The week@work – the war for talent, following vs. leading, exhaustion, and maybe we should ask a sociologist

The last state to approve the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was Indiana in 1977 – until Thursday when Nevada ratified the ERA, thirty-five years after the deadline imposed by Congress. It was a welcome antidote to the White House photo of the freedom caucus taken the same day (above). Any odds on an extension to revisit and ratify?

“Nevada has given NOW President Terry O’Neill new cause for hope. “Now it’s a two-state strategy,” she tells the Times. “It’s very exciting. Over the past five years, Illinois and Virginia have come close. I think there is clear interest in this.

In other stories this week@work, journalists and experts provided an update on the ‘war for talent’, offered an argument for balancing followers with leaders in the workplace, and expressed concern with a ‘gig economy’ advertising campaign that seemed to glorify exhaustion@work.  The last story this week@work re-examined an idea from the 60’s to establish a Council of Social Advisers to complement the Council of Economic Advisers in D.C. “It’s not just work; it’s how work offers a sense of purpose and identity.”

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Adam Yearsley believe ‘The War for Talent Is Over, And Everyone Lost’. They cite workplace trends indicating more passive job seekers, the appeal of self-employment and the lure of entrepreneurship as competitive factors for employers to attract the best and the brightest, and offer a few best practices to turn things around.

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“In 1998, after a year-long study on the subject, McKinsey researchers declared that a “war for talent” was underway. In the years ahead, they said, organizations’ future success would depend on how well they could attract, develop, and retain talented employees–an ever more valuable asset in ever higher demand.

Instead of winning a war for talent, organizations appear to be waging a war on talent, repelling and alienating employees more successfully than harnessing their skills.

Today, in a world full of many more Chief People and Chief Happiness Officers, that war nevertheless appears to have been lost on all sides. Of course, many workers excel in their jobs and make pivotal contributions to their organizations. But for every one employee who does, there are many more who are underemployed, underperforming, and just plain miserable at work.”

One of the employer prescriptions for success is to “stop developing people’s leadership skills”.

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“…research suggests there’s a strong negative correlation between the amount of money spent on leadership development (which in the U.S. totals over $14 billion a year), and people’s confidence in their leaders. One of the reasons is that leaders are often deprived of negative feedback, even in training programs. We’ve gotten so used to coaching to people’s strengths that weaknesses get left unaddressed. The basics of human psychology magnify that issue; people are already prone to judging their own talents way too favorably, especially after experiencing a measure of success.”

Which links neatly into the next story of the week@work, Susan Cain‘s ‘Not Leadership Material? Good.The World Needs Followers.’

“Perhaps the biggest disservice done by the outsize glorification of “leadership skills” is to the practice of leadership itself — it hollows it out, it empties it of meaning. It attracts those who are motivated by the spotlight rather than by the ideas and people they serve. It teaches students to be a leader for the sake of being in charge, rather than in the name of a cause or idea they care about deeply. The difference between the two states of mind is profound. The latter belongs to transformative leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi; the former to — well, we’ve all seen examples of this kind of leadership lately.”

Jia Tolentino used Fiverr’s new ad campaign to illustrate ‘The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself To Death’.

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“It does require a fairly dystopian strain of doublethink for a company to celebrate how hard and how constantly its employees must work to make a living, given that these companies are themselves setting the terms. And yet this type of faux-inspirational tale has been appearing more lately, both in corporate advertising and in the news. Fiverr, an online freelance marketplace that promotes itself as being for “the lean entrepreneur”—as its name suggests, services advertised on Fiverr can be purchased for as low as five dollars—recently attracted ire for an ad campaign called “In Doers We Trust.” One ad, prominently displayed on some New York City subway cars, features a woman staring at the camera with a look of blank determination. “You eat a coffee for lunch,” the ad proclaims. “You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”

A Fiverr press release about “In Doers We Trust” states, “The campaign positions Fiverr to seize today’s emerging zeitgeist of entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with less. It pushes against bureaucratic overthinking, analysis-paralysis, and excessive whiteboarding.” This is the jargon through which the essentially cannibalistic nature of the gig economy is dressed up as an aesthetic.”

Maybe we need a few less economists and a few more humanists to address our life@work

There was a lot of discussion in the media this weekend in the wake of the health care bill defeat. What are the lessons learned? We might ask the same question about the November election result, only this time maybe we should be consulting with sociologists vs. economists. Neil Irwin asked “What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists?”.

“For starters, while economists tend to view a job as a straightforward exchange of labor for money, a wide body of sociological research shows how tied up work is with a sense of purpose and identity.

“Wages are very important because of course they help people live and provide for their families,” said Herbert Gans, an emeritus professor of sociology at Columbia. “But what social values can do is say that unemployment isn’t just losing wages, it’s losing dignity and self-respect and a feeling of usefulness and all the things that make human beings happy and able to function.

…the economic nostalgia that fueled Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign was not so much about the loss of income from vanishing manufacturing jobs. Rather, it may be that the industrial economy offered blue-collar men a sense of identity and purpose that the modern service economy doesn’t.”

At the beginning of this new week@work consider where work fits in your sense of identity and purpose. It’s not just work.

 

The week@work: innovative companies, Mark Zuckerberg’s global community, famous writers attend a security conference, and a design idea for a friendlier office

This week@work Fast Company announced the ‘World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies’ and Mark Zuckerberg shared a template for the future of Facebook – ‘Building Global Community’. In a first, the Munich Security Conference included literary panels on their agenda. And, we found a simple ‘office design hack’ to encourage communication.

Amazon was named #1 on the 2017 Fast Company ranking of the world’s most innovative companies “for offering even more, even faster and smarter”. Noah Robischon reported on Jeff Bezos’ ever-accelerating world of ‘continuous evolution’.

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“Unlike Apple, Google, and Microsoft, Amazon is not fixated on a tightly designed ecosystem of interlocking apps and services. Bezos instead emphasizes platforms that each serves its own customers in the best and fastest possible way. “Our customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service,” he says. “And I love that. It’s super-motivating for us.” That impulse has spawned an awesome stream of creative firsts…

Bezos’s strategy of continuous evolution has allowed the company to experiment in adjacent areas—and then build them into franchises. The website that once sold only books now lets anyone set up a storefront and sell just about anything. The warehouse and logistics capabilities that Amazon built to sort, pack, and ship those books are available, for a price, to any seller. Amazon Web Services, which grew out of the company’s own e-commerce infrastructure needs, has become a $13 billion business that not only powers the likes of Airbnb and Netflix, but stores your Kindle e-book library and makes it possible for Alexa to tell you whether or not you’ll need an umbrella today.”

