respect

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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Can We Get By Without Her?

Another update from the Jungle….

Georgia is the manager of a group home for disabled adults. It’s not easy caring for people who have trouble remembering what they did five minutes ago or who need help with what is euphemistically called “life activities.” But they are a breeze compared to dealing with employees.

Job seekers who can stomach the idea of helping with bathing, cooking, and light housekeeping usually disappear when they hear about the pay. It’s not that families of the disabled don’t care about their loved ones but they usually have no idea of the true cost of care. Or as Georgia’s boss constantly complains, everyone wants Cadillac coverage for the price of a Chevy.

The latest employee through the revolving door is Krystal, a twenty-something whose parents stopped paying her cell phone bill and put a padlock on the refrigerator. Taking the hint, Krystal realized that her parents wanted her to get a job.

Krystal is a so-so employee. Georgia puts up with her because the home is usually short-staffed. But Georgia resents spending so much of her time trying to motivate Krystal to do the bare minimum in her job description.

Last week, Georgia learned that Krystal had again failed to take Lenny, one of the disabled adults, to his favorite restaurant. First, she said she forgot. But when Georgia stared silently at her, broke down and admitted that she didn’t feel like eating greasy food with Lenny. Georgia’s blood pressure spiked. She retorted that Krystal didn’t have to eat the food; she just needed to drive Lenny to the restaurant so that he could.

Today, the employees are gathered for the monthly staff meeting. Georgia reviews a recent situation where one of their charges was injured when he tripped over the TV remote which was lying on the floor.  She explains new procedures that the company wants them to follow to avoid a repeat injury.

Georgia asks the employees if they understand the new procedures. Krystal rolls her eyes and mutters audibly “bitch.” Everyone turns to look at her. Then they look at Georgia.

What should Georgia do next?

  1. She can lean across the table and slap the taste out of Krystal’s mouth.
  2. She can fire Krystal and escort her off the premises with well-placed kick in the rear.
  3. She can remember how short-staffed they are and give Krystal a written reprimand and a second chance.

In the actual situation, the company gave the insubordinate employee a second chance based on staff shortages. But they started the search for a replacement.

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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Back Off!

Another update from the Jungle….

Don is taller than most of his co-workers so that he often seems to loom over them during conversations. He also has a habit of standing really close to people when he talks to them, particularly much shorter women. Aline is one of the shortest employees in the office.

Aline claims he often stands toe to toe with her. She can’t prove that he’s attempting to intimidate her, but she has her suspicions. She’s only five feet tall, and she’s used to men, and some women, using their superior height to try to intimidate her. It’s been happening since grade school.

She doesn’t like it, but she refuses to back away.  She throws back her head and looks a long way up to meet them eye-to-eye. She told Michelle, the HR manager, that she’d rather have a permanent crick in her neck than get pushed around just because she’s shorter than most people. But she admits that it bothers her when her personal space is invaded.

Aline’s office is small, not much bigger than a converted closet. Once she’s seated behind her desk, she can only get out on one side.   Don has a bad habit of coming into her office and standing at the corner of the desk so that he blocks her into her seat.

Today when he strolls in and stands at the corner of her desk, Aline’s not in the mood to be polite. She points to the chair across the desk from her and orders him to sit down. Don grins and sits down. They begin discussing the project they are working on.  Aline periodically looks at some charts.

Don wants to look at the charts, too. He stands up and says he’ll come around the desk to read over her shoulder. Aline’s had enough. She picks up the stack of charts and tosses them across the desk to Don. “You can read them from there,” she replies as she orders him back to his seat.

How should Aline handle Don in the future?

  1. She can kick him in the shins when he stands too close.
  2. She can refuse to work with him and probably get stuck with an even more annoying co-worker.
  3. She can accept that every job has its petty annoyances and drink more wine each evening.

Looming over shorter co-workers could be considered bullying depending on the circumstances. There are no easy answers to resolving these types subtly aggressive behavior but HR can use training in micro-aggression to set workplace expectations of what is acceptable.

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 In Charge!

Another update from the Jungle….

Mary likes the arts and has volunteered for years with several non-profits. Recently, she was offered a paid part-time position. The pay is barely above minimum wage but includes a parking pass and it fits with her full-time job’s schedule. Mary enjoys being paid to see the shows.

Mary’s enthusiasm for her part-time arts job soon wears thin. Suzy is another part-timer who was recently promoted to manager to help supervise the part-time staff during peak attendance hours.  Mary thinks the part-time managers are selected for their willingness to work longer hours for a small pay increase and not for their actual abilities.

Suzy is a perfect example. She bustles about acting important but has never been a manager. Under pressure, she becomes brusque to the point of rudeness. Since her main role is to resolve problems with unruly or disgruntled patrons, this creates interesting situations.

On a recent weekend, several patrons are shocked when their high-priced tickets to a special event are rejected.  Suzy arrives as Mary is explaining that the ticket office can help sort out their ticketing problem.  Mary explains to Suzy that the tickets are not scanning properly.

Suzy examines the tickets and tells the patrons that buying from scalpers is never a good idea. One patron turns red with fury as he says the third party ticketing company he used is a recognized distributor for the non-profit. Mary offers to show the patrons to the ticketing office but Suzy orders her to stay at her post. Suzy stalks off.

Twenty minutes later, Suzy is back.  In front of other workers, she tells Mary to never leave her post again. Mary points out that she didn’t. Then Suzy accuses Mary of “throwing gasoline on a fire” by telling the angry patrons that the ticket office could fix the ticketing problems. Suzy claims that the patrons will think this guarantees them admittance to the sold-out show. Mary’s temper rises.

What are Mary’s options?

  1. She can complain to Suzy’s boss but he is unlikely to take action unless other employees have also complained about Suzy.
  2. She can suggest that Suzy take Prozac or learn yoga to deal with the stress of being in charge.
  3. She can accept that Suzy’s accusations arise from feeling insecure and brush it off unless Suzy continues to criticize her.

Non-profits face the same employee issues as for-profit companies but often mistakenly believe they are exempt from employment laws. As a general rule, they are not and should consider how best to minimize their risks of violating employment 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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Wanna Know A Secret?

Another update from the Jungle….

Josh started his company with the help of several friends who are now enemies for life after a couple of business disagreements. After these mistakes, Josh intelligently concluded that his skill set didn’t include managing employees. So he hired Adele to handle employee problems.

Adele was wonderful. She created processes for hiring which allowed the company to hire better qualified people. She created work flows for tracking employee performance which improved the bottom line. Even her nifty termination process came in handy when employees began whizzing in, then back out, the door.

Josh noticed the company’s bottom line was sagging due to the high cost of employee turnover. When he asked Adele, she replied that employees were dissatisfied but couldn’t explain why. So he did what any concerned business owner does in such a situation. He hired a consultant to tell him what he already knew but didn’t want to believe.

Josh’s problem is Adele. She loves gossiping. Any confidential information she hears is liable to be repeated to other employees. She’s been feeding the feud between Chloe and Tammy by sympathetically listening to their grievances and then repeating their nastier comments.

She tells Chloe that Steve hates working with her after he complains that Chloe is always late to meetings. She tells Steve that Josh is planning to promote Sue to the job Steve wants because the company’s demographics will look better with a woman in management.

Josh is aware of Adele’s inability to keep secrets. After all, she’s repeated some of the juicier bits to him, like the rumor that Rob and Pam are having an affair. Actually, they both leave work at the same time because their daughters play on the same soccer team.

All the gossiping is causing widespread paranoia as everyone wonders what unfortunate “truth” will leak out on the office grapevine next. Josh is so shocked he accidentally dumps a cup of coffee in his lap. He feels betrayed by Adele because he was relying on her to take care of the people problems; not make them worse.

What are Josh’s options?

  1. He can give Adele a free trip into orbit without a rocket booster or parachute.
  2. He can accept the status quo because Adele updates him on what employees are saying about him and the company.
  3. He can reprimand Adele for gossiping but give her a second chance.

In the actual situation, the dysfunctional company simply muddled along from one crisis to the next until it was bought out by a competitor.

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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Up There! It’s Helicopter Mom!

Another update from the Jungle….

Winston is a new employee, and he’s got a big problem with his boss, Roger, but doesn’t realize it. Roger is sick of hearing from Winston’s mom.  Back in the day, Roger would have called Winston a “momma’s boy.” Now, Roger reflects bitterly, Winston’s just a typical millennial.

It all started when Roger called Winston to set up a job interview. First, Winston asked if he could call back after checking his calendar. A week later, Winston called Roger to set up the interview. Winston admitted he needed time to call his mom, and now he has a special request. Can he bring his mom along to the job interview?

Why, asks Roger, pardonably puzzled, she’s not applying for the job is she? No, replies Winston; she just wants to check out the company to make sure it’s the “right fit” for him. Roger is so stunned, he agrees. Besides, he wants to meet the woman who has convinced her college-educated, adult son that he needs her approval for a job.

It’s the strangest job interview Roger has ever conducted in his long managerial career. He asks Winston a question, and mom prompts Winston on his responses and invariably explains his answers to Roger. Winston seems happy to let his mom control the interview.

Roger decides to test the limits of the interviewing process. He poses increasingly bizarre hypothetical workplace scenarios, asks Winston how he would respond, and listens to mom’s explanations. Roger reflects privately that it’s a good thing the HR rep is home sick so that she can’t “coach” Roger later on how to conduct a proper interview.

In spite of mom, Roger sees something in Winston that encourages him to ask for a follow up interview without mom.  Based on the second interview, Roger hires Winston, a decision he regrets almost immediately. Mom calls every week to complain when she hears that Roger has criticized some aspect of Winston’s performance. Roger loses patience after a month of phone calls.

What are Roger’s options?

  1. He can refuse to ever again allow a parent to attend a job interview.
  2. He can fire Winston because he’s tired of dealing with Winston’s helicopter mom. After all, it’s an at-will employment state.
  3. He can heroically suppress the urge to call Winston a “momma’s boy” and hope Winston learns to stand on his own two feet.

If your company faces a helicopter parent, most experts suggest setting up a separate meeting with the parent.  At that meeting, the employer can set expectations and limits on the parent’s ability to intervene in the employment relationship.

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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Excuse Me, I’m Your Boss

Another update from the Jungle….

Mercedes and Hunter are millennials, and that’s a problem for their boss, Susan. Susan built her business from scratch after years of working for big corporations. But her toughest job has been working with millennials.

Mercedes and Hunter think the business world is flat. They think they are on the same level with Susan. They barge into her office to discuss details of their work as if she is a college chum rather than their boss. Susan believes in open lines of communication, but she’s explained many times that they need to first ascertain that she is free to talk rather than flopping down on a chair and talking.

They also seem to think that paying your dues is for others. Hunter constantly argues with Susan about the strategy for each client relationship. His occasionally condescending tone and know-it-all attitude is infuriating. Susan remembers years of struggle in corporate America and resists the urge to slap his head off his shoulders.

Millennials have opposable thumbs because they can only communicate via text messaging, using annoying symbols and other non-words, Susan thinks irritably. Perhaps that explains another lapse in business etiquette. What Mercedes and Hunter consider “honest” talk is perceived by clients as rude and disrespectful.

Susan values their fresh insights and technical skills, but she’s feeling worn down by their constant search for meaning. Last week, Hunter said he didn’t understand the purpose of his newest assignment. Susan managed, barely, to not say that the purpose is his paycheck.

Yesterday, Mercedes told Susan that the stress of working on her newest assignment had upset her too much to continue working that day. She walked out of Susan’s office, out the front door of the office, and down the street to the nearest coffee shop for another cappuccino.

Susan glared at the open doorway, infuriated, as she thought about her career in corporate America, surviving backstabbing co-workers and managers who chased management fads.  She thinks a sniveling millennial wouldn’t survive a week in a traditional job.

What are Susan’s options?

  1. She can punt the millennials into outer space and look for replacements.
  2. She can retire to a Caribbean island with lots of rum and fruit.
  3. She can coach them on appropriate business behavior while adapting some of her business practices to fit their work habits.

The above scenario is a composite demonstrating the perceived differences between millennials and their baby boomer bosses. Baby boomers began their careers when face time counted and a strict hierarchy was enforced.  Today’s workforce requires more flexible employee practices.

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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This is My Meeting!

Another update from the Jungle….

Cyndi is the newest manager at her company. Today she is going on her first major client meeting since her promotion. But she’s not going alone.

Ron, the CEO, says he is sending Bill along to help answer questions. Bill knows the client, Grand Delusions, Inc., well because it was his account before the hand off to Cyndi. Cyndi gets along well with Bill because he’s always been willing to help her. She’s glad to have him along to handle the introductions.

Bill offers to drive to Grand Delusion’s office because he’s been there many times before while this is Cyndi’s first visit.  During the drive, he tells Cyndi about his recent vacation looking at Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. Cyndi asks a few questions about Grand Delusions but gets conflicting advice from Bill. By the time they arrive, she’s feeling a tad confused.  The CEO of Grand Delusions is either the best guy ever or a total jerk, according to Bill.

Cyndi and Bill are escorted to Grand Delusions’ conference room where they are joined by Tim, CEO, and Sam, CFO. Tim and Sam greet Bill like the old friend he is and launch into an anecdote about their recent golf outing. After an interminable waste of time (in Cyndi’s opinion) the real meeting begins. Bill introduces Cyndi and explains that she is now in charge of the client relationship.

Cyndi smiles graciously and begins to outline her agenda for the meeting.  Bill interrupts her to remind Tim that the billing system has changed. That was the final item on Cyndi’s agenda because she knows it will take time to explain.  Bill launches into a garbled explanation of the new billing system that misstates several vital steps. Tim and Sam stare blankly. It’s obvious they’re confused.

Cyndi tries to correct Bill’s misinformation, but he talks over her. That’s when she gets mad. She scribbles on a piece of paper “I thought this was my meeting” and passes the note to Bill.  He reads the note and stuffs it in his pocket.

What are Cyndi’s options?

  1. She can kick Bill in the shins underneath the table until he stops talking.
  2. She can jump up shouting “liar, liar, pants on fire” at Bill.
  3. She can call Tim and Sam later to schedule a meeting with them but without Bill to talk about the new billing system.

In the actual situation, the male colleague stopped talking (briefly) after receiving the note which allowed his female colleague to lead the discussion.

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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