Month: September 2017

The Root Of All Evil

Another update from the Jungle….

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

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

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

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

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

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

What should Helen do next?

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

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

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

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Credit Hog

Another update from the Jungle….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can Erin do next with Rose?

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

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

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

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You Never Talk To Me.

Another update from the Jungle….

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

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

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

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

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

What should Mary do next?

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

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

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

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Holiday Hijinks

Another update from the Jungle….

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

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

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

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

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

What should Lucy tell him?

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

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

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

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