Grow Up!

Another update from the Jungle….

Jerry feels besieged and over loaded. He’s the CEO, and he ought to be busy lining up new customers. Instead, he’s staggering from one crisis to the next as his team fights each other.

It all started when Sue accused Wayne of undermining her authority in a staff meeting. At the staff meeting, Wayne asked questions that put Sue on the spot. Wayne always tries to understand the nitty gritty details by asking a lot of questions. Occasionally, his fascination for details is beneficial, like the time his questions uncovered a technical gap that would have cost the company money. But most the time he just comes across as obnoxious and obtuse.

Sue erupted like a geyser. She told Wayne to shut up and focus on doing his own job. Wayne retorted that he couldn’t do his job if the inputs from her team are sloppy and incomplete. Sue naturally defended her team and added that the company was a better place to work before Wayne was hired.

Wayne now refers to Sue as a word that rhymes with witch. Sue uses even more inflammatory language to describe him. Since they’re supervisors, they’ve managed to drag their respective subordinates into the fight.

Wayne’s team buys a different brand of coffee for the break room rather than use the brand preferred by Sue. Sue’s team confiscates all the office supplies in the supply closet. Her team also password protects all their work rather than sharing with Wayne’s team.

Inevitably, deadlines are blown on their latest product. Jerry calls an all-hands meeting to find out what is going wrong. Within five minutes accusations are flying. After fifteen minutes, a shoving match ensues between Sue and Wayne as they blame each other for the delays. Sue hurls a cup of coffee at Wayne. He retaliates by grabbing her notes and shredding the pages.

Jerry is shocked, then outraged. His whole business is on the line for a couple of chuckleheads with the emotional development of children.

What options are available to Jerry?

  1. He can fire Sue and Wayne for breaking company rules on workplace violence.
  2. He can start a side business featuring Sue and Wayne as featherweight prize fighters.
  3. He can counsel Sue and Wayne to act like grownups and work together for the company.

In the actual situation, the employer chose the third option, in keeping with the company’s progressive discipline policy. The employer’s decision was based on an assessment of the supervisors’ capabilities and skills. Both managers were also encouraged to seek anger management counseling.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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He Stopped Loving Her [Yesterday]

Another update from the Jungle….

Chloe is an intelligent, educated woman who worked hard to become a manager. She worked such long hours that she had no time to search for true love. So she did what many other intelligent but desperate adults do. She searched her office for Prince Charming.

He wasn’t really Prince Charming. He was Tom from the IT department. Chloe learned a great deal about him when she was assigned to co-lead a cross departmental task force with him. It began innocently with daily meetings as they organized their team.

One evening as they wrapped up another long day, Tom announced that he was starving and asked Chloe if she’d like to join him for a late dinner. Soon they were meeting for lunch and dinner. In the blink of a star-struck eye, they progressed to meeting across the kitchen table at breakfast.

When Tom went out of town on business, he had a dozen roses delivered to Chloe’s office. The office grapevine buzzed louder than a bee on a hot summer afternoon. The buzz was so intense that Patricia, the HR manager, decided to have a chat with Chloe. She reminded Chloe that the company has a non-fraternization policy, and if Chloe and Tom violated it, they could both be subject to disciplinary action. Chloe airily informed Patricia that she and Tom were just friends.

Poor Chloe forgot that in fairy tales, not everyone gets to live happily ever after. As the task force wound down, so did the romance. Tom volunteered for out-of-town business trips because he was trying to accumulate enough airline miles to vacation in Hawaii. Chloe ate leftovers alone in her kitchen.

When a workplace romance fizzles people behave badly. Chloe sniped at Tom during the weekly managers’ meeting.  Tom confidentially told his closest friends that Chloe was a nut, thus ensuring the story spread through the office until it reached the ear of the CEO.

The CEO hates dealing with people problems. He tells Patricia to make it all go away.

What options are available to Patricia?

  1. She can recommend that Chloe and Tom be fired for violating the non-fraternization policy.
  2. She can recommend that Chloe and Tom be sent for couples counseling.
  3. She can include the slightly disguised details in her next popular bodice-ripper novel, which she writes under a pen name.

The above office romance scenario is so common that everyone has seen it at least once. Having a non-fraternization policy is essential to managing the risks of a costly settlement when it all goes bad.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Next!

Another update from the Jungle….

Pam owns a small company and she’s preparing for her next round of job interviews. She feels like she spends a lot of time hiring new employees because she has a revolving door as employees bail out for bigger companies that offer more fringe benefits or higher pay.

She approaches the interviewing and hiring process with a mixture of dread and anticipation. She gets excited when she thinks she may actually find that perfect match of personality and skill set to fit her company. But more often her anticipation evaporates into dread or even fascinated horror.

One recent job applicant, Stuart, earnestly explained that he would not be able to provide identification if he’s hired because the CIA might find him and then his life would be in danger. Sam listed his probation officer as a character reference since that was the only person who saw him on a regular basis. Tamara said her mother was forcing her to look for a job and how long would the interview take anyway.

Pam went home that night to pour a stiff triple shot of single malt scotch. As she sipped her scotch, she thought that finding a good employee is as difficult as finding Prince Charming. No one ever looks as good in person as they do on paper.

The next day, Pam is back in the office shuffling through a new stack of resumes. She weeds out the ones with typos and scary details. Then she sets up a new batch of interviews. The first interviewee, Kim, has a nose ring but says “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am” when responding to questions. Annie, the next contestant is covered in neck and arm tattoos and wears a metal-studded dog collar. Sam sits bolt upright and barely utters a complete sentence.

Pam is getting desperate. She needs employees to keep her business afloat.

What are Pam’s options?

  1. She can accept the fact that her employees won’t stay long and adapt her business model to reflect the reality of the revolving door.
  2. She can outsource much of the hiring process which will save her time. Of course, a staffing agency may not have any better luck than her at finding appropriate job applicants for her company.
  3. She can close her business and go work for a distillery since her single malt scotch is the only thing bringing her happiness at the moment.

The above examples of job applicants are taken from actual interviews, although names have been changed to protect the innocent, the scary, and the downright weird.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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The Root Of All Evil

Another update from the Jungle….

It all began so innocently with a run-of-the-mill claim of discrimination. Helen, the HR manager, sighed heavily when the claim hit her desk. Sally, the employee making the complaint, is far from being a satisfactory employee. On the other hand, Ben is her least favorite manager due to his inability to follow even simple rules on how to treat employees.

Grumbling to herself, Helen drives across the state to their work location to begin investigating. She settles and calls Sally in to make a statement. Sally shows up clutching a fistful of photocopied pages from the employee handbook with passages highlighted in neon green.

Sally spends the next two hours explaining how Ben has violated each highlighted policy. It’s a litany of slights, put-downs and hurt feelings that culminated in not being invited to Ben’s beer and barbeque party. Helen privately fantasizes about how much fun it would be to drop kick Sally and Ben out of her HR life. But when she hears of the beer and barbeque outing, she gets a cold chill familiar to any experienced HR person. What has Ben been up to?

Helen get rid of Sally and calls in other employees to ask for more details about Ben and his parties. What she learns almost straightens her perm. Davy gives her details of the barbeque and beer party that leaves Helen wondering if Ben was aiming to set a Guinness world record on beer consumption.

Assistant manager Jim tells her that Ben initiated him into the management ranks by taking him out for a celebration. The celebration included weekly trips through the honkytonks, road houses and nightclubs in a tri-county area. Jim says he only mentions it because he’d like to know if there is an HR policy to cover his treatment for alcohol addiction.

Helen calls in Ben for a chat. Ben says he’s had it with Sally’s whining and demands that she be fired because she’s a lousy worker. He becomes evasive when Helen asks him about the drinking parties.

What should Helen do next?

  1. She can make her fantasy come true by drop kicking Ben off the earth, or at least, out of the company.
  2. She can ask Ben to include Sally and other female employees in his beer and barbeque events as proof he’s not discriminating against them.
  3. She can give Ben a written warning about the myriad HR policies he’s violated and require him to take additional training in HR policies.

In the actual situation, senior management decided to give the manager a second chance at his job. However, his actions were closely monitored by the HR Director and senior management.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Credit Hog

Another update from the Jungle….

Erin is a manager for her company and she’s got a problem employee named Rose.  Rose is a mediocre worker who is only good at self-promotion. She takes credit for other workers’ hard work.

There was the time that Rose did nothing on a department project. But in the meeting with Walter, the company president, Rose talked like she had run the whole show and kept everyone on task. The real project leader, Tim, had to be dragged from the room before he could strangle her.

This year Walter decides to buy a booth at a local business fair and asks for volunteers. Rose naturally volunteers. Walter publicly thanks her while her co-workers privately bet on when she’ll actually show up.

The day of the business fair arrives and Rose is nowhere. Erin and the other volunteers begin setting up their booth by spreading a special tablecloth with the company logo over the booth’s table. The tablecloth is heavy and it takes three people to wrestle it into place.

Sweating profusely, Erin and the other volunteers return to the parking lot to begin carting boxes of brochures and promotional items from Erin’s SUV. By the time the last box is lugged to their booth (far end of the hall from the entrance), everyone’s soggy with sweat.

That’s when Rose shows up. She grabs a bottle of water and announces she’s here to help. She begins helping by criticizing the table display. Tim, who did the heavy lifting and is soaked in sweat, reaches for Rose’s throat. Quickly Erin jabs him in the stomach, pushes him back and tells Rose that she can rearrange the table as she likes since she’ll be taking first shift.

Rose doesn’t hear because she’s smiling and waving. Walter appears through the crowd. Rose immediately steps forward to give him a quick summary of how the booth is set up. Her sweating co-workers glare at her as she again steals all the credit for their hard work.

What can Erin do next with Rose?

  1. She can nominate Rose to lead the first team of humans to colonize Mars.
  2. She can assign Rose to low prestige and low priority projects where she will fade into oblivion.
  3. She can explain to Rose that stealing credit for the work of others is unethical and will have dire consequences for her career.

In the actual situation, co-workers eventually refused to work on teams that included the credit hog. Coping with credit hogs may require HR and the manager to create an individualized career plan that nudges the employee toward better work habits.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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You Never Talk To Me.

Another update from the Jungle….

Mary’s adventures in small business ownership continue. [See 8/2/17 post for original adventure.]  Her staff is small and spans decades. The only thing the employees have in common is a desire to work in an entrepreneurial environment.

Such a diverse workforce means lots of different styles of working. Alex and Stan, her two youngest workers, communicate almost exclusively by text messaging. They look a bit like shepherd’s crooks, bent at the top after years of looking down at their iPads and smart phones. Jon, her most senior worker, despises text messaging but loves email.  

Mary worries that the lack of actual conversations will make her team less effective.  So she tries to get everyone talking by holding a team building exercise. But Jon only likes exercise that involves hunting big game in the Rockies.  He doesn’t even pretend to enjoy the team building exercise. Alex and Stan think a team building exercise means competing in on-line video games rather than playing alone.  They tune out after ten minutes to play games on their smart phones.

Mary abandons team building. Her next brilliant idea is to offer free beer at staff meetings. She sets a two-free-beers limit because she doesn’t have the budget for unlimited thirst. The team gathers at a table in a local sports bar but no one talks to each other. Jon swivels constantly in his seat to look at all the TV screens showing various sports. Alex and Stan slump in their chairs looking at their social media feeds, beers forgotten.

Mary decides her team has sufficient team spirit, although her spirits need a stiff brandy to recover.  After a weekend of agonizing over what to do, Mary is still trying to figure out how to build a functioning team that actually talks to each other.

What should Mary do next?

1. She can ignore previous experience and try another team building exercise.
2. She can order her staff to meet, ply them with more alcohol and hope they eventually learn to talk to each other.
3. She can accept that her workforce is meeting deadlines and keeping clients happy and allow them to communicate in their preferred methods.

Most businesses today have a diverse workforce spanning decades. Ensuring the different age groups and work styles gel into a cohesive team can be a challenge. HR representatives can help management to adapt the workplace routine to fit all age groups and their communications styles.  

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Holiday Hijinks

Another update from the Jungle….

Lucy was ambivalent about returning to work after the holiday weekend. She enjoyed the long weekend, of course. But as the HR manager she expects to hear wild and weird stories from other employees about what they did during the break. She’s not disappointed.

Walter shows up on Tuesday with a broken arm. He was at his favorite sports bar on Saturday with a group of friends watching several sports events. When his favorite team took the lead, he was so excited that he jumped off his bar stool. Unfortunately, his victory dance ended further away from his bar stool than he realized. Arms flailing, Walter succumbed to gravity. His right arm broke his fall with an audible crack. He spent Saturday night at the emergency room. He tells Lucy that he needs a reduced work schedule because typing one-handed is tiring.

