CategorySocial Media

How To Manage After the Events at Charlottesville

This weekend was hurtful and horrible for America.

On Friday,  in Charlottesville, Virginia, White Supremacists marched with torches thru the city to the statue of Thomas Jefferson located on the campus of University of Virginia in protest of decisions to remove several monuments of Civil War Confederate Army “heroes”. They chanted racial slurs as they walked. Their march was approved for Saturday but they decided to start early to send a stronger message.

On Saturday, their real march commenced and was met with counter-protesters who didn’t want these people or their views to bring a negative national spotlight to their town. This culminated in one of the supremacists plowing his car into a crowd, killing one person and wounding at least 20 others.

By Sunday, several of the supremacist participants had been identified thru the photos and videos posted on social media. Their names were posted online and shared thousands of time. Their employers were contacted and many of them lost their jobs.

By Monday,  more counter protests formed and proceeded in cities all across the US calling for the supremacist to be labeled and prosecuted as a domestic terrorist. In several cities, angry counter protesters vandalized and tore down the Civil War Confederate monuments. One of those cities was Durham, NC which is about 15 minutes away from me.

Meanwhile, 15 minutes in the other direction from me, someone arranged all the mannequins in a department store at the mall so their arms were raised in Nazi salute.

Hurtful and horrible. And hard to work with your normal level of focus after that.

While in the breakroom on Monday, I had an employee ask if we would fire someone for doing the things those people (mostly men — but there were women there too) did in Charlottesville over the weekend or what the people did in Durham on Monday.

My answer? “I’m just glad I don’t have to make those kinds of decisions today.”

As the day went on, the question gnawed at me. I wondered what would happen if our organization was faced with this.

Then I realized that IF will soon give way to WHEN as this country continues to become more and more divided along racial lines.

Like it or not, your employees are likely to participate in protests. They are likely to end up on social media while doing it. It is likely someone who disagrees with them will try to identify them and notify you in hopes of getting them fired. It is a possibility they will get arrested. It is a possibility they will be injured. It is a possibility they will be changed by what they witness.

Your organization had better be prepared.

  1. Remind employees on your policy surrounding conduct, harassment/discrimination and social media use … Most organizations have policies on all these things and periodic reminders are normal. Do not be threatening or discouraging toward their rights and choices — but remind them to be ethical and responsible in their choices.
  2. Evaluate your time off policies … Most employers already allow time off for voting. Many allow time off for volunteer work for charitable caused. Some are even allowing time off to participate in political protests. Consider if your organization wants to differentiate this way. Consider if you want to press your employees for more information and documentation surrounding their time off uses.
  3. Create a procedure for handling reports on your employees … When an anonymous, concerned person sends you a photo or video of your employee involved in conduct that is a violation of your policies, know what your process will be for handling it. Know how you’re going to respond to the reports. Know how you’re going to investigate the issue. Know the range of corrective action you’re going to take.
  4. Denounce White Supremacy … Yes, that really is necessary in these times. Your organization and its leadership should publicly denounce White Supremacy and separate yourself immediately from any employee, customer, client or vendor who you know participates in such hateful rhetoric and activities. If your policies on conduct and harassment/discrimination are real and true, this shouldn’t be difficult. But it is and it will be. It is difficult and uncomfortable and scary. Do it anyway.

*It will also be difficult, uncomfortable and scary to not take a similar stance on other kinds of protesters. If your policies on equal employment opportunity are real and true, it shouldn’t be. Fairness and equality do not mandate you to accept both. In fact, there are whole government agencies dedicated to making sure both are not accepted. Don’t feel one bit bad for that and do not back off your stance from the fear. 

Walking the talk on diversity and inclusion is all fun and games until one of your employees has gone viral for carrying a torch shouting racial slurs while making Nazi hand gestures.

When that happens, your organization’s position on diversity and inclusion are going to get very real, very quickly.

Know what you’re going to do when that day comes before that day comes.

Because it is coming. America is regressing. Don’t let your organization be dragged back with it.

“I Un-Friend You” — That’s Not How Management Works!

I lost a few friends on Facebook in 2015. Apparently, folks didn’t like things I was posting so they un-friended me.

A few let me know they were un-friending me before they did it. I was called things like “feminazi” and “race-baiter” by people I’d known for years. People I liked. People I trusted. People I’d been there for …  And that really hurt.

Ultimately, I shook it off and moved forward. I have to be true to myself and my feelings and my point of view. I have a lot of friends who understanding, respect and appreciate that. So I’m glad those who couldn’t handle it made the choice to bow out. And if “taking me down a peg” on the way out made them feel better, that’s fine too.

While I was sorting through my feelings on this, it occurred to me that I’ve done the same thing to other people … People at work.