On Thursday Facebook CEO and Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg set out his vision for his company in a 5,000 word post on Facebook.

“On our journey to connect the world, we often discuss products we’re building and updates on our business. Today I want to focus on the most important question of all: are we building the world we all want?”

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Josh Constine reported on the ‘evolution’ of Facebook’s strategy.

“Mark Zuckerberg never saw Facebook as just a business, and so never accepted his role as just a businessman. 

Five years ago, in Zuckerberg’s pre-IPO letter to Facebook investors, he wrote, “There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future.”

Now with Facebook reaching 1.86 billion users and building technology to expand internet access everywhere, his constituency exceeds that of any nation. He’s made monumental strides toward steps 1 and 2.

Today, Zuckerberg offers a vision and rallying call for working toward step 3 — to “develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”

Not everyone is sipping the magic elixir. From ‘across the pond’, Carole Cadwalladr shared her opinion for The Guardian.

“But here’s another response: where does that power end? Who holds it to account? What are the limits on it? Because the answer is there are none. Facebook’s power and dominance, its knowledge of every aspect of its users’ intimate lives, its ability to manipulate their – our – world view, its limitless ability to generate cash, is already beyond the reach of any government.

Because what Zuckerberg’s letter to the world shows is that he’s making a considered, personal attempt to answer… the wrong question. He is wrestling with the question of how Facebook can change the world. Whereas the question is: do we actually want Facebook to change the world? Do we want any corporation to have so much unchecked power?”

The annual Munich Security Conference included a literature panel, ‘The Cassandra Syndrome’. Madhvi Ramani considered the significance, asking the question, “Why are famous writers attending the world’s most important security conference?”

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“With the rise of illiberalism, post-truth politics, and transatlantic uncertainty, the very pillars of the West are being shaken. In times of turmoil, people often look to literature for illumination.

Like Cassandra, who warned of disaster during the Trojan War, writers often take a longer view of issues. They are uniquely placed to examine and critique society from a removed perspective—as Don DeLillo once said, “The writer is the person who stands outside society, independent of affiliation and independent of influence.” All three writers involved in the MSC talks are known for their incisive, often critical, engagement with the politics, history, and cultures of their milieus.

Literature can help untangle the complexities of people’s lives and emotions and, as studies have shown, foster empathy: books are a key ingredient in an open, pluralistic, democratic society.”

Cari Romm shared the results of recent research from designer Daniel Krivens ‘The Design Hack That Makes for Friendlier Offices’ – eliminate “elevation segregation” by resetting the seating to ‘bar level’.

“…so many workplaces are designed to be a divided plane between those sitting, standing, and walking. When someone is sitting down, they are roughly 12 inches below the eye height of someone walking by—and this elevation segregation means everything to workplace productivity and conviviality.

What it means, essentially, is the difference between intentionally seeking someone out for a chat and just happening to fall into conversation.”

Finally this week@work, @YosemiteNPS, the annual phenomenon of ‘firefall’ as sunset reflects on the national park’s Horsetail Falls.

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Photo Credits: Amazon drone photo/Amazon, MSC photo of author David Grossman  MSC/Koch, Yosemite firefall/ NPS Yosemite

The week@work – Davos, transition, transferable skills and a ‘profundo’ life

 

The headline of the week@work did not originate in Washington D.C., but in Davos, Switzerland: ‘Davos Elite Fret About Inequality Over Vintage Wine and Canapés’. “…globalization has reduced the bargaining power of workers, and corporations have taken advantage of it.”

In other news – January is often a month of transition, not just in government, but across all fields. Articles this week@work explored the value of being fired and finding the right ‘fit’ next time. Physicists are the new software engineers in Silicon Valley and PhDs just may be the newest entrepreneurs.

Finally, this week@work we remember Kevin Starr, who went to work every day as a historian chronicling the past of his home state, California. “I’ve always tried to write California history as American history.”

4096.jpgPeter S. Goodman covered the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum for The New York Times.

“What is striking is what generally is not discussed: bolstering the power of workers to bargain for better wages and redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom.

“That agenda is anathema to a lot of Davos men and women,” said Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate economist and author of numerous books on globalization and economic inequality. “More rights to bargain for workers, that’s the part where Davos man is going to get stuck. The stark reality is that globalization has reduced the bargaining power of workers, and corporations have taken advantage of it. ”

That perhaps private equity overseers should not be paid 1,000 times as much as teachers while availing themselves of tax breaks is thinking that gets little airing here.”

1e97282770fb153b749b691b25832c03.jpgFor those of us not networking with the super elite in the Swiss Alps, Julie Ma compiled a sampling of quotes from ’25 Famous Women on How Getting Fired Makes You Stronger’.

“If you don’t get fired at least once, you’re not trying hard enough. This isn’t quite true yet, but it is becoming truer. As the pace of change in business increases, the chances of having a placid career are receding. And if in this period of rapid change, you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances.” Sallie Krawcheck, chair Ellevate

“Is it hard to say I was fired? No. I’ve said it about 20 times, and it’s not. I was in fact insistent that that be publicly clear because I was not ashamed of that. And I don’t think young women — it’s hard, I know — they should not feel stigmatized if they are fired. Especially in this economy people are fired right and left for arbitrary reasons, and there are sometimes forces beyond your control.”
Jill Abramson, author and faculty @Harvard

IMG_8148.jpgMost folks leave their life @work because of the ‘human factor’: colleagues, leadership and values. Sharon Daniels offered advice to those starting the job search.

“If you have passion and enthusiasm, you’re on your way. People want to be around people who have passion and enthusiasm, because we all gravitate toward something greater than ourselves. If you do something wholeheartedly versus halfheartedly, it’s going to have a completely different effect.”

Cade Metz reported on how transferable skills are changing the profile of some tech workers, ‘Move Over, Coders—Physicists Will Soon Rule Silicon Valley’.

“If physics and software engineering were subatomic particles, Silicon Valley has turned into the place where the fields collide…It’s not on purpose, exactly. “We didn’t go into the physics kindergarten and steal a basket of children,” says Stripe president and co-founder John Collison. “It just happened.” And it’s happening across Silicon Valley. Because structurally and technologically, the things that just about every internet company needs to do are more and more suited to the skill set of a physicist.”

Ainsley O’Connell described another experiment in skill transference, ‘Can Entrepreneurship Revive The Troubled PhD?’

“PhD students once dreamed of lifelong tenure, generous sabbaticals, and a closet full of jackets with elbow patches. Academic life, with its dusty-booked charm, ruled the day. No longer. Even in STEM fields, roughly 40% of PhDs are graduating without employment commitments. Could the solution be teaching postdocs to create their own jobs, as entrepreneurs?

In the heart of Manhattan, in a set of conference rooms on loan from Google, one radical experiment in postdoc entrepreneurship is now entering its fourth year. Called “Runway” and managed by Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, the program bills itself as “part business school, part research institution, part startup incubator.” Since its founding, Runway postdocs have founded 13 companies, from an intelligent baby monitor to an urban planning analytics platform, and collectively raised $15 million in funding.”

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Finally, this week@work, we remember Kevin Starr, former California State Librarian, professor and author of an eight-volume history of his home state ‘Americans and the California Dream’.

Colleague William Deverell remembered the historian and author as ‘A Golden State Champion’.

“I knew Kevin Starr only as profundo. He was big, his voice was big, his persona was big, his books are big, his ideas are big, his influence is big. Some, and only some, of this has now been silenced by his death Saturday. Kevin’s outsize impact and his sheer significance to both our regional and our national culture, will continue long hence. Death has robbed us of the most important guide we have ever had to our state’s history and culture, our ingenious interpreter of the elusive and many meanings of the California Dream over several centuries.”

 

 

 

 

Should I accept an offer with an organization embroiled in controversy?

Imagine a scenario where you are nearing the end of the candidate selection process for your dream job, and news breaks that the organization is under federal investigation. What do you do?

A post on the Fast Company website last week, ‘How To Hire When Your Company Is Embroiled in Controversy’, summarized expert advice to organizations who continue to recruit new employees while managing a crisis.

Veteran recruiter, Dave Carvahal was quoted in the piece, offering recruitment advice – “Be honest about where you actually are, the problems that exist, and the media attention amplification,” he says. Recruiting is about human relationships, Carvajal explains, pointing out that hiring managers shouldn’t be afraid to be vulnerable. “Emotions can be powerful allies in lifting our common humanity,” says Carvajal. “They build trust.”

Reality check – organizations who are being investigated by the Feds, or who are facing bankruptcy inducing lawsuits are probably not the most forthcoming with the truth. You cannot ‘spin’ fraud.

Recruiting is about relationships, ethical relationships. Working for a company in crisis may be a platform for a ‘budding’ leader to achieve visibility, but it’s no place to embark on a new career.

Reading the story was a ‘deja vu’ moment for me, reminiscent of 2002.

In January 2002, Arthur Andersen, then one of the ‘big five’ accounting firms found itself being investigated because of irregularities in its relationship with Enron. As congress grilled company executives, corporate recruiters continued to aggressively woo potential hires to accept offers. Candidates who had been initially attracted to the values of the organization began to question their decision. For most, the recruiting season was over. They had committed to Andersen and declined alternate offers.

Three months later, in April of 2002, Arthur Andersen laid off 7,000 employees. Soon after they began to recind offers to new employees. The folks who had been actively recruiting on college campuses had been simultaneously updating their own resumes.

My advice then, and today, if you find your dream employer had transitioned into public nightmare, withdraw yourself from consideration. This is not negotiable. Whatever perception you had of a cultural ‘fit’ has been disrupted by negative publicity. Your reputation is your brand.

If there’s ever a time to let common sense be your guide, it’s when your career trajectory collides with ‘above the fold’ news. Mobilize your networking resources to assist as you recalibrate your strategy.

Once you have declined the offer, reconnect with the organizations that had previously demonstrated an interest in hiring you, and reestablish the relationship. Be candid about what has triggered your change of heart. If it’s in the news, your alternate employers will be well aware of your motivation.

Job search is about long term relationship management. From your first internship to retirement, maintaining and nurturing your professional contacts is a priority for long term success, and overcoming the challenges posed by the rare, ‘questionable’ employer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week@work – An astronaut in Greenland, a McDonald’s worker in Edinburgh, Facebook’s identity crisis, and how to design a happier life

This week@work, a former astronaut and climate scientist, and a McDonald’s employee in Edinburgh challenged expectations and stereotypes, journalists questioned Facebook’s content algorithm, and a leading happiness scholar shared his formula.

In January, Piers J. Sellers, Deputy Director of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate and Acting Director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA/GSFC wrote an opinion for The New York Times Sunday Review, ‘Cancer and Climate Change’.

“I’m a climate scientist who has just been told I have Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

This diagnosis puts me in an interesting position. I’ve spent much of my professional life thinking about the science of climate change, which is best viewed through a multidecadal lens. At some level I was sure that, even at my present age of 60, I would live to see the most critical part of the problem, and its possible solutions, play out in my lifetime. Now that my personal horizon has been steeply foreshortened, I was forced to decide how to spend my remaining time. Was continuing to think about climate change worth the bother?

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Journalist and author, Jon Gertner continued the story this week with ‘An Astronaut Finds Himself in Greenland’ for The New Yorker.

“Piers Sellers landed in Greenland on a frigid Monday morning in April, and as he stepped off the plane at Thule Air Base he regarded the surrounding snow-covered hills with delight…Sellers was visiting the country for the first time. “I didn’t even see this from space, since the farthest north the shuttle goes is fifty-one degrees latitude,” he said. “We’re at seventy-six degrees now, right? Fantastic.” Sellers’s plan was to rendezvous with NASA researchers at Thule (pronounced “TOO-lee”) and accompany them on Operation IceBridge, an annual mission to collect data on the diminishing ice in the Arctic Ocean and on the Greenland ice sheet. “These guys at IceBridge are always saying, ‘Oh, you should come along, see where the rubber meets the road,’ and I say that I’m too busy, with too much piled on my desk,” Sellers explained. “But, given my current situation, of all the things that we’re doing in the field, this one is probably the most critical right now.”

After the diagnosis, he briefly considered living his final year or so—assuming his doctors’ expectations prove correct—as a rich man might, in a tropical, hedonistic splurge. “I thought of myself sitting for weeks on a beach,” he said. “What would I do? I’d be thinking about climate.”

So Sellers went back to his desk job at Goddard, where he oversees the work of about sixteen hundred people, and considered how he could fit a few modest adventures between his office duties and chemotherapy sessions. Soon it occurred to him to go to the Arctic, which is warming faster than any other part of the world.

The second story this week comes via Mashable and writer Davina Merchant‘s coverage of the Facebook post of McDonald’s employee, Mike Waite. Bravo for debunking stereotypes!

