chaos

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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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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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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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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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.

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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.

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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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