Employees

Lunch with Leeann

Another update from the Jungle…..

Brenda made a hideous mistake today.  She agreed to have lunch with Laura, forgetting that Laura would invite Leeann.   

Leeann is a controller.  She isn’t bossy or pushy, but somehow everything moves at her pace. She shows up late for work most days, usually with a long explanation. The cat got sick. The dog got loose and she had to search the neighborhood for him.  The kids were sick.   Instead of telling her to get her lazy butt out of bed an hour earlier each workday, their idiot boss just shrugs.

Today, as usual, Leeann wandered around the office chatting about how much work she had to do.  Five minutes before they were to leave for lunch, Leeann remembered that she needed to return an important phone call.  It will only take a minute, Leeann assured them. Fifteen minutes later, Leeann was finally ready to go after a stop at the restroom. 

As they finally headed out the door, Leeann offered to drive because she needed to run an errand on the way back from lunch.  She dug into her giant, squishy purse for several minutes trying to find her car keys.  Brenda slid into the back seat feeling light-headed from rage, despair and hunger.

Leeann stared out the windshield and sighed. Then she dug through the console for her sunglasses. After another sigh and a seat adjustment, she finally backed out of the parking space.  Leeann paused at the exit to debate with Laura about where to go for lunch. 

Brenda lost patience and said loudly from the back seat, “Just pick one. I’m starving”.  Brenda’s stomach was growling so loud that the noise was audible to a passing pedestrian. 

After lunch, the trip back to the office detoured to a drugstore so that Leeann could drop off a medication for a refill.  As they waited in the drive-through lane that snaked around two sides of the drugstore, Brenda considered her options.

What options are available to Brenda?

  1. She can lean out the car window and scream, “Help! I’m being kidnapped!”     
  2. She can leap out of the car and call Uber or Lyft to take her back to the office.       
  3. She can make a mental note to never, ever have lunch with Leeann again. 

Every office has a Leeann.  To limit the productivity and morale hits caused by your office’s Leeann, set clear performance metrics.  Then apply a combination of coaching and progressive discipline until she either hits the required metrics or doesn’t.

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

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You can also follow me at HerSavvy.com. My column appears the 3rd Tuesday of each month.

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Freedom from Rules

Another update from the Jungle…..

Linda opened her business one year ago when she was fed up with all the petty rules and employee bickering at her last job.  Her friends Julie and Rhonda joined her.  They agreed that their new business would be a happy place where workers were free to be creative and enjoy coming to work. That was the last time they agreed on anything.

Their infectious optimism enticed customers to try their products.  Soon they were overwhelmed with customers, but lacked the organizational structure to keep up. The storefront was in shambles and their workshop was littered with half-finished orders. 

After the usual 90-hour week, Rhonda skipped a day to catch up on her sleep. Since she neglected to tell the others, their shop was closed when a customer arrived to pick up her order.  When Linda returned to the office after making a delivery, the fuming customer taught her a few new words.  As soon as the offended customer left, Linda left a scathing voicemail on Rhonda’s phone, using some of the words she had just learned from the customer.

Two hours later, Rhonda galloped into the office. She screamed at Linda that she had been working non-stop for months and couldn’t take it anymore and wished she had never left her old job to work with such an ungrateful witch. Julie bounced out of the workshop to say that Linda’s rotten inability to set priorities was the cause of their problems.

Then Julie noticed that one of the customers was recording their fight with her cell phone.  Julie chased the customer around the store trying to grab her phone. The customer fled out the door with Julie still chasing her.  Rhonda collapsed onto the floor sobbing hysterically.

When Julie returned, the store was empty of customers. Linda announced that she was tired of not knowing where the other two were or what they were doing. 

What options are available to Linda?

  1. She can close the business and go live in a hut in the Rocky Mountains to get in touch with her feelings.   
  2. She can ditch her friends and start over with her worst enemy because, at least then, she would know what she’s getting. 
  3. She can adopt some basic HR policies to ensure the business can grow without imploding.

Most new business owners want to avoid written rules because they dislike bureaucratic boondoggles. They quickly learn that there is a huge difference between bogging down in bureaucratic rules and creating a framework of HR rules to allow the business to grow effectively.

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

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He Can’t Quit. He’s Fired!

Another update from the Jungle…..

Gene is mad as heck and he no longer cares who knows it. He slouches through the office emitting a fog of discontent as toxic as a radiation leak.  Gene has always been hot-headed and stubborn, so it took a couple of weeks before his co-workers realized something is different this time.

Gene’s attitude cratered a couple of weeks ago when he had another run-in with his manager, Eric.  Eric is almost as hot-headed and stubborn as Gene and they’ve clashed endlessly. If they would each take a moment to think before speaking, their differing skills would make them a great team. At least, that’s what the HR manager, Jan, believes. 

She’s spent so much time counseling them and resolving their bickering that she’s sick of both of them.  Of course, an HR manager can never admit that, so Jan continues smiling through gritted teeth.  But she’s on constant alert for the next explosion. 

The explosion duly comes at this morning’s staff meeting. Eric announces a new project and asks for suggestions on how to most efficiently complete the project.  At first, no one says a word as they try to decide if Eric is actually interested in their suggestions or just following a technique learned in his recent manager training. 

Gene looks at his co-workers, looks at Eric, and then launches into his suggestions for completing the new project.  As he talks, Eric’s jaw clenches and he takes a deep breath, preparatory to blasting Gene’s suggestions into orbit.    

Before Eric runs out of breath, Gene jumps up, knocking his chair into Dean’s elbow, causing Dean to spill his coffee. Dean leaps to his feet cursing fluently and swatting ineffectually at the coffee splotches on his slacks.

Gene bellows, “You’ve insulted me for the last time. I quit!”  He rips off his security ID badge and hurls it onto the table where it skitters into a water bottle knocking it over before bouncing up to ricochet off a light fixture.  Bodies lunge in all directions to avoid the ID badge and the water shower.   Gene stalks out the door of the conference room.

Eric bolts from the conference room straight into Jan’s office.  He glares at her, chest heaving and announces that he wants to fire Gene before the SOB can quit. 

What options are available to Jan?

  1. She can suggest that Eric and Gene settle their differences in the octagon ring like a couple of UFC fighters.   
  2. She can rejoice knowing that she’ll be free of their petty bickering because, one way or another, Gene is leaving.         
  3. She can begin the termination process and then meet with Gene to explain the consequences of a voluntary resignation. 

When co-workers can’t get along, larger companies may be able to transfer one of the feuding pair to another department.  Small employers often need to decide which employee is most valuable to the company and then terminate the other person’s 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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The Thief of Ideas

Another update from the Jungle…..

Helen sat in her boss’ office stoically waiting for him to wind down from his latest temper tantrum.  As she waited, she reflected on the fact that Henry wasn’t such a bad boss when he was in his right mind.

Unfortunately, Henry was frequently not in his right mind.  He ran his company as if he was the dictator of a tiny oppressed country, but few of his employees were willing to be oppressed.  They complained incessantly to Helen, the HR manager.  She was hired because Henry knew he had a problem even if he wouldn’t admit that he caused the problem.

It’s the only company Helen’s ever worked for that required her to sign an employment contract agreeing to stay for at least one year in exchange for a giant bonus.  Before the ink dried on her signature, Helen realized it would be difficult to earn that bonus. 

She has been trying to fix employee morale. Her first suggestion, a tuition reimbursement plan, caused Henry to erupt like a Yellowstone geyser.  Why should he pay for his employees to get educated? He had built the company with hard work (and unacknowledged luck) and his employees should be willing to work as hard as him. 

A day later, Henry told Helen that he wanted her to create a program to reimburse tuition because he had big expansion plans and he needed his staff to keep up. But he insisted that employees must agree to stay until they had worked sufficient hours to generate profits equivalent to the reimbursed amount. He wanted to recoup his investment.  Henry’s switcheroo left Helen feeling dazed and confused. 

That’s how it’s gone for six months.  Helen proposes an idea; Henry shoots it down. More often than not, a few days later he adopts her idea after adding his unique twist.  Helen feels exhausted trying to manage him while maintaining her own sanity.  She is beginning to wonder if the big bonus is worth putting up with Henry’s negative energy field.

What options are available to Helen?

  1. She can occasionally demonstrate her softball batting skills by wapping Henry with her laptop when he gets too obnoxious.   
  2. She can do as little as possible for the next six months, collect her bonus and then wave goodbye to Henry.     
  3. She can use his contrariness to her advantage, suggesting changes in a way that allows Henry to believe the changes are his idea.

Bullies like Henry refuse to accept any idea unless they are convinced the idea was originally their own. Handling these types of co-workers and supervisors requires emotional maturity and the strength to refuse to be bullied.

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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Heck, No, You Can’t Go!

Another update from the Jungle…..

Fred was looking forward to a brilliant career. He’s young, educated and ambitious. His ambition has already helped him overcome the handicap of his parents naming him Rolex Fredericksburg, in honor of the city where he was conceived and his father’s favorite watch brand.  He graduated from college with honors and immediately landed a great job.

Of course, his brilliant career depends on getting past the Condor-sized buzzard he works for.  Randall seemed like a nice guy when Fred interviewed with him.  Randall rambled on at length about the training opportunities offered by the organization and how the organization believes in promoting from within. He bragged about his subordinates who have gone on to amazing careers.

Fred saw his brilliant future shimmering before him and immediately accepted Randall’s job offer.  He volunteered for special projects to gain experience and applied for every training course he could find.  Randall was overjoyed to have such an ambitious young man working for him and shoveled more projects on to Fred. 

Last week, Fred found another opportunity for advancement.  Of course, it would mean a temporary reassignment for two years to a distant office, but the additional experience and skills could ignite the trajectory of Fred’s career.  This morning, Fred meets with Randall to present his proposal.

Fred says he’ll return after two years and he’ll lead workshops to train others on what he learns during the two year reassignment. Randall stares blankly at him, then at the one page proposal. No, he says, evading Fred’s eyes, he can’t sign off on the proposal. Fred is much too valuable to the team to be lost for two years. Besides, there’s no guarantee, aside from Fred’s promise, that he will return to Randall’s department.

Fred glares stonily at Randall. His honesty and integrity are being questioned by the idiot who hired him less than a year ago.  His initial impulse is to jump up, run around the corner of the desk, and knock Randall into orbit.  Instead he excuses himself and walks out.

What options are available to Fred?

  1. He can slap the taste out of Randall’s mouth and tell HR he was temporarily insane with disappointment.
  2. He can begin a surreptitious campaign to push Randall into early retirement in order to clear the hurdle in his career path.
  3. He can quit at the first opportunity and pursue a brilliant career elsewhere.

In today’s tight labor market, employers who fail or refuse to invest in the development of their employees are likely to lose their best people to competitors who are willing to make the investment.   

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 Got My Eye on You

 Another update from the Jungle…..

Jayne accepted the first job offer after college because she was worried about making her student loan payments. She also wanted to prove to her parents that she could take care of herself.  In hindsight, Jayne wondered if living at home was really so bad because her new employer is insane.unnamed-5

During the endless rounds of interviews employees gushed about the joys of working for the company and its founder, Wesley, but Jayne was an English minor in college and she can read subtext. She quickly picked up on the jokes about timed bathroom breaks and monitored phone calls.

One young woman sheepishly admitted that she was busted for her negative comments on her personal Facebook page.  All the employees in that interview session laughed when Jayne said that she had heard that employees couldn’t be forced to provide access to their personal social media accounts to their employers. They assured Jayne that it was no big deal.unnamed-1

Jayne was young and desperate so she took the job despite feeling uncomfortable.  At orientation, she was required to sign a confidentiality agreement that allows the company to search her personal belongings at any time to ensure that confidential information is not stolen.     

Jayne’s discomfort zoomed into paranoia after she updated her LinkedIn profile with a description of her new job.  The next day, Rhoda, the HR Director, told Jayne that she had violated the company’s social media policy which covers postings on LinkedIn.

unnamedThe policy requires employees to include a statement that Wesley is a brilliant and inspiring boss and the employee is privileged to work for and learn from him.   Rhoda also told Jayne to change her head shot because it didn’t show her as a happy, loyal employee.  Jayne asked how she could show loyalty in a photograph. Rhoda shrugged. Jayne returned to her cubicle, a blob of raging paranoia.

What options are available to Jayne?

  1. She can stroll around the office humming the lyrics of a Buffalo Springfield song, “paranoia strikes deep/into your life it will creep”.
  2. She can embrace her paranoia and flit around the office in a Star Trek uniform talking to her co-workers about Klingons.
  3. She can hide in her cubicle pretending to work while she searches for a new job.

Most employers have social media policies setting parameters on what employees canunnamed-4 post and reserving the right to monitor employees’ social media for violations of the policy.  However, the more restrictive and intrusive these policies are the more likely that they will be found to have violated federal and state laws.

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

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Exit Strategy

Another update from the Jungle…..

Millie is employed because her mom is friends with Janice, owner of the company.  Millie’s mom begged Janice to hire Millie and promised that Janice wouldn’t regret it. Janice agrees.

Millie learns of her new job when her mom tells her, that starting bright and early the following Monday, she will be working for Janice, but Millie doesn’t want a job. She wants to be an actress beloved by millions.

Late Monday morning, Millie floats into the office to find her new co-workers hard at work.  Janice takes Millie on a quick tour of the office, introducing her to everyone and explains basics, like the schedule and benefits. 

Millie perks up when she hears about the benefits. She says she needs to leave early the next day to go to an audition. She enthusiastically describes the play and how she expects this show will be her big break into professional acting.  She asks if she can give a provisional resignation now in case she has to pack for Broadway on short notice.

Recovering her composure, Janice explains that until the big break arrives, Millie may want to learn a few things about her current job.  Millie is uninterested in the job, but she soon realizes that Janice’s company can teach her plenty of new stuff that she can use to advance her career in the theatre.

A few weeks later, a couple of Millie’s co-workers discreetly approach Janice. They have been following Millie’s social media posts so that they can keep up with her acting career. They believe Millie is contacting prospects and clients of Janice’s company to invite them to support her career. 

Janice drops everything to take a quick spin through various social media platforms looking at Millie’s posts.  What she sees convinces Janice that it’s time to dump Millie at the curb.  In her haste to fire Millie, Janice forgets to protect her company’s data.

Within days, Janice realizes that Millie is still accessing her company’s systems.  Millie’s social media shows that she is using Janice’s documents and processes to build a rival business while waiting for her big break in the theatre.

What steps should Janice take next to protect her company?

  1. She can become Millie’s patron, underwriting her acting career as a way to obtain some return on her investment in Millie.
  2. She can call Millie’s mom to complain that Millie is a rotten kid.
  3. She can create a checklist of all company systems that need to be updated to terminate Millie’s access.

 Most employers have well-developed on-boarding processes, but pay less attention to their termination process.  A termination process can protect company resources from misuse by former 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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Check Out Time

Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-230Bettysue loves the holiday season but this year she’s frustrated. Her children are grown and have other plans so they won’t be coming home. Her husband just says, “sure, honey, whatever” when she asks his opinion. Her husband has long-since concluded that the secret to their marriage is to keep his mouth shut, stock up on suitable beverages, and hide in his man-cave until after the Super Bowl game.

So Bettysue spends her working hours plotting how best to spread holiday cheer. This year, she decided that her workplace should have a multicultural party. She’s not deterred by the fact that the workforce has little religious or cultural diversity.

Her boss, Deena, has long-since concluded that letting Bettysue decorate the office is the most profitable use of Bettysue’s time since she clearly doesn’t have her mind on work. A couple of years ago, Deena insisted that Bettysue ought to actually do her job despite the seasonal slush. The results were so awful that Deena had to meet with her mental health counselor every day in the following January. Deena now sees the holiday excesses as a cost of doing business.

unnamed-227Bettysue’s coworkers have enthusiastically joined in because decorating beats working any day of the week. Now miniature menorahs, fake Yule logs, and a plastic Christmas tree create a fire hazard in the elevator lobby. A Kwanzaa fruit broom serves as a seasonal centerpiece in the middle of the conference room table.

Multicolored tinsel adorns every doorway and most cubicle entrances. A sprig of mistletoe was tacked over the breakroom door until Arlene, the HR director, yanked it down, muttering about sexual harassment.

unnamed-233However, most of Bettysue’s time at work is devoted to buying things online. Her Amazon Prime deliveries now exceed regular business deliveries to her employer. FedEx, UPS, and the post office have offered to set up a mini hub at the building to handle the volume of deliveries.

What should the company do next year?

  1. They could have a daily party since none of their employees are working anyway.
  2. They could shut down for two weeks in late December since no one is working.
  3. They could pay a bonus to volunteers who agree to provide minimal customer service while the office shuts down during the seasonal distractions.

Many non-retail companies either shut down at the end of December for two weeks or allow most employees to use vacation/PTO during that time. Employers believe this policy improves morale and productivity in the first quarter of the next year.

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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Let’s Do It Again Next Year!

 Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-222Craig decided he couldn’t face another office party with the same old cheese log and Ritz crackers and Dirty Santa game. So he told Helen, the HR manager, that he made an executive decision as the company owner to try a different sort of party. Craig has decided everyone will enjoy a tour of the local micro-distilleries.

Privately, he plans to use the tour to finish his holiday shopping. He can sample the local whiskeys and buy a few bottles for clients and vendors and maybe even a few family members. He ignores Helen’s objections about potential liability and begins Googling local tour bus companies. Employees cheer when they hear of his plan. For the first time ever, every employee shows up early to board the bus.

unnamed-221At the first distillery, AJ disappears. Helen eventually finds him out back of the building sharing a hand-rolled cigarette with a distillery employee. AJ says the employee is his cousin. Helen drags him back to the tour to sample the whiskey. Craig buys four bottles.

At the second distillery, Craig buys another dozen bottles. AJ and Carla buy a case a piece and stagger to the bus to stash their purchases. At the third tour stop, everyone heads straight to the tasting room, ignoring the tour guide. AJ, Carla, and Craig huddle close to the server begging for seconds. Craig buys another case. The bus storage areas are filling up.

unnamed-223Helen makes an executive decision to cancel the remainder of the tour. She herds everyone back to the bus. Lenny is singing obscene sea shanties. Helen makes a mental note to ask IT to audit his internet activity so she can find out what Lenny’s really been doing at work. Helen spends the return trip calling spouses, Uber and Lyft to arrange rides for everyone.  

The bus finally rocks to a halt in the office parking lot, spilling Lenny down the aisle, still singing. AJ staggers up the aisle cradling a half-empty bottle where he misjudges the last step and sprawls on the ground. He doesn’t spill a drop.

What should Helen do next?

  1. She can blackmail Craig to give her a couple bottles of whiskey in exchange for ensuring their insurance carrier never hears of this party.
  2. She can research what it would cost to have the holiday party in Las Vegas next year.
  3. She can suggest a drink limit for next year’s party.

Office parties come with risks, including worker injuries and host liability for alcohol-related accidents. As with so many risks in life, moderation and common sense are the best guides.

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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Nightmare at the Office

 Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-196Once upon a time, an inexperienced HR Manager named Katie suggested to the company owner Phil that they have a Halloween party. Phil remembered past office parties and hesitated to risk the company’s liability insurance premiums on another such event. It’ll boost morale, assured Katie, and so, Phil said yes.

Katie immediately sent an email to all employees about the festive event. Five minutes later, Misty pops into Katie’s office to ask if she and her fellow white witches can set up a cauldron in the parking lot for a cleansing ceremony. They want to appease the spirits of the universe and ensure a profitable year for the company. Katie gapes at her; she didn’t even know there were white witches on the staff.

unnamed-197Katie says she’ll think about it and shoos Misty away. Katie slumps at her desk wondering whether the EEOC considers white witches a protected religious group. While she’s cogitating on religious freedom in the workplace, Wade shows up. He says office parties are stupid and he won’t participate. If the company wants to boost his morale, he’d prefer cash.

Having spread his brand of cheer, he wanders away to urge other to boycott Katie’s “dumb party.”

Katie is discouraged until she talks to Alan and Ray. They want to know if there is a prize for best costume. Katie thinks that’s a swell idea and says yes. Chortling wildly, Alan and Ray thank her. Too late, Katie remembers that chaos follows them and wishes she had said no. And so begins the scariest night of Katie’s life.

unnamed-19Ray shows up at the party dressed as an Aztec sacrificial victim with a fake heart poking out of his chest, dripping fake blood. Ray doesn’t understand why Moises, a Mexican-American, thinks the costume is culturally insensitive. Katie dashes toward them intent on preventing a fight but rocks to a halt when she catches sight of Alan. Alan had arrived wrapped in a blanket, wearing an Indian war bonnet with psychedelic pink feathers.

Suddenly, he drops the blanket to reveal he’s wearing only a leather thong.

unnamed-200Before Katie can indulge in hysterics, she discovers that AJ, the scary guy from IT, has a fetish for knives and marijuana-laced brownies. Since marijuana is now legal in some states, “What’s the big deal?” says AJ, snatching the tray from Katie before she can dispose of the brownies.

As Katie drives home, she vows never again to suggest boosting morale with a party.

As your workplace celebrates Halloween, be assured that nothing like this could ever happen at your company. 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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