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    Entries in Leadership (38)

    Friday
    Jan122018

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 309 - The Importance of the Manager - Employee Relationship

    HR Happy Hour 309 - The Importance of the Manager - Employee Relationship

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: Adam Rogers, CTO, Ultimate Software

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve is joined by Adam Rogers, CTO of HR Technology solution provider Ultimate Software to talk about some recent research Ultimate published on the manager - employee relationship,  why it matters, and how managers can make this relationship stronger and better.

    In late 2017, Ultimate partnered with the Center for Generational Kinetics to undertake and publish new research on the manager - employee relationship, to better understand how managers and employees see and perceive things differently at work, and then to help create solutions, both managerial and technical, than can improve and strengthen this critical relationship.

    It has been said often that 'people don't leave companies, they leave managers', and on the show Adam shared both what the research found about this idea with respect to how employee retention and engagement is shaped by these relationships, as well as his personal observations as a manager and leader of an organization.

    Additionally, we talked about the importance of openness, transparency, and trust, the need to provide training and resources to managers - especially new managers, and the need to focus on how the manager - employee relationship drives employee satisfaction and engagement.

    And we also managed to fit in some winter weather updates, college football, and NBA talk as well! 

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a fun and interesting show, many thanks to Adam to joining us.

    To learn more about the research we talked about on the show, register for an upcoming webinar on January 23 at 2PM ET with Adam and Jason Dorsey - more information on the webinar is here.

    Thanks to show sponsor Virgin Pulse - www.virginpulse.com, back as an HR Happy Hour Show sponsor in 2018.

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts.

    Thursday
    Dec212017

    Do sports build character or reveal it?

    Regular readers will know how much of a sports guy I am, as I have probably spent about a third of my time writing about sports related topics on the blog over the years. And I spend way too much time in the Winter/Spring on NBA League Pass and poring over the box scores. But it's good to have a hobby I guess.

    Yes, I love sports but I also don't take them too seriously. I didn't back when I was playing organized sports, and I don't now as a fan and as a parent of a son who participates in a few high school sports. Sports are awesome, but they are just games in the end. And generally not all that important.This may or may not be my HS team

    That perspective is why I never really liked the often repeated maxims (usually spouted by coaches, and most frequently football coaches) about how sports build character, create leaders, or somehow make people 'better' by virtue of their participation. Like somehow 'commanding' a huddle miraculously transforms someone into General Patton or Margaret Thatcher or Abe Lincoln. I just never bought in. Some of the biggest jamokes I know played sports in high school. And also some of the most successful, accomplished people I know as well. I don't think sports participation really meant all the much in determining any of that.

    Turns out at least one recent research study has come to the same conclusion. In an Institute of Labor Economics paper titled 'Do High School Sports Build or Reveal Character?', authors Michael Ransom and Tyler Ransom examine three large, national, and longitudinal data sets of high school students to come to the conclusion that high school athletes are no more likely to attend college, earn higher wages, or participate in the labor force than non-athletes.

    Here's an excerpt from their findings:

    We revisit the literature on the long-run effects of high school sports participation on educational attainment, labor market outcomes, and adult health behaviors. Many previous studies have found positive effects in each of these dimensions by either assuming that sports participation is exogenous (conditional on other observable characteristics), or by making use of instrumental variables that are unlikely to be valid.

    We analyze three separate nationally representative longitudinal surveys that link participation in high school sports with later-life outcomes: the NLSY79, the NELS:88, and the Add Health. We employ an econometric technique that empirically tests the sensitivity of the selection on observables assumption and find that estimates of the returns to sports participation are highly sensitive to this assumption. Specifically, we find that, for most educational and labor market outcomes, if the correlation between sports participation and unobservables is only a fraction of the correlation between sports and observables, the effect of sports participation cannot be statistically differentiated from zero. Thus, we conclude that a causal effect of sports participation is unlikely, and that most of the findings of the literature that report beneficial impacts represent the effects of selection into sports.

    Or, in simpler language the authors conclude that the kinds of people who are likely to be successful later in life for whatever set of reasons/attributes that make people successful sometimes participate in high school sports, and sometimes they do not. They may be part of the drama club or the chess club or maybe the 'leave me alone, I am just doing time until I can get out of here' club. But sports themselves do not function as some kind of magical leadership development or success training program that make athletes more likely than non-athletes successful later in life.

    And this conclusion goes against most of the mainstream thinking (at least it seems to me) about the true benefits and value of sports, particularly youth sports.

    Sports are awesome. They are fun. You can make some great friends and learn some things too.

    But lots of other things are awesome, fun, social, and provide great learning opportunities too. It is good to keep that in mind, especially if you are involved at all and at any level in youth sports.

    Happy Thursday. Have all your holiday preparations nailed down yet?

    Wednesday
    Nov292017

    Take that for data: Who you hire and fire signals your culture

    Apologies in advance for the pretty deep NBA-themed take with a back story that you may not be familiar with unless you are a NBA League Pass junkie like me. But I will try (as always) to share enough of the sports side of the tale in hoped that the connection to HR and the real world makes sense. Or at least almost makes sense.

    Here's the sports side of the take. 

    On Monday, the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies fired head coach David Fizdale, their coach of slightly more than one season, after the team lost its 8th straight game and fell to a record of 7-12 on the season. Of note, one of the team's best players Mike Conley, (probably their best player), has been injured and has not played in the last 7 games. 

    Last season, Fizdale's first in charge, the team finished 43-39, and lost in the first round of the playoffs giving the coach a total record of 50-51. 

    Oh, two more things to toss into the blender before we try to connect this story to something the rest of us can relate to. One, Fizdale has a ton of respect around the league with high-profile players and coaches, (LeBron James, Vince Cater, Gregg Popovich who shared their surprise at the firing and admiration of Fizdale). Here's LeBron's reaction after hearing the news:

     

     

    And two, Fizdale has been at odds with one of the Grizzlie's top players, Marc Gasol, the two reportedly not seeing eye-to-eye on many aspects of how the team was being led. In the NBA, star players have a ton of influence and power, as there are not that many of them, and teams know they need two or three of them to have a chance to compete.

    Oh, there's a three, (sorry), in Fizdale's last game in charge, a loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Fizdale benched Gasol for the entire 4th quarter, (an unusual move for a coach to bench a star player in a close game). Gasol was quoted widely after the game indicating that the benching had never happened to him before and he was ticked off.

    A day or so later, word leaked out the Fizdale was fired.

    Got all that?

    So here's the thing about the Fizdale firing that we should think about in the context of our own organizations. Fizdale was fired for (at least 75% of the reason anyway), for not getting along with one of the team's best, and most popular players in Gasol. The reasons why the two didn't gel are unclear, but what was clear was that the coach Fizdale was probably tired of clashing with the player, and sitting him on the bench in a close game was meant to send a message to Gasol, the rest of the team, and more importantly, to team management and ownership that he (Fizdale), runs the team on the court, not Gasol, or any of the other players.

    And for that, or for mostly that, Fizdale was fired. Team management and ownership essentially sided with the player, leveraged the (convenient) recent losing streak as a primary reason for the firing, and made their star player, who is under contract until the end of 2020 and owed about $65M more from the team, happy.

    The clearest signs of any organization's culture is who is hired, who is fired, and by extension, the reasons why people are fired.

    Fizdale was fired for a personality and/or philosophy clash with one of the team's stars. And for that, he had to go. The message about the Grizzlie's culture is clear.

    Players, (at least star players), come first. The team has invested truck loads of cash in these players, the team needs them to perform in order to win (and sell tickets), and the team has concluded the best way to accomplish that is to keep the players happy.

    I will repeat it, the clearest sign of your organizational culture is who gets hired and who gets fired.

    The Fizdale story shows us what kind of culture the Grizzlies want to have.

    Take a look at your last 10 or 20 hires and fires and think about what signals these decisions are making to the rest of the employees, to candidates, to customers, and to the world.

    Finally, I will let you go with this small tribute to Fizdale - his now classic 'Take that for data' rant after a close playoff lost last season. (Email and RSS subscribers click through)

     

    Good luck coach on your next gig.

    Thursday
    May112017

    Probably not going to get a "Best Boss" mug from the staff any time soon

    Sometimes it can be really tough to be the boss.  Lots of calls, lots of emails, lots of meetings, and probably lots of people in the organization that want a little piece of your time.  They might need some direction, want to get your opinion on something, might need some clarification before taking an action, and sometimes the team just might want a little face time, you know, a little interaction with the boss. Sometimes people feel a little better after getting some 1-1 time with the big kahuna.

    So all that can get tiring for the boss. At least at times it can. The boss, too, has things to do.  The boss probably has his/her own agenda and priorities on any given day. The boss, sometimes, probably comes into work not in the best mood and maybe does not want to deal with any of this 'other' stuff that was not perfectly slated into their calendar for the day.

    So I can kind of get it when once in a while the boss does not really have time for small talk in the elevator or in the hall. Or when, even in a small company, you need about 3.5 weeks advance notice to maybe get 30 minutes on the boss' calendar to day your piece. I get it. I do.

    But time management is only one of the dozens of things a successful leader needs to be good at in order to succeed, and while I don't know for sure how to manage time effectively, (I am writing this at 11:30PM so I can attest), I do know that the wrong way for the boss to set expectations for the staff as to his/her availability and accessibility is to do what TV personality Steve Harvey dropped on his organization, (and as described in Mashable).

