Hostile Workplace

Go Back To Your Cave

Another update from the Jungle….

Once upon a time, at a company not so different from its competitors, a new employee was hired. Addison was bright, cheerful and had graduated from college near the top of her class. She believed that hard work was all she needed to advance her career.

As with every fairy-tale, an evil troglodyte lurked in a cubicle down the hall. His name was Larry. He joined the company many years ago and never advanced beyond cubicle world. Beneath a façade of pleasant chitchat lurks a very angry employee.

Addison bumps into Larry in the break room as she tries to figure out how to use the single cup coffee maker. Larry helps her while sarcastically commenting about how good life was when they still had the Mr. Coffee machine. Addison finds his acidic commentary mildly amusing and thinks he might be a friend.

Alas for the fair maid. At the next staff meeting, Larry questions the decision of Wanda, the manager, to designate Addison as the leader on a new project. Larry privately thinks he should be leading the team based on his seniority. Addison seals her fate by saying she’d be happy to have his help. Wanda shrugs and agrees. She’s a manager, not a knight in shining armor trying to rescue a fair maid, especially one too stupid to sniff out danger.

Addison’s first hint that she is not going to live happily ever after happens at her first team meeting. Larry interrupts repeatedly with helpful suggestions, all of which she rejects. During the next week, Larry visits each team member to express his concerns about the imminent failure of the project due to Addison’s inexperience.

Wanda hears via the grapevine that the project is tanking so she calls Addison in for a status report. Larry sees Addison walking down the hallway towards Wanda’s office. Quick as a flash he scampers down the hallway, pushes past her, and turns in the doorway to Wanda’s office to smirk before slamming the door in Addison’s face.

When Addison finally meets with Wanda, Larry’s poisonous comments have taken effect. Wanda says she’s worried about progress and needs to replace Addison with an older, more experienced worker.

What should Addison do next?

  1. She can loudly proclaim that Larry the troglodyte has sabotaged her career and begin crying.
  2. She can plot a suitable revenge against Larry, but he’s had years more experience at this sort of backstabbing.
  3. She can search for a mentor to help her learn how to fight troglodytes in the future.

In the actual situation, the new employee gave up believing in fairy-tales, resigned and joined a competitor, feeling older and slightly wiser. Avoid this fairy-tale by implementing effective HR policies.

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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Grow Up!

Another update from the Jungle….

Jerry feels besieged and over loaded. He’s the CEO, and he ought to be busy lining up new customers. Instead, he’s staggering from one crisis to the next as his team fights each other.

It all started when Sue accused Wayne of undermining her authority in a staff meeting. At the staff meeting, Wayne asked questions that put Sue on the spot. Wayne always tries to understand the nitty gritty details by asking a lot of questions. Occasionally, his fascination for details is beneficial, like the time his questions uncovered a technical gap that would have cost the company money. But most the time he just comes across as obnoxious and obtuse.

Sue erupted like a geyser. She told Wayne to shut up and focus on doing his own job. Wayne retorted that he couldn’t do his job if the inputs from her team are sloppy and incomplete. Sue naturally defended her team and added that the company was a better place to work before Wayne was hired.

Wayne now refers to Sue as a word that rhymes with witch. Sue uses even more inflammatory language to describe him. Since they’re supervisors, they’ve managed to drag their respective subordinates into the fight.

Wayne’s team buys a different brand of coffee for the break room rather than use the brand preferred by Sue. Sue’s team confiscates all the office supplies in the supply closet. Her team also password protects all their work rather than sharing with Wayne’s team.

Inevitably, deadlines are blown on their latest product. Jerry calls an all-hands meeting to find out what is going wrong. Within five minutes accusations are flying. After fifteen minutes, a shoving match ensues between Sue and Wayne as they blame each other for the delays. Sue hurls a cup of coffee at Wayne. He retaliates by grabbing her notes and shredding the pages.

Jerry is shocked, then outraged. His whole business is on the line for a couple of chuckleheads with the emotional development of children.

What options are available to Jerry?

  1. He can fire Sue and Wayne for breaking company rules on workplace violence.
  2. He can start a side business featuring Sue and Wayne as featherweight prize fighters.
  3. He can counsel Sue and Wayne to act like grownups and work together for the company.

