Month: May 2016

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.


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.

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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.


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.




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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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.

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I’m Not Crazy!

Mental Health1Andrea is a lawyer in the corporate legal department of a major company.  She’s never quite fit in with the rest of the department and tends to work alone rather than as part of a team.  She gets the assignments the other lawyers don’t want.

Over time, feeling isolated and unwanted, Andrea’s confidence drops and the quality of her work slides.  She thinks about calling the employee assistance program (EAP) but she’s paranoid that her boss will find out and it will be a mark against her.  So she slogs along feeling unwanted and unappreciated.

Her lowest point comes when an executive chews her out in front of the whole department accusing her of misreading a paragraph in a contract that he wants to cancel.  When Andrea protests that she wasn’t asked about how to cancel the contract, the executive says she’s incompetent and ought to be fired.

On the way home that day, Andrea buys supplies at a local craft store to build a piñata. That evening she creates the piñata and writes the executive’s name on it. Then she beats the piñata to a pulp with her tennis racket.  After that, she has a glass of wine and some dark chocolate.

Mental Health3But wine and chocolate can’t solve every problem. Andrea’s morale continues to disintegrate and she becomes deeply depressed. She begins seeing a psychologist for mental health counseling. The counseling sessions help her with personal problems even as her work situation deteriorates.

Eventually, she is fired from her job and she sues the company. The company argues that she was fired for incompetence due to emotional and mental instability. To prove it, they demand details of her sessions with the psychologist. The company argues that it has a right to this information because it paid the insurance premiums for the health plan that covered the psychologist’s sessions.

What should Andrea do next?

  1. She should make a bigger piñata of the executive and buy more wine and chocolate.
  2. She should accept that she’s not crazy; the company was the wrong employer.
  3. She should write an advice book about dealing with egotistical managers and start a new career as a business consultant.

Mental Health4The above scenario is loosely based on a California lawsuit about ten years ago where the company argued unsuccessfully that paying health insurance premiums meant it had a right to know the details of an employee’s mental health treatment. Unfortunately, arguments like the one raised by the California case make it difficult to convince employees to seek mental health treatment from an EAP or their health insurance plan.

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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