    Take a look at an image of Harvey's set of instructions to his staff that was reportedly sent at the start of the show's most recent season:

    Awesome stuff, right?

    Don't talk to me under any circumstances unless we have a meeting on the calendar in advance. Don't speak to me in the hall, don't linger outside the elevator, don't 'ambush' me in the makeup room - basically DO NOT APPROACH ME AT ALL.

    Love it.

    But at least Harvey dropped a 'please don't take offense' at the end of the 14 ways to not talk to Steve Harvey bomb.

    That will make it all better. 

    I actually kind of like some of Harvey's rules. I may try to enact a couple in my life too. And if I do, just please don't take offense.

    Tuesday
    Mar282017

    Don't assume everyone knows diversity is an issue at your company

    Pop culture fans probably know the name Aaron Sorkin - Oscar and Emmy award winner of movies/shows like "A Few Good Men", "The Newsroom", and "The West Wing", to name just a few. Sorkin has been a successful Hollywood creative type for years, decades even.  A Few Good Men was written in 1992 for a bit of reference.

    So since at least the release of the movie version of A Few Good Men, (late 1992 and  for which Sorkin wrote the screenplay, and is essential cable TV movie watching to this day), Sorkin has been an important, active, and influential Hollywood person. Around long enough to understand how the movie and TV business works, to know scores of company executives, producers, investors, as well as creatives like himself - other writers, actors, and behind the scene professionals.  

    Around long enough, (and making the assumption that he is not some kind of anti-social savant who only emerges from his office once every two years with his latest script), to be aware of one of Hollywood's most pressing, current, and heavily-discussed industry issues. Namely, the past and ongoing challenges for access, opportunity, and reward that have faced people of color, women of every color, and other less-represented groups. Last year's Oscars brought many of these issues to wider exposure with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and discussion.

    So you would think, or assume, that a Hollywood veteran like Sorkin - experienced, successful, extremely well-known and with a pretty high profile, would have interesting or at least some kind of a view or opinion about Hollywood's ongoing diversity challenges.  You would think he may even have some advice, or a solution to propose. 

    You'd think wrong, apparently.

    According to a report in Variety, and expanded upon in Business Insider,  Sorkin expressed a lack of awareness of the issue, (not a lack of understanding, I am talking simple awareness here), of these issues that was kind of shocking.

    From the Business Insider piece:

    It's really hard to hide from the diversity issue that's plaguing Hollywood, unless apparently you're Aaron Sorkin. 

    The Oscar-winning screenwriter and creator of TV shows like "The West Wing" and "The Newsroom" sounded legitimately shocked when the topic came up while he was onstage at the Writers Guild Festival on Saturday, according to a Variety report of the event.

    While Sorkin looked back on his career and talked about issues of the day with moderator Elvis Mitchell, the topic moved to the need for more diversity in writers' rooms for TV shows. It seemed like Sorkin had genuinely never realized it was an issue in the industry.

    “Are you saying that women and minorities have a more difficult time getting their stuff read than white men and you’re also saying that [white men] get to make mediocre movies and can continue on?” he asked the audience, Variety reported.

    While conversation shifted to other topics, Sorkin still couldn't let go of this new insight.

    “You’re saying that if you are a woman or a person of color, you have to hit it out of the park in order to get another chance?” Sorkin reportedly said.

    Kind of amazing, it seems to me, that an industry vet like Sorkin would have been that unaware or indifferent to an issue which as recently as last year, dominated the discussion surrounding the most important industry event and awards show, a show which Sorkin might even have attended himself.

    But let's assume that was indeed the case, and Sorkin's success over the years, and his position as, well, an older white dude, has kept him pretty insulated from Hollywood's diversity discussion. It's not cool, but it is at least plausible. And if we take these quotes from Sorkin at face value, it seems at least mostly true.

    What do we take away from this, i.e., why should it matter to us and our organizations?

    Because the story reminds us that we can never just assume people with experience, who have been successful in their fields, who are perhaps the leaders in our organization, (and who might, possibly, have a little bit of 'Sorkin' in them), actually are cognizant to the potential diversity and inclusion issues in our companies and in industry more broadly.

    There are probably at least some leaders or influential people (say a hiring manager that hires for a large volume of positions), that might be of the mindset, like Sorkin, for whom these issues are just not a part of their experience and not on their radar as they make people and talent decisions.

    Sure, they may have glanced at your gender and diversity reports on hiring or promotions, but did they really interpret these the way you intended? Are you sure they understand the importance of this issue? Really sure?

    From the Sorkin story we are reminded not to assume the most successful people in the organization are aware of an issue that you think is obvious, that everyone has been talking about, and that you have actually taken proactive steps to address.

    It is probably worth checking on. You might end up as surprised at what you learn, just like our pal Aaron.