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.

 

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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 Aftern
oon 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.

 

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I Don’t Have a Drinking Problem

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-4

Leo and Ted are managers at their company. They were hired at the same time and became friends.  They often ate lunch together and spent most afternoons at happy hour at their favorite sports bar.

Leo was promoted first. His division expanded rapidly and when he needed another manager, he asked for Ted.  Ted managed the fastest growing product line in Leo’s division. Naturally, Ted began thinking that his team should have a bigger budget. Leo said no. Ted went to happy hour alone to sulk.

In the next manager’s meeting, Ted interrupted Leo repeatedly until Leo ordered him to shut up.  After the meeting, Ted stomped into Leo’s office to complain. Leo ordered Ted to leave and Ted refused. In the ensuing shoving match, two chairs were broken, Ted got a fat lip and Leo had a bloody nose. After that, they went to separate bars for happy hour.

Ted decided to ask Leo’s boss to make his team a separate division on the grounds that hisunnamed-8 team managed a product line worth more than all the rest of the products managed by Leo’s division.  Luckily for Ted, he appealed to Oscar.

Oscar is a fan of Star Trek and he runs a modified Klingon Empire, where you advance over the body of your former boss.  He is happy to watch Leo and Ted scrap because if they are fighting each other they aren’t challenging Oscar for his job. Oscar grants Ted’s request.

unnamed-3Now Leo and Ted are trying to screw each other’s careers by sucking up to Oscar.  They suck up by inviting Oscar to happy hour.  Oscar appreciates having Leo or Ted cover his bar tab. But all these soggy nights mean that productivity is suffering as Leo and Ted slide into alcoholism.

Nan, the HR manager, is watching from the sidelines. She knows she should talk to the unnamed-9senior management team about Leo’s and Ted’s potential disability due to alcoholism.

What options are available to Nan?

  1. She can recommend that Leo and Ted be shipped off to rehab to dry out in hopes of saving their careers.
  2. She can gather information about their poor performances to build a case for firing them.
  3. She can wait to take action until a senior manager notices the problem.

In the actual case, each manager was encouraged to seek professional help for their alcoholism. Neither sought treatment. One manager eventually quit rather than be fired, while the other manager continued in his same role without any hope of a promotion. unnamed-7

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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No One Tells Me What to Do!

Another update from the Jungle….

Angie’s tearing her hair out trying to help the company owner, Tom. She’s the HR manager and some days it feels like a pretty thankless task.  Tom runs several businesses, including a janitorial service and a moving company.

Tom’s a good guy most of the time and truly wants to help his employees.  He loans money to employees who need a little help between payroll checks. He kept one employee on the health plan for six months while he recuperated from a cancer scare.  

2He hires people who have interesting back stories. His moving company crews include former gang members who are expert at moving other people’s property quickly and efficiently.  Steve, an employee of the janitorial company thinks Jim Beam is a sports beverage.  Tom periodically sends Steve to rehab to 1dry out and ensures that Steve is closely supervised while on the job.

But Angie knows there’s a dark side to Tom. If Tom decides you’ve screwed up, you’re out; never mind the progressive discipline policy.  Angie’s explained countless times that knee jerk reactions can lead to trouble. But Tom says no one is going to tell him how to run his businesses.

This morning, a man shows up in the lobby. He’s Mr. Beatty, an auditor from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. He asks for the time and attendance records, job descriptions, and payroll records to verify that everyone is paid the appropriate hourly rate.

3Tom starts rumbling like an over-pressurized steam engine as he glares at Mr. Beatty.  Angie tries to head off disaster by inviting Mr. Beatty to wait in the conference room while she gathers the requested information. She offers coffee to Mr. Beatty but Tom nixes the offer.  Tom takes a deep breath, preparatory to blasting Mr. Beatty out of the universe.

What options are available to Angie?

  1. She can tell the Department of Labor auditor to look away while she kicks Tom in the shins for antagonizing the man who can shut down the company.
  2. She can flirt with the DOL guy in hopes of distracting him.
  3. She can excuse herself from the meeting and go call a recruiting company to begin shopping her resume to a new employer.     

The above scenario is a composite of several actual incidents. The DOL is increasing the number of compliance audits of employers.  HR representatives do their best to keep their employers “legal” but they can’t save employers who think the rules don’t apply to them.

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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Act Your Age!

Another update from the Jungle….

Jerry feels besieged and overloaded. He’s the CEO and he ought to be bragging about his business. Instead, he’s hiding in his office while he decides what to do next.

2It all started a couple of months ago when two supervisors had a misunderstanding. Brown nosing Bette and motormouth Mike thought the other was responsible for losing a key customer.  Their last face to face meeting degenerated into a yelling, name-calling mess where coffee cups were hurled across the table and a cheese Danish was smashed into the face of Bette’s assistant. Now they communicate strictly by email.

Since they’re supervisors, they’ve managed to drag their respective subordinates into the fight.  Soon 1everyone is communicating via emails that are full of adjectives more appropriate to the schoolyard or a political campaign. Their subordinates don’t even use the same bathrooms anymore to avoid talking face to face.

Jerry doesn’t notice any of the fighting. He’s busy talking to investors that he needs to finance a new product. Besides, he’s the CEO and people talk differently to him. His first inkling that all is not well is when several customers switch to competitors rather than renewing their contracts.

Jerry asks brown nosing Bette why the heck her team of salespeople let the customers get away. She blames motor mouth Mike’s technical team for not answering questions about the products which meant her team couldn’t answer customer questions. Jerry asks Mike what’s going on and he blames Bette’s team of dunces.

Jerry asks the HR manager, Liz, if she’s heard any complaints from co-workers about Bette and Mike.  Liz admits she has. Jerry asks why the heck she didn’t tell him. Liz is hurt; she’s doing her best.

3Liz shows him a series of email exchanges and that’s when Jerry learns the awful truth about Bette and Mike. He can feel the top of his skull popping off as his blood pressure rises. Now he’s sitting in his office trying to decide what to do.

What options are available to Jerry?

  1. He can fire Bette and Mike for showing the emotional development of pre-teens.
  2. He can empty the corporate bank account and “retire” to the Cayman Islands to drink rum.
  3. He can counsel Bette and Mike to act like grownups and work together for the company.     

In the actual situation, the employer chose the third option. The employer’s decision was based on an assessment of the supervisors’ capabilities and skills. The employer also needed to follow the company’s progressive discipline policy before firing 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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I Can’t Take It Anymore!

Another update from the Jungle….

Kathy was a solid performer for her company until about a year ago.  She rarely missed work and she was always prepared for meetings.  Then she fell off a cliff.

Her clif2f had many causes. About a year ago, her mother began showing signs of dementia. Kathy’s siblings long since moved away, so Kathy’s been taking her mother to doctor’s appointments and filling out Medicare claims forms.  She’s reached the stage where she loathes the “plain English” of Medicare forms.

Her husband, Bob, is helping more after being laid off his job a few months ago. But Kathy’s mother no longer recognizes Bob and won’t leave the house with him.  That means his
biggest contribution is cooking most of their meals. Since this involved reorganizing all the kitchen cabinets, Kathy’s not convinced he’s helping her.

3Meanwhile, Kathy’s daughter moved home from college after her wine and pizza plan didn’t lead to a
viable college degree. She leaves dirty dishes in the sink and is surprised that this upsets Kathy.

1

About six months ago, Kathy began taking medication for depression and anxiety. The medication leaves her feeling like she’s underwater.  It affects her ability to concentrate. She now has the attention span of a three-year-old on a chocolate high.

Her boss is running out of patience with her sloppy work and blown deadlines. Of
course, he doesn’t know all the gory details because Kathy’s too embarrassed by her screwed up life to tell him. She always prided herself on her professional competence.

Today, her boss calls her in for another performance review. He’s angry about a blown deadline and considers firing Kathy. But that would mean finding and training a replacement. It would also mean losing Kathy’s years of knowledge of the company and its culture.

What options are available to Kathy’s boss?

  1. He can proceed to the next phase of the progressive discipline policy which is firing Kathy for poor performance.
  2. He can keep limping along and hope that Kathy’s personal life improves.
  3. He can ask the HR representative if there other options for resolving Kathy’s situation without firing her.     

The above scenario is a composite of several actual incidents.  As the population ages, more baby boomers are finding themselves caring for incapacitated parents and assisting unemployed adult children.  Businesses are not charitable organizations and they can’t fix their employees’ problems. But they can support employees by adopting flexible work schedules and creating referral lists to local organizations that provide eldercare and other social support 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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Me! Me! Me!

Another update from the Jungle….

It’s Monday morning and Christine knows that sitting in rush hour traffic will be the high point of her day.  After that, she’ll suffer a fate almost like death as she sits through the monthly staff meeting. Ms. Piggy will be holding court as usual.

1Ms. Piggy is a co-worker who pretends to be a team player. Beneath the friendly smiles lurks a self-centered prima donna. She knows her life is so much more interesting than others. For the past six months, she’s been monopolizing the staff meetings with the same tale of a product vendor who can’t deliver the quality of work she demands.  

Initially, Christine and several other managers suggested ways for Ms. Piggy to solve her vendor problem. Ms. Piggy made it clear that their solutions would work fine for idiots like them, but not for her since her work is much more technically sensitive.  

Edward, the division head, doesn’t know how to handle Ms. Piggy.  He wasn’t promoted based on his people skills and he doesn’t want to get stuck in sticky people problems.   He would rather walk across hot coals barefoot or participate again in the pie eating contest at the company picnic.

Christine arrives at work and grabs a giant mug of coffee on her way to the conference room.  Edward 2slides into the chair at the head of the table and begins asking for updates. Everyone tenses as he reaches Ms. Piggy. Ms. Piggy begins her usual quick update with the usual digressions.  

Within a minute the energy level in the room plummets deeper than the Grand Canyon. The guy sitting next to Christine begins playing a game on his phone. Two managers begin reading their emails on their iPads.  Edward opens his mouth to cut off Ms. Piggy but she raises her voice and continues.  Christine slurps her coffee and tries to keep her head from exploding.

What options are available to Christine?

  1. She can fall to the floor pretending to have a seizure so that the meeting ends.
  2. She can leap to her feet shrieking “I can’t take it anymore. Shut up!”  
  3. She can suggest that they imitate business networking groups by timing responses so that the staff meetings finish on time and they avoid Ms. Piggy moments.     