Sheila shows up with a scowl, from which Lucy deduces that her marriage is still headed toward divorce. Sheila’s been complaining about her husband for two years to a diminishing crowd of friends. She can clear a room faster than a barrel of snakes. Sheila told Lucy to mind her own business when Lucy suggested that her personal life should be kept out of the office.

Tom didn’t show up on Tuesday. He overindulged on beer, brats, potato salad, and other goodies at his family’s annual cookout. His wife says his stomach will be back to normal in another day or two.

Lucy looks up as a shadow falls over her desk. It’s Bob, the company CEO, and he’s looking dyspeptic and annoyed. He drops into the chair next to Lucy’s desk and takes a deep breath. He wants to know if he can kick a few people for doing dumb stuff on their own time over the weekend.

What should Lucy tell him?

  1. She can tell him that kicking might break his foot so he should try hitting people with a blunt instrument.
  2. She can offer to write a policy that outlaws fun during off hours.
  3. She can caution him about trying to regulate employee behavior outside the office.

Many companies have HR policies that cover high risk behavior, such as bungee jumping, motorcycle or car racing, and other high risk activities. However, attempting to dictate employee behavior outside of work is generally frowned on.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Gung Ho Grace

Another update from the Jungle….

Grace joined the company a couple of months ago. She’s young, ambitious, and ready to prove she’s capable of fulfilling her new job description.  She’s also afraid to ask too many questions for fear that co-workers will think she’s not able to do her job. She’s heard that you should fake it until you make it, and she’s faking as hard as she can.

That makes her impatient with Jane, a co-worker who is supposed to be training her. Jane started working at the company around the time Grace entered middle school. Over time her job duties have evolved and she can’t keep up. So her boss, Aggie, decides to redo her job description and hire a younger person who can be trained by Jane to do some of the overflow work.

At the very first training session, Grace repeatedly interrupts as Jane tries to explain how the work flows and how the database evolved to its current form.  After ten minutes, Grace is tired of listening and decides she knows enough to jump into the job. She brusquely thanks Jane and logs in to the database.

As Grace dabbles in the database, she becomes increasingly frustrated because she can’t find the information she’s looking for. Finally she breaks down and asks Jane for help. Jane explains a quirk of the database that would have been revealed in the eleventh minute of their first training session.

Grace assumes that Jane deliberately set her up for failure. Jane thinks Grace is a gung ho twerp. The fight is on. Grace copies Aggie on every email to Jane and often words the email in a way that implies Jane has either withheld information or is incompetent. Jane fights back with all the skills learned in years of climbing the greased pole of a corporate career.

Eventually, Aggie realizes that she needs to do something because Grace and Jane are ready to tear each other’s hair out by the roots. She calls them into her office.

What should Aggie do next?

  1. She can tell Grace and Jane to grow up.
  2. She can fire them both and start over with new hires hoping they will get along.
  3. She can explain that they are both valuable to the team and they are both needed due to the expanded workload.

In the actual situation, the supervisor tried individual counseling after the group session failed horribly.  However, personalities don’t change and first impressions are difficult to overcome. So the situation wasn’t resolved until one of the warring workers quit.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Can We Get By Without Her?

Another update from the Jungle….

Georgia is the manager of a group home for disabled adults. It’s not easy caring for people who have trouble remembering what they did five minutes ago or who need help with what is euphemistically called “life activities.” But they are a breeze compared to dealing with employees.

Job seekers who can stomach the idea of helping with bathing, cooking, and light housekeeping usually disappear when they hear about the pay. It’s not that families of the disabled don’t care about their loved ones but they usually have no idea of the true cost of care. Or as Georgia’s boss constantly complains, everyone wants Cadillac coverage for the price of a Chevy.

The latest employee through the revolving door is Krystal, a twenty-something whose parents stopped paying her cell phone bill and put a padlock on the refrigerator. Taking the hint, Krystal realized that her parents wanted her to get a job.

Krystal is a so-so employee. Georgia puts up with her because the home is usually short-staffed. But Georgia resents spending so much of her time trying to motivate Krystal to do the bare minimum in her job description.

Last week, Georgia learned that Krystal had again failed to take Lenny, one of the disabled adults, to his favorite restaurant. First, she said she forgot. But when Georgia stared silently at her, broke down and admitted that she didn’t feel like eating greasy food with Lenny. Georgia’s blood pressure spiked. She retorted that Krystal didn’t have to eat the food; she just needed to drive Lenny to the restaurant so that he could.

Today, the employees are gathered for the monthly staff meeting. Georgia reviews a recent situation where one of their charges was injured when he tripped over the TV remote which was lying on the floor.  She explains new procedures that the company wants them to follow to avoid a repeat injury.

Georgia asks the employees if they understand the new procedures. Krystal rolls her eyes and mutters audibly “bitch.” Everyone turns to look at her. Then they look at Georgia.

What should Georgia do next?

  1. She can lean across the table and slap the taste out of Krystal’s mouth.
  2. She can fire Krystal and escort her off the premises with well-placed kick in the rear.
  3. She can remember how short-staffed they are and give Krystal a written reprimand and a second chance.

In the actual situation, the company gave the insubordinate employee a second chance based on staff shortages. But they started the search for a replacement.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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See, What Happened Was…

Another update from the Jungle….

Lexington & Concord is a professional firm that hires summer interns every year. El Cee, as it’s fondly known, has a reputation for training summer interns by making them work long hours with minimal feedback on their performance. Interns are happy to suffer knowing that if they survive, they will increase their chances of receiving a good job offer.

Kate, the HR manager, thinks the summer interns should be rewarded for their hard work. She convinces Charles, the senior partner, to have an end of summer party for the interns. Charles reluctantly agrees.

The party is held at the home of Rob, a senior partner in the firm who likes to brag about his possessions.  Unfortunately, Rob and his wife, Sally, choose this day to enact their version of the War of the Roses.

The guests arrive in time to watch Sally yanking off her wedding ring and hurling it into the shrubbery. The members of the firm are used to the Rob and Sally soap opera and swerve around the fight with the ease of practice, headed for the drinks by the pool.

Kate quickly steers the interns to the outdoor kitchen and pool area. After asking several partners to chaperon the interns, she dashes away to break up the hosts’ fight before the neighbors call the cops.  She finds Sally sobbing hysterically, but Rob has vanished.

When Kate returns to the pool, she spies Rob propped against the shoulder of a young intern. As she approaches, Kate hears him making suggestions to the young lady that freeze the marrow in her HR bones.  Before the intern can respond, Kate grabs Rob’s elbow to drag him away. Unfortunately, he staggers against Kate. They both topple into the pool.

Several people dive in to rescue them.  Kate clambers out of the pool and looks around in horror. Her summer party is turning into a Roman orgy with half-naked people frolicking at poolside.

Now it’s Monday morning and Kate is in Charles’ office trying to explain what happened at the party. What should she say?

  1. She can say she’s resigning to start a new career as an event planner.
  2. She can imply that it’s Charles’ fault for not attending and using the force of his disapproval to keep everyone in line.
  3. She can promise to never again share her ideas for boosting morale.

In the actual situation, the firm banned parties for summer interns. HR professionals can help their companies by setting clear guidelines on behavior at company sponsored events.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Hey, Y’all, I’d Like A Job

Another update from the Jungle….

It’s been a long day and Mary is catching up on her emails. As she deletes all the unsolicited introductions from sales people trying to sell her stuff she either doesn’t want or can’t afford, she wonders again if she was completely nuts to open her own business.

When she’s not avoiding obnoxious sales pitches, she’s dealing with job seekers. She can track the college graduation season simply by the number of unsolicited emails she receives. She rarely reads the attached resumes because of the first impressions created by the emails. The smart graduates use proper grammar and complete sentences in their emails. The smartest graduates actually look at her company website to see what kind of business she runs.

She sighs and clicks on the next email. Its contents strike her so forcibly that she takes a big swig of her single malt scotch. She glances out the window to see if it’s a full moon; it’s not. It’s also too early for the solar eclipse. No natural phenomenon explains the email she’s reading.

The email says, “Hey, y’all, I just graduated from college and I’d love to come work for you if you’ve got an opening. If you don’t have any jobs right now, please keep me in mind when you do. Thx, Candace.”

Mary’s received some strange introductions from job-seekers. She was once chased two city blocks until she realized the crazy man running after her wasn’t a stalker; he was trying to hand deliver his resume.  She’s had friends ask her to hire their college-aged children because some of those young people are otherwise unemployable.

Mary knows that millennials are much more informal than her generation of workers. But Candace’s email introduction surely takes the prize.  This clueless waif graduated from college without ever learning how to present herself to a potential employer.

What should Mary do next?

  1. She can hit delete and ignore Candace because it’s not her responsibility to teach millennials how to apply for a job.
  2. She can drink more scotch and save the email for the bad days when she needs a quick laugh.
  3. She can remember her own job-hunting mistakes and email Candace some kind advice on how the power of first impressions affects gainful employment.

Informality is preferable to the strict workplace hierarchies of the past that stifled innovation and creativity. However, informality should never cross the line into disrespect. HR can help by encouraging college placement offices to teach soon-to-be-graduates how to properly approach prospective employers.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Welcome To The Real World

Another update from the Jungle….

Mercedes is a millennial who was recently assigned to Sandy’s department.  Sandy likes working with younger people who are natives of the digital world and can show her how to use her smart phone apps. They are young, enthusiastic and some, like Mercedes, are idealists.

Mercedes wants to change the world. After college, her parents supported her for an additional year so that she could work at a non-profit. Her record of clever ideas for the non-profit helped her get hired at Sandy’s company.

In her first week, Mercedes suggests some relatively inexpensive software upgrades that improve efficiency and save money. Most of the savings come from job cuts as tasks are automated. The older workers who are let go aren’t qualified for other open positions and management cut the training budget back around the time Mercedes was born. Mercedes doesn’t notice the job losses because she’s on to her next big idea.

Her next big idea is an IT systems upgrade that may save the entire company millions of dollars. Unfortunately, the upgrade will also cost tens of millions of dollars, require the company to shut down entirely for six months, and cause massive job cuts. She announces her idea to Sandy’s boss, Bob.  He thanks Mercedes and boots her out of his office.

Mercedes doesn’t understand how Bob can be so dim-witted as not to see the long-term benefits. She won’t listen to Bob or Sandy when they tell her that the company simply can’t afford to give up six months of sales to rebuild IT systems from scratch.

Mercedes thinks that Bob and Sandy are being negative because they are dinosaurs who don’t “get” new technology and how it improves the world. Mercedes decides she needs to bypass the unenlightened ones and go straight to the top.  She tells Sandy that she wants to pitch her idea to the company president.

What advice should Sandy give to Mercedes?

  1. She can encourage Mercedes and then watch as the company president explodes like a geyser at the thought of losing six months revenue.
  2. She can suggest that Mercedes drink fewer cappuccinos and increase her wine consumption in the hopes she will have fewer brilliant ideas.
  3. She can tell Mercedes that the company president will be more receptive to her ideas if she can come up with a plan to offset the short term costs.

Idealism is a wonderful quality but not necessarily in the workplace. Idealistic employees can be encouraged to volunteer with local non-profits. HR can help by encouraging management to offer paid leave for volunteer work.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Back Off!

Another update from the Jungle….

Don is taller than most of his co-workers so that he often seems to loom over them during conversations. He also has a habit of standing really close to people when he talks to them, particularly much shorter women. Aline is one of the shortest employees in the office.

Aline claims he often stands toe to toe with her. She can’t prove that he’s attempting to intimidate her, but she has her suspicions. She’s only five feet tall, and she’s used to men, and some women, using their superior height to try to intimidate her. It’s been happening since grade school.

She doesn’t like it, but she refuses to back away.  She throws back her head and looks a long way up to meet them eye-to-eye. She told Michelle, the HR manager, that she’d rather have a permanent crick in her neck than get pushed around just because she’s shorter than most people. But she admits that it bothers her when her personal space is invaded.

Aline’s office is small, not much bigger than a converted closet. Once she’s seated behind her desk, she can only get out on one side.   Don has a bad habit of coming into her office and standing at the corner of the desk so that he blocks her into her seat.

Today when he strolls in and stands at the corner of her desk, Aline’s not in the mood to be polite. She points to the chair across the desk from her and orders him to sit down. Don grins and sits down. They begin discussing the project they are working on.  Aline periodically looks at some charts.

Don wants to look at the charts, too. He stands up and says he’ll come around the desk to read over her shoulder. Aline’s had enough. She picks up the stack of charts and tosses them across the desk to Don. “You can read them from there,” she replies as she orders him back to his seat.

How should Aline handle Don in the future?

  1. She can kick him in the shins when he stands too close.
  2. She can refuse to work with him and probably get stuck with an even more annoying co-worker.
  3. She can accept that every job has its petty annoyances and drink more wine each evening.

Looming over shorter co-workers could be considered bullying depending on the circumstances. There are no easy answers to resolving these types subtly aggressive behavior but HR can use training in micro-aggression to set workplace expectations of what is acceptable.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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I Thought We Were Friends

Another update from the Jungle….

Rebecca is a real pain. She seems nice when people first meet her. But her former boss once compared her to a cancerous cell or a virus, spreading evil in the company. Abby agrees.

Rebecca was the first person to befriend her when Abby began working for the company. Abby was so grateful that it was several months before she realized that every encounter with Rebecca left her deeply depressed, often on the verge of tears. Abby is self-conscious about her weight and a speech impediment that causes her to slur words like Sylvester the cat. Rebecca has a way of drawing attention to Abby’s most sensitive characteristics.

Rebecca once begged Abby to walk with her to the coffee shop because Rebecca said she didn’t want to go alone. While waiting on her latte, Rebecca picked up a muffin for her breakfast. Suddenly, she turned to Abby and said “Here, this is too fattening. You eat it. I’ll get myself a banana.” Abby was so shocked she couldn’t explain that she had already eaten breakfast at home. She felt humiliated because the barista overheard Rebecca’s comment.

Rebecca often imitates Abby’s speech impediment, especially if there’s an audience. Abby’s told Rebecca to stop it because it is not nice to mock people. Rebecca says she’s just “picking at” Abby and doesn’t mean any harm. Rebecca also accuses Abby of being too sensitive. It all leaves Abby feeling like every misunderstanding is her fault.

After one humiliating episode, Abby is discovered crying in the bathroom by Michelle, the HR rep. Michelle is exasperated with Abby’s lachrymose acceptance of Rebecca’s special brand of “friendship.” But now that she’s seen Abby crying, Michelle knows she needs to take action. She meets with Rebecca to remind her of the company’s anti-bullying policy. Now Rebecca runs around telling everyone that Abby can’t take a joke.

What should Michelle do next?

  1. She could tell Abby to stand up for herself and stop being a victim.
  2. She could ignore the situation and hope it fixes itself, probably when Abby quits.
  3. She could confer with Rebecca’s supervisor about the next step in progressive discipline.

Bullying is becoming more subtle in the form of micro-aggressions.  Deciding when behavior crosses the invisible line between teasing and aggression is difficult because it all depends on reasonableness. What would a reasonable person think or feel in a similar situation? There are no easy answers but HR can help set workplace expectations of what is acceptable.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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The Morning After

Another update from the Jungle….

George rolls over and groans. It’s the morning after July 4th and he needs to go to work. George would love to call in sick, but he’s used all his accrued PTO.  As he shakily goes through his morning routine, he reflects on the long weekend that was.

George used his last PTO hours to take off Monday, knowing that he planned to have a good time over the weekend with his buddies. His memories of Friday night are fuzzy, involving a sports bar, overpriced drinks, and a contortionist from a circus or a zoo or something.  On Saturday his wife dragged him to a picnic with their church group. After gobbling down a couple of hot dogs and a bowl of potato salad, he joined his buddies for another evening of overpriced drinks.

Sunday he recuperated, sort of, staying in bed most of the day.  His wife was unhappy because he hadn’t managed to do any of the chores that he said he would. She walked around the house humming Highway 101’s hit “Whiskey, If You Were a Woman”.   George may be hung over, but he’s not stupid. It’s almost a relief to go to work today.

George staggers out the door and slides into his car. He makes it to the office safely, parks the car, and gathers his dignity for the stroll into the building. His co-workers smile at him and surreptitiously start a betting pool to guess when he’ll collapse face down on his cubicle’s desk.

Sally, his manager, notices his shaky hands clutching a mug of coffee in a death grip and frowns. She’s been worried for a long time about George.  He’s a likeable guy, hardworking and knowledgeable when he’s sober, but it’s obvious that he has a problem. Sally consults Connie, the HR manager, and they decide to call George in for a meeting.

What should they say to George?

  1. They could berate him for showing up too hung over to do his job and threaten to fire him.
  2. They could sanctimoniously point out the obvious, that he’s an alcoholic, and needs to change if he wants to keep his job.
  3. They could show concern by offering to help him get into a treatment plan to deal with his alcoholism before it costs him his job.

Holidays can be difficult for employees with addictions. Employers can help their employees, and the company’s bottom line, by offering an employee assistance program (EAP) and having an HR policy that encourages treatment first as an alternative to disciplinary proceedings.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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I’m In Charge!

Another update from the Jungle….

Mary likes the arts and has volunteered for years with several non-profits. Recently, she was offered a paid part-time position. The pay is barely above minimum wage but includes a parking pass and it fits with her full-time job’s schedule. Mary enjoys being paid to see the shows.

Mary’s enthusiasm for her part-time arts job soon wears thin. Suzy is another part-timer who was recently promoted to manager to help supervise the part-time staff during peak attendance hours.  Mary thinks the part-time managers are selected for their willingness to work longer hours for a small pay increase and not for their actual abilities.

Suzy is a perfect example. She bustles about acting important but has never been a manager. Under pressure, she becomes brusque to the point of rudeness. Since her main role is to resolve problems with unruly or disgruntled patrons, this creates interesting situations.

On a recent weekend, several patrons are shocked when their high-priced tickets to a special event are rejected.  Suzy arrives as Mary is explaining that the ticket office can help sort out their ticketing problem.  Mary explains to Suzy that the tickets are not scanning properly.

Suzy examines the tickets and tells the patrons that buying from scalpers is never a good idea. One patron turns red with fury as he says the third party ticketing company he used is a recognized distributor for the non-profit. Mary offers to show the patrons to the ticketing office but Suzy orders her to stay at her post. Suzy stalks off.

Twenty minutes later, Suzy is back.  In front of other workers, she tells Mary to never leave her post again. Mary points out that she didn’t. Then Suzy accuses Mary of “throwing gasoline on a fire” by telling the angry patrons that the ticket office could fix the ticketing problems. Suzy claims that the patrons will think this guarantees them admittance to the sold-out show. Mary’s temper rises.

What are Mary’s options?

  1. She can complain to Suzy’s boss but he is unlikely to take action unless other employees have also complained about Suzy.
  2. She can suggest that Suzy take Prozac or learn yoga to deal with the stress of being in charge.
  3. She can accept that Suzy’s accusations arise from feeling insecure and brush it off unless Suzy continues to criticize her.

Non-profits face the same employee issues as for-profit companies but often mistakenly believe they are exempt from employment laws. As a general rule, they are not and should consider how best to minimize their risks of violating employment laws.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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You Can’t Wear That!

Another update from the Jungle….

Bob enjoyed his vacation so much that he hated to come back to work.  Today he showed up still dressed for the beach.  Cindy, the HR manager, was aghast and choked on a mouthful of coffee when she caught a glimpse of Bob passing in the hallway.

Bob is the star salesman for the company and an all-around good guy. He’s an extrovert who tells good jokes. He has a way of talking to people that makes each individual feel valued. But he’s also a bit of a rebel and he’ll stretch the rules because he knows he’s privileged due to his sales ability. Cindy likes Bob and she usually cuts him some slack when he bends the rules.

Now she’s having heart palpitations, not in a good way, because she just saw Bob walking down the hall looking like an episode of Magnum, PI.  He’s wearing a very loud Hawaiian shirt, flip flops, and very short shorts.

Cindy spent two years convincing the socially conservative company president that relaxing the dress code during the summer months would be good for morale. The president only recently accepted the notion that women’s work attire can include pants suits or slacks, a concept most companies adopted in the 1970’s. To convince him to loosen the rules, she had to create detailed lists of clothing that is appropriate as business casual.

Cindy suspects the president will have an apoplectic fit if he sees Bob’s current wardrobe choice. Cindy drops her coffee mug and chases Bob down the hall to invite him into her office for a quiet chat.

What are Cindy’s options?

  1. She can ask Bob where he bought his clothes so that she can upgrade her husband’s wardrobe for their August vacation.
  2. She can send Bob home with instructions to change his clothes. Of course, there is no guarantee Bob will follow her instructions or return later today.
  3. She can review the business casual definition with Bob and ask why he is not complying with it. She can always hope that he has an acceptable excuse for ignoring the rules.

At this time of year, many companies struggle with the definition of “business casual”.   Striking the balance between comfort and professionalism will vary by company but should reflect the company’s image or brand.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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What’d You Say?

Another update from the Jungle….

Bob has been a manager for a long time but his department has a lot of turnover because more experienced employees refuse to work for him. Ann is a new hire who thinks he’s a lot nicer than the jerk she used to work for. But after a week of working for Bob, she begins to understand why no one wants to work for him.

On her first day, Bob tells her to feed the field porcupine. Ann stares blankly at him and asks him to repeat his instructions. Bob frowns and tells her again to feed the field porcupine. Ann slips out of his office and flags down a co-worker. Eventually they figure out that he wants Ann to find the paper file for a client named Field.

On another occasion, he tells Ann to call Dodd Maxson. She searches the customer records but can’t find Dodd Maxson. Luckily a co-worker recalls a large client account that Bob’s working on and suggests looking for a guy named Rod Waxman. Ann wonders what he’ll say next.

Soon after the Waxman mix up, he tells her to talk to the three bears about an appointment he needs with the CEO. Ann figures out with assistance that Bob wants her to talk to Patrice Burns, the CEO’s executive assistant. By now Ann thinks she’s catching on.

When Bob tells her to talk to the care box about the cost of dipping snuff, she uses her old charades skills to think of rhyming words that might match what Bob said. Bob is going to a sales convention out of town and he mentioned something about shipping his marketing materials. She cleverly concludes that Bob wants her to ask the warehouse what it would cost to ship his stuff to the trade show.

Now Ann is sitting in the office of Sarah, the HR rep, who asks how she’s settling in to her new job. Ann saying guardedly that there are challenges but overall it’s going well. Then Sarah asks how it’s going with Bob.

What should Ann say?

  1. She can say that Bob is an anthropology project who is creating his own language and testing it on unsuspecting subordinates.
  2. She can lie and say everything is wonderful and hope that her increased consumption of red wine each evening will help her to eventually understand Bob.
  3. She can remember that she’s the new kid on the block and maintain a neutral attitude.

In the actual situation, the employees good-naturedly poked fun at their manager’s garbled instructions. Eventually the manager learned to speak more clearly and his subordinates learned to repeat his instructions to ensure they heard correctly.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Wanna Know A Secret?

Another update from the Jungle….

Josh started his company with the help of several friends who are now enemies for life after a couple of business disagreements. After these mistakes, Josh intelligently concluded that his skill set didn’t include managing employees. So he hired Adele to handle employee problems.

Adele was wonderful. She created processes for hiring which allowed the company to hire better qualified people. She created work flows for tracking employee performance which improved the bottom line. Even her nifty termination process came in handy when employees began whizzing in, then back out, the door.

Josh noticed the company’s bottom line was sagging due to the high cost of employee turnover. When he asked Adele, she replied that employees were dissatisfied but couldn’t explain why. So he did what any concerned business owner does in such a situation. He hired a consultant to tell him what he already knew but didn’t want to believe.

Josh’s problem is Adele. She loves gossiping. Any confidential information she hears is liable to be repeated to other employees. She’s been feeding the feud between Chloe and Tammy by sympathetically listening to their grievances and then repeating their nastier comments.

She tells Chloe that Steve hates working with her after he complains that Chloe is always late to meetings. She tells Steve that Josh is planning to promote Sue to the job Steve wants because the company’s demographics will look better with a woman in management.

Josh is aware of Adele’s inability to keep secrets. After all, she’s repeated some of the juicier bits to him, like the rumor that Rob and Pam are having an affair. Actually, they both leave work at the same time because their daughters play on the same soccer team.

All the gossiping is causing widespread paranoia as everyone wonders what unfortunate “truth” will leak out on the office grapevine next. Josh is so shocked he accidentally dumps a cup of coffee in his lap. He feels betrayed by Adele because he was relying on her to take care of the people problems; not make them worse.

What are Josh’s options?

  1. He can give Adele a free trip into orbit without a rocket booster or parachute.
  2. He can accept the status quo because Adele updates him on what employees are saying about him and the company.
  3. He can reprimand Adele for gossiping but give her a second chance.

In the actual situation, the dysfunctional company simply muddled along from one crisis to the next until it was bought out by a competitor.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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I Want My Dream Job!