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“Today I have had enough of the judgemental criticism. Let me be clear. YES I work at Mcdonalds and do it nearly 50 hours a week. Why? Not because I have no aspiration, motivation or intelligence…but for the opposite…because in a few months time like a great number of people I work with I will be going back into higher education. McDonalds has this reputation which is quite unfounded in the recent age, every person I work with has a story and every person is working their ass off in what can be a very tough job for their own reasons…be it they are in school, uni, have family, have kids, saving…etc. The one thing McDonalds is is a job which is extremely (extremely) flexible, has opportunities for growth and can allow you to do what you want to do. There are people becoming pilots, lawyers, designers, architects, and people who are at a point in their life that they will do whatever it takes to look after their family. I work with people I would aspire to be like, who have strengths in areas I wish I had, who have overcome situations I never could and who have the determination to not fade away on handouts but rather step up and work for their living unlike a huge number of people in this country. In the past I have known and worked with very rich folks in very high end jobs, and a few of them could never match the resilience and work ethic of some of the current lads/lassies. After the ending of a big part of my life McD’s is not only letting me save up for University, but setting me up with flexible work I can continue over the next years to come. Not only that but I intend on eventually progressing into the management side of things, something which ties in directly to my degree and will enhance my future job prospects.”

Beyond brilliant posts to its site, Facebook was in the news this week when Gizmodo reported that content on the platform was being ‘subjectively’ curated.

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David Uberti reported ‘Facebook wants you to think it’s just a platform. It’s not.’ for the Columbia Journalism Review.

“As prominently argued by Emily Bell, director of Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Facebook is increasingly shaping the contours of the public square, and citizens and news organizations have little choice but to go along for the ride. The power shift raises the all-important question of how information travels in free societies—and what we know about it.

“This is an unregulated field. There is no transparency into the internal working of these systems,” Bell said in a University of Cambridge speech earlier this year. “We are handing the controls of important parts of our public and private lives to a very small number of people, who are unelected and unaccountable.”

News organizations once had a more central role in setting the terms of public debate, balancing money-making aspects of publishing with more civically minded accountability journalism. They also generally followed widely accepted journalistic standards. Social networks have assumed much of the same power, Bell and others have argued, though they typically use more opaque processes and have a greater focus on those profitable slices of publishing. That’s not to say this new construct is necessarily worse, but it is foreign. And Facebook has little incentive to open up about its methodology.”

Fast Company’s Elizabeth Segran introduced us to London School of Economics professor and happiness scholar, Paul Dolan in ‘How To Intentionally Design A Happier Life’.

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“After decades of studying happiness, Dolan has developed a happiness formula. He says that happy people pay attention to the everyday experiences that give them pleasure and purpose, then organize their lives so that they are doing more of those things. It sounds obvious, right? Sure, but the problem is that we spend so much of our lives on autopilot instead of consciously focusing on doing things that make us happy. “We are creatures of habit and we automate processes very quickly,” Dolan says. “We do a lot of what we do because we’ve always done it, not because it is good for us or because we enjoy it.” The good news, however, is that Dolan offers two tangible ways for us create more happy moments in our lives. The first is creating a mental habit of paying attention to what makes us happy and the second is designing our lives so it is easier to do those things.”

Two additional stories of interest this week@work:

‘It’s a Tough Job Market for the Young Without College Degrees’  by Patricia Cohen for The New York Times

“Only 10 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds have a college or advanced degree, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute, although many more of them will eventually graduate.

And for young high school graduates, the unemployment rate is disturbingly high: 17.8 percent. Add in those who are underemployed, either because they would like a full-time job but can only find part-time work, or they are so discouraged that they’ve given up actively searching, and the share jumps to more than 33 percent.”

‘The Miserable French Workplace’ by Pamela Druckerman opinion for The New York Times

“While many other European countries have revamped their workplace rules, France has barely budged. The new labor bill — weakened after long negotiations — wouldn’t alter the bifurcated system, in which workers either get a permanent contract called a “contrat à durée indéterminée,” known as a C.D.I., or a short-term contract that can be renewed only once or twice. Almost all new jobs have the latter.

(French workers) believe that a job is a basic right — guaranteed in the preamble to their Constitution — and that making it easier to fire people is an affront to that. Without a C.D.I., you’re considered naked before the indifferent forces of capitalism.

No matter what the government does, the workplace is becoming less secure.”

To close this week@work, let’s return to Piers Sellers’ January 2016 NYT opinion piece.

“As for me, I’ve no complaints. I’m very grateful for the experiences I’ve had on this planet. As an astronaut I spacewalked 220 miles above the Earth. Floating alongside the International Space Station, I watched hurricanes cartwheel across oceans, the Amazon snake its way to the sea through a brilliant green carpet of forest, and gigantic nighttime thunderstorms flash and flare for hundreds of miles along the Equator. From this God’s-eye-view, I saw how fragile and infinitely precious the Earth is. I’m hopeful for its future.

And so, I’m going to work tomorrow.”

The week@work: team spirit, setting boundaries@work, getting fired, & the first day of spring

This week@work we review articles on the effectiveness of teams, the risk of not setting boundaries @work, why getting fired isn’t always a bad thing, and a sign of spring.

Organizations are employing cross functional teams to solve a variety of business problems. The Economist explored new research on the effectiveness of teams.

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“Leigh Thompson of Kellogg School of Management in Illinois warns that, “Teams are not always the answer—teams may provide insight, creativity and knowledge in a way that a person working independently cannot; but teamwork may also lead to confusion, delay and poor decision-making.”

Profound changes in the workforce are making teams trickier to manage. Teams work best if their members have a strong common culture.

…the most successful teams have leaders who set an overall direction and clamp down on dithering and waffle. They need to keep teams small and focused: giving in to pressure to be more “inclusive” is a guarantee of dysfunction. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s boss, says that “If I see more than two pizzas for lunch, the team is too big.”

…organisations need to learn something bigger than how to manage teams better: they need to be in the habit of asking themselves whether teams are the best tools for the job…Even in the age of open-plan offices and social networks some work is best left to the individual.”

Travis Bradberry lists ‘6 Things You Don’t Owe Your Boss’. Research at Northern Illinois University found that ‘telepressure’, the stress resulting from constant connection to work, negatively impacts health and cognitive performance.

 

“We need to establish boundaries between our personal and professional lives. When we don’t, our work, our health, and our personal lives suffer.

You need to make the critical distinction between what belongs to your employer and what belongs to you and you only. The items that follow are yours (health, family, sanity, identity, contacts & integrity). If you don’t set boundaries around them and learn to say no to your boss, you’re giving away something with immeasurable value.”

What if we replaced ‘getting fired’ with ‘moving on’ to describe separating from work? That’s just one of the strategies surveyed by Vivian Giang in ‘Why We Need To Stop Thinking Of Getting Fired As A Bad Thing’.

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“…if we want to change the way we think about someone leaving a company, we need to change the way we think about work. In the book, The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, along with coauthors Chris Yeh and Ben Casnocha, say relationships between employers and employees should be viewed as an alliance where employers are upfront and honest with new hires about their “tour of duty,” and how long each mission will take. That way, it takes away the unrealistic expectation that either, or both, parties can have about the relationship being lifelong, where nothing ever changes.

…the alliance says there are two independent parties that are coming together around certain mutual goals,” says Yeh. “They are going to be very specific about how they work together, really spelling this out and managing expectations, so they’re able to be more honest with each other and build a greater sense of trust.”

That way, employers and employees have a clear sense of what they’re trying to get out of the other party from the beginning. Employees know their mission, and how it will benefit the company and their own career. Employers are able to admit—and be okay with—the knowledge that their employees won’t be there forever.”

The world of work is changing. We talk about the ‘gig economy’ as something new, when the idea of contract employment has been the norm in many industries. Consider a theater or film project. Each professional brings a specific expertise to create magic. Each individual an entrepreneur, each worker an owner; managing the totality of their career, with a mosaic of assignments.

It’s the first day of spring. If you are traveling to Washington D.C. this week, you will arrive in time for the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms. Cherry-Blossoms-Washington-DC-March-18-2016-07-678x453.jpg

“Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.”

The week@work – leadership, lawyers, student loans & the economy

What makes a great leader or a great lawyer? What’s the best strategy to retire student debt? This week@work surveys articles that provide some answers, and as the economy continues to strengthen, offers some practical advice on career advancement.

Joshua Rothman wrote ‘Shut Up and Sit Down: Why the leadership industry rules’ for The New Yorker. He gives us a quick tutorial on the history of leadership, why we value the concept, but are so often disappointed in the people. He alludes to the current presidential contest, and then focuses on change in both our expectations of leaders, and the roles they play in contemporary organizations.Print

“In recent years, technological and economic changes like social media and globalization have made leaders less powerful.

Leaders used to be titanic and individual; now they’re faceless guiders of processes. Once, only the people in charge could lead; now anyone can lead “emergently.” The focus has shifted from the small number of people who have been designated as leaders to the background systems that produce and select leaders in the first place.

Leaders, moreover, used to command; now they suggest. Conceptually, at least, leadership and power have been decoupled.

To some extent, leaders are storytellers; really, though, they are characters in stories. They play leading roles, but in dramas they can’t predict and don’t always understand. Because the serialized drama of history is bigger than any one character’s arc, leaders can’t guarantee our ultimate narrative satisfaction. Because events, on the whole, are more protean than people, leaders grow less satisfying with time, as the stories they’re ready to tell diverge from the stories we want to hear. And, because our desire for a coherent vision of the world is bottomless, our hunger for leadership is insatiable, too. Leaders make the world more sensible, but never sensible enough.”

The New York Times profiled two women who chose law as their profession and took divergent, pioneering paths to achieve success. What makes a good lawyer? Meet Kimberley Chongyong Motley and Damaris Hernandez.

David Jolly profiled Ms. Motley, who has been practicing her profession in Afghanistan for close to eight years and was recently the subject of an award winning documentary, ‘Motley’s Law’.

image.adapt.990.high.kimberley_motley_05feb2016_portrait.1454770287607“Ms. Motley, 40, a Marquette University Law School graduate, had never before traveled overseas when she enrolled in a Justice Department program to train Afghan lawyers and flew to one of the world’s more dangerous places.

After her nine-month assignment, she did not return home to Milwaukee, instead hanging out her own shingle in Kabul. She studied Shariah, the Islamic code that lies beneath the fragile new Afghan Constitution, and she established herself as the only foreign litigator in one of the world’s most conservative and male-dominated cultures.

Ms. Motley says she makes a point of closely studying the cultures of both Afghanistan and the courtroom. “I’m a sort of legal archaeologist,” she said. “I try to uncover laws that have not been used, and then use them for the benefit of my clients.”

Damaris Hernandez was recently promoted to partner at the firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, becoming the first Latina to reach that position. Elizabeth Olson tells her story as a first generation college student, who advanced in her career with the support of a unique scholarship at NYU.

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That achievement is an acknowledgment of her talent and hard work. But the story of her route to the top also reveals how much more complex the journey is for minorities and women than for the white men who overwhelmingly dominate the firms. Skill is only one of the keys. Being able to navigate unspoken rules is at least as important.

“When I was the only one of color or the only woman in the room, I had the confidence to believe in my ability,” said Ms. Hernández, 36, describing the advantages of the program to her. “When you are the first, you need someone to have your back.”

Over the last decade and a half, she and 100 others who attended the New York University School of Law received that support from a scholarship program that paid their full tuition and also gave them access to a network of luminaries including federal judges, law firm partners and even Supreme Court justices.”

If you are seeking ways to reduce your student loan obligation, NPR’s Yuki Noguchi offers ‘Strategies For When You’re Starting Out Saddled With Student Debt’. It’s not just about individual liability, but also the long term impact on career choice and economic growth.

“Experts say studies show rising student debt is limiting peoples’ career options. They decide against graduate school. Or feel they can’t afford lower-paying public service jobs or the risk of starting a new business. That’s a problem, because new companies create new jobs.”

University Park campus of the University of Southern California

This past week the University of  Southern California announced a tuition increase that will bring the annual bill to over $51,000. Financing college involves loans as part of the  package. Having a repayment strategy is critical to long term career success.

“Chris Costello, CEO of Blooom, a personal finance advice firm targeting lower-net-worth people, advises his firm’s clients to tackle student debt with this strategy.

First, if your employer matches contributions to a retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), max out on the matching contributions.

After maxing out on the matching contributions, pay off the debt with the lowest balance.

Check to see if you can qualify for loan forgiveness, refinancing or debt consolidation.

Do not incur new debts: in other words, live below your means.”

Chico Harlan of The Washington Post reported on the latest figures released by the U.S. Labor Department on Friday.

“U.S. employers continued their rapid hiring in February, new government data showed Friday, a sign of the nation’s economic durability during a tumultuous global slowdown.

The U.S. added 242,000 jobs as the unemployment rate held at 4.9 percent, the lowest mark during the seven-year recovery from the Great Recession.

