had slumped by 3.1% in the second quarter as sales of its major brands—Budweiser and Bud Light—continued to drop. U.S. beer sales dropped 5% by volume.

    At the same time, it announced that it will create a new executive position—chief non-alcohol beverage officer—as a response to Millennials and “Generation Z” drinking less than their elders. Lucas Herscovici, currently global marketing VP of strategic functions, will fill the role. Nonalcoholic drinks constitute some 10% of AB InBev’s volumes, and it’s aiming to boost the proportion of low and no-alcohol sales to 20% of the total by 2025, reports theFinancial Times. But in the second quarter, the category fell a damaging 43%, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    This announcement about the new C-Level job role from Anheuser-Busch InBev was interesting to me for three reasons:

    1. It shows, at least at the surface, that the organization needs to react to changes in customer attitudes, tastes, and preferences with a significant and high-level talent/people strategy response. In the past, I guess forever, Anheuser-Busch InBev didn't need to consider this market and this role. Their business was selling beer. Now their business is changing to one that is more about meeting the customer's needs/desires for refreshment - a wider, deeper, (and maybe for them in the long run), a more lucrative market.

    2. This shift in Anheuser-Busch InBev's business is another great example and reminder of the challenges that all kinds of legacy, established businesses have when trying to adapt to shifts in customer attitudes. The company knows that it needs to focus more on non-alcohol beverages moving forward, but at the same time has to try and protect and strengthen its core, legacy regular beer business. Becoming more nimble and agile to chase new markets while at the same time having to rely on declining core businesses for profits and cash flow is the classic big company challenge. I am a fan of many Anheuser-Busch InBev products, so I am hoping they navigate these challenges successfully.

    3. It's the summer, it's just about the weekend, and an article about a beer company essentially just drew me in. Hope you have a great weekend, have a cold one if that's your thing, and Cheers! 

    Thursday
    Jun142018

    When to tell an employee who resigns - 'No need to work your two weeks notice, just get out of here'

    The World Cup kicks off today and in what can only be deemed a fantastic coincidence for the 'Sports and HR' blogosphere, the event has already provided us with an incredible story upon which to opine, one that fits the formula of 'Yes, it is a 'sports' story but it really is a workplace and HR story'.

    In case you don't know what story I am referring to, it involves the head coach of Spain's team (one of the favorites to win the World Cup), getting fired from his post just hours before the event is set to start. Let's all get on the same page with the details of the story courtesy of reporting from ESPN.

    Julen Lopetegui has been sacked as Spain's national team coach on the eve of the World Cup, one day after he agreed to take over at Real Madrid after the tournament.

    In a news conference at Spain's training base in Krasnodar, Russia, Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales said Lopetegui's fate was sealed just two days ahead of the team's World Cup opening game, as Rubiales could not accept an Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) employee having negotiated his next job without informing his employers.

    "We have been obliged to fire the national coach," Rubiales said Wednesday. "We wish him the best, he has done an excellent job in getting us to the tournament. But the federation cannot be left outside the negotiation of one of its employees, and find out just five minutes before a public announcement. If anybody wants to talk to one of our employees, they have to speak to us, too. That is basic, as this is the team of all Spaniards. The national team is the most important we have; the World Cup is the biggest of all."

    A lot to unpack there, but just to be sure the non-soccer readers get the important details, here is the gist of what went down.

    1. Spain is one of the top teams in the world, has a great chance to make a deep run in the World Cup, and the coach, Julen Lopetegui has done by all accounts a great job, (unbeaten in their last 20 games), of getting the team ready for the tournament.

    2. As is the case with many national team coaches, Lopetegui had planned to move on from coaching the national team once the World Cup was over. For top coaches like him, coaching at one of the world's leading clubs in the Spanish League or English League represents the pinnacle of the profession, (and is the most lucrative).

    3. The Spanish League Club Real Madrid is the best club team in the world, have just completed winning the European Champions League for the third year in a row, and surprisingly found themselves in need of a new coach for next season, following the shock resignation of their coach.

    4. Combine #2 with #3 above, and we arrive at Lopetegjui agreeing to become coach of Real Madrid at the conclusion of the World Cup.

    5. See the reaction of the Royal Spanish Football Federation above upon learning this news. Essentially they said to Lopetegui, 'Thanks for the notice, but no thanks. Clean out your desk and hit the bricks.' Note, this 'Two weeks notice' is not the usual two weeks notice - it is the World Freakin' Cup, but the people calling the shots did not care. So on the eve the competition, Lopetegui is out.

    So let's spin this story back around to the real world. I don't know for sure how it will effect Spain's performance in the tournament, and you probably don't care. But we do have employees, sometimes high profile and top employees resign all the time. So when should you let the resigning employee ride our their two weeks notice gracefully, and when should you pull a Royal Spanish Football Federation move and show them the door immediately?

    I have three scenarios that line up with the Royal Spanish Football Federation position:

    1. You find out the employee is leaving to go to work with a direct competitor. Leaving Coke to work for Pepsi. Leaving Lowe's to go to the Home Depot, that kind of thing. The sooner they are out of your office, off of your email, and out of your memory the better. Kind of an easy one. Real Madrid does not compete with the Spanish national team, so this one does not really apply here.

    2. You're in an important, stressful period at your shop, and you get the sense that the lingering presence, and the impact the departing person might have on the team they are leaving behind present a risk that is not acceptable. This is the closest to a justification I can get for the Spain move. All of a sudden, all everyone wants to talk about is that the coach is leaving, and the focus on performing in the tournament becomes a risk.

    3. You know the 'two weeks notice' is more or less a paid vacation for said employee, who may have checked out long before officially checking out. If you get the sense that almost no value will be derived from having the departing employee around, you are all better off just acknowledging that and letting them go as soon as possible. Again, probably not applicable in the Lopetegui situation, but stll one scenario that is pretty common in our world.

    I am not sure how this HR move will work out for Spain, it was definitely surprising considering the timing and the importance of the World Cup. I guess we will know in a few weeks.

    Ok, I'm out - have a great day!