The above scenario is a composite of too many meetings at too many companies.  HR can help managers avoid these ghastly events by training them how to give effective feedback to their subordinates on appropriate office behavior and by urging senior management to pay for coaching for managers who lack people skills.   

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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Queen Bee

Another update from the Jungle….

Dan is a branch manager for his company and he’s coasting toward retirement.  He lost interest in his current career long ago after several major battles with his assistant. Her name is Adelaide and officially she’s the executive assistant, but unofficially she’s been running the branch office since Jimmy Carter’s administration.   

When Adelaide decides how things should be done, everyone agrees. If they don’t their careers take a nosedive, as Dan learned during his first year as branch manager. He came in full of ideas for improving efficiency but Adelaide decided the office was fine “as is”.  After months of battling, she won and Dan began planning his post-retirement career.

Dan’s boss i2sn’t happy and he’s trying to figure out how to increase profits in Dan’s office. He decides to test a new whiz-bang software program in Dan’s office to see if it helps the bottom line.  He notifies Dan that a vendor rep will arrive on Monday morning to train the staff on the new software. Dan passes the information to Adelaide.

Monday morning, the vendor rep shows up to begin the training. Adelaide sails into the conference room almost 30 minutes late and majestically informs the vendor rep to start over.

The vendor rep quickly recaps half of her scheduled 60-minute presentation. As she highlights each feature, she asks attendees to imagine how the feature can improve their efficiency.

The vendor rep soon notices that everyone is watching Adelaide. If she nods, the comments are positive. If she shakes her head, the others say they can’t use the software feature. It’s obvious that Adelaide would rather eat broken glass than adopt the new software. The vendor rep limps on to the end of her allotted time and wraps up the meeting. The vendor rep has promised to give a status report to Dan’s boss.

What kind of report could the vendor rep give to Dan’s boss?

  1. She could lie and say the training went well, knowing her company has a big contract at stake.
  2. She could say that Adelaide is determined to block the use of the new software.
  3. She could decide to not give any report since she plans to ditch the sales career in favor of ha3nging out at the airport with the Hari Krishnas.    

In the actual situation, the senior manager was angry that his pet project was shot down and he fired both the executive assistant and the branch manager.  Unfortunately, he failed to follow the company’s written HR policies when he fired them; but that’s a different story.

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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It Rhymes With Witch

Another update from the Jungle….

Once upon a time in a town not so far away, there lived a nice woman named Alanis. She liked her job and was always willing to learn from more experienced co-workers. Her boss loved her too and wrote embarrassingly glowing performance reviews.

2But fairy tales aren’t the only places with evil beings. A wicked witch named Wanda also works in the office.  Wanda’s not qualified to do the job Alanis was hired for but that doesn’t stop her from trying to take over.  Wanda smiles in Alanis’ face even as she secretly sharpens her talons.

Wanda’s opportunity soon arrives.  At a staff meeting, their boss, Julia, announces that the company is rolling out a new service and asks Alanis to take the lead for their department. Wanda’s death-ray glare bores into Alanis’ skull across the conference room table. After the meeting, Wanda loudly announces in the break room that the new project is doomed because Alanis is unnamed (1)incompetent.

A week later, Alanis’ project notes mysteriously disappear from the system’s shared drive. Fortunately, she a printed copy first and is able to recreate her notes. She saves a copy of the new version on a thumb drive. Sure enough, the shared drive version disappears again.

At the next staff meeting, Julia asks why Alanis she doesn’t share information with the rest of the group. Alanis reports the mysterious deletions and asks that IT investigate the deletions. Julia looks at Wanda and then abruptly ends the meeting.

The next day, Julia calls Alanis to her office. Waiting in Julia’s office is Wanda. Julia says that she’s decided to appoint Wanda as co-chair of the project because it’s obviously too much for Alanis to do alone. Wanda smirks as she demands copies of all Alanis’ notes.

After that, Wanda changes the entire strategy so that their department misses deadlines set by Julia’s bosses. Wanda blames Alanis and complains about a lack of cooperation. Alanis is again called to Julia’s office where she is criticized for disloyalty and undermining the department. Julia says Alanis can resign or be fired.

What should Alanis do next?

  1. She can continue to protest her innocence knowing she won’t win since a weak manager is as dangerous as a witch.
  2. She can booby trap Wanda’s desk with eau de skunk.
  3. She can resign and consult a lawyer about suing for constructive termination.

In the actual situation, the targeted employee resigned. Any office can develop an infestation of wicked witches if management is weak.  Fumigate your workplace with effective HR policies.  3

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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Paper Trails

Another update from the Jungle….


Stan’s been in business for five years. His employees are 20-somethings who like to work collaboratively and take lots of coffee breaks.  Stan doesn’t understand why they want to live on healthy junk like kale 4while slurping gallons of coffee, but they’re happy.  As long as the work is done and clients are happy, Stan is happy.  

He never paid much attention to labor laws. He pays each worker a fixed amount each week and they work at their own pace.  Ashley seems to get her best ideas at 2 a.m.  Ryan and Carson work best as a team but need supervision to stay on task. His employees work at home, in coffee shops, and occasionally even show up to work in the office.

unnamedThen he hears about the new overtime rules that are effective on December 1st.  Stan rapidly reviews his employees.  A quick estimate demonstrates that most of his workers earn below the new salary threshold. Stan’s bottom line can’t take across the board salary increases. Besides, many of his workers couldn’t meet the duties test to be exempt.