In the actual situation, the employer chose the third option, in keeping with the company’s progressive discipline policy. The employer’s decision was based on an assessment of the supervisors’ capabilities and skills. Both managers were also encouraged to seek anger management counseling.

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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My Boss Hates Me!

Another update from the Jungle….

Teresa works at a major corporation, and she’s grown steadily more pessimistic about her job and career. She’s convinced that her boss, Barbara, has discriminated against her, and she complains to HR. Her discrimination complaint is investigated by Audrey, the HR rep.

Audrey invites Teresa to a confidential meeting to get her side of the story. Teresa shows up at the meeting, toting a giant 3-ring binder stuffed full of copies of emails between Teresa and Barbara and copies of performance appraisals.  Teresa says the binder contains proof that Barbara is out to get her.

Audrey has an awful sinking feeling, familiar to any experienced HR person, as she stares at the 3-ring binder. She will eventually have to read it as part of her investigation. She sighs heavily and delays the inevitable by continuing her interview of Teresa.

Teresa spins a tale of slights, oversights, and harsh words that she says add up to discrimination. She claims that Barbara cuts her off in mid-sentence every time she tries to talk during staff meetings. Barbara is rude to her and makes negative comments in front of co-workers. Barbara gives pay raises to younger, less experienced co-workers while telling Teresa that she’s not eligible for any pay increases.  Barbara ignores her and dislikes her while being nice to everyone else in the department.

The next day, Audrey begins reading the 3-ring binder.  After an hour, she has a raging headache but has reached a few conclusions. The emails indicate that Teresa has become increasingly defensive, responding to sometimes non-existent criticism. The performance appraisals completed by Barbara move from neutral (“works well with others”) assessments to mildly negative (“attitude needs improvement”) in the most recent appraisal.

Audrey knows that Barbara has a history of managerial issues. Audrey had opposed Barbara’s promotion to manager because of her lack of “people” skills.  Now Audrey’s sitting at her desk trying to decide what to do next.

What should she do?

  1. She can recommend that nothing be done due to a lack of clear proof of discrimination.
  2. She can arrange Teresa’s transfer to a different manager and hope for the best.
  3. She can tell Teresa and Barbara to stop acting like whiny children and then go have a glass (or a bottle) of wine to wash away the effects of their feud.

In the actual situation, a department reorganization lead to the reassignment of the disgruntled employee. That resolved the immediate conflict but not the long term issue of poor training for new managers.

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 Had It with You!

Another update from the Jungle….

Once there was an executive assistant (what we used to call a secretary) who worked for a toxic boss. Rachel was good at her job, but you’d never know it working for David.  Rachel and David joined the company a few months apart more than ten years ago. They only began working together about two years ago.

Before that, Rachel worked for several managers who gave her neutral or mildly positive marks on her annual performance review.  The unexciting performance reviews kept Rachel on the move, transferring to new managers in hopes of finding a better work relationship.  Now Rachel is desperate to move again because she’s had with David.

David is mean and nasty. He criticizes her work product mercilessly, often when other people are present. He makes snarky comments about her constant noshing, even though Rachel’s explained that she has a medical condition requiring her to eat healthy snacks frequently throughout the day.

David’s nastiness stems, at least in part, from Rachel’s mediocre performance. He’s had it with her, too.  He’ll never admit that his constant disapproval has affected her performance.  After all, he also answers to a difficult boss and doesn’t want to hear any whining from others. He’d love to offload Rachel on another manager but there haven’t been any openings.

Last week, David’s and Rachel’s luck changed. An internal job posting announced an opening for an executive assistant in another department. Rachel immediately submits her resume. The HR manager tells Rachel that she’s not eligible for consideration because David still needs to submit her performance review.

Rachel dashes out of the HR manager’s office and makes it to David’s office in Olympic Gold medal time. She glares at David and demands that he turn in her performance review immediately. David scowls at her. Then he says that he will give her the best damned review she’s ever had if it means he can get rid of her.

What can Rachel do next?

  1. She can complain to HR about David’s abusive attitude but that could make her sound whiny and hurt her chances of a transfer away from him.
  2. She can dump her trash of rotting apple cores on his desk when he’s in a meeting.
  3. She can say nothing and use his “great” review to get away from him.

In the actual situation, the executive assistant moved from one toxic manager to an even more toxic manager. Toxicity should be addressed with HR assistance rather than festering to the detriment of the entire organization.

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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Want to Know What I Think?

Another update from the Jungle….

Cyndi is the newest manager at her company. How she got promoted is still a hotly disputed topic. She worked for the company for ten years, taking on progressively more difficult assignments. She paid for management training classes out of her own pocket and thinks she’s earned her promotion.

Tom, the other candidate, and his supporters are convinced that she got the promotion due to an excess of political correctness by the senior management team. They believe the senior management team was scared after the company was sued by former employee Alicia.

Alicia sued after being passed over for promotion for the third time. She alleged that Ron, the CEO, and other male senior managers judged female employees based on “feminine” appearance rather than competence. Alicia wore little makeup and preferred pants suits to dresses.

Without admitting fault, the company quickly settled with Alicia and proudly announced a new diversity and inclusion initiative. Cyndi is the first person promoted to manager after the D&I program is implemented.

Cyndi shows up for her first managers meeting prepared to contribute after all her years of preparation. She walks into the conference room and sees that the chairs are taken at the table. She drags up a chair and politely asks two colleagues to move to allow her to sit at the table. They stare at her blankly for interrupting their conversation.

After a moment, Cyndi deftly shoves an elbow into the side of one manager and whacks her chair leg into the shins of the other one. As they recoil, she pushes her chair into the cleared space at the table and sits down. She smiles graciously at her colleagues and thanks them for moving.

The meeting is about a new marketing campaign to increase sales to women. Cyndi listens in silence for several minutes, awaiting her chance to contribute. Ron solicits opinions from everyone except Cyndi.

Cyndi looks around the table and considers her options.

  1. She can sit quietly and say nothing since she’s new to the group.
  2. She can go home and cry into a glass of red wine because she was ignored.
  3. She can look Ron in the eye and say, “I’m sure it’s an oversight but I haven’t been asked what I think of the new campaign”, and then give her opinion.

The above scenario may seem familiar to many employees.  Diversity and inclusion programs enhance employee retention and attract new employees; but only when properly implemented and with a clearly stated goal of deepening the talent pool.

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 Knife in the Back

Another update from the Jungle…

pic-5Bryan is a serial entrepreneur. Every time he gets a new idea, he starts a new company to exploit the idea. He’s successful at starting businesses, but he’s lousy at running them.

Bryan doesn’t like getting bogged down in the details. So he relies on lieutenants to keep him informed of how things are going at each company. Unfortunately, Bryan doesn’t seem to have noticed that one of his trusted lieutenants is deadlier than a rattlesnake.

pic-1Susan learns this the hard way when she begins working at one of his companies. Her first day on the job, she’s introduced to Elaine who is so friendly and helpful that Susan is duped into thinking she’s nice. But Elaine is a snake in the grass.

pic-2Elaine is an intolerable busybody. She stands near the elevator to track the time each employee shows up for work. She wanders the hallways, keeping tabs on what others are doing and saying. Then she passes every tidbit of information along to Bryan with a special Elaine twist.

Susan learns the truth when Bryan stops by for a quarterly meeting with the company’s management team, of which Susan is a junior member. Bryan marches into the conference room and sits opposite Elaine who is taking notes on pic-4the decisions he makes.

Bryan begins the meeting by chewing out Laura for falling sales in the past quarter. Laura replies that it is impossible to boost sales when her team is starved for resources. She produces a stack of receipts showing that her team has to pic-3buy their own office supplies since Elaine locked up the supply closet and hid the key.

Bryan impatiently tells Laura to stop blaming others for her own failings as a manager. Then he turns on Bob, the CFO, who didn’t have the financial reports ready for Bryan. Bob scowls but says nothing.

pic-6Susan knows that Bob was late with the financial reports because Elaine delayed helping him while she worked on other lower priority assignments. Susan looks at Elaine expecting her to defend Bob. Elaine smirks and remains silent.

What are Susan’s options?

  1. She can point out that Elaine sabotaged Bob but doubts that Bryan will believe her.
  2. She can thank her lucky stars that Elaine isn’t gunning for her.
  3. She can use her accrued vacation to begin hunting for a new job, preferably one without another Elaine.

pic-7In the actual situation, the junior manager soon found herself on the backstabber’s hit list and left the company as soon as possible.

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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I’m Mad as Heck about the Election!

