mentor

Gung Ho Grace

Another update from the Jungle….

Grace joined the company a couple of months ago. She’s young, ambitious, and ready to prove she’s capable of fulfilling her new job description.  She’s also afraid to ask too many questions for fear that co-workers will think she’s not able to do her job. She’s heard that you should fake it until you make it, and she’s faking as hard as she can.

That makes her impatient with Jane, a co-worker who is supposed to be training her. Jane started working at the company around the time Grace entered middle school. Over time her job duties have evolved and she can’t keep up. So her boss, Aggie, decides to redo her job description and hire a younger person who can be trained by Jane to do some of the overflow work.

At the very first training session, Grace repeatedly interrupts as Jane tries to explain how the work flows and how the database evolved to its current form.  After ten minutes, Grace is tired of listening and decides she knows enough to jump into the job. She brusquely thanks Jane and logs in to the database.

As Grace dabbles in the database, she becomes increasingly frustrated because she can’t find the information she’s looking for. Finally she breaks down and asks Jane for help. Jane explains a quirk of the database that would have been revealed in the eleventh minute of their first training session.

Grace assumes that Jane deliberately set her up for failure. Jane thinks Grace is a gung ho twerp. The fight is on. Grace copies Aggie on every email to Jane and often words the email in a way that implies Jane has either withheld information or is incompetent. Jane fights back with all the skills learned in years of climbing the greased pole of a corporate career.

Eventually, Aggie realizes that she needs to do something because Grace and Jane are ready to tear each other’s hair out by the roots. She calls them into her office.

What should Aggie do next?

  1. She can tell Grace and Jane to grow up.
  2. She can fire them both and start over with new hires hoping they will get along.
  3. She can explain that they are both valuable to the team and they are both needed due to the expanded workload.

In the actual situation, the supervisor tried individual counseling after the group session failed horribly.  However, personalities don’t change and first impressions are difficult to overcome. So the situation wasn’t resolved until one of the warring workers quit.

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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Hey, Y’all, I’d Like A Job

Another update from the Jungle….

It’s been a long day and Mary is catching up on her emails. As she deletes all the unsolicited introductions from sales people trying to sell her stuff she either doesn’t want or can’t afford, she wonders again if she was completely nuts to open her own business.

When she’s not avoiding obnoxious sales pitches, she’s dealing with job seekers. She can track the college graduation season simply by the number of unsolicited emails she receives. She rarely reads the attached resumes because of the first impressions created by the emails. The smart graduates use proper grammar and complete sentences in their emails. The smartest graduates actually look at her company website to see what kind of business she runs.

She sighs and clicks on the next email. Its contents strike her so forcibly that she takes a big swig of her single malt scotch. She glances out the window to see if it’s a full moon; it’s not. It’s also too early for the solar eclipse. No natural phenomenon explains the email she’s reading.

The email says, “Hey, y’all, I just graduated from college and I’d love to come work for you if you’ve got an opening. If you don’t have any jobs right now, please keep me in mind when you do. Thx, Candace.”

Mary’s received some strange introductions from job-seekers. She was once chased two city blocks until she realized the crazy man running after her wasn’t a stalker; he was trying to hand deliver his resume.  She’s had friends ask her to hire their college-aged children because some of those young people are otherwise unemployable.

Mary knows that millennials are much more informal than her generation of workers. But Candace’s email introduction surely takes the prize.  This clueless waif graduated from college without ever learning how to present herself to a potential employer.

What should Mary do next?

  1. She can hit delete and ignore Candace because it’s not her responsibility to teach millennials how to apply for a job.
  2. She can drink more scotch and save the email for the bad days when she needs a quick laugh.
  3. She can remember her own job-hunting mistakes and email Candace some kind advice on how the power of first impressions affects gainful employment.

Informality is preferable to the strict workplace hierarchies of the past that stifled innovation and creativity. However, informality should never cross the line into disrespect. HR can help by encouraging college placement offices to teach soon-to-be-graduates how to properly approach prospective employers.