That means most of his employees will need to be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Stan mentally reviews his staff. None of them has ever completed a time sheet. Stan calls an “all hands” meeting like he does when a client has a short deadline.

He explains to his employees that they need to begin keeping track of their time. He also says that any overtime must be pre-approved. His office manager demonstrates how to use the new time-tracking software. Everyone nods like they understand.

In the firs3t week, only two employees actually record their time each day. Ashley complains that she can’t remember to “clock in” when an idea strikes her at 2 in the morning. Ryan and Carson think they’re too valuable to the company to be penalized and they ignore the software completely.  After a few weeks, Stan is furious.

What should Stan do next?

  1. He can send a screeching email every Monday morning listing the offenders from the previous week.
  2. He can assign all the worst performers to the most annoying client where they will all flame out together.   
  3. He can follow a progressive discipline policy that inexorably clears out the people who can’t or won’t follow the rules.    

In the actual situation, the employer used a combination of the options outlined above to ensure compliance with the law. A few creative people were lost but the majority stayed and the company continued to grow successfully.    

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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Falling to Pieces

Another update from the Jungle….

Patsy was named for Patsy Cline and she has a pretty good singing voice. So she moved to Nashville with visions of international fame dancing through the lyrics in her head.  She took the first job she could find while she pounded the pavement seeking a record contract.

4She never landed a record contract and her last three employment gigs were as abbreviated as her open mic gigs. But her luck is about to change. She just got a job with a regional company that is distantly connected to the music business. Sure it involves doing boring stuff that she did at several of her previous jobs but she enters the new employer’s offices with a smile on her face and a spring in her step.  

After a day with HR, filling out paperwork and learning about all the things that can get her fired, Patsy’s enthusiasm wavers. But she arrives early the next day determined to do well. The HR rep shows her where the bathroom is located and guides to her a rabbit-hutch sized cubicle. Then the HR rep abandons her to go deal with an HR crisis.

Patsy leans around the cubicle corner to ask Doris for a little assistance. Doris is on the phone. Rebecca, on 1her other side, clues Patsy in to a few basic procedures, such as which database takes which customer information.  Patsy realizes from prior experiences that she’s just gone through “orientation” and she sets to work.

In the first week, almost all her work is rejected for a variety of reasons. Patsy tries to explain to co-workers that in her last job they did it this way. Her supervisor says in front of co-workers that she doesn’t care how the company’s main competitor does business.

Before her first paycheck, Patsy’s demoralized. As her probationary period ends, the HR rep tells Patsy that she’s being dropped because she “just doesn’t get it” and her co-workers think she’s whiny.  

What should Patsy do next?

  1. She can reach across the desk and slap the HR rep for not ensuring she received proper training.
  2. She can leave quietly and bad-mouth the company on her Facebook page.     
  3. She can find a friend like Merle Haggard’s “Leonard” to help her until her singing career takes off.    

The above scenario is a composite of many employers who expect to find ideal employees without investing in training. It’s a doomed process similar to seeking your life’s soulmate in a 2nd Avenue bar on Saturday night.2

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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Casual Wear Starts Today!

Another update from the Jungle….

It’s hot and getting hotter as summer blasts into the area. Employees are grumpy and frumpy because they’re sweating even with the air conditioning going full blast. Justin almost strangles when his tie catches in a portable fan as he leans over a co-worker’s desk to flirt.  But help is on the way.

1Dolores, the HR rep, has a clever plan to help her co-workers. The company is run by conservative guys in suits who want everyone to be as uncomfortable they are.  But finally after years of negotiations, Dolores convinces the suits to allow casual wear during summer.

Dolores sends an email to her co-workers explaining the new policy. Privately, she congratulates herself on her negotiating skills. Alas, Dolores is a bit naïve about human nature even after years in the trenches of HR representation.

2The first day of the new policy, Betty shows up in a sun dress that gives a new meaning to “sheer”.  Dolores can’t help but notice when Betty crosses the room in front of the windows.  Dolores orders Betty to stay away from the windows for the rest of the day and to hide from the suits.  She makes a note in her special file that Betty could benefit from a long pointless training seminar at a great location like Buffalo in February or Houston in August.

The next day, Justin shows up in a golf shirt, plaid shorts and flip-flops. When Dolores says business casual does not mean flip-flops, he whips out her email and asks her to point to the part saying he can’t wear flip-flops. That afternoon Dolores adds another note in her special file to tell Justin’s boss that Justin is now ready to handle the most time consuming and difficult clients that can be found.

By the end of the first week, Dolores is depressed and disillusioned. The new casual wear policy could get her fired. She sits at home slumped in her favorite chair watching re-runs of the Andy Griffith Show as she ponders her next move.

What should Dolores do next?

  1. She can recommend that the casual wear policy be rescinded since few co-workers are showing any common sense.
  2. She can revise the policy to include an extensive and detailed list of what is “not appropriate”.   
  3. She can avoid making a decision by taking a long vacation in Antarctica to watch penguins waddle over the ice.    4

The above scenario is based on several actual incidents. In each case, the business casual policy was revised to add examples of acceptable attire.   

