training

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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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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Totally Sozzled

Another update from the Jungle….

pic-6Addy graduated from college and went to work for the government agency where she had interned as a student.  Of course, there’s a big difference between being an intern and becoming an employee.  As an intern, Addy was excluded from most office social events because she was underage.

pic-7A few months after accepting the job offer, the big bosses decided representatives of each branch office of the agency should receive intensive training away from the usual office distractions. They decided that the perfect spot for learning is New Orleans. Addy prepared for her first business trip.

Nick, the head of Addy’s office, got into the spirit of learning before they left town. He distributed the bosses’ agenda at a staff meeting. Then he told the attendees that he knew a great place in the French Quarter and that he would play tour guide as soon as they checked in at the hotel.

pic-3Two hours after the airplane landed, Addy followed her co-workers down a dark alley in the French Quarter to Nick’s “great place.” The fun began. As a recent college graduate, Addy considered herself a seasoned drinker. She soon realized she was an amateur.

Addy doesn’t remember many details after the first bar, but she knows she had a good time. She later saw how good a time when she was invited to the HR manager’s office to view cell phone video of what she didn’t remember doing in the French Quarter.

pic-1The video shows a gaggle of staggering zombies in a karaoke bar, all dancing to a different beat as they belt out the same song.  In the background, Addy recognizes her supervisor in a passionate embrace with a co-worker.  Front and center in the video is Nick gyrating madly, his hand waving through his unzipped fly.  Nick is totally sozzled, barely able to stand.

The HR manager says she invited Addy in for a chat as part of the usual on-boarding process for new hires.  How should Addy respond to the HR manager?

  1. pic-2She can say that she’s enjoying learning from her more experienced co-workers.
  2. She can ask for copies of the video in case she needs to blackmail her bosses later. (Addy’s a quick learner of office politics.)
  3. She can stare blankly like a little lost waif and wait for the HR manager to give her a clue about how to respond appropriately.

The antics outlined in this scenario have been changed to protect innocent waifs like your author. Surely, no government employees near you would ever misbehave during a training seminar.

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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Falling to Pieces

Another update from the Jungle….

Patsy was named for Patsy Cline and she has a pretty good singing voice. So she moved to Nashville with visions of international fame dancing through the lyrics in her head.  She took the first job she could find while she pounded the pavement seeking a record contract.

4She never landed a record contract and her last three employment gigs were as abbreviated as her open mic gigs. But her luck is about to change. She just got a job with a regional company that is distantly connected to the music business. Sure it involves doing boring stuff that she did at several of her previous jobs but she enters the new employer’s offices with a smile on her face and a spring in her step.  

After a day with HR, filling out paperwork and learning about all the things that can get her fired, Patsy’s enthusiasm wavers. But she arrives early the next day determined to do well. The HR rep shows her where the bathroom is located and guides to her a rabbit-hutch sized cubicle. Then the HR rep abandons her to go deal with an HR crisis.

Patsy leans around the cubicle corner to ask Doris for a little assistance. Doris is on the phone. Rebecca, on 1her other side, clues Patsy in to a few basic procedures, such as which database takes which customer information.  Patsy realizes from prior experiences that she’s just gone through “orientation” and she sets to work.

In the first week, almost all her work is rejected for a variety of reasons. Patsy tries to explain to co-workers that in her last job they did it this way. Her supervisor says in front of co-workers that she doesn’t care how the company’s main competitor does business.

Before her first paycheck, Patsy’s demoralized. As her probationary period ends, the HR rep tells Patsy that she’s being dropped because she “just doesn’t get it” and her co-workers think she’s whiny.  

What should Patsy do next?

  1. She can reach across the desk and slap the HR rep for not ensuring she received proper training.
  2. She can leave quietly and bad-mouth the company on her Facebook page.     
  3. She can find a friend like Merle Haggard’s “Leonard” to help her until her singing career takes off.    

The above scenario is a composite of many employers who expect to find ideal employees without investing in training. It’s a doomed process similar to seeking your life’s soulmate in a 2nd Avenue bar on Saturday night.2

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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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.

 

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

Bored to Tears

Trng-2Celia is the HR manager for her company and she handles the internal training when the staff needs to be updated about new employment laws or regulations. She’s been very busy lately preparing to explain the proposed regulations by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on new overtime rules and the DOL’s new “economic reality” test for independent contractors.

Celia’s fascinated by the process of how these new rules are formulated. She wants to understand why the DOL perceives employment problems that need to be fixed. She thinks understanding this background will help her explain the new rules to her fellow employees. Celia creates a PowerPoint presentation that summarizes what she’s learned.

The big day arrives and her co-workers reluctantly gather in the training room. Celia begins her presentation with PowerPoint slides about the Fair Labor Standards Act which is the basis for the new guidance and rules. Then she talks about DOL’s reasons for changing the rules.

Trng-3After ten minutes, an employee asks how the new rules will affect his job. Celia tells him “we’ll get to that in a minute” and clicks through to the next slide. The third time she repeats that phrase, employees begin shifting in their chairs. Some employees surreptitiously check their devices for emails or the latest Candy Crush game.

At the half hour mark, Celia notices that the crowd has thinned. The smart employees grabbed seats near the back of the room so that they could escape. The sycophantic employees and those angling for promotions are hopelessly trapped near the front of the room and forced to continue listening to her presentation.

Celia limps through the rest of her presentation and asks if there are questions. People glare at each other to ensure no one is stupid enough to prolong the suffering by asking questions. Celia ends the training session and one person is trampled in the dash for the exits.

What could Celia do at her next training session to keep people engaged?

  1. She could use flashier PowerPoint slides to keep everyone’s attention.
  2. She could create handouts with key points for discussion and stop using PP slides.
  3. She could revise her presentation to explain how the new rules will specifically affect her co-workers’ jobs.

The above scenario is an only-slightly fictionalized account of dozens of in-house training sessions that I’ve experienced over the years.  No co-workers were ever trampled so there was nothing to break the monotony.  To avoid Celia’s fate at your company’s next training session, consider using the third option by making the information specific and relevant to the 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.

 

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