Another update from the Jungle….

Ashleigh is one of the newest employees of the company and she’s making waves.  Some co-workers think she’s arrogant and rude; others think she’s got some great ideas but lacks communication skills.  Everyone has an opinion of Ashleigh.

Susan, the HR rep, hears all these conflicting opinions and wonders if she ought to step in to do some quick counseling with Ashleigh.  Susan is the mother of several millennials and thinks she knows how to talk to them. While she’s trying to decide, Ashleigh’s manager stomps into her office, breathing hard through clenched teeth.

Tom says he’s had it with Ashleigh.  He asks Susan if there is an exception in the HR policies that would allow him to punt Ashleigh into outer space.  What has happened, she asks.  His knuckles whiten as he grips the arm rests of his chair, citing examples of Ashleigh’s unacceptable behavior.

Ashleigh refuses to stop fiddling with her smart phone or tablet during staff meetings. he is apparently incapable of typing in any format except text messaging.  She has a short attention span and often interrupts discussions to ask about irrelevant details.  But what really pushes Tom’s buttons is Ashleigh’s inability to solve problems.

Last week, she showed Tom her stapler and said it was out of staples.  When he told her to go to the supply closest to get a refill, she stared blankly as if she’d never heard of the concept of resupply.

Yesterday, he found Ashleigh standing at the copier staring at the flashing lights with a puzzled frown.  She said the copier wasn’t working.  The copier was out of paper, and Ashleigh didn’t know how to add more paper.  That’s when Tom decided she needs to go.

Susan invites Ashleigh to a follow up meeting as part of the on-boarding process.  Ashleigh admits she’s having trouble because the job is “hard” and Tom is “mean” to her.  Ashleigh says she wishes she had followed her college professor’s advice and held out for her dream job.

What should Susan do next?

  1. She can explain to Ashleigh that finding your “dream job” at 21 is a fantasy because she lacks the life experience to recognize her dream job.
  2. She can write off Ashleigh as a pampered princess and begin searching for a replacement.
  3. She can encourage Ashleigh to persevere and learn practical skills, such as how to reload the copier’s paper tray.

Every employer with millennials has noticed that their attitude to work is different from baby boomers.  HR can smooth the learning curve with training and mentoring programs.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Up There! It’s Helicopter Mom!

Another update from the Jungle….

Winston is a new employee, and he’s got a big problem with his boss, Roger, but doesn’t realize it. Roger is sick of hearing from Winston’s mom.  Back in the day, Roger would have called Winston a “momma’s boy.” Now, Roger reflects bitterly, Winston’s just a typical millennial.

It all started when Roger called Winston to set up a job interview. First, Winston asked if he could call back after checking his calendar. A week later, Winston called Roger to set up the interview. Winston admitted he needed time to call his mom, and now he has a special request. Can he bring his mom along to the job interview?

Why, asks Roger, pardonably puzzled, she’s not applying for the job is she? No, replies Winston; she just wants to check out the company to make sure it’s the “right fit” for him. Roger is so stunned, he agrees. Besides, he wants to meet the woman who has convinced her college-educated, adult son that he needs her approval for a job.

It’s the strangest job interview Roger has ever conducted in his long managerial career. He asks Winston a question, and mom prompts Winston on his responses and invariably explains his answers to Roger. Winston seems happy to let his mom control the interview.

Roger decides to test the limits of the interviewing process. He poses increasingly bizarre hypothetical workplace scenarios, asks Winston how he would respond, and listens to mom’s explanations. Roger reflects privately that it’s a good thing the HR rep is home sick so that she can’t “coach” Roger later on how to conduct a proper interview.

In spite of mom, Roger sees something in Winston that encourages him to ask for a follow up interview without mom.  Based on the second interview, Roger hires Winston, a decision he regrets almost immediately. Mom calls every week to complain when she hears that Roger has criticized some aspect of Winston’s performance. Roger loses patience after a month of phone calls.

What are Roger’s options?

  1. He can refuse to ever again allow a parent to attend a job interview.
  2. He can fire Winston because he’s tired of dealing with Winston’s helicopter mom. After all, it’s an at-will employment state.
  3. He can heroically suppress the urge to call Winston a “momma’s boy” and hope Winston learns to stand on his own two feet.

If your company faces a helicopter parent, most experts suggest setting up a separate meeting with the parent.  At that meeting, the employer can set expectations and limits on the parent’s ability to intervene in the employment relationship.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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My Boss Hates Me!

Another update from the Jungle….

Teresa works at a major corporation, and she’s grown steadily more pessimistic about her job and career. She’s convinced that her boss, Barbara, has discriminated against her, and she complains to HR. Her discrimination complaint is investigated by Audrey, the HR rep.

Audrey invites Teresa to a confidential meeting to get her side of the story. Teresa shows up at the meeting, toting a giant 3-ring binder stuffed full of copies of emails between Teresa and Barbara and copies of performance appraisals.  Teresa says the binder contains proof that Barbara is out to get her.

Audrey has an awful sinking feeling, familiar to any experienced HR person, as she stares at the 3-ring binder. She will eventually have to read it as part of her investigation. She sighs heavily and delays the inevitable by continuing her interview of Teresa.

Teresa spins a tale of slights, oversights, and harsh words that she says add up to discrimination. She claims that Barbara cuts her off in mid-sentence every time she tries to talk during staff meetings. Barbara is rude to her and makes negative comments in front of co-workers. Barbara gives pay raises to younger, less experienced co-workers while telling Teresa that she’s not eligible for any pay increases.  Barbara ignores her and dislikes her while being nice to everyone else in the department.

The next day, Audrey begins reading the 3-ring binder.  After an hour, she has a raging headache but has reached a few conclusions. The emails indicate that Teresa has become increasingly defensive, responding to sometimes non-existent criticism. The performance appraisals completed by Barbara move from neutral (“works well with others”) assessments to mildly negative (“attitude needs improvement”) in the most recent appraisal.

Audrey knows that Barbara has a history of managerial issues. Audrey had opposed Barbara’s promotion to manager because of her lack of “people” skills.  Now Audrey’s sitting at her desk trying to decide what to do next.

What should she do?

  1. She can recommend that nothing be done due to a lack of clear proof of discrimination.
  2. She can arrange Teresa’s transfer to a different manager and hope for the best.
  3. She can tell Teresa and Barbara to stop acting like whiny children and then go have a glass (or a bottle) of wine to wash away the effects of their feud.

In the actual situation, a department reorganization lead to the reassignment of the disgruntled employee. That resolved the immediate conflict but not the long term issue of poor training for new managers.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Excuse Me, I’m Your Boss

Another update from the Jungle….

Mercedes and Hunter are millennials, and that’s a problem for their boss, Susan. Susan built her business from scratch after years of working for big corporations. But her toughest job has been working with millennials.

Mercedes and Hunter think the business world is flat. They think they are on the same level with Susan. They barge into her office to discuss details of their work as if she is a college chum rather than their boss. Susan believes in open lines of communication, but she’s explained many times that they need to first ascertain that she is free to talk rather than flopping down on a chair and talking.

They also seem to think that paying your dues is for others. Hunter constantly argues with Susan about the strategy for each client relationship. His occasionally condescending tone and know-it-all attitude is infuriating. Susan remembers years of struggle in corporate America and resists the urge to slap his head off his shoulders.

Millennials have opposable thumbs because they can only communicate via text messaging, using annoying symbols and other non-words, Susan thinks irritably. Perhaps that explains another lapse in business etiquette. What Mercedes and Hunter consider “honest” talk is perceived by clients as rude and disrespectful.

Susan values their fresh insights and technical skills, but she’s feeling worn down by their constant search for meaning. Last week, Hunter said he didn’t understand the purpose of his newest assignment. Susan managed, barely, to not say that the purpose is his paycheck.

Yesterday, Mercedes told Susan that the stress of working on her newest assignment had upset her too much to continue working that day. She walked out of Susan’s office, out the front door of the office, and down the street to the nearest coffee shop for another cappuccino.

Susan glared at the open doorway, infuriated, as she thought about her career in corporate America, surviving backstabbing co-workers and managers who chased management fads.  She thinks a sniveling millennial wouldn’t survive a week in a traditional job.

What are Susan’s options?

  1. She can punt the millennials into outer space and look for replacements.
  2. She can retire to a Caribbean island with lots of rum and fruit.
  3. She can coach them on appropriate business behavior while adapting some of her business practices to fit their work habits.

The above scenario is a composite demonstrating the perceived differences between millennials and their baby boomer bosses. Baby boomers began their careers when face time counted and a strict hierarchy was enforced.  Today’s workforce requires more flexible employee practices.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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I’ve Had It with You!

Another update from the Jungle….

Once there was an executive assistant (what we used to call a secretary) who worked for a toxic boss. Rachel was good at her job, but you’d never know it working for David.  Rachel and David joined the company a few months apart more than ten years ago. They only began working together about two years ago.

Before that, Rachel worked for several managers who gave her neutral or mildly positive marks on her annual performance review.  The unexciting performance reviews kept Rachel on the move, transferring to new managers in hopes of finding a better work relationship.  Now Rachel is desperate to move again because she’s had with David.

David is mean and nasty. He criticizes her work product mercilessly, often when other people are present. He makes snarky comments about her constant noshing, even though Rachel’s explained that she has a medical condition requiring her to eat healthy snacks frequently throughout the day.

David’s nastiness stems, at least in part, from Rachel’s mediocre performance. He’s had it with her, too.  He’ll never admit that his constant disapproval has affected her performance.  After all, he also answers to a difficult boss and doesn’t want to hear any whining from others. He’d love to offload Rachel on another manager but there haven’t been any openings.

Last week, David’s and Rachel’s luck changed. An internal job posting announced an opening for an executive assistant in another department. Rachel immediately submits her resume. The HR manager tells Rachel that she’s not eligible for consideration because David still needs to submit her performance review.

Rachel dashes out of the HR manager’s office and makes it to David’s office in Olympic Gold medal time. She glares at David and demands that he turn in her performance review immediately. David scowls at her. Then he says that he will give her the best damned review she’s ever had if it means he can get rid of her.

What can Rachel do next?

  1. She can complain to HR about David’s abusive attitude but that could make her sound whiny and hurt her chances of a transfer away from him.
  2. She can dump her trash of rotting apple cores on his desk when he’s in a meeting.
  3. She can say nothing and use his “great” review to get away from him.

In the actual situation, the executive assistant moved from one toxic manager to an even more toxic manager. Toxicity should be addressed with HR assistance rather than festering to the detriment of the entire organization.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Have I Got a Deal for You!

Another update from the Jungle….

Cyndi has settled in well to her new role as a manager at her company. Her friendly attitude is helping her build solid client relationships. But Tom, the candidate who lost out when Cyndi was promoted, is nursing his sense of injustice.

Tom believes he was the victim of reverse discrimination. He thinks the company promoted Cyndi because they were scared by a former employee’s gender discrimination lawsuit. Initially, he sulked and nursed his wounded ego. But he’s not stupid; he knows that sulking won’t help him. So he does what any reasonably intelligent schemer does. He dreams up a diabolically clever plan to get even.

First, he taps his network within the company to find out where there might soon be an opening for a manager. He learns that Stuart is retiring from his managerial slot as head of internal procurement. It’s an important job within the company but a graveyard for career aspirations. No procurement manager has ever received a promotion to the C-suite.

Tom begins maneuvering to have Cyndi promoted to Stuart’s soon-to-be-vacated job. Tom persuades a friend to encourage Cyndi to apply for Stuart’s job.  He also anonymously encourages the HR manager to believe that Cyndi wants Stuart’s job.  As a result, Cyndi is subjected to nudges, winks, and “discreet” inquiries about her interest in replacing Stuart.

Cyndi is flattered by all the attention. It’s nice to be wanted. She knows that if she takes the job, she will be the head of an entire department and get a slight bump in pay.  But Cyndi isn’t stupid either.

She knows she’s got a management job on the production (i.e., revenue producing) side of the business. Procurement is a cost center and not a revenue producer for the company.  She knows that production-side managers are more likely to get promoted.

What should Cyndi do next?

  1. She can apply for Stuart’s job so that she becomes the head of a department and gets the bump in pay; but accept that she’ll probably never get another promotion.
  2. She can recognize the Machiavellian plot to derail her career and start a counter campaign to get Tom promoted to the procurement job.
  3. She can hang on to her current managerial post and work toward a C-suite promotion.

Office politics are a feature of every company. For some, it’s a game that alleviates the boredom of their jobs while others see politicking as war with winners and losers. To limit the politicking, it helps to have clear HR policies that are fairly applied to all employees.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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This is My Meeting!

Another update from the Jungle….

Cyndi is the newest manager at her company. Today she is going on her first major client meeting since her promotion. But she’s not going alone.

Ron, the CEO, says he is sending Bill along to help answer questions. Bill knows the client, Grand Delusions, Inc., well because it was his account before the hand off to Cyndi. Cyndi gets along well with Bill because he’s always been willing to help her. She’s glad to have him along to handle the introductions.

Bill offers to drive to Grand Delusion’s office because he’s been there many times before while this is Cyndi’s first visit.  During the drive, he tells Cyndi about his recent vacation looking at Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. Cyndi asks a few questions about Grand Delusions but gets conflicting advice from Bill. By the time they arrive, she’s feeling a tad confused.  The CEO of Grand Delusions is either the best guy ever or a total jerk, according to Bill.

Cyndi and Bill are escorted to Grand Delusions’ conference room where they are joined by Tim, CEO, and Sam, CFO. Tim and Sam greet Bill like the old friend he is and launch into an anecdote about their recent golf outing. After an interminable waste of time (in Cyndi’s opinion) the real meeting begins. Bill introduces Cyndi and explains that she is now in charge of the client relationship.

Cyndi smiles graciously and begins to outline her agenda for the meeting.  Bill interrupts her to remind Tim that the billing system has changed. That was the final item on Cyndi’s agenda because she knows it will take time to explain.  Bill launches into a garbled explanation of the new billing system that misstates several vital steps. Tim and Sam stare blankly. It’s obvious they’re confused.

Cyndi tries to correct Bill’s misinformation, but he talks over her. That’s when she gets mad. She scribbles on a piece of paper “I thought this was my meeting” and passes the note to Bill.  He reads the note and stuffs it in his pocket.

What are Cyndi’s options?

  1. She can kick Bill in the shins underneath the table until he stops talking.
  2. She can jump up shouting “liar, liar, pants on fire” at Bill.
  3. She can call Tim and Sam later to schedule a meeting with them but without Bill to talk about the new billing system.

In the actual situation, the male colleague stopped talking (briefly) after receiving the note which allowed his female colleague to lead the discussion.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Want to Know What I Think?

Another update from the Jungle….

Cyndi is the newest manager at her company. How she got promoted is still a hotly disputed topic. She worked for the company for ten years, taking on progressively more difficult assignments. She paid for management training classes out of her own pocket and thinks she’s earned her promotion.

Tom, the other candidate, and his supporters are convinced that she got the promotion due to an excess of political correctness by the senior management team. They believe the senior management team was scared after the company was sued by former employee Alicia.

Alicia sued after being passed over for promotion for the third time. She alleged that Ron, the CEO, and other male senior managers judged female employees based on “feminine” appearance rather than competence. Alicia wore little makeup and preferred pants suits to dresses.

Without admitting fault, the company quickly settled with Alicia and proudly announced a new diversity and inclusion initiative. Cyndi is the first person promoted to manager after the D&I program is implemented.

Cyndi shows up for her first managers meeting prepared to contribute after all her years of preparation. She walks into the conference room and sees that the chairs are taken at the table. She drags up a chair and politely asks two colleagues to move to allow her to sit at the table. They stare at her blankly for interrupting their conversation.

After a moment, Cyndi deftly shoves an elbow into the side of one manager and whacks her chair leg into the shins of the other one. As they recoil, she pushes her chair into the cleared space at the table and sits down. She smiles graciously at her colleagues and thanks them for moving.

The meeting is about a new marketing campaign to increase sales to women. Cyndi listens in silence for several minutes, awaiting her chance to contribute. Ron solicits opinions from everyone except Cyndi.

Cyndi looks around the table and considers her options.

  1. She can sit quietly and say nothing since she’s new to the group.
  2. She can go home and cry into a glass of red wine because she was ignored.
  3. She can look Ron in the eye and say, “I’m sure it’s an oversight but I haven’t been asked what I think of the new campaign”, and then give her opinion.

The above scenario may seem familiar to many employees.  Diversity and inclusion programs enhance employee retention and attract new employees; but only when properly implemented and with a clearly stated goal of deepening the talent pool.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Another update from the Jungle….

Danny is interviewing for a new job, and the question he dreads most has just been asked. Why did he leave his last job?  Danny stares at the in-house recruiter of his prospective employer and thinks back to his former job.

Danny is a young salesman, bright and energetic. He was hired straight out of college into his dream job. He thought his former boss, Sam, was his friend because they talked about sports when they weren’t talking about business.

They often hung out at a sports bar after work watching sports events.  They also called and texted each other about games they were watching during the weekend. Unfortunately, Danny hadn’t made the mental transition from college buddies to business colleagues.

He learned this hard lesson during March Madness.  Danny hosted a party for some of his college frat brothers. Since he was hosting his own party, he couldn’t attend Sam’s party for colleagues and clients.

As the game progressed, Danny called Sam to discuss the latest score and joke about some of the action. But Danny was drinking heavily and jokes that amuse frat brothers don’t necessarily amuse a boss, particularly a boss trying to entertain his own guests.  After the tenth call in as many minutes, Sam ordered Danny to not call him again. Danny laughed drunkenly and agreed. A few minutes later, he called Sam again. Sam hung up and turned off his phone.

The next day, Danny was met at the office by an HR rep who explained that getting drunk and making harassing phone calls to a boss was inappropriate. She informed Danny that he could resign and receive a severance package or he could be fired.  Danny chose the first option and returned home to nurse his hangover.

This sorry sequence of events flits through Danny’s mind as he stares at the in-house recruiter. What are Danny’s options?

  1. He can admit that he got drunk, showed poor judgment, and was invited to be successful elsewhere.
  2. He can trash his former employer as a rotten place to work.
  3. He can say that his former employer wasn’t a good “fit” or that he is looking for a new challenge.

In the actual situation, the young employee was given a few coaching tips during his exit interview, regarding appropriate behavior outside the office.  It’s always a good idea to add a segment in the on-boarding process to remind new hires that what they do on their own time can negatively affect their employment.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Ask Me If I Care

Another update from the Jungle….

Mason is a slacker dude who attended college for two years on a beer and pizza plan until his dad had a chat with him. His dad gave Mason three options: make stellar grades for a semester and dad would start paying for college again, join the military, or get a job.

Mason decided to get a job. Since he has no marketable skills and his dad isn’t a politician with connections, he accepts the only job he is offered: working in a call center.  He sits in a low-walled cubicle talking to customers while wearing a headset that he can fantasize is actually a computer game headset.  As long as he’s got his favorite carbonated drink and potato chips, he’s happy.

Mason does so well that his dad daydreams of a day when Mason will be a responsible adult.  Then Mason is transferred to the “retention” department where angry customers are sent by the regular call center staff.   These angry customers explain in great detail how much they hate the company, its product, and its employees.

Mason’s first line of defense to so much hate and fury is to treat it all as a game. He’s actually very good at the job because he never gets angry; he lets the words roll over him.  But gradually, the abuse blasting over his headset wears down even the defenses of a slacker dude.  Drinking an extra coke or eating an extra bag of chips doesn’t alleviate the dreariness of each work day.

Mason sleeps in repeatedly and is written up for tardiness.  He drinks greater quantities of adult beverages on the weekends. On one memorable occasion, he shows up late and still drunk. His supervisor informs him that if it happens again, Mason will be fired. Mason stares blearily, wondering when his supervisor will realize that he doesn’t care.

What are Mason’s options?

  1. He can continue breaking the rules to see how long it takes to actually be fired from the one job he is good at.
  2. He can drink more alcohol and become a zombie at work.
  3. He can look for another job that is less mentally distressing.

Call centers are full of employees who are worn down by the stress of customer service, dull workspaces, and constant monitoring for infractions of company rules. As employees disengage, employers become more rigid about enforcing the rules in an effort to boost productivity which increases turnover.  HR staff can ease the pain for everyone by revamping HR policies to emphasize rewards rather than punishments.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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I Gotta Be Me!

Another update from the Jungle….

Annie is desperate for a job after being kicked to the curb by her last two employers.  One employer cut staff when sales plummeted off a cliff; the other went straight in to bankruptcy.  Working a cash register in a big box store is a high risk job these days.

Annie doesn’t care about her dream job.  She just wants to pay her bills while she decides how old she’ll be before she can afford to retire.  With dimming hopes of a better life, she applies for every job opening she can find.

Finally, she is offered a job at a sporting goods store.  The company’s C-suite wants to sell more sporting equipment and clothes to women.  The company’s HR director hopes that a diverse staff in the local stores will help meet the corporate goal of expanding the customer base.  Annie doesn’t know that she’s an experimental lab rat let loose in the maze to test new management objectives.  She’s just happy to be employed.

In her first week on the job, Annie learns more about sports and sporting goods than she ever wanted to know.  She thinks some of the camping equipment is pretty cool but would never camp out in the woods with all the germs, vermin, and lack of Wi-Fi service.  Her male co-workers consider her an urban blight on their outdoorsy message to become one with nature.  Even the other female employee thinks Annie is a sissy for not understanding that sweating is fun.

Annie wears leggings with flowing caftans and handcrafted jewelry.  Her co-workers wear Dockers and golf shirts with the company’s logo.  She wears shoes made of eco-friendly fibers; her co-workers wear hiking boots.

After a month on the job, Annie gradually realizes that she’s not fitting in with her co-workers.  She’s the fastest cashier in the store, but who cares when she doesn’t know a fly-fishing rod from a regular rod.

What are Annie’s options?

  1. She can continue being the oddball on the job, feeling increasingly uncomfortable and isolated.
  2. She can try fitting in by taking up big game hunting and picking her teeth with a Bowie knife.
  3. She can be herself but begin looking for a job that matches her personal values.

The above scenario illustrates the mismatch that can occur between employees and employers.  With the Great Recession behind us, employees may find it easier to work for companies that match their values.  Meanwhile, employers may want to review the connection between their corporate goals and their corporate values.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Stop the Bus!

Another update from the Jungle….

Amber is enjoying an unusually slow day when Howard stops by to say hello. Amber is the HR director for a company that provides transportation services for musical acts. Howard is one of her favorite drivers because he’s done it all.

Howard started driving big rigs when they were still powered by gasoline. Over a 30-year career he’s driven flatbed, vans, tankers, and refrigerated or “reefer” vans.  A few years ago, Howard retired from driving big rigs but was soon bored sitting at home. So he signed up to drive a tour bus.

Howard takes the world as it comes, never getting too upset by what happens around him. But he doesn’t take any guff from anyone. That includes not allowing anyone to endanger his commercial driver’s license (CDL). Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem but today he’s telling Amber that his most recent assignment came close.

Howard says the band arrived at the pickup point in a Cadillac convertible.  Five guys with beards, long hair and tattoos crawled out of the Caddy, toting their musical instruments. A couple of them had hand-rolled cigarettes, reminding Howard of another definition of the term “reefer”.

As the band stowed their gear and instruments, Howard was approached by the lead singer, Bill.  Bill said the “boys” enjoy a little recreational smoking each day, and he wanted to make sure that Howard is “cool” with it. Howard replied that if anyone smells or sees contraband on the bus, he could lose his CDL because as the driver he is responsible for everything happening on the bus.

Of course, Howard remembered some of the crazy things he did as a young driver. Some of his adventures can never be repeated if he wants his children and grandchildren to continue to respect him. So he proposed a solution to Bill.

Howard offered to stop the bus whenever the band requested a break. Howard didn’t want to know why. He would simply pull off the interstate and drive the bus to a discreet location. He also suggested that when the boys got off the bus, they should walk around the corner where Howard couldn’t see them.

Howard reports to Amber that the process worked brilliantly for the entire tour. The band was happy and even treated the process like a game. Howard was happy because his CDL wasn’t endangered.

In the actual situation, the bus driver and the band engaged in “don’t ask, don’t tell” and everyone finished the tour in good spirits and as friends.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Totally Sozzled

Another update from the Jungle….

pic-6Addy graduated from college and went to work for the government agency where she had interned as a student.  Of course, there’s a big difference between being an intern and becoming an employee.  As an intern, Addy was excluded from most office social events because she was underage.

pic-7A few months after accepting the job offer, the big bosses decided representatives of each branch office of the agency should receive intensive training away from the usual office distractions. They decided that the perfect spot for learning is New Orleans. Addy prepared for her first business trip.

Nick, the head of Addy’s office, got into the spirit of learning before they left town. He distributed the bosses’ agenda at a staff meeting. Then he told the attendees that he knew a great place in the French Quarter and that he would play tour guide as soon as they checked in at the hotel.

pic-3Two hours after the airplane landed, Addy followed her co-workers down a dark alley in the French Quarter to Nick’s “great place.” The fun began. As a recent college graduate, Addy considered herself a seasoned drinker. She soon realized she was an amateur.