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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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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Ebook Link:  https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

Working with a Jerk

Jerk1Jenny is excited about her new job with an insurance company.  She isn’t excited about insurance, of course; no one is. She’s excited about being employed again. None of her previous jobs had lasted very long as her employers were acquired or downsized.

Jenny’s new boss, Dan, assigns her to work with a more experienced co-worker, Alan. Since Alan didn’t join them, Jenny trots down the hall to his office to introduce herself. Alan’s office is a mess with files stacked haphazardly on the desk and floor. It looks like a fire marshal’s exhibit of a fire hazard.

Jerk2Jenny says that Dan has asked her to work with Alan while she is in training. She asks how she can help him with some of the claims he is working on. Alan flips through several folders on his messy desk and says he’ll get back to her.

After a week of stalling, Alan agrees to take Jenny along to a meeting with an insured that has filed a claim. The insured company’s office is on the other side of town. During the meeting, Alan tells Jenny to wait while he goes down the hall to look at some sensitive documents. Jenny waits in the conference room talking to a representative of the insured.

Finally, she asks whether Alan has finished his review of the sensitive documents. She learns that he left twenty minutes ago. Jenny is stranded at the insured’s office late in the day as rush hour begins. She calls a cab to take her back to her office where she parked her car.

The next day Jenny tells Dan that she would like to work with a different co-worker. She doesn’t tell Dan all the details of the prior day’s meeting but says that the current arrangement isn’t working. Dan calls Alan to his office and asks how things are going with Jenny’s training. Alan acts surprised and says he thinks it’s going well.

What should Jenny do next?

  1. She can tell Dan what really happened but she’s the new kid on the block and there’s no guarantee he’d believe her.
  2. She can complain to the HR representative who is 800 miles away at the company HQ and has a history of deferring to local managers.
  3. She can bide her time learning as much as possible so that she can find a better job with nicer co-workers.

In the actual situation, “Jenny” chose the third option. She learned new skills that increased her marketability and eventually moved to a new employer with nicer co-workers.

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.

 

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Ebook Link:  https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

Dis-Integration

Mentor

Another Update from the Jungle…

Several years ago Cindy suggested that her company should create a mentoring program to reduce employee churn.  As the HR manager, she was spending most of her time interviewing applicants or completing termination paperwork.  At first, selling the idea to the owners of the company wasn’t easy.

The owners thought a mentoring program was a waste of time. The company founder told her that employees should be happy to have a job and didn’t need “touchy-feely crap”.  Cindy countered with diagrams showing years of trashed productivity and reduced profits caused by the revolving door of new hires. So the founder grudgingly consented to a mentoring program.

Cindy’s next hurdle was finding mentors. No one volunteered when she posted a notice on the bulletin board in the break room.  Her blast email calling for volunteers was ignored, except for the idiot who hit “reply all” when he commented to a co-worker about snowballs and hell. The idiot doesn’t know it yet, but Cindy has decided he needs to volunteer for quality control visits to suppliers in McAllen, Texas in August and Buffalo, New York in January.

Mentor 2Cindy eventually found enough mentors to run a pilot program.  Now six months later she is meeting with the mentees to ask for their feedback on how the program can be made better. What she learns is illuminating but a bit unexpected.

Brian says his mentor took him to dinner at an establishment with pole dancers and cheap booze. Brian admits he doesn’t know much about the company but he now carries lots of dollar bills just in case. Susan’s mentor complained incessantly about the company leading Susan to discreetly search for a new job.

Daniel, on the other hand, is enthusiastic about his mentor. She introduced him to key employees in each department, meets with him regularly to answer his questions, and urges him to volunteer for new duties in order to broaden his experience.

What should Cindy do next?

  1. She can recognize that the corporate culture’s defeatist attitude needs to be fixed first.
  2. She can ask Daniel’s mentor to create a list of her successful mentoring techniques so that others can copy it and hope a successful mentoring program will fix other problems.
  3. She can give up trying to make the workplace better and streamline the firing and termination processes.

In the actual situation, the senior management team never saw the value in a mentoring program and failed to support the initiative. The company continued to experience over 40% turnover in personnel and low productivity and employee morale.

 

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.

Ebook Link

https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/