That pace, consistent with gains over the last year, indicates Americans are returning rapidly to the labor force, helped by steady consumer spending that is bolstering demand and prompting employers to expand their workforces. In data released Friday by the Department of Labor, sluggish wages provided the only disappointing note — a signal that labor market still has room to improve.”

Two other articles of interest this week:

’15 things successful 20-somethings do in their spare time’ by Jacquelyn Smith and Rachel Gillett for Business Insider

‘How to Advance In Your Career Without Becoming A Workaholic’ by Lisa Evans for Fast Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week@work – Super Bowl@50, Facebook@12 and unemployment@4.9%

This week@work the center of the media universe shifted from Iowa to New Hampshire, and Silicon Valley where, separated by about 12 miles on Highway 101, Levi Stadium in Santa Clara will host the 50th Super Bowl game, and Facebook celebrated it’s twelfth birthday at corporate HQ in Menlo Park. And, in the U.S. the unemployment rate dropped to 4.9%, the lowest since 2008.

In the lead up to the big game there were hundreds of stories about those who choose football as a career, from the high school senior announcing a college choice to the veteran player rewarded with membership in the Football Hall of Fame.

The typical NFL player takes their first step in their career at the annual February ritual, ‘National Signing Day’. It’s the day high school football players sign a ‘Letter of Intent’ to accept an offer of admission and commit to play football at the collegiate level. This year, Tom Brady and Derek Jeter were on hand in Ann Arbor, Michigan to participate in ‘The Signing of the Stars’ “a flamboyant national signing day pep rally streamed live on Wednesday by The Players’ Tribune — the website founded by Jeter, a Michigan native — and intended to build the hype around this year’s class of prospective Wolverines football players.”

Time will tell if the top college recruit, Rashan Gary, from Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey will advance beyond his playing days at Michigan.

On the other end of the football career spectrum is recognition as an inductee into the NFL Hall of Fame. The class of 2016 includes former Oakland Raiders quarterback, Ken Stabler who let his team to their first Super Bowl victory after the 1976 season.

“While generally a cause for celebration, Saturday’s announcement of the class of 2016 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame carried a somber tone as Ken Stabler, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, was elected days after it was publicly revealed that he had had Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease, before his death in July.

Stabler, known as the Snake, who won a Most Valuable Player Award for the 1974 season and led the Raiders to the team’s first Super Bowl victory after the 1976 season, was previously a finalist for election three times, but this year, as a senior candidate, he was elected alongside Dick Stanfel, a star offensive lineman in the 1950s. The modern-era electees were Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene, Orlando Pace and Tony Dungy, as well as Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., who owned the San Francisco 49ers for all five of their Super Bowl wins and was elected as a contributor.”

On Wednesday, journalist, John Branch’s profile of Stabler, and his life after football with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.) was published in The New York Times.

“After retiring from football, Stabler worked as a broadcast analyst for the N.F.L. and for the University of Alabama, where he had played quarterback under Coach Bear Bryant. His damaged knees became such a problem in the past 10 years that he rarely ventured out.

“His vision of what a leader is, what a strong person is, is someone who did not show signs of weakness,” said Alexa Stabler, 29, the second of Stabler’s three grown daughters. “Because it would affect the people he relied on and the people he cared about, whether that was his family or his teammates.”

When Stabler was 31, a 1977 Sports Illustrated feature story detailed his penchant for honky-tonks and marinas, usually with a drink in one hand and a pretty woman in the other…He pondered what he might do after football.

“My lifestyle is too rough — too much booze and babes and cigarettes — to be a high school coach,” Stabler said. “I’d hardly be a shining example to the young athletes of the future.”

His family hopes that the most powerful lesson he provides is the one delivered after he was gone.

In between signing day and induction into the Football Hall of Fame, if you’re impossibly lucky, is a chance to compete in the national championship of professional football, the Super Bowl.

The annual spectacle, held this year in the vortex of Silicon Valley has exposed the growing economic divide, “gentrification, sky-high housing prices and the technology industry’s influence on local government, even the nation’s biggest party has become a battleground.”

“The cost of hosting the Super Bowl — estimated at about $5 million for the city — has unleashed a storm of anger among residents already resentful of the influx of expensive restaurants, high-end stores and rich, young tech workers who have snapped up apartments in historically low-income neighborhoods. To tidy up for the tourists, the city’s large homeless population has been swept out of view, which some people here see as evidence that this city, long a seat of leftist activism, has sold itself to corporate interests.

“In San Francisco, we’re supposed to be the bastion of crazy liberals,” Ms. Leitner said. “Instead of raising wages for teachers so they can afford to live here, why are we spending money on a party for people who work for the N.F.L.?”

Fast Company writer, Michael Grothaus marked the birthday celebration on Thursday at Facebook.

“It’s a bit crazy when you think about it, but Facebook is 12 years old today. On February 4, 2004, Mark Zuckerberg launched his fledgling social media site at Harvard. And the rest, as they say, is history. Twelve years on, Facebook has become the largest social media company ever. It influences myriad aspects of our lives and recently passed a billion active users each day.

It’s also kind of doing what candy makers and online retailers have tried to do in the past by deeming February 4th as an unofficial holiday that it hopes catches on: Friend’s Day.”

A look back to the 2004 Harvard Crimson article about ‘thefacebook.com’ may be the best  argument for why venture capitalists should be reading their alma mater’s student newspaper.

“Thousands of students across the country use it. Major corporations are falling over themselves to buy it.

But nearly a semester after creating thefacebook.com, a social networking website launched on Feb. 4, Mark E. Zuckerberg ’06 doesn’t seem to have let things go to his head.

Wearing a yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, and open-toe Adidas sandals, Zuckerberg sits on a ragged couch in the middle of a messy Kirkland House common room, surrounded by strewn clothes and half-closed boxes.

Amidst this squalor, he smiles.

“I’m just like a little kid. I get bored easily and computers excite me. Those are the two driving factors here.”

Thefacebook.com allows university students to create personal profiles listing their interests, contact info, relationship status, classes and more.

It started locally at Harvard. It now has almost 160,000 members from across the country.”

Twelve years later, Thomas Friedman considers the question, ‘Social Media: Destroyer or Creator?’

“Over the last few years we’ve been treated to a number of “Facebook revolutions,” from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street to the squares of Istanbul, Kiev and Hong Kong, all fueled by social media. But once the smoke cleared, most of these revolutions failed to build any sustainable new political order, in part because as so many voices got amplified, consensus-building became impossible.

Question: Does it turn out that social media is better at breaking things than at making things?

