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    Entries in work (231)

    Monday
    Jun182018

    A chart, like a picture, says more than words do

    Welcome back to the work week (and try not to skip out on too much of what you need to do this week to watch the World Cup). Actually, can we pass a law that makes the World Cup more convenient to my personal time zone? But enough about that.

    Here's what I wanted to share today, an interesting, quick read from the Washington Post on how much more effective charts are when compared to straight text for making sure your audience clearly understands the underlying data surrounding a particular issue.

    Researchers from Dartmouth College and the University of Exeter recently published some interesting findings, ones that you probably already would have guessed at, around the effectiveness of charts in combating false conclusions or ones that are not supported by the facts.

    To prove this thesis, the researchers took a given issue, say whether or not participants believed that the Earth's temperatures were increasing, and then showed one group a chart containing the relevant climate data, a second group was given a text-only version of the climate data, and a third group was given no additional information at all.

    Here's the chart (naturally), of what the researcher's found happened to the levels of incorrect or non-factual beliefs that were held by each group after seeing the chart, text, or just going with their gut.

     

    I am sure you noted on the chart that the actual groups of people being tested in this experiment were folks who identified as Republican, but for what I took away from the Post piece and the research itself, that is only a footnote. What really matters here is that among folks holding a particular belief, one that seems to be counter-factual, (or even flat out false), you have a much better chance of getting them to embrace the facts (and change their opinions of those facts), by showing them a chart of the relevant data, not a text-only passage. Doing nothing at all, or just shouting at them, is definitely the most ineffective strategy.

    In the experiment above, using the chart of global temperatures drove the percentage of people holding incorrect beliefs down to 10%, a huge improvement from the text-only or 'nothing' strategies. That's the takeaway from this, don't get caught up in the political topics themselves. T

    his strategy can be used for just about anything in the workplace where there are incorrect beliefs, perceptions, or just a person or a group that has dug their heels into the ground over a particular issue and you can't find a way to make them budge.

    That's your assignment for the week - find one opportunity to send your message and make your point in chart form - don't rely on a simple email or a chat message to convince anyone of anything.

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

    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!

    Wednesday
    Jun132018

    A reminder to evaluate the work, not just the person doing the work

    Here's a super interesting story from the art world that I spotted in the New York Times and is titled The Artwork Was Rejected. Then Banksy Put His Name To It.

    The basics of the story, and they seem to be undisputed, are these:

    1. The British Royal Academy puts on an annual Summer Exhibition or Art, and anyone is allowed to submit a piece of art for consideration to be included in the exhibition.

    2. The anonymous, but incredibly famous, artist Banksy submitted a painting, but under a (different) pseudonym - 'Bryan S. Gaakman' - which is an anagram for 'Banksy anagram'.

    3. 'Gaakman's' submission was declined inclusion in the exhibit by the event's judges.

    4. One of the event's judges, contacted Banksy (how one contacts Banksy was not fully explained), to inquire if the famous artist had a submission for the exhibit. This judge did not know that 'Gaakman' was actually Banksy.

    5. Banksy submitted a very slightly altered version of the 'Gaakman' piece to the exhibit - and was accepted for the show. Basically, the same art from 'unknown artist' was declined, but for the famous Banksy it was deemed worthy.

    What can we take away from this little social experiment? Three things at least. 

     

    1. We always consider 'who' did the work along with the work itself, when assessing art, music, or even the weekly project status report. We judge, at least a little, on what this person has done, or what we think they have done, in the past.

    2. Past 'top' or high performers always get a little bit of a break and the benefit of the doubt. It happens in sports, when close calls usually go in favor of star players, and it happens at work, where the 'best' performers get a little bit more room when they turn in average, or even below average work. They have 'earned' a little more wiggle room that newer, or unproven folks. This isn't always a bad thing, but it can lead to bad decisions sometimes.

    3. What we want, as managers, is good, maybe even great 'work'. But what the organization needs is great 'performers'. Great performers don't always do great work, but over time their contributions and results add up to incredible value for the organization. So in order to ensure that the organization can turn great 'work' into great (and sustainable) long-term performance, every once in a while less than great work, turned in by a great performer, needs to get a pass. Take the long view if you know what I mean.

    That's it for me - have a great day!

    Monday
    Jun042018

    If not enough candidates fail your drug screening, maybe the problem is you not them

    While catching up over the weekend on the latest from Willamette (Oregon), Week, (I mean, who doesn't spend at least part of their Sunday catching up on all things Willamette?), I hit this beauty of a headline - Oregon is Running Out of Workers Who Can Pass a Drug Test.

    Since I think from the headline of the piece you probably have an idea where this is going, so I won't bother setting it up too much and just take you to the money quote from our friends in Willamette:

    “One labor issue that continues to crop up is drug testing. At least anecdotally, more firms are reporting trouble finding workers who can pass a drug test,” the economists write.

    Ok, so maybe I should have set up the quote a little. Oregon, like a lot of the rest of the country, is seeing unemployment levels at almost twenty year lows - about 4.0%. That, coupled with Oregon's decriminalization of marijuana for most uses in 2014, and many employer's slow reaction to changing existing and traditional screening practices has led to a bit of a conundrum in the Beaver State - plenty of open jobs, and also plenty of candidates who are 'failing' old-school employment drug screens.