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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It Says So Right Here!

Another update from the Jungle….

Jane started her business after being downsized by her corporate employer.  She knew she wanted her business to be different from the bureaucracy of her Big Biz employer and vowed to avoid the burden of written policies.  

3But as she adds employees it becomes clear that a lack of written policies is bad for the bottom line. No written policies allow Evan to claim that he doesn’t know he is supposed to start work at 8:30 am. He thinks showing up by 10 am is okay as long as he gets his work done.  

4Jane decides she needs something in writing. She digs out an old copy of Big Biz’s employee handbook. She customizes it by changing the employer’s name, correcting a few typos, and changing the font.  Then she gives a copy to each employee and receives a signed acknowledgement from each employee.

None of the employees actually read the employee handbook, of course, until they need to. Evan reads the section on progressive discipline after Jane gives him a final written warning about his attendance.

1Meanwhile, Audrey discovers she’s pregnant. She hauls out her copy of the handbook, which is propping up a corner of her desk, and unfolds it to read the section on the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). She tells Jane she wants to take FMLA leave to have her baby and asks for the leave request form.  

Jane doesn’t have any FMLA forms. Her internet search eventually leads her to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website where she learns the horrible truth about the FMLA. It applies to companies with more than 50 employees. Her Little Biz shop has 20 employees.  The news is so disturbing that she drinks half a bottle of wine while she thinks about her options.

What should Jane do next?

  1. She can collect every copy of the handbook and burn them in the parking lot knowing that most of her employees never read it.
  2. She can tell Audrey that the FMLA section of the handbook is a mistake because that law doesn’t apply to Jane’s business.
  3. She can grant FMLA leave to Audrey in accordance with the handbook policy. Then she can immediately revise the handbook to delete information about employment laws that don’t apply to her company.

The above scenario is a common problem for small business owners who lack familiarity with employment laws. The lack of familiarity can fix one problem while creating many more problems.

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Low Hanging Fruit

Another update from the Jungle….

Jack owns a small business which provides him with a good living. He owns a big h2ouse with a giant mortgage and he drives an Escalade.  When he goes to the store, he parks in a handicap parking spot near the door so that everyone can see his ride.

Jack once worked for a major corporation where the HR director constantly nagged him about petty rules that he’d supposedly broken. After a few years of her nagging, Jack decided to be successful on his own.

Jack thinks his company runs smoother with fewer written rules so he doesn’t have any written HR policies. He also pays everyone a “salary” so he doesn’t have to track time and attendance.  But he docks the pay of employees who show up late or miss work. His CPA, Susie, wants him to create job descriptions to distinguish between non-exempt and exempt employees.   Jack tells her not to worry about it; he will tell her how much to pay each employee each pay period.

1

Last week, Susie attended a continuing education seminar which struck her with the force of a hurricane wind. She learned details of the new overtime rules. A presenter also said the Department of Labor (DOL) had stepped up enforcement actions against small employers. He used the phrase “low hanging fruit” so often that Susie temporarily gives up fresh fruit and vegetables.

Susie rushes home to prepare a summary of the new overtime rules and hand delivers it to Jack.  Jack thanks her and privately thinks that Susie’s becoming a nag like the old HR director and it may be time to fire her.

This morning Jack arrives at his office to find a polite young man waiting to talk to him. The stranger says he’s a DOL examiner and he wants to see time sheets, payroll records and job descriptions for Jack’s employees.

What should Jack do next?

  1. He can bluster at the DOL examiner to mind his own business.
  2. He can beg the DOL examiner to give him time to fix his many problems in hopes of lowering the penalties his company will ultimately owe.
  3. He can sneak out the back entrance, empty the corporate bank account and escape to a foreign country that has no diplomatic relations with the U.S.

In the actual situation, the employer woke up to his peril before the DOL examiner arrived on his doorstep. He had already implemented a plan to fix his HR problems which convinced the DOL examiner to show mercy when calculating the penalties.   

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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The Original Dream Team

Another update from the Jungle….

Alexander Hamilton is big news these days thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical. Miranda’s musical is an excellent introduction to a key member of the dream team that created our country. As July 4th approaches, it’s a good time to reflect on the dream team and on Hamilton.

4Hamilton epitomizes so much of what it means to be an American. He was an immigrant who spoke several languages. He arrived in New York with no money and no family or friends, but plenty of ambition. He worked odd jobs while obtaining a college degree from what is now Columbia University and eventually became a successful lawyer in New York City.

Hamilton is the only truly self-made man among the founders of the U.S. The other founders including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and John Jay were all from established families in the upper social tier of society.

3These men (women were excluded) were the ultimate dream team, at least in hindsight. In real life, Hamilton was impetuous and impatient with people he thought mentally slower than himself. Adams was perpetually offended by anyone who disagreed with him. Jefferson rarely confronted anyone but egged on others to do the partisan sniping for him.

They held wildly different ideas about the type of government they wanted to create. They fought bitterly over state’s rights versus federal power and personal liberties versus state security. Rising above the often vicious disagreements was George Washington. He kept the team focused on their ultimate goal: to create a strong country that could take its place among other nations.