Addy doesn’t remember many details after the first bar, but she knows she had a good time. She later saw how good a time when she was invited to the HR manager’s office to view cell phone video of what she didn’t remember doing in the French Quarter.

pic-1The video shows a gaggle of staggering zombies in a karaoke bar, all dancing to a different beat as they belt out the same song.  In the background, Addy recognizes her supervisor in a passionate embrace with a co-worker.  Front and center in the video is Nick gyrating madly, his hand waving through his unzipped fly.  Nick is totally sozzled, barely able to stand.

The HR manager says she invited Addy in for a chat as part of the usual on-boarding process for new hires.  How should Addy respond to the HR manager?

  1. pic-2She can say that she’s enjoying learning from her more experienced co-workers.
  2. She can ask for copies of the video in case she needs to blackmail her bosses later. (Addy’s a quick learner of office politics.)
  3. She can stare blankly like a little lost waif and wait for the HR manager to give her a clue about how to respond appropriately.

The antics outlined in this scenario have been changed to protect innocent waifs like your author. Surely, no government employees near you would ever misbehave during a training seminar.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Great Leaders Hire The Right People

Another update from the Jungle….

application-1915347_1920Finding the “right” employee is one of the most difficult tasks for any company. There will always be job applicants with the skills and expertise required for the job. But will the new hire fit in well with the existing team? A technically skilled person is so much dross if she or he has a toxic personality that destroys team morale.

On the other hand, the person with the perfect technical skills may not fit your company’s culture. What if the company preaches one set of values but practices another? Ambivalent messages from senior management are even more detrimental than one employee’s toxic personality.

Here’s how one leader solved these problems.

pic3In World War II, U-boat captain Peter “Ali” Cremer was concerned about how new crew members would fit in with his existing crew. U-boats were claustrophobically tiny. There was no privacy and no room to separate crewmen if a dispute arose. Meanwhile, U-boats took weeks-long patrols looking for Allied convoys and risking enemy attacks.

Bravery and technical skills were useless if a crewman was not willing or able to be a team player. Cremer knew that he needed men who were used to working as part of a team. So when Cremer looked at applicants for a place on his boat, he looked for men who had played team sports. He knew that men who played team sports were used to functioning as part of a group. That made it easier for them to work in the close quarters of a U-boat.

pic4At the same time, Cremer was consistent in his approach to the job (i.e., his corporate culture). Every crew member was treated with respect and discipline was enforced the same for everyone. No unnecessary risks were taken with the boat or the crew. Across the fleet, every U-boater knew that Cremer always brought his crew back alive. That was important since only 10% of U-boaters survived the war.

Cremer’s criteria worked. He’s the only U-boat captain that operated in the Atlantic Ocean for the entire war. His crew losses were minimal. By the way, Cremer had a fascinating family background. His mother was English, his father was German, and one set of grandparents was from Alsace-Lorraine.

pic5For more information about Peter Cremer, check out his memoirs U-Boat Commander (1984). For an example of the U-boat service, see the movie “Das Boot”, based on Lothar-Gunther Buchheim’s book of the same name. If you would like to tour a U-boot, visit Chicago’s Museum of Science + Industry.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Chaos Cathy

Another update from the Jungle….

picture-2Chaos Cathy is a good worker when she pays attention to her job. Too bad she spends most of her time picking fights with her co-workers. One week she complains about a co-worker’s perfume. Another week she complains about loud voices talking on the phone.

picture-1Chaos Cathy’s whining is a symptom of her perpetual competitiveness. She complains that her cubicle is smaller than the cubicles of her peers. After weeks of drama, her manager finally agrees to find another cubicle. But the new cubicle has no window. True, the window in her current cubicle offers only a view of the trash bins behind the building.

Chaos Cathy’s boss flatly refuses to move Rob, a more senior worker, from his cubicle so that Cathy can have it. Chaos Cathy flounces down the stairs to Weary Wanda, the HR manager, to complain that offering a windowless cubicle is retaliation for complaining about the terrible working conditions. picture-3Wanda is weary because she’s got to listen to Chaos Cathy’s constant whining while also getting an earful from Cathy’s annoyed co-workers.

Weary Wanda is an experienced HR manager and mom. She lets Chaos Cathy rant while her mind drifts to what she’d like to eat for dinner that night. Eventually Chaos Cathy stops talking. Weary Wanda says she’ll look into the matter and encourages Chaos Cathy to go back to work.

picture-4A week later, Chaos Cathy is back. Now she’s complaining that her manager has encouraged his other subordinates to abuse her for exposing his incompetence. Chaos Cathy launches into a convoluted description of abusive co-workers, travel to Mars, and stinky perfume from the next cubicle to prove her boss is incompetent and prejudiced.

Weary Wanda asks how Chaos Cathy would like to have her complaints resolved. Cathy replies that she wants her manager to get off the planet. Weary Wanda explains that HR can’t force a supervisor to get off the planet so Chaos Cathy needs to think of another solution to the problem. Chaos Cathy says no other outcome is acceptable to her.

What are Weary Wanda’s options?

  1. She can recommend that Chaos Cathy drink more boxed red wine in the evenings to calm her nerves.
  2. She can transfer Chaos Cathy to another department run by a supervisor that Wanda doesn’t like.
  3. She can explain, as politely as possible, that chronic complainers like Chaos Cathy rarely help their long-term career aspirations.

picture-5In the actual situation, the complaining employee’s insubordinate behavior towards her manager escalated until her employment was terminated. She unsuccessfully sued for wrongful termination.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Great Leaders Build Great Teams

Another update from the Jungle….

pic4Building a successful team is never easy. Managers and business owners who hire “yes-men” tend to ride their egos and a false consensus to financial ruin. On the other hand, having too many different opinions can paralyze decision-making and cause companies to fall apart. What should an intelligent manager or business owner do?

Take a lesson from one of the best team managers of all time. George Washington formed a Cabinet that included Alexander Hamilton as Treasury Secretary and Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State. These two men didn’t like each other personally, and they had opposing political philosophies.

pic3Hamilton wanted a strong central government and an industrialized economy. Jefferson wanted a weak central government with most power residing with the states and an economy based on agriculture. These conflicting visions of America are as strong today as they were over 200 years ago.

pic1Washington kept his feuding Cabinet members functioning as a team, and he did it while building the political structure of the U.S. from scratch. The traditions we esteem today were created by Washington to work around the political battles in his Cabinet and with the leaders of Congress.

Washington made it all work by the force of his personality. He was calm and assured under pressure. He was usually able to contain his anger and find a compromise to disputes. He gathered data carefully and listened to all sides of an argument. Then he made his own decisions.

pic2Building a functioning team means having calm, assertive leadership that listens to all viewpoints before making a final decision. Washington was one of the best at it.

For more information about Washington, you can choose from hundreds of books about him. A recent favorite of mine that is informative and well-written is Washington, A Life, by Ron Chernow (2010). Chernow also wrote a biography of Alexander Hamilton and served as a technical advisor to Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton: An American Musical.

pic6If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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The Knife in the Back

Another update from the Jungle…

pic-5Bryan is a serial entrepreneur. Every time he gets a new idea, he starts a new company to exploit the idea. He’s successful at starting businesses, but he’s lousy at running them.

Bryan doesn’t like getting bogged down in the details. So he relies on lieutenants to keep him informed of how things are going at each company. Unfortunately, Bryan doesn’t seem to have noticed that one of his trusted lieutenants is deadlier than a rattlesnake.

pic-1Susan learns this the hard way when she begins working at one of his companies. Her first day on the job, she’s introduced to Elaine who is so friendly and helpful that Susan is duped into thinking she’s nice. But Elaine is a snake in the grass.

pic-2Elaine is an intolerable busybody. She stands near the elevator to track the time each employee shows up for work. She wanders the hallways, keeping tabs on what others are doing and saying. Then she passes every tidbit of information along to Bryan with a special Elaine twist.

Susan learns the truth when Bryan stops by for a quarterly meeting with the company’s management team, of which Susan is a junior member. Bryan marches into the conference room and sits opposite Elaine who is taking notes on pic-4the decisions he makes.

Bryan begins the meeting by chewing out Laura for falling sales in the past quarter. Laura replies that it is impossible to boost sales when her team is starved for resources. She produces a stack of receipts showing that her team has to pic-3buy their own office supplies since Elaine locked up the supply closet and hid the key.

Bryan impatiently tells Laura to stop blaming others for her own failings as a manager. Then he turns on Bob, the CFO, who didn’t have the financial reports ready for Bryan. Bob scowls but says nothing.

pic-6Susan knows that Bob was late with the financial reports because Elaine delayed helping him while she worked on other lower priority assignments. Susan looks at Elaine expecting her to defend Bob. Elaine smirks and remains silent.

What are Susan’s options?

  1. She can point out that Elaine sabotaged Bob but doubts that Bryan will believe her.
  2. She can thank her lucky stars that Elaine isn’t gunning for her.
  3. She can use her accrued vacation to begin hunting for a new job, preferably one without another Elaine.

pic-7In the actual situation, the junior manager soon found herself on the backstabber’s hit list and left the company as soon as possible.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Sit Down and Shut Up?

Another update from the Jungle…..

pic-1Amber sits at her desk sorting through paperwork when Tom walks in and slumps in the chair across from her.  Amber is the HR director for a company that provides transportation services for musical acts.  Tom is one of the bus drivers.  He stops by to give Amber an update about his recent month-long trip driving a rockabilly band around Texas.

The rockabilly band consists of 20-somethings who recently signed their first pic-5professional contract. The tour was to build buzz about their new album.  The band members were as excited as school children, staring out the windows as the passing scenery.  At the first roadhouse, they leaped off the bus, grabbed their instruments, and prepared to sing.

By the third night on the road, the band was already wearing down, probably due to their diet of soda, chips, and wine coolers. They slept on the bus as Tom drove to the next roadhouse or honkeytonk bar.  At the end of the first week, the band trooped tiredly off the bus each time it stopped at a new venue.

During the second week, their schedule took them to San Antonio, a grand old city with many tourist attractions. pic-4Between performances, the band decided to explore the bars on the Riverwalk.  Later no one could remember exactly what they did but they all agreed they had a great time.  Then they got back on the bus for the next leg of the tour.

After the San Antonio stop, the tour became a grind of road houses and bars. Nursing hangovers and a lack of sleep, the chatter and enjoyment of the first week was a distant memory.  By the final week of the tour, the band members snarled at each other.

Denver, the youngest band member, often came to the front of the bus to stare out the windshield at the flat, dusty pic-2landscape.  One day, after several minutes of staring, Denver asked where they are.  Tom was as tired of the road as the band. Without taking his eyes off the road, he replied to Denver, “What difference does it make to you? When the bus stops, you’ll get off and play. Until then, shut up and go sit down”.

In the actual situation, the bus driver really did tell a band member to shut up and sit down.  The band also successfully built buzz about their album and enjoyed a brief spell on the top 40 playlist.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

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The Election’s Over. Can’t We Be Friends?

Another update from the Jungle….

image2Every morning since the holidays, Alyssa drags herself into work wishing she didn’t have to show up. She’s the HR manager for her company and she knows that her co-workers have a host of problems. She has a few of her own.  Alyssa is expecting trouble on Friday, at the inauguration of the new president.

Her company’s workforce includes supporters of both candidates in the recent election. Her co-workers usually get this worked up and divided over the Super Bowl; not politics. Now supporters of each side are snarling at each other in the hallways and the break room.

Last week, Doreen whined again about missing out on a promotion.  She’s convinced that senior management only promotes men, which is why Sam got the promotion she wanted.  Doreen says the election results prove the country is taking a step backward on women’s equality.

Yesterday, Leigh Ann and Jake stormed into Alyssa’s office to file harassment complaints against several cimage4o-workers.  Leigh Ann says her nerves are shattered by the sexist comments of several co-workers.  Jake claims the same co-workers mocked his lifestyle choices, including his multi-colored hair and thick glasses. They demand that Alyssa transfer the offending co-workers to a more suitable section of cubicle-world, such as next to bathrooms.

This morning, Javier and Ryan continued their endless argument about the election results while they were eating cookies in the breakroom.  By the third cookie, the discussion was a loud argument and Ryan dumped a cup of coffee on Javier. Javier retaliated by shoving a cookie up Ryan’s nose.

image3Co-workers were placing bets on who would win the fight when Rosemary, a manager, ran into the breakroom and spoiled the fun. She threw a tray of ice cubes at Javier and Ryan to cool them off and then ordered them to follow her to Alyssa’s office.  Alyssa is now trapped in her office with Rosemary, Javier and Ryan.

