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Pick Me…Ohh Ohh Pick Me!

March 3, 2010 4 comments

I was not one of those kids who was picked first on the playground nor was I the one who was picked last.  Average performer…story of my life.  I can distinctly recall, though, feeling a pit in my stomach watching those last two kids waiting to be picked – each hoping they wouldn’t be the last.  And then the look of disappointment, rejection, and confidence drain from that last kid.  Tough times on the playground.  But I suppose it’s a good lesson for later in life.  One can’t always be first, and sometimes you’ll be last. 

Opportunities to invite, include, or exclude abound in the workplace.  Whether it’s a conference call, a meeting, a business trip, a lunch, a dinner, or a boondoggle.  Someone is always going to feel left out.  Still happens to me – there’s a meeting going on right now with my executive peers in another city and I wasn’t invited.  That’s cool, though.  I understand why I’m not there and don’t expect someone to justify my absence.  Yes, I’m a big boy now.  None the less, I have some thoughts on inclusion in the workplace.

  • You can’t include every one all the time.  And it is nearly impossible to avoid bruised feelings.
  • Too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the pot and the same applies to too many business people at the conference table.
  • HOWEVER…when in doubt, over-include.
  • If someone is excluded, take the time to debrief them off-line after it’s all over.  That way they won’t feel like the “secret society” continues.
  • If you’re the one excluded, let it go.  If it eventually becomes a habit, talk with your boss (not your peers.) If it continues, start looking for another job.
  • If you’re one of those included and you go out of your way to rub it someone else’s face and flaunt your attendance like you’re something special, get a grip…you’re nothing but an asshole. (My Mom taught me never to talk with other people about parties you were invited to unless those people tell you specifically that they were invited too).

The more I think about it, there are a lot of things we could learn from our days on the playground that would help us in the workplace.  As it relates to inclusion, just try to be a bit more thoughtful about it.

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Hey Boss, I Gotta List for You…

December 29, 2009 4 comments

I’ve had it with new year’s resolutions.  I’m more into taking it one day at a time and focusing only on those things that I can control.  I suck at that, but I’m trying.  I’ve had a rough end of the year at work.  Nothing major, just a confluence of things amounting to a big load of crap.  My boss has something to do with that.  I got into it with him on Christmas Eve, lost my temper, blah blah blah.  I’ll take some blame, for sure.  But I decided that in the spirit of providing multi-dimensional feedback, I would put together a list of new year’s resolutions for him.  My life – and that of my peers – would be more pleasurable if my boss resolved to do the following in 2010.

CENSORED*

Hey, that was kind of cathartic.  I have more, but I’ll leave it at that for now.  All in all I really like my boss – there is much more positive about him than negative and he’s an easy target.  But the aforementioned kills me…and sometimes pushes me right to the edge.  Maybe some of these things would be on your list of resolutions for your boss too.   Give it a shot…share some of your own…don’t worry, I won’t tell…

*After several days of stewing, I thought it best to remove the actual list

I Say the Resume Tsunami is Nothing More Than a Drop in the Bucket

December 14, 2009 2 comments

I’m a Deloitte alum and usually pay attention to what comes out of their Human Capital group.  Rarely is it directionally unsound, but often it contains a bit too much of the “No Duh Factor.”  Recently they undertook a study that resulted in some thinking on managing in turbulent times.  One of their stances was “Heading off a Resume Tsunami” .  Their argument was that some time in the near future – as the market turns – the best and brightest will be aggressive about finding new digs.  The related warning is that if you don’t take care of your talent during this terribly precarious time, you are likely to lose them when the time is ripe.  Deloitte isn’t the only group making this argument – many of those soaring in the blogosphere have said as much.  Do you know what I say to that?  “Bovine Crap!”  Here’s what I think:

  1. The workforce gets treated poorly all the time and on average only 1 in 5 people regularly leaves to find “something better.” 
  2. Just because the economy gets better and jobs start opening up doesn’t mean the high-performer (or Average Joe for that matter) will have the first order of business to jump ship.  Do you think the smart ones will really think things are better on the other side?  “The Devil You Know” often prevails.
  3. Good people have options ALL THE TIME.  They are free agents – there is no guarantee they are coming back the next day…ever.  If they really had plans to leave, they’d already be gone.
  4. Our company’s voluntary turnover rate has been on a steady decline since August – that while the market has already supposedly turned.  And our company is going through a lot of crap right now…a lot of crap!  We’re part of a broader industry that has not been hurt as much by this downturn – there are options.  Why would one wait until the crap is over to leave…why not leave while things are crappy?
  5. Surviving a trauma together builds commitment.  Those companies that have had it rough over the last two years – and that’s most companies – will have shared an experience with those people who elect to stay through it.  The last thing someone is going to want after clearing the wreck is to go into another period of ambiguity, anxiety, and uncertainty with a new employer.  Masochism is not a crucial element to most people’s career objectives. 
  6. I hypothesize that the workforce, in general, is becoming much more tolerant of  an employer’s shortcomings.  This period of economic strife has proven to those who are lucky enough to have a job that it really ain’t all that bad.  I think there is a new wave of employee engagement coming and it goes something like “thank you sir, may I have another.”

Call me naive, overly optimistic, or just plain old blind; but I don’t see it guys.  We’re all going to be happy when this is over and those of us who are smart are going to realize there are very few (other) employers out there that can actually make us happier.  And HR, this is no different than any other time – treat your people like people and the rest will take care of itself.

While you’re at it, what’s happening with voluntary turnover at your company?  Take a poll: http://polls.linkedin.com/p/70299/idugl

Postscript UPDATE: A Gallup Management Journal study released on 1/4/2009 concluded that “Despite the Downturn, Employees Remain Engaged” and saw very little shift in engagement measures over these tumultuous 12-18 months.