Recently, an important voice answered this question with a big “ yes.” That voice was Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian Google employee whose anonymous Facebook page helped to launch the Tahrir Square revolution in early 2011 that toppled President Hosni Mubarak — but then failed to give birth to a true democratic alternative.

“Five years ago,” concluded Ghonim, “I said, ‘If you want to liberate society, all you need is the Internet.’ Today I believe if we want to liberate society, we first need to liberate the Internet.”

Beyond the Super Bowl and Facebook, the economy continues to improve. The jobless rate is under 5% and wages are rising.

“It’s not that the new data blew the lid off expectations or pointed to some radical acceleration in job growth in the opening weeks of 2016. Quite the contrary. The nation added 151,000 jobs in January, which was below analysts’ expectations and well below the revised 262,000 jobs added in December. That looks an awful lot like “reversion to the mean,” and it wouldn’t be surprising if final revisions show a slower pace of job growth across the two months.

But while economists and financial markets have traditionally placed the greatest weight on that payroll number as the key indicator of whether economic growth is speeding up or slowing down, we’re entering a phase where some other components of the jobs report are more important.”

Two additional articles of interest this week profile the executive who created the culture at Netflix and a BBC photo essay on the career dreams of the children who have fled Syria.

‘The Woman Who Created Netflix’s Enviable Company Culture’  Vivian Giang for Fast Company – “The woman behind “Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility” was the company’s chief talent officer at the time, Patty McCord…Instead of listing the company’s core values like every other company was doing, McCord decide to write down the things the company valued, what mattered to them, what they expected in their people.”

‘When I grow up I want to be…’ (BBC) “Despite their current predicament, children who have fled the conflict in Syria and are now living in neighbouring countries dream of what the future holds for them, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) sent photographer Meredith Hutchison to find out.”

To end this week@work, let me introduce you to Rama, age 13, and her dream of becoming a doctor, as a reminder to honor your dreams.

_88034777_a80f7902-6be1-4991-913e-aed456838390.jpg“Walking down the street as a young girl in Syria or Jordan, I encountered many people suffering – sick or injured – and I always wanted to have the power and skills to help them.
“Now, as a great physician in my community, I have that ability. Easing someone’s pain in the most rewarding aspect of my job. To be able to give them relief is the most rewarding aspect of my job. To be able to give them relief and make them smile – this is what I love most.”

 

The week@work – agents of change, NY values and imagining a windfall

The week@work was dominated by stories of the small group of workers in entertainment, sports and politics. It was also the week that everyone had the opportunity to imagine entry into the world of celebrity via the purchase of a single $2 lottery ticket.

On Sunday evening the Hollywood Foreign Press Association handed out their annual Golden Globes, with the surprise winner being Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal for his role as conductor of the fictional ‘New York Symphony’ in Amazon’s Golden Globe winning ‘Mozart in the Jungle’. “I want to dedicate this to music, to all the people that find the music and common ground for communication, for justice for happiness.”

As Huell Howser might say, “This is amazing!”, that a series about classical musicians led by a talented Mexican actor, wins an award in a year of political polarization and classical music’s declining prominence in our culture.

On Thursday, the actor who played Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, Alan Rickman died. “With the last film it was very cathartic because you were finally able to see who he was,” Mr. Rickman said “It was strange, in a way, to play stuff that was so emotional. A lot of the time you’re working in two dimensions, not three.”

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Agents of change in theater, music, and the workplace challenge our thinking. On Monday we learned of the death of another transformational icon, David Bowie.

“In his dazzling artistry, daring style, unabashed intelligence, intensity of emotion, cultivation of magic, mystery and imagination, Bowie was a figure who bridged high and low culture, reverberating on so many different levels.”

On Monday morning, NPR replayed his 2002 interview with ‘Fresh Air’ host Terry Gross.

“I’m not actually a very keen performer. I like putting shows together. I like putting events together. In fact, everything I do is about the conceptualizing and realization of a piece of work, whether it’s the recording or the performance side. And kind of when I put the thing together, I don’t mind doing it for a few weeks, but then, quite frankly, I get incredibly, incredibly bored because I don’t see myself so much as a – I mean, I don’t live for the stage. I don’t live for an audience.”

David Bowie event planner? When we think of careers, we make assumptions about success, only to realize that each of us holds a unique definition which sculpts our approach to a calling.

“People often forgot, but up until his death, on Sunday at age 69, Mr. Bowie was a New Yorker

And though Mr. Bowie was enormously wealthy, he wasn’t one of those rich guys who kept an apartment in the city, along with a portfolio of global real estate holdings, and flew in. Aside from a mountain retreat in Ulster County, N.Y., his Manhattan apartment was his only home.

You may not have considered all this because Mr. Bowie was an apparition in the city, rarely glimpsed. You heard it mentioned that he lived here. Somewhere downtown, someone thought. But seeing him out? Good luck.”

Which brings us to the political discourse on ‘New York values’ and its relevance to job search. Relocation is a major consideration for many seeking career advancement. Understanding the character of the community you join outside of your workplace is equally, if not more important to understanding the values of your workplace community.

How many folks have decided to take a job in New York or LA only to later realize a major disconnect? This is not a value judgement, just a realization that we all need to find a place where we can be successful. Unfortunately, the job perks sometimes outweigh the geographical/cultural component in the decision making mix and it’s only when we are fully committed to our workplace that we begin to realize our success is being eroded by deficiencies in our neighborhood.

On to the world of sports. On Monday evening, two college football teams competed in the College Football National Championship game in Arizona. The University of Alabama’s team won by a score of 45-40 over Clemson. A few days later at the NCAA’s annual meeting, “NCAA president Mark Emmert praised student-athlete activism during his annual speech Thursday at the NCAA convention.”

During his 20-minute address at the NCAA’s opening business session, Emmert urged schools to continue to emphasize academics, fairness and the health and well-being of student-athletes.”

And yet, actions speak louder than words. Inside Higher Education reported“While the time demands on college athletes ­became the central focus of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s annual meeting here this week, several proposals to deal with the issue were seemingly tabled the day before the NCAA’s five wealthiest conferences were scheduled to vote on them.”

Here’s the thing. With the exception of college coaches, everyone is in agreement that the ‘student’ in the ‘student-athlete’ equation takes priority. ‘Official’ time demands don’t begin to reflect the ‘unofficial’ time requirements of competing in Division I sports. And with only a select few moving on to compete in their sport as professionals, these students need the flexibility to explore career opportunities and participate in internships.

“Roderick McDavis, president of Ohio University, said it would be a mistake for colleges to wait for NCAA policy changes to prompt that shift. “Policies don’t change behavior,” he said. “People change behavior. We can hope that the NCAA catches up with us all one day, but what I know I can control is I can go home tomorrow and make a difference on my campus.”

And then there were the omnipresent billboards advertising the Powerball Jackpot at $999 million. Except the amount had grown to over $1.5 billion, which gave us all an opportunity to contemplate what we would do with that amount of money.

On a CNN broadcast the night before the drawing, international anchor Richard Quest asked anchor Anderson Cooper what he would do with the winnings if he had the lucky set of numbers. (You may know that Mr. Cooper is a Vanderbilt by ancestry.) His response, “I would buy a watch.” And he would be back at work the next day.

Here are a few additional articles that you may have missed from the past week.

‘Why I Always Wanted to Be a Secretary’ by Bryn Greenwood – Does your work define you? What if your dream job is central to an organization, but society’s definition is demeaning?

‘At Work And Feeling All Alone’ by Phyllis Korkki – In the world of telecommuting, new research indicates those left behind in the office have ended up feeling lonely and disconnected.

‘60% of Women in Silicon Valley Have Been Sexually Harassed’ by Lydia Dishman – Results of a survey of 200 women demonstrates a serious level of dysfunction in the tech giants’ workplace.

‘Yahoo’s Brain Drain Shows a Loss of Faith Inside the Company’ by Vindu Goel – “More than a third of the company’s work force has left in the last year, say people familiar with the data. Worried about the brain drain, Ms. Mayer has been approving hefty retention packages — in some cases, millions of dollars — to persuade people to reject job offers from other companies. But those bonuses have had the side effect of creating resentment among other Yahoo employees who have stayed loyal and not sought jobs elsewhere.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week@work – issues that will shape the world in 2016, positive forecast on salary growth, George R.R. Martin misses a deadline and why we should focus on our ‘already done’ list

The past week@work marked the transition from the old year to the new. We have seen the last of the ‘best and worst of the year’ in every imaginable category and it’s time to turn our attention to the future. Here’s the problem; global issues, work issues, customer issues and career issues don’t magically resolve themselves at the stroke of midnight on 12/31.

What the new year does provide is a demarcation point in time, to set aside previous solutions and reimagine innovative answers. We have permission to start anew.

Rose Pastore offers a list of ’10 Issues That Will Shape the World In 2016′. Recognizing the continuum of events from the old year to the new – “The end of 2015 leaves many of the year’s most significant issues still very much in flux, including the reform of U.S. gun control laws, the fates of thousands of Syrian refugees, and the legal status of massive startups like Uber and Airbnb.”

Some of these issues seem so beyond our everyday lives that it may be hard to grasp a connection to our work and workplace. But somewhere, a diplomat, an entrepreneur, an educator or a student may seize the moment, and solve one piece of the puzzle, in one of our multiple global challenges: “the refugee crisis, climate change, data security, gun violence, social justice and regulating the sharing economy.” 

Don Lee reported on the view that salaries will increase in 2016, driven by the decrease in unemployment and the implementation of new minimum wage laws in a number of states.

“American workers are poised in 2016 to finally get what they’ve been missing for years: higher salaries.

…worker wages will get an additional boost from higher minimum wages taking effect in a number of cities and states. California’s new minimum pay goes to $10 an hour in January. The increase will amount to an 11% pay raise for Marco Ruiz, a carwash worker in Anaheim who earns $9 an hour.

That’s an additional $40 a week, more than enough to cover Ruiz’s bus fare to his job from his home in Norwalk, which he rents with his brother-in-law. “It’s marvelous,” said the divorced 35-year-old, who started at the carwash eight years ago making $7.50 an hour, the state’s minimum wage then.

Like Ruiz, most people in the U.S. already feel more secure in their jobs. As layoffs have receded sharply, weekly filings for new jobless benefits have fallen this year to numbers not seen since the early 1970s. And Gallup polls show workers’ “complete satisfaction” with job security rose to a 15-year high in summer 2014. Their overall satisfaction with pay, however, hasn’t returned to prerecession levels. In fact, many workers still feel that the recovery from the Great Recession passed them by.”

Early Saturday morning, author George R.R. Martin posted his admission, “THE WINDS OF WINTER is not finished.”

The year ended and the author of the series, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, publicly announced he had missed a deadline and gave us a glimpse of his creative process.

“Believe me, it gave me no pleasure to type those words. You’re disappointed, and you’re not alone. My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed… but no one could possibly be more disappointed than me. For months now I have wanted nothing so much as to be able to say, “I have completed and delivered THE WINDS OF WINTER” on or before the last day of 2015.

But the book’s not done.

Nor is it likely to be finished tomorrow, or next week. Yes, there’s a lot written. Hundreds of pages. Dozens of chapters. (Those ‘no pages done’ reports were insane, the usual garbage internet journalism that I have learned to despise). But there’s also a lot still left to write. I am months away still… and that’s if the writing goes well. (Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.) Chapters still to write, of course… but also rewriting. I always do a lot of rewriting, sometimes just polishing, sometimes pretty major restructures.”

Alison Flood of The Guardian reported on the response from readers and fans.

“This time, though, Martin’s readers were quick to encourage him, with the more than 1,000 comments on his blog ranging from “Love your work, George! Get it done when it’s done. I’ll be there” to “Don’t sweat it, George” and “Take as long as you need to, sir”.

“That couldn’t have been fun to write,” wrote one reader in response to Martin’s blog. “But fact is in 50 years readers will judge on the book’s quality and not if they met some arbitrary deadline and beat the TV adaptation. As much as I’d like to see it released soon, I ultimately approve of the priority on quality.”

For all of you who have started the new year with a missed deadline, consider the lesson here. It’s impossible to live without failure. Even the most successful fail. It’s the next step in the lifelong learning process that matters, and that might be the most important thought to hold in the new year.

Minda Zetlin offers some timely practical advice, that George R. R. Martin might consider ‘Five Reasons You Should Make an Already-Done List Right Now’.

“…if you want to feel motivated, set that to-do list aside, and make a list of what you’ve already accomplished instead.

That advice comes from best-selling author and executive coach Wendy Capland. A while back, I wrote a column from an interview with Capland and as a follow-up we decided she would coach me and that I would write about it. These coaching sessions come with homework, and one recent assignment was to make a list of all the things I had already done​ to advance toward my most ambitious goals. It was something I’d never done before, and it was a revelation.”

Perhaps the best advice is to start the year with an accomplishments audit, focusing on the strengths derived from your success (and failure) and build on that foundation @work in the new year.