What are Alyssa’s options?

  1. She can drink an extra bottle of wine each evening to soothe her nerves.
  2. She can use all her vacation time to visit a South Seas island for a few weeks.
  3. She can ride out the temporary storm of emotional excesses and hope that everyone returns to their usimage5ual griping very soon.

Many work places face disruptions arising from the divisions in our communities. Outside the office, people increasingly live and socialize primarily with people with the same political and social attitudes. That means our workplaces have become the place where people are most likely to interact with differing social and political views. That puts HR staff in the middle of social divisions.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Which Body Part Are You Using as Brains?

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-3Amber is the HR director for a company that provides transportation services for musical acts.  Her days are filled with the usual HR matters, such as hiring and firing employees, but what keeps her job interesting are the tales from the road reported by the company’s bus drivers.  Yesterday, Amber received an update from driver Adam about the band he’s currently driving.

Adam says that a couple of nights ago, the band’s assistant manager Jay, began chatting to a young woman at the endunnamed-4 of the bar. Jay thinks women find him irresistible. Hormones and booze helped the conversation along and by intermission they had disappeared. When the band finished their set, they returned to the hotel for a few hours of sleep.

In the wee hours of the morning, Adam woke to pounding on his hotel room door. The band’s manager, Alan, said that a group of angry men with guns riding in pickup trucks were circling the hotel’s parking lot. According to the hotel clerk, they were looking for someone’s kid sister who was last seen at the bar in the club.

Adam and Alan stared at each other for a moment. Then they dashed down the hall to Jay’s room and pounded on the door. No one answered.  Alan borrowed a housekeeper’s key to enter the room. It was empty.  Alan decided they should leave town immediately and he told Adam to grab his stuff and go fire up the bus.

Adam packed hastily and waited until the pickups circled to the back parking lot. Then he raced to the bus, started it and drove to the hotel’s front door. The band was waiting in the lobby, one in boxer shorts and a tee shirt. They unnamed-1jumped on the bus and Adam headed for the exit.  Suddenly the pickup trucks returned and tried to block the exit. Adam aimed the bus at the leading pickup truck and floored it. At the last minute the pickup truck veered aside and the bus bounced on to the road to the interstate.

The band members began arguing about whether they should have stayed to search for Jay. Suddenly, someone staggered from the bathroom at the back of the bus. unnamed-2 It was Jay.  Apparently, the young woman gave him the slip as they left the bar so he returned to the bus to wait for the band. Adam was still laughing about Jay’s adventure when he reported to Amber.

In the actual situation, no one was shot and no one went to jail. The band’s manager considered that a win. But he asked for a new assistant.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Make Her Go Away!

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-9Jane drags herself into work the first day after the holidays, not sure whether she wants to be here. She’s the HR manager for her company and she knows that her co-workers will return with a host of problems. She has a few of her own.

Her house is still trashed from hosting her family’s holiday dinner. Her widowed mom chose the holiday dinner to unnamed-21announce that she planned to take an around the world trip with Frederik, a gigolo she met on her most recent Caribbean cruise. Jane’s daughter wants to ditch her senior year in high school to join a religious commune. On Christmas Day, the Christmas lights shorted out causing a fire that scorched half the front porch.

Upon reflection, Jane decides she is happy to be at work as she pours her first cup of coffee.  She slides into her ergonomically designed chair and sighs as she begins reviewing her email inbox which filled up while she was on vacation. Sure enough, there’s an email from Doris.

unnamed-24Doris is complaining that another manager interfered with Doris’ subordinates. The other manager, Lara, is a relatively new hire and Doris is “concerned” that Lara doesn’t understand that Doris makes all the decisions in her department. Doris demands that Jane tell Lara to stay away from Doris’ department or face immediate dismissal.

unnamed-25Jane sighs heavily. People who don’t know Doris well think she’s charming. She has perfect clothes, hair, makeup and a smile. But Jane knows that image is no more than Hollywood special effects. Underneath, Doris is as vicious as a junk yard dog when it comes to defending her turf.  She bullies anyone she sees as a threat to her career.

Jane knows that Doris’ bullying arises from insecurity, which seems nonsensical with her talent and ability. Jane stares at Doris’ email and wonders how to respond.

What are Jane’s options?

  1. She can file Doris’ email with all the previous complaints in a cyberspace trash bin.
  2. She can relieve her frustrations at Doris’ bullying by implying that senior management believes Doris is the past and Lara is the future.
  3. She can have a quiet word with Doris, stressing that the company recognizes her value but that constant complaints won’t help her career aspirations.

In the actual situation, the insecure employee continued to bully her co-workers whenever she felt threatened. But she became increasingly isolated and even senior management began to notice that no one wanted to work with her as her bullying reputation spread through the workforce.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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The Magic of the Season

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-3After the fiasco of their Thanksgiving dinner, Rudy and Trish decide they will skip a holiday party this year.  Even a warlock and a witch need a break.  Jerry, the werewolf next door, offers to host a holiday party, but they turn him down. Every surface in Jerry’s house is covered in dog hairs and Trish is a finicky witch who doesn’t like the way the dog hairs stick to her clothing.

Besides, there are rumors of an employee party at the big box store where Rudy, Trish and Jerry work.  Trish checks the bulletin board in the employee break room and sees the notice that the company isunnamed-20 hosting a Christmas party for employees.  Trish immediately complains to the HR manager that calling it a Christmas party interferes with her religious beliefs as a pagan. She threatens to take concerted action with the other witches to protect her workplace rights.

The HR manager cleverly deduces undercurrents of discontent and decides to take a survey of employees to ask who will attend the holiday party.  Most employees say they will attend if they are paid for their time and there is no gift exchange.  In a workplace full of witches, warlocks and a mischievous leprechaun, no gifting is a prudent choice so the HR manager agrees.

The HR manager reports the survey results to the ogre who owns the store and he agrees to pay the employees to attend the holiday party. Actually, what the ogre says is much pithier and an exact quote might give rise to an EEOC charge. The HR manager posts a signup sheet for the potluck lunch.

unnamed-19Trish brings sugar cookies shaped like pentagrams. She’s added a magic spell that increases the eater’s happiness. After eating a cookie, the HR manager smiles benevolently at her coworkers.

Ryan, the leprechaun, arrives late because it is normally his day off.  But he never misses an opportunity to get paid for not working.  He steps jauntily into the break room breathing Bushmills Irish Whiskey fumes on everyone and smiling bleaunnamed-17rily.  As he passes the buffet table, he snatches one of Trish’s cookies and gulps it down in two bites.

The magic spell synchronizes beautifully with his whiskey. Ryan begins high-stepping around the room, like an extra in Riverdance, listening to a tune only he could hear.  The HR manager joins him and soon everyone is hoofing it round the breakroom.

Everyone agrees it is the best office holiday party in years.

Happy Holidays!

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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December 7th

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-14As the holiday season kicks in, Anne isn’t feeling very happy. In fact, she’s depressed.  She’s struggling to pay her bills after a couple of unexpected expenses, including a burst water pipe in her basement.

The water pipe burst a couple of days before Thanksgiving when Anne had a house full of family, in town for the big day.  Paying for the repairs put a severe dent in her rainy day fund just when her mothunnamed-11er was nagging her about taking a trip to Hawaii.

Anne’s mom wants to make a pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor to pay tribute to her uncle who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Anne’s mom grew up listening to tales of her uncle’s life and looking at the few remaining family photos of him. She’s always thought of him as the handsomest and bravest man in her life, even though she never met him.

unnamed-13Anne doesn’t want to think about military sacrifices right now. Her oldest son is on active duty and she learned last week that he is being deployed to Iraq.  Anne always knew this day would come but it’s still a shock.

Anne knows she’s not the first, or the only, mother distraught about watching a child go off to war.  As she sits at her desk today, she thinks about how excited her son is to finally be through with training. He’s ready to take on his first assignment and accepts the risks of going into a war zone.

Anne tries to cheer herself up by thinking about her son surviving his tour of duty.  Battlefield medicine has advanced exponentially in recent years, ensuring that more soldiers will survive their injuries.unnamed-15

Back in 1941, thousands of American military personnel died immediately in the attack and many died later from their injuries. But many thousands more lived to fight their way across the Pacific.  Most of the ships damaged at unnamed-7Pearl Harbor were also repaired and used for the remainder of the war.

As she sits pondering her son’s possible fate, medical advances, and life in general, she looks at her desk calendar. It’s December 7th.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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They’re Out to Get Me!

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-22Dexter’s always prided himself on being a team player.  He’s lost count of the number of times he covered for his boss, Dale, or stayed late to finish a project on a short deadline.

Dexter didn’t mind putting in the extra effort. He got a pay raise last year and the company reimburses part of his cell phone bill to cover the cost of keeping up with business emails on his personal cell phone.unnamed-21

Along the way, Dexter always had an uneasy relationship with the HR manager, Wendy. She seemed personally insulted last year when Dale agreed to bump Dexter’s pay.  A few months ago, Wendy posted a job ad with a job description that looks suspiciously like Dexter’s job.

unnamed-23Dexter found the job ad on the internet after he noticed a stack of resumes to Dale’s desk during one of their meetings. Dexter asked if the company was planning to expand the department by adding a new hire. Dale’s wishy-washy response leaves Dexter less than convinced that he has his boss’ support.

Then Wendy tells Dexter that he won’t receive any reimbursement for his cell phone bill because the company is cutting costs. She also says that Dexter shouldn’t work “off the clock” by checking emails after hours.

Dexter is feeling paranoid about his job security. He decides to take a few vacation days to clear his head. This morniunnamed-26ng when he returned to work, he couldn’t sign on to the company database.  He frantically called tech support and learned that the company’s systems were subjected to a cyberattack and his passwords must be reset. Dexter would have known if he’d checked his business emails which he now refuses to do since he lost his reimbursement.

Now Dexter’s paranoid and mad as heck. He’s convinced that Wendy is trying to push him out the door to give his job to one of her friends. He’s mad at Dale for not going to bat for him.

What are Dexter’s options

  1. He can allow his paranoia to grow until he sees little green men running around the office.
  2. He can create a fake resume for Wendy and send it to every job posting he can find on the internet.
  3. He can begin looking for another job where he’ll feel appreciated.

In the actual situation, the paranoid employee decided to wait before making any major job decisions. However, he joined several professional groups so that he could enhance his network in preparation for the day when he needed to move on.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Thanksgiving Magic

unnamed-7Another update from the Jungle….

Rudy and Trish, a warlock and a witch, decided to host a Thanksgiving party this year for friends and family.  After checking the calendar to verify the date of the full moon, they invite Jerry, the werewolf next door.

They also invite a few co-workers from their job at Screams R Us.  Ryan, the leprechaun, is invited after several arguments. Trish reminds Rudy that the leprechaun had given them each a gold piece and the Halloween truce is holding. So Ryan gets his invitation.unnamed-11

Several of Trish’s cousins fly in on their broomsticks the day before Thanksgiving. Normally they fly on Southwest Airlines, but Mercedes couldn’t bear the thought of standing in the long lines at airport security only to be cooped up with screaming children on a plane.

unnamed-14Mercedes announces upon arrival that she is now a vegan and won’t be eating any meat or animal-based foods. Rudy rolls his eyes at Trish, as if to say, she’s not from my side of the family.

Jerry is the first of the non-family guests to arrive since he only has to cross the lawn from the house next door. Mercedes thinks he’s sexy. She invites him to sit next to her on the sofa and explains how her life has improved since she dumped her second husband and took up veganism. Jerry squirms and looks around for someone to save him

He is saved by the arrival of Ryan, who’s already half crocked on Irish whiskey.  Whiskey always has a mellowing effect on Ryan until his belligerent phase sets in. Within minutes, he’s flirting with Mercedes. Ten minutes later Ryan’s leaping around thunnamed-13e living room teaching Mercedes an Irish jig.

Thanksgiving dinner is a rollicking affair with Ryan belting out bawdy songs between courses. Jerry joins in with a few songs of his own. Soon they are serenading the table between sips from Ryan’s bottle of special Irish blend.

unnamed-10Trish is outraged. She’s spent all week preparing a feast and no one’s eating. Trish summons her powers to put a spell on Ryan. Unfortunately, the spell clashes with the copious amounts of whiskey he’s imbibed. Ryan becomes belligerent.

A belligerent leprechaun in a room full of witches and warlocks is not good. Spells and counter spells fly around the room. The lights flash like a disco ball and the table begins to levitate.Before the entire house is trashed, Ryan falls down in a drunken stupor and goes to sleep. The witches and warlocks use magic to clean up the mess and Trish serves dessert.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Thank God It’s Over!