People who pointed out managers who were jerks. Who pointed out co-workers who were rude or taking advantage of their team. Who pointed out high premiums or limited coverage issues with our benefits. Who pointed our low or lagging wages. Who pointed out the lack of diversity. Who pointed out lack of opportunity for development.

I un-friended them.

I un-friended them because their views didn’t align with the company. I un-friended them because they had the audacity to be vocal about their unhappiness with the state of affairs. I un-friended them because they didn’t think what we wanted them to think.

I labeled these people as “complainers”, “troublemakers” and “problem children”. I avoided them in the hallways and break areas. I stopped taking their meetings and answering their calls and responding to their emails. Eventually, if they back-off or back down, I looked to remove them from the organization.

After my experiences being un-friended on Facebook last year, I realize my approach needs improvement.

Improvement by listening. Improvement by considering their point of view has some merit. Improvement by acknowledging they might be right.

Un-friending might work on Facebook. But in management? That’s not how any of this works!

Nothing Left To Ponder

I’ve been a contributor at the Performance I Create blog since 2012. And although my schedule has become way more hectic and I’ve had to slow down much of my “Buzz” work, I’ve continued to write monthly for PIC without lapse or fail.

I believe in the simple message that PIC promotes about creating successful organizations by focusing on creating performance excellence. The team of bloggers at PIC have become some of my closest HR friends and confidantes.

So it was incredibly bittersweet when I received the call from PIC founder Chris Ponder a few weeks ago, announcing that he was stepping away from leading the group and the HR blogging/social space altogether.

I totally understand the reasons. The grind of HR is not easy. It is hard to stay motivated to write positive, useful, original HR content after dealing with the hardcore challenges of the HR trenches every day. I struggle with it. It’s why I don’t post as often on this blog as I once did or would like to now … Add to that the stress and responsibility of constantly wrangling a dozen other uber busy, grinding HR professionals — and it’s enough to burn anyone out.

What sucks is that Chris Ponder is a talented writer and the HR blogosphere needs voices like his. Here are a few of my favorite posts that he’s written:

I will miss reading his thoughts and advice … However, I’m fortunate to still have my friend just a text, email or phone call away.

There’s nothing left to ponder. Chris Ponder has left the PIC building. We will carry on without him — but we won’t be the same.

For starting this site. For bringing this talented, awesome group together. For leading us for the last 4 years. For putting up with our shenanigans. For encouraging us. For being our biggest promoter and helper. For being my friend … Thank you, CP2!! We love you bunches and we will continue to make you proud.


5 Reasons I Love Victorio Milian — and You Should Too!

Three years ago, the folks over at the Starr Conspiracy launched a thing called Tim Sackett Day. Tim is a great HR blogger who just wasn’t getting the love he deserved from the folks out there who make the Top Lists … You know the lists — Top HR Bloggers, Best of the Best HR Bloggers, and (everyone’s favorite) My Friends Ranked in No Particular Order of Awesomeness.

I’m joking. But only a little.

Anyway, this year, the Starr Conspiracy is honoring my friend and awesome HR professional, Victorio Milian for #TimSacketDay. When I heard this, I decided to write something because I really admire Victorio and I think he’s awesome and totally deserving of this honor.

Here’s why …

  1. He was one of the first people to follow and engage me on Twitter. He still does that. Victorio makes the HR social space a welcome one for new people wanting to learn, do and be more through social networking. And it’s a great thing cuz tweeting ain’t easy and the HR social space can be intimidating to even the most confident soul.
  2. He led Project: Social HR for almost a year. It was a multi-contributor blog where everyone wrote about easy hacks to lead the social media charge for yourself and your organization. The site is gone now but the sentiments aren’t forgotten — I’ve shared a lot on that in these posts
  3. He’s a MVP. A few months ago, I wrote about the MVP Presenters Group started by Chris Fields. The goal is to increase opportunity and diversity in the HR speaker space. Victorio joined the group in December. And I’m super glad to have him as part of the team.
  4. He’s a super cool dude. Victorio is a New Yorker. He’s an artist and a photographer. He’s a husband and a dad. He loves the NY Giants and old skool hip-hop. He speaks several languages. He loves coffee. He’s ambitious and inventive. He’s authentic and sincere.
  5. He knows his brand. I remember hearing him on this episode of Drive Thru HR talking about his job search focus after a layoff. He knew exactly what he wanted and he clearly wasn’t going to settle for less. He created a web campaign called “Hire Victorio” that eventually led him right to the place he said he wanted to be. It inspired me and encouraged me to better define my own personal brand and take a tough look at the environments where I thrive best so I could seek opportunities accordingly

So if you don’t know Victorio, you should get to know him. Connect with him. Subscribe to his blog. You will be glad that you did.

Happy #TimSackettDay, everyone!!

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