    As the trend/tendency for more and more states to adopt more permissive laws concerning recreational drug use - typically marijuana - I think organizations still conducting pre-employment drug screens and who are facing a shortage of 'acceptable' candidates in these states have three main options as to how to proceed:

    (Note, all of the rest of this assumes jobs/roles that are not directly in public safety domains, i.e. I am not going to advocate that airline pilots for example are not screened for drug use)

    1. Do nothing - What at least some employers in Oregon and elsewhere are doing. Maintain your strict policy of pre-employment drug screening, knowing that in places like Oregon you will effectively screen out more and more candidates as time/social mores evolve. The potential positive? Not everyone is so permissive about recreational drug use, and you might be able to score some points with that crowd - both candidates and customers. "We're the drug-free burger place" - that kind of thing.

    2. Better segment their jobs and screening protocols - Ok in almost every organization there exists some jobs that are more, say, 'sensitive' than others. The payroll manager has access to lots more information (and can do more damage if she chooses), than say, the person who manages the cafeteria. The point is that not all jobs in the organization need to have the same strict pre-employment screening protocols. And chances are you know that, the CEO knows that, everyone knows that. If you are an employer facing 'clean pee' issues, maybe its time to think about how universal your policy needs to be?

    3. Throw in the towel - Or, said differently, let a little bit more of the world in, realize you are recruiting (largely in Oregon), from a candidate pool who considers recreational pot use just fine, (and by the way is also legal). Sure, make or continue to enforce 'on the job' rules of conduct as you see fit, no one is arguing that, but let go of this kind of old-fashioned idea of having a 'drug-free' workforce. Because you know what? You don't have one of those anyway, despite whatever rules or policies you have. Said differently - a drug-free 'workplace' is your right (and the right thing to have), and drug-free 'workforce' is more or less none of your business and is out of your control.

    Organizations usually often are slow in adapting to changes in the world around them. The great Grant McCracken wrote recently that "organizations are great at keeping things out, not so great at letting things in", (I might be paraphrasing a bit, but that is the gist.

    The smart HR/talent leader not only know what is happening out there, they also know how their talent strategies have to adapt. Even in Oregon.

    Have a great week!

    Wednesday
    May302018

    Corporate uniforms and what they say about the workplace

    My airline of choice is Delta, the best airline in the world, (or at least that flies out of my home city), and because of my loyalty to Delta I read with interest a recent piece on Business Insider, 'Delta's 64,000 employees now have new designer uniforms', covering the news that soon Delta's uniformed employees would soon be wearing a new set of uniforms designed by Zac Posen. See below for a pic of the new duds:

    They look pretty sharp, right?

    Seeing the pics of the new Delta uniforms got me to thinking about workplace 'uniforms' more broadly - not necessarily for airline staff or retail workers or any kind of business that actually has an official uniform - but rather the kinds of uniforms or perhaps more accurately, how standards of dress come to be adopted in workplaces and industries where people have a wide set of options about how they dress in the workplace.

    And by that, I'm not talking about 'dress codes', that fun HR topic from the 90s, but rather the more subtle, cultural drivers that lead people to dress in certain ways, what 'looks' are accepted and which are not, and how adaptive and flexible workplaces are to fashion trends and evolution. Thinking about this quickly, (and with the caveat that when I'm not on the road, I work from home, so NBA t-shirts are the 'dress code' most days for me, and that I am largely considering this from a male POV), I think what, how, and when people make certain choices about workplace uniforms break down into the following categories:

    We all wear the same five things- Doesn't matter if your workplace is business, business casual, or casual - everyone's work wardrobes revolve around tiny variations of the same five pieces. If it is business, think gray and navy suits, white or blue shirts, brown shoes, etc. If it is business casual, everyone wears the same khakis, gingham or polo shirts, blue blazer if things are a touch more dressy, and brown/tan loafers. Think what an accounting convention looks like - a sea of middle aged dudes in blue jackets and tan or gray pants. Finally, if the office is totally casual - jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. Stan Smiths or if you are a flush tech company - Yeezys.

    There's a little bit of experimentation, but it helps if the boss signals approval- this kind of workplace is almost the same as the above, but where it differs is how/when new trends are adopted and embraced into the uniforms. A great current example of this is the new'ish trend in men's sneaker fashion - the recent increase in higher-end, expensive, 'dress' sneakers as an alternative to dress shoes in business casual situations and even sometimes worn with a formal suit. The key here is do you as a cog in the machine feel emboldened to be the first person to rock a new trend like this at work, or do you need to spy the CEO wearing a pair of Lanvins before you think it is ok to wear your new pair of Greats to the office?

    Role-based uniforms- pretty straightforward and pretty common. Sales dresses a certain way (what they think will impress prospects), Execs wear nicer, more expensive versions of what Sales wears, back-office staff more or less follows the rules above, and 'technical' folks are left to their own devices - since no one wants to dare offend their delicate sensibilities by trying to place any guidelines or expectations on them. 

    Pretend Steve Jobs- this is more of an individual choice rather than a workplace norm, but it is worth mentioning because some high-powered types like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama became associated with the idea of wearing exactly, or almost the same clothes every single day, as a way to lessen 'decision fatigue.' If you rock the same dad jeans, black turtleneck, and New Balances every day, the thinking goes, you have more mental bandwith for the important things at work. If you have one of these kinds of guys in your workplace, be wary, chances are they are no Steve Jobs, and are just doing the turtleneck thing to make people talk about them.

    No one really cares - probably only really exists in really small organizations, where entire departments consist of one person. If there is only one person in Finance, what he/she wears sets the tone for whoever comes next. And so on across the company. Nothing resembling a uniform code forms in a department until you have at least three people. You need the dynamic of two people being able to sneak off and talk about what the third person is wearing, (behind that person's back) in order for some kind of cultural direction to take form.

    That's it for today, have fun out there in your uniform of choice.

    Note: My pal KD over at the HR Capitalist has promised me an in-depth look at one of the new trends I mentioned above, the 'dress' sneaker, so be on the look out for that.