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamedDawn, the Chief Talent Officer for her company is happy for the first time in months.  The election is over! The chips have fallen.  She no longer cares who won.

She drives to work humming Roy Orbison’s song “It’s Over” and planning an impromptu TGIO (Thank God It’s Over) party for the lunch hour.  Her good mood lasts all the way to the employee parking lot.

The parking lot is partially blocked by a group of employees. Half the crowd is jubilant because their candidate won. The other unnamedhalf is snarling that the election was rigged.  Dawn sighs deeply and wades into the group, greeting everyone by name. To encourage them to actually enter the building, she promises something “special” for lunch at company expense.

Dawn’s day goes further into a hole when she finds Helen, the Voice of Doom, camped out at her office door. Helen claims she saw rioters storming through her neighborhood as she drove to work. Dawn privately wishes Helen would join the riot. Aloud she suggests that Helen should go to her cubicle and sit quietly, waiting for martial law to be declared so that it is safe to drive home.

unnamed-2Dawn calls a local bakery to order a cake for the impromptu TGIO party. Apparently, many people are having TGIO parties because the bakery sold out of cakes. Dawn orders a mix of crème puffs and cookies. She is determined to have a cheerful lunch.

Allen, the Philosopher King, pops into her doorway as she hangs up the phone. He wants to talk about the unnamed-4difference between the popular vote and the Electoral College vote.  Dawn cuts him off in mid-sentence. She has a really important job for him, she says. She needs him to go to the local big box store to buy supplies for the party. She’ll reimburse him, she promises.

Rory, the Prez, hurtles in to Dawn’s office practically frothing at the mouth.  Half the workforce failed to show up this morning due to an excess of alcohol consumed last night while they watched the election returns. He can’t run a business without employees. Heads must roll!

What should Dawn do next?

  1. She can wait for the Prez to hyperventilate and then continue planning her party.
  2. She can promise him first dibs on the crème puffs and cookies.
  3. She can suggest that the employees be given some leeway on absenteeism due to the special circumstance of a hotly contested election.

Have a TGIO party to celebrate the end of this election cycle.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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I’m Mad as Heck about the Election!

Another update from the Jungle….
unnamed-4Dawn, the Chief Talent Officer for her company, is slogging through the remaining weeks of the political campaign. She hates what it’s done to her job. This week she’s thinking of changing her title to Chief Tortured Officer

Helen, the Voice of Doom, didn’t take the hint a couple of weeks ago when Dawn tried to politely tell her to get lost. Helen continues unnamed-6to show up every morning to depress Dawn with her worries that the election will degenerate into violence and mayhem.

After Helen leaves Allen, the Philosopher King, drifts in the door.  His garbled theories on democracy in America sound profound until you listen closely. Then you realize he’s just fogging up the room with BS. Besides Dawn couldn’t care less.

She has a real political crisis this week. She’s been summoned to the President’s office. Rory, the Prez, also wants to discuss the election and what it means for the office.  Rory’s channeling Jack Nicholson’s “Colonel Jessup” from “A Few Good Men” pacing the office and growling.

unnamed-15The workforce is as divided as the nation and it’s getting ugly. Yesterday Rory broke up a fight in the employee parking lot. The Trump and Clinton supporters were trying to rip the opposing candidate’s stickers off car bumpers.  Rory waded in, knocked a few heads together and ordered everyone back to work.

He’s not worried about a little fight in the parking lot. He’s mad as heck that no one seems to be working.  The company’s internet connections are smoking hot as workers visit “news” sites to hear the latest salacious details abouunnamed-14t the candidates and their families. Then they stand around arguing about what they’ve read.

Rory glares at Dawn and asks if he can fire a few people to set an example for everyone else. Dawn begins to explain (again) about the progressive discipline policy. Rory cuts her off.  If he can’t fire anyone, can he ban politics from he workplace?

What advice should Dawn give the Prez?

  1. She can give him a quick civics lesson about free speech.
  2. She can draft an email for him to send to all employees reminding them to do their jobs while on the clock.
  3. She can suggest that he should visit the gym more often to work off his aggression and grit his teeth for one more week.

The good news is that presidential elections happen every four years and we’ve got one more week to go.  Then we’ll all go back to arguing about sports.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Bad Blood

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-9Once upon a time, Rudy and Trish, a warlock and a witch, lived in a ranch-style suburban home next door to a werewolf named Jerry.  A few times a year Rudy put a hex on Jerry for tearing up Trish’s flower beds during the full
moon.  But usually they got on well at work and at home.unnamed-11

They all worked together at a big box store called Screams R Us, a Halloween themed business.  They often car pooled to work because they are environmentally conscious and wanted to reduce their carbon footprint.

unnamed-7Life is great until Ryan the leprechaun is hired at Screams R Us.  Ryan brags about his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He has iPhone photos of a pot of gold. Before long his co-workers are tired of him.  If he’s so rich, why the heck is he working at a big box store annoying them?

Aside from his endless bragging, Ryan is also a troublemaker. He encourages co-workers to speak freely.
Then he repeats every unkind comment, with his special brand of blarney, to the employee who is the subject of the commentsunnamed-10
He tells the vampire in the stock room that Rudy plans to set up a sunlamp to prove the vampire’s a fake. He tells Trish that Jerry thinks her dresses aren’t slinky enough and that’s why sales are down in her department. He tell Jerry that all his co-workers hate the way he sheds hair all over the break roounnamed-8m sofa.

Before a witch can twitch her nose magically, the entire workforce is plotting revenge against Ryan.  Rudy volunteers to put a hex on Ryan. Unfortunately the attempt fails when a teenaged customer walks into the magical snare and has a psychological episode that exposes his illegal drug use to his mother.  Trish creates an elixir that causes a skin rash and tries to spray it on Ryan while he works the cunnamed-12ash register. She misses Ryan and hits Jerry who now looks like he has mange.

The ogre who owns the business loses patience with all the tomfoolery because it’s affecting Halloween sales. He threatens to use his club on any employee who uses magic during business hours.  He tells Ryan that if there is one more complaint, he will be a smooshed leprechaun.
Ryan finally realizes that he is not popular with his co-workers.  So he digs into his pot of gold and gives each co-worker a gold piece in exchange for a truce until after Halloween.

Happy Halloween!

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

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I’m So Over This Election Thing

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-3Dawn is the HR manager for her company.  Five years ago, her title was HR Director. Then it was changed to Chief People Officer before changing again to Chief Talent Officer.  These days, she thinks her title ought to be Chief Therapist.

Dawn is seeing a steady stream of employees who are agitated by the impending unnamed-2election.  She’s investigated several complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment as everyone becomes hyper-sensitive in response to the latest election news headline. A recent example is Monica who complained of a hostile workplace and named Steve as the perpetrator.

unnamed-6Dawn’s investigation findings are underwhelming. It turns out that twice in as many days, Steve drank the last cup of coffee and didn’t start a new pot brewing. Monica thinks he did it deliberately to disrespect women by forcing a woman to brew a new pot. Steve says he was in a hurry and simply forgot. He says Monica hates him because he was promoted before her.  Dawn tells Monica and Steve in polite HR-speak to grow up.

Dawn’s investigation at least broke the monotony of listening to Helen, the Voice of unnamed-4Doom. Helen comes to Dawn’s office every morning with a coffee mug the size of a soup bowl, plops down in the spare chair and doesn’t leave until she needs a refill.  Helen is a worrier. Her latest worry is that the political arguments among co-workers will degenerate into fist fights. She says she doesn’t feel safe walking around the office.

unnamed-2Helen could hide in her cubicle actually doing her job and ignoring the political fights around her, suggests Dawn. Helen explains for five minutes exactly why that wouldn’t work for her. Dawn asks if Helen wants to use accrued vacation days to stay at home. Helen says she doesn’t have enough accrued leave to stay home for the next three weeks and drifts away for a refill.

Dawn’s sick of hearing about sex scandals, email scandals, and who’s fit for what office. She hates both of the presidential candidates and their negative ads. She can’t wait for it to be over.

What should Dawn do for the next three weeks?

  1. She can lock her office door and refuse to talk to her co-workers.
  2. She can try to ban political discussions in the work place.
  3. She can treat all employee comments about the election as white noise and tune it out.

The good news is that presidential elections are a 4-year phenomenon. Normal types of HR complaints will re-surface in three weeks.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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The Perfect Employee for the Job

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-23Alana always felt like a misfit, so when she started her own business, she decided to hire people like herself.  Alana’s company sells works of art ranging from paintings to furniture.  Oddballs seem to be more at home in the world of unique “art”.

Alana’s first hire was Suze, a part-time yoga instructor who also designs furniture. Suze’s stuff sells well enough to make up for her shortcomings as an employee. She refuses to answer the phone when trying a new contortionist stretch exercise.  She also hates talking about money to customers.unnamed-21

Trisha wears low-cut, sleeveless shirts to show off her extensive tattoos. Trisha is a painter. She refuses to talk to customers because she believes none of them truly appreciate her artistic vision.

Alana hired Evan and Elsie to actually sell stuff to customers.  Compared to Suze and Trisha they seem almost normal. Evan and Elsie grew up next door to each other in a typical American suburb. They had many youthful adventures, most of which are sealed in their juvenile records.  Evan and Elsie are living proof that screwing up doesn’t prevent gainful employment if you find a sufficiently gullible employer.

unnamed-18They instantly boosted sales due to their smooth handling of customers.  Art wasn’t the only thing they sold at Alana’s shop.  Evan and Elsie had a side business growing high quality marijuana.  To encourage sales, they invited customers to sample the good in the parking lot behind the shop.unnamed-19

Alana learned of their agricultural adventures when she noticed the parking was full but the store had no customers. She walked to the back of the store, through the storeroom and opened the back door. She almost fainted.

unnamed-22Shrieking like a banshee, she chased off the customers. Then she explained  to Evan and Elsie that de-criminalizing marijuana was not the same thing as legalizing it. She threatened
to fire them if they brought their wares to work again. And that’s when Alana began to think that establishing a few employee standards might be a good idea.

What are Alana’s options?

  1. She can fire the misfits and start over with “normal” people.
  2. She can drink an extra glass, or bottle, of wine and accept that she got the employees that she wished for.
  3. She can create a few basic HR policies on what she expects from her employees during their scheduled work hours.

The above scenario demonstrates what can happen when an employer fails to create realistic expectations for employees. A few basic HR policies can solve that problem.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Visit us at: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

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How Do I Hate You? Let Me Count the Ways

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-16

Billy and Bobbye opened their business a year after they married.  They hired a couple of employees and everyone was happy.  Billy and Bobbye were proud of their success. Employees enjoyed the perks, like having the company cover 100% of health insurance premiums for employees and the Friday Afternoon Frazzle at a nearby brew pub.

unnamed-15But as the company expanded, new employees lacked the camaraderie of the ones who had helped build the business. Adding employees meant more personality conflicts and scheduling difficulties. Bobbye wanted to add some structure to the company by creating HR policies to ensure everyone understood what was expected of them.

Billy wasn’t ready to give up the entrepreneurial attitude of the early days so he shot down Bobbye’s ideas.  Their disagreement about the business spilled over into their marriage. Before long, they were taking potshots at each other every day.

unnamed-11Bobbye decided to change the brand of coffee for the office.  A day after the change, Billy walked in to the break room, saw the new brand name, and hurled the coffee can across the room into the garbage can.  Now Billy and Bobbye don’t talk to each other in the office. They relay messages through employees. Their employees used to call them B&B or B-squared. Now it’s Bombs Away.

All these spats are tanking the bottom line as deadlines are missed and quality crashes. Clients leave for calmer and more reliable service. To save money, Billy decides arbitrarily to reduce the number of unnamed-13employee perks, starting with the health plan. He tells employees they will have to begin contributing to the premium.  Cutting back on perksannoys the employees and Bobbye.

unnamed-17Even free beer at the Friday Afternoon Frazzle can’t attract most employees because they feel so uncomfortable around Billy and Bobbye. The least bright employees are choosing sides. The smarter employees are trying to stay neutral. The smartest employees have already bailed out for more stable workplaces.  On its present trajectory, the company will implode.

What should Billy and Bobbye do next?

  1. They can continue to fight until there is nothing left but the company’s debts.
  2. They can seek marriage counseling to save their marriage and possibly their company.
  3. They can agree to divorce and split the company’s assets as part of the divorce settlement.

In the actual situation, the feuding owners divorced and the wife bought her former’s husband’s interest in the business. Some employees helped with the transition while most left for other jobs.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us at: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook