Rands Declare your professional mindset

Shields Shirts

Back in December of 2015, I was in a meeting with HR, and we were arguing about retention, stock grants, or something similar. I was making no progress in explaining my nuanced point. Long pauses and blank states usually mean my spoken words have nothing to do with the valuable idea in my head.

Ok, regroup. Try a different approach.

“My point is this. If we don’t do this, engineers will lower their shields. They’re going to start answering those recruiting emails.”

Instant engagement. Head of HR jumps on the metaphor. “Right, what Lopp said. They’ll go shields down, and we’ll lose them.”

A well-named idea requires little to no explanation. The entire room grabbed the concept, and we made legitimate progress.

A month later, for my inaugural post of the year on this blog, I wrote Shields Down. That article remains in the top 10 most visited pieces on the site. Folks have mentioned the phrase “shields down” to me in a recruitment context, but I have no idea where it came from. As a writer, you being anonymously quoted to yourself is the dream.

Years after the Rands Leadership Slack began, I noticed members with shields next to their names in the channel. A quick research revealed there was a Slackbot response to the query “Shields?” which responded:

“… all refer to the progression in “job happiness” discussed at http://randsinrepose.com/archives/shields-down/. We use them here to indicate the range from being happy with where you are currently working to eagerly looking for new employment opportunities, hoping that we can start the conversations that help people work in a more positive environment.”

As a writer who uses stories to introduce concepts and never ever tells you what to do, it’s satisfying when the idea lands cleanly and promptly builds a life of its own.

Why did this one land well? Three reasons:

  1. Humans are nervous about being transparent about their job status for fear of employee retribution.
  2. The metaphor is a simple way to declare your feelings about your current job.
  3. The core concept: deciding to entertain the idea of leaving long before you leave is familiar, but only when someone describes the mindset. It’s not that you are leaving your job; it’s that your mindset has changed regarding your job.

So I made charity shirts. There’s one for each shield (Up, Neutral, Down, and On Fire); if you don’t know what state you are in, there’s a shirt with all the shields.

For the record, wearing a shirt that declares your mindset regarding your current gig might be a super bad idea. Good luck.

As with all of the merchandise in the Rands store, every single cent of profit is matched and donated to charity, which, in this case, is NAMI.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *