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You Never Talk To Me.

Another update from the Jungle….

Mary’s adventures in small business ownership continue. [See 8/2/17 post for original adventure.]  Her staff is small and spans decades. The only thing the employees have in common is a desire to work in an entrepreneurial environment.

Such a diverse workforce means lots of different styles of working. Alex and Stan, her two youngest workers, communicate almost exclusively by text messaging. They look a bit like shepherd’s crooks, bent at the top after years of looking down at their iPads and smart phones. Jon, her most senior worker, despises text messaging but loves email.  

Mary worries that the lack of actual conversations will make her team less effective.  So she tries to get everyone talking by holding a team building exercise. But Jon only likes exercise that involves hunting big game in the Rockies.  He doesn’t even pretend to enjoy the team building exercise. Alex and Stan think a team building exercise means competing in on-line video games rather than playing alone.  They tune out after ten minutes to play games on their smart phones.

Mary abandons team building. Her next brilliant idea is to offer free beer at staff meetings. She sets a two-free-beers limit because she doesn’t have the budget for unlimited thirst. The team gathers at a table in a local sports bar but no one talks to each other. Jon swivels constantly in his seat to look at all the TV screens showing various sports. Alex and Stan slump in their chairs looking at their social media feeds, beers forgotten.

Mary decides her team has sufficient team spirit, although her spirits need a stiff brandy to recover.  After a weekend of agonizing over what to do, Mary is still trying to figure out how to build a functioning team that actually talks to each other.

What should Mary do next?

1. She can ignore previous experience and try another team building exercise.
2. She can order her staff to meet, ply them with more alcohol and hope they eventually learn to talk to each other.
3. She can accept that her workforce is meeting deadlines and keeping clients happy and allow them to communicate in their preferred methods.

Most businesses today have a diverse workforce spanning decades. Ensuring the different age groups and work styles gel into a cohesive team can be a challenge. HR representatives can help management to adapt the workplace routine to fit all age groups and their communications styles.  

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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What’d You Say?

Another update from the Jungle….

Bob has been a manager for a long time but his department has a lot of turnover because more experienced employees refuse to work for him. Ann is a new hire who thinks he’s a lot nicer than the jerk she used to work for. But after a week of working for Bob, she begins to understand why no one wants to work for him.

On her first day, Bob tells her to feed the field porcupine. Ann stares blankly at him and asks him to repeat his instructions. Bob frowns and tells her again to feed the field porcupine. Ann slips out of his office and flags down a co-worker. Eventually they figure out that he wants Ann to find the paper file for a client named Field.

On another occasion, he tells Ann to call Dodd Maxson. She searches the customer records but can’t find Dodd Maxson. Luckily a co-worker recalls a large client account that Bob’s working on and suggests looking for a guy named Rod Waxman. Ann wonders what he’ll say next.

Soon after the Waxman mix up, he tells her to talk to the three bears about an appointment he needs with the CEO. Ann figures out with assistance that Bob wants her to talk to Patrice Burns, the CEO’s executive assistant. By now Ann thinks she’s catching on.

When Bob tells her to talk to the care box about the cost of dipping snuff, she uses her old charades skills to think of rhyming words that might match what Bob said. Bob is going to a sales convention out of town and he mentioned something about shipping his marketing materials. She cleverly concludes that Bob wants her to ask the warehouse what it would cost to ship his stuff to the trade show.

Now Ann is sitting in the office of Sarah, the HR rep, who asks how she’s settling in to her new job. Ann saying guardedly that there are challenges but overall it’s going well. Then Sarah asks how it’s going with Bob.

What should Ann say?

  1. She can say that Bob is an anthropology project who is creating his own language and testing it on unsuspecting subordinates.
  2. She can lie and say everything is wonderful and hope that her increased consumption of red wine each evening will help her to eventually understand Bob.
  3. She can remember that she’s the new kid on the block and maintain a neutral attitude.

In the actual situation, the employees good-naturedly poked fun at their manager’s garbled instructions. Eventually the manager learned to speak more clearly and his subordinates learned to repeat his instructions to ensure they heard correctly.

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 Election’s Over. Can’t We Be Friends?

Another update from the Jungle….

image2Every morning since the holidays, Alyssa drags herself into work wishing she didn’t have to show up. She’s the HR manager for her company and she knows that her co-workers have a host of problems. She has a few of her own.  Alyssa is expecting trouble on Friday, at the inauguration of the new president.

Her company’s workforce includes supporters of both candidates in the recent election. Her co-workers usually get this worked up and divided over the Super Bowl; not politics. Now supporters of each side are snarling at each other in the hallways and the break room.

Last week, Doreen whined again about missing out on a promotion.  She’s convinced that senior management only promotes men, which is why Sam got the promotion she wanted.  Doreen says the election results prove the country is taking a step backward on women’s equality.

Yesterday, Leigh Ann and Jake stormed into Alyssa’s office to file harassment complaints against several cimage4o-workers.  Leigh Ann says her nerves are shattered by the sexist comments of several co-workers.  Jake claims the same co-workers mocked his lifestyle choices, including his multi-colored hair and thick glasses. They demand that Alyssa transfer the offending co-workers to a more suitable section of cubicle-world, such as next to bathrooms.

This morning, Javier and Ryan continued their endless argument about the election results while they were eating cookies in the breakroom.  By the third cookie, the discussion was a loud argument and Ryan dumped a cup of coffee on Javier. Javier retaliated by shoving a cookie up Ryan’s nose.

image3Co-workers were placing bets on who would win the fight when Rosemary, a manager, ran into the breakroom and spoiled the fun. She threw a tray of ice cubes at Javier and Ryan to cool them off and then ordered them to follow her to Alyssa’s office.  Alyssa is now trapped in her office with Rosemary, Javier and Ryan.

What are Alyssa’s options?

  1. She can drink an extra bottle of wine each evening to soothe her nerves.
  2. She can use all her vacation time to visit a South Seas island for a few weeks.
  3. She can ride out the temporary storm of emotional excesses and hope that everyone returns to their usimage5ual griping very soon.

Many work places face disruptions arising from the divisions in our communities. Outside the office, people increasingly live and socialize primarily with people with the same political and social attitudes. That means our workplaces have become the place where people are most likely to interact with differing social and political views. That puts HR staff in the middle of social divisions.

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 Can’t Take It Anymore!

Another update from the Jungle….

Kathy was a solid performer for her company until about a year ago.  She rarely missed work and she was always prepared for meetings.  Then she fell off a cliff.

Her clif2f had many causes. About a year ago, her mother began showing signs of dementia. Kathy’s siblings long since moved away, so Kathy’s been taking her mother to doctor’s appointments and filling out Medicare claims forms.  She’s reached the stage where she loathes the “plain English” of Medicare forms.

Her husband, Bob, is helping more after being laid off his job a few months ago. But Kathy’s mother no longer recognizes Bob and won’t leave the house with him.  That means his
biggest contribution is cooking most of their meals. Since this involved reorganizing all the kitchen cabinets, Kathy’s not convinced he’s helping her.

3Meanwhile, Kathy’s daughter moved home from college after her wine and pizza plan didn’t lead to a
viable college degree. She leaves dirty dishes in the sink and is surprised that this upsets Kathy.

1

About six months ago, Kathy began taking medication for depression and anxiety. The medication leaves her feeling like she’s underwater.  It affects her ability to concentrate. She now has the attention span of a three-year-old on a chocolate high.

Her boss is running out of patience with her sloppy work and blown deadlines. Of
course, he doesn’t know all the gory details because Kathy’s too embarrassed by her screwed up life to tell him. She always prided herself on her professional competence.

Today, her boss calls her in for another performance review. He’s angry about a blown deadline and considers firing Kathy. But that would mean finding and training a replacement. It would also mean losing Kathy’s years of knowledge of the company and its culture.

What options are available to Kathy’s boss?

  1. He can proceed to the next phase of the progressive discipline policy which is firing Kathy for poor performance.
  2. He can keep limping along and hope that Kathy’s personal life improves.
  3. He can ask the HR representative if there other options for resolving Kathy’s situation without firing her.     

The above scenario is a composite of several actual incidents.  As the population ages, more baby boomers are finding themselves caring for incapacitated parents and assisting unemployed adult children.  Businesses are not charitable organizations and they can’t fix their employees’ problems. But they can support employees by adopting flexible work schedules and creating referral lists to local organizations that provide eldercare and other social support programs.    

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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Me! Me! Me!

Another update from the Jungle….

It’s Monday morning and Christine knows that sitting in rush hour traffic will be the high point of her day.  After that, she’ll suffer a fate almost like death as she sits through the monthly staff meeting. Ms. Piggy will be holding court as usual.

1Ms. Piggy is a co-worker who pretends to be a team player. Beneath the friendly smiles lurks a self-centered prima donna. She knows her life is so much more interesting than others. For the past six months, she’s been monopolizing the staff meetings with the same tale of a product vendor who can’t deliver the quality of work she demands.  

Initially, Christine and several other managers suggested ways for Ms. Piggy to solve her vendor problem. Ms. Piggy made it clear that their solutions would work fine for idiots like them, but not for her since her work is much more technically sensitive.  

Edward, the division head, doesn’t know how to handle Ms. Piggy.  He wasn’t promoted based on his people skills and he doesn’t want to get stuck in sticky people problems.   He would rather walk across hot coals barefoot or participate again in the pie eating contest at the company picnic.

Christine arrives at work and grabs a giant mug of coffee on her way to the conference room.  Edward 2slides into the chair at the head of the table and begins asking for updates. Everyone tenses as he reaches Ms. Piggy. Ms. Piggy begins her usual quick update with the usual digressions.  

Within a minute the energy level in the room plummets deeper than the Grand Canyon. The guy sitting next to Christine begins playing a game on his phone. Two managers begin reading their emails on their iPads.  Edward opens his mouth to cut off Ms. Piggy but she raises her voice and continues.  Christine slurps her coffee and tries to keep her head from exploding.

What options are available to Christine?

  1. She can fall to the floor pretending to have a seizure so that the meeting ends.
  2. She can leap to her feet shrieking “I can’t take it anymore. Shut up!”  
  3. She can suggest that they imitate business networking groups by timing responses so that the staff meetings finish on time and they avoid Ms. Piggy moments.     

The above scenario is a composite of too many meetings at too many companies.  HR can help managers avoid these ghastly events by training them how to give effective feedback to their subordinates on appropriate office behavior and by urging senior management to pay for coaching for managers who lack people skills.   

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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Click here for a copy of my free Ebook

Queen Bee

Another update from the Jungle….

Dan is a branch manager for his company and he’s coasting toward retirement.  He lost interest in his current career long ago after several major battles with his assistant. Her name is Adelaide and officially she’s the executive assistant, but unofficially she’s been running the branch office since Jimmy Carter’s administration.   

When Adelaide decides how things should be done, everyone agrees. If they don’t their careers take a nosedive, as Dan learned during his first year as branch manager. He came in full of ideas for improving efficiency but Adelaide decided the office was fine “as is”.  After months of battling, she won and Dan began planning his post-retirement career.

Dan’s boss i2sn’t happy and he’s trying to figure out how to increase profits in Dan’s office. He decides to test a new whiz-bang software program in Dan’s office to see if it helps the bottom line.  He notifies Dan that a vendor rep will arrive on Monday morning to train the staff on the new software. Dan passes the information to Adelaide.

Monday morning, the vendor rep shows up to begin the training. Adelaide sails into the conference room almost 30 minutes late and majestically informs the vendor rep to start over.

The vendor rep quickly recaps half of her scheduled 60-minute presentation. As she highlights each feature, she asks attendees to imagine how the feature can improve their efficiency.

The vendor rep soon notices that everyone is watching Adelaide. If she nods, the comments are positive. If she shakes her head, the others say they can’t use the software feature. It’s obvious that Adelaide would rather eat broken glass than adopt the new software. The vendor rep limps on to the end of her allotted time and wraps up the meeting. The vendor rep has promised to give a status report to Dan’s boss.

What kind of report could the vendor rep give to Dan’s boss?

  1. She could lie and say the training went well, knowing her company has a big contract at stake.
  2. She could say that Adelaide is determined to block the use of the new software.
  3. She could decide to not give any report since she plans to ditch the sales career in favor of ha3nging out at the airport with the Hari Krishnas.    

In the actual situation, the senior manager was angry that his pet project was shot down and he fired both the executive assistant and the branch manager.  Unfortunately, he failed to follow the company’s written HR policies when he fired them; but that’s a different story.

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

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook

The Peter Principle Strikes Again

Another update from the Jungle…

Addison is the HR manager for her company and she usually likes her job. Each day is different as co-workers find new and inventive ways to get themselves into difficulties.  

Addison has a double espresso each morning to fortify herself for the latest adventures. But Addison’s toughest employee sitjune 6-3uation doesn’t involve the usual employee misadventures. It involves Don, one of the division managers. Don is a nice, inoffensive guy who is liked by everyone. He is also destroying his division.

 

june 6-4

Don’s career started promisingly enough. He graduated from college with honors and immediately was hired by the company.  He’s technically proficient and his attention to detail is legendary. In fact, he often gets so wrapped up in the details that he forgets about deadlines.

A year ago, Don’s superiors looked for someone who could do the work, but never threaten their position in the company. They ignored Don’s immediate supervisor who pointed out that Don has the social skills of a person reared by wolves. Regardless, Don was promoted.

Immediately, the damage was obvious to anyone paying attention.june 6-6

In his first staff meeting, Don enthusiastically talked about a magazine article he’d read which described how blue whales communicate. His subordinates sat listening in stunned disbelief. After all, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss new sales metrics for their division.

Don’s first staff meeting turns out to be a high point on the road to destruction. The cleverest and most marketable employees are bailing out to join competitors. One woman is so affected by her experiences that she is now a novice Buddhist nun in Nepal.

Addison struggles to contain thejune 6-5 damage caused by Don’s incredibly inept leadership. She’s convinced that Don is aware of his shortcomings as a leader but he won’t admit it. She asks for a meeting with senior management.

What should Addison tell the senior managers?

  1. She can provide examples of Don’s ineffective leadership and suggest that he be replaced by someone with better “people” skills.
  2. She can request management training for Don to help him improve his leadership skills.  
  3. She can demand a pay raise and a bigger budget to hire replacements for the employees chased off by Don’s lousy management skills.    

june 6-2In the actual situation, senior management remained happy with the ineffective manager. He kept his job until he was undermined and then replaced by his most ambitious subordinate. He happily continued to work and was deeply relieved to no longer have supervisory responsibilities.

 

 

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

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

Masters of the Universe

Another update from the Jungle…

Masters1Jim and Tony run a venture capital fund that specializes in distressed assets. They buy companies, replace the management team, cut most of the employees to generate savings and make the company look profitable (on paper). Then they sell the company.

A business magazine features them in an article and uses the term masters of the universe. After the feature article, Jim and Tony decide to branch out from distressed assets and buy a company that has been successful without being spectacular.

Jim and Tony begin their ownership by holding a company-wide meeting with employees at which they talk about the company’s wonderful financial future. This sales pitch is interrupted by Linda who asks them to reconcile these comments with their established practice of boosting profits by firing most workers. Jim evades her question. So Larry asks pointblank how many jobs will be cut. Jim looks at Tony. Tony shrugs. The meeting ends abruptly.

Masters3After studying the company’s bottom line, Jim and Tony decide that the first employees to go are Linda and Larry. They tell Sandra, the HR rep, to prepare the paperwork. She cautions against firing two of the most respected workers. Jim looks at the org chart again and concludes they are peons.

On Friday, Linda and Larry are ushered out the door. Their first port of call is an employment law attorney where they discuss wrongful termination, retaliation, and age discrimination.  The attorney has a vision of becoming famous by taking down the masters of the universe. He agrees to represent Linda and Larry.

Master2Within weeks, a third of the workforce resigns following Linda and Larry out the door. Jim and Tony are initially relieved; they only had to fire two workers. But the remaining workforce is demoralized. Within six months, the company has lost several key clients and the bottom line is tanking. Jim and Tony call a meeting with Sandra to discuss staffing levels and the status of Linda’s and Larry’s lawsuit.

What should Sandra tell them?

  1. She can say that she warned them that firing Linda and Larry would have dire consequences.
  2. She can tell them that as masters of the universe, she expects them to solve their own problems.
  3. She can hand in her resignation, having already received several job offers.

The above scenario is exaggerated but may seem familiar to anyone who has experienced a change in ownership at an employer. Creating a plan with HR for handling inevitable layoffs can smooth the transition. It is also helpful to see employees as more than just a cost to the bottom line.

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!

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

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Good cover, lousy book

Another update from the Jungle….
NS12016-2Gene is the managing partner of a professional services firm and he’s extremely proud of the team that works with him.  He insists that they follow a reasonable work schedule leaving time for family.  He rewards every employee with a bonus when the firm hits revenue targets.

The result is high productivity and soaring morale. People want to work at his firm and Gene has the luxury of picking job candidates that best fit his philosophy. It was all smooth sailing until six months ago when he hired Avery.

Avery looked great on paper. His three page resume looked impressive, full of academic achievements, extensive industry experience, and a history of community involvement.  Avery showed up for the interview in an expensive suit, looking thoroughly professional. He was relaxed, articulate, and generated a good vibe when he met the whole team.  He seemed like a great fit for the firm and Gene hired him.

Within a week, Avery was a problem.  He told several senior partners that his old firm had a much better system for tracking client services.  Then he told the secretaries they were being unfairly exploited and should go on strike for higher wages.  After that he asked junior staff members why they worked so hard when there was no obvious path to promotions since all the senior partners were years from retirement.

Gene learned about the underbelly of discontent when a delegation of junior staff members cornered him to complain about Avery.  The youngest secretary said she didn’t appreciate being told that she ought to feel exploited. That was one of the milder comments.

Gene’s always been told not to judge a book by its cover.  But it’s obvious that underneath Avery’s polished façade lies a wealth of baggage picked up from the conditions he experienced with previous employers.

How should Gene handle this situation?

  1. He can fire Avery immediately since the state has “at will” employment. But with Avery’s baggage, a wrongful termination lawsuit seems inevitable.
  2. He could try to counsel Avery on his attitude but worries this will simply delay the inevitable outcome.
  3. He can tell Avery that the firm isn’t the right fit and offer Avery a generous severance package in exchange for leaving immediately.

In the actual situation, the firm chose the third option because the management team decided that a toxic personality was too big a risk to keep on the payroll and the severance package limited any possible wrongful termination claims.  Everyone lived happily ever after (except “Avery” who carried his baggage to the next employer’s office).

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.

 

To download my free ebook, click here.

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Tis the Season

Another update from the Jungle….

christmasNicole, the HR manager, is making one more effort to boost morale among her fellow employees this year. So far her efforts have had mixed success, to put it mildly. After scantily dressed people at the Halloween party and a near race riot for Veteran’s Day, the Thanksgiving luncheon was a damp squib. But there’s still time to rescue morale with a Christmas party.

Actually, it won’t be a Christmas party because Nicole doesn’t wish to offend the religious sensibilities of any employee. It’s a holiday party. She buys generic party favors to decorate the break room. Then she asks management to pay for the party to show their appreciation for their employees. Management counters with the bill for the Thanksgiving luncheon and says the company president won’t pay another red cent. The president is upset after hearing a rumor that his company is running a prostitution ring based on leaked photos from the Halloween party.

So Nicole decides to have another potluck lunch. She posts a sign-up sheet on the refrigerator in the break room and waits for the inevitable disgruntlement to ooze through her office door. She doesn’t have to wait long.

Ruth darkens her doorway to object to the generic decorations. She insists the holiday is about the christmas1baby Jesus and offers to contribute her personal Nativity scene to make the scene more authentic. The Nativity scene involves burning candles to illuminate the manger. Nicole says no. The candles will likely set off the sprinkler system and besides the workforce includes observers of several faiths.

The day of the holiday party arrives and Nicole inspects the potluck which includes chicken burritos, no-meat chili, pecan pie, and snickerdoodle cookies. Then Nicole notices Steve sidling up to the buffet table with a couple of desserts and hurries over to inspect his contributions. His key lime pie looks delicious but the fumes indicate that it’s half rum. His other contribution is bourbon balls.

What should Nicole do next?

  1. She can confiscate Steve’s desserts and remind him of the company’s no-alcohol policy.
  2. She can pretend not to notice Steve’s contribution and allow the seasonal cheer to go on. After all, it would boost morale until the alcohol wore off.
  3. She can encourage the company president to indulge in dessert and, when he’s feeling mellow, hit him up for pay raises for the workforce.

Nicole’s year of trying to boost morale is winding to a close. Nicole plans to enjoy the remainder of the year in solitude and meditation while preparing for next year.

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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