5They were a dream team because after all the disagreements they compromised, creating checks and balances to distribute power between the federal and state governments and to protect the rights of citizens from governmental intrusion. Today we still fight bitterly over these same issues. But thanks to the original dream team, we have a political framework, the Constitution, which allows us to disagree without ripping our country apart.

As you celebrate July 4th salute the dream team that created the U.S.

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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Fairness Doesn’t Matter

Another update from the Jungle….

Alyssa is a lawyer in the corporate legal department of her employer. She was hired because of the scope of her experience. Or so she was told.  It doesn’t take Alyssa too long to figure out that her prior experience is irrelevant, even a handicap.

Alyssa is1 assigned to work with the HR department because the other lawyers don’t want to. She inherits a file cabinet full of pending EEOC discrimination claims.  Another giant file cabinet contains investigation notes of employee theft cases. Apparently anything not too big or nailed down tight is carried off by employees.  

Alyssa sees immediately that the employee problems arise from the attitude of the 4management team. Most of the senior managers are related to the owner and take their cue from him. He brags of paying rock bottom wages while simultaneously complaining that he’s stuck with stupid employees who lack initiative.

Alyssa’s prior experience with corporate risk programs leads her to believe that the company needs more insurance to cover employee problems. She recommends an increase in their employment practices liability insurance coverage.  That’s when Alyssa’s own employment problems begin.

3Alyssa receives an email from Tess, the company owner’s daughter and newest senior executive.  Tess is a wicked witch who bullies subordinates with obscenity-laced tirades and hates anyone she suspects is more knowledgeable than her. Now Tess insists that she will make the final call on the new insurance limits.

Alyssa gives Tess a summary of the current insurance coverage, the recommended new limits, and the renewal deadline. Tess repeatedly asks for new quotes while ignoring the insurance broker’s and Alyssa’s reminders of the deadline for binding new coverage. Hours before the old coverage 6expires, Tess finally agrees to the new coverage limits.

The next day, Tess accuses Alyssa of endangering the company’s insurance program by deliberately delaying information from the insurance broker.  When Alyssa points out that the insurance broker copied both of them on all emails, Tess launches into her usual obscenity-laden meltdown.

What should Alyssa do next?

  1. She can continue arguing with Tess that the accusations are unfair and unjust but will never win the argument.
  2. She can walk away from Tess and immediately make a complaint to the HR department about the bullying incident.   
  3. She can accept that she was never the right fit for the company and move on to a new employer.    

In the actual situation, the accused employee used her employment law knowledge to negotiate a severance package and moved on to a happier workplace.   

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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You Want to Do What?

Another update from the Jungle….

Marcia is the HR manager for her company. She often feels that she’s in a never-ending battle to balance management and employee expectations. Managers think employees lack loyalty to the company. Employees think the company doesn’t care about them; their most recent proof is the giant increase in employee contributions for health insurance.

Marcia endures almost daily requests from managers begging her to find ways to build employee morale and loyalty. Occasionally managers come up with their own morale building ideas. Some of the kookiest ideas come from Roger, her least favorite manager.

June 16.1

Roger likes to search the internet for management techniques that he can implement with his subordinates. His bosses like his initiative because they aren’t directly affected by his actions. Roger’s bosses also don’t see him every day and so are unaware of his general obnoxiousness.

Roger’s subordinates, meanwhile, suffer through meetings where he drones on about the latest management theories while incessantly snapping his pen or drumming his fingers on the table, his coffee mug, or his chair arm. Roger also thinks he’s invisible when making bodily adjustments, something his female subordinates find particularly gross and disgusting.

June 16.2Roger’s latest internet research leads him to 360 performance reviews. He reads the reviews about building team spirit and ignores the commentary cautioning that corporate culture can affect the outcome. The next day he marches into Marcia’s office to demand 360 performance reviews for his people.

Marcia stares at Roger in blank amazement. He isn’t obviously insane so she decides to give to him exactly what he’s asked for. She can’t resist chortling privately as she hands out the forms to each employee.

June 16.3A couple of weeks later Marcia reads what Roger’s employees have to say about him. As expected, they’ve vented their frustrations about his annoying personal habits and being treated as lab rats for his management theories. The reviews are so brutal she feels sorry for him. She invites Roger to her office for a private chat.

What should Marcia say to him?

1. She can soften the blow to Roger’s ego by giving him an edited summary of what his employees think of him.

2. She can give him the unedited results and watch his ego deflate.

3. She can tell him that his brilliance is wasted at a branch location and encourage him to apply for a job at headquarters.

June 16The old adage to “be careful what you wish for” applies to business as well as individuals. HR policies are most successful when they are carefully considered before being implemented.

 

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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The Peter Principle Strikes Again

Another update from the Jungle…

Addison is the HR manager for her company and she usually likes her job. Each day is different as co-workers find new and inventive ways to get themselves into difficulties.  

Addison has a double espresso each morning to fortify herself for the latest adventures. But Addison’s toughest employee sitjune 6-3uation doesn’t involve the usual employee misadventures. It involves Don, one of the division managers. Don is a nice, inoffensive guy who is liked by everyone. He is also destroying his division.

 

june 6-4

Don’s career started promisingly enough. He graduated from college with honors and immediately was hired by the company.  He’s technically proficient and his attention to detail is legendary. In fact, he often gets so wrapped up in the details that he forgets about deadlines.

A year ago, Don’s superiors looked for someone who could do the work, but never threaten their position in the company. They ignored Don’s immediate supervisor who pointed out that Don has the social skills of a person reared by wolves. Regardless, Don was promoted.

Immediately, the damage was obvious to anyone paying attention.june 6-6

In his first staff meeting, Don enthusiastically talked about a magazine article he’d read which described how blue whales communicate. His subordinates sat listening in stunned disbelief. After all, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss new sales metrics for their division.

Don’s first staff meeting turns out to be a high point on the road to destruction. The cleverest and most marketable employees are bailing out to join competitors. One woman is so affected by her experiences that she is now a novice Buddhist nun in Nepal.

Addison struggles to contain thejune 6-5 damage caused by Don’s incredibly inept leadership. She’s convinced that Don is aware of his shortcomings as a leader but he won’t admit it. She asks for a meeting with senior management.

What should Addison tell the senior managers?

  1. She can provide examples of Don’s ineffective leadership and suggest that he be replaced by someone with better “people” skills.
  2. She can request management training for Don to help him improve his leadership skills.  
  3. She can demand a pay raise and a bigger budget to hire replacements for the employees chased off by Don’s lousy management skills.    

june 6-2In the actual situation, senior management remained happy with the ineffective manager. He kept his job until he was undermined and then replaced by his most ambitious subordinate. He happily continued to work and was deeply relieved to no longer have supervisory responsibilities.

 

 

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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Ebook Link:  https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

I’m Bored by My Job

Another update from the Jungle….

 

1Corrie is bored with her job. It hasn’t challenged her skills in years or put her in line for a promotion.  She’s tried to find other jobs but the truth is that she’s unlikely to get a big enough salary increase to offset the loss of her current benefits package.

 

 

5To pass the time and alleviate her boredom, she creates imaginary scenarios for her job.  When her boss gives her a new assignment, she pretends its part of a great military plan, like Operation Overlord.  She imagines herself working in a small office in London, helping plan the D-Day invasion.

 

2When she takes a business trip, she pretends she’s an agent dropped into occupied France to support the French Resistance. As she drives, she thinks of the highway patrol as roving bands of collaborators looking for Resistance workers they can arrest and interrogate. When she checks in to a hotel, she scouts the lobby for exits in case she needs to beat a quick retreat from a Gestapo raid.

It’s all rather harmless fun and it helps to pass the time in a job that has long since ceased to challenge her intellectually. Before she unleashed her imagination, Corrie struggled to find meaning in her job. She volunteered for extra assignments to broaden her skills and make new contacts.

4But Corrie stopped caring after the management team downsized the workforce. She’s survived several staff reductions since the first big cull of the herd by keeping her head down and her opinions to herself. She no longer volunteers for special projects but her past volunteerism means her boss considers her a “team player” and Corrie thinks that’s helped her keep her job.

Corrie’s low morale and disengagement is matched by most of her co-workers.  Management tries to raise morale with team building exercises, like the time they insisted everyone had to go play laser tag. (All the senior managers were “killed” within half an hour, boosting morale among all other workers.)

What could this company do differently to rebuild employee engagement?

  1. The company could do a one-off pay increase which would engage workers who are motivated by money.
  2. The company could allow 4 hours a pay period for each employee to work on a project that motivates the employee, such as volunteering for a non-profit.
  3. The company could create a cross-training program in which employees transfer temporarily to a different job or department to learn new skills.

The above scenario is based on actual job experiences. However, all identifying information has been removed to protect everyone involved. 

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.

 

Ebook Link

https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

 

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Music To My Ears

Another update from the Jungle…

espressoMae owns several coffee shops and has plans to add several more locations over the next year or two. She paid her way through college working in chain coffee shops. After graduation, she decided to stay in the city where she went to college rather than returning to her po-dunk hometown.

 

coffe shop

Mae found it much easier to create a business plan, obtain financing, and buy good coffee (and tea) than to deal with employees. In her early days, when she was desperate to keep the doors open, she hired several people who otherwise would never have gotten jobs.

 

She can handle tattoos, piercings, black leather and motorcycle boots. She can even live with the shaved heads and the orange or purple hair of some of her employees. After all, it’s a college town and she wants her coffee shops to be unique and cool.

coffe sign

Most of the customers are college kids or recent college graduates. They don’t care if the chairs are uncomfortable and the tables are rickety as long as the WiFi works and the espresso continues to flow. But Mae needs to attract more than just college kids who live on dark roast. She needs business people with actual disposable income who will buy overpriced muffins to eat while slurping their coffee.

cappuccino

With such a mixed group, it’s difficult to select background music. Her employees want to play rap or hip hop to attract the college crowd. Mae prefers easy listening to entice the business crowd. Her unwritten rule is that the music must be in the background, like white noise. But when she’s not around, her employees crank up the volume, driving away the business crowd.

This morning Mae stopped by her second shop location. As she opened the door a wall of sound hit her, blowing her hair back from its carefully arranged coiffure. Mae struggled up to the counter and screamed at her manager to “turn it down!” Her ears ringing, Mae walked into the cramped office and slumped in the uncomfortable chair behind the desk. She opened the music-sharing file on her smart phone and keyed up some Mozart. Then she thought about what she should do about the music.

What should Mae do next?

1. She can fire her manager for playing the music too loud, but that means hiring and training a replacement.
2. She can ban music in her coffee shops.
3. She can tweak her HR policies to more clearly define the volume that is appropriate for her shops and the consequences of violating the rules.

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.

Ebook Link
https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

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Beating the Odds

Another update from the Jungle…

Imagine that you are invited to join a company where virtually all your colleagues are misfits.  Imagine also that the old boss is fired for exhibiting poor judgment and your new boss has been fired multiple times for poor results. When you are asked to join, the company has just escaped rock bottom and is expected to fail within the next year.

That’s the Leicester City Football Club (LCFC) story.

soccer field

LCFC spent most of the prior season in last place and barely escaped relegation (demotion) to the second tier of English football (what we call soccer). Then… their manager was fired.

In came Claudio Ranieri as the new manager. He had been fired by five of his last six teams due to poor results. He resigned from the sixth team. He was expected to lose games and get fired by Christmas. Analysts said the players weren’t good enough for the league because most of them had been dropped by more prestigious teams.  They entered the 2015 – 2016 season with a 5000 – 1 chance of winning the title.

impossible

But something truly magical happened. LCFC was top of the league by Christmas and never looked back. On May 2, they were confirmed as the champions two weeks before the season ended. How did they win the 2015 -2016 English Premier League title?

The Leicester players had been through so many hard times together that they were a tight-knit group. During games, every player knew that if he missed a tackle, a teammate would be there to cover for him. Half a dozen players could be counted on to score goals needed to win games.

Ranieri also created an environment that supported the players’ togetherness. During games, he encouraged his players to stay calm and focused.  He created incentives, such as promising them a pizza party if they kept a clean sheet, not allowing the other team to score. (They took over a local pizzeria for a day.) He sent them on a mini-vacation halfway through the season to keep them fresh.  It all worked.

What are the HR lessons from the Leicester City FC story?

  1. Money doesn’t guarantee results. Leicester’s starting squad cost about $30 million and they beat teams that spent over $100 million for their starting lineups.
  2. Team spirit matters. Each player could count on his teammates for help.
  3. The right manager is critical. Claudio Ranieri proved he has great people skills by getting the best from each player.

 

The Leicester City FC story is inspiring because it demonstrates what the right corporate culture can achieve for an employer.

 

 

kicking

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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Ebook Link:  https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

 

A Dim Bulb Burns Out

Another update from the Jungle…

Meet Tom. worker

Tom has worked tirelessly on a local factory manufacturing line for almost 30 years. He has rarely missed work and his work ethic is unbelievable.

There’s just one catch…

Tom is challenged when it comes to making sense out of everyday tasks. Although his IQ has never been measured, those who know him can tell that he struggles to understand new information. He often sits staring vacantly during his work breaks, unable to participate in any witty conversational banter, so he aimlessly watches the clock count down until his next shift. Tom has worked at the factory since he turned 18 and, through the years, has earned the right become a part of the company family. His supervisor and several co-workers look out for him on a daily basis. They try to protect him by intervening when younger workers try to make fun of him or call him names like “stupid.”

Now that Tom is almost 50, his learning disability has become visibly worse. He is often easily distracted and becomes completely inattentive while working on the line. This ends up compromising his ability to work on dangerous machines. (Especially after the day that he almost lost his finger!) His supervisor now assigns him to the dreary, boring, repetitive jobs on the safer equipment.

Eventually Tom’s supervisor decides to retire. He’d known Tom for the duration of 30 years at the factory and knew that under his watch, Tom would always have a job at the factory. On his last day, the supervisor warns his replacement that Tom needs to be handled with compassion and patience because of his slower disposition. The new supervisor, David, is a rising star at the company and laser-focused on increasing productivity and efficiency. He becomes instantly offended that his managerial skills are being questioned by the retiring “old geezer.” He dismisses the unsolicited suggestion with a disingenuous “Ok. Sure.”

factoryIn the days following, David is overwhelmed and irate with Tom’s slow pace and inability to concentrate on the line, so he begins to routinely shout at and berate Tom during his shift. David pushes Tom to move faster and to stay focused, which creates confusion and high levels of emotional distress for Tom. This erratic behavior becomes so frequent that David decides to notify Gloria, the company’s HR representative. David informs her that Tom needs to be terminated for poor work performance ASAP.

Early the next morning, before Gloria could call Tom into her office, he wandered away from the line and walked over to the field next to the factory’s parking lot. He stood in the rain, gazing up at the sky and proceeded to take off his clothes and lay down on the ground. David sees this and sends an employee to tell Gloria to call 911.

What should Gloria do next?

She should call the paramedics so that Tom can be taken to the hospital for evaluation?
She should tell David to stop bullying his subordinates?
She should review the company’s procedures for dealing with distraught workers?

stigmaIn the actual situation, the paramedics were notified, and they transported the employee to the hospital where he underwent a psychological evaluation. That diagnosis led to the employee being placed on permanent disability. As the stigma attached to mental health recedes, employees should be encouraged to seek assistance rather than suffering in denial.

Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor will expertly create and customize all necessary HR policies that are appropriate for the size and culture of your company. CCRA will then facilitate as a valuable resource to your staff during the policy’s implementation phase.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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

Ebook Link:  https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf