Goals

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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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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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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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 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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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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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.

 

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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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Mentor, Schmentor

Mentor4Grace is an assistant manager for her company. She’s always looking for opportunities to improve her performance so that she can get promoted. She hears that Diane believes in mentoring young talent and asks for a transfer to Diane’s department.

At their first meeting, they set performance goals for Grace. Grace wants to take some management classes to prepare for promotion. She also wants more responsibility to prove that she can be a good manager.

Diane applauds her goals and immediately asks Grace to help train a new hire, David. Diane also encourages Grace to be “proactive” by volunteering for internal assignments as part of a strategy to get noticed by senior management.

So Grace volunteers to lead a team that will make recommendations for streamlining some of the company’s operating procedures. Her committee’s recommendations are forwarded by Diane to senior management. A month later, Grace reads an email from the company president that praises Diane for the committee’s recommendations.

Grace asks Diane why none of the committee members were mentioned in the president’s email and receives an evasive answer.  Grace concludes that she and her team will never be recognized. She decides to do all she can to help her committee members get recognized for their hard work. She’s already quietly mentoring three of them and helps two of them find places in departments away from Diane.

Mentor5She decides to not bail out herself because she believes she is in line for a promotion that is opening soon. The company has a policy that requires an employee to be in a position for at least a year before being eligible for promotion.

This morning Grace learns that David will get the promotion she wanted. She also learns that the company is supporting Diane’s nomination for an award based on her mentorship of younger women professionals.  Grace asks several female co-workers; no one knows who Diane is supposed to have mentored.

What should Grace do next?

  1. She can create a fake resume for David and send it to competitors in the hopes they will hire him, leaving her the promotion she deserves.
  2. She can accept that Diane’s nickname starts with a capital “B” and stop volunteering to do work for which Diane will steal the credit.
  3. She can recognize that her career advancement requires an internal transfer or a new employer.

The above scenario is a composite of the experiences of many women, and some men, professionals. Managers like “Diane” can tank morale faster than obviously rotten managers. A good HR program should include performance assessments that neutralize the toxic effect for a “Diane”.

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