Another update from the Jungle….
unnamed-4Dawn, the Chief Talent Officer for her company, is slogging through the remaining weeks of the political campaign. She hates what it’s done to her job. This week she’s thinking of changing her title to Chief Tortured Officer

Helen, the Voice of Doom, didn’t take the hint a couple of weeks ago when Dawn tried to politely tell her to get lost. Helen continues unnamed-6to show up every morning to depress Dawn with her worries that the election will degenerate into violence and mayhem.

After Helen leaves Allen, the Philosopher King, drifts in the door.  His garbled theories on democracy in America sound profound until you listen closely. Then you realize he’s just fogging up the room with BS. Besides Dawn couldn’t care less.

She has a real political crisis this week. She’s been summoned to the President’s office. Rory, the Prez, also wants to discuss the election and what it means for the office.  Rory’s channeling Jack Nicholson’s “Colonel Jessup” from “A Few Good Men” pacing the office and growling.

unnamed-15The workforce is as divided as the nation and it’s getting ugly. Yesterday Rory broke up a fight in the employee parking lot. The Trump and Clinton supporters were trying to rip the opposing candidate’s stickers off car bumpers.  Rory waded in, knocked a few heads together and ordered everyone back to work.

He’s not worried about a little fight in the parking lot. He’s mad as heck that no one seems to be working.  The company’s internet connections are smoking hot as workers visit “news” sites to hear the latest salacious details abouunnamed-14t the candidates and their families. Then they stand around arguing about what they’ve read.

Rory glares at Dawn and asks if he can fire a few people to set an example for everyone else. Dawn begins to explain (again) about the progressive discipline policy. Rory cuts her off.  If he can’t fire anyone, can he ban politics from he workplace?

What advice should Dawn give the Prez?

  1. She can give him a quick civics lesson about free speech.
  2. She can draft an email for him to send to all employees reminding them to do their jobs while on the clock.
  3. She can suggest that he should visit the gym more often to work off his aggression and grit his teeth for one more week.

The good news is that presidential elections happen every four years and we’ve got one more week to go.  Then we’ll all go back to arguing about sports.

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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I Don’t Have a Drinking Problem

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed-4

Leo and Ted are managers at their company. They were hired at the same time and became friends.  They often ate lunch together and spent most afternoons at happy hour at their favorite sports bar.

Leo was promoted first. His division expanded rapidly and when he needed another manager, he asked for Ted.  Ted managed the fastest growing product line in Leo’s division. Naturally, Ted began thinking that his team should have a bigger budget. Leo said no. Ted went to happy hour alone to sulk.

In the next manager’s meeting, Ted interrupted Leo repeatedly until Leo ordered him to shut up.  After the meeting, Ted stomped into Leo’s office to complain. Leo ordered Ted to leave and Ted refused. In the ensuing shoving match, two chairs were broken, Ted got a fat lip and Leo had a bloody nose. After that, they went to separate bars for happy hour.

Ted decided to ask Leo’s boss to make his team a separate division on the grounds that hisunnamed-8 team managed a product line worth more than all the rest of the products managed by Leo’s division.  Luckily for Ted, he appealed to Oscar.

Oscar is a fan of Star Trek and he runs a modified Klingon Empire, where you advance over the body of your former boss.  He is happy to watch Leo and Ted scrap because if they are fighting each other they aren’t challenging Oscar for his job. Oscar grants Ted’s request.

unnamed-3Now Leo and Ted are trying to screw each other’s careers by sucking up to Oscar.  They suck up by inviting Oscar to happy hour.  Oscar appreciates having Leo or Ted cover his bar tab. But all these soggy nights mean that productivity is suffering as Leo and Ted slide into alcoholism.

Nan, the HR manager, is watching from the sidelines. She knows she should talk to the unnamed-9senior management team about Leo’s and Ted’s potential disability due to alcoholism.

What options are available to Nan?

  1. She can recommend that Leo and Ted be shipped off to rehab to dry out in hopes of saving their careers.
  2. She can gather information about their poor performances to build a case for firing them.
  3. She can wait to take action until a senior manager notices the problem.

In the actual case, each manager was encouraged to seek professional help for their alcoholism. Neither sought treatment. One manager eventually quit rather than be fired, while the other manager continued in his same role without any hope of a promotion. unnamed-7

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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